What You'll Learn
Support is a key element of any service provided. On this page, I'll be teaching you in some details about osTicket, a popular ticketing system. Many operators of prime industries use osTicket to provide top-notch support.
Whether you are looking to use osTicket as an operator or wondering as a customer, have a read and educate yourself on the best hosts currently using it.
What Is osTicket?
osTicket is an open-source support ticket system that gives users the ability to track, modify and respond to client-generated tickets via online forms, email, and phone.
It provides a powerful, centralized method of helpdesk request management that supports multiple simultaneous users.
Keeping Customers Happy
Whatever your industry, and whatever your product or service, chances are you're going to need to provide customer support at some point.
And since customers are the backbone of your business, effective customer support is an essential part of ensuring customer satisfaction, building loyalty, and getting great reviews and repeat business.
Avoiding Errors in Management
You might be able to get away with managing customer support manually for a time, but once your business starts growing it gets easier for customers to fall through the cracks.
Just one slip up — an accidentally deleted email, a forgotten follow-up — and you could start getting bad reviews from dissatisfied customers. And once those negative reviews appear, you could start losing business.
That's why it's so important to carefully manage your customer support and ensure that no issues, large or small, fall through the cracks.
Competent Solution for Free
If you don't have the budget for an expensive dedicated customer support and helpdesk application, there's another option.
osTicket is a free, open-source solution to managing customer support that has plenty of premium features.
Its many flexible customization features make it ideal for small businesses and large enterprises alike.
How Does osTicket Work?
osTicket is a free, full-featured help desk and customer support system.
With osTicket, your clients and customers can generate help desk "tickets" (ie, work orders) that are then routed to the correct party for resolution.
Requests for Support
For example, if one of your customers is having difficulty installing your software, they can simply visit your website and send a request detailing their issue.
Unlike other support solutions, your customer does not have to create a separate support account to generate a ticket. All they need is their email address.
If they prefer, your customers can also bypass the website altogether and send an email to your designated support email address, or even call in for help on the phone.
During the course of the support call, your staff can generate a ticket using osTicket and fill in all the required details.
Appropriate Backup for Reference
Once a ticket has been generated, every aspect, from assigned staff to due date, is customizable and backed up.
The backup is located in an automatic archive that can be accessed by all support staff and modified according to their level of authorization.
Find The Best osTicket Hosting For You
Other osTicket Features
osTicket isn't just limited to creating and completing tickets.
Like other expensive premium support applications, osTicket has plenty of other features to enhance your customer support:
- Custom Notifications and Ticker Assignment
- Interactive Ticketing and Ticket Locking
- Staff Updates and Filtering
- Front-End Live Updates and Statistics
- Knowledgebase and FAQ
Custom Notifications and Ticker Assignment
Create custom automatic email notifications to customers and staff when a ticket is opened, updated, or closed.
Moreover, you can assign tickets to a staff member, department, or team. This is a brilliant infrastructural perk to have.
Interactive Ticketing and Ticket Locking
Allow customers and staff to add pictures or videos to tickets, such as screenshots or video screen captures.
Having an interactive ticket will ensure a broader understanding of the situation for both the support staff and customers.
Furthermore, you can lock tickets while they're being updated, so there are no conflicting or duplicate responses.
Staff Updates and Filtering
Keep your staff updated by writing private internal notes for each ticket that can't be viewed by customers.
This way overlapping can be avoided in communication and outreach.
Along with useful notes, you may organize and filter how you view tickets by whatever criteria you like (department, priority, topic, etc.).
Front-End Live Updates and Statistics
Create an online website portal for customers to view the status of their tickets by entering their email address and ticket number, without having to register for an account.
Another useful live feature is in-time analytics and stats on all your tickets with Dashboard reports.
Knowledgebase and FAQ
Streamline the support process by creating a knowledge base and Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) database to give staff a constantly-growing, readily-annotated database of information on the most commonly-encountered issues.
FAQ and Knowledge Bases can also be a great timesaver for customers looking for simple answers.
osTicket also has a lively forum and up-to-date wiki on their official website where you can ask questions and learn more about how to use osTicket.
There's also professional support provided for a fee.
