There Are Too Many! 6 Strategies to Prioritize Support Tickets from Customers
By: Laura Martins
When you’re so inundated with support requests that you feel like you need a boat to row out of them, it can be difficult and overwhelming to determine where to start. Everyone needs your time and attention, but it’s a matter of how soon and what type of attention they need that will determine how you can best serve them. There are many ways support tickets can be prioritized, and in order to effectively navigate your queue, you’ll need to settle on a method that works best for you.
1. By Order of Importance
If people are contacting you about a minor bug or something that can easily be remedied with little to no intervention (such as updating your app or restarting your program), these people aren’t in as dire need of support as people who can’t use your product or service at all. By sending an automated response that provides self-service tools, some people’s support requests may become obsolete before they ever need human intervention. Help the people who absolutely need human intervention first, and by the time you get to the people with minor issues, some of them may have already found the solution independently. Touch base with them later.
2. First Come, First Served
Responding to tickets in the order they were received is one of the most common practices. It comes with both advantages and disadvantages. On the surface, it means treating every customer with absolute equality. It also means that people with minor problems are treated the same as those with serious concerns. If your main goal is merely to stay on top of your tickets, then responding to them as they come is certainly the easiest method. Just keep in mind that people in desperate need of help may not be too happy if they find themselves waiting a long time.
3. Prioritising Customers by Tier
If you offer both free and paid services (or some kind of VIP program), the people who are paying more might feel more entitled to customer service than your free users. This is why so many companies mention that they prioritize customer service for paid users when they’re acquiring users. If you don’t already offer prioritized support as a benefit, contemplate doing so. Losing a free user over backed up support is a lot easier to handle than losing the business of a loyal customer who helps you keep the lights on.
4. By the Type of Problem
If you have a known issue with your problem that you’re currently working on resolving, you’re already doing your best to help the masses. Many of them have likely requested support or reported the issue. If you have a blanket solution, simply send out a canned response to everyone who is affected. Once the solution has been implemented, notify those people with a mass email. By taking care of widely shared concerns with one swift action, you’re freeing up your support staff to work with people who have unique needs or requests. Just be sure to publicly provide frequent and easy-to-find updates about the resolution of issues that affect a multitude of customers.
5. By the Information Received
If you have a text field that allows people requesting support to provide information about their situation, you can prioritize your support requests by keyword. You can also prioritize them by category if you’ve included a drop-down menu that allows users to place their requests beneath an umbrella.
Some umbrellas may be more important than others. Comments, questions and simple feedback can be saved for when you have the time. Issues with crucial elements of your product or service are more time sensitive, and it likely makes the most amount of sense to bump them to the top of the line.
6. By Importance of De-Escalation
Some companies prioritize support requests by the type of customer who makes them. Impatient, angry people don’t want to wait their turn. If you have customers repeatedly bombarding you with the same support request and leaving angry comments on social media, take them first. People who aren’t as emotionally reactive to situations that require customer support can probably wait a little longer, and you don’t want people who have a hard time moderating their emotions to make a scene. Loud cries for help and frequent complaints should be addressed immediately. Even if the customer isn’t satisfied enough with the solution to remain a customer, you can keep them from upsetting the rest of your customer base by immediately pacifying them.
No matter how you choose to prioritize support tickets, make sure that everyone is aware of the hierarchy you’ve chosen. Everyone needs to be on the same page. Consistency in support keeps tickets from becoming backed up and leads to smooth sailing with customer satisfaction.
Laura Martins is a team leader, with experience in customer care and finances, currently working at RateCity. Laura is deeply interested in unique and effective ways of finding and acquiring new customers for one's business, and can occasionally be found online, sharing her tips with other managers.