Ticketing systems solve your support teams’ biggest problems… right? After all, they claim to be better than email support, to automate workflows, and to make your team more productive.
But when it comes to delivering on these promises, most traditional systems fall short. In this post, I’ll take a look at a few of the reasons why and how those problems have inspired what we’re doing here at atSpoke.
The promise of traditional ticketing systems
When you’re migrating away from email support, a ticketing system seems like an ideal solution:
- It moves all your requests into a separate, single queue. Just open the system to see all the requests you’re working on.
- It makes it easier to identify important requests. You have a lot of work. And while some of it is critical, most isn’t. A ticketing system make it easier to prioritize.
- It’s collaborative. Most ticketing systems come with knowledge base tools and let multiple-person support teams claim or assign work, reducing the likelihood that your team wastes time working on requests that have already been solved.
- It builds reports for you. Need to know how many requests your team is handling? With a ticketing system, you can abandon manual calculations. Just pull a report.
Traditional ticketing systems promise to deliver all of these benefits, and more. But if you want to know what support professionals really
think about the systems they use at work, try scrolling through r/sysadmin
What you’ll find: support teams still struggle with eight major issues after adopting a traditional ticketing system.
Where things go wrong
#1: They’re too complicated
Traditional ticketing systems are monoliths. They’re massive, rigid, and formidable.
Another way to describe it comes from u/mintpepper
“I see them like DVD remotes: there are 80 buttons, you only use four of them, and those four are difficult to find.”
They’re designed to do everything
. And while the ability to do everything might sound excellent in theory, in practice, it makes doing anything—even simple tasks—much more complicated.
#2: They’re slow
A few months ago, someone asked r/sysadmin users to describe their perfect ticketing system
. The most frequent responses were related to speed:
- “I just want one that is not slow.” (u/t0ny7)
- “Light speed, ultra-fast, responsive interface that never makes me wait.” (u/OathOfFeanor)
- “High performance, zero waiting.” (u/pdp10)
In nearly every part of life, bigger means slower. It’s why you never see a sumo wrestler running track in the Olympics.
The more ticketing systems do, the more they lag. And that lag is more than just an annoyance. It makes using the system a burden for everyone involved.
#3: They’re too customizable
Most traditional ticketing systems provide users with the ability to create an infinite number of rules for handling tickets.
And while a few rules are easy to manage, what usually happens is that teams create customized rules and workflows for everything
, leading to what u/ResidentCollar
calls an “unmanageable mess of spaghetti workflows.”
Instead, support teams crave something simpler
: “A ticketing system only needs a few states for tickets, and maybe a couple branches in a workflow.”
#4: They’re hard to find and use
Traditional ticketing systems are designed to do everything support teams could ever need them to do. But in the process of building complex rules and detailed intake forms, submitting a request gets more and more confusing.
There are entire threads in r/sysadmin
dedicated solely to discussing strategies for getting coworkers to actually use a ticketing system. But the bottom line is that you shouldn’t have to con your coworkers into using your system.
First, instead of letting people raise tickets in the systems they already have open—tools like Slack—traditional ticketing systems make people jump through hoops to find an intake form for a system they probably only need once or twice a month.
Second, even when they find it, the form itself is baffling. Let’s say your monitor won’t turn on. What’s the priority? What’s the severity? Endless fields mean more cognitive overhead
for the end user, making them less likely to want to file a ticket.
When the process of making a request feels like a burden, the people you support won’t use it. Instead, they’ll send an email, call you, or stop by your desk.
#5: They don’t play well with others
Traditional ticketing systems are niche products. There’s a system for internal IT support, one for external support, and one for logging production issues. Then there’s an intranet for HR, a portal for payroll, and of course, Slack for chat.
When you’ve adopted so many tools that you need a flowchart explaining which system to use for different scenarios, you’re suffering from the app proliferation problem. And it’s a problem that a niche, department-specific ticketing system contributes to. Take it from u/WoodChucking
“We have most of our users trained on the ticketing system. Recently, we have a dev team who can’t or won’t wrap their heads around it… [T]hey keep telling us ‘there is a ticket for the task in Jira,’ and they send us that number. We don’t have access to their Jira, and for the last decade IT has had our own ticketing system.”
#6: They’re impersonal
Imagine you’re at work finishing an important presentation that you have to give in an hour. Your computer freezes. You panic. You raise a ticket for support and get an email saying, “We’ll look into this and get back to you within 24 hours.”
It’s an impersonal response to what your coworkers believe are urgent problems, and it’s a problem perpetuated by traditional ticketing systems. As one Reddit user says
“A ticket system introduces a layer between the customer and the engineer and impedes direct communication…. [A] customer will always prefer to talk to a human being who understands and sympathizes over a computer system that is cold and doesn’t provide immediate detailed feedback.”
#7: They require action on every request
A traditional ticketing system creates a workflow that allows your support team to get swamped with repetitive requests. Someone forgot their password? Send them the link to reset it. Printer not printing? Send the troubleshooting instructions. Computer behaving badly? Restart it.
