Many organizations have adopted simple email solutions for keeping track
of their customer interactions, and such solutions may have their place when dealing
with one or two replies in a relatively brief amount of time (hours) and/or when individual
agents manage the entire process. However, these simple mail solutions become less
and less effective with complexity--the more agents, transfer opportunities, consultations,
and time involved, the more prone these systems are to fail in the delivery of good
- Emails get "lost" and/or filtered
- Email is subject to deletion and mis-filing
- Responses that have longer idle times can be buried under less important mail
- Internal comments and notes cannot be kept private
- Conversation threads are difficult to manage and can become too long
- Escalations can cause emails to be unanswered or delayed unnecessarily
- Reporting on the effectiveness of customer service and support is nearly impossible
- Supervisor tracking of issues is problematic
- It can be impossible to associate other communications channels (live chats, Knowledge
Base articles, etc.)
- Locating incident histories is time-consuming or impossible
The consequences of a lost, misdirected, or mishandled service request can be serious.
Customers expect fast response times and standard email communication is not designed
to satisfy this requirement. It is clear that email alone is not adequate.
SmarterTrack includes an advanced ticket system that is designed to transcend the
limitations of simple email solutions:
- Agent views include all internal comments, notes, histories and more
- Resolutions of previous similar incidents are available to agents
- Custom fields and other display items keep all relevant information together and
easily accessible to agents
- Agents can view all communication with an organization from one location
- Detailed agent-level reporting increases performance metrics
- Collapsible communication elements make organizing and managing ticket data easy
- Events can be created to allow tickets to be flagged, escalated, or redirected if
time-sensitive SLAs are not met or based on other parameters
Transitioning from Email to Tickets
Transitioning to SmarterTrack from an existing email service solution is relatively
easy. SmarterTools provides converters for certain email-based solutions to speed migrations.
For those email solutions that do not have converters made for them, POP can be
utilized to send the email messages into the SmarterTrack ticket system.
For a more gradual solution, SmarterTrack can be run in tandem (concurrently) with
the email solution. New service and support requests can be directed into SmarterTrack
and existing tickets can be managed via the email-only solution. Over time the process
should naturally fall entirely into the SmarterTrack system. Customers will still
interact with agents via their email, but agents will enjoy the SmarterTrack Web
interface and the additional functionality of the program.
More Communication Options Available
This is not to say that email clients cannot or should not be used by agents. Quite
the contrary. With SmarterTrack, companies can configure several scenarios that
allow customers to submit service requests via the portal, via email, through third-party
applications via Web services, or any combination of these. Agents can reply to
these service requests through the Web interface, email, or Web-enabled mobile devices.
Regardless of the information delivery method, all communications are logged in
the SmarterTrack system and all of the features and functionality are available
to track, record, monitor, and report on these items.
Harnessing the Power of Tickets
The full efficiency of SmarterTrack tickets is gained by understanding, and harnessing, several important
There's really no other way to say it: Tickets should be closed and locked. Whether you manage this through the way you set up your Departments and Groups using the auto-close feature, or by instructing Agents to close and lock tickets after a certain number of follow-ups, closing and locking tickets is really the only way to get a true sense of the workload your Agents deal with.
Simply closing tickets is fine as it can help you understand issues and workload, but simply closing a ticket allows a response -- either a response from the customer or even an autoresponder -- that can re-open a ticket. And as many help desk managers know, a customer will tend to reply to an existing ticket with a new problem as it's already a line of communciation to a company, and generally easier than starting a new ticket. However, that re-opened ticket can have an adverse affect on a Department's, Group's and Agent's metrics. Whether you're calculating total number of responses, the number of ticket closes, ticket replies or even idle time, a re-opened ticket can throw all of those off. And one reply to re-open a ticket can mean the difference to an Agent if their compensation is based on those metrics. Therefore, the only true way to ensure you're getting solid, reliable and manageable metrics is to close and lock a ticket so it can't be replied to.
Agents can enter resolutions into existing and closed tickets. As new tickets arrive,
SmarterTrack automatically searches for previous tickets that have been successfully
closed with similar topics and displays them in the Resolutions tab. This tab also
has a search field that can be used to customize and narrow searches, which helps
agents mine existing data.
Agents can search for existing and previous tickets with advanced searching by string,
email address, customer name, date and time, handling agent, ticket number and
more. This powerful search functionality greatly speeds the delivery of service.
Files and images can be attached to both inbound and outbound messages to speed
issue handling and to treat these attachments as important communication points
that can be referenced later from within the ticket. This means that files and images
no longer need to be stored in a separate place, eliminating the potential that
such files are lost or mishandled. This also means that multiple attachment items
are kept in chronological order, so agents always know which received files are
the most current.
Internal comments and notes can be typed in line, maintaining chronology with customer
communications and providing additional context, documentation of voice communications
and other details to agents who may need to handle the issue.
Events and Notifications
Events can be configured to perform automated actions (transfers, escalations, special
responders, etc.) or to provide specific notifications to agents and managers via
SMS text message or email.
Transfers and Escalations
Escalations and transfers can be managed automatically or manually. Utilizing the
events system, automatic escalations and transfers can be accomplished based upon
time, idle wait, number of replies, topic, language, brand, keyword, or any number
or combination of items.
Custom fields can be utilized to be auto-populated through external providers. Customers
and agents can also be required to ensure that certain fields are filled with relevant
data before a ticket can be submitted or closed, respectively. This kind of data
can be instrumental in providing the kinds of specific information that can save
hours of research--speeding resolutions and increasing satisfaction. Custom fields
also provide the opportunity for enhanced reporting based upon those fields.
For example: Requesting the product name and version/edition of a product prior
to the customer launching a ticket may not seem too onerous a requirement from the
customer's perspective and can deliver that information to the agent, meaning that
this agent may not have to access a separate application to look up the customer
account prior to starting his response. This information can also be used to customize
auto-responders and display suggestions which may have a better chance of serving
accurate options. Valuable back-and-forth time is greatly saved. Additionally, managers
and supervisors now have the ability to report on these custom fields, gaining valuable
insight to agent performance relative to product and version and perhaps detecting
service trends that can push valuable information to development teams and manufacturing
It is not uncommon for there to be multiple communications from a customer on one
or similar topics. Losing track of those communications can add extra work and needlessly waste
time. Tickets, live chats and call logs can be all associated to each other so that
all of the details are accessible to agents in context and in real time. Associated
items can be easily and quickly viewed in the Related Items tab within the ticket.
Ticket reports can be invaluable. Cost analysis reporting based upon product, agent,
department, custom fields, and literally hundreds of other items and combinations
can help managers determine the true relative costs. Summary and trend reporting
by product, department, ticket type, and more can help companies spot trends, identify
training needs, and manage for improved performance.
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