Whether yours is a large national business or small scale firm, there is little doubt you face a wide array of challenges each day. From addressing external customer service issues to resolving internal employee concerns, there is no end the number of problems you and your team must meet head-on.
Keeping tabs on each issue can be a nightmare - akin to an out of sync orchestra - each musician playing a different tune.
Thankfully, what once was documented and tracked by post-it notes or static spreadsheets has given way to modern management platforms - IT ticketing software.
Consider it the conductor of your help desk applications.
As the solutions and the accompanying software has matured, so too have the options - of which there are plenty. While choice is great for your business, figuring out the best ticketing solution can be just as challenging as all of those service inquiries.
Simply put, there are many conductors to choose from.
You can, however, simplify the selection process.
Let's explore exactly what an IT ticketing system is, what it can do for you, and the questions to consider to make an informed decision.
Before we jump into the details of a great ticketing system, its good to have a basic understanding of what they are.
An IT ticketing system - also referred to as an issue or support ticket system - is a platform that helps organize and manage service issues that may occur within your business.
A critical element in your overall help desk protocols, the ticket management software is essentially a database. It holds information about individual issues and provides a record of who voiced the concern, what the exact problem is, and where it stands in being resolved.
For example, if you’ve called into any customer service line, you more than likely were given a case number. This case number is effectively the I.D. of your ticket within the ticket management system.
Ticketing systems, by design, are for collaboration, should you have to call back, any customer service representative can pull up the ticket and determine where your concern stands.
Conversely, if that ticket needs to transferred to another individual to resolve, it can easily be done without losing any of the ticket's data.
IT ticketing systems are not only designed for external customer service but also allow a company to track and resolve internal company requests.
In both cases, the system aims to streamline and prioritize help process - better organizing your time, your management, and your workflow.
So with those basics as our background, what constitutes a great IT ticketing system?
Even with the variability that comes from different providers, there are several features that you should view as absolutes. The following tools will transform your help desk from good to great and ensure yours is a robust system that can tackle any scenario.
This may vary between software packages, but those with well-designed, well-organized dashboards provide your agents a jumping off point within the platform.
An intuitive central hub also means that no matter who’s accessing the system - from department heads down to service agents - they can find and obtain the information they need quickly and efficiently.
Part of what makes ticket management systems so attractive is the opportunity to automate certain aspects of your workflow.
From automatically redirecting requests to the right department to generating alerts under certain conditions, you can streamline your efforts and make your whole team far more productive.
Can your customers currently reach you via mobile devices? Can a rep in the field have an issue solved via a request made through a tablet?
Practically all software should be multi-channel. For software designed to support your help desk endeavors, it's a must.
One of the main reasons for implementing ticketing protocols is to keep all of those service items organized. Categories help achieve this by assigning labels to tickets to group similar issues together. This makes searching, distributing and automation of support tickets far easier.
You can also add tags for even greater insight into the overall scope of issues.
Is your team spending too much time answering frequently asked questions? Or handling issues that a user - internal or external - could resolve themselves?
Ticketing systems with a knowledge center lift a huge burden off your support team by automating common concerns and allowing users to resolve them on their own.
Wouldn’t it be nice to quickly pull up a user’s history, one that shows any previous issues or communications with your company? Even better if it reflects their whole history, regardless of which department or individual they may have interacted with.
The best tracking systems allow you to do this with ease.
Need to know which issues generate the most calls? The success rate of your team solving problems? How quickly they get them resolved?
Understanding the details of what your team is facing and how well they are addressing those problems is paramount to your success. Make sure your platform of choice has a deep reporting structure to let you see those data points.
Finally, who handles our data and what they do with it is under scrutiny these days. Don’t leave your customers (and employees) open to risk, and don't risk your company’s reputation for lax data security.
Seek out platforms that offer encryption and secure data collection and storage.
Those might be the absolutes, but beyond those requirements how do you determine the software that will best serve your company’s needs?
Rarely is there a universal option - what might succeed at a large, multinational firm may not fit with a smaller, regional group.
When it comes to narrowing your choices, these should be your primary considerations.
It may seem fairly obvious, but many failed implementations often start with a company not asking themselves the right questions.
Jumping right in is best saved for a pool on a hot summer day. Don’t pick software based on the best sales pitch.
Dive into what your group is really hoping to achieve with a ticketing system - and not just those who will manage the tickets.
Determine budgets and timelines. Yes, they may change in time, but up front, targets keep you and your team accountable. They also help to focus on the realities of what to achieve now versus what you can postpone.
Ask who will be impacted by the implementation. Involve each department of your company that may utilize the system, regardless if that involvement is direct or indirect.
Who is the new program for? Any worthwhile IT ticketing system will have the necessary flexibility to manage both internal (employees) and external (customers) issues. Recognize if you need software that provides equal capabilities or one that caters more to a specific user group.
Finally, consider if you require a simple solution to fill fundamental shortcomings or are you aiming for something more. It can be the difference in both overpaying for a platform and identifying one that scales accordingly.
An often overlooked aspect of software due diligence, just because something fits on paper, doesn’t mean it will when deployed. Having to backtrack on a significant software decision costs time and money.
Some platforms are designed to be rigid, plug and play solutions. Others, however, offer more flexibility.
Is your firm highly specialized or often customize third-party programs to fit its initiatives?
Will integrations specific to your industry be necessary?
Is there an international component to your business to account for?
Choose a solution that parallels your company’s specific requirements and will move as you move.
Once you determine your direction, it’s time to decide on the right system.
Selecting ticketing software is as much about who’s providing it as it is the platform itself. Great software with little support or on-going development isn’t that great.
Identify providers who have reliable references and word of mouth, particularly if they specialize within your particular industry.
If a vendor is more broad-based, look at companies of similar size to yours that utilize their platform. Even if the industry is different, looking at a peer with a comparable volume of issues helps determine if the software is sufficient enough for you.
Finally, always seek out demonstrations and quiz potential vendors about what happens after you agree to use their solution.
Is there help with the rollout?
What is the level of support after implementation?
Are upgrades part of the service or a future cost?
Don’t be afraid to ask questions - lots of them - to assist your team in determining the right partnership. Make no mistake, rolling out an initiative at the level of IT ticketing is indeed a partnership.
IT ticketing software is not solely meant to improve your help desk operations. Improving insight, transparency, collaboration, and efficiency of your support systems will have a positive impact on your entire business.
To ensure you find and deploy the best possible system for your company, do your due diligence, and don’t merely settle on just any software.
Find a platform that contains essential, baseline features.
Determine what is necessary for your success and get buy-in from every team member.
Partner with the service that proves the best fit for achieving company goals.
The right platform fosters greater connectivity with between your customers and employees. With both groups working in harmony, its a joyful tune for your entire organization.