The Death of Tickets vol. 2: Prioritize Your Customers, Not Your Channels
In the second installment of our “Death of Tickets” series we’ll go a bit deeper into how to best organize your customer service platform to ensure your customers get the help they need, when they need it through skill-based routing.
- What customers expect when they reach out for support
- How to ensure all customer inquiries are immediately routed to the agent best suited to resolve the the issue
- Obstacles that might stand in your way of implementing true skill-based routing
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Julie: Hello everyone and welcome to the second installment of the death of tickets webinar series here at Dixa. My name is Julie. I'm in charge of organizing webinars and with me I have our vp of product tested. Today's title is prioritize are customers, not your channels and customers. We'll be talking about how you can make sure that you put your customers at the center of your customer service efforts by prioritizing the right way. If you have any questions during the webinar, please feel free to use the questions tab on the chat andI'll make sure to read out any of your questions at the end of the webinar so Tue can answer them. Also, I'll make sure that you get our contact details and website at the end of the webinar in case you want to get in touch or learn more about Dixa. I'll also be sending out an email after the webinar, a recording in case you want to rewatch it or pass it onto colleague or something like that. Anyways, I’ll let Christian do his thing. Take it away.
Christian: Hi and welcome to the second installment tickets. Tickets are dying and they're doing it in three volumes because we can’t just do it in one! So I'm Christian and I’m VP of product here at Dixa, So, I have some pretty, you know, I have some opinions about how to prioritize your customers and how to do it in a good way and how tickets are definitely not helping us do that. In volume one: Make friends, not tickets, we talked a little more about that. I'll go into what we did there, but if you haven't watched volume one, I would definitely recommend you to do that. Uh, you can find it dixa.com/webinars and all the webinars are easy to find there. I would definitely recommend you to go go view that. You will still be able to follow along, no worries, but it definitely gets you a little bit more of the basic insight into why tickets are creating problems for your customers.
So, in volume one, we talked a little bit about how you really communicate with your customers. This is a made up example, but an example of how you communicate with your friends and what we saw was that the way we communicate with our friends is also how we communicate with businesses. So, you switch between different channels, um, go from a phone call or an email to a chat and kind of continuously change from channel to channel. So wherever most appropriate we will continue our conversations and continue to move through the different channels. If it's easier to pick up the phone to solve something then we will pickup the phone. If it's easier to send an email, then that’s what we’ll do. So we always have these continuous conversations. And uh, I mentioned Chiara, who works at a company called Product Board. They build product management tools, which is something that I use. As one of their support managers there, she has really helped me because she's built a level of communication with me and a very specific way of communicating. She knows who I am, she knows my level of expertise and we kind of talk very well. So even though we're not friends, we are–we are still, you know, we're still tied to each other through Product Board and she really communicates with me in many ways as a friend would.
Tickets disconnect customers from businesses
Next–so what we saw from Volume one was that a tickets really create a disconnect between customers and businesses because tickets lead various separate lives. Each ticket lives usually on one channel and that's one of the biggest problems andI’ll dive into that a little more today…Agents are divided by channel…And tickets are a horrible way to describe your customer interactions. Calling your customers tickets is not a very good way to talk about them and we’re objectifying them and making them into data rather than understanding them as people. And if you ask anyone out there, you really want to be understood as a human being.
Tickets are driving us in the wrong direction
So that was some of the things that we talked about in volume one. So what we saw from that and what I'll also go into in today's webinar is how tickets are really dividing us, and they’re driving us in the wrong direction. They're not really contributing to what we want to achieve. Um, what happens is that we start to focus on the ticket and not the customer. So what happens is that the customer kind of fades out and we kind of stop thinking about the customer. We start to focus so much on the tickets that they actually start to drive workflow. So workflow is defined by tickets rather than being defined by customers and customer needs. And that's not a great way to do customer service obviously.
