What is an IT ticket or a technical support ticket, and why is it important?

'Support ticket' is the term generally used to describe the recording of a task carried out (or which must be carried out) by your IT support system in   order to exploit the technological environment of your company, to repair the problems and resolve customer requests. Tickets can represent a large number of different tasks or activities depending on the nature of your IT environment and the objectives of your support team. Technical support tickets can also be called “service requests”, “technical support tickets” or “support cases” but most organizations and users are familiar with the term “support ticket”, which we will use in this guide.

Support tickets are important to your business as they allow you to keep track of each support transaction to keep your IT environment in working order, thus adding value to your business. Tickets are usually entered into an IT service management system (ITSM) where they are stored, managed and updated when the problem or activity is resolved. Helpdesks or IT support centers use IT tickets as a way to capture and record user interactions. Operational teams use ticketing systems to track technical issues that need to be addressed. IT management uses ticket data to know the workload of the teams,

Efficient management of support tickets plays a vital role in ensuring that your business receives a good return on its IT investments. It is an important concept at the heart of your IT operations. Leveraging best practices for handling support ticketing is a great way to help IT manage costs, provide better systems and services to users, and reduce the impact of events that can disrupt business. business.
 

Support tickets and ITIL

The ITIL  (formerly known as an IT infrastructure library) represents the set of industry best practices and collective standards for how IT service management should be performed. It is important to note that ITIL does not handle technical support tickets but rather incidents and IT service requests, which are other types of support tickets. Although ITIL uses a different terminology, it contains good practices in terms of managing tickets for the operation of services, which should be read and known.

Types of tickets

The term support tickets can refer to a large number of different types of support requests and activities that are performed by your IT function. The advantage of using tickets as a general record of these activities, rather than treating each of them independently, is that they involve similar data, follow similar life cycles or workflows, and are often treated by the same people. By treating them like tickets, staff productivity is improved, and the number of points of contact in the IT department is minimized for users. This simplifies data analysis and reporting.

Évènements

Les événements sont des enregistrements de ce qui se produit dans votre environnement informatique. Il peut s'agir d'événements qui se produisent à un moment donné ou qui durent dans le temps. Les mises en production, les pannes, les activités de maintenance et les changements prévus sont des exemples d'événements.

Alertes

Les alertes sont des indicateurs d’un évènement survenu dans votre environnement informatique qui opère en-dehors des seuils de performance prédéfinis. La plupart des alertes sont générées par le système via un processus automatisé de surveillance et de traitement des erreurs.

Incidents

Les incidents sont des interruptions ou des dégradations non planifiées de la qualité d'un service informatique, ou des pannes de composants de votre environnement informatique qui n'ont pas encore affecté le service. Les pannes, les erreurs et les problèmes de performance sont des exemples d'incidents. Les incidents présentent un début et une fin définis qui correspondent à un type d'événement précis.

Demandes

Également appelées demandes de service, il s'agit d'activités de routine telles que les demandes d'accès, la réinitialisation de mot de passe, la mise à jour de données ou la fourniture de services qui sont effectuées par l'équipe du support informatique sur vos systèmes et services opérationnels. Les demandes n'indiquent pas d’erreur, elles indiquent qu’une action est à mettre en place.

 

The good practices for managing support tickets show that it is recommended to manage all of these elements in a consistent manner in the form of “tickets”, but also to classify them according to the type of problem they represent. Individual ticket types can present their own needs for additional data, specific workflows to track, and unique reporting considerations. Knowing the different types of tickets processed by your IT support organization is the first step to ensuring that your ticket management processes and ITSM support systems are optimized to meet the unique needs of your business.

The creation of tickets

Creating the ticket is the most important step in the life cycle of the incident in your customer service. The choices made about when to create tickets (or not), what information to collect, how to create tickets and the initial response to provide to the requester are decisions that will affect speed, quality and perception. of customer service provided. 

