What is a ticket?

A ticket, in a helpdesk ticketing system, acts as a documentation of a particular problem, its current status, and other associated information. Raised by the end users of an organization whenever they encounter an event that interrupts their workflow, these tickets are routed to a ticketing software where they are categorized, prioritized, and assigned to different agents according to the organizational norms. The agents then analyze these tickets and suggest appropriate fixes or workarounds and resolve the issue. As a central repository of all these tickets, an IT Ticketing Software helps in providing the context of the issue history and its resolution.

In smaller companies, whenever employees seek IT support, they can simply walk up to their internal IT team and get their issues fixed. But as organizations grow in size, managing employee issues and internal IT service requests tends to become cumbersome. Emails work when companies are small, but their speed and simplicity don’t cope well with the large number of requests that are being raised in a big organization.

What is a Ticketing Software?

A ticketing software, also known as a ticketing system, is a software program that enables organizations to resolve their internal IT support queries by managing and streamlining the process of issue resolution. They handle individual elements called tickets that provide a context of what issue the requester is facing, along with other data like category, priority, etc. At its core, an IT ticketing software converts all incoming support requests from multiple channels into tickets and acts as a single point of contact between the service provider and the consumer. These ticketing systems can be used to store and manage all IT support, HR, legal, financial, and associated queries. Here, the issues raised in the form of tickets, are analyzed by agents, and are classified, prioritized, and provided appropriate resolutions.

Online Ticketing System:

Ticketing systems help you find issues, analyze them deeper, and identify the root causes of problems that affect your business productivity. More often than not, companies do this the old-fashioned way, where the ticketing system resides on a local server, but this has a lot of shortcomings.

Online Ticketing systems help your company overcome the shortcomings of an on-premise ticketing solution in many ways. Firstly, they allow for more flexibility in addressing issues. Your agents can work on tickets from anywhere, anytime, eliminating the need to sit for long hours in front of the same computer. Agents can log in from multiple devices and access the helpdesk, and still see the same dashboard. This also makes IT service management easier when the company is spread across different geographies.

In addition to this, online ticketing systems allow agents to approach issues dynamically by involving other stakeholders. There might be more than one agent or manager required to make decisions, especially with respect to problem management. This dynamic approach towards issue resolution is facilitated by ticketing systems residing in the cloud, where it enables collaboration among agents. They also come across as highly beneficial with respect to data security. Locally installed ticketing systems carry inherent security risks along with them.  Organizations also need not worry about data breaches as there are more stringent security measures in place in a cloud-based ticketing software.

Online ticketing systems are a boon when organizations scale their operations. They are highly flexible, in the sense that they can accommodate more agents as and when the company is expanding, unlike in-house ticketing systems that might incur hefty server costs. Moving to the cloud has so many inherent benefits to both your business and your employees, which makes online ticketing systems a great to tool to handle your dynamic tickets and management. Though on-premise solutions offer their own benefits, they don’t match well with what the online ticketing systems of today provide.

What is IT ticketing software?

IT ticketing software is a system that is used to keep track of lists of user requests and other IT support related issues for an organization. IT ticketing software might also be referred to by other names like an issue tracking system, trouble ticket system, support ticket software, request management tool, incident ticket system or helpdesk system. Ticketing software is most commonly seen in IT support operations but is also widely used in other parts of the IT organization. Some examples include: tracking maintenance tasks assigned to a technician, setting up resources for new employees, tracking new feature requests and managing bugs/defects in software development projects.

Common functionality of IT ticketing software

There is a wide variety of IT ticketing software available on the market today, both on-premise and cloud services. They may be packaged as a stand-alone tool or part of a more comprehensive helpdesk system or IT Service Management (ITSM) platform. There is a core set of functionality and features that almost all IT ticketing systems have in common, including:

Some modern IT ticketing software offerings include the ability to integrate with other ITSM systems such as change management, problem management or a CMDB as well as telephone routing systems (IVRs), human resource databases and system monitoring tools. Ticketing software packages that include these more advanced features are often marketed as helpdesk systems or ITSM ticketing systems.

History of IT ticketing systems

The concept of an IT ticketing system did not begin with a piece of software, but rather processes utilizing paper forms to track work requests. These processes date back to the 20th century when face-to-face interaction was required to resolve user and customer issues. The help desk was a physical location that people would go to for support and the ticketing system was an internal process for managing requests.

