Customers are more satisfied with a service company when it handles their problems in an orderly and efficient way. They like being able to follow up on the status of an issue and getting a prompt answer on what’s being done.
Making effective use of an online issue tracking system makes customers happier while reducing the amount of work needed to fix problems.
Issue tracking software offers many options, and it’s necessary to make the best use of them to provide customers with the best results possible. It needs to be tied to both the customer base and the knowledge base to provide a smooth workflow.
The story of an issue
An issue begins when the customer discovers a problem. Something has stopped working. There’s a bug in some operation. Things are working, but they’re very slow or erratic. It could be anything, but it’s important enough that the customer wants to open an issue.
A good issue tracking system offers several ways to start the process. The customer can send in an email, submit an online form, or make a phone call. The choice depends partly on the customer’s style, partly on the urgency of the matter.
The online form will be the best choice for many. It will include menus and checkboxes for categorizing the problem by type, urgency, and product or service, and it will immediately generate a ticket and set procedures in motion. With a good online option, fewer customers will need to phone issues in, shortening wait times for those who do have to call.
Whatever the initial approach, the customer gets an acknowledgment of the issue. Sometimes the response is immediate, such as “The system is down and we’re working to fix it as fast as possible.” Otherwise, the tracking system gives the customer a ticket number, which will let the customer follow the incident’s progress from submission to resolution.
When the help desk enters the request, it records the customer information and assigns a priority to the issue. It checks the issue against the knowledge base to find out if a known resolution already exists, or failing that, what the procedure is for this type of problem. This allows assigning the issue to the people who know how to handle it.
The person assigned to the task gets a notification, perhaps by email or SMS. All the information about the problem is on the issue tracker, so the tech can see what the problem is, whether it’s urgent enough to push earlier work aside, and whatever information the customer provided. The tech may add some notes immediately, including an estimate of how long it will take to resolve the issue.
Sometimes it’s necessary to reassign the problem because the customer misunderstood the issue. In this case, the tech enters the new assignment, a notice goes to another person, and the issue tracker updates the ticket.
Since the customer can view the ticket status online, they get a sense that someone is working on the problem. As the service people work on the problem, they can mark it as in progress, give an estimated time of resolution, and report when it’s fixed.
Let’s say this is a problem that will take a few hours to fix. The customer can see the status of the problem by logging in. Some customers will prefer to call, if only out of impatience. If they have the ticket number, the person who handles the call can look it up in the system. If the customer doesn’t have the ticket number, it’s just a matter of checking what issues the customer has open and bringing up the right one.
Finally there’s a solution, and the techs fix the problem. They enter the resolution in the issue tracker, sending a notification to the customer. The customer checks the fix and reports that things are now working fine or that a problem still exists. If there’s still a problem, the issue stays active in the system until it’s resolved or someone with the necessary authority declares it closed.
A happy ending
When an online issue tracker works right, the stories of most issues will have happy endings. Let’s look more closely at what makes them possible:
- Multiple ways of opening an issue, including an online form. Different customers have different styles, so having more than one way to enter a ticket will keep the largest number happy.
- Integration with the customer base. When all the customer’s issues are available together, it avoids redundant action on problems and lets the customer see the status of issues online. It allows quicker entry of tickets, response to follow-ups, and confirmation of whether the service department has resolved the issue to the customer’s satisfaction. If the customer has had the same problem before, it allows checking what actions were taken in the past and whether the same remedy will work again.
- Integration with the knowledge base. Referring to the knowledge base when entering a ticket allows assigning the issue to the appropriate people, identifying any known approaches to similar problems, and spotting patterns which may affect more than one customer. If the problem isn’t confined to one customer, the service department can assign it a higher priority and resolve several tickets at once.
- Inclusion of customer feedback. It’s important to know whether a problem really is resolved and how satisfied customers are with the service they got. The service department can use this information to improve handling of subsequent issues.
Success comes from a combination of good software and careful configuration to address a company’s service structure and way of managing problems. Vision Helpdesk offers a range of products for automating customer service and producing more happy endings.