Tickets don’t help you prioritize
Um, so the biggest problems with tickets is that you can't prioritize customers.When it's about priority, I don't anyone would be surprised with this, but really the reason why we prioritized is that we always need to focus on the most important task because we don't have unlimited resources. I know we would all love to be in a situation where we have endless people able to do all the things you want to, but that's rarely the case.
Everybody wants priority
So obviously we need to be able to prioritize what we're doing and how we're doing it. So everybody wants priority. Your customers really want to be prioritized, they want you to acknowledge who they are as a person, um, what they’ve done previously and why they’re there, but you also want to prioritize your customers. Uh, and I'll tell you why.
If you have any sort of differentiated pricing, for example, if you have customers that are paying very little or potentially the nothing and customers who are paying a lot, then you definitely want to prioritize. Sometimes when I look at that I say, okay, well the ones who are paying us a lot will get better support or they will get faster support. We will prioritize them differently, higher sometimes, but at least differently from the people who don't pay this much.
If you're looking at repeat customers, sometimes you want to say, okay, well the customers coming back all the time, we want to prioritize that person rather than looking at the people who come in for the first time. Sometimes it can be the other way around–that also depends on your business. It can also be if you get both customers and people who are new potential customers contacting you at the same time–how do you prioritize those? Who do you talk to? What is important to them? So I don't think everyone needs to prioritize their customers. These are just three examples of why you could potentially want to do that.
What goes into priority?
In terms of priority and what goes into priority, there can be a lot of different things. I'm just mentioning four here. So some of the things that can matter when you are looking at priority for an agent is how much do they spend and that's what I also mentioned with the, uh, with the pricing before. If someone is paying a lot, then maybe you want to prioritize them differently from the ones who are not paying you a lot.
It can also be a timing issue with time of day. When are they contacting you? What type of problems do you think that they’re sitting with at the time that they're contacting you? There is the type? If you know that they're contacting while on the page for check out at the end of an order then maybe you want to prioritize those because that's a potential sale, rather than some of the others that could wait a bit longer.
Then there's their history. What have they done before? Who are they, why are they there? All that history, uh, also can feed in and give priority to a customer.
Tickets drive channels and channels drive workflow
What we see in general is that tickets drive channels and channels drive these workflows. So I’ve mentioned tickets before so I'm going to talk a little bit about channels because what we see is that one ticket usually means one channel and that’s the biggest problem that we’re seeing is that each individual ticket is divided by channel. And we also talk about this in volume one.
Priority is divided by channel
So if we go back to the example of priority, these are customers and I have decided to prioritize them by spend and you can prioritize your customers in many different ways. And in some businesses this doesn't make sense and for some businesses it does. I think this is just a very concrete, easy to understand example. So I've decided to prioritize my customers by spend. So as you can see here, they're spending between $100 to $5. So that's fairly easy for anyone to understand.
Now what happens is that the first one who comes in and needs help is my $50customer. The one who spends $50 with me, he’s not the top one, but he's, he's okay. It's important that when he goes on the phone, he gets an agent. That's what he's doing here. He's obviously talking to the agent. Um, but then what happens is that the other customer who actually paid $100, so more important, comes in as well and he also chooses to contact me by phone. And what happens is he's actually now in line to talk to the agent.
In this case, I've just lined three agents up in each channel. Obviously there can be more or less, but that also depends on the number of customers. But this is starting to create a problem here because you're basically saying to the $100 person you have to wait because you chose to go on phone. Whereas if we look at the others too, and this is a made up example, but it can totally happen if the others contact you via chat or email. Even though they haven't paid nearly as much, they will be prioritized better or faster than the person calling on the phone.
Channels don’t prioritize customers
So this just shows that there are different priorities and obviously we would love for conversation to just neatly fall into each of these channels, but we all know that they kind of change and go up and down. There will be at some point five phone calls and no chats or five chats and no phone calls. So how do you manage all of that?
I think that's the problem is that we divide conversations by channel and you start to look at the channel and have that define priority. So if we look at what we just did, the $50 person is prioritized first, then the $10 and $55respectively. And then the hundred-dollar person to actually prioritized last he's at the bottom of that group, which might not be fair to this guy. And also if he's going to give us another hundred, then we're losing out on some money here.
