Forums/Community/Support tips & notes

Open vs. pending tickets and why you should care

Matthew Latkiewicz
posted this on April 22, 2010 09:48

One of the major benefits to using an online customer support software to handle your customer interactions is that unlike an email inbox, the interactions in a ticketing system have a defined end-point: you mark a ticket solved.  This closed loop process is important for both your company and your customers; it puts you both on the same page - an agreement that the issue or question has been resolved and ultimately closed.

But of course, there are a few steps between a customer sending a ticket and you marking it solved.  To handle these various stages, all Zendesk tickets can be in one of four states (or, as you'll see on all Zendesk tickets, four statuses): New, Open, Pending, or Solved.  New and Solved might be self-explanatory -- they mark the beginning of the interaction and the end -- but what about Open and Pending? By understanding and making use of these statuses, you can stay on top of your support workload and bring any outstanding tickets to solved in an efficient manner.

Zendesk Ticket Status can be manually set within each ticket via the Status Dropdown.

Status1

Within Zendesk, an Open ticket is defined as a ticket assigned to an agent. Open tickets are the heart of your support workload -- they indicate those issues that you're working on. Once a ticket's status has been changed from New, it can never be set back to New.

Where this begins to be important is when you set up Views, Triggers, and Automations based on a ticket's status.  It is probably useful, for instance, to see a grouping of all your Open tickets; all your tickets that need to be solved.

But, of course, oftentimes to solve a ticket, you need to collect more information from the customer, e.g. you need the specific text of the error that they are seeing, or you need their account number, etc.  So you write them back.  In those cases, you want to be able to move the ticket off the list of things that need your attention but at the same time not forget about it.  This is why the "Pending" status is so useful; it's like saying: "This ticket is not yet solved but I'm waiting on something before I can work on it further."

To see how this state might be useful, let's take a look at how you could set up a View that shows you all your unsolved tickets but groups them according to whether they are Open or Pending.  (Views are collections of tickets that you can customize according to your support workflow.)

To set up a new View, go to the Views section of the Manage tab.  Click on "Add View" in the upper right. We'll keep this simple and just collect all our tickets that are not solved, or in this case "Less than Solved"

Pending2

Next, we'll set the Format Options to display by Table, and then choose to Group the tickets by Status

Pending3-1

Now, when we update and return to this view, we'll see our tickets grouped according to whether they are New, Open, or Pending.  This way, we can see those tickets where we've written back to the customer for more information but they are separate from those that require our active attention.

Pending4

When our customer replies to us with the information we requested -- the error message or account info -- Zendesk will automatically change the status from Pending to Open.  So the next time we look at our "All Unsolved Tickets" view, then, that ticket will appear in our Open list, and hopefully closer on its way to Solved!

 

Comments

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Chris K
animoto

One thing I have noticed with pending tickets is that the user often does not respond, I'm wondering what the best practice to deal with these tickets are since I don't like seeing a 4-digit ticket backlog!

I wanted to create an automation to change the status of these pending tickets but it didn't seem to let me? I was thinking either set them to Solved, under the assumption the user the user managed to solve their problem, or to Open so that it goes back on an agents radar and they can make the call on wether to follow up or close it.

June 17, 2010 06:51
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Matthew Latkiewicz
Zendesk

Hi there Chris - 

Often, I find best practice in that case is to alert the person that you are closing the ticket, and remind them that they can reply and re-open it if they still have questions.

You should be able to set an automation to do that. What sort of error/notification are you getting when you try and create it.  Here is a sample one that should work:

Screen_shot_2010-06-17_at_1.59.38_PM.png

Let me know if that is still not working for you.

June 17, 2010 11:02
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Sarah Manley

What about the closed status - was that not available when this was written? Do you recommend still setting to pending when you need more info or to set to solved?

