Users Manual (Version 3)

HelpSpot interface and functionality explained. Geared towards all User levels, this guide is the starting point when looking to understand the fundamentals of HelpSpot.

1. Welcome

1.1. The Big Picture

If you're reading this manual you've realized that email folders, sticky notes, or even your current help desk tool are no longer the way to handle Customer inquiries. You're looking for an improved experience for Staff and Customers with more advanced capabilities to manage your support operation...Welcome to HelpSpot!

HelpSpot's core function can be summed up as:

"HelpSpot is a web-based application that empowers companies to effectively manage Customer inquiries."

 To create a product that is optimized to support this core function, we kept a few guiding principles top-of-mind:

Accommodate many support channels

Customer inquiries come at you from every direction. HelpSpot accounts for this by supporting the channels you need:

  • Email (your current support email account)—HelpSpot is optimized for email-based exchanges
  • Web-form (using the portal), 
  • Phone/walk-up/fax/IM (via User creation), and
  • API (covered in API Manual, linked)

Create structured flexibility

The needs of every company differ; some require elaborate issue categorization and meta-data collection capability, while others only loosely categorize issues. To accommodate all types of companies, we provide a structured framework of data collection/categorization that is fully customizable yet still easy to report against.

Require request ownership

Individual ownership is required in HelpSpot. Requests cannot be assigned to a nebulous workgroup or department. Individual ownership is the cornerstone of driving processing efficiency and ultimately Customer satisfaction. 

Create a clear, concise, request history

Every request has a complete log of all actions taken and messages sent. This allows any User, at anytime, to become current with a request.


1.2. Targeted Audience and Common Terms

Targeted Audience

This manual is intended for all HelpSpot Users, those new to help desk software as well as those migrating from another product.

Administrator-specific settings and configuration options are not covered in-depth in this manual.

Common Terms

The following terms are used throughout this guide:

  • User—Anyone with a HelpSpot account.
  • Staff—Generically refers to any help desk staff member.
  • Staff level—User with Help Desk Staff level permission to HelpSpot.
  • Administrator—User with Administrator level of access to HelpSpot.
  • Editors—Users with capability to create knowledge book content. 
  • Moderators— Users with ability to manage interactions in forums. 
  • Customer—Refers to a support desk's Customers (internal or external): the individuals submitting requests.
  • Request—The Customer inquiry in HelpSpot.
  • Installation—The instance of HelpSpot used by a company.

1.3. Default Levels and Permissions Groups

A Users permissions settings and/or level dictates access to features. Permissions are set by Administrators, typically at time of Staff account creation.

User Levels

By default, HelpSpot comes with 4 built-in User levels. Below is a high level look at  each.

  Global and System Settings Inbox Access to in Assigned Categories Access to Assigned Requests
Administrator X X X X
Help Desk Staff   X X X
Level 2 Support     X X
Guest       X

As the table shows, User levels have graduated permissions ranging from broad site access (Administrator) to most restrictive access (Guest).

Modifying User Levels

The permissions for any default User level can be modified, through the permissions group management area in the Administration section of the site (accessible by Administrator level only). 

Creating New User Levels (Permission Groups)

Administrators can use the Permission Groups area to create a new permissions group. New Groups can be cloned from existing User levels for ease of creation.

For example, you need two Guest level Users to be able to manage knowledge books. First, clone the Guest level user then check off for them to have knowledge book management access. This will give the Users Guest level access with the added knowledge book capabilities.

1.4. Getting Up and Running-Administrators

While this guide doesn't specifically cover Administrator configuration, the following provides Administrators with a quick look at the most important steps for getting the installation up and running. More detailed Information on configuration can be found in the HelpSpot Administrator area of the UserScape site (http://www.userscape.com/helpdesk/index.php?pg=kb.book&id=1).

The initial password for Administrators is start. This should be changed after initial login. 

  • Configure System Settings Page

(Location: Admin>Settings) The settings page includes several system-wide configuration options that range from creating status types to defining the layout of the Customer portal. Administrators should review and become familiar with each as an initial step in the set-up process.

 Status types are most useful for defining the resolution for each request. 

  • Create Support Staff Accounts

(Location: Admin>Staff) User accounts must be created and assigned access to the system. The following provides a high-level look at each permission level.

  • Create Request Categories

(Location: Admin>Organize>Categories) To effectively route requests and allow for concise request reporting, Administrators will need to define request categories. Permissions for default ownership, accessibility by assigned Staff, and visibility on Customer portal must also be set for each category created. Reporting tags for each category are an optional way that further classifies individual requests.

  • Create Support Mailboxes

(Location: Admin>Email Mailboxes) HelpSpot mailboxes serve as a way to seamlessly integrate email exchanges. By adding individual mailboxes, HelpSpot can pull all messages sent to existing support email account and create new requests or append notes to existing requests. Through additional configuration, Administrators can opt to route requests resulting from emails into specific categories or auto-assign to selected Staff.

  • Define Custom Request Fields

(Location: Admin>Organize>Custom Fields) Custom fields are a means to create User-defined fields for the collection of meta data. With 11 different types available Administrators have a robust, structured framework for collecting the information specific to their product/service or organization.


1.5. Logging in

When an account is created, the User receives via email his/her account login information. Upon login Users are brought to the workspace which is where our guide begins.

2. The Workspace

2.1. Getting the Lay of the Land

The workspace, or the initial landing page, can be thought of as the hub of all request management within HelpSpot. It is from here that Users can access individual request management functions: creating, viewing, and updating. This chapter looks at the basic structure, layout, and function of each of the areas within the workspace. 

For the purposes of understanding the overall structure, let's break the workspace out into three areas. These areas are briefly introduced below and covered in-depth in subsequent chapters.

  • Left Navigation. This area includes all of the links running along the left side of the screen. These links provide access to varying request views and related actions.
    • Request Grid. Conceptually, the request grid is the display area for requests meeting specified criteria. Criteria will vary depending on the filtered view the User is in. The criteria used to determine the requests displayed in the request grid (for any given filtered view) are defined by: 
      • Users or Administrators; through filter creation,
      • System default views: the Inbox and My Queue. 
  • Top Navigation. This encompasses both the very top navigation items as well as those just below the navigation bar.

3. Workspace: Left Navigation

3.1. Inbox & My Queue

Inbox

On a very broad level the Inbox is home to all unassigned requests. As such, its primary function is to serve as the entry point for new requests (submitted via email, portal or other channel). 

Users can take a request from the Inbox by simply clicking on the Take It button to the far left within the request grid. Upon doing so, Users will immediately be taken to the request page for that request. Ownership begins as soon as a User takes a request out of the Inbox; it is no longer shown in the Inbox and will instead show in that User's My Queue. 

My Queue

As mentioned in the previous section, once a request is assigned to a User it is no longer available through the Inbox and can be found in the User's My Queue.

Request assignment can occur in several ways: User takes a request from Inbox, one User assigns a request to another User, or an automated process handles the request.

Once a User clicks My Queue, the request grid in the center of the screen will load all the open requests assigned to that User. 

The list of requests shown here will vary between Users because it reflects the requests assigned to the person logged-in. Additional views, or filters, can be created and saved for viewing requests assigned to others.

HelpSpot uses My Queue as the default view when Users login and click the Workspace tab. However, this is customizable, allowing Users to select any filtered view as the default.

3.2. SPAM & Trash

SPAM (overt advertising, typically created via an automated process) is a common problem for support centers that openly publish support email addresses or web-forms. To prevent it from interfering with true Customer inquiries or incorrectly skewing reporting, HelpSpot has integrated a trainable SPAM tool. 

