Open vs. pending tickets and why you should care

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!

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Comments

  • Avatar
    Chris K

    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.

  • Avatar
    Matthew Latkiewicz

    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.

  • Avatar
    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?

  • Avatar
    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

  • Avatar
    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

  • Avatar
    Matthew Latkiewicz

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

  • Avatar
    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.

  • Avatar
    Matthew Latkiewicz

    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-with-ticket-updates-and-triggers.

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

  • Avatar
    Jakub Glodek

    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-with-ticket-updates-and-triggers

  • Avatar
    Sean G

    @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.

  • Avatar
    Matthew Latkiewicz

    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.

  • Avatar
    Sean G

    @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?

     

     

  • Avatar
    Matthew Latkiewicz

    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.

  • Avatar
    Sean G

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

  • Avatar
    Arnaud de Theux

    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!

  • Avatar
    Matthew Latkiewicz

    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?

  • Avatar
    Arnaud de Theux

    Hey @Matthew

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

    Thanks!

  • Avatar
    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?

  • Avatar
    Arnaud de Theux

    @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.

  • Avatar
    Matthew Latkiewicz

    @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-with-time-based-events-and-automations

  • Avatar
    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 :)

  • Avatar
    Arnaud de Theux

    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.

  • Avatar
    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?

  • Avatar
    Matthew Latkiewicz

    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.

  • Avatar
    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.

  • Avatar
    Matthew Latkiewicz

    @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-pending-message-displayed-to-customers

  • Avatar
    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

  • Avatar
    Matthew Latkiewicz

    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?

  • Avatar
    Garon Davis

    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.

  • Avatar
    Ian christie

    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.

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