Choosing a Host With osTicket
It's pretty easy to find a host that meets the minimum server requirements of osTicket.
osTicket is compatible with both Apache and IIS (i.e., Windows-driven) servers.
Picking a host that always has the latest version of each piece of software is a good idea.
Here's What Your osTicket Hosting Needs To Offer
OsTicket is an full-featured customer support application. It is built around the idea of support tickets. But osTicket is much more than that. It provides many tools for organizing your support team and getting analytics to help improve the support process. OsTicket also provides many tools for creating your support portal. It is often available with one-click installation. For osTicket hosting, we recommend checking out SiteGround.
How to Install osTicket
You have five different options when it comes to osTicket installation:
- Use a One-Click Installer
- Manually install osTicket
- Install Locally Using XAMPP Control Panel
- Install It with Support
- Get Your Developer to Do It
Let's take a look - it's not as tedious as it sounds.
Use a One-Click Installer
Most hosts will give you a control panel that includes a one-click installer. These installers let you install hundreds of open source applications, which usually included osTicket, with just a click.
Manually Install osTicket
You can download osTicket, customize the configuration file, and then transfer the files to your host.
osTicket has made their own step-by-step guide to this process. Manual installation is nowhere near as bad as it sounds.
Install locally using XAMPP Control Panel
XAMPP is a web server stack that makes it easy to run software like osTicket locally.
You can do this to test it before pushing it to a live server.
Install It with Support
Struggling with either of the three options above? Call up osTicket or your hosting provider and they will guide you through the process.
Phone support may seem old fashioned but it is efficient and most importantly reliable.
Get Your Developer to Do It
Possibly the easiest yet most luxurious option of all.
Leave the responsibility of the installation and set-up to your developer and do not worry about the gory details.
By far the easiest way to get osTicket up and running is to find a host that offers a one-click installer that supports osTicket. In particular, look for Softaculous, an installer that supports it.
That being said, manually installing osTicket doesn't take more than a few minutes if you're a developer.
If you're not, it's still doable with a small amount of persistence, but expect it to take you an hour or two.
Things to Remember with osTicket
Here are a few reminders of what to look for when shopping for osTicket hosting:
- PHP 5.3+ (PHP 7 preferred).
- MySQL 5.0+
- A one-click installer (cPanel usually has one that includes osTicket).
Before you commit, it's most definitely worth considering other options for a ticketing system.
In order to make that simpler for you, here is a side-by-side comparison.
|Package Types||All Businesses||All Businesses||Small/Medium Businesses|
|Supported OS||Windows, Linux, Android, iOS, Mac, Web-based||Windows, Windows Mobile, Linux, Android, iOS, Mac, Web-based||Windows, Mac|
|Price||from $5/month||from $19/month||from $9/month|
It's pretty obvious how Zendesk or Freshdesk could be a better option for larger business, but for $9 monthly, you do have a saucy package available from osTicket.
Top 3 osTicket Hosts to Go For
Since osTicket can be installed on most web hosts, the best hosting choice for you will likely depend on other factors like support, speed, or budget.
These are my top 3 hosts that fulfill most common needs.
osTicket Hosting with A2 Hosting.
A2 Hosting is a solid choice for osTicket hosting if speed is your priority. Many plans offer higher grade "turbo" servers that are customized to deliver the fastest website performance possible.
In addition, all servers also come with free SSD space.
This makes a difference when many server actions are needed, like in a ticketing application.
You have access to the Softaculous installer in your control panel to easily install osTicket.
osTicket Hosting with Siteground.
If you're looking for top performance, you should consider Siteground. From their shared hosting to dedicated hosting, Siteground has some of the latest server technology and security.
Your osTicket site will run fast, smoothly, and with little downtime.
You can always upgrade to a dedicated server plan with little trouble if you find the cheaper plans aren't quite powerful enough.
SiteGround has a few unique features to enable fast servers, including a Nginx reverse proxy layer, free CDN, and their custom-made "SuperCacher."
Finally, you get daily backups to make sure you don't lose any important data.
osTicket Hosting with InMotion Hosting.
Finally, if support is your main concern, InMotion is a great osTicket hosting option. Their team is available 24/7 in live chat, email, and phone, and they usually respond to support requests immediately in my experience with them.
