Handling Email Feedback: YouTrack to the Rescue

Hello everyone! Thanks to our users, we receive lots of feedback every day. You post questions in our forum, create issues in our bug tracker, and, of course, you send us emails.
If you get feedback emails on a regularly basis, like we do, and your support team or a member of your development team processes them, you’ve probably faced the tiny inconvenience of keeping track of the status of an email and the person responsible for it.

Faced with this challenge, we wanted to find the best way to track all of these things, so no precious question would be left unanswered.

In JetBrains, we practice the ‘eat-your-own-dogfood’ principle. So we decided to manage feedback using our own YouTrack – and we’re very happy with the results. We’d like to share our experience with you, so you can apply it to your projects as well.

Generally, there are two things you need to do in YouTrack in order to automate the process: a) set up integration with mailbox and b) create custom workflow.

Without digging into the details of the settings, the tracking of emailed feedback now looks as follows:

  1. YouTrack periodically checks the mailbox youtrack-feedback@jetbrains.com for new emails.
  2. Once one or more new emails are discovered, YouTrack fetches them and creates new issues in a dedicated project, one issue per unique email. New issues are created with the following parameters:
    • Issue summary and issue description generated from email’s subject and email’s body, respectively.
    • All the email attachments are attached to the new issue.
    • Issue Reporter is set to email author.
    • Issue is unassigned and its state is ‘Unanswered’.
  3. Our team receives notifications when an issue is created: a notification is sent to the project lead, while other team members are notified via ‘Unanswered feedback’ shared saved search.
  4. When a team member adds a reply to the user’s question as a comment to the issue, the original email sender receives an email notification containing that reply. So most of the time, we keep the conversation within an issue, via comments.

So far this process is implemented using Mailbox integration only. But to make our life even easier, we’ve designed a workflow to manage the life-cycle of created feedback issues. This workflow contains four rules covering the following processes:

  • Notifying about unanswered feedback. We use the scheduled rule, using which YouTrack daily checks the feedback project for ‘Unanswered’ issues and notifies the team if any such issues are left.
  • Setting the state of issue to ‘Answered’ or ‘Unanswered’ according to the latest comment: if a comment is from an external user, the issue becomes ‘Unanswered’; if the comment’s author is a team member, the issue becomes ‘Answered’.
  • Setting assignee on team’s comment. A team member who is the author of the latest comment containing the answer automatically becomes the issue’s assignee. This way we know who ‘owns’ the conversation at the moment.
  • Resolving issues automatically if the issue is marked as ‘Spam’. Of course quite a bit of this ‘feedback’ is actually spam, but we deal with it just like this: when an issue’s type is changed to ‘Spam’, its state automatically becomes ‘Answered’.

Please refer to How To guide for the detailed steps of setting up Mailbox integration and creating Workflow rules. You can also download the described workflow and attach it to your project as is. Keep in mind that you can always customize the process according to your specific needs.
Download YouTrack 3.0.4 along with YouTrack Workflow Editor 3.0.4 if you haven’t yet.

Manage your feedback with pleasure and make your users happy!

JetBrains YouTrack Team

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16 Responses to Handling Email Feedback: YouTrack to the Rescue

  1. hilton smith says:

    “Issue summary and issue description generated from email’s subject and email’s body, respectively.”

    what rules do you configure to set up the new issue with the subject and body?

  2. Ekaterina says:

    Hilton, please refer to the step-by-step how-to guide for details about Mailbox integration rules: Configuring Rule for Feedback Emails

  3. valerie.andrianova says:

    Hello Hilton,
    You don’t need to configure any rules. That’s how mailbox integration works by default.

  4. Paul says:

    We use YouTrack as a Helpdesk system in our company. Unfortunately, we get a large number of users who simply reply to YouTrack Email/Jabber notifications instead of navigating to the Issue via the included link and leaving a comment. When they do this, their comments are lost in the void – although I recently set up a mail forward so I can see their replies and let them know they need to leave a comment. Honestly I can’t disagree with their actions, since it seems like something that *should* work.

    Is there a way to set up YouTrack so that replies to notifications are automatically added as comments to the issue? Thank you.

  5. valerie.andrianova says:

    Paul,
    Yes, there is a way! You need to setup email notifications to the same email address your mailbox integration is setup. Navigate to Settings->E-mail->Server ‘from’ email and use the same email address you’ve used in mailbox settings (Mail server user login name).

  6. Paul says:

    Valerie,
    Thank you, that worked like a charm. Is there a way to filter out the quoted parts of the email reply? That way the added comment looks like:

    “Let’s try this again, with forwarding and keeping on the server.
    Paul”

    Instead of:

    “Let’s try this again, with forwarding and keeping on the server.
    Paul

    On Oct 28, 2011, at 4:00 PM, Paul wrote:

    |A Task To Be Done updated by you in project Helpdesk at 28 Oct 2011 15:59
    |HELP-376 Testing Replies
    |created by Paul Nystrom
    |State
    |Submitted
    |In Progress
    |You received this message because you’d enabled notifications for “Reported by me” |and “Assigned to me” saved searches. Notification settings.
    |Sincerely yours, YouTrack 3.0.4 (build #1819 [07-Sep-2011 19:48] )”

  7. Mark says:

    Argh!

    Ok, I followed the steps in the How To Guide. Its pulling the emails off the server regardless if I have the Delete Emails box checked, so it seems to be processing them, I see the Mailbox Integration->URL working and the .->Project working when I press the Fetch link, but no issues are created in my Feedback Project.

    I did not attach the workflow as I understand the default behavior is to create the issues. Reporter is set to root.

  8. valerie.andrianova says:

    Hello Paul,
    We’ve just implemented this feature, it will be included into the next minor version, will be available in couple weeks. Please take a look at the feature:
    http://youtrack.jetbrains.net/issue/JT-10169

    Kind Regards,

  9. Maxim Mazin says:

    Hello Mark,

    Can you give some logs?

  10. Vladimir Prudnikov says:

    Well, we have a very limited number of reporters :(

  11. Miles Daffin says:

    Is it possible to tweak this so that comments on an issue generated from a mail go back to the sender of the original mail when this person does *not* have a youtrack account? (We do not want to have to provide our customers with youtrack accounts just so that this funcionality will work.)

    • Valerie Andrianova says:

      It’s possible to add this comment from the other user account, it can be any user account you specify when setup an integration, but in this case there is no way to notify the original sender, since he/she is not associated with YouTrack at all.

  12. Dmitry says:

    Hello. It creates a user account for each sender … If I get 15,000 letters into the box from different users, then It will create 15,000 accounts that are not wanted. OK, but… I have only licensed for 500 users. What can be done?

    • Olga Kosyreva says:

      Hello Dmitry,
      In your case it does make sense to use the second option in mailbox integration settings: Set one selected user as a reporter for all issues and store customer’s email in specific issue’s field. Please check How-to for more details.

  13. Tobias says:

    Hi,

    is it possible to send an Email (user.notify()) not only to existing Youtrack Users, but also to arbitrary Emailaddress? (Or create/delete User via Workflow?)

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