Best Practices for Tickets– Left Sidebar

Continuing on with the Zendesk train here, Reclaim is developing the best way to handle tickets as they come in. Up until now, we’ve had a little system going but it definitely needed a bit of improvement. I thought it would be handy to write out how we use the left sidebar of our ticket viewer in Zendesk. So while this post is really used for employees at Reclaim, anyone can really take bits and pieces to this process their own. I’ll start with an overview of what our window looks like when we’re interacting with a user then move into specifics about how these help us respond to each user as quickly and efficiently as possible.
This is what our main ticket viewer looks like from the administrator end. You can see on the left hand side there’s a tool bar dedicated to ticket fields. This helps us organize each ticket so they do not get lost. The middle section is where we see the users response and are able to write our own. The right sidebar is where the user’s data is held. We can see things like open tickets and their account information.

Left Toolbar

This is what the typical left sidebar looks like when managing a ticket. You can see the ‘brand’ of the ticket, meaning all responses are coming from Reclaim Hosting. When a ticket is created for Rockaway Hosting, we’ll see the Rockaway logo. This is one of the first things I look at when interacting with a ticket, it tells me where I need to login to access the client information. From there, you can see who is assigned to (currently working on) the ticket and if there is any one CC’d to the thread. The next few sections you’ll see are mainly used for internal tracking and reporting. The tags section is used to tell us a bit about the ticket content. We can use these to run reports on specific tags to see how many tickets we get on each tag. After the tags, the next section you’ll see is the the ‘Type’ section. This is used to designate a the type of ticket we received. There are 4 ticket types that Zendesk created by default. They are Question, Incident, Problem, and Task.
Each ticket type is used for a different purpose and helps us organize our tickets even more.
  • Question: This type is used for someone who’s asking a question about an invoice, a domain registration or transfer, or how to get started with their account. This is the default type we’ll use.
  • Incident: This is used when we identify that there is a problem that affects more than one of our users. Once the problem is designated, you’ll change the ticket type to Incident and link it to the parent problem.
  • Problem: The problem type is the parent to an incident type ticket and is used when there is a problem with our product. Let’s say the server is offline and we’re getting a ton of tickets. You’ll create one ticket describing the problem to become the ‘parent’ problem then you’ll be able to link other incident tickets to that parent.
  • Task: Use the task type when you need to assign a date to a ticket. You can use this when you’re waiting for a domain to be released to the public after the redemption phase, or you want to follow up with a potential sales lead. After assigning the task type, you’ll see a due date field appear. Select the date you’d like and you can add it directly to your calendar.
Next to the ‘Type’ section is the ‘Priority’ section. We use this as a status to prioritize our responses to tickets.
  • Low: This status is used when the user doesn’t necessarily need a response right away.
  • Normal: Normal is probably going to be the most used status. Assign this priority to any ticket that comes through that isn’t a pressing issue. If you get a ticket with a question or a small incident ‘normal’ is a perfect priority.
  • High: Used for all tickets that need more attention over other tickets. So we can use these if a server goes down or we need to take a look at a site as soon as we can.
  • Urgent: This is the highest priority and used when the ticket needs to be looked at immediately.
The last ticket field in the left sidebar is the ticket Topic. The topic field is a custom field Reclaim Hosting created to help us designate the broad category of the ticket. So, we can designate the topic as Billing, WHM, WHMCS, Domain management and, DNS to name a few.
When editing the ticket before we send out our initial response, we go through each section and add tags, select the type, priority and, topic. These ticket fields are only viewable by the ticket agent (us at Reclaim) and we usually edit them as the ticket progresses. This is just a little glimpse at Reclaim Hosting’s back end of Zendesk– there’s definitely a lot of customization and our view might be a little different compared to another company.

Working by Myself

So today was a first for me in my support role. I started my shift bright and early this morning and everything was moving slow. Tim and Lauren went off to a meeting and Jim is traveling this week for a conference, so I was by handling support on my own for a short period of time, but this was a normal thing. I felt confident that I could handle each support request that came through and if I didn’t Tim and Lauren would be back by lunchtime and I could ask my questions then. I was completely unprepared for what would commence in the next hour.

A lot of schools are still getting up and running with their semester and that means a ton of sign-ups on our Shared Hosting at Reclaim. This September we had 721 new sign-ups on Shared Hosting. So we knew that things could get a little hairy on days where classes were signing up, like today.

Support was very quiet when all of a sudden the Slack channel for support started going crazy. I checked to see what was going on and a class was having trouble with their signups. Over the course of the next 15-30, I answered about 30 tickets trying to help the students. That’s about Reclaim’s daily average. We get anywhere from 20-40 tickets a day, during working hours. To say I was overwhelmed by this point was an understatement. I had never experienced something like this while I was completely by myself on support.

After a deep breath, I was off. Luckily, I knew how to solve the problems from WHMCS on our admin side so the fix was easy but very time consuming because of a number of tickets that were submitted.

After Lauren and Tim came back from their meeting I explained what was going on. I had most of the tickets solved by this point, there were only a few left that came in during the ordeal but were unrelated to the problem at hand.  I was talking with Lauren about this afterward and she gave me some great advice for a time like this, to compartmentalize things, don’t let the emotion overtake you, and just work on each of them one by one.

Today was such a great learning experience. Even though I was completely overwhelmed, and at first didn’t know where to start, I was able to answer every ticket successfully. And without this experience, I wouldn’t have had that conversation with Lauren and know where I can improve when this happens again (and I hope it doesn’t). I know things can change from one day to the next and some days can be slow for support than others but, I was not expecting today to be one of the busier days. But that’s okay, I’ll take them in stride and learn from the experiences.

Featured image:  by Glenn Carstens-Peters on Unsplash