A beginning acquaintance tour

To develop your understanding of ServiceDesk somewhat more systematically (particularly of its basic call-taking and dispatch functions), you’re now invited to try a hands-on exercise where we'll pretend, essentially, that it's a typical day in your office, with you using ServiceDesk to respond to the ordinary and ongoing minute-by-minute needs of business. For this purpose, we must assume you are the secretary today, whether that's truly your job or not.

As you begin work in the morning, your first task, likely, is to deal with requests for service (or other attention) that came in overnight—in fact, any that came in since you closed the office yesterday.

If you use a live answering service to handle such requests (it seems few people do any more, but if you do)*, you’ll need to retrieve the messages your service has taken. For most people, this is an unpleasant task, but with ServiceDesk, you’ll find it’s no work at all. Simply press  on your keyboard (a mnemonic for receive messages), or use your mouse to select this feature from the MainMenu. In response, ServiceDesk will display the Communications Form, a device that allows your computer's modem to download messages directly from your answering service—right into each item's own awaiting Callsheet. Or, if you’ve used our EmailedDispatchReceiver,*  you’ll find your messages will already be in Callsheets when you arrive. Similarly, if you’re using our CyberOffice feature, messages and service orders—as generated overnight via very nice interfaces on your website—will also already be in Callsheets waiting for you.

As a matter of business policy, we believe it’s a false economy—at least in any COD-oriented service business—to leave your phone to be answered by a machine after hours. There is a significant percent of callers who, if they are privileged to speak immediately with alive person who is ready to book them with an appointment, is easily made into a profitable customer—and who, just as readily upon getting a machine will be forever lost to competitors. We don’t think it’s smart, if you’ve invested significantly in getting those new people to call you, to potentially squander the opportunity when they do. If you must use a machine, the one saving grace will be if the recorded message invites your potential customer to go on-line, to your website, and immediately book their appointment there (or communicate with you regarding any other issue). For newer generations, at least, this works very well, especially if implemented via our CyberOffice suite of functions (see our website for details).

It’s a separate utility from ServiceDesk, and is an alternative, even more automatic means of retrieving messages from a live answering service. It can also be used to auto-receive (and accurately parse into Callsheets) dispatches from home warranty companies that send dispatches via email (e.g., American Home Shield, Old Republic, etc.). Please call (or see our website) for details.

Regardless, you’ll not be able to mimic the above pleasures just yet, because the particular foundations are not setup. Instead, try to imagine how delightful it will be, as you superbly manage all overnight-generated requests (some being actual service orders with appointments, others being various kinds of requests for attention), on the basis of Callsheets that automatically appeared for you within ServiceDesk.

Now, suppose you've pleasurably finished the above, and the phone starts ringing.

The first call is from a Mr. John Doe, who says he has a toilet plugged up. Go ahead: on the first line in your first ServiceDesk Callsheet, type "DOE, JOHN".*  After doing so, hit Enter on your keyboard (or Tab if you prefer) to move to the Callsheet’s next line.

Notice that here it is very important to use the formal last-name-comma-then-first format. This is because we’re going to be looking up customer’s records, in various contexts, on the basis of the last name. The last-name-comma-then-first format gives ServiceDesk the basis to deduce what’s last name and what is not. You might notice we’re also entering in all upper-case. The reason is economy.Unlike in the Settings form (where we enter names just once), here we’ll be entering names (and other text) many times each day. For that much typing, the convenience of not having to worry about upper versus lower case is a significant savings.

Now, suppose Mr. Doe tells you his address is "132 Sunset Drive" (or some other street name that happens to exist in your area). Go ahead, begin typing that in the second line of your ServiceDesk Callsheet, but in this instance please watch as you’re typing in the word “SUNSET”.

Please notice that when you’ve typed just a few characters, a drop-down list appears—which displays streets, from your actual territory, that match whatever character string you’ve already typed. Please also notice that abbreviations for applicable city names also appear, along with zip codes. If there are multiple streets of the particular name involved (each displaying its own city), naturally, you'll ask Mr. Doe which city he's in. When the appropriate street is identified, press your cursor keys (aka arrow keys) to move into the list and highlight it, then press  on the appropriate listing with your mouse. Go ahead. Try it.

As the street is selected, you'll see that its full name instantly inserts to the appropriate section of your Callsheet, along with its map-grid reference and corresponding city name. In fact, your cursor is simultaneously moved for you, past all this, into the first telephone number box, because that's the next item of information you're going to take from Mr. Doe. Suppose he now gives it to you, and you type it in. Go ahead, type in an imaginary telephone number, or perhaps use your own.

