Getting started: Step 4 - The why
So, your business is running, and your customer support team is handling incoming inquiries. Suddenly, the amount of customer inquiries increases. How do you find out what caused this? Do you feel that most of the questions are relating to a particular topic? Even if this is the case, to efficiently run support you need facts to drive future directions.
In order to know why your customers are reaching your support, this must be tracked somehow. Tagging, labeling or categorizing tickets is not simply an additional field for your support team to fill in. They’re a key mechanism to help you get a better grasp on what is happening in your support.
Why are customers contacting you?
By creating knowledge base articles for customers about the most common and recurring questions, this can reduce the amount of incoming inquiries. You might also be able to identify UX issues in your product. Fixing those can also reduce the amount of incoming contacts.
Additionally, you can share the statistics with the development/engineering team to showcase how many issues a certain bug or a lack of feature causes, to help with prioritization of work.
By showing them how often your support team needs to perform a specific manual task, it might be valuable to find a way to automate that task.
Be curious! You want to know why your customers are contacting you and you should not trust feeling-based estimations, but raw facts and numbers. Remember, you want to eliminate incoming simple requests and save your support team’s time for complex inquiries.
How to categorize inquiries?
Some ticketing systems provide ticket type categorization out-of-the-box. They do offer a possibility to choose: service request, bug or incident. These categories are generally good.
Depending on your product or service, you might want to add a “how to” option. This way, you can easily filter out tickets where a client did not know how to do something. These tickets are low hanging fruits to either establish or extend your external facing knowledge base OR improve your software’s UI.
● Service request – do something that the customer can’t do themselves
● Bug – a feature does not work as expected. Usually happens after a release.
● Incident – a feature is broken / platform is down
● How to – a customer is asking for advice about how to do something
● Feature request – a customer is suggesting an improvement to your product
These main categories or ticket types do not yet tell much. You want to know more! The next step is to support categorization based on themes - the topics which incoming queries are about.
The easiest way to get started is to create list of your product’s features. If your tools support cascading lists, a list can be divided to smaller lists to help the support team to the most specific, relevant option.
For example, let’s say that your product has the following features: Invoicing module, Sales Module, Contract module. Your system is also connected to some third party providers via an API, e.g. to Facebook.
You want to create a main lists for these and then add additional details under each to drill down to the specific topics for the queries. E.g.
● Invoicing module
Change billing address
Extend due date
● Sales module
● Contract module
By using this method, you can collect considerably more information about what is really happening in your support.
A ticket is categorized as a Bug - Contract module - Templates. If you see a lot of requests coming in relating to this, it is time to have a serious talk with Product / Developers about the matter. Or, if there is a known bug in this template functionality, categorization helps you to see how many customers are really affected and suffering because of this bug.
A ticket is categorized as Service request (or How-to) - Invoicing - Change invoice address - If you receive a lot of inquiries about this, it can mean that:
● users are not finding a way to do this on their own (either there’s an issue in the client facing knowledge base or in the UI)
● it is not possible for customers to do that themselves - if there’s an increasing amount of requests for such a simple task, you could talk with the Product in order to add the functionality to the UI.
Another option, depending on your ticketing system, is to opt for automatic categorization based on the keywords in the incoming query. The field should be mandatory to fill in and tickets categorized as “other” should be analyzed within your weekly reporting to see if there is a reason to create more sub-categories or even new categories.
Also, make sure that the field (tag, label) is available to use in reporting. Ensure that it is not possible for your team to create their own labels and tags on a totally adhoc basis; otherwise reporting will become difficult as the same topic might have several different tags or labels.
Starting to categorize tickets from the start is much easier than adding them later. It is also a beneficial practice that will give you valuable insights into your support and your customers’ needs.