In Freshservice On-Call Management, each service is covered through an on-call schedule. Each schedule consists of shifts based on time of the week, geography, or both. The escalation within all shifts in a schedule are decided by its notification channels and rules. Let’s explore how to navigate each of these modules in detail.

Note: Configuring phone numbers correctly


Before you create an on-call schedule that includes SMS and/or phone calls as notification channels, ensure that the contact numbers of agents to be mapped to an on-call schedule are in the right format. A valid number:

  • Starts with +
  • Has a valid country code
  • Can have space, comma, dot, (), -

Examples of correctly formatted phone numbers:

  • +11234567890
  • +1 (123) 456-7890
  • +1 123 456 7890
  • +1 123.456.7890

Examples of incorrectly formatted phone numbers:

  • 1234567890
  • 11234567890
  • 0011234567890
  • (123)456 7890

When both – mobile and landline (work) numbers  – are available, the On-Call Management module will first reach out to the mobile number. 

Create an On-Call Schedule

Step 1

Navigate to the Admin panel of your Freshservice instance, scroll down to the IT Operations Management section, and select On-Call Schedules.

Step 2

You are now on the On-Call Schedules page that typically lists all the schedules created till date. A first-time user, however, would see the following page. To create a new on-call schedule, select New on-call schedule.

Step 3

Name the schedule and associate an agent group with it. Both these steps are mandatory. A description of the schedule is optional. For instance, let’s create an on-call schedule for Database EMEA agent group. 

Note: An agent group associated with an on-call schedule will not be available for selection. In case no agent group is available for selection, go to the Admin panel, scroll down to User Management section, and create a new agent group. This new agent group will then be available for selection when you create a new on-call schedule.

Create a shift

Step 1

You are now on the Shift Detail page. Name the shift. Ex: Weekday, weekend, EMEA, North America, etc.

Step 2

Build the Primary roster by adding agents – one at a time or in bulk – and specify the Rotation Type right next to it. 

Step 3

Specify the rotation type using the options available in the dropdown.

  • Daily Rotation: By default, the shift will begin at 12AM. Use the Start date | time option to change this as per your requirements. You can even specify the Shift end date within this option if needed. 

  • Weekly Rotation: Use the dropdown to select the day of the week when the shift should begin. The handoff would happen at 12AM of the selected day.

  • Monthly Rotation: Use the dropdown to specify the day of the month when the handoff should happen. For example, in this case, the handoff will happen on the 6th of every month.

  • Custom Rotation:Use the dropdown to create more complex rotation types by hour, day, week, or month such as:
    • Every 2 or 3 weeks
    • Every 2 days
    • Every 3 hours
    • Every 2 months
    • Etc.

Step 4

Customize the on-call shift interval using a dropdown.

The options available in the dropdown are:

  • 24*7: Agents will be available on call on all days and at all times.

  • Restrict to specific time periods in a day: Select the time slot based on your requirement. For example, 9AM to 5PM, or 6PM to Midnight. You can add up to 10 time slots. For instance, at a service center that operates between 9AM to 5PM and then 7PM to 10PM, the proprietor might want to offer support during non-business hours partly i.e. from 6AM to 9AM, and then 5PM to 7PM, and then 10PM to Midnight.

  • Restrict to specific days in a week: Select the days on which you would like to provide support and even specify the time. For example, in the example given below, agents will be on call from Monday, 6AM to Wednesday, 9AM, and then again from Friday, 12AM to Saturday 11:59PM every week. 

  • Business Hours: Agents will be on call during the Business Hours associated with the Agent Group. If you have not associated any business hours with the agent group then we will use the default business hours defined for your helpdesk.

    Pro Tip: Go to Admin> Agent Group> Edit Group page to see the Business Hours associated with an agent group

  • Non-Business Hours: Agents will be on call during non-business hours. 

    The system will automatically calculate the Non-Business Hours for a shift based on the Business Hours associated with the agent group. 
    E.g.: An agent group is associated with the following business hours:

    Then the Non-Business Hours Schedule will be as follows:

Step 5

Design the Secondary and Tertiary rosters similarly using steps 2 to 4 . 

Note: You can even replicate the Primary on-call rotation details to Secondary and Tertiary rosters.

Step 6

Specify the time zone for which your shift is designed.

Use Case

For instance, in our example, we add three agents to the primary roster with a daily rotation, another three agents to the secondary roster with a weekly rotation, and two agents to the tertiary roster with a custom rotation plan set to every two weeks.

