Written by Sorin Alupoaie on Feb 1, 2018 in

Voice of the Customer: The Treasure Hidden in Customer Support Tickets

There is a stage in the life-cycle of any successful business in which  contribution to growth shifts gradually from marketing and sales functions toward customer service and customer success initiatives.

With customers being more informed and having more options than ever before, keeping a customer from churning to competitors becomes increasingly important. In these companies, customer success is emerging as a third engine of growth that ensures customers are happy and successfully getting value from your products or services.

Adjust for the Customer Success Stage

At this stage, your customer base is growing, and so is the demand for support: more customers, more problems to solve. Your offering becomes more complex, whether you are an eCommerce store or a SaaS house. The support activity is ramping up, and the team is getting bigger. The number of contacts from customers is outgrowing the support@ inbox while collaboration between team members becomes increasingly important in having quick problem resolution.

Now is the time to invest in a modern help desk solution, if you haven’t done it already. Emails turn into tickets or cases, same for chat, phone calls, and social conversations.

Learn From How Support Time is Spent

As the number of tickets grows exponentially, it becomes increasingly important for support leaders to look back at their teams’ work and understand where time was spent. You get to a point where you need to know what's driving the support activity, what the ticket is about in each case, and what the trends are each week.

Having this information helps a support manager make informed decisions in the following areas:

  • Weekly and monthly reporting to be discussed with other senior stakeholders and to help decide on priorities in terms of bug fixing, new features, process issues, etc.
  • Allocating the right resources for training or coaching, knowing the areas where your staff is lacking expertise.
  • Managing and customizing the support workflow, such as automatically sending tickets on certain subjects to specific teams or people (i.e. “billing” queries go to the “billing team”).

Use Support Tickets as Customer Feedback

Support tickets are an important source of customer feedback often overlooked by product teams. As a customer service leader, you can become an advocate of the voice of the customer.

Sharing feedback reports regularly within the company can get the product and engineering teams to be more empathetic toward customers and, hopefully, more proactive.

Need to convince the product team that feature X is a problem? Tell them that 40% of customer complaints are in relation to feature X. The support team gets a seat at the product table, and this is how a customer-centric culture is developed.

Use Case Reasons to Adjust and Monitor Your Self-Service Strategy

Knowing the case reasons will also help you take proactive steps in supporting your customers and help you start developing a self-service strategy.

First, find out which customer questions are most frequent and which of these are good candidates for knowledge base articles. After writing and publishing these articles, you can track if the number of tickets related to the subjects covered lessen. If the same questions keep coming, perhaps it is time to review the articles again.

Establish Customer Experience Metrics to Find Areas to Improve

In addition to regular performance and productivity metrics, growing companies often introduce customer experience metrics, such as customer satisfaction, in the support workflow.

A metric such as customer satisfaction allows a business to measure and track the experience of their customers after an interaction with the customer service team. These metrics help managers understand where and how to improve support activity to more quickly and better solve clients’ problems.

Customer satisfaction can then be mapped to products or features, contact reasons, and/or team members, enabling you to quickly spot gaps in customer experience. It might be a product feature causing the most dissatisfaction among customers, or instead, it’s a staff member lacking expertise in certain areas (as uncovered by the contact reasons). In the later case, targeted training or coaching can be quickly allocated to up-skill the agent.

Get Organized by Implementing a Ticket Categorization Strategy

So where do you start to fully understand why customers are contacting you? To achieve this, most teams are adopting a ticket categorization strategy. Tags and custom fields are available in all modern help desk software. Tickets can be organized by issue type, product or feature, department, customer segments, and more.

Start with a small number of categories and then increase gradually. If the number of options to choose from is too large, your team may have difficulty finding and selecting the right ones when a new ticket arrives. Tag names should be self-explanatory and unambiguous, without overlap between their meanings. When creating tags, aim to cover most of the major product features or service areas that are part of the company’s offering.

Often, there are customer questions that you haven’t thought of and are not captured by the current list of tags, and each new software release can introduce new problems and topics that were not captured by the existing set of tags. Changing tags requires communication and coaching of support team members, adding overhead to an already extremely busy organization.

Fortunately, a new approach is emerging as an alternative to manual tags, and it’s one we’re passionate about at Cx MOMENTS. Using Artificial Intelligence and Natural Language Processing, customer service leaders can discover topics in support tickets, uncovering customer issues and contact reasons many times better than using manual tagging.

In many modern help desk solutions, it is possible to tag tickets programmatically, through API calls. Therefore, after using Text Analytics to uncover themes and trends in the content of the tickets, these themes can be fed back into the help desk automatically as tags and/or custom fields. This enables more complex support workflows based on triggers or automations.

This new approach of topic detection and auto-tagging is more accurate and more consistent than manually selecting values for custom fields. It is also fully flexible, can be changed and updated in line with business changes, and can be changed retrospectively. This solution frees up time for the support team, allowing them to focus on solving the customer issues.

By following the recommendations outlined above, you can take advantage of a wealth of customer feedback contained in the support tickets you’re already addressing every day. Learn from these support tickets, and use this voice of the customer to inform your business’ next steps.

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About the author

Sorin Alupoaie of Cx MOMENTS

Sorin is the Co-Founder and CTO of Cx MOMENTS.

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