Training the SPAM Tool

HelpSpot will initially depend on Users to flag requests that are SPAM. Over time, while this flagging is being done, HelpSpot will learn to recognize the SPAM specific to the installation and automatically flag it accordingly. 

Users can flag requests as SPAM in either the request grid (using the quick action buttons) or in the request itself.

All requests flagged as SPAM are available via the SPAM link in the left navigation. From here, Users can use the request grid to click into the request or select and delete it.

Messages which are sent to SPAM but later marked as NOT SPAM by a User also helps train the SPAM tool to not incorrectly mark requests as SPAM.

 

Removing Flag or Deleting SPAM

If either a User or the SPAM tool incorrectly flags a request as SPAM, check the box next to the request and use the drop-down at the bottom of the request grid to select Mark as Not SPAM. After hitting submit the request will move into the Inbox where it can be taken by any User. Marking a request as NOT SPAM will train the SPAM tool to not mark notes from that sender as SPAM.

SPAM must be deleted to reinforce the systems learning process. To delete, check the box next to each request and use button at the bottom of the request grid to delete the SPAM. Once this is done it will be completely removed from HelpSpot.

Trash

Requests that aren't necessarily SPAM but don't need to be worked or counted towards reporting can be flagged for the Trash. Using the Trash is a means for handling email bounces, training/test requests, and duplicate requests.

 

3.3. Search

HelpSpot provides Users with a several different ways to find requests within the system. Each method is optimized to find the single-specific request, or group of requests.

Quick Search

Simply type in the customer or request ID to be returned the request(s) that meet the criteria. User's can also opt to do an advanced search. More on advanced search is covered below.

Advanced Search

Advanced searches can be done on a myriad of customer, request, and installation-level details.

Customer Searches

Users can search against any/all customer specific information found on the request page. Results are returned below the search boxes and clicking the linked request ID will allow Users to go directly to the request page for the individual request.

Detailed Searches

This search type allows Users to create a more intricate, specific set of search criteria. At a high level, the parameters by which Users can search are grouped by the following:

  • customer information
  • request details
  • custom fields
  • request history
  • date & time (minutes/hours since or before specified actions)
  • assignment chain (who/when of request ownership)
  • public updates (by whom and number of)
  • any/all conditions and custom SQL
Any number of these can be used, in combination, to create a specific set of search criteria.
 

Turning Searches into Filters

Searches can be run one time only or saved for later, repeated use by selecting the save as filter button. This quick feature adds the filter to the other personal filters in the left navigation. 

Users need to go into the filtered view to modify filter (such as making Global or modifying columns). Once in the filtered view, select the edit filter link in the options menu to make the necessary changes. For more on managing filters, see the filters page.


3.4. Viewing Filters

Filters are custom-created views of requests. Each filter has a set of criteria, defined by the creator using specific conditions that requests must meet to be returned in the results set. Filtered views can be created and saved on the User or global level. 

At the bottom of the left nav, Users will see a list of both personal and global filters. Personal folders can be listed invidually on the left nav or grouped into folders. All global filters are listed within the global filter folder. There maybe sub-folders, if such were created. To access the contents of a filter, Users must simply click the filter name.

Modifying Filter Views

To modify the properties of a filtered view, simply click the edit filter link under the filter options menu (in request grid view). 

For more on the specifics of Filter modification, see the Filters page of the manual.

 

4. Workspace: Request Grid

4.1. General Layout

The request grid is the display area for requests meeting specified criteria. The criteria will vary depending on the filtered view (Inbox, My Queue, or custom-filtered view) the User is in. 

At the top of every request grid is the name of the view. For those views that are system created, it will be the names designated by HelpSpot; Inbox and My Queue. For those views created by Administrators or Users, via filters, it will be the name designated during filter creation. Just after the view name, Users will find a request count in parentheses. This count reflects the number of requests that match the defined conditions.

To the far right of the name and count, Users will find groups of icons that represent various actions that can be taken on the requests within the view. Those are broken out into:

  • Modifying view. Users can go between the request grid and the note stream layouts. These views are described more in-depth below.
  • Options. Within the options menu, Users have access to edit/delete or make the filtered view a default workspace. 
  • RSS feed and Export. Every filtered view can be exported into a .csv file or view via an RSS reader.

Request Grid: Default Columns

The request grid returns specific information, in columns, for each request that is included in the results set for the view. The Inbox and My Queue have a default set of columns that are returned. Those columns returned in custom-created filtered views are defined by upon creation. Working left to right in the request grid, the default columns are outlined below. 

  • Take It (Inbox or custom filtered view only). Allows Users to take a request to work. Once clicked, Users will be brought to the request page. At this point the request is assigned and will no longer be visible in the Inbox.
  • Quick Action check box. The check box to the far right of all requests is used to select the request(s) for which one of the quick actions will be taken. A complete list of quick actions available is discussed later in this chapter.
  • Read/Reply Indicator. A graphical indicator of the most recent action taken on the request. 
        • Green dot. The most recent update to the request that is unread by the assigned User.
        • Circular Arrow. Staff member was the last to reply.
        • Grey dot. User has read the update but a Staff member has yet to reply.

Users can click the green/grey dot to change the read/unread state.

  • Request ID. This is the ID auto-assigned to each request when it enters the system. Within the Inbox, there is no request ID but rather the Take It button.
  • Customer Name. First and last are shown, if provided.
  • Initial Request. Shows the first few sentences of the initial request sent by the Customer. The text can be clicked to preview the body of the message.
  • Age. Shows the length of time that has passed since the initial request was created.

Note Stream View

By default, HelpSpot loads each filtered view a grid-type layout (as outlined above). However, on the fly, Users can switch to the note stream view that shows only the real-time activity of requests. Users can specify if they want to see the following update types:

  • Staff only (public updates)
  • Staff only w/private
  • Customer only
  • Customer & Staff

Users can think of this view as a timeline of request activity within the filtered view. 

Simply clicking the grid-like icon will return Users to the standard, request grid view.


4.2. Quick Actions Buttons

The quick action buttons allow Users to perform actions on request(s) directly from the request grid page, saving the need to enter the request page for each individual request. Quick action buttons can be found at the bottom of the request grid in all filtered views.

All actions are preformed by selecting the checkbox next to the desired request(s), than click the desired action button.

Available quick actions include:

  • Reassign. Users can opt to assign a new category and Staffer to the selected requests. When used in conjunction with category auto-assignment (if enabled), it can serve as a means to manage workflow based on issue types. 
  • Close Requests. When a group of requests do not require further action they can be closed directly from the request grid. Prior to action being completed, Users must select the appropriate closing status types. 
  • Batch Respond. This action allows Users, in one step, to update multiple requests.
  • Merge Requests. Allows for the request history of one, or more requests, to be forced into another.
  • Change Status. Users can quickly change the status for a group of requests. 
  • TrashA means to remove testing/training requests, duplicate requests, or any other requests that do not require action or should be removed from the system for reporting purposes. 
  • Mark as SPAM. Will flag all selected requests as SPAM and move to the SPAM filtered view for deletion. 

4.3. Display Options and Editing

At the top of each filtered view, within the name header, Users will find various options for viewing/editing that view.

Request Grid View and Note Stream View

The details of these view are described more in-depth on the General Layout page, linked under related pages.

Options

For each filtered view, Users have a few options available to them. The Inbox and My Queue, because they are system default views, have a limited list of options available.

