Handling requests for assistance is one of the most essential tasks of any IT service desk. A well-managed support ticket system helps to facilitate efficient, unimpeded business operations.

It is also regularly the key differentiator between highly successful managed IT teams and those that struggle to ensure service quality.

Building an organized and structured ticket management system is a complex endeavor, however. With so many ways to answer tickets, the communication channels people are most likely to use to get support are voice calls (82%), email (62%), and live chats (43%)

However, before you begin to benefit from help desk support, it is important to understand the best methods of how to handle support tickets.

In this article, we’ll show you how to run a high-touch help desk service to help you understand how to answer support tickets and streamline the efficiency of your support staff.


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Start With Expert Help Desk Technicians

Great help desk service starts with excellent personnel with a strong collective knowledge base. Unfortunately, quality IT workers are in short supply.

According to one IT recruiting firm, “tech candidates with the most in-demand skills are only on the market for two to three weeks,” meaning hiring managers have a brief window of opportunity to find, recruit, interview, and hire the best talent.

This begs the question: why is it so difficult for organizations to find and keep competent help desk personnel?


Shortage of Qualified Techs

There isn’t one reason for the dearth of quality talent in the technology sector. Some point to the widespread lack of investment in developing entry-level talent. Others say it’s an issue of geography.


High Salaries and Benefits

The annual salary for the average help desk support agent is roughly $45,767. Meanwhile, IT support staff with expertise in networking or management command $81,753 and $93,878, respectively.

These lofty figures don’t even take into consideration the expensive benefits packages that modern IT workers expect.


Non-Technical Hiring Managers

Many organizations rely on non-technical hiring managers to recruit, interview, and hire technical employees.

Although this is not a problem in and of itself, it can be greatly detrimental and impair your ability to find and hire competent talent if the person in charge lacks basic knowledge of technology.


Make Your IT Help Desk Available

A well-run IT support system makes it as simple as possible for users to request assistance when needed.

Ideally, anyone in need should be able to easily locate the various contact options that your business provides with a quick visual scan of your website.

Headers, footers, and menu bars should clearly point users to contact links or perhaps a dedicated contact page where they can find the best phone number, email address, or live chat.

The best support systems will offer various contact options so that customers can reach out through their preferred method. However, message efficiency is paramount for quickly handling these complaints.

Encourage your team to be unambiguous and succinct in discussing their issues. Back-and-forth chatter or long-winded conversations between the support team and the users will lengthen the incident response time and create more frustration about ticket statuses.

Thankfully, most ticket management software systems provide help desk teams with the ability to rapidly create and customize request templates to guide customers in understanding the key facts and information needed for the fastest possible service.


How to Handle Support Tickets Efficiently

Zendesk describes great customer service as “quick, easy, personalized, and empathetic.” Users need to know that their issues matter to you. The most powerful way to demonstrate your dedication and improve the overall customer experience is through timely ticket handling.

The interval between when a ticket is opened and when your customer support team responds for the first time is known as the “first response time” (FRT) or also “first reply time.”

Throughout the 2000s, with the proliferation of social media, email, and instant messaging, the acceptable response time has gotten shorter and shorter.

People expect their managed IT services team to listen to and respond to them quickly.

In the early days of the web, it was considered great customer service to reply to an email within 24 business hours of the request.

Now that everyone and everything is always connected, the standard for a great email reply time is down to just one hour. Unsurprisingly, social media users and live chat assistants expect even faster response times measured in minutes to consider it great customer service.

How to Categorize Support Tickets

Source: FinancesOnline


How to Categorize Support Tickets and Reduce Confusion

Prioritization is a delicate practice that can only be perfected after a great deal of real-world, hands-on experience. It also helps you understand how to reduce invalid technical support tickets.

Properly categorizing tickets is critical to reduce a help desk’s “Mean Time to Resolution” (MTTR), which is the total amount of time it takes to detect, diagnose, and address a support ticket.

