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Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Hoarding tickets and the 4:30 drop

A couple of days ago, I told a story about a greedy account manager. Part of that story included a part where some tech "closed the wrong ticket". There's yet another evil pattern here which crops up in the world of tech support.

By the time that event happened, I had created a bunch of tools which would show me exactly what a given tech had been doing with their tickets. I used it to take a look at what this guy had been doing at the time the "wrong ticket" thing happened.

He had ten open tickets.

Yep, at the point where he twiddled the status on the wrong one, he was juggling nine others. This is abusive showboating, and here's what happens.

A tech comes in at the beginning of a shift and scopes out the queue. Then, instead of picking an important ticket and doing it, he marks a bunch of them and assigns them to himself. This way he can be assured of plenty of simple things to do throughout the course of the day. It also means he looks very busy at a glance, since he always has something assigned to him!

In reality, those tickets are just sitting there untouched and unloved. If they were still unassigned, someone else would pick them up. Instead, they stay there assigned to this one person with no change.

With all of this going on, it's not surprising that he changed the status on the wrong one. It was inevitable.

The badness doesn't stop there. These guys who would snag all of these tickets and then hang onto them would never get all of them done. So, around 4:30 or so every afternoon, there would be this mass dumping of tickets back into the queue as they unassigned them. In the span of about ten minutes, the unassigned view would go from just a couple to being several pages of tickets. This happened every day.

As someone who used to work second shift, I noticed this early on and hated it. We would arrive and have little to do since all of the tickets were assigned. We'd just work the new ones which popped up. Then, these guys would do their mass dumps and then also leave for the day.

Suddenly, all of these tickets which had not seen any attention all day long would show up on our radar, and they were angry. Since they had sat idle for so long, they showed up as red in the queue listing, and the customers involved were none too happy either. Those of us on second shift now had to tear through the list and clean it up as quickly as possible.

Did I mention that we had to do this at a time when first shift was gone, so all of the calls started rolling to us? Every weeknight from about 5 to around 8, we would be slammed. It was only when the phones let up that we could start working on the backlog of tickets they had left for us.

By way of comparison, if they hadn't been hoarding tickets, someone else could have grabbed it and handled it while it was still a simple situation. Instead, by letting it age, it made things far worse.

Unlike wine, support tickets only get worse as they get older.