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Feature request: Allow team members to "claim" a thread

By Michael Lynch @michael
    2022-10-11 19:27:07.849Z

    My support team is growing, and one of the issues we're running into is that multiple team members might be responding to the same post at the same time. Especially for questions that require 30-60 minutes of research, we don't want multiple team members duplicating effort.

    For private email support, we use a tool called HelpScout, which allows team members to assign ownership to a particular thread:

    That feature helps us prevent two people from working on the same ticket at the same time.

    It would be nice if TalkYard offered a way to mark a thread as "owned" by a particular staff member. There are a few different ways TalkYard could achieve this:

    • The way HelpScout does it where staff members pick from a dropdown to assign to a thread to a particular person.
    • Add a general-purpose "staff-only note" to the top of a thread, so before responding, you'd check for a note and write that you're working on it.
    • Add some kind of warning to other staff members if another staff member is already in the process of replying to a thread.

    My team has also talked about the idea of using the staff-only board to track ownership, but it's impractical to have to navigate away from the thread to check another page. For a solution to be effective, I think it has to be obvious in the place where the staff member would reply.

    • 5 replies
    1. KajMagnus @KajMagnus2022-10-12 12:45:16.598Z2023-01-08 11:08:00.474Z

      Definitely needed, marking as Planned. Seems what's needed, database wise, is:

      An assigned_to_id database field, and assigned_by_id field.
      And a may_assign_to_id permission and a may_assign_to_self permission.

      For example, for a group Support Team, you could set may_assign_to_id, to point to itself (i.e. Support Team). Meaning, Support Team members could assign threads to themselves or each other. But initially, for simplicity, maybe simply all Core Members and higher, would get to assign threads to others and themselves. (That is, starting with just assigned_to/by_id, and postponing a more flexible may-assign permission system.)

      (Maybe not initially, but some time later on, assigned_to_id can optionally point to a list of staff members, instead of a single person. For example, two people could be working together on a task. — If assign-to-many was enabled, could be an admin site config setting.)

      Edit, 2023-01: The implementation will be a bit different, namely a graph database style "relationships" table with Assigned-To links (and other types of links) from people to posts. /Edit

      1. In reply tomichael:

        A fourth idea pops up in my mind when I see your 3rd list item "if another staff member is already in the process of replying":

        • Make replies other staff members have started writing, visible to other staff or group members (e.g. a Support Team group), and allow real-time collaborative editing of such replies. Once submitted, then, as author, show the relevant group name, e.g. "by Support Team", and optionally, one can click to show the exact author names.

        Maybe such a feature should be disabled by default? Because I guess that for this real-time-cooperation feature to work ok, the team needs to be well-knit / well-coordinated / good judgement people :- )   Also, won't happen the nearest year ... Lots of work.

        1. Michael Lynch @michael
            2022-10-17 19:56:00.886Z


            For our use case, we'd only need to assign to a single person. The support staff is just me and two support engineers, so there aren't enough of us where it makes sense yet to have separate teams.

            Collaborative editing would be cool, but it sounds like a lot of implementation complexity. We could get 95% of the benefit of collaborative editing if there was just some indicator that some other team member was drafting a reply and maybe when they last edited.

            Support tickets are usually assigned to a single person, and we have private channels for discussion, so we wouldn't really need to collaboratively write responses like you would in a Google Doc. In other words, TalkYard could show the other moderators a note like, "Magnus is drafting a reply as of 3:04pm."

          • In reply tomichael:

            This now a tiny bit started. I'm guessing this'll be available in about 1 month. (Doing in parallel with some other related things — namely anonymous posts (optional!).)

            1. Status update: Now implemented, except for 1) notifications about someone having gotten assigned and 2) "sbd assigned sbd-else" meta comments, and 3) "deailed" permissions related to who-may-assign and who-can-see-who-has-gotten-assigned, but that can wait (I think).

              Code review and auto tests missing, though, that's 2 weeks maybe ... (but 1 week more because of end-of-the-year bookkeeping :- / )

            2. Progress
              with doing this idea
            3. @KajMagnus marked this topic as Planned 2022-10-12 12:51:35.972Z.
            4. @KajMagnus marked this topic as Started 2023-01-08 10:35:31.907Z.