What is a support ticket?

A support ticket is typically a mechanism to document the interaction between a customer and a support representative.

In other words, when a customer submits a query or an issue that needs to be resolved, a ticket is created and made available to the customer and the support representative.

At Intercom, we’ve taken a more nuanced approach to defining this term. For us, a support ticket is used to handle customer requests, not queries. A query stems from a customer seeking information from a brand, and can be handled in the moment with tools such as a messenger, chat bot, or automated series. Meanwhile, a request often requires time for the business to resolve. This is largely because customer support teams will often have to involve specialists from other teams to resolve these requests.

To us, a modern and efficient support ticket system focuses primarily on these requests.

What does a support ticket look like?

When customers want to submit a request with a brand, they typically get an auto-generated email that confirms receipt and provides an estimate for when the customer should expect to hear back. The ticket is effectively an identifying number which represents the request, and can be used to track progress on a resolution as the request works its way through the behind-the-scenes resolution process, which might require the involvement of multiple teammates. The communication between customer and business then continues via email in an asynchronous manner.

At Intercom, we wanted our support ticket process to be more personal, conversational, and contextual than the norm. As such, we’ve built our support ticket system into the Intercom Messenger. For customers, this means they can keep using the interface they’re used to when communicating with the brand.

What is a support ticket system?

To date, support ticket systems have existed as a way to centralize all support tickets in one place. For customer support teams using an omnichannel support approach, for example, a support ticket system would bring together messages from all channels. This allows teams to collaborate on similar requests and see the various conversations they’ve had with a single customer. Support ticket systems also provide teams with the ability to triage queries and requests, and enable ticket escalation as required.

Intercom’s approach includes many of these same features, but it takes it a step further by bringing all customer conversations into the same place, whether they’re a query or a request, making it even easier for teams to collaborate and effectively handle customer requests.

What is support ticket routing?

Support ticket routing is the process of sending a support ticket to the team best equipped to resolve it. This can be done manually, with a customer support representative triaging the request, or automatically with a smart bot that determines where the ticket should go based on keywords in the request.

What are the benefits of a modern support ticket system?

This new approach to support tickets has a number of benefits for brands.

1. It’s more streamlined

With a traditional approach to support tickets, support representatives communicate with customers asynchronously over email. This means it can sometimes take a long time to gather all the information required for the brand to effectively respond to the request and close the ticket.

With the Intercom approach, customers can open the Messenger, type in all the information they want to share, and submit the ticket. Then, with the help of an automated bot that parses the information in the request, the ticket is immediately sent over to the appropriate team. Alternatively, brands can use custom objects and actions to automatically process a request on their account, depending on what the request is.

2. It helps customers help themselves

Often, when a customer needs help, they’ll look at the FAQs – and if they can’t find the answer there, they’ll reach out to customer support. Others will simply skip the FAQ page, under the assumption they won’t be able to find the answer to their question. This trend can unnecessarily increase the volume of support tickets, bogging down the team with questions that could be answered elsewhere.

With a messenger-first approach that is partially automated, customers can enter their query and be provided with relevant articles or links based on the keywords in their query. This may avoid them having to submit a ticket altogether, and if it doesn’t, the customer is already in the right place to submit their request.

3. It allows for better collaboration between teams

For many organizations, a support ticket system is one tool in a sea of many, and it’s not always compatible with others. The same is true at the organizational level: customer support teams aren’t always equipped to easily collaborate with other relevant departments, like product and marketing.

These gaps can impact teams across the board. When a support rep has to wait long periods of time for another team – and deals with the increasing frustration of customers – the team with the answers often receives requests without the context required to answer them.

We designed our support ticket system at Intercom to automatically route tickets to the relevant team, based on topic. All relevant teams have visibility into the system, and are able to share updates, information, or questions about the ticket within Intercom. This removes the need for moving between tools and reduces costs by centralizing support functions in one platform.

4. It enhances customer satisfaction

With a centralized support ticket system, customers can come to expect the same optimal experience they have with every other part of your brand. For instance, Intercom’s new smart ticket system offers self-serve opportunities and automatically routes queries to the relevant team. In addition, customers can get status updates and follow up with additional information right in the Messenger. Any additional information is automatically added to the original request, so customers never have to repeat themselves – and customer support teams don’t have to duplicate efforts.

What will support ticket systems look like in the future?

The customer support space is always evolving. As customer expectations get more and more refined – with a growing demand for personalization and rapid response times – the tools brands use to engage with them should do the same. In the future, support ticket systems may connect internal and external teams, streamline support workflows, and make tickets even more contextual to each customer.

Intercom Support