When should support tickets be closed?
Thread poster: Erik Freitag

Erik Freitag  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 05:51
Member (2006)
Dutch to German
+ ...
Jun 16, 2009

Dear fellow prozians and staff,

Since I have submitted quite a few support tickets in the recent past, I have noticed that sometimes staff closes them with the remark that they would refer the case to the development team. However, I think that the support ticket should only be closed when the development team actually has adressed the case.

I'd be interested in your opinion.

Kind regards,
Erik


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Aniello Scognamiglio  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 05:51
English to German
+ ...
I agree with you Jun 16, 2009

Hi Erik,

I agree with you that a support ticket should only be closed when the issue has been resolved to the satisfaction of the person who submitted the ticket. That's what I call customer satisfaction


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Stéphanie Soudais  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 05:51
Member (2006)
English to French
I agree Jun 16, 2009

I always feel frustrated when my tickets are closed before issues are solved. Tickets can be reopened of course (and I sometimes reopen them when unsatisfied), but I can't help thinking that by closing tickets, staff make sure they won't be "bothered" again...

Stéphanie


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Ralf Lemster  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 05:51
English to German
+ ...
The poster of the ticket should decide upon closing Jun 16, 2009

Hi Erik and all,
I also noticed a tendency to close tickets prematurely - very often, tickets are closed with the initial response by support staff. For me, this projects an image of trying to get rid of the problem, rather than trying to assist the asker.

Don't get me wrong: overall, I'm very happy with the responsiveness of support staff. What drives me mad is the (obvious) use of boilerplate and the semi-automatic closing of tickets.

I believe that in principle, the decision to close a ticket should remain with the poster, except where the poster has not replied for a given period (say, five days).

Best regards,
Ralf


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Jared Tabor
Local time: 01:51
SITE STAFF
A bit about how certain support requests are processed Jun 16, 2009

Hello all,

Thanks Erik for bringing this up, and Aniello, Stéphanie and Ralf for your input.

I believe I understand your concerns here. Let me explain a bit about how the system works internally. Bug reports, and some other issues which require attention of site developers, go through an internal processing. Essentially, another support request, an internal one, is created after the staff member has investigated the issue as fully as possible, can verify that there is a bug or other problem, and documents all relevant information at hand (including the support request or forum post where the issue is reported). From that point on, site developers take over and ensure that the issue is resolved. In general, the support staff member will notify the person(s) who reported the issue when it has been resolved.

It's important to note that site developers are working constantly to address this type of issue, as well as developing new features and optimizing existing ones. While not all bug reports can be processed with the same quickness, care is taken to process them as quickly as possible, given the state of the current queue for development. Some fixes are a matter of minutes, while others require in-depth evaluation and a good deal of time to properly resolve.

On a bit of a side note, addressing Aniello's comment, not all support requests can be closed to the requester's satisfaction. Care is taken to address support requests as fully as possible, as quickly as possible, and as directly as possible. But, to use an exaggerated example, if I submit a support request asking that general site rule 2 (courtesy and mutual respect) be removed, I may not be satisfied by the response.

All this said, as Stéphanie mentions, the option is there to re-open a support request if you feel the issue has not been addressed fully-- and you should exercise this option if you feel this is the case. Providing this kind of feedback (here in the forums, or in a particular support request) also helps staff analyze where the process may be lacking.

Best regards,

Jared


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Katalin Horváth McClure  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 23:51
Member (2002)
English to Hungarian
+ ...
Perhaps the problem is the structure of the support database? Jun 16, 2009

I have worked in Tech Support for several years, and we had a system where the status of an incident could be set for several different options, not only "opened" and "closed".
I don't remember all the settings, but I think we had:
- Open (nobody touched it yet)
- Assigned (somebody read it and the case was assigned to the appropriate person/group)
- Pending (somebody is actually working on it)
- Resolved (problem resolved)
- Closed (problem is not resolved, but no further action will be taken this time - reason could be the error is not reproducable, or the issue was logged for future development, or the issue is not an error but a minor/subjective nuisance that does not worth the time to do anything about it, etc.)

I have a feeling that ProZ has such an internal support database for tracking the cases, but we don't see it, the interface towards us has only two settings - Open and Closed.
Perhaps once the issue is passed into the internal system, staff simply "closes" the ticket because that is the only way to differentiate from open cases?

Katalin


Edit: I wrote this before I saw Jared's posting above.


[Edited at 2009-06-16 16:35 GMT]


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Erik Freitag  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 05:51
Member (2006)
Dutch to German
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Clarification Jun 16, 2009

Thanks, Jared, for your clarifications. I'd like to point out that I'm generally quite satisfied with support.

The point I was trying to make was in no way that support works too slow. I'm only objecting to the habit of closing a support ticket at the moment that the issue is "solved" for a staff member (which seems to be the moment that the issue is forwarded to a developper). Instead, I'd expect to be informed that a developper is taking care now, and again when the problem is solved. In other words: The support ticket should stay open as long as the problem persists.