Now, using your keyboard’s Enter key, cursor keys, tab keys, or the mouse (whichever is easiest), move into the Callsheet's "Item Type" box, and type "TOILET". Then hit Tab or Enter to move to the "Item Make" box, and type "ELJER" (or anything similar that pleases you).

Once this information has been obtained from Mr. Doe (in real life it might require 30 seconds), the next question is: when will you schedule the work for. For considering this, you’ll want to know where Mr. Doe’s location fits in comparison to other jobs that are already scheduled. This interest poises us for some major magic.

anywhere on Mr. Doe's address line. Now you’ll see a whole new display, called the ServiceDesk DispatchMap. This is that broad/overview sketch of your territory—and, its most important attribute at present is, it shows Mr. Doe’s actual, physical location, prominently circled, in bright-red. And, if you were already setup and genuinely running in ServiceDesk, it would also show little reference flags at the locations of all other jobs as scheduled for today, along with route-lines for each, color coded for the techs assigned (for now, please try to imagine it).

The point is, this display makes it into child’s play to deduce a date and time-frame in which Mr. Doe can be fit into your schedule—importantly, with maximum convenience to both him and your own routing and scheduling needs. As noted, the DispatchMap first shows you the current day’s schedule (look in the caption bar at top). Thus, you can immediately see if scheduling today is practical. If not, hit PageDown on your keyboard, which changes the display to tomorrow’s schedule (again, look in the caption bar at top), and so on, with

In this case, suppose that as you look at other jobs scheduled for today (again, we’re pretending in this regard), you see that your technician Jim will already be passing close to Mr. Doe’s location, en route between two jobs in the early afternoon, and Jim still has a bit of spare capacity. Given this, you offer Mr. Doe a time-frame for today between 1:00 and 4:00, which he accepts.

Now, how do we enter into ServiceDesk the fact the Mr. Doe has accepted this appointment? Making sure you actually have your map displayed to the day for which you’re scheduling Mr. Doe (in genuine operation, this is instinctive), do a simple mouse click on his red-circle location reference. Immediately you’ll see a drop-down list with time-frames. Click on the time-frame wanted (in this case, “1-4”).

Now, you’ll see that you’re instantly transported back to the Callsheet, where text denoting the appointment has been inserted for you.

At this point, you may think you’ve done all that’s needed to create the job and its corresponding appointment. In fact, so far as ServiceDesk IQ is concerned, all you’ve done is create meaningless text. To prove this, hit F5 and look in your DispatchMap. Do you see the appointment? No, you do not. ServiceDesk gave you a handy means of creating text that describes the appointment, but to ServiceDesk, that’s all it is at this point (i.e., text in the Callsheet). In fact, other text in your Callsheet is also non-operative so far as being seen as meaningful job information by ServiceDesk.

To make it meaningful, you have to do one more, simple step.

Notice, over on the right side of the Callsheet, there’s a column of five option buttons under the heading "Status". Click on the button labeled "Job/Sale" (or press  as the label suggests when you hold your mouse button down on it). Upon doing so, you're presented with a little yellow form, labeled Create Job/Sale.

You’ll use this form to specify details about the job and appointment you’re creating. Specifically, this form proposes an invoice number and date, and invites you to specify the technician you intend to dispatch. For now, don’t worry about those details. Just hit your keyboard’s  key to accept what's proposed (of if preferred, you could click on the form’s "OK" button).

At this point ServiceDesk will do several meaningful things.

First, you’ll notice it prints the ticket (aka physical invoice, work-order, etc.). Also, the Callsheet goes dim. This tells you its work is done. You may also notice that in those 'Status' options on its right, "Job/Sale" is selected. This tells you this Callsheet has completed its purpose via the act of creating a job (another away of stating this is, the Callsheet was the conduit via which a job was created). There's also documentation, in the lower right corner, indicating when the Callsheet was created, and by whom.

To look again at your DispatchMap. Now you’ll see a little reference for Mr. Doe's appointment, nicely displayed in its correct location, as part of today’s schedule. And, if you look in the list area of the map (you can use your cursor keys to pan over to it, or hit your keyboard’s  button to go there instantly), you'll see he's listed under "Unassigned," since you haven't yet assigned the appointment to any particular tech.

On your keyboard, you’ll see the appointment displayed in your ScheduleList form. This is the actual list that keeps track of each appointment (your DispatchMap reads from this very list to graphically display your appointments). Quite simply, when you did that Job/Sale process, ServiceDesk read from the otherwise inoperative appointment text in the Callsheet, and on its basis created this actual (and operative) appointment entry in your ScheduleList. As an entry here, that appointment is real, and ServiceDesk recognizes it as such.

