Ask an MSP Expert

Q: As my MSP continues to grow, we’re receiving more support tickets, and it can be hard to keep up. We need a more organized process for responding to support calls. How can we streamline the ticketing process to be more efficient?

There are several tools and solutions available to help you manage the ticketing process, and in a short amount of time, you can develop the resources you need to support your customers more easily.

That’s why we spoke to Barracuda MSP’s manager of partner support, John Carroll. Working at an IT channel vendor, he understands that it’s crucial to respond to customers in a timely and efficient manner. His team spends most of their days talking to MSP partners, through email, in the organization’s online portal, over the phone, and even in person. That’s why we thought John would be the best person to ask for advice on how to respond to customer support cases quickly and easily. Here are John’s top tips:

1. Automate ticketing

If you’re just starting out, take the time to research your options before you chose an automated billing and ticketing tool. Most tools have built-in integrations that help you work to seamlessly deliver services to your customers. Professional Services Automation (PSA) tools are used by MSPs and other IT professionals to automate service tasks, like billing your clients or receiving support tickets. Using of one of these tools will immediately begin to alleviate the stress of managing inbound service tickets.

Choose a PSA tool that integrates with your CRM system so that tickets can be entered, assigned, and distributed to your technicians. At Barracuda MSP, we’re able to process web tickets, email tickets, and chat line tickets and assign cases to support engineers through our CRM system, Salesforce.com. Within the system, we can also assign values to each case, letting the partner know the status of their case. This transparency allows for clear communication between our engineers and partners.

If you’re an MSP who’s been in business for a while, you probably already leverage these types of tools. So, when you’re evaluating vendors for other solutions, such as cloud backup, ask if they offer any integrations. You want to simplify your experience with a combined solution that consolidates the tools and platforms you use to protect your customers’ environments. Managing the support process will be much easier if the systems you’re using are able to work together.

2. Prioritize tasks

After you’ve put the proper systems in place to manage the ticketing process, you need the right process for prioritizing and resolving customers’ issues. First, figure out what kinds of support cases you’re seeing most often so you can determine what your customers’ biggest pain points and challenges are and what you can do to address those issues.  

From there, develop a process for responding to each type of support case. Some situations are going to require a faster response time so you’ll need to be able to prioritize your tickets as they enter the system. This way you’ll have a better idea of what needs to be addressed first and how it will be handled.

3. Hire the right talent

Once you have an idea what your highest priorities need to be, determine whether or not you need to hire more people to help keep up with tickets and keep response times reasonable.

If you need to hire more help, be sure to invest in the right talent. Knowing the types of cases that you see most often, you’ll have a better understanding of what skill sets and expertise technicians will need to join your team. This will make the interview process easier and help you retain the best employees. Remember to offer ongoing training to your technicians to assess their abilities and provide them with opportunities to develop their skills.

4. Create an FAQ sheet

After you’ve pin-pointed the most frequently asked questions you’re getting from your small business customers, write out complete responses for each one. You can give this FAQ sheet to your customers and share it internally with your technicians. This will help reduce the number of tickets coming into your system, and your employees will know how to appropriately respond.

5. Use a chat line

To reduce the number of phone calls for your technicians and help prioritize tickets, add a chat line for your customers. Dedicate someone on your team to manage the chat line and answer questions as they’re asked. If your ticketing tool is integrated with your CRM system, you can quickly assign questions from the chat line to a technician.

6. Schedule regular check-in calls with technicians

Understanding your customers’ needs and addressing them as soon as possible is the most important part of managing the support process. To do this effectively, you need to reach out to your customers before they have an issue. Be proactive and schedule regular calls with your customers to check in, see if their needs have changed, and answer any questions they might have. This will also help reduce the number of tickets you receive because customers will be able to ask their questions during your scheduled calls.

Communication is key to a successful partnership. The more proactive you can be in supporting your small business customers’ IT environments, the less you’ll have to stress about managing the ticketing process. And, making use of the automated resources available will help you streamline the process and focus more on growing your business.

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Photo: Alexander Supertramp / Shutterstock.

Lauren Beliveau

Posted by Lauren Beliveau

Lauren is an Editorial Associate at Barracuda MSP. In this position, she creates and develops content that helps managed service providers grow their business. She also regularly writes The MSP’s Bookshelf and our Ask an MSP Expert column.

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