Teamwork as a support system with automatic prioritization of tasks

I signed up for a 15 day trial of HelpScout recently to try it as a central Support system here at Murrion.

It allowed us to create a central inbox for all the members of our team to see incoming support emails from our clients.

This is ideal if a client emails me directly and I don’t get to the email in a timely manner, one of the other members of the team working on the same project can see and respond to the email faster than I can.

We used it during the trial period with a small number of willing clients and overall found it very useful, we were able to communicate back and forth and assign and label support requests, visible to all team members.

When the trial ended, I couldn’t bring myself to pay an additional sum each month, despite its low cost. There is also a Free account, but that is limited to 3 users and we would have 5 or more. Overall it was useful but we ended up having 2 systems to check, Teamwork and Helpscout and my goal is to improve workflow and not add more unnecessary moving parts.

I wanted to continue to use Teamwork which is already such an integral part of our everyday workflow.

So I decided to continue to use the new Support email address and route the incoming emails to Teamwork instead of Helpscout.

Teamwork supports creating tasks and other items via email, but I wanted a little more flexibility. I want incoming support emails to route to the correct project, to rank in low, medium or high priority and to assign to the correct person, all automatically.

So over the weekend, I put the following in place, Turning Teamwork in to a Support system with automatic prioritization of tasks.

I used a couple of additional tools to accomplish this and its worth noting that all of these are 100% free if you wanted to replicate this.

Prioritized support task in Teamwork

Prioritized support task in Teamwork

The general workflow is:

  1. An existing client can email us using support at murrion dot com
  2. Any email sent to this address is received by Mailgun which Posts the data back to our server.
  3. The content of the email is passed through a Lymbix sentiment analysis tool.
  4. Depending on the sender of the Support request, the relevant Project to connect to in Teamwork is discovered.
  5. Using the Teamwork API, the support details are added to a list in Teamwork. The list is created if it doesn’t already exist.

Based on the sentiment analysis performed in step 3 above, the Support item is labelled as a High or Low priority in the task list.

If items are deemed high priority, we are notified via email from Teamwork. If its low priority, it just joins the list quietly.

It works so well I might route all of my emails in to Teamwork every day and have this system prioritize my day to day tasks!

17 Comments

  1. Very nice Gordon. Just doing some research on this very thing having decided that checking both ZenDesk and Teamwork isn’t worth the benefits ZenDesk offers.

    Sentiment analysis to decide on priority is a very nice touch. Chapeau! (as they say :)

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  3. Hi CWW,

    In our case, we are relying on Mailgun to receive an email, check its sentiment and then email it on to Teamwork to be added in to a Task list.

    If you didn’t want to use Mailgun, you could have tasks sent to Teamwork directly and then use Teamwork’s WebHook’s to update a task as soon as it is created.

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  5. Hello,

    I’m trying to accomplish something similar for my company and I’m having problems with Lymbix at the minute. I have signed up and have an API key, but when I try to use the PHP wrapper and follow the steps, I receive an error… Failed to open stream: HTTP request failed!

    I wonder if you have had the same problem and what you did to overcome it, if not then are there any good alternatives to Lymbix?

    I would be grateful if you could get back to me.

    Thank you,
    Michael.

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