Even more important than the above, remember we said the Callsheet, it’s task now done, had been “the conduit via which a job was created.” Now we’ll point out what that really means.

on your keyboard, you’ll see what’s called the Jobs-Current form. Here you’ll see what is really the most important consequence of what we commenced when clicking on the Job/Sale button, in that originating Callsheet. Quite simply, we created a JobRecord, which is precisely what you’re looking at here in the

Please don’t be confused by the fact that a portion of this document looks very much like a Callsheet. Don’t’ be confused by the fact that, within that portion, it contains precisely the same text as was pulled from the Callsheet. It may look similar, but it’s an entirely different animal.

You should understand, it is this JobRecord that represents the job. It is this JobRecord from which the job will now be managed. It is this JobRecord that will maintain a running, historical narrative, detailing everything that happens on the job (notice in its History section to the right, there is already an entry detailing its own creation).

By contrast, the Callsheet (in which you initially typed the job-creating information), has (again) gone dim, because it was nothing but an entry point—in which we typed the initiating information, in order to create the JobRecord that you’re now looking at. (In fact, having done its duty, that Callsheet will be moved to an archive with the next housekeeping event.)

Assuming you understand the above (it’s an important concept that some people miss),  hit  on your keyboard to return back to the main interface.

Now create several Callsheets involving imaginary requests for service, much as we did the first, but use different names, addresses and descriptions for each.

Please bear in mind you can move between Callsheets using your mouse, and to a new page of blank Callsheets (once you’ve used up all four on a given page) by hitting PageDown on your keyboard. PageUp brings you back to earlier pages. There are also several handy keyboard tricks for moving between Callsheets, but we’ll defer discussion of those until Chapter 5.

For each of these Callsheets that involve pretend orders for service, click on Job/Sale to do the package of processes that includes printing the ticket, creating the JobRecord, and entering the appointment to the ScheduleList.

In consequence, you’ll end up with several appointments being viewable in your DispatchMap (F5) and ScheduleList (F6). You’ll likewise have several JobRecords viewable in your JobsCurrent form (F7). Notice that in the JobsCurrent form only a single record is displayed at once. You can use your keyboard’s PageUp and PageDown keys to peruse between each record there, do searches, etc.

Among the pretend jobs you’re creating, suppose one is for a landlord, requesting service at a tenant’s residence. In this case, be certain to place the landlord’s name and address in the top section, and the tenant’s in the second. In ServiceDesk, we consider the paying party our true customer, and it’s important (for a variety of reasons) that you always have the paying party in that top name and address section. The second section needn’t be used if the paying party and location are the same—but if they’re different, obviously, use that second section for location-party info.

You might also pretend you've gotten some calls that don't involve service orders. Maybe a customer called to speak with your boss regarding a matter you cannot assist with, for example, and your boss is presently unavailable (remember, even if it's not so, we're assuming you're the secretary).

Move to a new Callsheet, type in a fictitious name, telephone number, and description of a pretended request. Now, look in the Callsheet's upper-right corner, in the area titled “Active Desk.”

Depending on what you’ve done so far in the Settings form (in particular, in its List of Station Names), you may see one button in this section, or two. Assuming there are two buttons, you can click on the second to transfer present ownership of the Callsheet from your desk to someone else’s. Please go ahead and do so. Hopefully, you’ve already set it up so that your boss is listed as another party. If so, transfer ownership to him, by clicking on his listing. If you have not (or if you actually are the boss pretending to be secretary), click on anyone else’s name, pretending it is your boss.

In response, you’ll see the Callsheet on your desk goes dim. This signifies that (for the time-being, at least), it’s no longer your responsibility. Instead, it’s now owned by (and is the responsibility of) the person to whom you transferred it. This means, among other things, it has now “lit up” on that other person’s desk.

Again, we’re supposing that other person is your boss, and he was not immediately available to take the call. However, since you’ve transferred ownership of this Callsheet to his desk, it’s akin to having taken a physical note (saying “Please call this customer”), and placing it on his desk. Much as he’d see that physical note, he sees this new Callsheet lit up on his screen—and realizes he needs to call the customer.

Now let’s make a transition, and—instead of pretending you’re the secretary—we’ll pretend you’re the boss to whom ownership of that Callsheet has just been transferred. Thus, regardless of whether you were away from your desk and just stepped ack to it, or were sitting there all along, you see that new Callsheet “lit up” on your desk, and realize—since it’s lit up in such manner—it’s presently your Callsheet, and your responsibility to deal with it.

So you quickly peruse its contents, grasp what it’s about, and determine you need to call the customer. At this point, obviously, you could pickup your phone and dial the number that secretary previously typed into the Callsheet. But dialing is hard. It takes ever so much effort. Instead, a simple right-click on the telephone number will cause ServiceDesk to dial for you.

It may not at first seem like a huge deal to have the computer dial for you, but once you implement this feature and get used to it, you’ll find that, very quickly, you no longer want to live without it again.