Customize Columns

Only available for Inbox and My Queue. Allows Users to configure those default items included in the request grid view.

Edit Filter

This only shows to the filtered view creator or an Administrator. From this link, the parameters of filtered views, permissions, and how they are displayed can be modified.

Make Default Workspace

Any filtered view can be made as a Users default landing page when entering the Workspace. When used in conjunction with a Take It button, any filtered view can be used as an organizations/work groups default inbox.

RSS and .CSV export. The contents of any filtered view can be exported to either an RSS reader or .csv supporting application.

5. Workspace: Top Navigation

5.1. Accessing Other Areas

Along the top, Users will find icons to access other areas of HelpSpot. Not all icons are available for all User levels. 

Top navigation icons include:

  • Workspace. The initial landing page, can be thought of as the hub of all request management within HelpSpot.
  • Knowledge Books. Allows an organization to create documentation for their products/services.
  • Forums. Area in HelpSpot to create an engaging, self-service community where Customers and Staff can contribute to the collective knowledge of your products/services.
  • Reports. A comprehensive, customizable and graphical way to monitor the activity on your help desk.
  • Portal. Customer-facing site for HelpSpot. Organizations can have multiple customer portals to support a number of unique domains.
Subsequent chapters discuss each area in-depth.

5.2. Filters

Filters are custom-created views of requests. Each filter has a set of criteria, defined by the creator using specific conditions that requests must meet to be returned in the results set. Filtered views can be created for use by various groups of Users. The filters button can be found just below the top navigation, above the request grid, in the Workspace. 

To see how filters are used, see the Filters in Use: Working Examples page.

Defining Conditions

When creating a filter, Users can define an infinite number of conditions, and combination of conditions, that requests must meet to be included within that view. Conditions are based on individual elements of the request, Customer, or actions taken on a request. Users must define if the requests should match any or all conditions provided for the filter.

For each condition there is a means to define the value, via either a drop-down or text field. Each condition provides an additional drop-down for selecting the operator (for example: greater than, less than, is/is not) to define how the specified value is applied.  

For more advanced filter creation, sub- or nested groups of conditions can be created using the advanced condition of ALL/ANY of the following are true. When either is used, nested drop-downs will appear where the sub-condition group is created.

Testing Conditions

To test the condition(s), Users can hit the Run filter button just below the conditions box. The results will truncate to show only the first 30 requests in the results set. However, the top of the results set shows the number of requests that match the condition(s) set. To see all requests, check the Show all Results box prior to running. 

The results will return based on the preferences set in the Save filter box to the right of the screen. To see the results set, with the desired preferences (such as columns and sort) included, set preferences before running the test.

Once a User is satisfied with the conditions set, as demonstrated through the results presented in the testing, they can move to the final steps of setting preferences and saving.

Options

Under the options tab, Users can define various filter settings (includes: filtered view layout, columns, grouping, and sort order). By default, each setting is given a logical value so filters can be created without modification of the options.

Viewing

As mentioned in a previous chapter, all filtered views are displayed and accessed via the left navigation (nested or individually listed).

Editing

Administrators and the designated creator can edit a filtered view. The link to edit can be found under the options link within the request grid layout of the filtered view. Once clicked, Users will be brought to the filter creation/modification page.

5.3. Create a Request

The create request button, below the top navigation, is used to manually create requests. Requests would typically enter the system via email, portal form, or API. However, there is a means to create request for such customer encounters such as phone or IM.

Once a User clicks the create request button, the request page loads. 

5.4. Responses

Responses are predefined messages, available to Users when updating requests and/or responding to forum posts. 

Responses can be created with stylized text (bolding, bulleted lists, etc.) and contain placeholder information, such as assigned Staff members' email addresses or request IDs. Additionally, specific actions can be tied to the use of a response (ie: changing categories, status, or assignment). As with the use of the response itself, the associated actions can be a huge time saver for Staff.

The page is broken out into a complete list of all active responses (click to edit each). Below the list is the form to add a response. Users will be required to define a name, location, and permission access for the response. 

Formatting

In selected areas, such as response creation, HelpSpot uses a formatting text mark-up to modify how text is displayed to end Users. The Formatting Options button opens a window listing the characters used to format text. 

Placeholders

Users can included a number of auto-text placeholders in a response. HelpSpot automatically replaces placeholders with the appropriate information prior to sending. See the attached for a complete list of available placeholders.

Request Actions

Users can expand the power of the response by defining specific actions to be taken on the request when responses are applied. Actions can range from updating a category or status to adding a private note. Any actions taken as a result of a request, will be logged within the request history.

5.5. Subscriptions & Reminders Lists

Subscriptions

Users can follow changes made to requests that aren't assigned to them by opting to subscribe to a request. The Subscriptions button allows a User to access all requests for which they are subscribed. It is from the subscription list that Users can view the individual requests or delete the subscription.

Reminders

From the request page of an individual request, Users can set a reminder. Reminders are emailed at the designated date/time to selected Users and are listed under the reminders area of the workspace.

To access all of their reminders, Users should click the Reminders buttonOnce in the reminders list, Users can click the request ID to go directly into an individual request.

6. The Request Page

6.1. Concept and Contents

The request page is the Customer email, portal form submission, or phoned-in inquiry translated into a request; it's the core of individual inquiry/request management. From here, Staff can reply to the Customer, add meta-data, categorize, and assign the request. 

The request page is accessible only for those with a HelpSpot account. The primary ways Users will access the request page include:

  • Clicking the Take It button from the Inbox
  • Clicking the request ID from the request grid of any view
  • Clicking Create a Request in the left navigation of the workspace
  • From a link in an Update email

Navigating Requests within a Filtered View

When a filtered view (including inbox and workspace) has more than one request, Users can easily navigate between requests through the use of the next and previous buttons in the top right of the request page. This eliminates the need to go back to the workspace to enter the next request. 

Request Page Layout

For the purposes of understanding functionality, the request page can be divided into 5 main areas.  

  1. Customer Details
  2. Time Tracker (if enabled)
  3. Request Note
  4. Request History
  5. Request Details

6.2. Customer Details

For every request, HelpSpot provides fields for logging Customer-specific information.

HelpSpot will automatically populate as much information as possible for requests initiated via the portal form or an email. For requests manually entered by Staff, the Staff member must enter the Customer information as part of the request creation process.

History Search

Within the History Search tab, Users can see all open requests for that customer. Searches default to General, however it can be quickly adjust to search on such parameters as domain name or Customer ID. Upon clicking the Customer ID for any request, you see a preview of the request with the option to insert customer data in the current request.

Live Look Up

Live lookup allows HelpSpot to communicate with an external database (or other system that stores Customer data, pertinent to the support staff desk). Its power is it provides real-time display of data from external systems within HelpSpot, ensuring Customer information and custom field data is always accurate. For information on configuring Live Look Up, see the Administrators Manual.


6.3. Creating a Note: Formatting and Note Types

HelpSpot offers two formats for creating/sending updates via email: HTML (via visual editor or formatted text) or plain text. 

HTML Formatting

HTML formatting can be done in one of two ways—via a visual editor or formatted text. Both provide the same end-result yet require Users to apply style in different ways. 

Visual Editor (WYSIWYG)

HelpSpot defaults to sending/receiving HTML emails; so 'out of the box' Users will see a formatting tool bar across the top of the note box to support the sending of HTML emails. This tool bar functions similar to formatting tool bars in Microsoft Word and includes a spell checker to the far left (if enabled during installation). To format text, type in the box, highlight and click the desired formatting option.