As you design the shift, you can preview it in the calendar right underneath.

Update an incorrectly formatted phone number

As you add agents to the rosters, you might see an error message message if the associated phone number isn't stored in the correct format in the agent profile.

Clicking on Update would reveal a slider with the incorrectly formatted phone numbers which could be corrected then and there without leaving the module.

Alternately, if the number of phone numbers to be corrected is too high, you can download a CSV file of the incorrectly formatted phone numbers, update them, and upload the file in the Agents section on the Admin page.

Design an Escalation Path

Step 1

By default, the Escalation Path features a single level mapped to the primary on-call roster for that shift. However, you can customize this setup as per your unique requirements. Some examples include:

  • Adding primary, secondary, and tertiary agents to level 1 while adding subject matter experts to level 2

  • Adding one or more subject matter experts (who are not agents) to the same level as the primary on call

  • Adding primary and secondary agents to level 1, tertiary on-call agents to level 2, and subject matter experts to level 3

  • Retaining just 2 levels or adding up to five levels of escalation

Each level can accommodate up to 10 agents and/or subject matter experts, and there are 5 levels available. 

Step 2

Once you’ve designed the escalation path, specify the number of times the path could be repeated in case an incident remains unacknowledged. 

Step 3

If you want, you can also notify stakeholders (upto 10) about the progress of an incident through a notification channel of your choice. While stakeholders can’t take action on an incident, this feature enables them to stay updated.

Step 4

Remember to Save the shift before you exist the page.

Note: In case no escalation path is triggered when an incident is assigned to a group with an on-call schedule, the system will default to round-robin. 

Create and update Notification Rules & Channels

Step 1

Navigate to the Notification Rules tab i.e. the second tab on the respective On-Call Schedule page. 

Step 2

You are now on the Notification Rules and Channels page. Under Notification Channels you will be able to configure Phone/SMS, email, push notifications on the Freshservice mobile app, Microsoft Teams, Slack, and WhatsApp settings for your on-call group.

Step 3

On scrolling down a little, you will come upon Notification Rules you will notice four tabs for specifying the rules for escalation for Urgent, High, Medium, and Low priority incidents respectively. Customize as per your requirement.

  • Specify how soon after an incident occurs, should the on-call agents be notified

  • Specify the channels of communication i.e. phone call, SMS, or email

  • In case the incident remains unacknowledged after the first round of notification, specify how long should the system wait before sending another notification

  • Specify the channels of notification for the second round

  • Similarly, specify the waiting period and the channels of notification for successive rounds of notifications for the same level

If an incident remains unacknowledged after exhausting all the rounds specified for notifying agents at a specific level, the incident is escalated to the next level. Therefore, specify the notification rules and channels for the successive levels in a similar fashion.

Note 1: Due to regulatory issues, SMS support is available in limited geographies. Learn more.

Note 2: Download VCF files to identify calls from Freshservice.


Step 4 (Optional)

Don't want to escalate notifications for incidents with a specific level of priority? Go to the Notifications tab, scroll down to Notification Rule, and select the respective tab. Disabling the toggle will lead to disabling of notifications for incidents with that level of priority. 


Create an override

  • Navigate to the Shift detail page and enter the 'edit' mode

  • Scroll down to the calendar preview
  • Choose the agent for whom you want to provide coverage and select 'Provide Coverage' 

  • Update the on-call agent details and 'save'

Edit or delete an On-Call Schedule

Navigate to the on-call schedule page and select the schedule. Click on the three dots on the top right corner to find the Edit or Delete options.

Get one or more agent groups to respond to a ticket (multiple responders

When an L1 agent receives a ticket, they can rope in one or more agent groups that have on-call schedules associated with them. This enables agents and subject matter experts from multiple groups to swarm in immediately and redress the incident collaboratively. 

To use this functionality, head to the tickets list view page, and select a ticket to view its details. Next, click on View / add on-call responders on the right side panel.

Agent groups that have on-call schedules associated with them, will be listed in the dropdown. Choose up to five groups.

  • Notifications will trigger for groups that have ongoing shifts at that time 
  • Escalation in each group would happen as configured in their respective shifts
  • Escalation for a particular group stops when a member from that group acknowledges the incident 
  • Escalation for a ticket will stop when:
    • The ticket is resolved
    • Or a ticket is marked as spam/deleted

What to read next:

Respond to critical incidents using WhatsApp
Use Slack as a notification channel for on-call management 

Respond to critical incidents using the Freshservice mobile app