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Help Desk and On-call Management with JSD

Like every love story with software this one started with a use case and a list of requirements. I had just started a new role as a Program Manager, tasked with defining a process and finding the right tools for a new team.

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My new team was getting requests from customers that needed help to solve software or hardware issues. The team was small and we knew that the number of customers would grow fast so we needed a solution for a ticketing system that would allow us to scale very quickly while keeping customer satisfaction high. As I was familiar with Jira and Confluence I turned to them to solve the problem. Jira and Confluence, my two old friends that had saved me before in so many occasions didn't have what I needed this time. But then I learned about Jira Service Desk (JSD), which ended up solving every problem we needed to solve, enabling elegant, creative and powerful solutions. Jira Service Desk provides a beautiful portal interface where you can easily configure the form to be filled out by customers. Moreover, you can integrate it with a Confluence knowledge base, so customers can get suggestions on articles that may address their requests. This worked really well, and kept the team motivated to document procedures and to keep them up to date. Here is where we felt the secret to scalability lay, and as a bonus we built a high quality documentation repository.

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The team (and our customers too!) appreciated the comment visibility features, with the ability to add internal comments only visible to service desk agents, keeping the communication with customers concise and to the point.

As we used the Jira Service Desk to handle customer escalations we did have a need that JSD could not fulfill by itself, i.e. on-call management , and this presented the first real opportunity for this tool to save the day. We used VictorOps to handle alerts, teams and schedules, and ideally we wanted to continue using it so I worked with the VictorOps team to understand the options to integrate with JSD. The response and the results were amazing. We were able to connect both tools in a way that tickets created in the portal would initiate an alert in VictorOps, would route it to a specific team or person based on the values filled in the form by the customer, while triggering a notification policy based on JSD values and logical conditions in VictorOps. The communication went both ways, so agents getting an alert from the on-call management tool could acknowledge an alert by responding to an automated call or to a text message, and this would result in a comment in the ticket within JSD indicating when and who acknowledged the alert. This comment would move the ticket in the Service Desk from the 'Open' status to the 'In Progress' in the queue and put things in motion. Additional comments in VictorOps would result in comments in JSD and vice versa. All the action could happen in either tool while automating the workflow and making the teams efficient in the way they wanted to handle requests. Never missed a notification! Never missed a request!

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Our process evolved with time and we were able to automate the creation of tickets within Jira Software to track incident reviews related to customer requests. So, for tickets created via the portal a new field was added to request an incident review (which could be set during the creation of the ticket, or anytime after that). This helped link JSD request with corresponding 'incident-review-issue-type' tickets in Jira, which enabled us to track opportunities for improvement and fostered healthy communication with customers who wanted to understand root causes of problems. Coincidentally, we wanted the same thing!     

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I could talk about other practical features from JSD that enabled us to provide a great level of service (effective SLA management, the possibility to make requests using an email channel, etc,) but hopefully these examples are good to illustrate some of the benefits we encountered in our experience using JSD.

Currently I work for a different company and with my current team we also implemented a JSD to solve similar problems. Some circumstances have changed, of course, and there are new needs. The most relevant one is related to how people communicate most of the time: Slack. While JSD can help us track and manage requests in a scalable way, our customers would prefer the ability to continue asking requests using Slack, rather than having to find the link to the JSD portal. And I get that. Fortunately, there seems to be a solution for this too. Very recently I learned about Halp, another tool which is now part of the Atlassian family, and this tool does exactly that: enables customers to create tickets from Slack, without losing relevant functionality from the Service Desk (even the suggestions from the knowledge base!) I know I can rely on the Jira Service Desk and the great integration with other tools to make my team and my customers happy. Oh, and my boss too!

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How are you managing customer escalations with JSD? JSD is a flexible tool that can adapt to different processes and customer needs, and I'd love to hear about your experience!

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