Formatted Text

For installations with formatted text enabled, HelpSpot uses a formatting text mark-up to modify how text is displayed. Formatting covers the basics most Users would need for a note such as bolding, underlining, linking, and bulleted lists. HelpSpot converts the mark-up into HTML once the User submits the update. The Formatting Options link opens a window listing the characters that must be used to achieve the various formatting effects and serves as a reference when applying styles.

Note Types

As we review the note types, keep these key HelpSpot principles in mind:

  • Customers receive email notices only when a public note is used.
  • All note types are logged within the request history.
  • The assigned Staff person receives an email when other Staff person updates the request.
  • HelpSpot appends the request ID to every outgoing message for the logging replies in the request history.

Public Notes

These notes are used to provide the Customer an update on their inquiry. Public notes are:

  • available to Customers via the portal, and
  • are emailed to the Customer (via the email in the Customer information box).

Add Notifications

Others, outside of the Customer or Users, can also receive a public note. Those individuals should be listed as a CC or BCC. 

To add a recipient, click the Add a CC Email or Add a BCC Email, type the recipients email address and click Add.

When an email address is added, the recipient will continue to be included on all public updates until the address is removed. To remove the email address, simply click on the email icon next to the address. 

As part of the public note options there are fields to modify the email subject and change the sent from email address. Users may find modifying the subject is an easy way for recipients that aren't familiar with the issue to understand the contents of the message they received.

Modifying the email subject doesn't mean you lose the interaction in HelpSpot. Because HelpSpot auto-appends the request ID to all subjects of outgoing emails, any responses will be correctly logged within the request history.

Private Note

Staff may want to make a note on an action they took toward addressing a request, such as: making a phone call or leaving a note to the assigned staff member. In such cases, the private note should be used. These notes are logged within the request history however, no email is sent to the Customer (nor is there an option to send the note via CC or BCC). 

External Note

The external note capability allows Staff to work with the necessary resources while still having the entire interaction logged within the request history. Customers do not receive email updates when an external note is used; only the specified recipients will receive the message when an external note is created. The external note options are the same as the public note options (CC/BCC options). 

6.4. Creating a Note: Options

There are a few options that can be used for all note types. These include:

  • Attach. Attach a file to send with any note. File types and sizes are not limited by HelpSpot. 
  • Note Drafts. Every 30 seconds Helpspot auto-saves the message in the note box with a date/time stamped draft. Via the drop-down list, Users can easily revert to any prior version of the message. 
  • Notify Staff. Include any HelpSpot User as a recipient to a note. The message will be sent via the preferred communication method set in User's preference.
  • Knowledge. Insert a link to any public knowledge book page in a note. User can opt to preview the page prior to inserting the link or simply click the page name to insert a link to the page. 
  • Responses. Users can create prepared responses for quick use by Staff when responding to the more common inquires.
  • Subscribe. Users can follow changes made to requests that aren't assigned to them by opting to subscribe to a request. 

6.5. Request History

Every action completed on a request is logged within the request history. Actions can range from a note to the Customer to the logging of request detail changes. Logging all interactions enables any User, at any time, to become current on the happenings within a Customer request.

Users also have the option to filter history by: Full History, Only Notes, Public Notes, or Files. 

Individual Entries: Up-Close

While the actions that create the entry may vary, the basic look and feel of all entries remains the same.

HelpSpot includes the following in every entry type:

  • Time/Date Stamp of action
  • Clear label of entry type (ie: Public/Private/External Note or Event Log)
  • User name and photo, if available, for all User-generated actions
  • Message recipients, when applicable
  • Message, when applicable
  • Description of request detail change, when applicable

When hovering over a Users picture, Staff can access a menu for the following:

  • Quote a previous entry in a new note
  • Change note status to public or private (excluding system-generated entries)
  • Convert an individual entry into it's own request
  • Generate a direct link to this entry. Handy for sending to another User for quick review.

Across all entry types, images attachment are embedded within the request history for ease of viewing. For all other file types, there will be a link for downloading. 

6.6. Request Details

The request details area contains the information necessary to manage the working of the request as well as the data to classify the request for reporting or automated processes.

Status

Users have the ability to assign a status to a request. A status assignment can reflect a milestone in the resolution process, including what led to the closure of the issue. For example, HelpSpot provides the following by default: active, problem solved, Customer found solution, Customer unreachable, and software bug. To close a request, Users must select a status type other than Active.

HelpSpot comes by default with a few status types to get Users started however; Administrators can customize the list of status types.

Category

On a very basic level, categories are used in HelpSpot to group-like requests together. This grouping can range from defining the nature of the inquiry to specifying the work group/department responsible for resolution. HelpSpot's flexibility allows organizations to best define the function that the category assignment serves.

It's important to keep in mind that beyond just a simple label, each category defines the types of meta-data collected for a request by tying request assignment, reporting tags, and custom fields directly to the category. 

Appropriate category application, in conjunction with the meta-data collected, can provides help desks with a framework for workflow management.

Assigned To

Administrators must define the Users that have access to work requests within a specific category. Once this is done, Users will see on the request page a list of Staff to which a request can be assigned. This list will always contain:

  • The default contact for the category,
  • The Inbox as an assignment option. This means it will go to the Inbox and be available for anyone to take, and 
  • A count next to each Users name of how many requests are currently opened and assigned to them.

To select a Staff member, Users should use the dropdown to navigate available Staffers. Assignment is immediately applied as soon as the request is updated (via the Update Request or Update and Close buttons).

Assignment is the cornerstone of creating a request workflow. Once assignment is selected and submitted, the request will move to that User's My Queue and be flagged as unread for them to work.

Assignment can also be the basis for generating:

  • Reportsmonitor activity by User.
  • Filtered Viewsquickly navigate to requests based on assignment. 
  • Automation Rulesperform various actions based on request assignment.

Reporting Tags

Within each category an additional level of classification is available via the reporting tags. The selection of a value within the category drop-down will determine the reporting tags displayed. 

Users can select as many reporting tags as applicable for the request by click the checkbox next to the tag. When the Update or Update and Close buttons are clicked, the tags will be applied to the request and logged within the request history. 

At anytime reporting tags can be un-checked when no longer applicable. 

Because HelpSpot ties reporting tags to the categories, when a category changes, any reporting tags selected under the previous category will no longer apply and new tags must be selected.

Reporting tags can be used to create:

  • Reportsmonitor requests by an additional level of classification.
  • Filtered Viewsquickly navigate to requests that contain specific reporting tags. 
  • Automation Rulesperform actions based on an additional level of classification within the request. 

Custom Fields

Custom fields represent custom meta-data that can be collected for a request. There are 11 types of custom fields available to Administrators for creation. These data field types can be used in a various combinations to collect the information necessary for meeting specific business requirements.

In addition to showing custom fields on the request pages for Users, Administrators can also make selected fields available to Customers via the portal web form (note: not all are available in the portal). In these cases, a custom field that is populated by the Customer will be displayed to the User on the request page.

Custom field values are applied to the request as soon as the Update Request or Update and Close buttons are clicked. Custom field changes/updates are logged in the request history.

Uses for custom fields include:

  • Reportsmonitor requests by key indicators as defined by Administrators, not HelpSpot.
  • Filtered Viewsquickly navigate to requests that meet values specified in custom fields. 
  • Automation Rulesperform actions on requests based on organization-specific information.

