IT tickets are an integral element of any organization’s IT administration. They serve as a record of all the issues detected and reported in a network and its systems. Being able to manage and organize these tickets is key to providing support for your customers, and to keeping track of the work your IT technicians have done and still have left to do. To manage IT tickets effectively, you need a reliable ticketing system and a good understanding of what an IT ticketing system can do. In this article, I’ll explain what features to look for in a ticketing system and why as well as what tools are currently available on the market today to help.
Luckily, there are several great products on the market to fill your ticket system needs. I’ll start with the best free ticketing tools available and then get into the best paid ones. While all these tools are well designed and effective at what they do, it’s important to keep in mind what exactly your business’s needs are when deciding which to use. While free ticketing systems can be a good option in some circumstances, they may not have all the features you need and are included in the best paid ticketing solutions I’ll also cover in this guide.
What Is an IT Ticketing System?
An IT ticketing system is a software solution for organizing the service requests your company receives so you can track them effectively. In essence, it lets you monitor a ticket from its creation all the way through its resolution, so you can ensure the issue is being resolved in a timely fashion and the right people are addressing it.
While there are nuances in what exactly different IT ticket systems do—especially when you compare a free ticketing system to a paid one—they all generally work in the same way. The first thing the system does whenever a service request is submitted is turn the request into a ticket. Free ticketing software will usually only be able to create tickets from certain types of requests. Paid software, on the other hand, can generally create tickets from multiple sources. The best software solutions can create tickets from any source, including email, phone, and even social media request.
Once tickets have been created, a ticketing system will typically engage in some form of categorization and organization of the tickets. Again, the degree of this will likely vary between paid and free web-based ticketing systems. Some of the categorizations used for organizing tickets are the priority of the issue, the team it impacts, and the source of the ticket. This allows the system to assign tickets more accurately. This means you’re able to use your resources more efficiently, since IT technicians will only receive the tickets they’re expected to deal with. Otherwise, technicians can be bothered by ticket noise, and may even be given tickets they’re not best qualified to address.
After the tickets have been assigned, the ticket tracking process begins. This involves tracking the ticket during every stage of its lifespan and, with the best ticketing systems, providing updates to the user who submitted it on the status of their service request.
All of this comes together to help an organization save money, retain customers and keep them happy, reduce human error, and stay on top of service-level agreement (SLA) deadlines. In short, an IT ticketing system, free or paid, simplifies the ticket resolution process for an organization and for its customers.
Best Free Ticketing Systems
Free ticketing systems are a great choice for businesses starting out or for generally small businesses. They may not come with all the benefits of paid software options, but they can still help with managing tickets and communicating with customers. If you’re not ready to invest in a premium solution, don’t wait. Put a free tool in place and be prepared to move to a paid solution as you scale and your needs grow.
SolarWinds® Web Help Desk (WHD) Free Edition is powerful free ticketing software. It empowers you to manage your IT tickets by providing a single, intuitive, web-based interface from which you can track the entire lifecycles of your tickets. By letting you easily visualize all your tickets and link multiple incidents to a single problem, the free tool simplifies ticket management and lets you solve more tickets, faster.
This free ticketing tool goes above and beyond the other free solutions on the market by providing broad-reaching ticket management as well as general incident and problem management. This includes automated ticket routing and assignment based around your needs. That means your IT technicians will be able to focus their efforts on the tickets most relevant to their areas of expertise, without being distracted by the noise of irrelevant tickets. Because Web Help Desk Free lets you track both technician performance and ticket status, you can gain comprehensive insights into the effectiveness of your help desk. This allows you to make adjustments as needed to ensure you’re providing the highest-quality service for your customers.
Other great features of the free version of Web Help Desk include benefits for both you and your end users. One is it gives users access to a powerful, built-in, shared knowledge base. This database contains the answers to many common questions, so users can resolve straightforward issues on their own. Not only does this reduce frustration for users, it also reduces the number of inbound service requests your team is receiving, allowing them to give greater attention to the tickets requiring their help. Other great features of this ticketing system include SLA tracking and management.
The free version of Web Help Desk is a great choice for small businesses trying to take care of the fundamentals of ticket management. Unlike some other free options, it is a high-quality product in its own right. However, if you are a medium or large business, you will likely need to upgrade to the paid edition, reviewed in the next section. You can download for free here.
Freshdesk’s free ticketing system is a great choice for small businesses or startups not wanting to invest in a full product yet. It can help you get set up for service ticketing with basic services until you are ready to scale up. The free software includes ticket creation capabilities both from email and from Facebook and Twitter. It’s designed to help businesses manage customer conversations across multiple channels with a single tool.
The “freemium” plan, as Freshdesk calls it, offers a limitless number of agent seats, in addition to other features designed to help small businesses provide the best possible experience for their customers. The system lets you prioritize customer conversations and assign them to the correct agents and teams, who can communicate directly on the ticket interface. It also lets you view all the requests raised by each individual customer while you’re working, so you have a complete picture when trying to assist them.
