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Top 10 biggest time-wasters for support agents

Updated: Jan 29, 2022

Customer support is simple, right? Your agents are tasked with efficiently resolving issues and ensuring that customers are satisfied (CSAT). But as companies grow so do ticket volumes and the complexity of some cases.

Without the right system in place, this growth leads to processes gradually becoming less efficient over time. Workflows that worked well when you were starting out quickly become overgrown with repetitive admin and clerical work, hurting agent productivity and leaving you with less time to actually show up for your customers. Not being present quickly affects how your customers perceive you – a costly mistake that few companies can afford.

If you want to improve agent productivity, here are the ten most common ways that support teams waste time (and most of these are totally avoidable with the right tools).

1 Impossible ticket volumes

As companies grow, they add more services and more users. More users mean more support issues, but an ever-expanding customer support team simply can't keep up with the ever-increasing volume of tickets. This is where ticket deflection helps skim some of that ticket volume off the top. Self-service deflects customers by allowing them to find solutions without having to ask for help. Instead of wasting time trying to answer every single customer personally, save resources for those cases that really need a human touch.

2 Answering the wrong questions

Unfortunately, lack of self-service doesn’t only mean support departments have too many tickets on their plate – it also means the bulk of their time is spent answering the wrong kinds of questions.

Support agents are problem solvers – not password resetters – and an efficient support department uses their time accordingly.

Often customers reach out for help to ask about issues that could be solved easily through a knowledge base, like return policy. In this scenario, simple questions can often be pre-supplied by your support team with an easily accessible knowledge management system.

3 Using an outdated ticketing system

When a customer is unable to solve their own problem, they reach out to an agent. But which agent? Usually the first available representative takes your call and puts you through to the right department. Their ticket was randomly assigned to a team that probably wasn’t equipped with the skills to handle it. As the size of your team grows, it becomes more difficult to understand who has the expertise that you need for which issue – and even more difficult to measure agent productivity.

Your support team can’t afford to be caught up in the complexities of an outdated ticketing system. Skill-based auto-routing drawn from ticket information takes this work off your plate and greatly reduces the number of tickets that need to be ‘manually diagnosed’ by an agent.

4 Waiting for information

Once a customer has reached the right team, the fun is just getting started. Let’s suppose this customer has a pretty tricky question, and one that requires a bit of digging. Without a well organized internal knowledge base, your agents will need to reach out to other departments for more information. This back-and-forth journey between departments results in scheduling back-and-forth meetings, misinformed decisions and, ultimately, wasted time. You end up getting the information you need (but not in the time you want).

5 Manual tasks that could be automated

Manual workflows around the lifecycle of a support ticket can consume an immense amount of time and hinder workflow efficiency. But help desk software has come a long way towards allowing agents and support managers to make use of automatic tasks such as mailing customers, emailing them a progress report or tagging them in a chat.

At times, you may even find that you can automate tasks completely – freeing up your support staff to use their time to resolve customer queries. This mean less time spent on clerical work, leaving you with more time for the day-to-day business of supporting your customers. If your support department is not efficient in the manual task of responding to customer enquiries in the first place, you risk losing their business altogether.

6 Siloed channels instead of omnichannel

When supporting customers with minimum effort, it’s important to meet them wherever they are – phone, email, chat, or social media. That’s why support teams often have multiple channels for communicating with customers. For example, customer support teams may have a livechat system, an SMS app and a phone app – which may not have the same functionality, or may not use the same APIs. If a company has two separate customer support systems, it may result in two separate queues for the same customer, thus losing time and focus.

When all your support channels feed into one inbox, customers can interact with your support team from one place rather than having to communicate with the team though two separate channels.

7 Juggling multiple tabs

As soon as a support request comes in, your agents need to know where it came from and what's going on. Have they contacted customer support for this issue before? Which product or service are they using? Have they visited your knowledge base yet to try and troubleshoot it?

This means finding answers to lots of questions quickly, but it shouldn’t be a heavy lift for the agent. What makes this step a total time drain is when all that information is buried in different systems. Using a single platform that consolidates all your tools makes this process much easier, and saves agents the time tracking down information when they have it at their fingertips.

8 Merging dirty data

Supporting customers with tools from different vendors – like ticketing, chat, CRM, self-service – means that your customer data lives across multiple systems, each in its own language. Those data points can be formatted to talk to each other, but that’s a manual task that many support teams don’t have the skill-set for or the bandwidth to do. Integrating them into one spreadsheet takes lots of time, which in reality means it doesn’t get done. That’s a problem because you then start to miss out on customer trends, so you’re always playing catch up.

9 Undocumented learnings

One of the biggest workflow inefficiencies for support teams is not having a system in place to improve upon existing processes. The majority of organizations have processes in place for updating and maintaining their systems, but without a feedback loop your agents will lose time making the same mistakes again and again. This makes it all but impossible to calculate agent productivity.

There are also many options to get direct customer feedback. This can have far-reaching effects leading to improvements not only in support but also with the product, with agent skills and training, and more.

'Support teams who don’t learn from their mistakes are doomed to repeat them.' – Old Proverb

10 Remote work isn’t working

Long before the world suddenly learned about remote work, companies had agents working remotely at off-site service centers, a practice known as business process outsourcing (BPO). But even smaller support teams continuing remote or hybrid work-from-home models can learn from the lessons of some larger companies.

Remote work can encourage an ‘out of sight, out of mind’ approach in some support leaders. When agents are left unsupervised, they are likely to feel they are working in a blind spot and this can discourage motivation and encourage them to cut corners in their work. With a combination of the right support platform and good old fashioned check-ins, let your remote support team know that you are there for them.

Best practices for remote customer support


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