In the Trenches: The Money vs. Time Tug-of-War

BrettSnyder by Brett Snyder on March 5, 2014
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Last week’s post about team vs. individual customer service received some insightful comments from readers. Thank you! In particular, two people suggested that we resolve our problem by using a help desk-style ticketing solution. This would be ideal if it weren’t for one thing: Like many small-business owners, I am in a constant tug-of-war between time and money.

Cranky Concierge asks clients to “reply all” to emails so that their messages will go to everyone who books flights, as well as to our general inbox. Implementing a ticketing system could eliminate the need to do so. Streamlining our procedures is a good idea, and I’ve looked at ticketing options before. But this is where the tug-of-war begins.

A third commenter noted that help-desk systems can be pretty expensive, thus our small business may not be able to afford one. That’s generally true if you do it yourself. However, there are very affordable ticketing systems out there, such as the one the commenter recommended, osTicket, which is free if you self-host it, or the popular Zendesk, which starts at $1 per person per month. Unfortunately, getting an affordable system up and running without hiring IT help would require a serious time commitment on my part.

The way I see it, I have two options: Throw money at the problem and let others handle implementation, which gets expensive quickly. Or do the job myself, which may be cheaper but will require a ton of time (which ultimately costs me money as well). Neither solution is a good one for a small business like ours, because we don’t have very deep pockets or much spare time.

You’d think this conundrum would really annoy me, but the reality is it provides an effective system of checks and balances. Could I devote money to making this happen? Yes. Could I just do it myself? Yes. But the time vs. money tug-of-war gives me enough pause to make sure that it’s something we really need.

As for a ticketing system, I’ve yet to be convinced we need to have one. But it’s on my wish list, and we’ll probably get there someday. Keep the helpful comments coming!

BrettSnyder

Brett Snyder is President and Chief Airline Dork of Cranky Concierge air travel assistance. Snyder previously worked for several airlines, including America West and United, before leaving to create a travel search site for PriceGrabber.com. Snyder did his undergrad at George Washington and earned his MBA from Stanford.

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