Here at Logicalware, we don’t like to bombard you with blogs about our product, we prefer to focus on interesting and thought-provoking articles. That said, sometimes our features are worth a little shout about, so we thought we’d cover both.
There are 2 main goals for this blog entry:
- To remind you about the importance of the support-customer communication
- To inform/remind you about a relatively new (and still exciting) Logicalware feature regarding tickets assignment which we’ll nonchalantly mention in the middle of this blog.
If you want to learn more about best practice for handling support tickets, (including automated replies) keep reading.
Different ways a support ticket can be assigned
Most tickets that our support team, here at Logicalware, receive, fall into 5 categories:
- “You guys are great, but here are the things that you need to change”. We always appreciate feedback and all queries of this kind are, at least, considered if not acted upon immediately.
- “I am a customer, do you have XYZ thing?” This type of question is where we generate the majority of our ideas for product upgrades. Our customers always know better and we are lucky because we are big enough to matter but small enough to care. We are more than happy to customise our product to meet your needs.
- “Have I done this correctly?” Quite a common one, especially when it comes to the ticket rules.
- “It’s broken.” Sometimes customers use our software incorrectly and sometimes, well, things are actually broken. It does happen once in a while.
- “Your product is rubbish and I’m really upset”. Almost never happens, but on the rare occasion that it does, it’s normally because customers aren’t making the most of the product.
Your business may relate to some of these categories, or you may even have additional categories to deal with. Whatever your support needs, one thing any business has in common is that no matter the query, they need to be dealt with… yesterday!
And to get the ball rolling, the process needs to be seamless. For a quick resolution to a customer query, first, the ticket needs to reach the right person. This process is called assigning a ticket to a team/agent.
How to assign tickets to support agents?
If you’re a small start-up, you might have many day-to-day issues but ticket assignment is not one of them. Your support team is likely to be represented by one or two agents and you can simply collect tickets as they arrive. But as your business grows, so too does, department size, the number of agents and volume of tickets. This is where problems can arise.
We have picked several ticket assignment practices, however, the key purpose of them all is to promote First Contact Resolution by reducing resolution time to a minimum and eliminating the need for follow up correspondence or phone calls.
So, what are the tickets assignment best practices?
1. Focusing on the premium plans users. (Logicalware offers ongoing support no matter what your plan is by the way!)
Simple as that – who pays more gets served first. Amazon does it, MailChimp does it. If this is your strategy, make sure your support documentation is super-coherent and easy to find, so that your basic users still enjoy decent service but know that by upgrading they will see clear benefits.
Advantages: keeping the better-paying users happier, encouraging loyalty, improving retention and upselling. It might also stimulate free plan members to switch to a paid option.
Disadvantages: If the number of support tickets for the premium plan users is too high, free or less paying users might suffer. Normally, they’re the ones who need support more often.
Important: You want to make sure your support documentation and other self-service tools are super-coherent; easy to find and easy to use.
2. Automatically assigning tickets to users with least open tickets, thus keeping the number of tickets evenly distributed across all agents.
Advantages: spreading the workload amongst the agents adopts the theory of ‘many hands make light work’.
Disadvantages: Some agents might work faster than others thus getting more tickets and their workload disproportionally increased.
Important: It’s crucial to assign tickets to online users only. Customers will receive an automated reply no matter whether a user is offline or online and will assume the problem is being resolved. Problems can arise if an agent is offline as it may take hours before someone starts looking into an issue. This is unacceptable if the matter is a) urgent b) coming from social media (where customers expect an answer within an hour or two) or 3) you have SLA’s in place.
3. Manual assignment.
Often, in the workplace, agents may have different skills sets. Some may know products better than others, some may be more technical and all agents will have different levels of experience. If you adopt a one size fits all approach, customer service may suffer. If you are savvy and assign the more complex tickets to the experienced agents, resolution times can be reduced dramatically. With Manual Assignment, tickets either get picked by the agents themselves (works for smaller teams) or get assigned by a team leader/manager.
Advantages: Efficient ticket resolution times. If different tickets require different skills, in theory, the most appropriate agents will pick the tickets best suited to them.
Disadvantages: So-called cherry-picking. Agents collect easy tickets to resolve. This is tempting if they have targets to meet. This results in complex tickets being pushed aside. This situation can often be worsened by team leaders who overlook this practice when their performance is measured by the performance of their team. Yes, it means success for an individual, it may even mean success for a team, but it can be a catastrophic failure for the business overall. Ideally, automation should be utilised so that the easier tickets are resolved automatically.
Important: Stay tuned for an upcoming Logicalware feature – role-specific tickets assignment! Up until now, all agents within a team were assigned tickets regardless of their role and supervisors had to manually reassign less difficult tickets to other team members. This took time and effort.