They also have one of the most detailed knowledgebases I've come across, with guides on nearly every topic.
InMotion Hosting offers a lengthy 90-day money back guarantee, and will also help you migrate up to 3 sites for free.
osTicket Hosting Frequently Asked Questions
What is osTicket?
osTicket is a support ticket system where customers can ask questions, report bugs, or make requests. These are then transferred to your support team to deal with. It includes interfaces for both the customer and the website support staff and administrators.
What alternatives are available?
There are a number of paid help desk services, such as zendesk, helpdeskpilot, HappyFox, and Service Desk, all of which provide a number of advanced features, customizations, and support. Pricing and features vary, so it's important to research each candidate and determine which solution is best for your business. On the free side, the options are more limited, but there are still quite a few option available, such as Request Tracker and GLPi. Again, features and support will vary, so research is key.
What type of analytics and stats are available?
The dashboard reports provide a system overview and basic statistics on ticket count and status per department, staff, and help topic. For more detailed information, you can download and export ticket detail using the advanced search option from the ticket queue.
How much can I customize my support forms?
osTicket is extremely customizable. You can not only create custom fields relevant to your business, but also set up custom rules regarding which fields are available for a specific type of support request. You can also create custom forms that ask the user for additional information based on the support topic. For instance, if your customer is reporting a software issue, you can ask them specific question regarding the screen they experience it on, what they were attempting to do, what the error message says, and so on. You can even prompt them to include an optional screenshot.
Does the email system support images?
Yes. osTicket supports rich text or HTML email, so you can provide markup, graphics, and even screen shots when responding to users. You can also customize your email with your company brand. Videos are also supported.
Can I use variables in email templates?
Yes, there are a number of pre-defined variables that can be used for an email template, which will allow you to personalize automatic email responses. For a complete list of supported variables, see the osTicket website or support documentation.
How do I make sure tickets get to the correct support staff?
If you've ever set up rules or filters in your email program, you shouldn't have a problem setting the routing filters for osTicket. It follows the same principal. You create unique filters for various request types or fields, then tell the system which department, team, or individual those types of request should be directed to. You can even set up filters to auto-reject certain types of requests or send a standardized response. So the next time someone writes in saying they can't access their account, you can automatically send them a reset password link, rather than paying someone on your support team to walk them through it.
Can I transfer tickets to another person or department?
Yes. Even if a ticket is auto-assigned, your agents can re-assign tickets to another agent, team, or department. This way if a ticket is mis-routed, or if multiple teams need to process the request, it's easy to pass it along the right person. Agents can also include notes in the ticket thread for the next assignee to let them know what's been completed and why they're passing it along.
Can I set up reminders for overdue tickets?
Yes. You can set up unique service level agreement (SLA) plans for help topics, departments, or ticket filters. These can be used to track tickets and due dates, or to set up automated alerts for overdue tickets, missed due dates, and priority escalations.
Can osTicket stop multiple people working on the same ticket?
Yes. osTicket includes a ticket locking mechanism, which allows your staff members to lock tickets while they’re working on them or responding to them. This will prevent multiple responses and keep your team members from duplicating effort. You can even set the amount of time a ticket remains locked, so there's no risk of a ticket being forgotten if one agent doesn’t complete it.
What type of commercial support is available?
There are a number of commercial support packages available, based on your budget and needs. The osTicket support staff can assist your business with general questions, troubleshooting, providing best practice instructions, and customizing your implementation. They can also assist you with installation, on-boarding, and training.
What is SupportSystem?
SupportSystem is a cloud-base, turnkey version of osTicket. There is nothing to install; the system is hosted for you. It is the paid version of osTicket, but well worth the cost depending upon your needs.
What plans are available for SupportSystem?
There are three levels of paid plans available, depending on the features your business requires. Differences between levels include forced HTTPS support, custom SSL certificates, DKIM email signing, and attachment size limits.
Can I migrate from the free version to SupportSystem?
In most cases, you should be able to import your existing osTicket helpdesk into SupportSystem, provided you are using osTicket version 1.7 (circa 2014) or later. Support is available to assist you with the migration.