Options

Within the header of the request details, there's an options menu that allows Users to:

  • Merge Requests⎯Combine one or more requests. 
  • View Access Key & Password⎯Customers must use the access to lookup a request on the portal. To access all their requests, at once, Customers must login using their email and password.  
  • Trash⎯Remove the request from the system; will no longer be included in filtered views or reporting.
  • View in Portal⎯See the request in the portal, as a Customer would see it.

Print

Users can select to print a printer-friendly version of the request.

Reminders

Set a reminder specific to the request, using the reminders icon along the request details header. Reminders can include a note along with the inclusion of additional Staff. All reminders for the logged in User are managed via the reminders area in the Workspace.

7. Knowledge Books

7.1. Public vs. Private

Knowledge books allow an organization to create documentation for their products/services. Books are organized with chapters and pages—providing a familiar structure for ease of navigation. 

Throughout this section reference will be made to public and private knowledge books, the differences are:

  • Public. Intended for Customers. These knowledge books are available via the portal and through the KB area within HelpSpot (by Staff only). 
  • Private. Intended for Staff only. These knowledge books are accessible only via the KB area within HelpSpot.

7.2. Adding/Editing Books

Book Creation

Within the Knowledge area, books can be created via the Add a Book button.

During book creation, specify the book-level properties such as name, book editors and book type (public/private).

As soon as a public knowledge book is added it will be live on the portal. To prevent Customers from seeing partial books, select Yes to making your books private until you're ready to have them go live. 

Ordering Books

Using the Books Order button, Users will be brought to a page to sort either the public or private books.

Editing & Deleting Books

All books (public and private) are listed on the left navigation. To edit any one of those books, click the title and use the edit book button within the book table of contents screen. The form to modify is the same as the one used to create the books. Keep in mind that when a book is deleted, all content within the book is deleted as well and cannot be recovered. When it's gone, it's gone!


7.3. Adding/Editing Chapters

Adding Chapters

Within the book table of contents page (accessible by clicking the left navigation), Users should use the Add Chapter button.

Chapters default to being visible (not hidden). Hiding chapters is useful when adding content to an existing, live book.

Chapters can be designated as an appendix, meaning they will appear at the end of the book without a chapter number.

Editing Chapters

Next to the chapter name on the book table of contents page is the edit chapter button. It is through this area the parameters of the chapter can be modified or a chapter can be deleted. Keep in mind that when a chapter is deleted it can not be recovered. When it's gone, it's gone!

7.4. Adding/Editing Pages

Adding Pages

Again, from the book table of contents page, Users should use the Add Page button located next to each chapter name to add a page within that chapter. 

Adding pages is a two-step process. The first step requires naming and sorting order be selected. During the second step page content is created. Pages are defaulted to being hidden, viewable only to editors, for the purposes of creation. When you're ready to go live simply flip Hidden to No.

Editors can also link related pages, flag a page as highlighted or add an attachment file to complete the content of the page.

Formatting Pages

The built in visual editor, similar to Microsoft Word, allows Editors to stylize and format the content without the hassle of hand coding the necessary web mark-up. Type the desired content into the text box, highlight, and select the desired action from the tool bar.

Holding formatting with copy/paste

Editors can copy/paste documentation already existing in Microsoft Word format into the visual editor to make page creation go quicker. However, the documents must first be saved as HTML (outlined below). This will hold most of the original formatting for moving into the knowledge book page.

1. Open the document in Microsoft Word.

2. In Word, go to File>Save As in the top menu. 

3. In the file dialog box, select a location, modify file name, and change file type to save as html.

4. Open the saved HTML file of your documentation in your web browser. 

5. Highlight desired text. Copy and paste into Page Editor in HelpSpot.

Knowledge Tags

Each page can have any number of knowledge tags associated with the page content. For more on how to set knowledge tags and how they work see the knowledge tag page, linked under related pages.

Editing & Deleting Pages

Clicking the chapter title, within the books table of contents, to get to the page content. The page editor is accessed through the edit page button. From here, pages content and properties can be edited. When pages are deleted all content will be lost and cannot be recovered. When it's gone, it's gone!

8. Forums

8.1. Forums: Concepts and Basics

HelpSpot's forums allow Users to create an engaging, self-service community where Customers and Staff can contribute to the collective knowledge of your products/services.

Forums have a hierarchical structure. At the lowest level there are posts, where readers will put their questions and/or comments and other readers will respond/comment. Posts can be thought of as individual thoughts submitted by readers, which collectively roll-up into a topic. These grouped thoughts, or topics, in turn roll-up into the larger structure of the forum.  

Throughout this section reference will be made to both public and private forums; the differences are highlighted below.

  • Public. Intended for Customers and/or Staff interaction. These forums are available via the portal and through the Forums tab within HelpSpot (by Staff only). 
  • Private. Intended for Staff only. These forums are accessible only via the Forums tab within HelpSpot.
Once within the Forums area of HelpSpot, Users will see the newest posts and topics as well as all public and private forums along the left navigation.

8.2. Management and Creation

Through the Manage Forums button, Users are brought to an area that both lists existing forums, for editings, and a form for creating new forums.

Creating a New

Forum creation is simple and requires just a few bits of information, including forum name, designated moderators, and open/close status. Once saved and opened, it is ready for posting.

Managing Existing

Again, through the Manage Forums button, Users will see all public and private forums. To manage any, Users can click the forum name to be brought to the forum management form.

8.3. Topic Creation and Moderation

Clicking the forum name in the left navigation will bring Users to a list of all topics within that forum. Below the list of linked topics there is a form for adding a topic.

When adding a topic, Users must complete a series of fields. Included is the ability to make the topic sticky and subscribe to replies.

Once a topic is posted it will immediately be live within the forum. The steps for creating a topic are the same for both public and private forums.

Creating Sticky Topics

If Moderators wish to draw attention to a specific discussion or topic, within a forum they can do so by selecting 'Yes' to the Topic is Sticky question within the Moderator Topic Controls box.

Sticky topics will always appear at the top of the topics list within a forum, both public and private.

Creating sticky topics that are closed can serve as means to creating a prominent area within a forum for posting Forum guidelines (rules) or announcements to readers.

Knowledge Tags

All Forum topics can have any number of knowledge tags applied to the it. For more on using knowledge tags, see the linked related page.

Topic Moderation

All topic moderation occurs through the moderation box at the bottom of the topic page.

Moderator capability is limited to those who have been given permission by an Administrator.

Closing Topics

When a discussion has run its course, or if Moderators need to reign in a discussion that has wandered from the original topic, clicking 'Yes' in the Closed dropdown will close a topicpreventing additional posts from being added.

SPAM Topics

If a topic seems to be automated, overt advertising or inappropriate for a discussion of your product/service, it can be flagged as SPAM and deleted by clicking the Delete Topic as SPAM button (just below the Moderator Topic Controls box on the topic page).

As with other areas of HelpSpot, flagging SPAM appropriately is necessary to facilitate the learning of the auto-SPAM filtering. Over time, with appropriate flagging, HelpSpot will learn the characteristics of the SPAM the site receives and auto-flag it as such. 

Staff can check posts that were automatically marked as SPAM by going to the SPAM area on the left navigation. From here you can delete or Mark as Not SPAM for those labeled incorrectly.

HelpSpot has a security word (captcha) on the Add a Topic form on the portal that helps limit the number of SPAM forum posts.

Deleting Topics

If a topic isn't necessarily SPAM but is inappropriate and needs to be removed, Moderators can do so simply by clicking the Delete Topic button (just below the Moderator Topic Controls box on the topic page).

