Good Support Ticket Habits

You’re working along and go to retrieve an image, nothing comes back.  You click the link again, and again, and again till you finally receive an error message.  Here you are, faced with a single “OK” button message box containing a conglomeration of paths, error codes, object ID’s, ect. that seems to defy all logic and meaning.  Your system is down and you need to contact support for assistance in correcting the issue.  Regardless of the severity of the error/crash you want the error/crash corrected ASAP, here are a few tips that can help speed up the response/resolution time.

The first step in contacting support is the opening of a support ticket.  The information that you provide while submitting support tickets is critical in the support staff in providing the best and quickest resolution to the issues that you are experiencing.

First and foremost, follow ticket submission procedures for whoever you are contacting (some use phone, ticketing system, ect).  In a system where the procedure is to submit a ticket and support will contact you, breaking procedure and trying to directly contact one of the support techs can make the resolution to your issues take longer.

It may seem like a no brainer, but make sure that the contact information that you provide is accurate and that you are able to work with the support staff in correcting the issues that you are experiencing.  Correcting an issue with a client is increasingly difficult when the client cannot be contacted.  If there is a special number for you to be contacted (like a cell number), you are unreachable by phone and email is a better form of communication, you are submitting the ticket but are leaving for a meeting and will be unreachable for the next 2 hours, you are submitting the ticket for another worker/department and their contact information is different than yours, or any multitude of reasons that could come up that could making it difficult to contact you it is best to state that when the ticket is submitted.  It is also helpful that whoever the contact is that they have access rights to whatever needs to be worked on.  Yes, the end user may have a better idea of what they were doing when the error occurred, but what if support needs to have access to a server that the end user doesn’t have access to.  Now the user needs to track down an administrator with the proper rights lengthening the ticket resolution time.

The last part of submitting a support ticket is explaining the issue/problems that you are having.  First and foremost is describing the issue in as much detail as possible.  Including error codes and messages, screen shots, and log files can help support members start to diagnose your issues before they even contact you.  Describing how to replicate the error also makes diagnosis much easier.  Attach screen shots when you can, as a picture can say a thousand words.  In cases where the error seems random in its frequency, please state this as well.  Also, state the impact that the error/crash is having on your procedures accurately.  If every ticket that is submitted starts with URGENT or EMERGENCY, there runs the risk of “Crying Wolf” syndrome, and those words lose their potency when first viewed.

The one bit of information that is normally left out when a support ticket is opened is what was happening right before the system went down or what changes have been made to the system recently.  This is the one piece of information that can make or break a quick resolution of issues in your system.  There has been more than one occasion where a system has crashed, and I’ve asked “Have there been any changes to the system recently?”  Almost always the answer is none.  After troubleshooting for a while, the cause of the problem is found, and the correction is undoing a human made system/setting change.  In most cases when a system has crashed, time is of the essence to get everything back up and running and sending relevant, accurate, and complete info in the manor described by your support carrier can drastically reduce the time that it takes to resolve your submitted tickets.

Random McParks
Support Engineer
ImageSouce, Inc.

JimmyBean - October 1, 2009

I don’t know If I said it already but …Excellent site, keep up the good work. I read a lot of blogs on a daily basis and for the most part, people lack substance but, I just wanted to make a quick comment to say I’m glad I found your blog. Thanks, 🙂

A definite great read..Jim Bean