May 31, 2011 17:04
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Railer Freire
Dear Matthew, I would like to know if when the SLA stops counting when I change a ticket status to Pending. Thank you. Railer
August 17, 2011 13:35
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jerlin
One way to work around this until then is to utilize a custom boolean field, a checkbox, and label it On Hold. http://www.labortimetracker.com/features.cfm
August 23, 2011 02:55
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Matthew Latkiewicz
Zendesk

HI there @Railer, sorry for the delayed reply - SLA counting does not currently stop when a ticket is marked pending.

August 23, 2011 10:53
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Mail

I can't think of a situation where I want the status of a ticket to remain open - instead of pending - after I've responded. Is there a way to have the status set to pending by default? Now I have to change the status manually from open to pending for each ticket I handle, and that gets a bit annoying.

September 24, 2011 03:23
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Matthew Latkiewicz
Zendesk

Hey there @Mail, you can do this - set a ticket from open to pending automatically upon responding - through a Trigger.  Triggers are explained in this Zendesk User Guide Article: https://support.zendesk.com/entries/20011606-streamlining-workflow-....

Essentially, you will set up a rule that says: whenever I respond to a ticket change the ticket status.  Should work well.

September 27, 2011 09:21
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Jakub Glodek
Zendesk

Hi @Mail, in this case you can create a trigger that states that any ticket that you update is automatically changed to pending.  For more information on triggers, please take a look at this link:

https://support.zendesk.com/entries/20011606-streamlining-workflow-...

September 27, 2011 09:22
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Sean G
othelpme

@Matthew and @Jakub - I'm looking into implementing your suggestion about creating a trigger to automatically set an open ticket to pending when an agent responds to it.

Would it make sense to make another trigger so that when the person does respond, it moves the ticket back to open? I think this would help the agents see what's been responded to.

September 28, 2011 09:49
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Matthew Latkiewicz
Zendesk

Actually @sean, Zendesk will automatically reopen any ticket when the requester responds - it's like a built in trigger.  So you should be covered there.  Let us know if we can help further.

September 28, 2011 12:24
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Sean G
othelpme

@Matthew, I'm taking a stab at creating this trigger to automatically set an open ticket to pending when an agent responds to it - I think I have it correct, the automation I have attached does switch the ticket to pending when the agent replies, but when a user does reply to the pending issue, the ticket still remains as pending and not open.

Could it be something with the trigger itself?

 

 

September 28, 2011 13:37
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Matthew Latkiewicz
Zendesk

Ah, yes. I think what is happening is that the trigger is firing both when an agent responds and also when an end-user responds - so that it does open, but then immediately gets set to pending again.  Give the attached scenario a try - we are basically isolating the conditions to say: only change the status when the the update is being made by an agent when a ticket is less than solved.

September 29, 2011 14:17
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Sean G
othelpme

@Matthew - That did it! Thanks for the help, I really appreciate it.

September 29, 2011 21:20
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Arnaud de Theux
Zendesk

Does a pending ticket "impact" the reporting like an opened ticket does? Basically, for the Time To Resolve for example, is a pending ticket counted or not?

Thanks!

February 14, 2012 05:33
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Matthew Latkiewicz
Zendesk

Hey there @arnaud

Good question - "Time to Resolve" does count pending (it is the big t Total time taken to resolve a ticket) - but other metrics, like "Requester Wait Time" do not include it.  I asked our Technical Support Adminstrator, and she put it this way: "I find it's helpful to balnce both "Time to Resolve' and "Requester wait time" in a report. Requester wait time omits the time spent in pending - it's just the time in Open/New".

That make sense?

February 15, 2012 17:20
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Arnaud de Theux
Zendesk

Hey @Matthew

That is exactly my way of thinking so apparently I'm not off track :)

Thanks!

February 16, 2012 09:06
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David Pipp

@Sarah Manley (May 31, 2011 05:04 pm.)  Is there a way to set the ticket directly to closed?  Solved is nice, but in a lot of cases I am finding that closed would be better.  How do you get the ticket closed?

February 16, 2012 12:43
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Arnaud de Theux
Zendesk

@David you could simply create an automation for that, no? If ticket is se to solved and calendar time has been *lowest possible value* set it to close.

