It’s Time to Retire The “Ticket”


Once upon a time, you needed to physically go stand in a line to get help. You’d take a Ticket and queue until the customer service team could resolve your issue. The customer would then leave with their patched up fax machine, and you’d never see them again.

Thankfully, the Internet arrived and we were able to shift these conversations over to email. We no longer needed tickets to hold our place in line. We could start a conversation on Monday and end it on Friday. We could go back and forth without having to take up a new Ticket each time.

So why does the Ticket still stubbornly remain in modern help desk vocabulary? Why do we still refer to customer interactions as tickets? Because no one has suggested anything better. It remains with us as a relic of the past, even as the one-off transactions that tickets represent no longer have a place among the ideals of customer success.

We’re all focused on developing relationships with customers, building long-term value, breaking down department silos — where exactly do tickets fit into that? The entire organisation is tasked with making the path to success as frictionless as possible, yet your help desk is pigeonholing issues into a single ticket within a single department?

The terms we use matter just as much as tools. We can’t think of customers in terms of tickets anymore – it’s no longer useful in a world of customer success that revolves around engagement, advocacy and retention.

Here’s why I think we need to throw out the word “Ticket” and start thinking of them as customer conversations:

Tickets are disposable

When you start a live chat, chances are high that the support team opens a Ticket behind the scenes, assign it a number and eventually mark it as “closed.”

Tickets are meant to work just like that. They are ‘Admit One.’ They represent a transaction that has no value once complete. After one use, we throw them away, never to be seen again.

In the world of relationship focused customer support, is this really the message you want to share with your customer?

Tickets are 1 to 1

Tickets as we know them today allow one customer to talk to one support rep. What if more people need to get involved? Then the rep hands off the ticket and the customer to a different department where they have to start the story all over again. Ouch.

Can we really make our customer interaction frictionless with so much friction around?

It’s still difficult to collaborate on a Ticket, which is especially poor timing. Customer success today needs to come from more than one person at a company.

It’s necessary to reach out across teams and people to resolve complex issues effectively.

The best support today needs to be unified and able to activate resources across departments to get the right answer to the right customer.

Tickets have no context

It’s time to retire the Ticket, and start talking like the customer success pros we are.

The experiences our customers have prior to contacting support matter. The steps they take to contact support matter. Their end goal matters. Their journey often starts before they ever open a ticket. But the Ticket can’t tell us any of that. The Ticket doesn’t give us context about the customer journey.

As a customer-obsessed organisation, you need to be equipped with a full view of the customer life cycle to have all the information you need to help customers be successful with your product. No series of tickets can help you do that.

Customer issues don’t exist in a bubble – and neither should tickets. Let’s get Ticket out of our vocabulary, and start seeing customers as who they really are: humans.

Tweet it:

New Call-to-action

Don't miss our latest success secrets

Want the best customer support and startup content delivered straight to your inbox?

About the author
Sarah Chambers

Yoga teacher, self-diagnosed Twitter junkie, and recent import to London via Vancouver. Sarah is passionate about keeping customers loyal through amazing customer service.

  • Alton Cole

    I appreciate the sentiment of this post, but I am having a hard time understanding where this is leading. Is this part of a series? There is no replacement term offered. As a manager in support, I understand that tickets are not the representation of my customers, they are representations of interactions, with opportunities and failures. In either case, they are a quantifiable and referential resource to the customer and supporting organization. I liken this article to Ford saying “Lets get rid of the tire.”

    • Tim Anderson

      I agree, I saw this and figured I’d click through to read this morning but I’m not really finding the replacement. Is there a new feature coming to Kayako to help usher this change? The platform is still ticket based.

      • Matt Picone

        Yes. Let’s segue to next-gen Kayako features where ticket are more transparent within a customer-oriented framework. Ideas: Integrate the customer’s ticket history into the main ticket page so it isn’t hidden behind a tab (AJAX or the like). Ensure that if the same customer has multiple simultaneous open tickets they are clearly visible to anyone viewing any one of them, etc. Interesting ideas must be out there, but there may be bigger fish to fry in the Kayako model.

        • Excellent ideas Matt. We’ve got several of those in the works – the priority is helping you creating a truly complete picture of your customer (because the more understanding and context we have at the point of contact with a customer, the better we can help them!)

    • > I liken this article to Ford saying “Lets get rid of the tire.”

      I like that 🙂 Yeah, we’re yet to follow up with the hover board technology.

      This is very much a thinking-out-loud piece and we’ll certainly be following up on. The idea of a support ticket seems to be an increasingly alien concept in the 21st century… but I suppose that is to be expected, since the idea of communicating with customers through ‘tickets’ as we know them today was a 1980s IT service management concept! Stay tuned and thank you for sharing your thoughts!

      • Matt Picone

        I will say, as a customer, I sometimes hate hearing the word ticket. It makes me feel as if I wouldn’t matter or can’t be handled without one. You’ll never hear a support agent at finer companies use this word. “Support Case” does seem less nerdy.

      • Matt Picone

        We decided that support case is a bit warmer. Time-consuming to make this change globally in Kayako at this point I think…

    • Matt Picone

      I totally agree. I was looking for “NEXT PAGE”…

  • Dan Steinman

    It’s true that the “ticket” has no real place in the Customer Success world. Without a Customer Success solution though, it’s kind of the only game in town. But that’s exactly why there’s now a plethora of CSM solutions that think about this in non-ticket ways – Gainsight, Totango, Preact, Amity, Bluenose, Frontleaf, Scout, etc. This highlights something that is really important and that is the separation of Customer Success and Customer Support. In most ways, they are not related, the are opposites. Reactive vs. proactive, case-oriented vs. success-oriented, cost-center vs. revenue-driver, etc. It’s one of the reasons that Customer Success won’t (can’t?) work if it’s part of Customer Support. The good news is that the new thinking, as built into the aforementioned products, takes a very different approach to Customer Success.

    • (re-post from my reply to you on LinkedIn, for the benefit of readers here!)

      Dan, I agree. CSM software certainly does a better job of tracking ongoing relationships with our customers than help desks. At Kayako, we use Totango and really love it.

      But about all the rest, I completely disagree. Separating support and success with a hard and fast line is just creating more silos – and our organizations are already fighting enough battles to work together better. Success and support are complimentary. In fact, many companies call their support teams success teams. If your companies entire goal, EVERY SINGLE PERSON’S GOAL, isn’t to proactively make the customer successful, you’re doing it all wrong.

      “They are not only not related but are opposite in most important ways – reactive vs. proactive, case-oriented vs. success-oriented, cost center vs. revenue driver, etc.”

      It sounds like you’re pushing all the great activities into your success team, and the shitty, hard work onto support. This isn’t the way life works anymore. Account Management doesn’t get the party only to give support the hangover. If you truly believe your support is a cost center… fire them now. See how many customers you have around tomorrow. See how many referrals you receive tomorrow.

      This article is honestly more of a metaphor – don’t take it too literally! – meant to start a discussion around the context needed to provide great customer experiences. A one and done ticket won’t do it anymore. I’m happy that conversation is happening!

  • Pingback: Customer success | Andrew Spittle()

  • Pingback: It’s Time to Retire the Help Desk. Here’s How We’re Doing It. | Kayako Blog()

Related articles
knowledge base article style guideCustomer experience

The Secret to a Helpful Help Center Isn't What You'd Think

brief history of customer serviceCustomer experience

The History of Customer Service: Ticket Troubleshooting to Proactive and Personal