Make Customers Smile in 7 Easy Steps with OTRS - Part 4
In Part 3, you learned how to accept, open and close tickets, and use the OTRS interface to communicate with customers and internal team members through the ticket resolution workflow. This is, in many ways, the core of OTRS, and the wide variety of features available ensure that are able to support a large variety of different scenarios, and also customize the system to your own special requirements.
In this concluding segment, I'll look at the OTRS configuration panel, which allows you to tweak system behaviour to your needs, and the reporting interface, which provides managers and administrators with a birds-eye view of operational issues at any time.
Step 6: Configure Global Settings
OTRS comes with an extensive set of configuration screens, which allow administrators to configure many different aspects of system behaviour. These screens are accessible through the Dashboard -> Admin -> SysConfig menu to users belonging to the "admin" group, and are grouped by function. Figure 24 illustrates what the main configuration interface looks like:
Figure 24: OTRS system configuration
In particular, you might want to pay special attention to the Core group (Figure 25), which lets you enter essential information for the system: the organization name; domain information; default theme, character set and languages; administrative information; and email notification parameters. For example, you can control whether OTRS should check the destination mail server's MX record (CheckMXRecord) and the recipient email address for validity (CheckEmailValidAddress) before dispatching email messages, and you can also run the system in simulation (DemoSystem) or high-security mode (SecureMode).
Figure 25: OTRS core settings
You should also briefly look through the settings in the Frontend::Agent group, which allow you to control the various notifications sent to agents, and the Frontend::Customer group (Figure 26), which allow you to adjust the customer front-end to your needs. For example, you might want to disable self-serve account creation (CustomerPanelCreateAccount), or adjust the login and logout URLs used by customers (CustomerPanelLoginURL and CustomerPanelLogoutURL).
Figure 26: OTRS customer settings
Ticket management workflows can be customized in the Core::Ticket group, which allows you to customize to whom and how pending ticket notifications are sent ( Ticket::
Windows users, in particular, will want to adjust the settings in the Core::Sendmail group, which allow complete control over how the system sends email messages. This group allows administrators to turn off all email messagin, or to switch the system from the Sendmail agent (not available on Windows systems) to a remote SMTP or SMTPS relay such as Gmail or a custom mail server (Figure 27).
Figure 27: OTRS email delivery settings
OTRS also allows administrators to save a snapshot of current system settings as a local file, via the Dashboard -> Admin -> SysConfig -> Download Settings command, and restore previously-saved settings using the Dashboard -> Admin -> SysConfig -> Load Settings command. This feature is particularly handy for administrators who need to replicate their OTRS installation on a different system.
Step 7: Stay on Track with Reports
OTRS comes with a powerful reporting system, which makes it easy for agents and supervisors to get a birds-eye view of ticket status and service quality. These reports are accessible through the Dashboard -> Stats section. Note that this section is only available to users in the "stats" group.
A number of built-in reports exist for most common requirements: new tickets, currently open tickets, tickets closed in the previous month, most time-consuming tickets, and so on. These reports can be printed, or saved as CSV files; graphical reports are also possible. Here's an example of one such report:
Figure 28: Ticket statistics by queue
Well aware that the built-in reports may not satisfy every need, the OTRS developers also sneaked in a full-featured report customization engine. This makes it possible to create fully customized reports, by specifying the data values that should appear on the X-axis and Y-axis and defining filters for the values. All the statistical information that is tracked with each ticket is available for use in a report...so, if Dizzy Domains' CEO is dying to get a list of his most troublesome customers, or his most efficient agents, it's easy enough to slap together a quick report that contains this information.
The essence of a trouble ticket system is, of course, the tickets, and the tools available to manage them. OTRS excels in this area, providing a comprehensive suite of tools to create, update, merge, search and track customer tickets. The built-in self-service portal makes it easy to get a support site up and running quickly, with minimal configuration, and the ability to sort tickets into queues makes it possible to efficiently deploy a multi-tier support system. And let's not forget the best part...it's free, even for commercial use!
The topics discussed in this article are just the tip of the OTRS iceberg. However, hopefully they will have whetted your appetite for this robust, extensible system and encouraged you to try it out the next time you're looking for a trouble ticket system. Remember that, as with all open source projects, your participation is crucial - so try it out, get support from other users on the OTRS mailing lists or learn more from the community forums!
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