Managing Customer EMail

The internal e-mail features of FogBugz are simple to use: for the most part it just sends the e-mail you want when you want it. The customer-facing e-mail features are a good deal more complex. FogBugz incorporates extensive features for receiving, tracking, and responding to customer e-mail. You'll need to put in some effort to set up these features to work effectively for your own organization, but the payoff can be immense. In this section, I'll show you how to set up and use the customer-facing e-mail portion of FogBugz.

Overview of the Customer E-Mail Process

There's a lot to keep track of in understanding how e-mail integration works in FogBugz. If you get confused in the details, you might find it worthwhile to refer back to this summary. In outline, here's how it works:

• You set up a FogBugz mailbox and a corresponding POP3 mailbox.

• A message arrives in the mailbox on your mail server.

• Periodically, FogBugz uses the POP3 protocol to check your mail server for new messages.

• If it finds any messages, FogBugz downloads them from the mail server and creates a case out of each one.

• If you're using the AutoSort feature, FogBugz discards spam and sorts the rest of the messages into areas according to topic.

• If desired, FogBugz sends an immediate reply to the customer, providing them with a URL they can use to check on the status of their request.

• Once the message is in FogBugz, you can treat it like any other case: you can prioritize it, assign it, track it, and so on. You can also send a reply directly to the original e-mail sender from within the case.

• At any time, you can reply to the message from within FogBugz. FogBugz will insert the case number into the subject line of the outgoing message.

• If the customer responds to your reply, as long as they don't remove the FogBugz case number from the subject, their response will be appended to the current case rather than opening a new case.

• FogBugz will keep a complete transcript of everything that happens with the case, including all relevant incoming and outgoing e-mail and even private internal conversations about the case, which the customer does not see.

You can use FogBugz e-mail integration to manage customer service or a helpdesk. FogBugz can set automatic due dates on incoming e-mail so you can be certain that customers are receiving replies to their e-mail inquiries in a timely fashion.

Another use of FogBugz e-mail integration is to create a customer bug-reporting address or a suggestion box. Since all customer e-mails go right into FogBugz, you can treat them just like bugs or features: assign them to developers, schedule them, assign priorities and due dates, and so on. When the feature is implemented or the bug is fixed, with one click you can reply to the customer to notify them of this.

Setting up E-Mail Integration

To set up e-mail integration in FogBugz, you need to set up mailboxes. These are not POP3 mailboxes (though you require a POP3 mailbox that corresponds to each FogBugz mailbox), but FogBugz mailboxes. Each FogBugz mailbox corresponds to one incoming POP3 mailbox where FogBugz receives mail. You can set up as many mailboxes as you want; for example, you could set up [email protected] as well as [email protected] and [email protected] (at least, you could do that if you owned the domain). Each mailbox can be treated differently.

Any FogBugz administrator can set up or edit mailboxes. To do so, log on as an administrator and select the Mailboxes link on the Administrative Tools bar. This will open the list of current mailboxes shown in Figure 5-5.

Figure 5-5. Managing mailboxes

From this screen, you can perform the following tasks:

• To edit an existing mailbox, click the edit icon or the mailbox name.

• To delete an existing mailbox, click the delete icon.

• To send test mail to a mailbox, click the envelope icon.

• To create a new mailbox, click the new icon or the Add new mail account hyperlink.

When you choose to create a new mailbox, you'll see the screen shown in Figure 5-6, which lets you configure the new mailbox. To configure a mailbox, you basically need to set up two things: where the e-mail comes from and what FogBugz should do with it. This involves setting up quite a number of options, but for many of them you should be able to use the defaults that FogBugz provides.

Figure 5-6. Creating a new mailbox

The first section of the page concerns account setup:

• Email address is the full e-mail address of the mailbox, for example,

[email protected]. Messages that FogBugz sends will appear to come from this account.

• Full name is the full name that will appear when replying to e-mail from this mailbox, for example, MegaUtil Customer Service. Automated mail will always come from this name. If you send mail manually (by hitting the Reply button while you're working with a case), FogBugz will offer you a choice between this name and your own name. This allows you to choose between hiding behind an anonymous alias and providing the customer with personalized feedback.

• Account Name is the login account on the POP3 mail server. FogBugz won't set this account up for you. There are just too many different e-mail servers. But your network administrator should be able to set up as many POP3 accounts as you need.

• Password is the login password on the POP3 mail server.

• Mail Server is the DNS name or IP address of the POP3 mail server.

• Port is the TCP port for the POP3 service. This is almost always 110 unless you're using secure POP3, which is almost always 995.

The next section of the mailbox configuration screen handles automatic replies. Figure 5-7 shows this portion of the screen.

Figure 5-7. Configuring automatic replies

You can click the Off radio button to simply disable automatic replies, in which case all of the other options vanish. But if you leave automatic replies on, you can set up these options:

• Subject is the subject line to be used for automatic replies.

• Message is the message to be sent as an automatic reply.

It might seem like this is a mighty inflexible way to set up automatic replies, but there's a trick: FogBugz accepts a number of shortcuts that will automatically be expanded when the e-mail is sent. You can use any of these shortcuts to make your automatic replies more flexible:

• {email} for the e-mail return address of the FogBugz mailbox.

• {fullname} for the full name associated with the FogBugz mailbox.

• {sender} for the sender's e-mail address (that is, the person who sent the e-mail that triggered the automatic reply).

• {subject} for the subject of the original message.

• {ticket} for the external ticket ID. This is a randomized identifier that's hard to guess.

• {ticketurl} for a full external link to the case.

The default message supplied by FogBugz is straightforward:

Thank you for your message. We have received it and will get back to you as soon as possible.

We use FogBugz to keep track of our incoming email.

You can check the status of your message at the following URL:


Please reply to this message if there's anything else we can do for you.

{fullname} {email}

Powered by FogBugz from Fog Creek Software.

While you can use this message as-is, you probably want to customize it to include at least your company name. You might also want to eliminate the FogBugz ad, though having it there does help tip people off that this is an automatic reply.

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