What We Wanted from Zendesk
We have used Zendesk as our support ticket platform for over ten years.
Zendesk is a cloud-based support ticket system. It presents a range of products geared towards creating better customer relationships. Notably, we used the Zendesk Support product/service.
The advantage this offered us, or so we thought, was that each client could have their own account and track their tickets and the tickets created by others in the same organization.
The idea was that we would keep and organize an entire history of all support requests and all related communications for individual support efforts. At the same time, we could give our developers access so that we weren’t managing multiple email threads, which we all know leads to organizational disaster.
I Hate Email and Wanted to Avoid it
I hate email; in my opinion, it is an outdated technology. It’s inherently disorganized, and we get too much of it, which adds to my personal organization nightmare.
A support ticket system was supposed to solve this by providing a single communication channel.
So What Was The Problem?
Clients hated it, didn’t know it existed, didn’t use it right, or didn’t trust it.
Some didn’t even know they hated it, but their actions proved it.
Some Clients Refused to Use It
We actually had some clients tell us point-blank that they didn’t want to use the ticket system and wanted to use email.
Here is the thing, the web support ticket system could be fully utilized from an inbox if you chose, as most of our clients did.
I think the problem was that the tickets came from a nameless support address and not from our team members.
Almost No One Logged Into the System
How cool would it be if clients could log into a portal and see every support request they have ever made, which are open, closed, and even reopen old issues?
Apparently, I am just about the only one that thought that was cool, as I can only name one client that regularly logged into the system out of the hundreds that have used it over the years.
Some Clients Didn’t Trust It
We found that even the clients who regularly used our support email address, which would alert us 24/7, would send us personal emails if the issue was urgent, seemly not trusting the system with important/critical issues.
As you can imagine, I don’t check my email while asleep but will wake up to the buzz of someone opening a ticket at 2 am.
It was as if the impersonal nature of the system seemed too much of a void to clients when things became urgent.
Ironic that we had all kinds of systems in place to be alerted of urgent issues but instead would find emails in our inboxes after who knows how long since we last checked our email.
Clients Would Not Use the System Correctly
Clients would often reply to old tickets with new issues or bring up new and unrelated issues on current tickets. They would reply to the ticket thread for a while before sending an email to a personal email address, thus breaking the thread.
This also caused our billing system to assign billable time to the wrong tickets. Transparent billing is key to our service, and this made a mess of it all.
Large CC Lists Were a Nightmare
Another one of our core service areas is white-label development for agency partners. As is the nature of agencies, the account teams can be large, involve multiple vendors, sometimes many on the client side, and projects can last months.
Though Zendesk handles CCs fairly smoothly, anyone unfamiliar with us might end up with a FatLab ticket confirmation, confusing our white-label status or inadvertently copying people that should not be copied on a response.
The Goal of Project Management was Not Met
Considering that the whole point was to keep from having to check email every minute, sort issues separately, and be alerted in real-time to new issues and updates, this was not working.
For ten years, we worked like this, and it was tough, to say the least, and served no one well.
Forcing Clients to Use Your Organization System Will Fail
Before deciding to shake things up with a system that is core to our business offering, I read an article (sorry can’t find it now).
This article argues that forcing any organization into YOUR project management system will fail. It will fail because it is not THIER project management system.
This got my mind spinning. Wow, I thought, that is it… This is why almost every project management system I have ever used or seen either fails or becomes a job in and of itself to maintain.
So How Are We Meeting This Challenge
Well, that is easy… we are getting rid of the ticket system that our clients hated, refused to use, used wrong, didn’t trust, etc.
We are replacing it with a system that allows us to be much more flexible and work the way our clients want to work, even if that differs from our other clients.
Enter Hubspot Ticketing System
Great, another ticket system. Well no.
After some research, this seemed the best option because we already use Hubspot as our CRM. This system was unique from other web-based support ticket systems in that any communication can be easily made a part of an existing or new ticket. Not only that, but that process is seamless for the client.
This way, we no longer force clients to work within our system. If they want to work the way we prefer, that is awesome, but if they chose to email us directly, we could tag those emails as belonging to a ticket, move unrelated items to new tickets, etc.
A Note About Alerts
One “problem” that still exists, even though we solved many of the above challenges, is the alert system. It still only works when clients send an email to our general support address.
This means clients who still send direct emails to our team are not using our 24/7 notification system. It also means from time to time, an urgent issue will take longer than we would like because of the lack of alerts.
Even though this new HubSpot-based system solves many of our frustrations, it doesn’t solve the alert aspect.
However, this is something we are going to have to live with as there is no way I am going to allow a 1960s-invented technology to alert me every time a goat header offers me a million dollars 😉