Written by Ian Landsman on May 17, 2018 in

Providing Excellent Customer Support: Prioritizing Support Inquiries

After a weekend of family time, a full support queue can be daunting. Where do you start?

For that, we turn to prioritizing, and using some automated tricks to help us do so.

Remember that support form you created for the help site? We’re going to use those contact categories to help set up a triage of tickets.

Have your form submit to your email address, with a label applied for each one of your contact categories. Then to triage, let’s go with a scale of one to five, with a priority of one at the top of your list.

Priority #1 → “I can’t log in.”

Issues like this one can keep your customers from using your product at all - and that isn’t good for customer retention. These are also issues that should be relatively easy to fix, and thus can be addressed quickly, making for happier customers who feel heard and supported.

Priority #2 → “I have a billing question.”

Issues involving money and payment should always be prioritized highly. Frustrated customers can always choose to take their money elsewhere. Like the log-in issue above, billing questions or issues should also be relatively easy to answer and diagnose, at least compared to other issues, such as product bugs that require a lot of investigation, fixing, and testing.

Priority #3 → “I think something’s broken.”

These are the bugs I just talked about. Or, the lack of a bug, and simply customer confusion you have to diagnose and address. These inquiries can take a bit more time to figure out and address. They’re important - you never want your customer to think your product is broken - but you can’t let one customer’s in-depth inquiry get in the way of knocking out ten customers’ log-in and billing issues in the same amount of time.

Priority #4 → “Other” and emails not submitted through the form.

These are the mystery, uncategorized emails. They probably contain some of the issues above, but they may also include issues you haven’t run into before. Even if you don’t address all of these immediately, it’s important to quickly skim through these as soon as you can, to ensure high priority log-in, billing, or other emergent issues aren’t mixed in.

You can also set up a filter to catch words and phrases like “log in” to match with priority #1, or “unknown charge” to match with priority #2, and so on. As you get more emails, you’ll be able to identify other patterns that you can match to those labels - or create new categories and labels as needed.

Priority #5 → “I have a feature request.”

New features are great, and building a product via customer feedback can be wonderful. But before you can grow your product, you have to make sure to support the customers using the current version. Current customers aren’t going to be so thrilled with new bells and whistles if you haven’t addressed the problems with the product they’re already having.  

Pay Attention to Patterns - and Learn from Them

As you work your way down your support queue, keep an eye on patterns that emerge.

Are you seeing a lot of people asking for password resets? That may indicate you need to update your web or app design to make that option easier to find.

Is there a question about billing you’re getting over and over again? Provide some clarifying language on your billing page or FAQs section to proactively answer this question.

One or two people having trouble may not mean anything, but multiple people running into the situation means something is off. Proactively identifying these trends and dealing with them will mean happier customers - and a lighter support queue for you.

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About the author

Ian Landsman of UserScape

Ian is the founder of HelpSpot and also podcasts at Bootstrapped.fm.

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