Use Problem and Incidents to Organize and Speed Up Your Support

Not all support tickets are the same - your customers have different reasons for getting in touch with you. As such, not all Zendesk tickets work the same way. A Zendesk ticket can be one of four types: a Question, a Problem, an Incident, and a Task. Each of these types allows you as the support person to do different things with the ticket based on the issue at hand. A Question is the most straightforward - a customer has a question and you try and resolve it. But what about if one of your customers writes in about a problem they are having with your service? Like, for instance, you run an online store and the billing part is not working. In this case you'll want to take advantage of Zendesk Problem and Incident tickets. The benefit of this goes beyond the naming. In Zendesk Problems and Incidents are related; specifically a Problem can have many Incidents attached to it. Let me show you how it works. First a ticket comes in alerting me that one customer is having trouble checking out of my store.

Problem Ticket

 

I verify that indeed, the credit card authorization is not working. This is not a question about the billing - something is indeed broken. I classify the ticket as a problem by changing it's type and let the customer know we are working on it.

 

classify-problem-ticket

 

Up to now it's worked like a standard question ticket. It's when I get another ticket mentioning the same problem that the Problem/Incident relationship becomes more important. A second customer writes in about not being able to check-out of my store. In this case, I classify the ticket as an incident. This ticket is an incident of a problem I already know about. When I do that, a second drop down opens up asking me to "Link incident to problem". I link it to the previous ticket that came in.

 

classifying-incident

 

I can keep doing this as more related incidents come in. This way, I'm keeping all the tickets related to my billing issue linked together. When I go back to the original problem ticket, I see all its associated incidents.

 

associated-incidents

 

And there is a link back to the original problem ticket within each incident. When I figure out and fix the issue with my billing, I can mark the problem ticket as solved. But it's not just the problem that gets solved - it's also all the incidents. Solving a problem ticket will also automatically solve and add any comment you included while solving to all the related incidents.

 

solving-problems

 

Leveraging Problems and Incidents can help you organize and streamline your support process when problems arise. You've already got to deal with the problem; you should make your support of the problem as easy for you as possible.

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Comments

  • Avatar
    Joseph Snow

    We've stared using this feature, but the drop down list only allows 50 incidents to link to.

    This seems wrong, as we have far more than 50 tickets in our system of the type "problem", how can we link an incident to a "problem" if it doesn't show up in this list?  Is there another way to do this?

     

  • Avatar
    Martin Mayer

    Yes.  I agree.  We also need to link to more than 50 unsolved poblems at once.  We have suggested a change to facilitate this.  What is the Zendesk viewpoint on this?  Love to hear what other users think to:

     

    Filter Problems by Product/Service/Category

    https://support.zendesk.com/entries/221707-filter-problems-by-product-service-category

  • Avatar
    Jonathan Wayman

    I agree, it'd be nice if that were either a field that the problem ticket number could be entered or preferably some sort of search dialog to find and pick the problem ticket that the incident needs to be linked to.

    ie: Like the ability to directly enter the ticket number when merging tickets.

  • Avatar
    Janine Sieja

    Ditto Jonathan, Martin and Joe. We need a way to associate an incident with any open problem, not only the most recent 50.

  • Avatar
    Christie Strasia

    Yeah, me too... unfortunately we have more than 50 "problems" at any given time.  I wish we didn't, but that probably won't change for awhile.

    Along these same lines, I'd love to be able to run a report/view on all my problems and the associated incidents.  This is really helpful in prioritizing the fixes... we try to fix the problems with the highest number of incidents, but getting that number is super-manual right now.  Any thoughts on adding the "incident of problem" field on the view/reports?

  • Avatar
    Matthew Latkiewicz

    Hi there -

    I checked with the development team here at Zendesk, and currently, the problem drop-down is limited to 50 items with no work-around.  You all raise great points; the next step would be to post this in our Feature Request forum so the dev team can take a serious look at implementing it.

    Cheers,

    Matthew

    Zendesk

  • Avatar
    Laurent Yaish

    Is there a way to use placeholders when closing a "problem" ticket so that I could address the client with "Dear {{name}}" since the same message also goes to the "incident" tickets ?

    Thanks

  • Avatar
    Matthew Latkiewicz

    Hey Laurent -

    Yes: {{ticket.requester.first_name}}

    You would put this in the trigger that sends out the notification to all the clients.

    Mike has written up the list of available placeholders here: https://support.zendesk.com/entries/247744-what-are-the-placeholders-for-notifications-and-targets

  • Avatar
    Laurent Yaish

    Hi Matthew,

    I see. So placeholders only work from within the trigger? I tried using it by placing it directly into my message (as a one time thing) but it didn't work.

    Thanks

  • Avatar
    Matthew Latkiewicz

    Yes, exactly Laurent.  Placeholders only work in triggers.  But every email that is sent out by Zendesk is done so by a trigger - so you can look at the trigger that sent out your problem/incident email and add in a placeholder there.  If you are having trouble getting the results you need just contact our support team: support@zendesk.com and someone can take a look at what you are working with.

  • Avatar
    Michael Duxbury

    Hi,

    the problem drop-down is limited to 50 items with no work-around.

    There is actually a work-around, but it's a bit hacky, so be warned.

    Firstly, this requires a script-editing tool such as Firebug on Firefox or Chrome.  Once you have that installed:

    1) Go to the ticket you want to link *to* (the 'problem').  View the source, and find the string '<!-- Ticket ID'.  Next to this will be a long number; copy this number to your clipboard.