When to create or not to create a ticket
Support tickets are a record of activities and issues that need attention from customer service. The decision to create a ticket or not does not change the fact that the underlying task must be performed. Good support ticket management practices indicate that a ticket should be created if any of the following conditions exist:

There are two scenarios in which companies choose not to create a ticket when it is good practice to do so. These are issues that are resolved by the user themselves using self-service information and tools or system alerts and events that are resolved without manual intervention (such as automatic restart of services). It is important to record tickets for these scenarios which represent situations that could potentially impact the user, and which should be analyzed and reviewed during the problem management and service delivery processes.

The sources of the ticket

There are three main sources of support tickets. Since tickets are records of activities or problems, it is important to note that we are talking here about the origins of the recording of the ticket, and not the origin or cause of the activity itself.

Tickets générés par le système

La plupart des systèmes informatiques modernes présentent des capacités de surveillance et de traitement des erreurs permettant d’enregistrer automatiquement les tickets dans un système ITSM lorsque des événements ou des conditions anormales se produisent.

Tickets initiés par l'utilisateur

La source la plus courante des tickets de support est l’utilisateurs final des systèmes et services informatiques qui demande de l’aide par le moyen d'un portail en libre-service, par e-mail ou via des fonctionnalités intégrées de "demande d'aide".

Tickets générés par l'agent

Les agents de l’helpdesk, le personnel des opérations et les employés du centre de surveillance enregistrent des tickets dans les situations où une activité de support est initiée alors qu'aucun enregistrement n'existe encore. Les appels au centre de support, les activités de maintenance et les alertes de surveillance en sont quelques exemples.

Collect data for the creation of the IT ticket

The data you collect and save when creating an IT ticket is essential to the efficiency of your customer service. It is necessary to collect enough data to accurately represent the underlying problem, classify it and route it to the right resource, but be careful not to collect unnecessary data: it slows down the support process and represents a waste of time and resources. The challenge faced by many IT organizations is not knowing what data they will need; either they collect too much information or they have to come back to the user later to collect more. Businesses also tend to collect data that

The good practices for managing technical assistance tickets show that it is necessary to manage all of these elements in a consistent manner in the form of “tickets”, but also to classify them according to the type of problem they represent. For example, this involves collecting the user ID or email address and using it to find contact information and location. You can also enter the tag of an asset or the identifier of a device and search for information on configuration and version, or enter the name of the affected system or service to search for monitoring data and recordings. a change. To effectively implement this approach,

The two additional pieces of information to collect for user initiated tickets and those registered by support agents are: “What is the impact of this problem? and “how can we reproduce this problem?” The answers to these two questions can usually only be provided by the end user, and are essential for assessing the severity of the ticket and assigning the appropriate priority to it.

The recent trend in customer service is to see users opening tickets using mobile devices. These devices provide an opportunity to collect additional pieces of information that may prove useful in the support process. First, geolocation - most mobile devices have their GPS enabled and are able to share location data with installed apps. Location data can help support personnel better diagnose network connectivity and latency issues that may appear to the user to be system or service issues. Mobile devices are also usually equipped with cameras and can capture screen images and videos.

Provide a first response to the client

You may not be able to process a ticket immediately. But users, on the other hand, expect to receive an immediate response. Good IT ticket management practices show that an automated response that confirms the correct creation of the ticket is necessary. It provides the ticket number, expected response time and a link through which the user can view the status of their request. This is part of the essential communications that must be sent to the user as soon as the ticket has been received. One of the primary causes of duplicate tickets is the inability to provide a ticket receipt by email.

Best practices in terms of ticket content

The content of a technical support ticket is generally presented according to a basic structure with header data and body text. The ticket header provides information about the requester, displays a brief description of the problem reported, as well as classification data for affected systems, and finally the date and time used to calculate SLAs. The data in the header is used to manage the ticket throughout its life cycle. The data in the body of the ticket, on the other hand, is used to perform searches and resolve the ticket. The body of the ticket usually contains data such as the steps to reproduce, a message from the user, troubleshooting notes, and the actions taken to resolve the ticket.

