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Katerina Vinokhodova
UseDesk Co-Owner
Let's continue the discussion about the email queue handling. In the previous article, we have covered the sorting and prioritization of the requests, distribution among the agents and the appointment of the responsible agents. Now, we would like to provide three comment on these processes.
1. VIPs go first!
One of the factors used for sorting the requests is the customer's value for the company. An investor with a million vs. those having the credit cards, frequent vs. new customers, users with a "start" vs. "enterprise" accounts.
Those who pay more, expect to have the privileges, and they do not want to wait.

The easiest way to identify the important customers is to label them in the system and assign higher priority to their tickets in the queue. This works when the "special" customer service takes no more than N% of the working time of the team.
If you have too many of extremely urgent requests, build a queue 2.0 and appoint a group of agents to manage it. To simplify the task of separating wheat from chaff, offer the "special" customers a separate contact email address.
MailChimp, for example, has gone further: they provide email support only to the customers that use paid services. For those customers that use a trial version or Starting Up option, there is a great documentation with clear navigation and videos that is enough to start. Advanced users have advanced questions — and MailChimp focuses on them.

Quick support can become a source of additional revenue. Think about the ways to link the cost of your services and the speed of customer support.
2. 'New' means simple and 'old' means complicated
When it comes to SLA, your goal is first response time reduction, thus, try dividing the team: one group will handle new requests, and the other group will handle the older ones. The first group should be focused on the simple questions, that take a couple of seconds to resolve. When the request contains a complex issue, an agent from the first group transfers it to the second group.

This approach kills two birds with one stone:
  • a part of users are delighted with immediate replies
  • the queue gets shortened, and the enthusiasm of the team gets bigger
The only thing left is deciding on the principle of formation of the groups. The first option: agents play "pick a stick" game and the agents rotate between these two groups periodically — this option can be used for small teams of up to 15 people with approximately the same skills. The option for the teams with high staff turnover rate: beginners handle the commonly asked questions, while more experienced agents work with complex cases. This helps to keep new hires motivated and does not let experienced employees to get bored with the routine tasks.
3. Task diversification
Customers' issues are not always solved by the first line of support. Financial or technical questions require the assistance of colleagues from other departments. The closer the first line of support to the second line, the happier the customer.

Let's take a simple scheme of interaction, when a request from the external queue is transferred to the internal queue — the queue of requests with "On Hold" status that require additional investigation. A customer did not receive money and wants to confirm the details of where you sent the money.

  1. Support team receives the request.
  2. A separate discussion chain with the accounting department had been started.
  3. Accounting provides the comments.
  4. Support team responds the customer.
This process requires the support team to monitor the request that has been forwarded to colleagues, and the accounting department — to react promptly. Internal comments in UseDesk allow an agent initiate discussion with colleagues straight from the request, with no need to switch to another system or email. The accounting team will receive a notification immediately, once the request is assigned to them.
We change the status to "On hold" and the request is sent to the queue. In order not to forget about the request, we set up the rule: if colleagues do not comment within 2 days, a reminder is to be sent to the support team. When accounting team adds comments, the status and responsible agent are updated automatically, and the request "moves" back to support queue.

Thus, when more than one team works on a ticket, it is important to keep the process under control and save the history of changes. It is essential to be able to monitor the progress of the ticket and who is responsible at any time.
The combination of processes
Изучив и протестировав these methods, take a little from each of them and create an efficient process tailored for queue management at your company. First, work with unassigned tickets processing the requests from oldest to new ones. Thus, the agents get an equal workload, and the customers get answers on a "first come — first served" basis. Then play with filters and tags. UseDesk identifies the increase in the number of the questions on the same subject matter. That helps to group the relevant requests into one line.
When you know what generates the largest volume of requests, edit or update the knowledge base accordingly. Now, when you have cut the queue and it contains only the most important requests, start optimization of request processing. Determine which tickets should be solved first, and distribute them among the agents.

There is no unified way to form and process the ticket queue that would fit every company. Someone just need to hire more people, while someone prefers to reduce the team but automate the processes and redistribute the workload. Do not afraid to try new things, and you will find a way that fits your goals, and suits your product and team, and, what is the most important, that works for your customers.
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