Suppose now that, upon dialing the customer, you get a recorded voice greeting. Per invitation, you leave a message, explaining your attempt to follow through. Having done so, you’ll likely want to internally document the fact that you just did your duty. How do you easily do that?

on the Callsheet’s ‘MoreInfo’ button (or, as you’ll see it suggests if you hold down your mouse button while clicking, you may instead do an ’ stands for ‘More Info’—from your keyboard). In response, ServiceDesk will open the Callsheet’s connected MoreInfo form, which is supplemental to the main form, and engineered to allow you to attach added elements of relevant information.

In this case, you’ll see it has auto-inserted a time-and-date-stamp, for you, with your initials, making it ready for you to add your own note, perfectly so annotated. So, just type some simple text that’s relevant to the situation. You could type it right out, but for this kind of situation I like to use a simple abbreviation. Specifically, for this precise situation, I’d type “ . It happens to be my abbreviation for “left message on recorder.” I do many variations, such as “ ”, for “left message with female,” etc. You, obviously, may do whatever you wish.

The important thing is, you’ve used this very easy method to fully document your own due diligence— and if a question ever comes up as to whether you were, in fact, so faithful, the memorialization of it is right there.

At any rate, having done this documentation, you can Esc out of the MoreInfo form, and back into the body of your Callsheet. But there’s a remaining issue. There it is, still “lit up” on your desk, staring at you, as though your still have some present duty in its regard. But you don’t have any present duty. You just fulfilled our present duty—so that Callsheet shouldn’t “ought-a” be asserting itself for attention.

How to fix it?

Very simply, look to the right edge of Callsheet, this time in the section (titled ‘Status’) that contains five option buttons. Among those five, look for the button labeled ‘Hibernate’. Click on that button (or, again as the label suggests if you hold down your mouse button while clicking, do an Alt-H on your keyboard).

In result, ServiceDesk will present another Callsheet-related form, this one (somewhat obviously) called the Hibernate form. Its purpose, as the name suggests, is to put a Callsheet “to sleep” for some period of time.

In this case, let’s suppose it’s already in the afternoon, and since you just left a message on this customer’s recorder, you figure you really have no duty to reinitiate the return-call effort until tomorrow morning. From the Hibernate form, select a “sleep” period of 1 day, then click on Okay (or hit your keyboard’s ‘Enter’ key).

In result, you’ll now see your Callsheet goes dim—appropriately signifying that, in fact, for the moment you don’t need to worry in the least about its contents. Your duty for now is done. Make all your Callsheets dim, and you can truly celebrate.

Now assume you’ve gone home, patting yourself on the back for having done a good job, taking care of all tasks that were presented to you via Callsheets. You’ve have a good night’s rest, and are not back in the office on the following morning. Lo and behold, that Callsheet from yesterday is not “lit up” (it “awoke” from its sleep), and in such state is “telling” you that you ought to try calling the customer again.

to auto-dial (or pretend to do the same, if you’ve not yet setup that function), and pretend this time the customer answers. You discuss the matter on which you were supposed to call. The customer is happy; you’re happy, and you both hang up. Now, you’ve accomplished the task for which the Callsheet was created. Its task is done. However, unlike the other Callsheets that we’ve had you create as part of this exercise—which completed their tasks by being the vehicle via which a JobRecord was
created—this one did not prove to be such a conduit, or to have that kind of purpose. But you’re done with it, nonetheless.

What to do?

You don’t want to do the Job/Sale sequence, because that would create a JobRecord. Instead, you want to indicate this Callsheet was completed via other means (specifically, you talked with the customer regarding his or her inquiry). So, and to emphasize, you’re “done” with this Callsheet, but via means other than doing a Job/Sale transition on its basis.

Given this, please look again along the Callsheet’s right edge, where there’s a group of five option buttons under the heading ‘Status’. Look for the very last, labeled ‘othrws Done’. Hopefully the meaning is obvious, but if not, “othrws” is an abbreviation for “otherwise,” and the notion is you pick this option to indicate you’ve completed the Callsheet’s task via means “other than” doing a Job/Sale transition.

Upon so picking that option, you’ll see the Callsheet goes dim, meaning you’ve got no present task in its regard. In fact, with the next housekeeping process, it will be moved to an archive where, unless an odd should arise, you’re likely never to see it again.

We titled this section “A Beginning Acquaintance Tour.” We should have emphasized the word “beginning,” for, in fact, we’ve only shed just a bit of light on the most beginning of functions. We’ve not even flirted with the multifarious aspects involved in dispatch processes, job management, inventory control, accounts receivable management, and so on. For the sake of brevity, we’ll leave those discussions for later.