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Last Post 11/03/2011 7:48 PM by  Rod Weir
Email Manager - Workflow patterns for processing email
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Rod Weir
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09/23/2011 2:44 AM

    The HelpMaster Email Manager is a powerful email processing engine that can really make a big difference at your service desk.  Automate email processing by configuring "profiles" that will process email from any source according to your needs.  Implement the following basic patterns, or use them as a starting-point and extend them into something more.

     Feel free to post ideas, comments, and requests for your specific email processing needs.


    Pattern 1 - Log a new job / ticket

    Style: Basic log job

    Filter style: Subject keyword scanning

    Template use: A job template linked to an action template that will log and assign the job to the "Helpdesk" skillgroup.

    Visual Pattern:

    Description:

    Often if a client needs to have a password reset for something, they will email the helpdesk with such a request (if possible).  In this case, you can configure an Email Manager profile to scan the subject of the email to look for words that reflect this.  Once an email passes this filter, you link it to a job template that will log the job.  In this example, the job template will log the job and use the associated action template to assign it to the "Helpdesk" skillgroup.

    Notice how the Action Template does not assign it specifically to a staff member with the Helpdesk skillgroup - it's just assigned there until someone in the skillgroup picks it up and works on the job.

    Note also the use of the "Template Modifier" for the Job Contact type.  This will over-ride the "Telephone" setting in the job template to "Email".  The Job Template used is a common one that is usually used by helpdesk staff manually logging jobs via the telephone, however in this instance, because the Email Manager is converting email into helpdesk tickets, it's appropriate to use a template modifier here to ensure the correct classification code it used.

     

    Extending the pattern:

    This simple pattern can be extended via the use of better filtering, regular expressions, message body scanning and other template modifiers.

     

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    Rod Weir
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    --
    09/29/2011 11:45 PM

    Pattern 2 - Log new job, with dynamic classification

    Style: Basic log job logging with conditional job assignment

    Filter style: Subject keyword scanning

    Template use: A generic "sales" based job template that has been designed to be used in conjunction with Action Modifiers for dynamic job assignment

    Visual Pattern:

    Description:

    Businesses offering a product or service are usually contacted about these offerings via email.  People will often put the name of the product or service in either the Subject or the Message of the email. 

    This profile scans these sections of the email twice.

    • The first scan is to determine if the email is a sales-related email
    • The second pass is to determine which product the email is referring to

    Once the nature of the email has been established and the product in question has been determined, Action Template modifiers for job assignment are used to route the job to the most appropriate staff member.

    The job is logged with a generic job template.

     

    Extending the pattern:

    This simple pattern can be extended via the use of better filtering, regular expressions, futher template modifiers (see pattern 1), and more filters for the different products (or services) that are provided.

    Although this example is using a sales-oriented design, the same principles applies for helpdesk, service management, complaints management, service catalog etc.  Just change the filtering, assignments, and job template to suite

    As an alternative to using Template modifiers to change the template, consider also using multiple templates per profile.  Create specific template combos for specific email types.  Then use the filtering to determine which template to use.

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    Rod Weir
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    --
    10/06/2011 6:03 PM

    Pattern 3 - Update an existing job whenever a client responds to an email

    Style: Update an exisitng job.  A client has responded to an email that the helpdesk sent them.  This pattern is one of the "must have" patterns to enable email automation.

    Filter style: Subject keyword scanning. 

    Template use: A generic "Update" style Action template.

    Visual Pattern:

     

    Create specific emal templates for both staff and clients.  Use Email Tags to give context and information.

    Description:

    One of the most common things to do at the helpdesk is to send an email back to the client to confirm their job number and the details of their support request.  Client love this.  It gives them validation, a job number and the sense that things are being looked after.  It also gives them an easy way to contact the helpdesk again, and update their ticket.  When clients reply to an email that was generated by the helpdesk, you can configure the Email Manager to "look for" these types of email and automatically update the corresponding helpdesk ticket with the details of the incoming email.

    The incoming email will have the job number in the subject of the email - this is because the client is responding to an email that was originally sent by the helpdesk using an Email Template that was configured in this manner.  The Email Manager will scan for this number so that it knows which job to update.

    Note how the Action Template used to update the job will change the job status to "Helpdesk : Awaiting response".  The client has said something, and now the ball is in the helpdesk's court....awaiting reply.  Conversely, when the helpdesk replies, you can set the job status to something like "Client : Awaiting response".  The "Us and Them" status indicator can be very effective to determine where the responsibility for the next course of action lies.

    The Action template will also send out 2 emails.  One to the staff member that is assigned the job, the other back to the client, confirming that their email has just been received and processed.

    The details of the email will be added to the job.

     

    Extending the pattern:

    This simple pattern can be extended via the use of better filtering, regular expressions, futher template modifiers (see pattern 1).  For example, you could extend the filtering to look for words like "please close", or "resolved".  If so, you could use a "Close job" action template that will set the Job Status to close.

    Extract only the portion of the email that you want.  Use the powerful text parsing engine of the Email Manager to only extract the text that you want from the client email.  There is a lot of power here.