Individual vs. data fields free notes

A common problem encountered by companies when designing their IT ticket management systems is to determine the data to be collected in dedicated fields on tickets versus the data to be entered in free text fields (notes). Dedicated fields for data are easy to use for analysis, reporting and workflow automation rules, but they take longer to fill out than forms.

Good practices in terms of handling support tickets indicate that dedicated forms are more suitable for ticket header data which is generally entered only once (no frequent updates) and for system generated data such as date and time. Since the data in the ticket header is the most commonly used for queue prioritization, routing rules and reporting, having a dedicated form for this data facilitates these tasks. The diagnostic data, user interactions, and troubleshooting notes found in the body of the ticket are more suited to free text fields that allow copying and pasting large blocks of information.

Agent and Applicant Views

An important good practice for the management of IT support tickets is to offer different ways to consult the data of the ticket in question. In the notes that the agent saves on technical support tickets, there are often detailed technical information, troubleshooting notes, and information that can be kept confidential, such as known issues and security concerns. This data is not intended for the requester or anyone else outside of customer support. The views of the ticket offered to the requester should reflect carefully edited and formatted information, which is clear and avoids creating further confusion. Best practices for managing support tickets suggest managing notes from the

Classification of tickets

The classification of tickets is an important element of modern ticket management systems. Data classification is generally used to establish expectations in terms of SLA, to route tickets to the right support teams and to group tickets for analysis and reporting purposes. Rule-based workflow automation uses data classification as a key tool to improve the efficiency of support processes. Technical support tickets should include 4 key elements of data classification:

Tickets must be filed in an accurate and consistent manner in order to receive the right level of attention from your support team, and to ensure that the issues most important to the business are dealt with first.

Ticket routing

Your company's ITSM system will certainly play an important role in facilitating the flow of tickets between support teams. While operational rules and automation guarantee fast and efficient transfers, the delivery of the ticket is always determined by the customer service agents and the data they enter. Good support ticket management practices indicate that the most effective way to avoid bad ticket routing is to explain to agents how ticket delivery works. There are 3 common routing scenarios for support tickets that your agents should be aware of.

Routing to internal support teams

The majority of ticket routing occurs within the helpdesk or IT support, the latter redirecting tickets to specialized resources according to skills and / or experience. For example, tickets for account permissions can be routed to the access management team; complex software problems can be routed to experienced technical resources who have access to the source code. Internal routing is often called "reassignment" because the originating agent who transfers ownership of the ticket is relieved of responsibility for the problem as soon as routing is performed.

Routing to external support partners

Some companies use support providers and external component providers to resolve tickets. These external partners do not generally use the same ticketing system as your helpdesk and a routing problem often forces them to create a ticket in the partner system and reference it in the internal ticket. What makes this scenario unique is that the agent working on the ticket retains ownership of the ticket and is responsible for updates to the requester when the third party resolves the underlying problem.

Support in follow-the-sun mode

Most international companies have 24-hour active IT support staff - often located in different support centers across different geographic locations. Once the work day ends at a site, open tickets are transferred to another support center to continue troubleshooting. This routing scenario works in the same way as routing to an internal support team, except that the work in progress must be transferred to maintain continuous support (the ticket does not return to the queue to be again prioritized).

By ensuring that support agents understand how these routing scenarios work, how to initiate and control routing rules, and what happens to the ticket after routing, they will be able to more easily transfer tickets and help the user receive resolution quick of his problem.

Manage queues

Lorsque les tickets sont créés et/ou routés vers une nouvelle équipe de support, ils sont généralement assignés à une file d'attente ou un "backlog" au lieu d'être assignés directement à un agent. La file d'attente permet aux responsables et aux chefs d'équipe du support de prioriser le travail effectué par leurs équipes afin que les problèmes les plus importants soient traités en premier. Un grand nombre d'organisations utilisent une approche de type FIFO (premier arrivé/premier servi) pour gérer les files d'attente, mais les meilleures pratiques de la gestion des tickets de support suggèrent d'utiliser une combinaison de 7 facteurs clés pour prioriser les tickets dans les files d'attente du support (celles-ci sont données sans ordre précis).