So, what should the priority looked like? It should obviously look like it did when I set it up initially. $100 first all the way down to $5. That's how the priority should have been and that's the problem here. Channels present an unrealistic and wrong way of prioritizing your customers. They just don’t do it properly.They're not prioritized correctly. I think anyone can see that from this specific example.
Agents also need priority
So one thing is customers and prioritizing them. And then there's agents. Agents also need priority. You need to prioritize their time and you also need to prioritize them by skill. So those are the two things you want to prioritize them on. I'm sure there are other things that you could potentially prioritize your agents on, but you definitely want to prioritize them on time and skill. If we look at time, generally speaking, we don't want idle agents.
You don’t want idle agents
You don't want agents just sitting around waiting for conversations to happen. You want also want a level of fairness to who gets assigned what conversations. If someone has been sitting around for a long time, then obviously they should be assigned to conversation so they can work while the other one who has just gotten off a call can get a little break. So there's also a little bit of fairness involved here. I think that also works in terms of having happy employees to an extent.
Idle time is divided by channel
So what we see here is I created an example of how we see time being divided by channel. So here we have nine agents, three on each channel, and the minutes written inside each person indicates how long they have been idle for. How long have they not been doing anything? And as you can see, they are prioritized by time.
So for the phone calls they are prioritized by 30, 20, 10 minutes. So the one who has had a phone call 10 minutes ago is obviously at the bottom and it is the same for the other two, which are prioritized by time. So the ones that have the highest idle time is first, good. So far so good and that probably works fine if this is what happens.
If a chat comes in, if an email comes in, if a phone call comes in, well then it just neatly align and they will get the most ideal agent within match, that would be great. But what I also said before is that it's rare that we live in times where everything just falls neatly into place. We're not a simulation here. So um, what happens if they suddenly start coming in three phone calls and no chats and no emails, Well, since we've divided up people, this is how it looks.
So the calls are coming in and they will get three different agents. Now, if you look at the last one here, it's a little bit interesting because that one actually has a smaller idle time than the whole rest of the team on other channels. So for this third customer who's calling your agent, there's actually six other agents are more idle than person who's currently handling it. Not fair, and probably not the best way to work and probably not a very good way to interact with your customers either.
So as you can see, when you prioritize agents by channel, this is kind of how the priority looks. It’s a little bit messy as you can see, you know, and depending on the channel, you can get someone in the first group, 30 minutes, 35 minutes or 42 minutes, the next one, 20 to 37 minutes, and the last one, 10 to 32minutes. Super random. You don't really know who you are, who you're going to get, and you as a business, you have no idea.
Priority without channels, this is the right priority. Again, just sort it by time. By liberating ourselves from thinking in channels, we actually gain a better overview of and a better understanding of how you can prioritize your customers because we’re finally prioritizing them by something that is very simple–in this case, by idle time. It's not difficult, but we're trying to make the world easier by removing channels.
Prioritizing agents by skill
We also look at it when we look at skills, it's a similar problem. We want the most skilled agent to handle a specific customer. Um, I think we see more and more businesses who have so much that they do that not everyone can be an expert in everything. So sometimes you want someone specifically skilled in something to handle a specific customer. This can be a, for example, language, certain languages that are being spoken. Obviously if you don't speak the same language that the customer does, you cannot help them. It could be subject expertise: I know something specifically about the subject and therefore there's a good chance that I can help you in some businesses.
We also see a big difference in first level and second level support in terms of the level of depth. So, how technical are you, how good are your troubleshooting skills, those types of things. So we see that a lot. There's also a subject expertise. And it could also be permissions. For example, if you need to cancel your account and only a certain person can do that within the business, then obviously you need to get the conversations to that person rather than someone who can't handle it and needs to transfer it.