February 17, 2012 02:28
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Matthew Latkiewicz
Zendesk

@arnaud for the win!  Yep - Closed tickets are tickets which have been solved for a particular amount of time - so like "close a ticket when it has been set as solved for 5 days" or whatever.  This is controlled by a Zendesk feature called Automations - actions taken automatically based on a time condition - about which you can read more here: https://support.zendesk.com/entries/20012032-streamlining-workflow-...

February 17, 2012 10:03
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David Pipp

Thanks, guys... I was a day too impatient to realize that.  It was great help to be able to find where to change that setting though.

 

Great videos, Matthew... keep them coming :)

February 17, 2012 10:07
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Arnaud de Theux
Zendesk

Ooooh, so you're the Matthew from the "sh*t support agent say"? :) The whole office liked it a lot!

Thx for the clarification on this topic.

February 17, 2012 10:09
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Dan Dascalescu

Is there a status to indicate that the customer support agent needs to do something, NOT the customer?

I'm a customer and I often report bugs. Support agents acknowledge them, but it takes them a while to fix them, while the ticket is listed as "Pending" and I see "Awaiting your response »" on my dashboard, which is incorrect. The ticket is await THEIR response.

What do I need to ask the support agent to set the status to, so that the ticket isn't "solved", but it's not waiting for my response?

February 28, 2012 19:29
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Matthew Latkiewicz
Zendesk

Hmmm... Dan, that's an interesting point.  There is nothing you can do as a customer to change the status of a ticket - only agents can do that.    It is a workflow question on their part.  Best you can do at this point is add a comment letting them know the ticket says "Awaiting your response".  The status they would set it at is "Open" - which is what it should be in the most rigorous of work flow cases.  An open case is something that still requires work from the company in order to solve.

The real question is whether a "Pending" status in Zendesk should be connected to one use-case: i.e. awaiting a response from a customer; or if it should be open to workflow interpretation and there is some other more explicit way for an agent to say "I need a response from this person".   I'd love to get thoughts on that question.

February 29, 2012 08:43
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Dan Dascalescu

Hey Matt, thanks for that. IMO (and I've seen this used somehow by the SurveyGizmo folks), there should be two pending statuses: Pending customer response, and Pending agent response.

February 29, 2012 15:32
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Matthew Latkiewicz
Zendesk

@Dan - Totally, I'll pass along your feedback.  In the meantime, here is another way of thinking about in our Feature Request forums: https://support.zendesk.com/entries/20968787-ability-to-tailor-the-...

March 01, 2012 08:43
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Gaim78

Hey Guys, as per previous comments the time will stop counting when the tickets status is changed to Solved !! Right ?

In case the end-user replies after 60+ hours , the ticket is received as an open ticket .. my question is will the timer start to count again ( as a new ticket ) or it will reconsider the original solution time of the ticket !!

 

This will help me in in generating the tickets resolution time ( to count how many tickets been solved within 48 - 60 hours & 60 + hours )

 

Thanks

March 12, 2012 01:23
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Matthew Latkiewicz
Zendesk

Hey there @Gaim78.  The only thing that stops the clock is when a ticket flips from Solved to Closed (when it can no longer be reopened.  It's a tricky call to make on our end when to hit stop.  So "Total Resolution Time" as I said above is simply the total amount of time from when a ticket is created to when it is finally resolved.  There are other metrics that measure how long a Requester is waiting.  But for Total resolution time, it is entirely possible that a support agent does not fully answer a customer's question and so the customer re-opens it.  In this case the ticket wasn't fully resolved so the clock keeps ticking.  

Does that make sense?

March 12, 2012 14:35
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Garon Davis
Runkeeper

Matthew that trigger worked great but it also moved the ticket into pending when a private comment was made and I can not think of a use case why you would want to do that.  I was able to resolve by adding the comment is... Public condition and it worked.

