Some recent SelfService changes

In addition to our recently updated corporate website, we also updated our customer SelfService portal. I wanted to comment on a few changes that were made as part of that.

Ditching the Case Type

One of things we eliminated was the case type. When customers create a new case, they no longer have to choose a case  type. And the case type isn’t shown on the view case page.

We do have (and use) different case types, including Problem, Question, Help Desk, Sales, Support Renewal, and a bunch more. However, when it comes to a technical support issue submitted from our customers – we don’t treat those cases any differently depending on the case type that the customer picked. Whether the customer picks Problem, Question, or Help Desk – it doesn’t matter to us. We don’t do any different work, reporting, or analysis based on those particular different types.

So, we simplified, and eliminated it from our SelfService UI altogether.  It’s one less piece of information  that customers need to fill out when submitting a new case. And one less piece of information shown on the view case page.

Here’s what the summary portion of the view case page used to look like:


and now:


The case still does have a case type associated to it, as it’s a required relation from the Clarify/Dovetail side of things. When we (Dovetail employees) view the case using DovetailAgent or Dovetail Mobile, we see the case type.  But it shouldn’t matter from the customer’s standpoint. So out it goes.

Verbose Severity

As part of the Create Case process, we allow our customers to define the Severity of the case. This defines the criticality of the case from the customer’s standpoint.

We’ve made the values in the Severity drop-down more verbose, so as to help clarify the intent, and hopefully make sure we’re all (customers and support staff) working with the same understanding.

The old severity list:


and now:


The severity of the case drives its SLA (service level agreement), which in turn drives notifications and escalations. For example, the business rule for an Urgent severity case will call a support staff member on their mobile phone after hours. And the escalations to the next level are much tighter for Urgent vs. Low severity cases.

We’d like to eliminate those Urgent support cases asking non-urgent questions, such as Do your .NET APIs work on Windows?

We’ve also added additional, even more verbose explanations, should the need arise. This info is hidden by default, but quickly accessible if needed. This helps keep the page simple and uncluttered.

Clicking the question mark icon reveals the expanded severity explanations:


Ditching the Priority

We’ve also removed the Priority from the view case page. The priority represents a measure of criticality for the support center – not for the customer. (Severity is used for a customer to rate the criticality for them)

The customer can’t set the priority. And it doesn’t provide any value to them, so we removed it. Less cluttered. Simpler.

In case you were curious – we don’t even use the case priority internally. The Severity of the case (as determined by the customer) is our driver for the criticality of the case.

Three Questions

This isn’t a new change, but something that we put in place a while ago, and continue to use today.

As part of the new case process, we ask the customer 3 questions:

  1. Here’s what I DID
  2. Here’s what I EXPECTED to happen
  3. Here’s what ACTUALLY happened

Previously, we used to just ask customers to enter a description of the issue.

Prompting for information in this three question fashion has yielded much better initial information, allowing us to provide answers in a quicker time period. In most cases, we’ve eliminated an initial back-and-forth dialog (typically by email) to gather some basic information. This decreases time to resolution, which is good for customers and support staff alike.

New Features

Want some new features? We got them too.

  • My Products – customers can now download products that they are entitled to
  • My License Keys – customers can now access their product license keys
  • Reopen Case – should a previously closed issue need further work, a customer can now reopen a case
  • Automatic reset of lost or forgotten passwords
  • More detailed product pages – including product downloads, knowledgebase articles about the product, current revision information, revision history, and documentation.
  • RSS feeds – we’ve made it easier to access RSS feeds for New Product Releases and New Knowledgebase articles

Hopefully these features bring more Self into SelfService.


So there you have it – just a little insight into some of the decisions that were made as we rolled out our latest SelfService instance, as well as a highlight of some new features.

Hopefully our customers will find the new SelfService portal not only more useful, but also easier to use.

Rock on.