Once it's gone, it's gone! Deleting permanently removes items from HelpSpot.

8.4. Post Creation and Moderation

Replies are posted within forum topics using the Post Reply form. This form can be accessed in a number of ways from the Forums area in HelpSpot:

  • Click the forum name along the left navigation. Once in the forum, select the desired topic to post within.
  • From either the Newest 30 Posts or Newest 30 Topics areas, on the Forums landing page.

The reply capabilities within HelpSpot are similar to those within the portal. Once a User posts a reply it is immediately available within the forum.

Advanced Reply Capabilities

Beyond simply adding a message in posts, Users have the added ability to insert links to knowledge book pages and include prepared responses.

Adding Knowledge Book Links

Users can elect to include links to public knowledge book pages in any posts. Adding these links can provide readers with further clarification regarding a process and procedure in a way that is quick and easy for Staff. Keep in mind that only published pages of public knowledge books are available for linking.

Using Prepared Responses

Using a prepared response in forums is a quick way to reply to posts that reflect a common inquiry. 

Moderating Posts

Using the menu under the author icon, for an individual post within a topic (shown below) will bring Moderators to the post-level moderation options.

Within the Moderate Post area you can delete posts, mark as SPAM, or edit posts (as needed).

SPAM Posts

If a post seems to be automated or overt advertising, it can be flagged as SPAM. 

As with other areas of HelpSpot, flagging SPAM appropriately is necessary to facilitate the learning of the auto-SPAM filtering. Over time, with appropriate flagging, HelpSpot will learn the characteristics of the SPAM your site receives and auto-flags it as such. 

Staff can check posts that where automatically marked as SPAM by going to the SPAM area on the left navigation. From here you can delete or Mark as Not SPAM for those labeled incorrectly.

HelpSpot has a security word (captcha) on the Add a Post form on the portal, which will helps limit the number of SPAM forum posts.

Deleting Posts

If a post isn't necessarily SPAM but is inappropriate and needs to be removed, Staff can do so simply by clicking the Delete Post button on the moderating post page.

Once it's gone, it's gone! Deleting permanently removes items from HelpSpot.

Flagging Known Users

HelpSpot provides the capability to flag posters (readers that create posts within a forum) with a text-based label. This can be done via the Known User menu item within the author icon menu. The label can help add creditability to the post(s) or put the appropriate context around a comment.

Turn Into Request

Users have the capability to turn posts that reflect an issue or inquiry into requests through the Turn into Request menu option. From there, Users will be brought to the request page where the request can be managed as they would any other. 

9. Reports

9.1. Todayboard

Completely redesigned, HelpSpot's Reports area is a robust, graphical-rich way of monitoring your help desk.

Todayboard

The landing page for the Reports area is the Todayboard, which is 6 distinct reports to provide a high-level look at the activity of the help desk.

Today's Request

Broken down by each hour of the day, this report shows requests opened today (24 hour period) and also compares that to activity of that 1 week ago. Allowing Users to see request activity today, throughout the day, relative to the same day last week.

Number of Replies to Close

As the title would indicate, this report show how many public notes were submitted (per request) by Staff prior to closing.

First Response Speed (Biz hours)

The average and median for how long (in hours) until requests had a public note added by Staff. This is calculated within business hours (default is 8-5, local time).

Top Workloads Currently

Staff (3) with the most number of requests currently open.

Top Categories

Shows the top five categories to which requests are being assigned.

Interactions

An hourly look at request types, broken out by type: public by Staff, private by Staff, and Customer.

9.2. Canned Reports

HelpSpot includes 10 built-in reports that allow Users to monitor various aspects of activity on the help desk. Reports are broken out in to 3 groups: Requests Over Time, Analysis, Portal, and Time Tracker.

Report Characteristics

While reports differ in the data pulled, all reports have the following characteristics in common: 

  • For quick use, every report has a graphical representation of the results set.
  • Hovering over any data point on a graph will provide the specifics (ie: date, time, or count).
  • All reports provide the data set in list format that can be quickly accessed through the Data tab. It is from here you can drill down to see individual requests, as desired.
  • When applicable, the median and average values are provided.
  • Unless otherwise stated, the default time period is two weeks.
  • Any modified report can be saved for future use.
  • Reports can be exported in .csv format for manipulation outside of HelpSpot.

Modification Available for All Reports

All reports allow for the following parameters to be set:

  • Time/date ranges
  • Filtering. Any report can have filtering parameters added to refine the results returned. Filtering conditions are discussed within each report where relevant. 
Looking specifically at each report, only the unique modifiers of each report are discussed. 

Requests Over Time

Perhaps the best overall look at the activity of the help desk, this report is broken out within the Reports navigation.

Requests over Time shows a count of requests (those opened) each day over the course of a 2 week period.

Modifications available for this report:

  • group results by: time period, aggregate time period (ie: day of week/month of year), request detail item, or custom field.

First Response Speed

Shows the number of hours taken for Staff to update requests with the first public note.

Modifications available for this report:

  • group results by date
  • calculate based on business hours or 24 hour period
  • show speed rates by hours or minutes

First Assign Speed

Time it took to be assigned to Staff from first entering the system. This report is most applicable for those NOT using automation or mail rules for auto-assignment.

Modifications available for this report:

  • group results by date
  • calculate based on business hours or 24 hour period
  • show speed rates by hours or minutes

Replies by Count

Number of public updates done by Staff. Commonly used to see how many Staff updates were necessary to close a request. When using for this purpose, be sure the Open/Closed filter is set to Closed (defaults to all).

Modifications available for this report:

  • group by count (prevents excessive spread in x-axis)

Interactions over Time

Count of notes, broken out by type, based on note creation date.

Modifications available for this report:

  • group results by date
  • group results by author (HelpSpot User & Customer)

Resolution Speed

Time taken (in hours) for a request to be closed.

Modifications available for this report:

  • group results by date/month/year
  • calculate based on business hours or 24 hour period
  • based on date open or closed

Searches/Few Results

List of search terms used by Customers, which yielded the fewest results. Note, this report does not have an accompanying graph.

Aggregate Searches

List of search terms using in Customer portal. Those used most frequently are listed first.

Response Usage

Count of most used responses. List includes response title (link to response), response creator, and usage count. Users can use filtering to find the most used responses with a specific category or status type.

Modifications available for this report:

  • specify Staffer or all Users

Customer Activity

Count of those Customers with the most requests in the system (defaults to include both open & closed).

Modifications available for this report:

  • select unique identifier (email, name, or customer ID)
  • limit results returned

Time Tracker: Time Events

A list of all time events logged by Staff. The request ID listed in each event can be click to view the Request.

Modifications available for this report:

  • group results by date/month/year
  • group by individual Staff

9.3. Modifying Parameters and Saving

As discussed in previous pages, Users can further refine the results set (ie: modify the parameters) in a number of ways.

  • Adjust time frame
  • Group results (discussed in specific reports on previous page)
  • Use of Filter conditions

Using Report Filters

There are numerous filter conditions that can be applied only, or in conjunction with other conditions, to define the exact information needed. The filter conditions available in Reports are the same as those used within the Filter creation process.

Saving Modified Reports: My Reports

Once you've created a report that is tailored to your needs, it can be saved for future use. Any saved reports can be found in the My Reports folder of the Reports area navigation. Reports can only be saved for the logged in User and will not be available for use by other Users.

