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Customer Service Email management

Solution for tech support



10:02 pm on Oct 30, 2010 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Hi. I don't know for sure this is right category, but I'll start here.

I was wondering if there is a script/site/service you recommend for tech support when done primarily by email.

I develop a mobile app. I'll get email inquiries such as request for new features.

I've been answering this email myself.
As the developer, I have pretty good knowledge of the product.
I can spot trends in issues and prioritize fixes and new features.
Customers feel great about getting a response from the developer.

On days when it may take me an hour or more to catch up on this email, I realize I could have spent those hours actually adding the feature, improving the documentation, or fixing the bug. Some of the issues are Google's bugs in the Android Market and have nothing to do with my software.

If I hire someone offshore to handle the email the disadvantage is that they would know nothing - at first.

I'd prefer a system where I and an offshore employee can both see the email. Check off the ones that are already answered, have a set of content available for help. Find more information for real issues and escalate them to me.

Is there a system someone recommends?

The system would have to accept an email. I can't force the customers to use a form.


8:37 pm on Nov 1, 2010 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Based on some searches, I think the keywords I am looking for is "Help Desk Software".

There are hosted and installable solutions.

Does anyone have experience with some of them?


9:20 pm on Nov 1, 2010 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Administrator lifeinasia is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 5+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

Personally, I would never offshore (or even outsource domestically) this type of work. In addition to your disadvantages, I would add:
- customers may get responses that are obviously from someone off-shore or are completely wrong

I have never used any software like that (although have certainly been on the user side of several trouble ticket systems- some good, some bad).

Spending more than an hour responding to e-mail is not something that anyone should have to do. Are you getting that many messages, or just writing long responses? If the latter, you really need to force yourself to spend less time answering messages.

Have some canned responses that you can cut and paste to the common questions (you can always add a few personalized sentences). Setup a FAQs page that answers the most common questions. Yeah, people will still ask the same questions, but it should reduce the number. Plus it's extra content for SEO purposes.


4:23 pm on Nov 2, 2010 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

Most of the help desk systems are complex and based around itil, or asset discovery & config mngnt to link the tickets back to hw & sw assets and track defects, incidents & RFCs. I used Spiceworks & Topdesk before writing my own incident management system. I donít think these are what you need

Iím not 100% sure what problem you are trying to solve, but it sounds like you may just need a 1st line tech or PA to manage your inbox , escalate 2nd line to you and provide a weekly summary / suggestion box. I would look on eLance or PPH for that type of admin support, there are some good home based people who do this kind of work.


4:10 am on Nov 4, 2010 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

What I want to accomplish are the things you two mentioned:
Develop a knowledge base with the frequently asked questions.
Have some canned response.
Categorize and track requests.
Get some help from a trusted source to be the first line of support.

I just want to be more organized about it then I am right now. Searching my sent items in Outlook for snippets to cut and paste is getting old.

I've seen some solutions called Hesk or Zendesk. One of them may work.

Lots of email: yes
Too much time on it: yes. What can I say? I have this tendency to want to be helpful, even when the customer isn't forthcoming.

Sometimes I have conversations like this ( for your entertainment).
Q: You app doesn't work.
A: What do mean by doesn't work?
Q: It won't download widgets.
A: What happens when you try to download widgets?
Q: Nothing much.
A: What do you see on the screen?
Q: A couple of squiggly lines, a few things that look like buttons.
A: And what do you see in the menu?
Q: Menu?
A: How did you start downloading the widgets?
Q: I pushed this button that was kind of green and yellowish.
A: That's not the download button.


7:40 am on Nov 4, 2010 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

Some ideas:

As a quick fix create a bunch of Outlook Signatures for common / canned responses. Share these with the people helping you on support.

Setup a Support email address that isn't a Mailbox and have it forward to both your Mailbox and whoever is helping you. Make sure the Email setup allows you to easily go in and add/remove forwarding. Do the same for telecoms using a Hunt number or Landline forwarding to a Mobile.

Have a separate sales@ and separate service/sales clearly.

Create a basic flowchart & terminology that determines what is support (and what is not) & define who deals with each type of support incident, what happens when they are not solved etc. Use ITIL terminology.

If you setup or buy a system I would look for these terms/features at minimum:

Service Requests
Problem, Known Error,
Expected outpout, actual output, steps to reproduce
Defects , Requests for Change
Product Backlog, Iteration Number
1st Line,2nd Line,Escalation
Impact Ė H/M/L Urgency - H/M/L

If most calls are users not understanding the functionality you have likely overdeveloped the app, slow down, create a user group or it will become unmanageable

I have built several support centres from scratch, you will benefit from starting out small but right. Read ITIL Service Management, just use the bits that make sense & it will help you design it right from the start.


Users will always be users - you will unlikely change them so its pointless moaning about them, you need to change *YOU* :)

Good Luck


9:59 am on Nov 4, 2010 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member

Thunderbird has a great add-on: QuickText. It lets you compose canned messages that can be personalized.

ASPdaddy is right about changing YOU: there's no reason to go through several exchanges to find out that the user pressed the wrong button. Have a good FAQ available, and let people help themselves. Create a step-by-step troubleshooting guide for the most common issues.


3:54 pm on Nov 4, 2010 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

Quicktext looks v good, is there one for Outlook ?


7:30 pm on Nov 5, 2010 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Thanks. You understand the situation pretty well.

In the short term, I'll try and beef up the troubleshooting page and send it as an autoresponder while I'm at Pubcon next week.

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