When we ask Help Desk managers what are Help Desk support ticket handling best practices, we receive a long list. However, there are several common answers. Let’s review the best practices for support tickets. Below we provide you with the most common best practices.
1. Creating a Help Desk support ticket must be mandatory.
For all support interactions, a Help Desk support ticket must be created. Providing customer support is a core function of the Help Desk. Documenting the support provided is also a core function. A Help Desk support ticket is the official record documenting the support provided. It must be mandatory that this is complied with by the Help Desk agent. Not only must creating a support ticket be mandatory for Help Desk agents, but it must be mandatory for anyone providing support. This leads us to our next best practice for support tickets.
2. The Help Desk must be the single point of contact.
In many companies, especially the smaller ones, users will walk up or call an IT engineer directly. This will bypass the Help Desk intake processes. This walk-up process should be discouraged unless it is to a Help Desk agent following a documented process. The Help Desk needs to be the single point of contact for your end-users. The support process must start with a level 1 agent. When an end-user does go directly to the IT engineer, the IT engineer must create a support ticket for the support provided. Why is creating a support ticket important?
3. All support activities must be documented.
A manager cannot understand the workload of their staff if the work they are performing is not tracked and documented. IT engineers and developers are expensive resources. It is more economical to allow Help Desk agents the first attempt to resolve the issue. Issue trends cannot be accurately reported if a significant amount of work effort is not documented in the ticketing system. Many say if it is not documented in a ticket, it didn’t happen. If an end-user goes directly to an IT engineer or developer for support, the best way to handle it is the following. Let the end-user know that the approved process is to contact the Help Desk. Have the IT engineer provide support but let the end-user know this will be the final time. Have the IT engineer create a support ticket for the support provided.
4. Ticket documentation must be descriptive.
Since the official support record is the support ticket, the notes in the ticket meet a standard. The support ticket documentation standards must ensure that the support notes are detailed and descriptive. Ticketing documentation must capture who, what, when, where, and how. Make sure your documentation instructions are clear on the expectations from the Help Desk agent.
Many people ask how descriptive the support notes must be. I usually provide the following answer to that question. The level of detail required should allow a person reviewing the ticket in the future to understand the issue and what was done to resolve it. A person also should be able to determine if the ticket classification selections are accurate based on the detail of the support notes. Many Help Desks will have an audit process for agents’ compliance with ticket documentation standards.
5. Ticket comments should identify the contributor.
It would be frustrating to receive a text message and not know who sent it. Equally, it is frustrating to read support note comments in Help Desk tickets and not know who entered them. Each ticket comment should be associated with the contributor of the comment. This provides an audit trail to the historical record. Most ticketing applications have an option to append the username of the commenting author. If this option is available, it is recommended that this be turned on. Sometimes the assigned agent will work with another support person. It is appropriate if the assigned agent summarized the assistance that a 3rd party provided to the ticket. However, the name and group should be included.
6. Training in best practices must be provided.
How can you expect your Help Desk agent to comply if they are not trained properly? All support staff needs to be trained on support ticket best practices. It is not just the Help Desk agent who will need training on how to document support tickets. If the ticket is escalated or reassigned to another, that person must also document their actions in the ticket. Each update to the status of the issue must be captured with specific detail of what occurred. The escalation resource must follow the same documentation standards as the Help Desk agent. It also means they will need to receive training.
7. Compliance must be part of performance management.
Providing support is a core function of the Help Desk agent. Creating and updating a support ticket is mandatory. Once the Help Desk agent has been trained, following all support ticket procedures must also be mandatory. Monitoring the compliance of using ticket support processes is highly recommended. An audit and grading of a random sample of support tickets is a great way to measure compliance. These audits and grading of support tickets must be part of a Help Desk agent’s performance management reviews. Be sure to provide feedback and improvement opportunities as soon as possible. We want to correct behavior and make sure the agents have every opportunity to do so. So what does a Help Desk support ticket review audit look like?