customer support

6 steps to effectively reduce customer support backlog

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by   Mikayla Fuller
November 16, 2023

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Customer support backlog management can put immense pressure on support teams. The struggle to balance quality responses with timely resolutions becomes a delicate act shared by many businesses, large and small, as they navigate the demands of a customer-centric landscape. Approached with strategy and care, teams can resolve backlog while still maintaining CSAT and service quality.

Leveraging her extensive 7+ years of experience in customer service, Jhanell, an Influx Delivery Manager, sheds light on six crucial steps to alleviate the backlog. In a tangible demonstration of these principles, explore how Influx successfully resolved a 15,600+ ticket backlog for Saturn, showcasing the practical application of these strategic measures in a real-world scenario.

Customer support metrics for backlog management

Balancing backlog management with a keen understanding of customer support metrics is imperative for sustaining performance excellence and enables teams to gauge their effectiveness in real-time. By aligning these metrics with backlog management, teams can ensure that their efforts are directed toward resolving the most pressing issues first.

Jhanell’s top customer support metrics for backlog management:

  • Backlog size - Backlog size is the most straightforward metric, representing the total number of unresolved tickets or requests. It gives a quick snapshot of the workload.
  • Ticket age - Ticket age is how long tickets have been in the backlog, which can help prioritize tasks. Monitoring aging tickets provides insights into areas that need more attention.
  • First-contact resolution rate - This metric indicates the percentage of issues resolved during the first interaction with the customer. A high first-contact resolution rate is a positive indicator of effective support.
  • Customer satisfaction scores (CSAT) - While not directly related to backlog size, CSAT provides a holistic measure of customer satisfaction and can give a good indication of support quality. It can be used in conjunction with other metrics to evaluate the overall effectiveness of customer support, including backlog management.
  • Average handle time - Average handle time measures the average duration it takes for a customer service rep to handle a customer interaction from beginning to end. It often includes hold time and after-call work. Lower handle times can help prevent backlog from growing.
  • Missed or declined calls - If agents consistently miss or decline calls because they are occupied with other customers, it can be a strong indicator that the support team may need additional agents.

Influx customer support includes all management and ongoing training. Our management level works with you to set tangible benchmarks. We track a variety of metrics to measure and maximize performance. Regular QA and feedback with your team leaders ensure that your systems and workflow see continuous improvement. Learn more about how it works.

6 steps to reduce ticket backlog

Backlog can quickly become cluttered or outdated if it’s not managed well, posing challenges to timely issue resolution and overall customer satisfaction. Here are Jhanell’s six key steps to streamline and enhance your backlog management process, ensuring a more organized and efficient customer support operation.

1. Establish a prioritization framework to triage tickets

As a way to manage and reduce backlog, ticket triage helps to streamline the overall support workflow by routing tickets to the right agents, reducing the need for handoffs and unnecessary delays in issue resolution. Tickets should be prioritized based on urgency, age, and complexity to make sure the most critical issues are resolved first.

For more on ticket prioritization, check out five tips to prioritize support requests for faster resolution.

2. Bulk edit responses

After organizing tickets, you may notice that some customers have the same issue. In this case, it can save time to bulk edit responses. When bulk editing responses, Influx agents will update the macros to personalize the response and give it an extra touch—because the human touch is important in customer support, you don’t want your customers to think they’re only talking to a bot. Then, we send one, personalized response to each customer, reducing the backlog with quick and efficient resolution.

3. Maintain quality

While the urgency to clear the backlog may be intense, sacrificing quality can have long-term consequences on customer satisfaction and the overall reputation of the support operation. Maintaining quality is essential, even under the pressure of backlog. Jhanell shares that it’s important to reinforce empathy and monitor the inbox and the quality of agent responses. The more knowledgeable agents are, the easier it is to handle a  higher volume. 

4. Assign ownership to avoid duplicate work

Ownership streamlines the resolution process. In addition to preventing multiple people from working on the same ticket, clear ownership also ensures that efforts are synchronized and collaborative. When each ticket has a designated owner, it minimizes the risk of redundant actions and promotes a more coordinated approach to issue resolution. Collaborative ownership enables team members to share insights, knowledge, and updates, fostering a more cohesive and informed resolution process. 

5. Encourage team engagement

An increase in ticket volume can quickly lead to burnout due to the heightened pressure to address a large number of customer inquiries within a limited timeframe. A focus on team engagement and well-being can help. Jhanell likes to schedule biweekly goal-setting meetings paired with daily calls to go over how the team can achieve inbox zero by the end of their shift. Striking a balance between addressing backlog demands and prioritizing the health of the support team contributes to sustained effectiveness and positive outcomes for both customers and agents.

Set your in-house team up for success with an empty inbox at the beginning of their day. Influx agents work to achieve inbox zero through after-hours and weekend support. Ready to learn more about clearing the inbox? Let’s talk!

6. Let self-service and a chatbot help

Integrating a chatbot as the first support layer can help reduce backlog. Chatbots excel at handling routine and frequently asked questions with immediate responses. After a chatbot has sent the relevant knowledge base article to a customer and their issue has not been solved, then the customer is sent to an agent. By automating initial interactions, chatbots alleviate the burden on agents, allowing them to focus on more complex issues and resolve the backlog faster.

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Tackle the backlog and get a handle on ticket volume with dedicated teams trained to deliver fast, high-quality support to your customers. Let’s talk!

About the author

Photo of Mikayla Fuller

Mikayla Fuller

Mikayla is an avid copywriter. If she’s not out on an adventure, you can find her somewhere with a book in hand.