The 1960s brought with it the concept of telephone call centers (supported by Interactive Voice Response – IVR) to handle customer service issues. Following success in managing customer issues, IT organizations began adopting call center models in earnest by the early 1970s. As personal computers and email became prevalent, users began to be able to communicate their needs and problems to support staff electronically

The actual ticketing function that was taking place within the helpdesk and call center operations really didn’t change much until the early 1980s. With the number of IT users increasing, companies found themselves needing to invest in more scalable means of tracking issues and managing support resources. IT Ticketing software became the solution. The first solutions were internally developed by large companies to support specific operational functions

The 1990s brought a trend of outsourcing customer service and IT support functions, widespread use of email and the introduction of live chat systems for support. These trends led to the demand for commercially available IT ticketing systems. By the early 2000’s basic IT ticketing software was widely available and being used by most medium to large size organizations.

Over the past decade, the reliability of the internet and mobile technologies have enabled help desk and IT ticketing software to become more interactive for both requestors and support agents. Many simple and repetitive functions are now available as self-service capabilities.

Advantages of ticketing software

A good ticketing software could be a worthy investment for your company and would save a huge amount of time and money if set up the right way. To this day, emails are the widely preferred medium to raise support tickets in an organization.

In smaller companies, whenever the employees seek IT support, they could simply walk up to their internal IT team and get their issues fixed. But as organizations grow in size, managing employee issues and internal IT service requests tends to become cumbersome. Emails work when companies are small, but their speed and simplicity don’t cope well with the bulk requests that are raised in a big organization. This is where ticketing software or ticket management systems come into play. An IT helpdesk/ticketing software has several advantages over conventional methods like email.

Employee Satisfaction

It is crucial for businesses to ensure that all their employee grievances are attended to and resolved in a timely manner. Using a helpdesk ticketing system helps streamline this process and ensures that all interactions with their employees/customers are efficient, relevant, and personal. Also, the characteristic transparency of an IT ticketing software keeps the customer in the know throughout the lifecycle of the ticket and not just when it gets resolved. In addition, some IT ticketing software support multi-channel interactions, allowing customers to use their preferred channel to reach out to the IT support team.

Efficiency

With a helpdesk ticketing system, there is no need for agents to switch between multiple inboxes, complex folder structures, and color-coded tags. You can integrate your support email inbox to your ticketing software, which will convert all incoming emails into tickets. This allows your agents to work at their full capacity in resolving more problems in a shorter period of time.

Prioritization

In a highly-dynamic business environment, it is important to know which support tickets need immediate resolution and which ones can make do with a slower fix. A ticketing system does just that. It allows you to prioritize your incoming tickets based on several parameters. For example, a service request from the CEO of your company might need an immediate response (high priority) while compared with a ticket about a malfunctioning printer. Based on your business process, you can designate your own priority levels and ensure that critical issues get resolved first.

Agent Productivity

Some helpdesk ticketing systems provide additional features to help you automate your issue resolution workflows. That is, when the IT ticketing software receives a ticket from a specific email, fulfilling certain criteria, a preset action can be triggered. This saves your agents a lot of time and significantly improves their productivity. These ticket management systems also provide a unified view of all operations- more like a one-stop shop for all your ticketing needs. From ticket status to category to priority, and other relevant data, this global view helps the agent fetch all the necessary information from just one screen, rather than multiple ones. In addition, some helpdesk software also support self-service enabling users to find solutions to their queries/issues from an internal knowledge base. This will greatly aid in lifting the workload off your agents’ shoulders.

SLAs, Monitoring, and Reporting

SLA or Service Level Agreement is a contract between the service provider and the consumer that documents the two primary elements of issue resolution - response time and resolution time. It helps set expectations between both parties to ensure a smooth business transaction. A good helpdesk management system will definitely include SLA policies as one of its top features and will help supervise them in case of breaches and for high-priority cases.

From a business benefits standpoint, ticketing systems also support modules for monitoring and reporting, to track the activities of the agents on the helpdesk and their productivity levels. The real-time data from the reports help managers make informed decisions and devise better business strategies.

How a ticketing software could save you time and money

Enhance Customer Retention:

The success of a business is not just determined by the number of new customers the company acquires. What matters more is how many of them stick to the brand. Customer retention is instrumental in improving profit. The Chartered Institute of Marketing claims that it is 4 to 10 times more expensive to acquire a new customer than it is to retain an old one.