Ideally, a supervisor wants to have an overview of all the tickets, but some automatic distribution can help workload. Soon, you’ll be able to automatically assign tickets to team members depending on their role. Management intervention will only be required if one of the users is not around or another agent could resolve a particular ticket faster.
How we assign tickets at Logicalware?
At present, we only have two products (this is likely to change as we grow). Our support team isn’t huge and our tickets get assigned manually – some team members deal with one product, and some deal with the other. Team members look at the tickets and collect ones related to ‘their’ product. However, all our support agents are multi-skilled, so if one of them is unavailable, the other one can pick and resolve all types of tickets.
A word or two on automated replies
Even though sending an automated reply to a customer is becoming common place within customer service, there is automated reply – and there’s AUTOMATED REPLY. Yes, the email is being automatically generated, but does it need to be dry and robotic, no…
One of the simplest ways to improve customer experience is being creative with your automated replies.
How to make the most out of your customer service automated replies?
I don’t know about you but reading, ‘This is an automated message. Please don’t respond.’ makes me feel somehow rejected.
Look at this lovely automated reply we received this morning: Your request (466645) has been received and is being reviewed by our support staff. Being reduced to a number in an endless queue like in the final scene of Beetlejuice – how’s that for outstanding customer service and building long-lasting relationships with your customers?
When you receive an automated reply that shows a bit of personality and can easily be passed for a staff member’s authentic email, you definitely warm up to a company and their customer service.
When using automation doesn’t pay off?
Unfortunately, most companies send the same generic automated email response letting customers know they had got the message. If the purpose of automation is just cutting physical effort, it doesn’t improve the customer experience much.
You may choose the business-like style of the message and set customers’ expectations in accordance with your office hours and agents availability. However, our basic recommendation would be – use simple, everyday vocabulary and make it as ‘human’ as is humanly (pardon the pun) possible.
What to include in your automated reply?
This is how most Logicalware automated replies look like. Most queries we get are software support-related.
Thank you for contacting Logicalware Client Support.
A member of our team will get back to you as soon as possible – this is normally within 3 business hours.
You can also call our Support contact number from 8:00am to 5:30pm (GMT), Monday to Friday (excluding public holidays) on: +44 (0) 131 564 1100
The more information you provide us, the quicker we will be able to investigate and provide a solution.
Where appropriate, please provide ticket numbers, users affected, time frames, screenshots, etc. If you have not already done so, please reply back to this email and include as much information as you can.
Logicalware Support Team
While it’s not exactly Game of Thrones level entertaining, the email still features all the bare necessities of a good automated reply. The recipient gets to know:
1) The fact that we are processing the query
2) WHEN to expect a resolution
3) Office hours if the query is received outside them
4) Another way to contact Logicalware if it’s possible for urgent situations.
5) An advice on how to help faster ticket resolution.
Keep your automated replies short – after all, people are too busy to consume even exquisitely crafted long read. Remember – EVERY message your company sends out is an opportunity to build the relationships with your customers.
Hand-picked related blog post: How to Use a Knowledge Base in Your Company
Here’s the thing: your agents’ emails may make a bigger difference to your bottom line than any marketing or sales activity. However, in reality, most contact centre employees are overburdened; not only do they deal with often less than coherent emails, they’re also on the phone and a chat or two simultaneously. This is when pre-populated emails and automated replies come handy.
Some automated and pre-populated replies tips:
- Always double-check each automated reply (unless it’s sent out of office hours) to see if it really answers the question asked. Nothing annoys customers’ more than generic answers to specific questions.
- Get your automated replies proof-read and ask for alternative opinions of other team members.
- Personalise, personalise, personalise. By the way, I’m excited to give one of the upcoming features away: soon Logicalware clients will be able to use placeholder function so even in automated replies your customers will be called by their names. Useanything you know about the customer and make them feel like a person, not just a number
- If you want to encourage self-help, especially outside of the office hours, do include links to your knowledge base. However, make sure these links are as query-specific as possible. The worst option would be just referring customers to your website – if they wanted to go there, they would have done so, and, most probably, actually had done and hadn’t found the answers. In Logicalware, you can craft pre-populated and automated replies depending on the subject, hours, body, specific phrases and many other variables.
- While technically the answer may be right, the tone may put your customers off, so get these emails proof-read and keep the tone as friendly as possible.
- As a team leader or a manager, get your email agents together regularly and discuss email practices with them. You’d be surprised at how appreciative they will be to talk about emails. Spending hours replying customer tickets and typing the answers all day makes them feel very isolated.
Summary: All automation – whether it’s automatic tickets assignment, auto reply orpre-populated response – should serve one master purpose: improving customer experience. Automation for the sake of reducing the effort might harm your business, so use it wisely.