Like other free products, this free ticketing system comes with access to a knowledge base aimed at helping users solve their own issues without creating more tickets for your IT technicians. It’s easy to learn and use. However, some people complain it doesn’t include enough options for customization. Some users also note it does a poor job of identifying spam messages.
Zoho’s free ticketing system is a great choice for small businesses and startups. It integrates easily with existing applications, so you can provide the best possible service to your customers. It creates tickets based on email and other web form service requests and then offers ticket and agent tracking, allowing you to monitor your tickets throughout their lifespans. It lets you tag colleagues in tickets, so you can communicate across departments, and locations, so you can ensure people aren’t duplicating work or wasting their efforts.
Zoho Desk contextualizes tickets, showing you the customers’ full interaction histories and the timelines of their tickets. And, like other free ticketing tools, it gives your customers access to a shared knowledge base, so they can work to solve their own straightforward problems without needing to create new service tickets. It also includes access to a community forum where users can discuss and troubleshoot problems.
If you choose Zoho as your free ticketing system, you should consider the fact that some users complain it has a serious learning curve. The ticketing interface is somewhat difficult to navigate, and it takes a bit of time to customize and configure the included features to suit your needs. However, if you’re willing to put this time in, then it’s well worth considering.
Best Paid Ticketing Systems
Though there are many high-quality free ticketing systems on the market, they’re ultimately far weaker than the paid systems. If you have a medium-sized or large business, the free tools are unlikely to be sufficient. While there are many great paid tools available, these are the ones I consider to be the best available.
The paid version of SolarWinds Web Help Desk comes with all of the great features the free version includes, in addition to an array of additional features to elevate your ticketing and help desk operations to the next level. This help desk software is designed to minimize the amount of time your IT technicians need to spend creating, routing, and escalating tickets by hand. By automating the process, it lets your technicians focus their energy on what matters the most—resolving those tickets effectively and efficiently.
WHD provides a full suite of services to elevate your operations. The tool’s automation capabilities extend beyond ticketing to asset discovery and management, SLA management, purchase order management, parts and inventory management, billing management, and help desk task automation. With in-depth actionable insights into your asset management and entire ticketing system, it lets you deliver remarkably consistent results to your customers.
SolarWinds WHD comes with a free 14-day trial.
Service Desk is an IT service management solution designed to help you successfully manage your employee services. It empowers support teams to consistently collect, address, and deliver services within your organization. With Service Desk, you can streamline and organize all the tickets and service requests you are receiving in one place, no matter where they come from. The tool handles all your tickets, including from phone calls, email, a customized Service Portal, and even walkups. It also lets you build rules to accelerate the process of routing tickets to the right teams and individuals. This means fewer ticket bottlenecks and faster resolution of tickets and requests.
Service Desk is a great tool to use if you value the experience your users have. It gives users complete transparency into the status of their requests and tickets. They’re able to comment on their tickets and can even participate in the process of resolving their issues by performing tasks and approvals related to the requests.
Service Desk is designed to go far beyond ticketing. It lets you set automation rules for ticket routing, service approvals, asset management, problem management, change management, and more. The software also gives you access to a shared knowledge base where you can document and publish best practices and common processes, so users can solve more of their problems themselves, leaving your technicians free to focus their energy on more complex issues.
SolarWinds Service Desk comes with a free 30-day trial.
HappyFox help desk software is an all-in-one ticketing system providing quality, fast support for your employees. With a customizable support system, you can manage tickets no matter their origin. This system comes with clear views to help your employees to visualize and understand their current workloads. In its premium version, HappyFox allows you to link your tickets to relevant assets, giving you the ability to better manage both.
The help desk software comes with a powerful smart-rules engine allowing you to outsource redundant and complex workflows, so you can focus on the projects requiring technician input. For the tickets technicians need to work on directly, it lets you tailor the support ticket system to your liking. That means you can create your own workflows and custom fields to personalize the support experience. To improve your ticketing system even further, you can use the support process metrics the tool collects to guide your customizations.
Though HappyFox can be a great tool for ticketing, keep in mind the lower-level price tiers don’t give you many features. Unless you’re willing to pay for the highest levels, you might want to consider the other tools on this list. Some users also complain it can be somewhat difficult to set up.
HappyFox comes with a free demo.
How to Choose a Ticketing System
Having an effective help desk ticketing system is essential when it comes to managing service tickets submitted by customers, employees, or both. Without an effective system, service tickets can easily get lost or forgotten, resulting in frustrated end users and potentially even jeopardizing a company’s reputation. That’s why it’s important for any company, no matter how small or how new, to find the software best suited to its needs.
Luckily, there are many great free ticketing systems available online. These are useful if your company is small or when it’s first starting out. Once you scale up, though, it’s important you scale up your ticketing software as well. For an affordable, feature-rich ticketing system, I recommend starting with a solution like SolarWinds Web Help Desk.