Ticketing software helps businesses achieve this by enhancing the quality of customer support. When you improve your customer support, it makes your customers happy. This, in turn, drives customer satisfaction levels up and makes your customers stick to using your products/services.

Higher C-SAT levels will also increase the chances of customers acting as evangelists of your brand, spreading a good word about the quality of service that they received from you. This will also lead to more sales in the future.

Self-Service Adoption:

The self-service feature is prevalent in most ticketing software products in the market. With a vast knowledge base built in the product, customers can resolve simple, recurring issues with the help of solution articles. Certain ticketing softwares move one step ahead - they detect keywords from the customer’s query and use machine learning techniques to suggest appropriate solutions. This plays a key role in deflecting a large chunk of tier 1 support tickets and reduces the workload of your service desk agents drastically, saving their time. Agents can then use this time to work on providing resolutions to more important, high-priority tickets. A well-curated knowledge base is also helpful in training new agents who join your IT team. This will help save the time and resources that your organization would spend on training them.

Service Desk Efficiency:

The biggest benefit of using a ticketing software in your business is that it streamlines the operations of your support team and improves efficiency. In conventional methods, an agent might have to sift through several email inboxes, customer databases, and activity logs, which could be highly laborious. Ticketing software eliminates this inconvenience by centralizing all your customer data, ticket status, priorities, tags, and labels, associated SLAs in one place. It also brings different communication channels like phone, live chat, and emails together into one platform for your support team to manage.

Does your organization need a ticketing system?

If your organization is doing IT support or tracking requests from your user community that you want to ensure are resolved completely and efficiently, you need a ticketing system. The capabilities that IT ticketing software can bring are beneficial even if there is only 1 person fielding support issues for users. It enables them to capture and manage requests in a consistent way, so they can focus more attention on solving issues and less on tracking their workload. For IT support functions with a team of agents or leveraging support vendors, IT ticketing software provides transparency into who is working on what. It also provides a consistent interface for requestors to interact with.

For larger IT support functions, IT ticketing software can help enable effective handoff of issues amongst teams, facilitate global “follow-the-sun” support operations and enable effective scaling. The data and metrics generated from the IT ticketing system are essential to management decision making about staffing, process improvements and managing operational costs. This is especially important for organizations that are growing to enable greater levels of support.

How to choose a ticketing software for your business?

Service Desk ticketing softwares can be greatly beneficial to your business if used the right way. They help companies cut down costs, reduce time spent on resolving mundane issues, improve individual agent productivity, and include best practices capabilities that ensure effective service delivery. That being said, these ticketing softwares come in all shapes and sizes. Some of them support extensive features like Project Management, Financial Management, and real-time alerts, while others just make do with basic features like ticketing, incident, problem, change, and release management. But when it comes to choosing the right fit for your industry/business, things might get a bit tricky. The challenge comes with trying to understand which one solves your problem without burning a hole in your pocket. Read on to know more about how to choose the right ticketing software for your business.

Hosting Technology

Ticketing softwares are usually provided in two different models - Cloud-based, and On-premise. Cloud-based model or the Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) model is now the most preferred choice, as more and more organizations are shifting their focus towards a lower total cost of implementation. This model offers several other advantages over conventional on-premise solutions. For example, the process of setting it up is simple and convenient, unlike on-premise ticket software which involves implementation costs. Hosting is also taken care of by the provider whereas, in on-premise solutions, your ticketing software is hosted locally on your servers. This incurs additional maintenance and supervision costs. The pricing model is also simple, as it is usually subscription-based (monthly or yearly).

Usability

Ease of use is another key factor that would determine your choice of good IT ticketing software. ‘Feature-rich’ is not necessarily the best because the more the features on the service desk, the higher the complexity. It is imperative that the software must be easy to use for both parties - the requester and the agent. The ticketing system must have an interface that makes it easy to enter data, assign priorities, update the ticket status, add multiple stakeholders, and more, to suit the requirements of your business. Having said that, it is also important to know the requirements of your business before you think of choosing the right ticketing software. There is no point in paying for features that your IT team will never use. For example, you wouldn’t want to pay for a software that has agile project management features if your organization does not develop software. So, it is best to thoroughly analyze the use of the tool and match it with the requirements specific to your organization.

