Five tips to manage and reduce your IT support tickets

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IT support system functions as a multi-dimensional unit that not only manages the IT infrastructure within the organisation but also aims at providing first contact resolution to immediate needs and technical issues encountered by end-users. With the average global cost of enterprise server downtime reaching 400,000 dollars per hour, it comes as no surprise that global corporations spend almost 164.2 billion dollars on IT support services.

In every business, small or big, the IT support team eventually reaches a point when the volume of service requests grows too large. Budget constraints and lack of resources, accompanied by ever-changing user demands results in the IT department constantly struggling to do more with less. As the ticketing queue increases, it directly impacts the IT team’s efficiency and productivity resulting in unexpectedly longer ticket resolution time and end-user dissatisfaction.

Now, to be efficient is not an option but a necessity for a business to run as expected. IT is the prime source responsible for smooth functioning of the various departments of a unit. Hence, its efficiency is something that cannot be compromised upon. To ensure this, the IT team needs to adopt strategies that can enable them to improve ticket response time and more importantly, reduce the number of service requests. The aim should be to not have end users waiting too long or left unattended.

Here is a compilation of 5 proven ways that can help you tackle service requests better, improve your ticket handling time, and resource utilisation:

Tip #1: Prioritise your service tickets

Most of the time, the IT support staff are not fully aware of the urgency level of any raised ticket. As a result, they try to resolve the tickets at hand with a “first come, first serve” approach, or per their internal schedule. Treating all the services tickets with equal importance can certainly help in being compliant with the established Service Level Agreement (SLA). However, this may affect business and create response backlogs, especially when there is a massive number of help desk tickets to deal with.

For faster disaster recovery and seamless business continuity, IT teams must learn to decide the order in which tickets need to be addressed. Evaluating incidents per their urgency and its impact on business continuity will help them in effectively filtering the requests. Emphasis can be laid on technical issues that require maximum attention. For the right assessment of the incidents, your support team can consider the following determining factors:

1.     The nature and seriousness of the problem

2.     The number of users affected by the problem

3.     The possible reason that caused the problem

4.     How quickly it needs to be attended

5.     The number of business processes and services affected by the problem

These factors can help the IT department establish a prioritisation model for categorising tickets based on their emergency and impact level, thus allowing you to allocate resources and set response timelines in an effective manner. Resolving high-priority tickets quickly will ensure smooth functioning of critical business activities and an overall improvement in the satisfaction level of the end-users.

Tip #2: Be realistic about service time estimation

A technical issue is influenced by multiple uncertain factors, such as urgent service calls, compatibility issues, delay in testing, and power disruptions, which can considerably increase the time required to resolve it. Hence, it is important that your technical support team estimate the ticket resolution time correctly.

Ticket time resolution cycle is directly linked to end-user expectations. For example, if experience says that a particular technical glitch would take around two hours to be resolved, it will soon become the particular user’s expectation too. If user needs are not met within the expected timeframe, they are likely to complain about the lack of punctuality and poor quality of service.

Therefore, it is wiser to consider unforeseen factors that can impact the ticket resolution time. For example, if the problem assigned usually takes thirty minutes to resolve, adding some buffer time for handling any unexpected occurrences and providing an estimation of fifty minutes is not only realistic, but can help your IT staff deal with it more efficiently.

Tip #3: Find out the common IT problems & ways to avoid those

In the daily course of responding to service tickets, IT professionals encounter and troubleshoot a lot of problems that are either repetitive or indicate towards a more complex technical issue. While technical incidents generally seem unrelated on the surface level, performing Root Cause Analysis (RCA) can help IT teams in finding the underlying connection between them.

RCA provides a systematic approach to identifying the main source of the technical event which also defines how the IT team should respond to requests of such kind. Enterprise IT teams can maintain an incident log with proper event data collection and analysis. This can allow them to figure the recurring patterns and trends of common IT issues and the best way to prevent those.

Tip #4: Provide users with self-service portals

One of the best ways of reducing the volume of IT service tickets is to provide end-users with plans through which they can come to speed with solving issues without additional assistance. With the number of tech-savvy users steadily rising, introducing self-service portals can go a long way in reducing IT workload.

IT support team can fuel self-support practices within the organisation by taking recourse to the following approaches:

  • Providing end-users with a well-curated Knowledge Base that includes common resolutions, best IT practices, and tutorials can help them resolve various common technical issues independently. It can bear a positive impact on the IT service delivery system by giving IT professionals more free time to focus on complex technology jobs.
  • Audio-visual materials such as instructional videos and how-to guides with step-by-step instructions can play an effective role in imparting technical knowledge to end-users.
  • Implementing smart chat agents empowered with Artificial Intelligence (AI) technology can further aid end-users to quickly locate the material they are looking for, receive follow-ups on their queries, and resolve low-level incidents with more efficiency and speed.

Tip #5: Be proactive with restorative remediation measures

System issues can be quite diverse in nature and may crop up due to inappropriate/negligent usage or targeted attacks. Consequently, IT support teams have to frequently deal with malfunctioning or malware-infected systems which require hours of costly recovery work, thus extending the service ticket resolution cycle and downtime.

Your IT service staff need to implement solutions that can offer an instant and powerful system reset mechanism in the face of a crisis. Solutions based on reboot to restore technology can allow IT professionals to set up a desired configuration state which is saved as the baseline. By rebooting systems, IT admins can revert any malfunctioning system back to the predefined baseline and remove all unwanted user-induced changes. Thus, systems can be easily maintained in a clean state across reboots with minimal effort. This can also enable IT service professionals to proactively deal with recurring system problems.

While there is no 'right' way to manage service ticket queue, experimenting with approaches backed by emerging technologies can aid your IT team to streamline its help desk activities. Thus, they can steer towards a more proactive style of processing and managing tickets which is faster, leaner, and more effective than the traditional reactive approach to ticket resolution.

Carl Hand, PR and media relations, Faronics
Image Credit: Jacek Dudzinski / Shutterstock