April 10, 2012 14:15
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Ian christie
moneydashboardsupport

If someone puts a ticket into pending status I really, really, really want to know why. Especially if it's been escalated to a 3rd party (for reporting puposes and SLAs with external suppliers you can see it's necessary for me to pull pending stats out). Short of manually going through all the tickets in pending status that don't have a pending reason set  I can't see any way round this. It would make sense, to me anyway, to have another "Required" checkbox in the Ticket Fields edit box so I can force a customised pending reason to be set, just as I can force a customised "Solved" field to be filled in.

 

Maybe someone has a cunning way of doing this.

April 18, 2012 02:22
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Matthew Latkiewicz
Zendesk

@Garon - excellent tip! Thanks for the follow up.

April 18, 2012 07:17
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Matthew Latkiewicz
Zendesk

@Ian, I am not sure I follow your use case, but let me see if I can clarify: do you want your agents or your customers/end-users to provide the reason a ticket is going into pending?

By default, only agents can manually change a ticket status, so assuming you are talking about your agents adding a reason for putting something into pending (waiting on customer reply, for instance) - you could add a Multi-line ticket field called Why Pending?, but there is currently no way to make a field required based on the ticket status (i.e. "make this field required if this field says pending").

But explain a little more your use-case - what's an example scenario? 

April 18, 2012 07:31
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Ian christie
moneydashboardsupport

Hi Matthew,

It's the agents I want to force to put in a pending type.

 I already have a custom field for 'Pending Reason' but it's all too easy to forget to fill that in. Then I have to go and pull out all the tickets with status as pending but pending reason not set and go through them manually to make sure they are classified. And then the pending reason needs to be set again when the ticket is put back into 'Open' status. Very time consuming and prone to mistakes.

Basically the same functionality as the "Required" checkbox in the Ticket Field edit page gives me for solving issues, i.e. I cannot pend a ticket unless that particular field is not null.

We are maybe a bit rare in that we have hundreds of pending tickets. Most of these don't have a pending reason set on them because I only took over the helpdesk a few weeks ago and there wasn't any pending reason field. There's nothing much I can do about that except go through them manually, one by one. I'd like to avoid getting into that situation again.

 

 I suppose the only thing I can do is to make a view tp ick up any recent pending tickets that don't have a pending reason set. The words horse, stable door and bolt spring to mind there though.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

April 18, 2012 08:28
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Ian christie
moneydashboardsupport

Ah, that's annoying. To make a view that only pulls in pending tickets with no pending reason set  I have to add

Pending Reason is not .....

for every single pending reason.

 And then remember to change it if I add another pending reason (another great opportunity for human error)

Being able to choose a null value, e.g.

Pending Reason is -

or

Pending Reason is Null


would be nice.

 

 I'll be delighted if someone can embarrass me by telling me a obvious way of doing this that I've missed.

April 18, 2012 08:47
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Matthew Latkiewicz
Zendesk

Hey Ian - 

I spoke to our customer advocate crew - who are way more clever than me - and Aaron had an interesting suggestion (based on the current functionality of the system):

1) We don't have conditional fields yet. Not sure that if, when we do, you can tie them to system fields. (Making them required is only for solving tickets) 2) We don't have triggers that look for the absence of text is ticket field. 3) Having a View search for a missing value is too taxing for the servers. 

SO his suggestion:
"I would suggest they use a dropdown with about 4 pending reason codes. If the agent updates the ticket without a reason code, it should email the agent to remind them with a trigger."

A trigger can look for an empty drop down, so if you are able to systemize the pending reasons (I realize that is a big IF), you could go that route.  It's some Expert level stuff for sure, so let me know if you want to discuss or work out further.

April 18, 2012 13:21
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Ian christie
moneydashboardsupport

Hi Matthew,

 Thanks for that. Not an ideal way of doing it but it's a good workaround. It was also easy to set up.

 Pass my thanks on to Aaron as well.

April 19, 2012 05:52
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Bradley

If a ticket is marked as "pending" does the time it spends as "pending" count towards resolution times?  We are trying to improve on our resolution times and we aren't sure if the report we are running is including the pending time.  If it does count the time spent in pending, is there a way to create a resolution report that excludes the amount of time a ticket was pending?

