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How to Reduce a Backlog of Tickets? Use Your Problem Solving Skills

how to reduce a backlog of tickets

CIOs, IT Managers, and MSPs Know How to Reduce Ticket Backlog in IT Customer Service

In 2016, Australian businesses lost $122 billion due to poor customer service. Estimates of the cost of business lost in the United States due to poor customer service range from $75 billion to $1.6 trillion per year.

As a CIO, IT manager, or MSP, you have many options to avoid losing business due to poor customer service including better training for your staff. Another important technique is to implement processes. You’ve probably done that already, but how are those processes working? Ticket backlogs are one sign of processes that need attention.

In a previous post, we talked about the importance of Customer Effort Score (CES). One cause of poor customer effort scores is when customers have to contact your organization or department repeatedly for the same issues.

Some of this may seem obvious to you, but others might miss it. Here are tips to clear a backlog of service desk tickets:

  1. Be proactive. Anticipate calls and head them off before they even happen. That’s where a knowledge base or support pages come in handy. We use YouTube videos, playlists, and a support page to help our customers understand how to use our online group and course management tools.
  2. Enable self-service. Encourage its use. Not getting tickets at all is the best way to avoid ticket backlogs. Increasingly, customers prefer to solve problems themselves rather than contact technical support. A great example that organizations have been using successfully for years is self-service password creation and resets.
  3. Increase first call resolution. Teach your front-line team to ask the right questions, to go deeper with their customers to better understand the issue. Make sure they test solutions to ensure they work before ending the call or closing the ticket.
  4. Empower your support staff. Train your staff well and give them the power to solve problems.
  5. Use canned responses and templates for frequent or repetitive questions and issues. Just because it’s a canned response doesn’t mean your team shouldn’t personalize it. They must also review it before clicking send to ensure it’s relevant and doesn’t contain anything that’s irrelevant.
  6. Keep tickets progressing. Analyze ticket progress, looking out for tickets that may have been overlooked.

Problem-Solving Skills

As a CIO, IT manager, or MSP, use your secret weapon for how to reduce a backlog of tickets. That’s your IT team! One of the great things about working with IT people is that most of us love troubleshooting and problem-solving. We do it all the time with technology, but those same problem-solving skills can work to help solve business problems. Get together with your IT staff, explain the problem (I guarantee they’re already well aware of it!), and ask for their help in finding a solution.

Here are five stages of a problem-solving process you and your team can use in deciding how to reduce a backlog of tickets.

  1. Analyze the problem. Brainstorm, discuss, ask lots of questions. Avoid pointing fingers or assigning blame on individuals.
  2. Generate possible solutions. Agree on desired outcomes. Write down on a shared screen or flip-chart possible solutions. Don’t evaluate at this stage. Simply list all possible solutions. 
  3. Evaluate the possible solutions. Discuss the pros and cons of each possible solution. Think both long-term and short-term. Consider possible side-effects of each solution. Agree on a plan. Also, gain agreement to support the agreed-upon plan from people who had a different idea.
  4. Implement the plan. Ensure that everyone clearly understands their role in implementing the plan.
  5. Evaluate the results. How well did the plan achieve the desired outcome as stated in step 2? Were there any side effects? What about unexpected outcomes, either good or bad? Is the plan working well enough to continue or should you repeat this process and find a new plan?

Treat a ticket backlog like any other process problem in your department or business. Analyze it. Ask lots of questions from your front-line team. They’re the people who really know what’s going on. Collaborate with the people who are involved in the backlog to resolve it. Remember the words of Dr. Patt Schwab: “People support that which they help create.”

Next Level Customer Service Training

Enroll your team now in Compassionate Geek IT online customer service training so they can work together, get things done, and take care of customers.

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