We are often asked which support ticket prioritization method offers the best results. The truth is, there is no magic, one-size-fits-all approach available to suit the diverse needs of all businesses.

Depending on your organization’s ticket-handling expertise, SLAs, service offerings, and technical competence, each strategy has its own set of pros and cons.


Answer Support Requests Based on Severity

Addressing each ticket in accordance with the severity of the problem at hand is a time-tested and effective method of prioritization. This is often the go-to grading method used when IT teams become overwhelmed by an unexpected rush of support ticket requests.

A major downside, however, is that the customer support team member may fail to understand the severity of certain tickets and mistakenly prioritize low or mid-level issues ahead of urgent requests.


Categorizing Support Tickets Based on Customer Type

Setting ticket priority based on the customer type is another option. In practice, this means high-value customers will get priority over lower-tier customers.

The key compromise is that while VIP-level clients are pleased that their problems are quickly resolved, lower-level users could feel overlooked and may choose to switch to a rival who knows how to track support tickets more effectively


The First-In, First Out Approach

Also called FIFO for short, this system works in chronological order whereby the first ticket is allocated the highest priority.

While FIFO is often considered a simple strategy used solely by small companies with small IT teams, in fact, it can also be a lucrative method within much larger organizations too.


How to Prioritize Support Tickets and Provide Better Service

Ticket escalation is the process of moving customer issues to higher-level, more experienced support personnel or managers with the aim of providing a swift resolution.

The process can differ depending on the size of an organization, but typically, a ticket escalation hierarchy will look like this:

  • Level 1: Support agents with a basic understanding of the company’s IT infrastructure assist the users in resolving the complaint. Generally, these are routine and low-level problems that can be solved through advice outlined in the company’s official standard operating procedures or knowledge center.
  • Level 2: Help desk personnel at this level are more experienced and have access to more resources than lower-level agents. Issues at this level are too complicated to handle with simple documentation and necessitates agents troubleshoot the issue themselves.
  • Level 3: When issues surpass the capabilities of all other agents in the hierarchy, experienced developers and engineers may need to help. Developers and engineers possess the deepest insights into the software and hardware systems deployed by the businesses they serve and thus have the highly specialized skills needed to resolve the most intricate technical matters.


How to Reduce Support Tickets With Documentation and Tracking

Knowing how to track support tickets as they move through the support lifecycle from open to closed is necessary to ensure that issues are resolved in a timely manner.

By tracking tickets, the staff can see which issues are taking longer to resolve and can implement steps to improve the process. But this is only one half of the story.

Incomplete or inaccurate documentation can lead to a poor customer satisfaction score (CSAT). As the name implies, this is the metric used to track how satisfied customers are with the service they received from the help desk staff.

CSAT scores can be helpful for identifying areas where the customer support team needs to improve.

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Learn How to Handle Support Tickets With a Trusted Partner

Now that you understand how to reduce support tickets for your business, you need a dependable partner that can help you manage your IT helpdesk more effectively and efficiently.

As a leading managed services provider (MSP), Complete Network brings over 20 years of IT service and help desk experience to each of its clients, along with a state-of-the-art ticket management system that helps with reducing customer concerns.

If your MSP is letting you down with lackluster customer support, it may be time to upgrade to a partner with a long track record of client success. For more information, contact our friendly team today to schedule a consultation.

How To Supplement Your Internal IT Team.

In an ideal world, technology would be a consistent source of competitive advantage and benefit for small and midsized businesses. The reality is that many fail to realize that confidence.

Without the right resources and support, even a highly skilled technology team can become overwhelmed by the growing list of technology management duties. When important tasks get neglected, it creates ripple effects throughout an organization that damage productivity and efficiency.

The co-managed IT services model solves these problems by providing your existing IT team with all the support and resources they need to successfully plan, manage, and defend your network technology.

This guide covers:

  • • Aligning technology with business goals
  • • Reducing churn while preserving institutional knowledge
  • • Empowering your staff to maximize productivity
  • • Achieving the highest level of cybersecurity defense

Download it for free by filling out the form here.