We started SupportBee a little over two years ago. The idea was born out of our own frustration in finding a simple support software for Muziboo, our other product. We looked for support software and found everything too complicated. We talked to a few other companies and realized that many others felt that support apps could be simpler and faster. The thing that annoyed us the most with existing apps was how un-email like they were and how much time you had to spend on managing and thinking of different ticket states.
Unanswered - Answered - Star
We brainstormed for a week and decided to reduce the states to just two - Unanswered & Answered. When a ticket is created, it is unanswered and if you reply to it, it is marked as answered. A subsequent customer reply marks it as unanswered again. Also most screens (Unassigned, My, Groups etc) contain the unanswered section and once you answer the ticket, it disappears from that listing so you can focus your attention on the rest. If you want to followup a ticket, you can drop a label or star the ticket (like you would do in your email).
Unanswered - Answered and the 80/20 assumption
When we designed this workflow, the assumption was that for companies in our target market fewer than 20% tickets need to be followed up on. We worked on minimizing the number of clicks needed for this workflow. If you did want to follow up, you had to explicitly star a ticket or drop a label. As we have worked with more and larger customers, we realized that this assumption is not universally true. It is highly dependent on the industry and the product that the company is supporting through SupportBee. For such companies, followup took a lot of mental effort (remembering to star most tickets is not fun or easy). At the same time, these companies liked the simplicity of SupportBee and the fact that they don't have to mess with states manually.
The issue with Archive the way it is now
The other issue with the existing paradigm is that there is little difference between Archived and Answered. Right now, archived is marking a ticket as answered manually. In fact you cannot even filter tickets to see the archived ones from answered. Unfortunately the word 'archived' implies some sort of closure and distinction from 'Answered'.
Time to Resolution (or the lack of it)
There is also another issue with larger companies. These companies need to measure the time to resolution. A smaller company without a large dedicated support staff does not need these reports to measure productivity but larger companies do. Since we don't have a 'closed' state in SupportBee, we did not have a report for this. And we did not want to add a 'closed' state just for getting these reports. More on this later.
Upcoming Changes - Answered Listings & Archive for Reals!
As we talked to more and more customers we realized that the problem is not the lack of states (in fact everyone loved it), but the fact that the ticket disappears after you reply to it. By default, most customers want the ticket to stay (especially as we signup bigger customers). Here are the changes that are coming up in a few weeks
Most screens (Unassigned, My, Groups, Labels etc) will get an answered listing. Once you reply to a ticket, the ticket will simply move down into the 'Answered' Listing. If you are using the 'Priority Inbox' in Gmail, you should feel right at home. You can let the ticket stay there (if you need to follow up) or 'Archive' it if you think it's done. If a customer replies in the meantime, the ticket will simply move back up into the 'Unanswered' listing. Here is a mockup of how things will look like after this change.
Basically everything will stay in sight unless you hit 'Archive'. This is true also for 'My Tickets', 'Group Tickets' or 'Labels', making each of these screens a more complete workspace.
Archive as Done
To take the tickets out of sight (and out of your mind!), you hit 'Archive'. The first Archive is therefore an indication that you think the ticket is done. With that in mind, we can give you a report on the time to archive. Also post Archive events can be fired (for example to send a customer satisfaction survey or log time in a time tracking app).
You will also be able to filter by 'Archived' in 'All Tickets'. That way you can see all tickets that are considered 'Done' by your team. However this has none of the side effects of 'Close'. You don't need to re-open tickets when a customer replies - it is simply marked unanswered again.
SupportBee's Classic Mode is here to stay!
If you are a fan of the current approach of tickets disappearing after you reply to them, you can use our 'Archive after Answer' app (we will launch it when we roll out these changes). This will keep SupportBee working for you like it does right now. No change at all! You can even go back and forth and see which style you like.
We have talked to over a dozen customers in the last few weeks to make sure we are thinking in the right direction. If you have any comments or questions, please comment here or email us. We would love to discuss more. This is only one of the first major changes (though probably the only major workflow change) coming up. Over the next few years you will find us improving a lot of aspects of SupportBee so keep sending your feedback to us.