Customizations and Integrations

A good ticketing software should contain features like knowledge bases, SLAs, and workflows. Analyze the tool to see if all the above-mentioned features are customizable. Configuring workflows and SLAs can go a long way in ensuring increased service desk productivity and customer satisfaction. The more customizable the tool is, the more the compatibility with your company. In addition, you should also ensure that the service desk tool integrates seamlessly with all your other applications. Your company might use a completely different set of applications for other business operations. If the new ticketing software provides a wide range of API level integrations, it would tremendously help with gaining instant access to information across your company and make things more convenient for you.

Alignment with ITIL

ITIL (earlier called Information Technology Infrastructure Library) is a framework of best practices for IT service management that aligns IT services to your business requirements. It covers different areas like Incident, Problem, Change, Release Management, and more to ensure better communication with users. An ITIL-aligned service desk software will be more efficient and productive compared to those that aren’t.

ITSM, or IT Service Management, enables organizations to deliver and manage IT services and provide high business value to the customers. Wherever IT systems or IT infrastructure is present, ITSM is performed inevitably. ITIL, on the other hand, enables these organizations to achieve efficient ITSM. 

Simply put, ITSM is how you manage IT, and ITIL guides businesses towards efficient ITSM.

These are basic guidelines that help you arrive at a decision and pick the right ticketing software for your business needs. When you’ve made a decision, be sure to sign up for a free trial version of the product as most vendors provide trials. This helps you evaluate and assess your choice by using it in your business environment. During this phase, you could also experience the service and support from the vendor’s side. This aids in finding out the credibility and quality of support from the service desk supplier, as it is a deal-breaker in your journey as their customer. Always look for making the most out of this relationship. To summarize, a good ticketing software is loaded with features, it is easy to use, it is highly flexible in terms of customizations and integrations, and most importantly, is aligned with ITIL. Finding a one-size-fits-all solution is incredibly difficult, but if you follow the guidelines above, you would arrive at a solution that offers you the best of all worlds.

Ticketing Software Best Practices

Best practices are a set of methods or techniques that have been proven to produce results in the most efficient manner. They are deemed so after thorough experience or research and are considered a standard way of doing something. Industries and businesses follow these practices, procedures, and processes to produce intended results and achieve their business goals effectively. The IT service management industry also follows suit by aligning itself to the Information Technology Infrastructure Library, now ITIL, a framework of best practices for ticketing software. Covering different areas within the domain like incident, problem, change and release management, asset management, knowledge management, financial and contract management, and so on, the ITIL framework provides guidelines as to how IT resources should deliver value within an organization.

Assuming that your service desk is ITIL-ready or ITIL-aligned, here is a list of ticketing software best practices that you should focus on:

Customer Experience

Customer experience is one of the two key factors that will drive the IT service desk space into the future. Whether your customers are internal or external, the only way to improve their experience is by listening to what they say. Perform customer satisfaction surveys regularly from your ticketing software and closely monitor their feedback. This continuous interaction will not only help you evaluate the performance of your service desk but will also help you establish trust in the mind of the customer and drive your C-SAT scores to higher levels.

Set up a Support Portal

With an IT ticketing system, you can build a unified portal for all customers who access your service desk. You could also include other departments like the HR department or the legal team within the portal and make them easily accessible to the customer. This unification will reduce all the chaos that usually surrounds a service desk. One thing to keep in mind is to ensure that customers get help quickly and easily. You could make your support portal as visual as possible to make it easy for customers to request services.

Encourage Self Service

You can also implement a web-based knowledge base where your users can look up solutions for common issues that they face. This would aid greatly in deflecting level 1 support tickets and helps reduce the workload of your service desk agents. The ultimate aim of the support portal is to make ticketing easy for the customers and to encourage self-service where they don’t have to spend their time on lengthy service desk workflows to get their issues fixed. Meanwhile, the time taken could be used to resolve issues with higher priorities within the organization.

Use Real-time Reports and Analytics

Ticketing software allows you to customize your reports to obtain real-time data of your ticketing software. Most service desk tools provide inbuilt reports and analytics features but these are mostly underused. When properly leveraged, it can provide deep insight into how to your ticketing software is functioning on a day-to-day basis, and help you make key decisions and strategize new ones. This real-time reporting and analytics drastically reduces the time spent on generating new reports from scratch. This way, it would also save you precious time and money.

