Webhooks are available in JIRA 5.2 – full details in Unlock the Power of Search with JIRA 5.2. OnDemand customers have already been upgraded.

In this article we will explore how a customer service team can resolve requests faster by updating customers of issue progress using SMS. This customer service team uses JIRA and GreenHopper to manage all customer requests, and with the introduction of Webhooks in JIRA 5.2 they have extended their workflow to integrate with a third-party SMS service.

Why SMS customers?! Instant gratification makes people happy. The faster the team can update a customer and let them know of a proposed solution, the happier the customer is. And we all want happy customers!

If you are not familiar with using JIRA and GreenHopper to manage a service desk add a calendar reminder to watch Scaling a Global Support Team to Resolve 1,500 Requests a Week Using Kanban and GreenHopper. In that presentation from Summit 2012 Chris LePetit of the Atlassian Support Team gives a great overview of how they implemented GreenHopper and Kanban for tremendous gain.

Anyway, on with the story, how did this team lower the time to resolution? Let’s take a look.

Okay, so there are a couple of moving pieces in that video. We’ve got JIRA 5.2 and GreenHopper 6, plus third-party services Zapier and Twilio:

  • Zapier is the link that ties JIRA and Twilio together. You can use Zapier for any number of things as they support hundreds of applications.
  • Twilio provides the SMS service. You can also use Twilio to receive SMS’s (for instance, update the issue via SMS) and Voice services.

Now, the steps to put this workflow together:

Requirements

Make sure you have JIRA 5.2 and GreenHopper 6 installed.

Sign up for trial accounts for Zapier and Twilio.

Create your first Zap

A Zap is the piece in Zapier that links JIRA to Twilio. We will create a Zap with the JIRA web hook on the left and Twilio on the right as the flow is from left to right. What we pass in on the left from JIRA will be sent through to the application on the right, Twilio.

A web hook is a URL that an application can send information to, or receive information from. With web hooks we automate the sharing of information between applications.
Integrate a JIRA web hook with Twilio via Zapier

Above we have configured the web hook to use the “Hook” trigger and Twilio to use the “SMS” action.

Integrate Twilio and JIRA

When you are ready press “Create the Zap”.

Congrats, your first Zap has now been created!

Create a new Webhook

Copy the web hook URL of your Zap from Zapier:

Now, switch over to JIRA and find Webhooks under JIRA Administration.

Tip: you can use the ‘gg’ keyboard shortcut anywhere in JIRA to bring up Administration functions, then simply search for ‘webhooks’ and press enter. You will be taken to the Webhooks page.

We need to give the web hook a name, and paste in that URL that we got from Zapier. There are other options including JQL and Events, leave these blank for the time being.

Press create and you’ve got your first JIRA web hook. Ta-da!

Set up the JIRA workflow

In this example we have four columns configured using the GreenHopper Simplified Workflow:

  • incoming customer service requests show up in To Do, using a first in, first out approach to priority
  • In Progress shows what the team is currently working on
  • Waiting for Customer is a queue state, when a customer service representative is waiting on a response from the customer the issue lives in this column
  • finally, when the work is complete it is dragged into the Done column (or the customer transitions the issue to Done on their end via the JIRA View Issue page)

If you don’t have a Waiting for Customer column on your own board then create one via Tools -> Configuration -> Columns -> Add Column. If you are not on the GreenHopper Simplified Workflow you may want to start with a sample project to test this before switching over your production workflow.

We now need to add a post-function to the JIRA workflow transition “Waiting for Customer”. Find your workflow under JIRA Administration and create a draft workflow so we can edit it.

You can see here that we are using the GreenHopper Simplified Workflow:

Click “Waiting for Customer” to see the Conditions, Validators and Post Functions for this transition.

Now, click Add under the Post Function tab:

Select “Trigger a Webhook”:

Then choose the web hook you created in step 3.

Finally, publish the draft workflow:

We now have a workflow that will call the JIRA web hook when an issue is transitioned into the Waiting for Customer column on our GreenHopper board.

Before we do that though we actually need to get the customers mobile/cell phone number so we can SMS them.

Get the customers phone number

One other piece we have to set up in JIRA is a custom field to capture the customers phone number. This is where we will send the SMS notifying the customer that their request is ready for review.

To do this go to JIRA Administration and find Custom Fields. Then create a new Custom Field of type “Text Field (<255 characters)” and add it to the Default Screen for your support project:

You can also add a description along the lines of the following: “If you would like updates on this issue delivered to your mobile/cell phone please enter it here. Use the format +COUNTRY_CODE \[AREA CODE\] NUMBER. For example, +1 415 568 7064.”

Now, when a customer creates a new issue in JIRA now we can prompt them for their phone number.

Set up Twilio

We’re coming full circle now, in the home stretch!

The next step is setting up Twilio so actually send the SMS to the customers phone number. Go to you Zap in Zapier and on the right hand side you’ll see an option to “Add Your Twilio Account”.

Zapier requires the following information from Twilio:

Switch over to Twilio and find the details on your Dashboard:

The Account SID and Auth Token are the two pieces we need. Copy them over one by one. For the Auth Token you will need to click on the padlock next to the Auth Token to see the value, and then copy that.

Once you have pasted both values into Zapier make sure you check the Twilio account:

That’s it for the Twilio piece at this stage. Very easy, very nifty service.

Test

We now need to head back to JIRA and transition an issue into the Waiting for Customer column on the GreenHopper board. This will send some sample data through to Zapier that we will use to map fields on the JIRA issue (customer request) to the SMS message we send the customer.

Once we have done this we can switch back to Zapier and check that we see a result using their test option:

We can see here the issue key, PSP-3, and other fields.

Now, here comes the really cool bit!

Compose the SMS

Since we have tested the web hook, Zapier now has some issue data from JIRA that we can use to create the SMS.

We can drag and drop fields from the JIRA issue (on the left) into the SMS that Twilio will send (on the right).

You’ll want to select your own Twilio number in the “From Number” field on the right. Then you can use the common fields below to compose the message, or choose from the long list in Zapier.

JIRA Issue Field
Example
Variable for SMS
Issue Key PSP-3 {{issue__key}}
Summary Help me upgrade my database {{issue__fields__summary}}
Phone Number +1 415 568 7064 Depends on instance, looks something like
{{issue__fields__customfield_10006}}

For example, your final message may look like:

It’s Alive!

The final step is to enable the Zap in Zapier and test it. Click “Enable and sync new data”.

Now, go and drag another issue into the Waiting for Customer column in GreenHopper and watch the magic happen. Make sure you have included your own mobile/cell phone number for the test issue so you know it works.

Voila! You’re done. Your customers are now being notified immediately when their request is ready for review, helping resolve their request faster and making them a happier customer.

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Advanced Tips

  1. Use a JQL validation to ensure that the Webhook is only called when the customer has entered a Phone Number. Alternatively, pull in existing customer information via the nFeed add-on for JIRA.
  2. For those of you that want the full service desk experience you can install the JIRA Workflow Sharing Plugin and then the IT Service Desk (ITIL) workflow bundle.