9.4. Sample Reports

Below represents a few of the report modification that can be made to find specific information; those areas most commonly monitored by help desk administrators/managers. As mentioned previously, any report can be saved in the My Reports folder for future use. 

Grouping by Category, Assigned User or Custom Field

Base report. Request Over Time.

Description. Users can quickly see requests over time based on category, assignment or any custom field by using the Grouping drop down, as shown below.

Implication. Insight into any of these areas will allow managers to make adjustments such as: increased portal documentation on a particular topic (addressing high categories), use of auto-assigment to better balance workload, or coordination with other departments.

 

Filtering by Customer

Base report. Request Over Time.

Description. Using the filtering conditions, Users can see requests submitted by a particular customer or customers meeting specific criteria within the Customer Information fields (ie: email domain or customer ID). Different from creating a Filter, this report will give you an aggregate snapshot over a defined period of time. Note: for this example, Customer email domain was used, in addition the results are being grouped by status and the time frame has been expanded.

Implication. Managers can use this to monitor service agreements or other contractual commitments.

How Many Replies to Close

Base report. Replies by Count.

Description. Find the aggregate of how many public notes occurred prior to an issue being closed. This type of report can be used as a gauge to determine how much work is required to resolve issues. Note: the filter condition of Open/Closed was set to Closed for this report.

Implication. Higher numbers within a particular category/reporting tag area or by select individuals could indicate a need for increased training or revision/creation of prepared responses.

10. Customer Portal

10.1. Homepage

The portal is the Customer-facing site for HelpSpot. It's designed to enable self-service and provide Customers with a centralize location for all support-related information/activities. From the portal Customers can: 

  • use the web form to submit an inquiry,
  • check the status of an inquiry (or login to check status of multiple inquiries),
  • view and participate in the forums, and
  • look through knowledge books to find solutions.

While this manual uses one of the available default portal styles, it's important to note that HelpSpot's portal is fully customized; allowing consistency with the look of any company's website/intranet.  

HelpSpot can support multiple (secondary) portals. This is used when separate customer facing support areas are needed. Configuration is done through the Administration area of the installation. 

Given portal functionality is consistent across primary and secondary portals, the balance of this chapter will focus on the use of one, the primary, portal only.

Lay of the Land

When Customers enter the portal they'll see three distinct areas on the homepage 

  • The Left Navigation. Links for submitting/checking/updating requests as well as links to any knowledge books and forums (if public).
  • Center of page. Grouped lists of links to items that were highlighted by editors (knowledge books), newly created (forums), flagged by readers as most helpful (knowledge books), and the knowledge tag cloud.
  • Search (bottom of screen). Allows Customers to search forums or knowledge books. 

10.2. Knowledge Books and Forums

Knowledge Books

Public books are highlighted in four areas within the portal:

  • The portal homepage lists the knowledge book pages editors highlighted during the creation process.
  • On the portal homepage, those pages voted most helpful.
  • The left navigation will list all public knowledge books.
  • Searching can be done within knowledge books. 

Once a knowledge book title has been clicked, readers are brought to the table of contents, which includes all live chapters/pages with editor-specified pages highlighted for the reader, if applicable.

Clicking on a page title will bring readers directly to the page content. Readers can vote on the helpfulness of a page. An aggregation of the most helpful pages from all public books is listed on the homepage.

Forums

Public forums are highlighted in three areas within the portal:

  • The portal homepage includes a list of the most recent topics (public forums).
  • The left navigation lists all public forums.
  • Searching can be done within forums.
Topics

Clicking on a forum title from the homepage will bring readers to the list of topics within that forum. 

From the forum's topic list, readers can click into any of the existing topics to read/reply or opt to create a new topic. 

After the initial post by a reader, the name, email and website they provide is remembered to allow subsequent posts to go quickly.

Posts

Clicking the topic title will bring readers to the list of posts on the topic. 

From here, readers can do the following:

  • Read the initial post and replies
  • Email those that posted 
  • Post a response
  • Opt to subscribe to replies

When replying to a post, the only required fields are message and name. The exception is when a reader opts to subscribe to replies; in these instances an email address must be provided.

 

10.3. Submitting and Checking Requests

Submitting a Request: the Request Form

Using the link on the left navigation, Users can submit a request.

By default HelpSpot breaks out the description box into three areas: what I did, what I expected to happen, and what actually happened. Administrators can change the request description boxes to a single, open text box. 

Some installations may create custom fields and/or categories that they wish to make public to enable request workflow or capture additional information directly from the Customer. 

To help reduce SPAM, captcha can be turned on by administrators. 

Check and Update Requests

Customers can use the Check on a Request link, within the left navigation, to check on and update requests. Customers must provide the request access key, which is provided by default in the emails Customers receive, to see a specific request.

For the quickest and easiest access to all their requests, Customers should login into the portal using their email address (one provided when submitting requests) and password. Passwords can be retrieved via the retrieve my password link. Once logged in, Customers will see a list of all requests they have (opened and closed) as well as the option to change their password for future login.

Just below all public update entries and the initial request, Customers will find an open text field where additional updates.


Appendix: Feature In-Depths

1. Knowledge Tags

Knowledge Tags allow Users to create a cross-resource base of knowledge. The advantage over traditional search is it's a much quicker, accurate way for readers to find specific content across knowledge book pages and forums.

Applying Tags

Knowledge Tags can be applied to by Users to any knowledge book page or forum topic; during or subsequent to creation. Users should take care to include every/all relevant tags as this will maximize the pertinent results returned.

Tagging consistence across content is critical. As Users type to add a tag, HelpSpot will show existing matching tags. You can opt to select the tag, if applicable, or continue to type the full tag.

Tags in the Portal

To the readers of the portal (typical your Customers), Knowledge Tags are listed in alpha order at the bottom of the homepage. Readers can click any tag to get a complete list of Knowledge Book pages and Forum topics associated with that tag. Notice the variation in size. The relative size of the tag name corresponds to the number of times it occurs within the content.

When Readers search within the portal, there's a section that will return the exact match Knowledge Tag (if such exists). 

Tags in HelpSpot

A list of tags is also include in HelpSpot (site Users log into) within the landing page of the Knowledge Books area. While the list is within the Knowledge Books area, it is not limited to that content but rather also includes Forums tags. The presentation will be as described in the portal (above).

Advanced Search and Tags

Users can search within Knowledge Tags using the Advanced Search in HelpSpot. Tags can be search individual or combined for the desired results set.

2. Filters in Use: Working Example

Filters are a way to view create custom views of the requests. By default, HelpSpot ships with global 'All Open' and 'Recently Closed' filters. However, an infinitely combination of conditions can be combined to create a filter that meets your excact business need.

Here are 3 real world examples of Filters in use. Execution of these filters can vary, with additional conditions being layered on to meet the business need, but the following shown here is intended to give Users an idea of how each would be created.

1. Monitoring Contractual Commitments

Business Need: Support desk has a contractually agreement with Customer group (internal or external) to always respond to equipment issues within 24 hours of Customer updates. 

Creation: Filter must be created to see those requests that haven't been updated within 24 hours, that has been assigned to Category: Equipment/Reporting Tag: Issues.

2. Creating Custom Inbox

Business Need: Create an Inbox for only those Staff working Account inquiries. Allows those Users to focus on working only those requests within their area of expertise.

Creation: Filter must be created to see those requests assigned to the Account Inquires category.

Unique to this filter is:

  • selection of Staff that can access the filter
  • addition of Take It button (not shown below but found under the Options tab).