    Use integrations like NiceRepy etc on out-going email so that your clients can rate your responses.

    Use HTML for your outgoing emails.  Include hyperlinks to your web portal for self-service.

    Use the multitude of Email tags available to personalize your Email Templates.

     

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    Rod Weir
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    --
    10/13/2011 6:56 PM

    Pattern 4 - Action jobs via email commands

    Style: Close a job from an email directive.  Helpdesk staff can issue email commands to HelpMaster to update and process jobs

    Filter style: From Address, Subject and Message keyword scanning

    Template use: An action template with the job status set to "Close" is used to close a job

    Visual Pattern:

    Description:

    Give your remote staff the ability to action jobs via email commands.  Perfect for updating a job from a smart-phone, iPad, tablet, or other email enabled device.

    The "From Address" filter is a powerful concept.  You can use this filter to specifically look for email that has come from a certain address, or domain.   In this pattern, only helpdesk staff emaill address are being considered.  The idea here is to look for staff emails relating to a job, and then look for a special "command", or "code" in the body of the email.  You can build rules around these codes to update the job as necessary.

    In this pattern, if the code "##CloseJob" is found in an email from a staff member, the "Close Job" action template will be used to close the job. 

    Extending the pattern:

    This pattern can be extended quite a lot to great effect.  Use different "codes" to trigger different actions.   Instead of just closing jobs, put them on hold, reassign them, or update them.  For example, use codes like

    "##Reassign Skillgroup ABC" = Use an Action template modifier to re-assign the job

    "##OnHold" = Use an Action template, or modifier to set the job status to "On hold" or similar.

    "##LogNewJob" = Create a new job from an existing one.  Use a Job Template instead of an Action Template.  Use the Email Parsing rules to configure the job details section.  Very powerful!

    "##SendKB" = Send a knowledge base article

    Extending this type of pattern is simply a matter of inventing a new code that each of your helpdesk staff are aware of, and then building the Email Manager filtering and processing rules to implement them.

     

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    Rod Weir
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    --
    10/20/2011 6:53 PM

    Pattern 5 - Parse email and extract specific information

    Style: Log a job from an email that was generated from a Network Montoring tool such as What's Up, SolarWinds, Argent etc.

    Filter style: Subject keyword scanning

    Parsing : Extract specific text (a version number) from the body of the email and insert this into a custom field with the job.

    Template use:  A basic job template

    Visual Pattern:

    Description:

    Network monitoring tools have the ability to email the results of a scan, or when a particular threshold has been breached, or approaching breach. 

    A common practice with the Email Manager is to convert these emails into helpdesk tickets.  This is basic Email Manager functionality.  This pattern builds on this idea by using the powerful email parser to extract specific text from the body of the email.  In this case, the network monitoring tool has been configured to scan SQL Servers.  The email that it sends will also have the version number of the SQL Server in the body.  The SQL Server version string will look like this

    Microsoft SQL Server 2008 R2 (RTM) - 10.50.1617.0 (X64)   Apr 22 2011 19:23:43   Copyright (c) Microsoft Corporation  Enterprise Edition (64-bit) on Windows NT 6.1 (Build 7601: Service Pack 1) (Hypervisor)

    The purpose of the email parser is to extract the version number and then store it in a custom text field on the job.

    Microsoft SQL Server 2008 R2 (RTM) - 10.50.1617.0 (X64)   Apr 22 2011 19:23:43   Copyright (c) Microsoft Corporation  Enterprise Edition (64-bit) on Windows NT 6.1 (Build 7601: Service Pack 1) (Hypervisor)

    Text extraction is achieved via the Email Parser

    email parser

     

    Extending the pattern:

    Each Email Manager profile can contain unlimited email parsers.  Set up as many as you need to extract whatever you require.  Scan for machine names, threshold limits, CPU utilization, temperature, or other WMI, or SNMP information. 

    The extracted text can also be stored in a variable, which can then be subject to an parser itself.  This is a powerful way of chopping up text, or building up a string of extracted information.

    Build Escalation and Workflow around this information

    Once you have extracted specific information, you can then start building Priority Manager escalation and workflow rules around it.  Don't just extract....workflow also!

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    Rod Weir
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    Posts:515
    Points:907


    --
    11/03/2011 7:48 PM

    Pattern 6 - Scan folders and from address

    Style: General configuration

    Visual Pattern:

    scan email folders and inboxes

     

    email from address

    Description:

    Each Email Manager can scan multiple inboxes - even folders within inboxes.  Manage sales, helpdesk accounts or even personal accounts with the one profile.  Great for generic "Add action", client response scenarios.  See Pattern #3.    This saves on creating duplicate profiles to do the same thing.  Use the "From" address setting to ensure that all out-going email is sent using the same email address.  This is great for scanning personal inbox accounts.  The email is processed from one account, and the automatic reply is sent from another.  Then, when the client responds to that email, it comes back to the helpdesk, not back to the personal account!  Very clever.


    Extending the pattern:

    Scan folders of inboxes, public folders - anything you can browse to, you can scan.  Try it out.  Use the Email Manager as a "move wizard".  Set rules and just move email around if need be.

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