How we setup a multi brand support ticket system with activeCollab

Background / Problem

  • We operate different brands – Apps Magnet (our activeCollab solutions), Store Apps (our WooCommerce and WordPress ecommerce extensions) and Putler (our sales analytics system).
  • While different team members work on these brands, we did not want three separate support ticketing systems / helpdesk systems.
  • We’ve used WHMCS for over two years to manage support for all these brands.
  • But we always preferred to have something integrated with activeCollab for smoother workflow – and not needing to login to two separate systems.
  • More importantly, we wanted customers to feel they are interacting with real people and not a software! We wanted to eliminate all the complexities of a typical support system – auto responders, ticket URLs etc..

Digging Deeper – possible solution and a roadblock…

  • We can use our own Tasks Plus module to build an “invisible helpdesk”. That way support requests work like normal emails, but are still tracked and managed within activeCollab.
  • We can configure multiple mailboxes, filters and projects. One for each brand. activeCollab will fetch the email, and filter for that mailbox will push the incoming email as a new support ticket task for the “Support – Brand Name” project.
  • If we wanted all emails to create a task in the same project, a single filter would do.
  • Tasks Plus will also make sure outgoing emails are going from the “support” email address and not individual person’s. So it is a very good fit.
  • BUT we wanted emails to go out from the SMTP server of the particular brand. We did not want Store Apps emails going off Apps Magnet SMTP server or vice versa. And activeCollab allows setting up a single SMTP server.

Enter Mandrill!

  • Mandrill is “SMTP as a service” offering from MailChimp.
  • Instead of sending emails out via native email functions in activeCollab, we could use Mandrill’s SMTP.
  • There were a number of advantages in using Mandrill over our own SMTP server. First, Mandrill is from MailChimp. And they specialize in email and deliverability. So we can rely on them to send out email well. Second, Mandrill offers flexible tracking and filtering options. Third, it’s affordable. The free plan offers 12,000 emails per month – which is well under our limits.
  • The real bonus was to setup SPF and DKIM records for Mandrill on our domains. This essentially lets the world know that Mandrill is authorized to send emails on our behalf. This step reduces chances of mails getting marked as spam and is a good practice.

Final Solution

  • Create one mailbox, filter and project for each brand in activeCollab.
  • Use Tasks Plus to mark incoming mails as support tickets, allow receiving emails from people not registered in activeCollab, send comments posted on the task as a simple email reply, set incoming mailbox as the “sender” of replies, and basically integrate with our workflow.
  • Use Mandrill for sending out emails. Configure it in activeCollab as the single SMTP server.
  • Setup SPF and DKIM entries in DNS for each domain. Proving Mandrill’s authority to send email on our behalf.
  • Test and go live!

We are live! Any email you send to support address of these brands, is now landing in our single activeCollab setup. Our team responds to the task, and that comment comes to you (via Mandrill) as a “conversational email reply” – hiding the support system completely. We can now easily use workflow labels, track hours and do reporting on these support tasks!!

Do you manage multiple brands? Want to integrate an invisible helpdesk with activeCollab?

Try this solution then! It works like a charm!