OK, so I’m going to let you in on a little secret. The Requests module was always a bit of an afterthought. Back when we originally released Accelo we had emails to support automatically create issues or tickets, but there was a problem - with different types of issues for a user to choose from (on Premium at least) and different status options, we realized that just picking a random type and a random status wasn’t the best strategy.
So, we built a really simple queue for users to see what had come in, and turn it into something else. We never intended our users to “use” requests on a day to day basis - which is why it is so, well, crap.
However, we learned over time that having a single list of outstanding client requests and being able to work with clients through this list to determine whether a request really needed to become an issue (or a sale) at all was actually really really handy. Internally Mahlon on our team lives in the requests module, and we’ve known for a while that it was due for the attention it never got.. and we can’t wait to show you what we’ve done.
First and foremost, we’ve completely rebuilt the Requests list interface. Requests retain their lightweight, easy to work with structure (no statuses, no fuss) but now you’ll be able to see the list, the conversations against each request and a lot more in a way that is quicker and easier than ever before.
Regular users will recognize the similarities of this screen to our new Inbox. We’re using the same design pattern - list on the left, details on the right - along with the same super fast loading and back-end sync processes to make it super easy to scan, search, filter, view, reply-to and work with requests.
One of the things we hear from clients all the time is a request to automatically email a client back and tell them that you’ve received their request. With the new Requests Module you’ll be able to set up these autoreplies quickly and easily, and along with the upgrade to the client portal, you’ll be able to also include an invitation so the user can instantly log in and track the progress of their request too.
Another one we hear all the time is a desire to capture and handle requests from people who aren’t yet in your contact database. With the new upgrade you’ll be able to capture emails sent in from new contacts that aren’t in your Accelo database yet, and if it turns out they’re not just spammers you’ll be able to easily convert them into a client contact and continue working with them on the request (or convert it into something else).
From the beginning, requests were designed to be a temporary queue of things you might want to convert into other work (like a support issue or a new sale opportunity). We’re keeping with this theme but extending it further to allow you to define your own conversion recipes.
As an example, you might have a request queue called “Support”, and you might want to define there are three conversions - a conversion to an Issue of type “Customization”, a conversion fo an Issue of type “Bug” and a conversion to a Sale of type “Small Project”. With this configuration, your users would see three simple drop-downs from the request list screen, and when they choose the conversion they’ll be pushed to the right object, of the right type, with the right starting status.
In the future we’re planning on adding even more “defaults” to these conversion rules to make it easy to set default field values and more.
While having a nice list of requests to run through and convert into new sales, projects, issues or contracts is nice, sometimes you just want emails from clients to automatically get converted without any delay or user input. Perhaps the subject says “Urgent”, or the client is in your “VIP” group, or perhaps it is just an email to a special emergency address, whatever the reason we know there’s also times you want to automatically convert a request.
With the new version of the Requests Module, that’s exactly what you’ll be able to do.
Finally, another area we’ve heard from users frequently relates to reminders and escalation on requests. If a VIP client emails in a request and doesn’t get a reply for 5 hours, the client management team probably want to know about it, and if they’re waiting for more than a day the service director should get an update, automatically.
This feature is also going to be introduced with the requests module upgrade, and importantly, you’ll be able to have these escalation triggers go to not just colleagues but also clients if you want to. In addition to sending emails, you can also trigger an automatic conversion with time based rules, so if something sits as a request for more than a certain number of days it can be automatically get promoted to an issue.
This escalation and notification ruleset is actually just the beginning - look out for this functionality more broadly in Accelo in the coming months.