An Admin's Guide to Help Scout

Congratulations on becoming a new Help Scout Administrator or Account Owner. 🎉 Your permissions are like the proverbial keys to manage the kingdom. So now what?

There are a ton of powerful features in Help Scout that will help keep your conversations organized, your users more productive, and provide more insightful reporting to get a clear picture of what your team is up to.

This guide will help bring you up to speed on wrangling those features whether you are brand new to Help Scout entirely, or you're just new to being an Administrator.

What's Covered

Using Help Scout: The Basics

Having an understanding how your team works in Help Scout day-to-day will help inform your decisions when it comes to setup.

So, if you're brand new to Help Scout, or just need a refresher on how to answer, assign, and communicate within conversations, check out the resources in Onboard Your Team. Those few short videos and brief exercises will have you crushing the queue in no time!

Get Your Email into Help Scout 101

No matter what state your account is in today, it’s important understand how inboxes work, just in case you need to setup another inbox, decide you want to condense a few inboxes into one, or are looking to use forms to collect incoming emails.

Here’s a rundown of all the ways to make your shared inbox the center of your email universe:

  • If you’ve already got a inbox, somebody’s likely already set up automatic forwarding from your support@, help@, info@ and/or sales@ email addresses.
  • Two inboxes aren’t always better than one. Manage multiple email addresses coming into the same inbox by setting up aliases.
  • Got a customer who just won’t stop emailing your personal email? Manually forward those into Help Scout one at a time.
  • Pop a Beacon on your website or in your web app to give your customers Docs anywhere they need them, and a direct line to your Help Scout team via email and/or chat.
  • Set up a contact form to send inquiries from your website into your Help Scout Inbox.

Add and Manage Users

One of the key privileges you have as an Admin or Owner is the ability manage your users and decide what permissions they should have in the system.

Don’t forget to train your users once you add ‘em! Share the Onboard Your Team article with new team members to get them up to speed even faster!

Organize With Tags

Use tags to categorize conversations, monitor trends, and/or trigger Workflows.

Tags can help you make sense of all those conversations going on in your inboxes. Think about using a tag when you want to:

  • Identify what types of conversations are in your folder at a glance. Maybe you prioritize urgent conversations or VIP customers first. 

  • Search for conversations later. Use the tag filter in Help Scout Search to easily filter conversations by tag. Or, simply click on a tag in an open conversation to bring up all the other conversations with the same tag.
  • Provide detailed reporting on the types of conversations your are handling. The All Channels report will provide trending information for all the tags being used across conversations, including how their frequency is increasing or decreasing over time.

  • Kick off an automated workflow. For example, you can create a workflow to copy your tagged conversations to custom folders to see similar conversations all in one place.

Managing Tags

Depending on how long your Help Scout setup has been around, you may be inheriting a well-oiled tagging machine, or may be looking at a blank slate. See what you’ve got by hitting the Manage > Tags page. From there you can filter tags by inbox, sort by usage, change tag colors, edit names, and even merge multiple tags into one. Learn more: Create and Manage Tags

Automate redundant tasks with Workflows

As an Admin, it’s a good idea to look for a series of actions that your users are doing over and over again and bottle those up into a Workflow, e.g, your process dictates bugs should be assigned to Jane, tagged as a bug, and marked as pending. 

Or, think about what you’d like to systematize to make sure it gets done without having to rely on your users, like auto-tagging your top 50 customers as VIPs. It’s easy to setup a manual workflow for the first case and an automatic Workflow for the second.

The possibilities are endless when it comes to automations. Here’s just a sampling of what you can do with Workflows:

  • Tag and assign conversations based on inbound email address
  • Notify a user when not-so-good satisfaction ratings are received
  • Keep track of priority conversations with tags and folders
  • Take specific actions when certain words appear in the subject or body of the email
  • Escalate conversations based on goal response times
  • Auto-assign conversations from customers to a specific team member

Follow these guides to get up to speed on creating workflows, then try one for yourself.

Set up a filing system!

One of the most popular things to do with workflows is to organize conversations into folders. Check out Create Folders Using Workflows to Organize Conversations to learn how.

Get to Know Reports

As you rack up conversations in Help Scout, you’ll want to head over to reports see how your team is doing and the load they are handling.

Help Scout reports will give you insights straight out of the box, no configuration required. You’ll even get metrics on your tags and saved replies, without having to do any setup.

There are seven standard reports in Help Scout chock full of useful metrics. Check out the:

  • All Channels Report to see the overall volume you are handling, how your customers reach you, your busiest times of day, your most active customers, and if you are consistent with your tagging, your most common questions and what topics are trending.
  • Email Report to analyze your efficiency when it comes to timely replies and resolution metrics for email conversations.
  • Chat Report to see your team's efficiency using Beacon with live chat. 
  • Phone Report to measure the volume of phone calls. 
  • Company Report to drill down into the performance of specific users and teams.
  • Happiness Report to get a handle on how happy your customers are with your service, if you’ve turned on customer satisfaction ratings for your inbox.
  • Docs Report for feedback on your site’s usage to help with continuous optimization.

Want to drill down to find out why returns are up or product questions are taking longer? Use Views to filter reporting data and get deeper, actionable insights about the conversations your team is having.