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Wilmer Brouwer
Netherlands
Local time: 05:51
Member (2006)
English to Dutch
+ ...
Agree Jun 16, 2009

efreitag wrote:

Thanks, Jared, for your clarifications. I'd like to point out that I'm generally quite satisfied with support.

The point I was trying to make was in no way that support works too slow. I'm only objecting to the habit of closing a support ticket at the moment that the issue is "solved" for a staff member (which seems to be the moment that the issue is forwarded to a developper). Instead, I'd expect to be informed that a developper is taking care now, and again when the problem is solved. In other words: The support ticket should stay open as long as the problem persists.



I noticed the same thing and also thought it was a bit impolite that support tickets are closed when a first response is given. Support tickets are usually answered quickly, but it would be more polite to just wait for the user to respond and close it after some time if there is no response.


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Aniello Scognamiglio  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 05:51
English to German
+ ...
Service Management System (CRM) Jun 16, 2009

Jared wrote:

On a bit of a side note, addressing Aniello's comment, not all support requests can be closed to the requester's satisfaction. Care is taken to address support requests as fully as possible...


Hi Jared,

ProZ.com support staff is friendly and responsive. There is no doubt about it. Of course, not all support requests can be closed to the requester's satisfaction. It depends on the nature of the request. But that's not the point. The point is to leave the ticket "open" until the issue has been resolved. Support (service) requests are usually handled by CRM systems such as Oracle Siebel.

Let's make an example: About 3 months ago I submitted a support request asking when the information concerning "ProZ.com history and Overview" would get updated:

About ProZ.com

* Founded in 1999.
* 55%+ revenue growth in 2006.
* 17 employees, including 8 seasoned developers.
* 3 offices: Syracuse, NY, Herndon, VA and La Plata, Argentina
* 2 fully redundant data centers with fault tolerant web server clustering.
* 190,000 registered users - translators, linguists and interpreters.
* 15,000 outsourcers - global companies and language service providers.
* 80,000 unique visitors every day.
* 2.25 million unique visitors every month.
* 30,000 translation jobs (worth approx. $60 million) posted every year.
* 1.5 million terms archived and accessible in over 200 languages.
* 90 Powwows (real world meetings) self organized by ProZ.com membership every year.

The answer was that up-to-date information would be availabe asap and the ticket was closed. 3 months later the "old" information is still there. Again, I submit a support ticket asking exactly the same question receiving exactly the same answer that up-to-date information would be available asap and the ticket is closed.

Had the ticked not been closed, I would feel comfortable knowing that ProZ.com staff is taking care of the issue. But closing the same request twice without providing a satisfying "solution" (i.e. up-to-date information) is not what I call a customer-oriented approach.

Slightly off-topic:
Why is it not possible to provide information that is so interesting and important?

Back to the topic:
Thanks Katalin for sharing your tech support experience. What you describe is exactly what any good CRM system offers in terms of "service management": the status of service requests (or support requests) can be Open, Assigned, Pending, Resolved or Closed. What about implementing such a system?


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Jared Tabor
Local time: 01:51
SITE STAFF
Point taken Jun 16, 2009

Okay, thanks everybody for posting on this so far. This makes sense. The system is currently more or less similar to the one Katalin describes, but I will see to incorporating a better way of handling, for example, support requests which are pending development work, and more attention will be paid to when these are closed.

Aniello, I am looking into your example, to make sure it's in the pipeline. Thanks.

Best regards,

Jared


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Aniello Scognamiglio  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 05:51
English to German
+ ...
Thanks a lot for the update! Jun 19, 2009

Jared wrote:

Okay, thanks everybody for posting on this so far. This makes sense. The system is currently more or less similar to the one Katalin describes, but I will see to incorporating a better way of handling, for example, support requests which are pending development work, and more attention will be paid to when these are closed.

Aniello, I am looking into your example, to make sure it's in the pipeline. Thanks.

Best regards,

Jared


The brand-new information ("ProZ.com history and Information") is available now!
Thanks, Jared.


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Wilmer Brouwer
Netherlands
Local time: 05:51
Member (2006)
English to Dutch
+ ...
Question Jun 19, 2009

Perhaps it would be possible to add an option to the system that the answer to the support request was that it will be dealt with in the future. This way the staff will be able to see that something was asked and is not solved yet. Perhaps they could even add an automatic reminder to look into it again after a certain time, perhaps even a year. For example I asked if it would be possible to include php5 in the hosting package and the answer to my request was that it will probably be added soon. I would like to be notified when this happens and also would like to know that this is not an empty promise but something that the Proz.com staff will be reminded of occassionally because the request still has the status of something that will be dealt with in the future. I don´t even mind if I get a message after a year that it is now finally working or that you are really sorry that it is still not working.
The current situation is I think that it just disappears and no one will remember it after a while.


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