    2) Go to the ticket you want to link *from* (the 'incident').  Make sure the 'Link incident to problem' dropdown is shown (if the ticker is an incident, it will be). Enable Firebug, select the 'inspect' tool, and click the incident dropdown. This will show the HTML for the dropdown in Firebug; expand this so you see all the <option> tags.  Pick one (the top one makes sense), and update the 'value' to the number on your clipboard. Hit enter so this change is made to the page, and then make sure the first option of the dropdown is selected.  Save the ticket and hey presto, the two tickets are now joined.

    I said it was hacky ;)

    M.

  • Avatar
    Burt

    So the problem is that there is a current limitation of only 50 problems, and the incident is that this effects me too!

  • Avatar
    Thomas Andersen

    I have another question; what if I want to keep my incidents posted on any updates?

    "Hey guys, Im sorry we have not solved the problem yet, but I wanted to let you know, that our developers are closing in".

    A comment in my problem does not affect my incidents.

  • Avatar
    Matthew Latkiewicz

    Hi Thomas - 

    Currently the only time a comment will posted to all of the incidents linked to a problem ticket is when a public comment is added to a 'Problem' ticket AND the 'Problem' ticket is set to solved. If you update a 'Problem' ticket and don't set it to solved, the comment will only be added to the 'Problem' ticket and not to the associated incident tickets. If you update any of the incident tickets regardless of their status, this will only update the incident ticket in question.

    There is a discussion about this going on in our feature request forums with some of our product team chiming in.  You can vote the idea up if you'd like: https://support.zendesk.com/entries/141083-problem-tickets-should-update-all-linked-incident-tickets-with-comments

  • Avatar
    Travis Ames

    The images are broken on this page

  • Avatar
    Ted Barnum

    Thanks Travis,

    I fixed the links. images should now be present.

  • Avatar
    Travis Ames

    Snappy!  Thanks Ted

  • Avatar
    Andrew Hicks

    Hi,

      When you look at a problem then load the view of the related incidents can you change the columns in the view.  Been looking around but cant see where to do this.

     

    Thanks

    Andrew

  • Avatar
    Justin

    Hey Andrew: 

    It's currently not possible to modify that view, as it is used system-wide! 

  • Avatar
    Thibault Mortier

    Hello,

    I am looking for a way to "privately" update any incident related to a problem when the problem is updated. This would complete the actual process which solves a ticket once the related problem is solved.

    Did you guys have ever done something similar ? I think it is not feasible with triggers.

    Thanks in advance.

  • Avatar
    Justin

    Hey Thibault: 

    Any private comments you make on the problem ticket will be appended to the linked incidents when you solve the ticket. Updating the problem ticket to any other status, with a public or private comment, will not update the linked incidents with that comment. 

  • Avatar
    Larisa Moore

    Hi,

    We just used this functionality for the first time with an issue that came up today and was fixed a few hours later. We wrote a public reply to the problem ticket and set it to Solved. The reply shows up on the linked incidents but their status still shows as On Hold. According to the article it should have set them all to Solved. Why did this not work?

    ~ Larisa

  • Avatar
    Laura D.

    Hi Larisa, 

    You understand correctly, the incident tickets should have been solved along with the problem ticket so that sounds odd, I think it'd be best if we take a specific look at the tickets in question. To do that I've opened a ticket for you in our support system - look out for a separate email in just a minute. 

  • Avatar
    Nathan

    I wanted to clarify before using this feature.  When we fix a problem and make a public reply that is sent to all users, none of their replies back are sent to any other users correct?  I just wanted to ensure that any public comments the users send back to the agent aren't shared with everyone.  I also wanted to ensure that any previous public comments I made do not get shared across all related tickets and only the public comment that I submit when I solve the case.  Is this correct?

  • Avatar
    Graeme Carmichael

    Nathan

    <When we fix a problem and make a public reply that is sent to all users, none of their replies back are sent to any other users> Yes that is correct, customers to do see comments from other customers on other tickets, even in this case.

    <any previous public comments I made do not get shared across all related tickets and only the public comment that I submit when I solve the case>  Yes that is correct. Normally, comments only get shared across all tickets when you use the bulk edit feature. Solving a problem ticket is the special case.

  • Avatar
    Robert Still

    Question:

    Sometimes, we have a need to link and 'older' ticket to a newly created one, (however you choose to define 'older). For instance, a customer might report a problem one week, then, a week or two later, another ticket will come in from a different customer with the exact same issue. Sometimes, when we attempt them, Zendesk does not allow us to link it because the ticket we are attempting to link is to is older than the ticket that just came in.

    Is it 'by design' that problem ticket has to be older than the incident ticket in order to link it? Are there any restrictions on the age of the ticket (since creation) that would cause a ticket not to be able to be linked to another?

  • Avatar
    Jessie Schutz

    Hi Robert!

    I did some testing on my end, and I was able to confirm that as long as the tickets you're trying to link aren't in Closed status, you'll be able to link any Incident ticket to any Problem ticket, regardless of when each ticket was created.

    You'll want to check on the tickets you're trying to link to make sure they're not closed. If they're not closed and you're still encountering this issue, go ahead and submit a support request to support@zendesk.com with some ticket numbers for us to take a look at for you!

    Hope that helps!

  • Avatar
    Michael Stone

    Are you able to view which incidents are associated with a Problem via API?

  • Avatar
    Jessie Schutz

    Hi Michael!

    I've gone ahead and opened up a ticket for you on this. We'll see you there shortly!

  • Avatar
    Arthur Mori

    Hi Michael,

    You sure can, take a look at here: http://bit.ly/1wnAnaR

    Basically. the syntax is:

    GET /api/v2/tickets/{id}/incidents.json

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