Each one of the articles above includes definitions of the metrics you'll find on them. Pro-tip: When you're looking at a report, hover your mouse over the metric title to see a description of that metric right in the report!

Give Your Customers the Ability to Self-service With Docs

No matter what Help Scout plan you’re on, you’ve got one Docs site to a create a knowledge base, help center, or FAQ for your customers. You can also create private collections to hold internal documentation for your team's eyes only. Docs is tightly integrated into the rest of Help Scout, ensuring that your content is accessible and helpful for both your users and your customers.

There are many ways to make sure that all the brilliant content you create can be found when and where it’s needed:

  • Publish a standalone site and brand it as your own
  • Suggest instant answers to your customers where and when they need it — on your website or in-app — with a Help Scout Beacon
  • Build custom access to your articles via the Docs API

How Docs sites are organized

No matter how you access your Docs site, the setup itself follows an organized structure:

  • Site - The top of the hierarchy, your site is tied to a unique Docs subdomain or a custom domain you’ve setup.
  • Collection - You can have one or more collections focused on specific subjects or audiences — think customers and employees, or recipes and operating instructions.
  • Categories - Categories allow you to further breakdown your articles into manageable, browsable chunks. See Manage Collections and Categories for more on how to organize your site.
  • Articles - Contain the actual content you want to provide to your audience. You can create as many articles as you need on your Docs site and organize them into categories and collections to meet the needs of your users and customers. More: Create and Manage Docs Articles

Let Beacon Be Your Customers' Guide

Beacon lets your customers find instant answers whenever they need it. Embed a Beacon in your website or web-based app and serve up your Docs articles right from the corner of the page. Use custom suggestions to show articles relevant to the page customers are on, or let them search your knowledge base to find and answer.

While your support team may have set hours, your Beacon can keep answering questions 24/7. If customers still need a personalized answer, they can start up a live chat if your team is available, or send an email if everyone's busy. 

You can even add Beacon to your mobile apps — just point your developers over to the Beacon for Mobile SDK, and give your customers easy access.

With Beacon, your team can manage emails and chats from the same Help Scout inbox, without missing a beat. Your customers can look through their previous conversations with you, and continue them from there.

Get started here: Beacon Jumpstart Guide.


Keep The Information Flowing With Integrations

How can you get more value from Help Scout? Easy, integrate it with other systems in your stack.

Help Scout has a ton of integrations to do everything from sending conversation notifications to Slack, to showing contact details from your CRM in the Help Scout sidebar, to linking voicemails and chat transcripts with customer profiles.

Integrations are being added all the time. Check out the website to see the current directory. Most are easy-peasy to setup with a few clicks and an API key. Here’s a sampling of what you can integrate with Help Scout:

  • Phone: Manage voicemails from several popular providers, or connect a call center software like TalkDesk or Aircall if you need something more robust.
  • CRM: Have better, more informed customer interactions by keeping your users on the same page as your sales and success teams. Choose from integrations with Capsule, Pipedrive, OnePageCRM, Highrise, Salesforce (Plus only), and more.
  • Slack: Bring incoming conversation into a Slack channel for immediate alerts, as well as customer satisfaction ratings and comments.
  • Marketing: See where your customers are in your marketing funnel, what lists they’re a part of, and/or other custom details. Each integration for Mailchimp, Infusionsoft, Mixpanel, and HubSpot (Plus only) offers a different mix of info.
  • Ecommerce Integrations: Get your customer’s order information connected to every Help Scout conversation with Shopify, WooCommerce, and Magento. You can also funnel all your Amazon and eBay customers' messages and notifications neatly into your Help Scout inbox ChannelReply.
  • Issue Tracking: Connect JIRA tickets to conversations, create new JIRA issues, and view issue status -- all from the Help Scout sidebar. Or, send conversations to Trello and track them there.
  • Zapier & Make: If you don't see your app as one of the out of the box integrations it's possible you can build your own integration, without any coder knowledge. You'll find ways to link to hundreds of existing apps using Zapier or Make
  • Build your own apps: Maybe Todd in IT hacked together some internal management system years ago, or Beth in ops found a perfect CMS solution for you a little off the beaten path. Connect with your other internal systems or anything your heart desires with an app. Just point your developer team here to get started: Apps. App development will require coding know-how and might need a lot, depending on what you want to do, just a heads up. 

Go Deeper

This guide touches on the highest levels of what Help Scout can do and how to set it up for your team. If you’d like to learn all the ins and outs of what Help Scout is capable of, as well as best practices for how to set things up, check out:

  • Our own Docs site to dig into the details of all things Help Scout
  • Classes that include regular Getting Started demos, scheduled live advanced topic webinars, and prerecorded deep-dive training sessions on subjects such as tagging, workflows, reporting, and more
  • The Help Scout Hack Pack, tips and tricks to give you Help Scout super powers
  • Consider upgrading to a Plus plan, if you’re looking to add custom fields to your conversations, delegate to teams, integrate with Salesforce, HubSpot, and/or Jira, and more to your Help Scout setup
  • Help Scout Developer Documentation to learn about using our API to customize your help desk setup and integrate with your custom tools
  • Our blog for general customer service education that's not specific to our products — it's a resource for you and your team to learn to create better customer experiences, with or without Help Scout
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