How you deal with your support tickets determines a lot of things:
That's why it's important to do everything you can to create an efficient, practical environment for answering your support tickets. After all, your support staff can only work with what you give them. So how do you make sure that your support tickets are getting answered or that your support workflows are efficient?
These are intense questions and every company is different. However, we put together a list of 9 of our best tips to help you manage your support tickets. These are tips that have been implemented in many different support teams, large and small, that have helped them manage their support tickets.
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The first step to efficient support ticket management is to get everyone together and establish your expectations. You can do this by creating an SLA or having a sit down meeting about what is expected. The key here is to get everyone on the same page. That way, everyone knows what to anticipate, what the protocols are, and what their priorities should be.
Our second tip is to consolidate customer ticket information in one place. If your support team has to chase down every customer interaction between email, social media, and contact form, it can waste a lot of time that could otherwise be used to resolve tickets. If you consolidate all the customer information in one interface or ticket, it can drastically improve your support staff's efficiency.
Ticket management tips like these rely on the help desk software interface. If your help desk software won't let you do something like consolidating your information, you may want to consider browsing around for a help desk software that does. If you are in the market for a help desk software, check out these 13 "Must-Have" Components of a Rockstar Ticket Management System.
When a new ticket is created or reassigned, it can be helpful to set up an automated notification for the support staff it was assigned to. That way, support staff can keep track of incoming tickets and get a feel for their backlog. Without a notification in place, the ticket would just appear in the workflow with no warning, making it easy to miss or lose track of. It's easy to miss something you never knew was there to begin with.
The notifications help boost awareness for the ticket. Even if the support personnel doesn't get to the ticket right away, they will know that it's on their docket for later.
Another tip for helping your staff manage their tickets efficiently is to make sure tickets are organized in a logical fashion. There are many different ways to organize tickets, such as:
However you decide to organize and categorize your tickets, it's important that they're easy for your staff to go through. If they are looking for a specific ticket, they should be able to find it quickly and with little issue.
Regardless of how you organize your tickets, setting ticket priorities can be invaluable for helping support staff prioritize their work. This may seem like a no-brainer, but whatever priority scheme you use - urgent, low, high, critical, etc. - is a step in the right direction.
Priorities help staff figure out what order they should work on things. Having the extra variable to determine what their next ticket should be can help keep things moving efficiently. In an environment where support needs to assess, troubleshoot, solve, rinse, and repeat, priorities can help them seamlessly transition from one ticket to another. This saves them time because they do not have to stop and investigate all the tickets in their workload for the most pressing.
However, having a method of prioritization is just as important as the setting the ticket priorities.
Some basic variables to assess when setting a ticket's priority:
How you go about collecting this information is up to you and may depend on your product offering. But creating a priority ranking that you can apply to your tickets will help make your support staff more efficient.
Setting priorities is a great way to encourage a logical progression through tickets. However, it does introduce a new problem: lower priority tickets can be neglected. That's why it's also beneficial to establish a time element to go with each ticket. A time limit keeps lower priority tickets from being completely forgotten.
Many great help desk software comes with an automation function, which would allow you to auto-assign a ticket a time frame based on any variable you choose (such as priority). This makes the process simple once the automation is set up, so it won't take any time away from your support staff's normal duties.
Ticket time limits also are commonly outlined in support Service Level Agreements (SLAs), which can help set customer expectations and establish consistency, help with prioritization, and a host of other benefits. Learn more in our Quick Guide to SLA Management and Best Practices.
If your staff are in the habit of giving time estimates for ticket resolution, it's important to be realistic.
Giving your customers ETAs on resolutions can be tempting. After all, supplying an estimated time for a ticket resolution can make customers feel better, especially when they're experiencing a critical issue. And resolving a ticket before the estimated time not only makes the customer happy, it makes the company look great.
However, this can be tricky territory. If you miss a deadline, it sets the customer up for disappointment - even more so than if they had never been given an estimated time.
That's why it is critical to be realistic when estimating ticket resolution times for a customer. In some cases, it may be better not to give any time estimate at all. Instead, you can give a time when you will reach out and update them with more information. If you have solved the ticket by then - great! You can tell them the ticket has been resolved. If not, then you can update them of your status. Many SLAs give in-depth parameters for response times and can be a great resource to point to if you aren't comfortable telling the customer an estimated resolution time.
This way, if a more critical ticket comes in or all of a sudden there is a flood of support requests, you're not left between a rock and a hard place.
Self-serve options are a great way to save your support staff work. Self-serve options like knowledge base articles are easy for customers to use on their own and are a perfect solution to commonly asked questions.
If customers do still create a ticket asking for information that already exists in the knowledge base, your support staff can send them a link and call it a day. This is much more efficient than rewriting the instructions or information found in the article.
JitBit has a great feature that suggests relevant knowledge base articles to customers as they type support requests - making it easy for them to discover the information and keeping them from clogging up your support line with already-answered questions.
To cut down even more time from answering commonly asked questions, you can create canned responses. These are responses that your support staff can easily plug into their email in answer to a common question. Sometimes, the canned response can even be something like, "In regards to xyz question, see our knowledge base article here that explains the solution more in-depth."
Simple and to the point, with just a few clicks needed from your support team members.
Sometimes help desk software even has features to aid in the creation of canned responses. For example, JitBit has a feature that allows you to insert canned responses or knowledge base article links directly into your email.
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How you manage your tickets can mean the difference between an effective support team or a stressed one. Giving them the tools they need to make their job easier not only helps your support team perform better, but can also help your bottom line. A support team that consistently amazes customers can be the key to opening up customer referrals. So not only does your company look good, but it also performs better -- all by making sure your tickets are well-managed.