osT+ is an enhancement to the world’s most popular customer support ticket system – osTicket. We’ve made it prettier, added number of features and made it much easier to integrate with any website. It’s can be also set up as a centralised customer support hub that serves multiple websites & business areas, with access control management so your agents can access only areas and tickets relevant to them.

Before osT+ is fully operational, you should consider the following aspects:

  • Decision #1 – Do you need to route tickets to independent customer support arease.g.:
    • independent businesses: “ABC.com” or “XYZ.com”
    • separate business areas: “Sales”, “Billing”, “Technical enquiries”
    • combination of both: “ABC.com – Sales”, “ABC.com – Billing”, “XYZ.com – Sales”, “XYZ.com – Technical enquiries” etc.
  • Decision #2 -  Do you wish to implement access control mechanism, so your agents can only access and respond to tickets from a particular business area?
  • Decision #3 - Are you planning to exchange data with osT+ and manage user’s log in state so they don’t have to sign in manually and the osT+ system always “recognises” them?
  • Decision #4 - Do you want to provide your customers with a link to osT+ and they access it in its standalone form (like this demo) or do you want to integrate it with your website so it’s embedded (like this demo)?

In this tutorial, we will focus primarily on the first two areas and provide you with resources how configure osT+ so it handles various scenarios for points #3 & #4 above. After reading this page, you will be able to cherry-pick and apply ideas and solutions that are relevant to your business.

Decision #1 – Business Areas & Departments

It’s quite an important aspect to consider so customer enquiries are routed to relevant departments and dealt by relevant agents. Should there be a change in requirements or design is found to be not fit for purpose, it can be amended later on but it’s likely to require more efforts so it’s imperative this subject is thoroughly thought through at the system configuration stage.

For the purpose of this tutorial, we’ll set up osT+ to handle the following business scenario:

  • We have a business ABC.com with two areas:
    • Sales related enquiries – with access granted to sales agents of ABC.com
    • All other enquiries - with access granted to all non-sales agents
  • We also have a business XYZ.com with a need for the following departments:
    • Public enquiries (any type) – access granted all non-sales agents
    • Member only enquiries (for known users who have been already authorised on an external website, outside of osT+) – with access granted to XYZ.com’s member support agents
  • Generic department for enquiries that could not have been automatically assigned to one of the departments above – access granted to all agents (“Catch all”)

 

1) Setting it up – departments

  1. Log in to the administration panel (e.g. “http://support.example.com/scp/”)
  2. Go to “Admin Panel” (see screenshot below)
  3. Click on the “Staff” tab
  4. Select “Departments” section
  5. Click on the first (and only) department name which is marked as “Default”. Change it’s name to “Help desk users” – it’s going to be a default department all agents are assigned to by default and any unassigned enquiry is routed to for processing and re-assignment to the correct department. Once it’s been renamed, confirm changes by clicking the “Save changes” button at the bottom and finally click on “Departments” link to return to the list of departments
  6. Click on the “Add New Department” link and add the following departments (use default values when adding a new department at this stage):
    1. [ABC.com] All other enquiries
    2. [ABC.com] Sales
    3. [XYZ.com] Member support
    4. [XYZ.com] Public enquiries

The final results is supposed to be as presented on the screenshot below.

Captions in square brackets (e.g. “[ABC.com]” & “[XYZ.com]“) are only shown within the administration panel and stripped & hidden from being shown to customers. This feature helps keeping department list tidy and organised.

 

osT+ configuration - adding departments

osT+ configuration – adding departments (click to see the full size)

 

 

2) Setting it up – help topics

Help topics determine the enquiry subject and are shown to the user when they are creating a new ticket. Help topics can be linked to departments – that is, if user submits a ticket with a given topic then it can be automatically routed to the department assigned to that topic. In this step we are going to create a suite of topics suitable for each business & department.

  1. Click on the “Manage” tab (see screenshots below)
  2. Select “Help Topics” section
  3. Click on the first (and only) topic name. Change it’s name to “General enquiries” – it’s going to be a default topic where all unassigned tickets land for processing and re-assignment to the correct topic. Once renamed, confirm changes by clicking the “Save changes” button at the bottom and finally click on “Help Topics” link to return to the list of topics
  4. Click on the “Add New Help Topic” link add the following topics. You can use default values except for “Department” when the correct one should be selected (see the second screenshot below):
    1. [ABC.com] Business queries (ABC)
    2. [ABC.com] New features (ABC)
    3. [ABC.com] Other enquiries (ABC)
    4. [ABC.com] Sales enquiry (ABC)
    5. [XYZ.com] General member support
    6. [XYZ.com] Member FAQ
    7. [XYZ.com] Member payments
    8. [XYZ.com] Technical support
    9. [XYZ.com] All other (XYZ)
    10. [XYZ.com] Feature request (XYZ)
    11. [XYZ.com] System issue (XYZ)

The final results should be as presented on the first screenshot below.

