4 Ways to Handle a Support Ticket Faster

7 min read
Jan 5, 2015
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How to handle a support ticket faster

Getting your support chats and support tickets rated is a good way of finding out if your customer service works. Seeing a good rate after a chat or a ticket means that you did something well. More importantly, the bad rates help you spot places where you need to improve.

When tracking these ratings, you may notice that the rates for your support chats are often higher than those for your support tickets. I bet you give equal amount of attention to your chats and tickets, apply the same good practices, yet your chats fare better than your tickets.

Where does this difference come from? Are support tickets inherently flawed in some way? Do people prefer chats when getting support?

It’s a lot simpler than that – it’s all about the difficulty of cases we push to support tickets. They are not the easy ones that can be handled immediately but the ones that are hard to crack and require more time. And the harder the cases, the longer they take to solve.

People who need to wait after having their cases escalated to support tickets are already, in a way, disappointed. How do you plan on turning their experience around?

Support chats vs. support tickets

In this post, I will present ticket solving based on LiveChat sign up for a 30-day trial).

When looking at the monthly satisfaction rates for chats and tickets handled by our support (if you don’t do that yourself, you definitely should), we noticed that customer satisfaction for a normal customer service chat is much higher than for a typical support ticket.

We’ve spotted this ‘anomaly' some time ago. Our chat satisfaction levels were consistently higher than those for our tickets. Here’s our chat satisfaction data for the last 30 days:

Ratings from chats

The data represents all the chats where a visitor had some kind of matter to resolve. Now, here’s the data from the same period for tickets. Since we use a different set of tags for our tickets, the filter is set to last 30 days:

Ratings from tickets

When comparing various chats and tickets, we found out that the difference resulted from the difficulty of the handled cases.

Since the easy ones can be usually handled immediately, it's the difficult ones are pushed to a support ticket. As a consequence, they will take longer to solve, leading to a drop in customer satisfaction.

Even if a chat has to be a bit longer, customers prefer to have their cases handled in one touch. When preparing the Customer Happiness Report, we noticed that customer satisfaction starts to rise after 20 minutes of chat. They don't mind a longer conversation if the solution is provided. However, there is a certain braking point – chats lasting over 30 minutes are generally getting lower rates since, even if a solution is provided, they simply took too long to resolve.

You should always be aiming to resolve your support cases in one touch, but what to do with those that require some additional testing, checking or consultation?

Catching up with a support ticket

Even though not everything can be sped up, there’s a fair share of ways you can improve your ticket handling and make your customers satisfied with your service.

Delivering faster service through your tickets is all about using shortcuts. Each support ticket needs to follow a certain path – from being requested to the resolution. If you make that path as short as possible, you will get higher rates.

Here are a few ways to speed up the resolution of your tickets:

1. Assign tickets to people who can resolve them

When choosing the person who should handle a support ticket, there’s no point in handing it over to someone who can’t deal with it. Be it a lack of knowledge or a busy schedule, if you know that the person will end up passing the support ticket along, find someone who will deal with it immediately.

Sometimes you can get a really tough case that nobody wants to pick up. A real hot potato that will be passed over from one agent to another. If the case is difficult, make it your priority to find a solution, even if you need to go out of your way to get it.

2. Use tiered support

You probably deal with lots of different cases. Some of those cases require more expert knowledge to be handled than others. Hence it is a good idea to divide your support into tiers. A basic tiered setup involves two groups of agents: those who receive cases from customers and experts who deal with those cases.

When a customer comes to your chat and reports a case that needs a support ticket, the first group will pick it up. The support ticket is then escalated to your experts, who can then deal with it. For example, you could have an expert dealing with returns, or one managing payments.

Why is it so important? Imagine how wasteful it would be to have an expert on payments dealing with matters that can be handled by other agents easily when there are payment problems queueing in the tickets.

Experts have been trained to resolve very specific cases – ones that require more knowledge or higher credentials. With tiers, the experts are immediately assigned to cases that only they can handle, ensuring that tougher cases will be treated with priority. They also don’t have to spend their time on more general enquiries that require no additional customer service training or customer service skills.

3. Don’t lose track of tickets

One of the worst experiences that can be easily avoided involves lost tickets. These are the tickets that vanished in the receiving funnel due to poor assignment.

A common reason why a support ticket goes missing is assigning it to a person who has been out of the office for a few days, e.g. for vacation. The person will probably have no idea that he or she received the ticket and it will get buried under other incoming cases, leaving the client without an answer.

When you are assigning a support ticket to somebody who may miss it (e.g. someone not used to the ticketing system), make sure to notify the person via other channels like email or a team communication app like Slack.

4. Provide detailed support ticket descriptions

When an agent is passing a support ticket further down the line, it’s worth making sure that all the necessary information is provided. Things like addresses, phone numbers or order IDs can speed up the case resolution considerably.

If you are dealing with some kind of IT-related problem, e.g. the checkout form on your website is not working, information on how to reproduce this problem will be of great value to anyone who has to fix it.

If the person who receives the support ticket doesn’t have all the required information, the ticket will have to go back to the requester to fill in the blanks, leading to a longer case resolution and poorer experience.

More chats means less tickets

These four methods will speed up your support ticket resolution need to take, resulting in better rates. However, the best piece of advice I can give you is to handle as much cases as possible via chat. This guarantees that the resolution will be much swifter than in the case of any support ticket.

To resolve more cases immediately, your agents need two things: knowledge and tools.

You agents should know as much as possible. They need to constantly expand their knowledge about your products and services to resolve more difficult cases in one touch whenever possible. Make them learn your product descriptions or manuals by heart if necessary. They can also use resources you created for your customers, e.g. a knowledge base.

Tools like screen sharing apps will help you identify and resolve problems. You can use 3rd party co-browsing apps or even integrate them with your chat to be able to resolve more cases reliably. These apps come extra handy when dealing with less tech-savvy customers. Agents can also use screenshot-making apps like Jing or to point customers in the right direction by showing them what to click.

Kick the pace up a notch and make it your personal challenge for 2015 to handle more cases via chats than tickets. After all, who doesn’t like a speedy service?