Help desk 101: using service tickets and activities to boost team visibility

| By:
April Taylor

When various team members need access to the same information, service tickets and activities can be lifesavers—and not just when you need to cover for a teammate in a pinch.

There are a whole host of ways that service tickets and activities help your company run smoother and make your customers happier. Here’s a breakdown on their similarities, differences, and how they can help automate your team’s workflow.

Service tickets

What is a service ticket?
A service ticket is generated to track an issue, usually by someone in an IT role. Each issue gets its own ticket, and the ticket remains open until the issue is resolved. It might also be called a help desk ticket.

How does a service ticket work?
A ticket can be submitted by any team member who experiences a tech issue, from a lost personal laptop to noticing a vulnerability on a customer server.

Once the help desk ticket is created, IT takes over, assigning resources and handling next steps. The issue’s entire progress is tracked inside that ticket, including conversations, questions, and any other relevant documentation. Everyone who has a stake in resolving that ticket has access to it. Once the issue is resolved, the ticket is closed by IT.

What are the benefits of using a service ticket?
While it might seem easy to just ping your favorite IT person and ask for help, creating a service ticket has a number of important benefits. First, it creates a record that everyone can see. Beyond visibility, it creates accountability and eliminates the “It got lost in my email” excuse if something falls through the cracks.

A service ticket also creates a closed loop that captures all communication in one place. A request might come directly from a customer, for example, but if your help desk system uses an email connector, the request will automatically be turned into a ticket.

And, in the case of the IT tech who came down with the flu, a service ticket ensures that you can easily pick up the ball and run with it in their absence.

But hands down, one of the biggest advantages to using a service ticket is that it can automate time tracking—one of the number one reasons partners start using ConnectWise PSA™ (formerly Manage) to begin with. Effective time tracking equals effective billing, and team members who don’t have to spend half their day logging hours can focus on what’s important.

Service activities

What is the difference between a service activity and a service ticket?
Activities, like tickets, serve the overall purpose of keeping everyone in the loop as an issue is resolved, but they’re more of a tool for sales than IT.

How do service activities work?
The single biggest differentiator between service activities and tickets is the amount of input required to create one. Sales teams have long bemoaned the long, complicated forms required to enter leads into the company’s system. Activities eliminate that hurdle.

With ConnectWise PSA, activities require minimum fields for setup—perhaps just a contact name and information to begin with—and that’s because activities are largely transient. Activities denote action items, so when one has been completed (“Make initial sales call,” for example) the salesperson may add “Follow-up meeting” as the next step, and the current activity is logged and closed.

What are the benefits of service activities?
Activities are mostly used within sales opportunities to drive the sales life cycle forward. And, just like service tickets, activities are visible to everyone involved in the opportunity. For sales managers, they increase visibility and accountability. For sales team members, they help prevent that upcoming meeting or demonstration from falling through the cracks because the seller who booked it is unavailable.

For fast-moving sales teams, having one quick way to find and update information isn’t just a time-saver—it also takes a mental load off. Everything that requires action is right there on a dashboard, with automated reminders—which is a lot more productive than searching for a sticky note that had a phone number on it. Plus, it’s a lot easier to have a single repository for information that everyone shares.

How automation further improves the process

Collecting and organizing every important piece of information about a sale, or an IT issue—really, anything that’s important to a workflow—in one place can eliminate bottlenecks, silos, and other business frustrations. Adding automation to the mix improves the process that much more.

With ConnectWise PSA, both service tickets and service activities can be automated by using recurring ticket templates that are pre-loaded with tasks, resources, and other relevant fields. Recurring meetings can be set up to populate not only individual Outlook calendars, but the group conversation about an upcoming sale. The work type, roles, and time spent can all easily be tracked for billing purposes.

Automation can also help managers keep a level of visibility into their team’s activities that doesn’t overwhelm other aspects of their jobs. If a process requires that a service ticket must be assigned a tech within one hour, for example, an automated message can alert a manager when that hasn’t been done. Essentially, it’s a “set it and forget it” capability that delivers everything a team needs right to them, right when they need it.

The bottom line? Using a helpdesk ticketing system for IT issues, service activities, and sales opportunities—and adding automation along the way—creates accountability, visibility, and eliminates the chance of hearing “I swear, my email eats things.”