A ticket with concise, useful information can be the difference between a quick solution and one that takes hours or days. Keep in mind that not every problem is the same, which means that not every ticket requires the same level of detail.
The Basics of a Great Ticket
Proper Ticket Subject Line
A support ticket subject line should set expectations, and if possible, enable the support technician to glance at the subject line and immediately know the issue (without being too wordy). When your help desk is inundated with requests, a clear subject line can lead to a quicker resolution–and even help IT solve future tickets featuring similar issues. Lastly, when you write the ticket subject line, use relevant keywords that make it easier to find when searching/sorting. This will lead to faster problem solving and will be instrumental if your help desk ever does any sort of ticketing system data analysis.
- Poor Subject Line: Need Password Reset
This subject line is too vague. How many devices and applications do you use that require passwords? You can’t assume that IT will know which device or application you’re referring to.
- Better Subject Line: Need Outlook Password Reset (locked out of account)
This subject line provides more context and explains exactly what is needed. It even provides additional details (e.g. locked out of account) that may come in handy when IT needs help prioritizing tickets. Usually, the difference between a poor support ticket and a great one is the details. The more detailed the ticket, the more likely it will be solved quickly and without much heavy lifting on your end.
Provide Baseline Technical Details
Providing this level of detail will go a long way with your help desk. Every ticket may not need this information, but it is a great starting point.
When in doubt, a help desk ticket should include the following technical details:
- The device being used (PC, iPhone, etc.)
- Include the Asset tag if possible
- Operating system and version (Windows 10, Mac OS 10.12, etc.)
- Browser type and version (Chrome 55.0.2883.9, etc.)
- URL where the error occurred
Note: The help desk doesn’t need every detail, just the right ones. Don’t be afraid to ask questions in your ticket. Your support technician would much rather you ask than guess and make an issue worse. If you put the work in up front to include the right details, the rest of the process will be much more seamless. As an added bonus, your support technician will love you and will likely place a priority on solving your tickets because they know it will include all the necessary information.
Include the Time of First Occurrence and the Persistence of Issue
Always provide the time when your issue first occurred. The IT Department has tons of logs, so the more exact time you can provide, the easier it will be for them to find the issue in their logs. Also, including the time when the error occurred helps IT see if any similar issues occurred within the same timeframe. Many modern technology hiccups don’t happen in isolation, meaning the help desk can link events together and take appropriate action, such as sending a company-wide email announcement.
The example ticket below does a great job letting the help desk team know when the error first occurred.
Share a Screenshot or the Exact Text of the Error Message
Your support technician will be grateful if you provide a screenshot, gif, or video of your issue. If you can’t include an image, add the exact text of the error message. If you don't know how to get and attach a screenshot, gif or video ask the support technician to show.
Not all help desk requests are created equal. Help prioritize your ticket to take some of the decision making off of the shoulders of IT. And again, the prioritization of a support request may determine who is responsible for resolving the ticket and even how the help desk is made aware of the issue. A priority is not required but could help the support team understand the urgency of your issue. Below is an example, this should help give you insight into how the support technicians view their priority scale.
- Low: Has minimal impact to work. Will likely be addressed within a week or so. (Ex. Need larger display monitor)
- Medium: Has some work impact. Will likely be addressed within a day or two. (Ex. Need access to data analytics application)
- High: Has significant individual work impact, meaning you or another single employee cannot work. Will likely be addressed within a couple hours or less, during support hours.
- Urgent: Has a significant team-wide work impact, meaning multiple employees are unable to work. Will be addressed immediately. For outages and emergencies.
The quickest way to frustrate your help desk is to prioritize something as “Urgent” when it’s not. Think of this as if you’re dialing 911.
A Complete and Honest Picture
Many people won’t tell the whole story when they ask for help. This only makes a resolution harder to come by. Your support technicians aren't there to judge, but rather to help. A smooth and swift resolution is critical to managing the chaos of dozens of systems and different types of equipment.
Be open and honest. At the end of the day, it’s the support technician's job to be the technology expert, you just need to help them understand what is happening. With that said, if you’re lazy and if you don’t put in the effort, don’t expect a happy help desk staff. If you follow the basic rules above, you’ll find that your help desk will be more than willing to go above and beyond for you.
Before You Submit Your Help Desk Request
Take These Self-Service Steps
Troubleshooting your own issues isn’t frowned upon by your help desk; many times it’s appreciated. However, you shouldn’t spend all day trying to solve your own issues.
Here are four common troubleshooting steps you can easily take before you submit a ticket:
- Ask around to see if the issue is unique to you; if not, has the other person solved the issue
- Quit and restart the application where the issue occurred
- Reboot your device
If none of these steps solve the issue, then submit your help desk ticket. Also, always tell your support team what troubleshooting steps you’ve taken (if any) and the documentation you’ve found during your search. Even if the fix you tried didn’t work, you may have been on the right track. This will ensure your support technician can build off your work, while not wasting time retracing your steps.
Here’s an example of a simple ticket where the submitter listed out the troubleshooting steps they took:
Try to Replicate the Issue
Prior to submitting a ticket, you should try to replicate this issue on a different computer, operating system, browser, device, location, and/or network. If the issue is replicable, provide instructions for how to recreate the problem in your ticket. Often times, the support technician must recreate the error to solve it.