Service Ticketing Software: A Helpful Guide for SMBs

group service techs in uniform with phone headset

Customer service, especially any kind of technical support, is hard. Customers can be difficult and cantankerous. Their problems can be anywhere from insultingly benign to maddeningly convoluted. And worst of all, you can be overloaded with so many of either (or both) that your metaphorical “drowning” condition starts to feel literal.

On top of all that, you may have noticed that there’s a lot to keep track of regarding service requests:

  • Customer information
  • Interactions with customers
  • Actions taken on behalf of customers
  • Instructions from managers regarding customer requests
  • Status of customer requests
  • Items received from or shipped to customers
  • Agents that have interacted with customers or worked on the request

The list goes on. Maybe you’re not currently tracking all of that information. If there are things you’re not recording, you’re probably kicking yourself on a semi-regular basis about it. If you are recording as much as you can, you’re probably struggling to maintain those records in a way that doesn’t resemble a cartoonist’s rendering of a paper-pusher’s inbox.

It’s a catch-22: Either you’re buried in a manual record system that you’re hoping is accurate and up to date, or you’re missing out on crucial information that would improve your customer service and make your job easier. Either way, you’re dealing with a veritable nightmare every time a customer calls in.

While troublesome customers are always going to be a part of business, one aspect of customer service you can control and mitigate is how organized your customer service efforts are. Industry best practices call for a service ticketing software to help you finally get your head above the proverbial waters..

Common IT Service Ticketing Issues

Maybe you’re in denial. Maybe you’re thinking your current processes are still passable or that a better system isn’t worth investing in. For you to fully understand just how life-changing a service ticket system can be, we probably need to clarify how both of those misconceptions are doing you a disservice.

Let’s start with modes of communication. Depending on what communication methods you support, customers these days can reach out to your service team by:

  • Phone call
  • Instant message via web chat
  • “Contact us” submission forms on your website
  • Email to your customer service team
  • Text to your customer service team
  • Tweet, comment or direct message to your customer service team on social media
  • Or even through postal mail (you know, if they hate getting an immediate response)

That’s a lot of different ways that customers can start a service request. Now if you’re a smaller outfit, you may have a customer service team so small that you can count them on one hand. That means just a few people (or even just one person) checking all those channels, making sure they haven’t missed anything, and then inputting all the information into whatever manual system you’re using.

When employees manually enter data from different channels, time logs and documents, data-entry errors are inevitable. You never know if you’re reliably tracking your service techs’ time or the resources used. You also can’t efficiently find or analyze trends and percentages from your scattered customer service data.

There’s also the problem of maintaining consistency across all records. If Jane grabs the wrong version of the spreadsheet when she goes to answer a returning customer’s question, she may not have the latest information that Brad wrote down the last time he talked to the customer over the phone.

Some other problems with manual systems include:

  • You’re liable to create multiple entries for the same customer/problem
  • It takes longer to pull up a customer’s information
  • It’s easier to overlook, lose, erase, or change recorded information
  • It’s possible to have two reps editing the same entry at the same time, creating conflicts
  • Different employees (or, at larger companies, different teams) might maintain different records, keeping information siloed
  • And so on

Without a ticket management system to track the work that’s in progress, you can’t quickly see what’s being done or when it’ll be finished — and neither can customers. Customer satisfaction is often low with a manual system, while employee frustration, on the other hand, is incredibly high. So kick it to the curb like a bad boyfriend. It doesn’t really love you, and you can do way better.

What is Service Ticketing Software?

A ticketing system is pretty straightforward. It’s a software application that makes working on a customer problem, and tracking progress on that problem, easier. This is done by creating “tickets”: a long-term record of a service request kept in a centralized system and assigned a number for easy identification.

Tickets can be populated with customer information automatically, removing much of the manual entry labor. They can record the status of a request, who has worked on it, what was done, what manager authorized what and so forth. Reps can add notes for clarity, leaving a written history of need-to-know information for whoever works on the ticket next.

Tickets can also track time spent on the customer request, resources used and similar metrics, making analytics possible (though it might not be able to quantify whether it’s worth putting up with a belligerent customer). Beyond that, here are the top features to look for in a ticketing software:

  1. Brief description of the issue
  2. Customer contact information
  3. Channel of entry
  4. Priority of customer
  5. Severity of impact
  6. Issue status
  7. Time entry
  8. Person responsible for resolution
  9. Description of issue
  10. What was done
  11. Define types of issues and tie them together
  12. A place for internal-only issue details

It’s a system that can make life a lot easier for your service team, and can make their work a lot less costly.