May 03, 2012 08:02
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Pat

Is there anyway to have more than the 4 statuses?  I would like to have a status that says Pending Engineering

May 10, 2012 15:49
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Arnaud de Theux
Zendesk

@Pat I guess you could simply create a custom drop down field. Or maybe with some javascript hacking.

May 11, 2012 00:02
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Aprill Allen

Hello!

I just wanted to explain how I'm using Pending and to find out if I'm an idiot for doing so. We only have the feedback tab available to our customers at the moment, while I populate the forums with knowledge base material etc. The application I support is still in its youth so many of our zendesk tickets are actually feature requests or bugs that will be resolved in the next release cycle.

I've created a custom field called Unfuddle #, which I use to note down the number of the corresponding Unfuddle ticket that I create for the developers. I know, right? Double handling. Anyway...

Rather than keep these tickets in Open, I have them in Pending with the Unfuddle ticket number for reference. In the meantime I'm also adding these feature requests into the Forum feature request board so that it doesn't look like tumbleweeds in there when we do make it public. (Maybe I should be using the Update and Post to Forum option?)

I am doing a lot of double handling! 

If, in fact, the ticket is pending the customer's response, I put the ticket in pending and leave the Unfuddle field blank.

This system has worked ok so far, but I may have to look into that if I start going back and forth with customer while the unfuddle ticket is being worked on by devs.

July 20, 2012 21:01
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Matthew Latkiewicz
Zendesk

Hi Aprill - 

So if I understand correctly, you put them in pending to signal to yourself that you need to transfer them into the Feature request forum?  Is that correct?  If so, what I would suggest is either set the status to Task or keep it Open - either way, you can then create a custom view (by going to Manage > Views) whereby you say something like, show me all the tickets which are Tasks.  That way, you are only using Pending to mean one thing, but are still filtering out the tickets you want to focus on.  

Would that workflow work for you? Or am I misunderstanding your use case?

July 24, 2012 08:58
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Aprill Allen

Hi Matthew,

Thanks for the reply. OK, I see where you're going. Open tasks would probably be the best way to manage these. It's probably better for measurement's sake that I can report on how long customers are waiting for new feature developments, anyway.

Thanks for pointing me in the right direction. :)

July 24, 2012 16:07
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Owen Pickford

Hi Matthew,

We've been using Pending and Open a little differently than you suggest. It has some pluses and minuses though so I was curious if anyone else was running into the same problem we had with a better solution than bastardizing the purpose of the status.

Basically, we have a lot of tickets that arise from issues our support agents cannot fix but we are also not waiting for the end-user to do anything. This is because we are a go-between/advocate with a lot of third parties.

In your description, you describe pending as, "This ticket is not yet solved but I'm waiting on something before I can work on it further."  This is exactly what we are doing but we're not waiting on the end-user for anything. It seems logical that these tickets should be set to pending. The problem is, this then notifies the end user that we are waiting for them to do something, which is not accurate.

If instead we had the tickets listed as open, agents would not have an easy way to see which tickets they should be working on.

The way we manage this is we list all these types of tickets as pending and tell agents to only work on open tickets. We then put a due date for all pending tickets so that agents can follow up with the third party if not progress has been made. 

Unfortunately, besides the problem listed above this also means all our ticket types are tasks in order to create the due date. One possible solution for this problem is instructing agents to change the type before they close a ticket so that we have better data about our tickets, rather than all of them being tasks. It seems to me though that a due date functionality should not be dependent upon the ticket type.

Is there actually an obvious solution for these problems we've overlooked? Perhaps someone else has thought of a better workflow solution for this? 

December 07, 2012 14:56
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Justin Seymour
Zendesk

Hey Owen: 

A few suggestions for your workflow: 

1. Modify the conditions and wording of the Notify requester of comment update trigger. Or, you could create a different trigger to handle those pending requests where an end-user response is not needed. For example, if you added a tag like working to the ticket before updating it, you could create a specific view to see the pending, working tickets based on that tag. It'd be easier to look at the view than skimming over the pending tickets trying to figure out what needs to be done.

