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Article 3 min read

What is a support ticket?

By Jesse Martin, Content marketing associate

Last updated June 6, 2024

Customer support can often be overlooked as an essential part of an organization. People tend to underestimate the importance of providing quick and effective responses to the issues your customers might have.

According to the Customer Experience Trends report, companies are managing more customer data than ever before — and much of that comes in the form of support tickets and conversations. Good support can greatly improve customer satisfaction and is crucial in maintaining brand loyalty. So to help explain what a support representative actually does, let’s start with the basics.

Definition of a support ticket

The term “support ticket” describes the interaction between a customer and a service representative. Tickets consist of the contents of your customer’s message, along with their personal data and internal systems info that your team uses to route, track, and monitor conversations. It’s the basic element of any customer experience related job—allowing your business to create, update, and hopefully resolve any issues your end-users might have. Likewise, a good support ticketing system allows your organization to manage and maintain a list of common issues or questions that your customers may be having.

Help desk software has greatly simplified the task of triaging and solving customer issues. While some organizations might wrestle with shared inboxes and spreadsheets, a solution that organizes incoming tickets, employs automation, and directs queries to the appropriate place can be a huge timer saver — not to mention provide a better overall experience for customers.

Today, customer support staff can deal with a much higher ticket volume, while offering quicker response times thanks to the wonders of the modern help desk.

What is a support ticket system?

Tickets can come from a variety of channels, such as social media, live chat or messaging, email, or the customer support portal that you have set up on your company’s website.

An omnichannel approach to customer service enables companies to streamline their ticket workflows by organizing requests from all your channels and bringing them to one comprehensive dashboard. Omnichannel ticketing systems allow queries from any channel, and support ticket systems give visibility into customer conversations across the organization, allowing the support team to collaborate to solve queries or pull relevant insights from tickets.

Some help desk providers have chosen to ditch the term “support ticket” in favour of more human sounding terms like “conversations” or “chats”. All of these terms reflect the back-and-forth nature of support tickets — they are, in fact, conversations, and these conversations carry a wealth of data. This data is relevant to teams across the entire organization, from marketing, support, and sales. Our service level agreement (SLA) feature, for example, will automatically notify management if customer service agents aren’t responding to tickets in the timeframe you promised your clients.

Good customer support software allows you to manage multiple conversations at a time, whether net-new or previously existing. Your ticketing system should also provide a way to establish a knowledge base of common issues your users are experiencing, which can be a great reference for support agents, or an external customer facing resource to deflect common queries.

Once a frequently asked question or request comes in, automation can direct the customer to self-service channels, deflect the query to the appropriate agent, or lead to the creation of an article inside a knowledge base. Otherwise, you could mark open tickets as a certain status so your team knows the issue is common and can be responded to en masse.

While some backlog is normal, support leaders can create a queue system that prioritizes tickets so no customer request is left open for too long. And for more complex and challenging inquiries, having a ticket escalation process would come in handy. With a strong ticket escalation process in place, your team can swiftly and efficiently resolve issues in today’s fast-paced and customer-centric landscape. Ultimately, a support ticket system is the best way to scale your customer service efforts to provide better, more personalized experiences.

If you’re interested in learning more about customer support ticketing systems, omnichannel engagement, and simple metrics that will improve CX, check out these 4 strategies for implementing a world-class customer service solution. It’s easier than you think.

How to resolve support tickets faster

1. Optimize your support ticket system

Your support tickets are nothing without a sound support ticket system or help desk software to house them. A support ticket system refers to the customer service software you use to manage your tickets. It is absolutely instrumental if you are to have any hope in properly sorting, tracking, and delegating tickets to your agents.

But now that we have established the importance of having a quality support ticket system, let’s talk about how to optimize it for quicker support ticket resolutions. We recommend setting up an omnichannel approach to ticket management so that you can have all your tickets organized into one dashboard. This allows you to have the best overview of the types of queries you’re getting, and whether there are ways to strategically clear out some of the bulk in support ticket volumes in one go.

2. Triage your tickets

Especially when there’s an uptick in support ticket volumes– say, around the holidays–organizing queries by priority, degree of complexity, and so on will help you to better divide and conquer for faster resolutions. This is an excellent strategy for effectively allocating support tickets to your agents, which will enable them to resolve queries more quickly.

This can help you not only to more efficiently approach the influx of tickets, but also give you insights into where you might be able to add to your knowledge base. That’s because ticket triaging can enable you to better track common issues, and provide customers other ways to find answers to those questions.

3. Provide opportunities for customers to self-serve

Speaking of providing customers with more ways to resolve common issues, a great way to help resolve support tickets faster is by empowering them with more opportunities to self-serve. This could look like setting up and regularly updating your FAQs page and maintaining a knowledge base that is easily accessible for people to find on your website. (Hint: inform your decisions about which content to include based on the data you’ve gathered from the previous two steps.)

In addition to simply having all this useful info up on your site, you can also opt to use an AI agent who can pull directly from your knowledge base to answer queries in a more tailored and conversational way. This option also provides customers with another way to self-serve 24/7.

4. Use message templates

Having a repertoire of message templates (also known as support macros) that correspond to common queries will make it easier to answer support tickets more quickly. These templates can usually live right in your support ticket system, and all your agents have to do is copy-paste them in their ticket responses It’s equally important that agents personalize these responses by tweaking them to include the customer’s name and other details that give the messages more specificity.

Still, message templates can save your agents time and help ensure that you are offering a more streamlined CX that is consistent with brand tone of voice, standard operating procedures, and so on.

Generative AI can also make using message templates even more efficient because AI-powered bots can suggest the right macros directly to your agents.

And speaking of AI, this leads us to our next and final tip.

5. Automate your support ticket operations

Customer support automation has come a long way over the years thanks to breakthroughs like generative AI. Using an AI agent can make it easier for customers to self-serve by tailoring responses to their specific questions rather than having them search for articles in your knowledge base. It can also create more personalized customer support interactions than merely using message templates.

Meanwhile, ticket automation can drastically cut down on ticket volumes by effectively automating simple queries (think: password changes, order statuses, etc.) without compromising the conversational experience of speaking to a support agent. In turn, process automation, the automation operating behind the scenes of business processes, can reduce agent workloads, so they have more time to focus on complex and rewarding queries.

All of these measures have been proven to reduce both first response times (FRT) and average handling times (AHT).

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