Benefits of Using Service Ticketing Software

There’s a wide range of benefits to using ticketing software, but here are the three biggest:

  • It improves efficiency
  • It’s a form of automation
  • It improves customer service

Ticketing software improves efficiency

When the customer’s support history is organized into a single ticket, picking up where someone else left off is much easier. And when your ticketing system has a user-friendly and intuitive interface, even novice computer users can navigate it and use it, so assisting customers is easier and happens faster.

The best service ticket suites allow you to open multiple tabs so you can look at quotes, invoices, accounts and service orders all at once. You can also move backward and forward through a history of your actions, which helps agents on the phone organize and find information faster.

The interface also improves efficiency by helping managers track resources, inventory, technicians and current jobs. For those managers who have a hard time figuring out what their team did all day, a system like this can give you better insight into what they’ve been able to accomplish.

Some ticketing software suites even have accompanying mobile apps that let your field workers update service orders, enter miles, record materials used and send in time logs as they finish jobs. Quite the step up from a manual system, especially for the guy that can’t remember what he had for breakfast. Or the other guy with the chicken scratch handwriting.

Ticketing software is a form of automation

Wouldn’t it be great if our lawns mowed themselves, our dishes washed themselves and our laundry sorted itself? While we can’t offer a solution to any of those problems, automation is possible for many aspects of business, and it’s all the rage (for good reason).

Service ticketing software is one method of automating work, and we’ve already mentioned some of the ways it does that. It keeps the record for you, it shares the record for you, it eliminates most of the manual entry, things like that. But that’s not all a ticketing system can do, automation-wise.

A ticketing system automates things that help nearly every department in the business:

  • It helps service techs (both in-office and in the field)
  • It helps accounting by aggregating all of the time and resource data
  • It helps dispatch by automatically pulling up customer information
  • It helps purchasing by recording and updating inventory information
  • It helps management by compiling relevant metrics and useful data for analysis
  • Bonus points if you find a comprehensive business automation solution, one that includes things like inventory management and workflow automation. This ensures that everything shares information easily, and operates from a single source of truth.

Ticketing software improves customer service

Let’s start out with maybe the best thing that ticketing software can do: It can take the myriad of different communication methods (email, tweet, form submission, etc.) and turn them all into tickets automatically (see, we told you automation was great). That alone saves lots of time and removes a good portion of your team’s grunt work.

Beyond that, ticketing software records each interaction with a customer in a single journal. Your agents will be able to see all previous requests from a customer and the context of those requests. For example, let’s say your ticketing system turns a customer’s email into a support request, categorizes it, assigns it, adds system-generated notes to it and records this all in the journal. That’s all before an employee even touches it, or a customer even calls in.

When a customer calls for a status update on a service order, a representative will be able to instantly see the current progress of their request in your support ticket software. You can also reduce those status calls with automatic workflows that update customers with a text or email when certain events happen, or after certain spans of time. This level of organization helps agents resolve requests more quickly, leading to higher customer satisfaction.

And if you upgrade your manual system with a comprehensive business automation suite, your support ticket system will be connected to the rest of the system, letting your support techs see inventory and asset tracking, billing and invoicing, project management, business quotes, proposal, and more, all in one place. It’s like giving a Christmas gift to your business.

How ticketing software increases profitability

A service ticketing system makes tracking both revenues and expenses easy, all from a single software suite. It tracks your techs’ time logs, travel time, materials costs and more. Finally, you can put together accurate data on the cost-effectiveness of your techs and agents.

Ticketing system software can easily generate analytics and statistics about the performance of your entire support team. That makes it a lot easier to spot trends in things like recurring customer complaints. The software can also warn you if there’s a bug in your system, which your engineers can work on. Plus, you can use the data to create a self-service knowledge library for customers where they can get answers right away, saving time for everyone.

With a manual system, you never know when errors or omissions have crept into the data. Only ticket tracking software can guarantee that you’re getting accurate profitability calculations. You can find out the profitability of prices, customers and workers, allowing leaders to return their focus to revenue-generating activities.

Ticketing software makes your support processes much more efficient, organized, accurate and profitable, improving both customer satisfaction. IT help desk ticketing software will make your techs happier because it’s easier for them to use. It’ll also make the management team happier by helping you keep profitability high. It’s a simple switch that makes a big difference.

Start your search for the right service ticketing software for your company by downloading our PSA Checklist for Technology Service Providers.

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