Providing IT technical support can take many forms. But no matter the specific issue, all support issues require an understanding of the problem, the nature of the situational severity, the possible business impact and deadline for the issue to be rectified.
Most technical support and help desk teams and companies utilize a piece of software to assist them in this endeavor. Products come in many sizes and methodologies, depending on your needs. Some handle the basics of identifying the customer and their location, channel of entry, customer contact information and time entry. Others incorporate full methodologies such as IT Infrastructure Library (ITIL). They all have advantages and disadvantages depending on the size of your shop, your IT knowledge, business maturity and process maturity.
Editor's Note: Blog author Michelle Jackson-Triplett, Tigerpaw's director of support, has spent the majority of her IT career in technical support, holding such roles as business analyst, project manager and manager of customer support teams. Over the years, she has used, installed and/or administered at least five technical support software solutions.
There is never a lack of options when it comes to purchasing this type of software. Almost all options out there offer their own bell or whistle that is attractive for managers trying to build the better mouse trap … err … support team. Some are a pleasure to work in. Others completely underwhelm IT spidey senses. Yet, others keep support teams trapped in an unending cycle of constant maintenance.
Ultimately, finding the right service ticketing software comes down to simply getting the information you need to resolve, prioritize and quantify the issue and intelligently update the customer. Here are the top 12 expert-recommended features for a service ticketing and help desk software:
Brief Description of the Issue
When you are looking through hundreds of issues, you don’t have the time to open each ticket to read detail. You need to zero in on what you need and get to work. That is especially true as a manager collecting data.
Customer Contact Information
If you don’t know where they are and can’t contact them, you aren’t doing your customers any good. The information needs to be solid and allow for edits if the occasion arises. This should include no less than the location, phone number and email.
Channel of Entry
A channel of entry is important for future analysis. How many engagements are coming through phone vs. email vs. chat? Be sure to log this information so you can make informed decisions. This becomes important for staffing, work distribution and effectiveness of support vehicles.
Priority of Customer
Customers are the reason that we do what do. However, some customer issues take precedent because of revenue, nature of the situation or relationship. You need to figure out that information to discern priority. If everything on your list is a No. 1 priority, nothing really is.
Severity of Impact
This helps you prioritize tasks efficiently. You might have three high-priority customers with issues in your queue. However, if one has a down system, they need your immediate attention. That does not mean you get to ignore everyone else. It just means you can narrow it down to priority 1. A. and B. Anyone with an inoperable circumstance or one of significant financial impact quickly gets attention so that you can distribute your staff effectively.
Do your customers call and ask what is going on with their tickets? If they do, you are definitely going to want a field for issue status. It is not only great for communication, but it gives you and understanding on how the process is progressing.
Quantifiable data is always key. How much time is spent on this type of issue? Is the person giving service taking longer than they should? Do they need training to make them more efficient? Time data gives you answers that allow you to make decisions based on more than a hunch.
Person Responsible for Resolution
Who’s on first? That is going to be the mood of your organization if you don’t know who is working on it right now and who worked the issue prior.
Description of Issue
What does the customer think is happening? What are the symptoms? What did the customer do to try to resolve? What type of assistance are they requesting?
When you get a good description of what has taken place and what is going on right now, you are able to assign the right person to the issue. The technician is happy because they know exactly what they have to do or at least have a verified place to start. The customer is happy because they are back to their intended tasks.
What Was Done
If one employee is unable to resolve the issue, it is usually escalated to another party. Without detailed information of what has previously taken place, the escalated party doesn’t know where to start other than the beginning. This wastes time and does not go unnoticed by the customer. If the customer has to repeat themselves or watch someone else do what that last person tried, it does not instill customer confidence and you will have really unhappy technicians.
Define Types of Issues and Tie Them Together
Whether the house is on fire and you can’t figure out if all the fires are related or you are trying to remove a persistent problem, you need to get a grasp of the related issues. Looking for trends will help to identify whether there is a larger existing issue.
A Place for Internal-Only Issue Details
Got a lot of jargon in your shop? We all do. There are terms and tasks that would not impress the customer — and be overwhelming and unintelligible to them — but would be important to co-workers. You need a place for in-house detail that is attached to your ticket.
By no means is this an exhaustive list of the things that you would use in your organization. However, using the fields above as a basis of minimum field requirements will help you discern between what you really want and need versus the bells and whistles that catch your eye.
Finding and implementing the right service ticketing software for your company is just one way to help grow your business. Want more? Download our 8 Essential Tips to Grow your Technology Services SMB eBook.