Automating my rapid response to customers
As the author of TaskAngel To-Do List, I want to give my customers the fastest possible response to any requests they might have for help or advice, or if they want to report a problem. In this article, I am going to tell you how I created a new rapid response process, integrating Gmail and TaskAngel. You can do similar things to automate your workload too, all without writing any code.
The key to this is Zapier, the famous process automation system.
There are more than 4,000 apps to choose from, all of which integrate with Zapier. You build a little machine to look after the important tasks in your life.
How it works
Customers have two ways to asking for advice. They can fill in my contact form, or they can send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. In fact, the contact form creates an email behind the scenes, so all I need to do is monitor my inbox on Gmail.
To make sure I notice these customer messages, I use Zapier to run a continuous monitoring process, which does this:
"Create a task in TaskAngel when a support request arrives in Gmail"
I give the new task a high priority and a due date, and put it in my Support folder. So I can be sure it will get my attention right away. The task keeps a copy of the email message, so I can get on with my response right away.
How to automate your workload
Step 1: Sign into Zapier
Go to zapier.com and set up your account. Zapier is a subscription service. To work through the steps in this article, you just need a free account. So it won't cost you anything.
Having signed up or signed in, Zapier takes you to a dashboard page. Locate the 'Create a Zap' button, and click it to get started with your new zap.
Step 2: The Zap
In Zapier, the processes you define are called 'zaps'. Each of them is triggered by an event in an app. My zap is "Create a task in TaskAngel when a support request arrives in Gmail".
The zap creation wizard lets you define a Trigger and an Action.
Zapier is introducing an AI method for generating zaps, but for now I'm going to show you the classic method. You might have to look for the Trigger and Action below the AI wizard if it appears.
Step 3: The Trigger
Click on 'Trigger'. A search form pops up, where you can find the app you want.
Type Gmail into the search field, and click on the Continue button.
The trigger needs some setup details, so I add them now. I give it my Gmail account details, and choose the trigger event, which is New Email. This is what starts the zap.
My support inbox is in Gmail, but I can also monitor emails coming into other inboxes, such as Outlook, in the same way. You can explore all the apps that integrate with Zapier, and their triggers, from your free account at Zapier.com
Meanwhile, back with the 'New Email in Gmail' trigger, I choose Label/Mailbox and select Inbox.
Now the trigger is defined, and Zapier invites me to test the trigger. I tap on the 'Test trigger' button.
Zapier looks into my gmail inbox and finds some recent emails to test my zap.
Step 4: The action
Now it is time to tell my new zap to create a new task in TaskAngel. I do that by creating an 'action' for the zap. The search box pops up again, and I search for TaskAngel. It finds TaskAngel but flags it as 'By Invite' because it's only for beta testers at present. If you want to join in, please send me a request by using the TaskAngel contact form.
The actions are built in to TaskAngel, and I pull up a list of them by clicking on 'Choose an event'. The one I want is 'Create Task', so I click on that.
Zapier now shows me a form to let me define the new task to be added to TaskAngel. The first field required is Title. I start typing 'Support request from ' . To get the name of the person who sent me the email, I select 'From Name' from the dropdown list. Then, still in the Title field, I select the Subject of the original email.
I want to give my customers a same-day response, so in the Due field, I click on 'Enter text or insert data', and select Date. That is the date the email arrived.
In the Priority field in my new task, I select 'High', and in the Folder field I type Support.
In the Note field of my new task, I select 'Body Plain'. This is just the content of the original email, with any fancy formatting or attachments removed. This is where my customers tell me what help they want. (The attachments are still in Gmail unchanged, so I can always go back to them later if I need to.)
Step 5: Test
After defining my task, Zapier shows a 'Test Step' button. I click on that, and Zapier sends my new task to TaskAngel.
You can expect to make mistakes the first time you attempt to make a zap. Zapier does extensive error checks and tells you if anything has gone wrong. Errors are usually easy to fix. Look at the error message, then go through your zap definition and find the mistake. When you have done so, click on 'Retest step' to try again.
When the test runs without errors, you will see a message in Zapier saying 'A Task was sent to TaskAngel about 1 second ago'. Have a look in TaskAngel and try to find it there. Use the search bar at the top of TaskAngel's task list.
Step 6: Put your zap to work
When your tests are passing with out error, you have finished developing your zap. Well done! 👏
To run the automation, you need to publish and run your zap.
In the Zap Editor, click on Publish. This compiles your zap and copies it to the Zapier servers, ready to run.
Finally, switch your zap on. Use the switch at the top right of the Zap Editor.
For my support zap, I send test emails to email@example.com, and see if they appear in my TaskAngel to-do list.
Zapier looks at its triggers every 15 minutes or so, to see if they have fired. So we have to wait a few minutes to give it a chance to start our zaps.
If you have a problem with TaskAngel, or if you want advice on other aspects of Time Management, please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Then your email will appear in my TaskAngel to-do list, courtesy of Zapier, and I will come back to you.
How much will it cost?
To connect TaskAngel to Zapier, you will need a subscription to TaskAngel Online, which costs $2 per month. Then you can use Zapier connection at no extra charge.
You will need membership of Zapier. They have a free plan, so simple zaps such as the one I am using here will not cost you anything.
If your emails come to you through Gmail or Outlook, they will not charge you any more to connect to Zapier.
Next step: Join the beta test
The Zapier integration for TaskAngel is in beta test, and we are looking for testers. If you are interested, please apply using the TaskAngel contact form. Only beta testers can connect TaskAngel to Zapier for now.
Zapier has proven to be an invaluable tool in automating my support workload.
With Zapier's user-friendly interface and extensive app integrations, automating support processes has never been easier. Explore the possibilities, save time, and enhance your support operations with Zapier and TaskAngel!