Have your best and brightest work on these types of issues for long enough, and they’ll turn to Reddit to vent like u/justaverage
“I’m being paid a ton of money to tell people to restart their computers, and it is killing me.”
Beyond being a poor use of employees’ time, responding to repetitive requests increases job dissatisfaction. In fact, boredom is a key contributor to job dissatisfaction in IT
#8: They create delays
The traditional ticketing system solution to this problem has been to add a knowledge base feature. Then, when tickets come in, support team members can just search the knowledge base, find a canned response, insert it, and move along with their day.
But little bits of time add up. According to u/Lexluethar
“It just wasn’t intuitive, and searching in the knowledge base sucked. I realize you can get really complex with things, but we just needed what the issue was, category, and the resolution. Their knowledge base template required way more input, and you couldn’t search all the fields.”
With a traditional ticketing system, employees get interrupted by repetitive questions and have to manually respond to each. This takes their attention away from bigger projects with broader impacts. Plus, on the other end of every ticket, there’s someone whose work may be blocked until they get an answer.
How atSpoke solves these problems
Every day at every company, employees need help with something. Maybe they need to add a new baby to their health insurance. Maybe they need access to specialized software to do their work. Maybe they just need to report that a toilet in the bathroom is overflowing. Or maybe they’re brand new and need help with basic things like finding the cafeteria or break room.
When the other founders of atSpoke and I joined Google, we realized how big of a problem these things are for employees. When we had questions, not only did we not know where to go for answers, we didn’t even know who to ask to point us in the right direction.
Wouldn’t it be better
, we thought, if there was a single place for employees to get answers to their questions and request services? Wouldn’t it be better if there was a tool that the entire company could use to capture and share knowledge and manage support requests?
With that idea in mind, we started researching existing solutions. What we found was that most companies were using traditional ticketing systems—and most companies felt these were imperfect solutions with all of the problems we discussed above.
So we set out to build something better. And we used those problems to inform how we did it.
A simple philosophy
It’s hard to get rid of the perspective that “more is better.” But sometimes more, is just “more in the way,” So, we’ve designed atSpoke to give you the tools you really need—nothing more, nothing less.
The two concepts go hand-in-hand. By leveraging AI, we’re able to cut down on the amount of user interface—making the system more approachable to everyone.
- Simpler. atSpoke strips away the lengthy forms and complex navigation, and replaces them with a lightweight inbox for you and your team to manage requests. This intuitive design extends across our web app to our Slack and email experiences.
- Smarter. atSpoke uses newer technologies like AI and machine learning, instead of clunky rules engines and spaghetti workflows. It starts with triaging and assigning requests, and gets smarter with each interaction.
Something people actually want to use
Ticketing systems don’t work unless employees use them. And nagging your coworkers to file a ticket can be a pain to everyone involved.
Instead of designing with only the admins in mind, we designed atSpoke for both team members and employees:
- No more silos—atSpoke is for your whole company. Your coworkers no longer need to wonder who to ask their questions or where to go to raise a support ticket. The answer is always atSpoke. It’s a one-stop shop.
- Employees can ask from anywhere. atSpoke was created from the beginning with existing communication channels like Slack, email and SMS in mind. We’re particularly proud of our rich Slack experience, where our friendly chatbot, rich notifications and app actions allow requesters and admins to respond quickly.
- Start with a conversation. Using atSpoke is as simple as asking a coworker a question, versus navigating a long set of dropdowns. And since the whole company uses it, it’s an interface everyone is already comfortable with.
Delivering a tool that’s designed to boost everyone’s productivity
Nobody likes feeling like a human search engine. Looking up answers which are readily available is time consuming and, well, boring.
atSpoke isn’t just a ticketing system. It comes with a deeply integrated knowledge base that learns as you use it, understands natural language, and supplies answers automatically.
- It answers simple questions on its own. atSpoke’s knowledge base provides answers automatically. Up to 50% of requests are resolved automatically by atSpoke, giving team members more time to focus on higher impact projects and more face-to-face interactions.
- It triages so you don’t have to. Why do you need to craft and maintain rules in your system so it knows that network issues are assigned to IT? atSpoke uses AI to learn these things automatically, from how you work with tickets.
Simpler tools for happier, more productive workplaces
At atSpoke, we don’t just want to supply you with a better tool for managing knowledge and requests. We want to help you build a better workplace: one where employees have access to the information they need to stay productive, one where support teams—the unsung champions of the office—are freed up to focus on more engaging, impactful work.
Traditional ticketing tools aren’t built to deliver these solutions. They’re designed to create workflows—to be better than providing support over email. Unfortunately, being better than email isn’t enough.
We’re trying to fix the problems with traditional ticketing systems. What we’re learning, though, is that the best solution isn’t just another ticketing system. It’s a full-service solution that helps support teams not only track their requests, but also provides an amazing experience to everyone in the company.
That is our guidepost for what we’ve built so far, and what we plan to continue building in the future.
Resolve tickets 5x faster with atSpoke