3. Monitor Activity of Selected Staff (Training)

Business Need: Monitor activity of selected Staff. Effective in providing timely feedback during training periods. 

Creation: Filter must be created to see those requests opened Today, assigned to Staffer X, and are either currently Open or Closed.

3. User Preferences

Once an account is created, each User has the ability to set/edit preferences by click their name in the top right corner of the screen.

The preferences page covers everything from password changes to signature creation and allows Users to personalize their HelpSpot experience.

Make sure you hit Save at the bottom of the page to ensure all changes are applied.

Email and Password

The name, email, and password are displayed, at the top of the preference page, to the User as entered by the administrator during account creation. Users have the ability to update this information.

The email address listed here for Users is the default address HelpSpot uses for sending notifications. 

Black Box Username

This is only required for Users in installations that are running alternative authentication with an external source (such as Active Directory). 

Photo/Icon

Users can select from the stock images provided or opt to upload their own photo. The selected photo is used as part of the request history when the User creates an update, serving as a quick means to identify individual Users.

Users should resize images to 32x32 (pixels) prior to uploading to achieve the best results.

Communication

The communication area defines alternative contact information, out of office manager, as well as signatures for outgoing messages.

Alternative Contact Information

HelpSpot provides Users with a means for providing an alternative email, phone number, and SMS number. Options in the notification area allow Users to configure when messages/updates are sent via these alternative channels.

Out of Office Manager

If a User is going to be out of the office for an extended period of time, such as vacation or medical leave, all requests that would have been assigned to them can be assigned to an alternative User.

All Users are defaulted to being available. However, by using the drop-down Users can change their status and select whom their requests should go.

A visual indicator of out of office status appears in the assignment drop-down on the request page.

Creating a Signature

Similar to any mail client, Users can create a signature block that is appended to every outgoing message/update (public and external notes).

HelpSpot offers both a text and HTML signature format to account for varying system configurations. As such, it is recommended that Users complete both text and HTML to ensure the signature is included. 

When creating the HTML version of the signature, Users must use formatted text mark-up.

There's a third tab within the signature creation area for creating a mobile-specific signature. This signature will be used only when a User creates a note using HelpSpot mobile. Often a varying signature is used to inform the reader the note was created on a mobile device.

Notification

The notification area allows Users to configure where and under what conditions they receive a notification. The list below outlines each of the notifications options.

  • Send notification via email. Checked by default, so any system notification and request updates will generate an email.
  • Alternative email notification. Unchecked by default, this option sends all notifications to the alternative email address.
  • SMS notification options. HelpSpot allows Users to send all notification (that would typically go to an email account) to an SMS enabled device. Users can opt to select to send all notifications or only urgent ones. All SMS options are uncheck by default.
  • Notification for unassigned new requests. User can opt to receive a notification for every unassigned request that enters HelpSpot. The notification method will follow the channel specified within the options described above. This is unchecked by default.

General Preferences

These general preferences help Users personalize their experience by defining specific aspects of the look and feel to match their personal work style. 

  • Default to public note. Selecting this will default the note type to public each time the User enters the request page.
  • Default time tracker to open. For installations that utilize the time tracker, Users can opt have the time tracker open each time they enter the request page, saving Users the click of opening the time tracker.
  • Disable WYSIWYG in the knowledge books. For Users that prefer to hand code HMTL they can opt to disable the visual editor (aka: WYSIWYG editor) for knowledge book creation.
  • Do not embed images in request history. Selecting this option will treat images as other attachments and create a link at the bottom of the request history entry containing the image. By default, this is not enabled and all images are embedded within the request history entry.
  • Return to request after closing. By default, when a User closes a request HelpSpot will return the User to the filtered view they were in prior to entering a request. Selecting this option will bring Users to a request summary page once a request is closed. Enabling this option will give Users an opportunity to double-check a request after closing but before moving to the next request.
  • Show Getting Started Menu in Workspace. By default, HelpSpot will show all Administrators the Getting Started menu as a quick reference. This can be turned off, or on for other permission levels, simply by checking the box.
  • Number of request history entries shown by default. Users can enter the desired number of request notes seen within the request history. HelpSpot defaults to showing 10 request history entries. 

Regardless of the number set in the preference, Users can see all request history entries simply by clicking the Show All link at the bottom of the request history list on the request page. 

  • Default Request History View. Users can specify if they wish to see Full Histories or Only Notes for every request they view.
  • HTML editor for HTML notes. For systems with HTML notes enabled (system default), Users can opt to create HTML notes via the visual editor, formatted text, or use the system default (which could be either method; system default is the visual editor). Use of either the visual editor or formatted text will result in an HTML email being generated. HelpSpot defaults Users to the system default: the note creation method as defined by the Administrator.

 

4. Merging Requests

The request merging feature forces the request history of one request into another. This is often used when multiple requests are created for the same Customer regarding the same inquiry. 

Merging can be done from the:

  • request grid view, via the quick action buttons, or
  • within the request page, from the Merge link within the options menu.
When merging from the request grid, simply click the requests included in merge and click the merge button. Users are required to select the receiving request.
 
Merging that occurs within the request page requires the receiving request ID be provided.

Once the merge is complete, the User will be brought to the request page for the receiving request. The individual request histories of the merged request are inserted in chronological order within the receiving request. All merged histories are clearly identified, allowing you to retain an accurate account of all interactions.

Any responses to the original request are automatically routed to the newly created, merged, request.

5. Batch Response/Edit

HelpSpot gives Users that ability to batch response/update requests. Meaning, from in the request grid view (Workspace) Users can select a group of requests and initiate a response to be sent or an update to be made in the request details without entering the request page for each, individually.

Batch responding is understood through a real world example: Within a 20-minute period a support desk receives dozens of requests about connectivity issues that is determined to stem from a server outage. Using Batch Response/Edit, Users can send a message to all applicable requests explaining the situation while also updating the status, category/assignment, or reporting tags.

For later follow-up, such as sending sending status update notification, Users can opt to have a link to the results added as a filtered view on the left navigation. 

6. Time Tracker

For installations with this enabled, the time tracker will be across the top of the request page. It allows each User to log the time spent on a request. Time tracking is primarily used by organizations for billing/customer contract purposes.

Time can be entered manually or through the use of the stop-clock. When manually entering time, decimal or standard time format (for example: 2.5 or 2:30) is accepted in the hours/minutes box. When using the stop-clock, click the arrow when work starts on the request and click it again when work is complete. The time lapsed will be logged for the entry. A field is provided to provide a brief description of the work completed during that logged session.

HelpSpot includes a Billable checkbox, allowing Users to flag time which would be billable for later reporting.

Users can also use the options menu to log time for another User, if necessary, as shown below. If time is logged without selecting from the options area, the time will be attributed to the logged-in User.

 Once Users click the Log Time button the time will be listed as part of the aggregate time spent on the request.

 To report time logged across all requests, use the Reports area.


7. HelpSpot Mobile & iPhone

HelpSpot has a powerful mobile and iPhone interface that allows Users to monitor Customer inquiries, even when on the go. To access the mobile interface, click the mobile icon on the login screen. The mobile username and password are the same as those used for the standard web-interface of HelpSpot.

Once logged-in, Users will find that the mobile interface is a slimmed down version of their HelpSpot installation with functionality mirroring that of the traditional HelpSpot.

 


8. Need Help?!

Below are the support-related resources available for HelpSpot.

  • Getting started tool bar in workspace. The getting started menu provides direct access to specific resources to get Users up and running, while the Question link provides direct access to UserScape's support desk.

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