Aged tickets hurt IT service desks and their parent organizations. From the business’ perspective, employees struggling for much longer than is acceptable and potentially losing productivity. From an IT perspective, it not only means that we’re failing those we serve, we might also have significant issues with our operations.
Hopefully, you found part one of this blog valuable and it’s given you a start on handling your aged tickets. Now, let’s roll up our sleeves and keep up the good work! To help, here are five more tips.
Tip #6: Group like with like
See if there are any common themes and engage with problem management colleagues. As you go through your aged incidents queue you’ll start seeing similar issues crop up – so, create problem records and link the incidents to them such that you can track them through to resolution.
Make it easy for your problem management colleagues to manage the problem by capturing:
- Details of the service affected
- Details of other incidents
- What has been attempted so far, including any work carried out by third-party suppliers
- Details of any workarounds if appropriate.
Tip #7: Work(around) it baby!
The next step is to create workarounds for known errors. A known error is a type of problem where the root cause has been established and there are workarounds available to temporarily resolve the issue while a permanent fix is being identified.
Examples of workarounds include:
- Periodically restarting a non-responsive service
- Diverting network traffic along an alternative route
- Refreshing a page that hasn’t loaded correctly in an internet browser.
If you don’t currently use them, workarounds are a fantastic way to get the user up and running again (if you do, please jump to Tip #8).
Work with problem management to ensure workarounds are captured and documented in a known error database (KEDB). This will speed up the resolution time for future occurrences because the IT service desk can log the incident and apply the fix straight away rather than trying to investigate from scratch.
Done well, the use of workarounds can upskill your team as a KEDB gives them one central place to search for commonly occurring issues and how to fix them. It’s also a great weapon when attacking your aged-ticket queue.
Tip #8: Focus!
Make aged tickets an area of focus for your IT service desk. Have a section at every meeting on aged tickets and how they’re being reduced. We like to focus on the ten oldest incidents and requests because, if you do nothing else, resolving your oldest tickets will stop the problem from getting worse.
Make every analyst accountable for chasing up their own tickets to ensure that nothing is lost, assigned to the wrong team, or forgotten about. Create a culture of proactivity – chasing up escalated tickets, anything that has breached the service level agreement (SLA), or anything that has been reassigned multiple times. Any reduction, however small, is progress so just keep going.
Tip #9: Watch the edges!
A weak point in any incident or service request management process is the handover from one team to the next. This is often the point where the ticket in question goes to the bottom of the queue as the support teams try to tackle their existing workload. Work with your support teams to ensure they’re comfortable with queue management and get the appropriate level of alerts when a ticket is added to their queue.
Another area to consider is work done by third-party vendors. All too often you’ll find a large number of incidents with a status of “on-hold with supplier X.” Focus on these tickets by checking in with the end user first just in case the third-party contacted them directly. If the issue is ongoing, escalate the issue with the supplier. If you have a supplier management practice in your company, ask if they have copies of any support contracts or maintenance agreements such that you can get the ticket progressed.
A final point to consider on handovers is duplicate tickets. Sometimes an end user will log an issue and then when there is a perceived lack of a timely response, they’ll raise another in the hope that it will generate enough “noise” to get a faster resolution. If something has been languishing in a queue for weeks or months on end, check for duplicates. If it’s something complicated, then there’s a high chance that there’s more than one ticket about it because the customer might chase it or have someone chase it up on their behalf.
Tip #10: Offer self-help capabilities
Create an environment that empowers your end users. How many of the issues in the aged-ticket queue could have been resolved if the person had access to a self-help capability via a self-service portal or knowledge base? Automating frequently occurring issues such as password resets or the provision of FAQs means that your end users can access help quickly and effectively freeing up your team to tackle the more challenging issues (and the aged-ticket queue).
So, that’s our ten tips for tackling aged tickets done. What would you add to this list? Please let us know in the comments.