Captions in square brackets (e.g. “[ABC.com]” & “[XYZ.com]“) are only shown within the administration panel and stripped & hidden from being shown to customers. This feature helps keeping help topics list tidy & organised and allows having the same help topic name for two different departments, e.g. “[ABC.com] Sales enquiry” and “[XYZ.com] Sales enquiry”.

 

osT+ configuration - adding help topics

osT+ configuration – adding help topics (click to see the full size)

osT+ configuration - adding help topics and linking them to departments

osT+ configuration – adding help topics and linking them to departments (click to see the full size)

 

In this section, we’ve configured osT+ so it now handles multiple departments, different business areas and various help topics which are grouped together on various input forms. Ticket will be automatically routed to the relevant department, based on the help topic selected.

Although this functionality has been now configured in the administration area, the last step is to prepare form definitions so relevant form and associated help topics are displayed to the end-user. This subject is discussed in more details on the Setting Up Input Forms page.

Decision #2 – Agent Access Control

Agent can be granted access to view and respond to tickets routed to certain departments only. This mechanism enables great control on who respond to what type of enquiry to ensure service quality and to streamline handling of customer enquiries. In order to achieve this, we recommend the following approach:

 

1) Setting up access groups

  1. Log in to the administration panel (e.g. “http://support.example.com/scp/”)
  2. Go to “Admin Panel” (see screenshot below)
  3. Clink on the “Staff” tab
  4. Select “Groups” section
  5. Click on the “Overseers” group
    osT+ configuration – adding "Access to all departments" group

    osT+ configuration – adding “Access to all departments” group (click to see the full size)

  6. Amend it’s name to “(!) All departments”. Note “(!)” – it only indicates the importance of this group and makes it to appear at the top of any list. Subsequently, select all checkboxes within the “Department Access” section so member of this group have access to all departments across the system. We also recommend disallowing ticket deletion (for any group) so any enquiry can be tracked should there be any issues at some point in the future. Finally, confirm by clicking the “Save changes” button at the bottom and finally click on the “Groups” link to return to the list of groups
    osT+ configuration – adding "Access to all departments" group

    osT+ configuration – adding “Access to all departments” group (click to see the full size)

  7. Rename remaining departments so they are easy to understand what departments they allow access to, for example:
    1. General enquiries
    2. Sales only
  8. Add the additional “Member support” group
  9. Assign access to relevant departments for each group. Note, each access group should give access to “Help desk users” department - it’s a default department all agents are assigned and have access to
osT+ configuration – assigning department access to each group

osT+ configuration – assigning department access to each group (click to see the full size)

 

The final results is as on the screenshot below:

osT+ configuration – access groups

osT+ configuration – access groups (click to see the full size)

 

2) Granting access right to agents

  1. Click on the “Staff” tab and then “Staff Members”
  2. Click on a user to modify their access permissions or select “Add New Staff”
  3. Select correct “Assigned Group” (see screenshot below) for staff’s department access
  4. Select “Help desk users” for “Primary Department” – it’s a default department all agents are assigned to which gives them no access to any other department unless granted and determined by group selected in “Assigned Group”.
    osT+ configuration – assigning access groups to agents

    osT+ configuration – assigning access groups to agents (click to see the full size)

Decision #3 – Exchanging Data & Managing User’s Log In State

osT+ enables deep integration with your website or other applications while still being a separate system that can be even installed on a different domain. Extended API and built-in external session & user’s log in state management allows:

  • Exchanging data between your and osT+ systems (creating new & modifying existing users, getting user details, creating tickets, adding user responses, adding staff responses etc.)
  • Disabling “Log in” & “Register” forms, i.e. anonymous users cannot create accounts and create tickets
  • Managing user’s log in state, i.e. “telling” osT+ who the current visitor is so they are automatically logged in

For more details how to integrate your application with osT+, please review Setting Up Input Forms and Integration With External Systems pages.

Decision #4 – standalone or embedded?

Standalone – this means that whenever you want you customers to interact with the system (e.g. send tickets, review responses etc.) you provide them with a link to a separate area (domain, subdomain or folder). Standalone version has it’s own header, footer, menu and controls and it looks exactly like this demo. It has limited number of options options in regards to integration with the theme and look&feel of your website. However it’s quick in setting up and does not require any development work on your website, apart from providing your customers with links to osT+ area.

Embedded – this version means your osT+ customer support system is amalgamated into another application (like in this demo - note, red dotted line indicates osT+ area, it can be removed by deselecting “Show iframe outline” checkbox within the Demo Options section).

For more details how to achieve this functionality, please review Setting Up Input Forms page (specifically “User Input Forms” section).