The Tools You Need to Run Your Own Helpdesk

Below is a guest post from Chris Gallo at Highrise that gives great advice on tools to utilize for your helpdesk. Highrise is a terrific, clean CRM tool that Jotform seamlessly integrates with.

Highrise as a product has been running since 2007 – we’ve been through our fair share of customer support questions, issues, and fires.

It isn’t always easy.

But many years later, and hundreds of thousands of users supported later, we’ve learned quite a bit, especially tools and tricks to make those conversations go a lot better. Here are the things that keep our support system running smoothly and might be helpful whether you’re supporting one customer or a million:

Github Wiki

Our support wiki lists common problems, requests, and solutions to help customers. It’s where we document all of our tools (both internal and external) and related instructions for reference and team onboarding. This is a great place to have a wiki, especially if you have developers who often need to help with support. It’s possible they already spend quite a bit of time in Github, so the friction is greatly reduced in getting them involved in helping list common solutions to problems.


CloudApp makes it easy to share screenshots and short screencasts. And you don’t have to attach anything to the email – you just include a link. This is a huge help because demo videos can get very large and many people have email size limits.

When possible we take screencasts of a demo account to illustrate a point to a customer. If you do have access to customer accounts for debugging purposes, use your best judgement and ask for permission if it’s something that is very specific to their account or data.


Of course, we have a Twitter account (@highrise). On our website, we point people to Twitter for quick questions or comments, so we often receive support questions asked via Twitter and feature requests as well.

Twitter is handy for quick questions, but you’ll likely need more information. If so, don’t be afraid to ask to take the conversation offline over email.


Slack is our (and many other teams these days!) internal chat tool. We find different channels useful to share information. We keep a separate #support channel for support specific topics. Whether a bug needs more discussion, a customer needs
backend support, or we’re simply coordinating a support shift, the channel helps us hash it out and keeps the info for us for reference later.

We have a handy Slack integration with Twitter. When someone mentions @highrise we see it in our #buzz channel, and can determine if it needs a response or not. This means we don’t need to keep Twitter open all day long to monitor mentions.

We also have a Github integration so when someone makes a change to our Help site, the rest of us get an alert in the tool we’re already actively using.


While CloudApp is great for quick screenshots and demos, we use ScreenFlow to create videos and screencasts for large documentation projects or marketing materials.


Keybase is how we share sensitive passwords with each other. This keeps the information safe and secure. The only drawback is that currently you have to request an account and it takes awhile right now – they are still in beta.

Duo Mobile

Duo Mobile is a two-factor authentication application we use to log in to Github, Highrise, and other tools that require extra sensitivity and security. Support requires extra access, and we want make sure we protect that access.


Cloak keeps your wi-fi connection secure. If you’re ever working from a coffee shop, hotel, airport — turn on Cloak.


TextExpander is helpful to share links or frequent snippets. For example, we use it to share support hours in our signature:

The Tools You Need to Run Your Own Helpdesk Image-1


1Password is for Macs only, but if your team is all using Macs this is a must have. It manages all of our passwords and logins to these tools. Since we make sure to use strong passwords, no one could remember them on their own. So we use 1Password

1Password has recently launched a Beta for teams, which we’re also trying out.


We use the all new Basecamp 3 recurring questions feature to track our plans for the week and to highlight specific issues, bugs, etc. we came across at the end of each day.


We are thrilled to be using our own product to help our customers. We now use it as our HelpDesk.

Technical details

  • The help form on our website sends an email to our gmail account:  
  • We added a separate ‘Support’ user in Highrise associated with our email address.  
  • We set up gmail autoforwarding using the ‘Support’ dropbox (now exposed on the users page) to get the messages into Highrise  
  • Messages come into Good Morning where we:

Reply directly to customers  – we use a Shared email connection to have responses come from instead of our individual Highrise emails. This way replies back also come directly into Highrise for all to see.

Use Templates to store and provide starting points for common (and also less frequent) support queries:

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Tag customers according to their query or issue for future tracking

A few recommendations about tagging:

  • Make sure your team members are aware of the tags you’re using as a group, so you don’t end up with multiple tags that mean the same thing.  
  • It’s better to over tag than under tag as an example, if you may want to see all tickets that came in as a result of a bug in the future, it’s good to tag a bug related ticket with both “bug” and “autofile bug” (or whatever the specific issue is) rather than just one or the other. Then you can filter on all customers who reported bugs and also filter on only customers who had an issue with autofiling. If you anticipate several issues with autofiling, you may want to get even more descriptive so you can distinguish between the separate issues.  
  • Tagging takes some practice to settle on what is most useful for your team – don’t spend too much time coming up with your list up front. You can always rename or merge tags as you go.  
  • Take some time after you’ve had a few days of tagged support tickets to make sure you’re tracking the information at a level that will be useful for future tracking.  

Share comments with the team – for those tickets that need some form of discussion. We may move to Slack for real time chatting, but we use Highrise for draft responses or to call attention to someone else on a particular ticket:

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Create tasks to remember to follow up. If a question cannot be answered right away, we create a task as a reminder to follow up with a customer once an answer is ready. We also use tasks to assign API and technical tickets to our engineers. This has a secondary win in that it helps get more of the team chatting with our customers, which we also highly recommend.

Search customer history as needed to find previous one off responses and examples.

There are also lots of other tools you can use for support queues, but we love Highrise for the task.

And here’s a non-tool tip on support: Don’t be so fast to close your support cases.

At the end of many of our support cases we’ll ask open ended questions like “Does that help?” That keeps the conversation going. You can make sure you did indeed help or leave yourself open to help clarify.

Too many support teams are encouraged to close cases as fast as possible, which may result in insufficient answers, but customers embarrassed to ask another question. Give them an opening to keep talking. Besides, you can now use this opportunity to ask even deeper questions to understand why they have a problem.

Feature requests? Don’t just shut them down with “We don’t have that yet, but will consider it in the future.” Take some time and ask questions about why they need it. Mention some alternative ideas to see if another feature or feature idea you have would work instead.

It’s hard to get people talking to you about your product. People don’t like interruptions. But here you are with a customer already emailing or calling you to talk? Don’t squander it.

What tools do you use to manage support and help your customers? We’d love for you to share tips and tricks with us on Twitter @Highrise.

Chris Gallo is head of Support at Highrise, a simple CRM tool to help you keep track of who you talk to, what you talk to them about, and when to follow up.

Chad is a former VP of Marketing and Communications at Jotform. He’s also a frequent contributor to various tech and business publications, and an absolute wizard with a Vitamix. He holds a master’s degree in communication and resides with his wife and cats in Oakland, California.

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