Loops and dupes
NOTE Also review the following article: FAQs.
Incoming Email Processing allows you to set up a closed loop of communications between your customer, and resources (such as technicians) at your company. If all participants use Reply or Forward when communicating via email, all communications are automatically carbon-copied to the customer ticket, project, or task in Autotask. With this tool, tracking labor in Autotask can now be accomplished from a technician's mail client on a smart phone.
What is a duplicate?
Before you can deal with duplicates, you first have to define what a duplicate is. In Autotask, the Duplicate Ticket Handling system setting defines duplicate tickets in incoming email processing. It also specifies what action Autotask will take when a duplicate ticket is detected. This system setting is found in > Admin > Features & Settings > Application-wide (Shared) Features > System Settings > Service Desk. Refer to Configure the Duplicate Ticket Handling system setting.
New issue or existing one?
If you were to convert every email that comes into a mailbox into a new ticket, you would end up with a large number of duplicate tickets that are part of the same conversation, and really should be one ticket. The challenge is to determine whether an incoming email is about a new issue, or is part of a conversation about an existing one.
The incoming email processor makes a simple determination:
- If an incoming email does not contain a ticket number, task number or project number, a new ticket is created. Refer to How we determine what entity to create.
- If an incoming email contains a ticket number, task number or project number, it is attached to that item as a note. Refer to How a closed loop is created.
How a closed loop is created
The customer sends an email to your Support email address. The email arrives at your external mail server (for example, Gmail), which has been configured to automatically forward or redirect emails (Outlook users must use redirect) to the email-processing mailbox you have specified in the Mailbox Email field in Autotask (as described in Configuring a custom mailbox).
The email arrives in your Autotask email-processing mailbox, and is parsed.
- Autotask uses the originator's email address to identify the resource or customer contact for whom the ticket will be created. Refer to How we attribute the email.
- The Subject line does not contain a ticket, task or project number, so a new ticket is created. The email Subject becomes the Ticket Title, the email Body text becomes the Ticket Description. The default values in the mailbox populate a number of fields. Refer to Configuring a custom mailbox.
A Success Notification email — with the Ticket Number of the newly created ticket in the Subject line — is automatically sent to the email originator and optionally, assigned resources, using a pre-configured notification template.
IMPORTANT The key element here is that all communications between the customer and your technicians contain the ticket number in the Subject line. In this way, such emails are automatically attached to that ticket as ticket notes, instead of creating new tickets. Make sure that the notification template selected for the success notification contains the Ticket Number variable in the Subject line.
When the customer replies to this email notification or your technician contacts the customer by replying to the email notification, the ticket number appears in the Subject line of the reply. Based on the email-processing rules, an email that includes a ticket number becomes a ticket note on the ticket with that number.
In this way, the entire email conversation is tracked in Autotask.
Optionally, if this process has been followed, your technician can—via this same email thread:
- Create Time Entries
- Update the Ticket Status, including closing the ticket
- Change the Role for the Time Entry
For more information on how the technician can do this, refer to How we determine what entity to create.
How we prevent infinite loops
But how do you prevent endless loops and service degradation if a customer has auto-reply turned on?
It is possible that Incoming Email Processing could result in an endless loop when auto-reply is turned on. To prevent infinite loops, Autotask limits the number of incoming emails from the same sender with the same subject that will be processed in any 5-minute time period, to two.
- If the subject line does not contain a ticket number, a second ticket will be created.
- If the first ticket's ticket (task, project) number is included in the email subject line of the second incoming email, one ticket and a ticket note, project note, task note or time entry are created.
- The third and any subsequent emails will be thrown out.