You can also adjust notifications sent based on public or private comments. If the trigger has both the working tag and a private comment, maybe no notification is sent to the end-user at all. If it has the working tag and a public comment, you could send a notification with that comment stating that the ticket is still active, but no further is needed from the customer. 

2. Through some custom JavaScript, I believe we can modify the pending web-portal text that prompts an end-user for a response. This would also eliminate customer confusion when logging in and checking on their ticket status. I'll dig that up if you're interested. 

December 09, 2012 06:10
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Owen Pickford

Hi Justin,

Thanks for the notice on the Javascript solution. Is it possible to have the text dependent upon a tag in the ticket? We could always go with an ambiguous text but then we lose value with people who we are actually awaiting responses from.

In regards to the first part, in the current workflow we modified the notification to end users so they only receive notifications when we want to reach out to them (a public comment is made). This solves the problem with when we notify users.

The second suggestion you make is in regards to sorting pending tickets that we need to work on internally and pending tickets we don't need to work on internally. This is not really a problem for us in the immediate sense because all tickets that we need to work on at any given moment are 'open.' Sorting pending ticket is not so important because once we've completed the work we need to do (or can do), the ticket is changed to pending/solved, exactly how the workflow is designed to work. Therefore there's no reason for our agents to be looking at pending tickets. 

The place where the real issue arises is that there is no way to manage tickets between open and pending without using the ticket 'type.'  When dealing with a third party, it's necessary to work on a ticket at some future time and have the ticket change to open. Right now we are essentially managing the workflow of dealing with third parties by misusing the ticket type field. Any ticket that is not closed and we are depending upon the action of a third party requires us to have the ticket type be "task" so we can get a due date and follow up. It is logical to me to have the due date tied to a task but it also seems like a due date is really tied to the ticket workflow, since the due date changes the ticket status. 

So I guess what I'm really asking, "Is there an automated way to manage the workflow without misusing the ticket type." Perhaps your response answered this but I misunderstood?

Thanks for the quick reply though!

Owen

December 10, 2012 10:02
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Justin Seymour
Zendesk

Hey Owen: 

Thanks for the follow-up. There's no way to customize that JavaScript based on the tags, to my knowledge. If you absolutely need the due date, you'll have to continue with your current workflow. As an alternative, you can create a custom field as a secondary type field and work off of that. You won't get the due date function with it, but you could build out some automations to remind your agents to work on those tickets. For example, if the ticket has a tag called revisit, you could create an automation that looks for that tag, and after a certain amount of time, will reopen the ticket and send a message to the assignee or third-party target as a follow-up reminder. 

December 11, 2012 06:20
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Owen Pickford

Looks like you all were already working on this:

 

https://support.zendesk.com/entries/22340998-adding-the-on-hold?mkt...

December 14, 2012 12:11
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Jennifer Rowe
Zendesk

Yes! Everyone is loving the new status.

December 14, 2012 13:33
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Chris Christie

My support staff move all "Open" tickets to "Pending" when we send them to our ticket system for our programmers.  That seems to work nice, but when the programmers reply with a "Private" message the ticket status does not automatically change back to "Open".  So my support staff have no idea when something is resolved by a programmer.  Do "Private" messages not trigger the ticket to switch to the "Open" status like when an end user replies?

Thanks!

February 11, 2014 08:52
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Emily
Zendesk

Hi Chris, 

The system will automatically change the ticket's status from Pending to Open if an end-user updates the ticket. Since Pending is a status given to indicate an agent has made a comment and is awaiting an end-user's response, a light agent's comment will be treated like a regular agent's comment and will not change the status back to Open.

If an agent clicks the 'Open Tickets' box from within their agent dashboard, they will be taken to a list of their assigned tickets, grouped by status. There, they can see Pending tickets. They could also make use of the On Hold status. Though it will also not change back to Open with the addition of a light agent's private comment, it will be excluded from requester wait time and not penalize the agent when they're waiting on a third party's ticket update.

 

February 11, 2014 13:12