How to practice skill-based routing
So there's many different skills and they look very, very different. It really depends on the individual business. Now I've created a little bit of a, uh, an example here. Let's imagine that there's a travel company and I'm a customer who wants to travel to Cuba. Now, many travel companies, they do have experts within each region. And let's say that they do have an expert in Cuba. Well, you obviously want the customer to talk to the Cuba expert. So let's say that we have a person who's available for Cuba. Now the problem is that as you continue here, if you only have one person who's available, it will only be on one channel at a time. It's not really sustainable to the, to the customer who needs help, uh, that's already a problem.
So, if you are dividing agents by channel then you should really have one available on each channel, which is what customers expect today. Alright, so we will get three people who are experts in Cuba put them each on a channel. So therefore there will always be an expert on Cuba. Problem solved, right? Not Quite. So again, if the first one comes in on chat, not a problem. But if a second customer comes in, who wants to look at Cuba, (a lot of people go into Cuba at the moment), they cannot reach the Cuban expert that person is currently busy.So what do we do? And actually as we see right now there are two available Cuba experts that could talk to this person, that could help the person find the right trip, get them on their way and hopefully make some money as well.
Once again, channel priority doesn’t look right
So this is how it looks when you start to prioritize by channel. As you can see, it's a little bit random to be honest. You see that we have one in priority one, so to say the first people we did have one Cuban expert and in two we have two and in three we don't have any. It looks messy. I don't know what's going to happen when a customer comes in and I'm not entirely sure if the agent is going to get the right customer, who they're going to talk to and in what order. It's very difficult to say.
Obviously the way you want to prioritize your agents when it comes to skill is that you want to prioritize them by that skill. You want to say, okay, first let's take all of the ones that have the Cuban skill. They are a very good experts inCuba. Um, and then you line those up first and say these are the first people that they should be talking to. And then you sort those by idle time, for example. So you have other ways of prioritizing that as well. So in this case, as you can see very clearly, the first customer comes in, has a problem with Cuba or wants to talk about Cuba, gets the first agent here who has a 37 minute idle time and this is an expert in Cuba. Had this happened in the other example with channels that would not have happened.It would have been a second priority. It's more than luck to actually hit that person if you can.
Priority: Customer & Agent
So what we see is that we have two different types of priority. We have customer priority and agent priority. So because we’ve removed what channels as a barrier, we can prioritize them with something else like spending in this case, but it could be pretty much anything and we can probably prioritize about multiple different things. Um, we also prioritize by agent, uh, as you can see.So they are also prioritized in this case by skill and then by the time. So we’ve got all of that. And you can tell it's very clear. I don't think anyone would wouldn't understand how this works and that means that when customers come in, so let's say that the $100 account here and the $10 account are looking for a trip to Cuba, well then suddenly it's a lot more clear who they should be talking to like this.
You have certain people that we can attach to certain agents because they have certain skills. We know that the $100 person to Cuba, should talk to the bestCuban expert. The $50 guy can get the person whose not a Cuban expert and has the highest idle time, making sure that they still get the service that they need, but they don't need a Cuban expert. And so on and so forth. When we line them up, this is how it looks.
You know, you can take the $100 account who wants a trip to Cuba, line it up with an agent who's an expert, has a high idle time and create a great bond and a good relationship between the two. And you can do that with all the different customers as you can see here, and you can continuously to do that with more ways of prioritizing your customers and prioritizing your agents by removing channels because that's the whole point.
WhenI go back to my first slide, the problem that we're seeing is that tickets are driving channels and channels are driving the workflow and that is causing pain. So what we need to do is we need to get out of those tickets, get away from those channels, they need to disappear, we need to start looking at customers and how they influence our workflow and stop being limited by tools that put things into boxes and don’t allow us to prioritize or give customers the level of service they want. So when it comes to workflow specifically, tickets are dead. I've said it before and I'll say it again, tickets are dead along with customers because customers are the ones you should be listening to if you want to really prioritize them and figure out what is best for you as a business.
