Any honest Support Analyst will admit that the job has its challenges. More often than not, we must proceed in our problem solving despite being given very little information to go on, which can feel a bit like putting a puzzle together in the dark. But the scope of the challenge also makes finding the solution that much more satisfying.

In fact, troubleshooting issues can be a rewarding experience for both the analyst and the client when the process is approached thoughtfully and strategically. This article presents a brief overview of the types of tickets our Support team likes to see come through its inbox--an appreciation post, if you will. These types of tickets make the job of clearing roadblocks to reporting not only more efficient, but more fun.

#1: The Unicorn

Our absolute favorite type of ticket is the Unicorn. Unicorns gets their name from their radiant beauty and the rarity with which they cross our paths, much like the mythical creatures from our favorite fantasy movies.

Unicorns require only one response from an analyst to solve. Tickets of this variety make us feel accomplished. These offer the rare opportunity for instant gratification for both the analyst and the client in that the analyst feels they’ve assisted the client and can remove that ticket from their to-do list, and the client gets their question answered, their problem solved, and can move on with their own work.

Unicorns consist of enhancement requests, simple inquiries as to where to find links within the Support site or how to navigate the Admin Console, questions about general use of the UI, or issues that the analyst has past experience with and can provide a quick answer or workaround for. While all of these are satisfying in their own ways, the best Unicorn, according to another analyst on our team, is “a question about how to use an out-of-the-box feature in the application” because it shows us that “the product as it is designed has practical uses for our clients.”

For a ticket to be a Unicorn, the question must be well-worded and the issue clearly defined so that a disquisition is not necessary in order to glean more information. In fact, Unicorn tickets must sometimes have aspects of A+ Tickets, which come later in the list.

#2: Mr. Rogers

Another fun ticket to get is the Mr. Rogers, or the “Hello Neighbor” friendly ticket.

Analysts work with computers all day, so it is nice to feel the warmth of human contact every once in awhile. When a client makes sure to say “Hello” or “Hope you’re having a nice day,” or even includes an emoji or pop culture reference in a ticket, the conversation feels like just that: a conversation between two Human Beings™ trying to figure out a problem as opposed to the curt, bare-bones messages that are typed as if a computer is on the receiving end.

A “May the force be with you” slipped into the end of a ticket will give the analyst a much needed chuckle.

#3: A+ Student

The A+ Student Ticket is the kind where we can tell someone did their homework.

Remember in math class when the teacher would demand we “show our work” to receive full credit? This same principle applies to A+ tickets.

This type of ticket tends to come from long-time clients, Support Alumni, and detail-oriented clients who want to resolve their issue as quickly as possible and know the best way of doing so is by providing all of the necessary, and maybe even unnecessary, data that is available upfront.

For us, A+ tickets contain clearly spelled out Steps to Replicate the error or behavior, the version, browser, and other environmental information (such as whether or not they are launching through a .NET, SOAP, or REST API or just using the UI), and most importantly, the client has “shown their work.” The type of “work” analysts like to see from clients consists of details about what troubleshooting they have already done (if they have done any) before coming to us for assistance and what the results of those tests were. Any screenshots, error messages, or documents that may develop our understanding of the issue are also part of that client-side work.

Providing this quantity and quality of information helps us sidestep redundant or inconsequential tests, eliminate additional quid pro quo questioning about the issue at hand, and allows us to get to the real meat of the issue with minimal delay, which is why we put a big, red A+ in permanent marker on tickets like these.

#4: PSA

On the flip side of the A+ Student is the PSA ticket, in which clients who are power users or have a QA mindset end up teaching us analysts a thing or two. These types of users have a high level of familiarity with either the product itself or software in general, or both, and as a result have a wealth of knowledge to share with analysts.

Here at Exago, we have a few users (who we love) who submit tickets only to quickly reply with a, “Nevermind, you can close this ticket. I found my own workaround,” and then proceed to explain in detail their workaround so that we can use it ourselves and share it with other clients. They are also quick to spot bugs and point them out in a friendly, “just so you know, this is happening,” type of way (hence the moniker Public Service Announcement).

PSA tickets, and the clients who submit them, are one of the benefits of being a B2B company; working in software themselves, clients know that occasional bugs are the death-and-taxes of the industry, and their matter-of-fact way of bringing them to our attention makes both of our jobs easier and the product better.

#5: InstaDoc

The final ticket in this appreciation post is the InstaDoc ticket. This is another type of ticket in which clients help to make our job and our product better.

Every once in awhile a client, often new to the product, will ask a question that prompts a thorough and pertinent response and makes us ask, “Why isn’t there a doc for that?” We can then use our response to the client as a foundation on which to build an internal document outlining standards and practices or an external-facing article for our Support Center explaining that area of the application.

Even though this kind of inquiry initially causes more work, it makes our lives easier in the long run. When the same question that prompted the document comes from a different client at a later date, the ticket is an easy solve; we simply point them to the documentation that provides them with all of the information they need.

These may be queries about our general policies for applying and formatting Culture Settings throughout the application, how to use a certain feature in the UI, or what legacy browsers are still supported, to name just a few examples. Interactions of this nature also remind us that, as product specialists, things that may seem like obvious, common knowledge to us may actually be confusing or unclear to clients or end-users.

The troubleshooting process support entails can be a bumpy road to travel, and it is tickets like these that help make the journey a bit smoother. So thank you to any and all clients reading this who have submitted tickets that fit into the five categories mentioned here. May the force be with you.