Recognizing the Warning Signs in your Support Department

The rapid advancement and adoption of technology by economies around the world has made the fast-paced world of business an even swifter beast. Consumer trends, inventories, and workflow can change overnight, leaving your business scrambling to adapt to the ebb and flow of the business world. In an ideal world your business would have the full-time staff in place to adapt and respond perfectly to every situation.

However, this is the real world and companies have budgets and staffing issues to deal with on a daily basis. Customer service keeps your business running because your support department helps keep customers happy and turns new customers into repeat customers in the future with excellent service.

The question for your business is, how well is the support department coping right now with current workloads? Although you might have the right staff in place who are solving customer issues with professionalism and pride each time, that doesn’t necessarily mean that your support department is operating at peak levels.

If your analytics at the end of each week are telling you a different story than you’re hearing from your support staff, then you need to be on the lookout for warning signs that your support department is overworked and/or understaffed. Have you noticed any of these signs among your support staff?

What’s the Average Resolution Time?

Almost as important to the customer as solving their problem is the speed with which your customer service professionals are solving the problem. Resolution time is widely considered as covering the space of time from a ticket opening through ticket completion. This resolution time can vary from industry to industry, but for more complicated issues a higher cap of three days should be the longest acceptable resolution time.

Outside of particularly high volume times of the year, such as holiday shopping, your support department’s resolution time should be under that mark. If you notice that your resolution time is consistently at or above your set ceiling, it might be time to expand.

How Rapid is the First Response?

Not to be confused with total resolution, first response is how quickly your support staff members are making initial contact or beginning resolution steps with a ticket as it comes in to your helpdesk. Again, putting high volume time frames aside, your helpdesk staff should be making first contact on tickets within an hour. This time frame should always be measured in minutes.

If the average first response is exceeding one hour, odds are your staff is facing more tickets than they can respond to in a reasonable amount of time.

How Many Tickets are Carrying over Day-to-Day?

There is no bright side to this factor. If your support department has a number of backlogged tickets that carry over from day-to-day, that isn’t a great sign. Of even greater concern, if the number of backlogged tickets is increasing on a daily basis than your staff is facing an increasing number of customer issues that it cannot handle.

Do Expectations of Customers and Support Staff Align?

No business can promise a rapid solution to every customer, every time. Different situations are going to require different resolution times, within reason. That is why there are expectations set forth for your customers so they understand how long to expect resolution to take. Likewise, your support staff should have an idea how much time they are expected to take in solving these issues.

If you graph out the number of tickets resolved in total against the number of tickets resolved within time expectations, the two should be very close together. If however, you notice an increasing gap between the two lines on the graph your support department may be in need of help to resolve its workload.

Total Number of Tickets vs. Number of Resolved Tickets

Perhaps the greatest indicator of your support department’s performance shines through when comparing the number of open tickets with the number of resolved tickets. This will help identify clearly if your staff is being overworked. If the number of incoming tickets during any given time frame vastly outstrips the number of resolved tickets, your staff is likely shorthanded and not meeting optimal performance levels.

What your business does when facing these warning signs is up to you. There are a number of possible solutions including hiring a new member of your support staff, altering shifts, or even turning to an outside vendor to help outsource certain support services to lighten the load on your in-house staff and keep them running efficiently.