6 Benefits of using IT ticketing software

Everything is centralized in one place

No more sorting through spreadsheets and email inboxes to figure out what issues are outstanding and where they are in the resolution process.

Automates tasks to improve productivity

By using technology to help orchestrate processes, such as: ticket categorization and prioritization, ticket routing, alerts and notifications and ticket status management, support agents will be able to spend more time resolving the actual support issues.

Provides better customer experience

Consistency and transparency of agent assisted support along with self-service information, FAQs and basic troubleshooting steps improve requestors’ perceptions of the support experience.

Enables prioritization of work

IT ticketing software enables requests to be prioritized instead of being handled in the order they are received. This ensures that the most important issues to the business receive the most attention.

Drives staff accountability and training

IT ticketing software provides managers a view into their employees work which can help illuminate staff development opportunities.

Built in tracking and reporting metrics support decision making

The data created by IT ticketing software can help drive resourcing decisions, process improvement initiatives and enable the tuning of support processes to increase customer satisfaction.

The Future of Ticketing Systems

In the fast-paced business environment of today, the service desk space has witnessed some radical changes with the introduction of new technologies in recent years. With end users adopting several of these new technology tools and “going mobile” for all their support-related activities, there is a pressing need for organizations to adapt to the speed in order to ensure smooth service delivery. Though driven by numerous factors, there are a few key elements that stand out and seem to shape the future of this transformation.

Customer Experience:

Enterprise organizations are now realizing that customer experience is going to be the game-changer in the future. In order to deliver and support high-quality customer service, organizations are investing in ensuring top-notch customer experience. Customer satisfaction has become the new yardstick for measuring an organization’s success in the service management space. To keep up with the game, IT support teams are now taking a customer-centric approach in service delivery by implementing industry best practices and continual process improvement techniques. This is also due to the high service delivery demands of customers who are either millennials or belong to gen-z. That being said, it is imperative that customer satisfaction surveys, polls, and feedback reports are given high significance in this transformation process.

AI in ITSM:

The Age of Artificial Intelligence (AI) is here. AI is already revolutionizing the way industries function. What was once only seen in movies and novels has now become reality - self-driving cars, PA robots, and what not. Gartner Inc., a global research and advisory firm providing insights and advice for leaders in the ITSM industry, has claimed in a report that by 2020, the average person will have more conversations with bots, than with their spouse.

This revolutionary disruption caused by AI has left no stone unturned on its way into the domain of IT Service Management as well. Popular ITSM tools are already using AI methods like NLP (Natural Language Processing) and ML (Machine Learning) to facilitate chatbots and predictive analysis. ITSM tool vendors are leveraging the massive amounts of data available in their service desks to enable AI techniques. Natural Language Processing or NLP is a component of AI that enables intelligent systems to “understand” a language as it is spoken. The machine then picks up a portion of the sentence and uses it to query its data sets and return a solution. This technique can be used in self-service portals and to enable users to communicate with chatbots and virtual agents, thereby improving the response rate. NLP techniques can also help deflect a major chunk of tier 1 queries/tickets.

In addition, Machine Learning (ML) techniques can be employed to perform predictive analytics in the service desk. The large volumes of data that service desks contain can be analyzed to detect patterns and relationships between past occurrences. This can help the service desk provide better insight into the operations, and can help managers make better business decisions. This way, automation can reduce the organizational overheads of delivering IT services to customers by a great margin and ensure that consistent user experience is delivered.

Why Freshservice ?

Freshservice is a cloud-based ITSM and ESM solution built to help teams provide exceptional support to end users. Over 20,000 organizations of all sizes, including NHS, Veeva use Freshservice for support in IT, and across business functions like HR, legal, and finance. Underneath its intuitive user interface, is a robust solution that helps better manage services and assets. Powerful automation lets teams automate repetitive tasks and workflows, so agents can focus on what matters most, while an easy-to-use service catalog helps drive self-service adoption among customers. Freshservice recently won the Best Implementation for an ITSM solution for 2nd year running at the SDI Service and Support Awards 2018.

IT ticketing software is an essential tool for IT support functions of any size – from a single resource to a global operation with multiple teams spread around the world and a network of suppliers. It provides users with a consistent and easy to use means of requesting help, checking status and accessing information and it provides support agents a way to keep their work organized so they can focus on solving user issues. 

Freshworks wins Best Implementation of an ITSM solution for 2nd year running at the SDI IT Service and Support Awards

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