Queue management is actually workload management, and although automation rules help prioritize the queue, it is often necessary to subjectively assess these 7 factors and compare the resources available. Other considerations such as meeting SLAs, optimizing capacity, or supporting costs can also play a crucial role in prioritizing decisions in the queue.

Ticket management and SLA indicators

Service Level Agreements (SLAs) are a measurement tool for assessing the performance of ticket management by comparing it to a set of predefined criteria. It is above all a tool allowing you to define the way in which your tickets are processed by your support team and your external partners. The SLA measurement areas and defined performance objectives determine whether teams and individuals manage their workload. Technical assistance tickets are generally evaluated according to 2 SLAs.

These two SLAs focus on speed of response and ticket resolution, encouraging agents to behave in ways that close tickets quickly. IT support can be costly, and while these SLAs can encourage spending control, businesses must ensure that their use does not lead to unwanted behavior or quality issues. Good support ticket management best practices indicate that SLAs for support quality and customer satisfaction should also be included to encourage agents to focus on resolving underlying issues that impact the user rather than on closing the support ticket.

In addition to SLA indicators, IT ticket management best practices recommend monitoring the following indicators to help assess the overall performance of support operations and to target areas for improvement.

Climbing

Technical support tickets can be complex, so agents cannot be expected to resolve any issues that arise by following the SLA to the letter. Sometimes tickets need to be transferred to another person, either internally (to get help from another person on the team) or by sending the ticket to another group (internal or external) who is more qualified to deal with the problem. There are 3 key scenarios that trigger the escalation of IT tickets:

Ticket escalations should be treated as transfers (either internal or external) and should therefore follow a similar process. The agent must summarize the current status of the ticket, taking care to note all the observations, assumptions and missing information as well as all the actions taken with a view to the diagnosis and / or repair. This information is essential to allow the person receiving the ticket to quickly assess the situation and continue to provide support. Good ticket management practices indicate that escalations should be seen as a positive action when officers identify the need early enough and avoid spending time on tickets they know they cannot resolve.

Associate support tickets with other data

Support tickets are a central part of your technical support operations, and become even more valuable when linked to other ITSM and partner data. At a minimum, you should be able to associate your support tickets with the following data:

 

Thanks to effective data integration, your customer service agents are able to access data relating to each of these associated objects and do not have to enter them again in the ticket. This saves time while providing additional information that will help solve the user's problem.

Integration of the workflow with other ITSM processes.

Best practices also suggest that your support ticket management processes be integrated with other related ITSM processes within your organization

Développement de solution

Les tickets IT peuvent inclure des demandes de fonctionnalités et des commentaires utilisateurs qui sont utiles aux développeurs en vue de l'amélioration de la performance et la facilité d'utilisation des systèmes et des services informatiques.

Gestion des changements

Les demandes de changement sont souvent reliées aux événements qui initient et ou résolvent de nombreux tickets de support. L'intégration des workflows de la gestion des changements et des tickets permet de mieux comprendre l’efficacité des changements prévus.

Gestion des connaissances (KM)

La gestion des tickets de support technique est plus efficace lorsque les agents tirent parti de l'expérience et des leçons tirées des tickets précédents. Votre processus de gestion des tickets devrait inclure la possibilité de créer et d'utiliser des articles de la base de connaissances.

Surveillance du système

L'intégration de la gestion des tickets avec les fonctionnalités de surveillance et les tickets générés par le système est le fondement du support proactif (résoudre les problèmes avant que les utilisateurs ne remarquent leur impact).

Gestion des problèmes

Les tickets de support IT sont une source essentielle de données permettant d'identifier, de diagnostiquer et de résoudre les problèmes dans votre environnement informatique. La gestion des problèmes est également la source des données relatives aux problèmes connus pour vos systèmes informatiques.

The general idea to remember from all these good practices for managing support tickets comes down to this: your staff, your processes, your data and your systems must be optimized to solve the user problem, before process and close the ticket itself. Support tickets are a record of the technical support work that needs to be done as well as a tool for more efficient workload management.

Associated Resources