More to come…
And uh, we have more because there are more ways of killing tickets, there are more ways that tickets are dead and that we really shouldn't be using them as a way to handle our customers. In volume three, I'll talk a little bit more about how you actually personalize the conversation and talk to them and how tickets are creating problems when you're trying to do that. So more on that then. If you signed up for volume 3, we'll send you an email so you get more information if you have any questions. Also after this if you want to send me an email, you can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Super easy to remember. You're very welcome to reach out with any sort of questions you might have or anything you want to discuss with me. I'll gladly talk to you about it if you have any more or want to know more on Dixa in general. And I think that's it for me Julie.
Q & A
Julie: Perfect. Thank you so much. I love your visual. I find it really easy to follow. Um, anyway, there's a couple of questions and if you have more feel free to write them under the questions tab, but do you mind if we answer some?
Julie: Alright. So this one is:
“We made sure to rotate so agents with different skills are available on different channels. Is that what you mean?”
Christian: No, and I that I think that's exact problem that we're seeing is that we see a lot of rotation out there. I think it's very normal for businesses to create different teams that handle different channels and then have to rotate them. But we still have the same problem that when you get to the Cuban experts who says that they are on the right channel at the right time, it might not be and, or maybe you have too many. And just from an Admin perspective, the amount of work you have to go through to figure out where to put people to work. Workforce management of that task seems crazy. I'm glad I'm not doing it because it's just, it's just too much. So don't. I don't think rotation is the right answer either. I think that that's what you see when people can't get away from tickets. So, rotation is just another example of how you shouldn't do it.
Julie:Yeah. Um, the next one is:
“Can prioritizing customers based on, for example, how much they spend, have any negative consequences?”
Christian: Sure, absolutely. Um, I did a very specific spend example here and that was just to say–well, some businesses like to prioritize a spend and obviously this was a very specific example. It was from $100 down to $5, but it could be a range, it could be many different things. I just think that it's important for the business to figure out what they want, what is the type of priority that they want to give. And obviously if they want to give everyone the same priority, no one's paying more, no one's doing anything differently, you don't want to get in touch with anyone before anyone else, then great. You could essentially continue to use tickets, but what I'm saying is that there are just not any businesses that need that. Most businesses need to prioritize their customers.And again, remember, one thing is what you need, and one with is what your customer needs and when I'm calling up, I still want someone to acknowledge me for who I am. “Oh, right. You are that guy who paid a lot of money. I'm going to pass you over to someone so it goes a little bit faster or give you a special way to contact us.” I think that's super normal because we all feel that we're contributing to the business and want something back from that.
Julie: That's a good point actually. Um, I have a bit of a comment as well, if that's all right. Just when you were talking about prioritizing agents based on skill, it just occurred to me that when you do that you also allow agents to sort of further their skills in a particular area because they receive more conversations in a specific area. Do you agree?
Christian: There's so many levels to that for sure. I think that they, yes, you, what we see is that as companies grow, having everyone know the same is usually a way for people to leave your company because everyone's interested in becoming an expert in something. Everyone's interested in being good at something and if we're just like the gray mass along with everyone else, we're not being pulled out, we're not getting good at something–then why would you want to stay? And I also think there's not a lot of people out there who just want to sit on chat all day. I think most people do appreciate building up knowledge around something and the way that you communicate whether it’s writing or talking on the chat should be mixed.
Why don’t people get different types of conversations, you know, from chats and emails to phone calls and whatever…. And then they can get a little bit of variation in their life so they're not like, “Oh, another phone call,” because they were just on a call all day or doing chat for the next seven hours, you know? That's not a pleasant way to work.
So I think there's, there's so many levels to this. Maybe we should also do a webinar on that! Maybe that's volume four! Probably a good idea because there is a lot around motivating your agents and keeping them happy. I think that's also something that we need to look at where where tickets is just not creating the right approach to things.
Julie: I agree. I agree. Alright guys I think that was a half hour. Thank you all very much for attending and look out for volume three. A link invitation will go out. Thank you!
Christian is the VP of Product at Dixa and believes in treating customers as friends, not transactions. He approaches Dixa's product development with this mindset every single day.