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Customer Service Week 2016: Why It’s Time to Abandon the Customer Support Ticket

Posted by David Dumas on Oct 4, 2016 9:30:39 AM

4 minute read

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The truth is, customers hate tickets. Whether they’re traffic tickets, parking tickets, or customer support tickets, the whole idea of the “ticket” has never been to conjure up joyful, helpful images. It’s no wonder why customers roll their eyes when receiving their ticket number.

The new era of marketing, sales, and customer support is focused on creating dialogue with customers, sharing their experience, and building a lasting relationship with a customer that will continue. The shift towards this mentality is a major reason why some companies are abandoning email support systems altogether.

Time for a Change

One of the first to adopt this new way, domain and hosting giant GoDaddy phased out their email support and ticket system. Gone. Poof. Just did away with it. Their reason? Their customers didn’t want it anymore.

In this piece, GoDaddy explains that time and time again, email finished last on their list of customer’s preferred contact methods. Their response was to focus their efforts on communicating with customers in ways their customers were telling them they wanted to be communicated with. It really was that simple. The company focuses solely on social media, live chat, and phone support.

There are many problems that are inherent with both email and the traditional “ticketing system.”

1. It’s Not a Real-Time Solution. By its nature, both methods take time to go through the process. A ticket or email has to be created/sent, assigned to a representative who then has to have the time to get to it, figure out a response, and respond. Yikes. It may not sound too complicated, but in a day and age where most customers can Google their troubleshooting, look on Youtube, ask friends on Twitter, and generally have the world at their fingertips, an archaic email/ticketing system doesn’t make sense anymore.

2. They’re Overly Complicated. The ticket holds a disposable, one-off structure that just doesn’t fit in modern customer support. One ticket = one issue, one call, one service representative, etc. Tech solutions specifically are sometimes not always so simple. When different departments get involved, different tickets are created.

If an email is sent and responded to, there often needs to be a follow-up. Back and forth. Back and forth. New numbers are assigned, and the customer has to invest in a scratch pad to keep up. In truth, it’s not a grueling process, but it’s one that the customer doesn’t need to be involved in. Companies like GoDaddy are undoubtedly keeping track of the support they dole out, but it’s done behind the scenes which is how it should be.

3. It’s Impersonal. What flies in the face of the new, customer-centric, relationship-building, community-driven online world we live in is the impersonal nature of both email and ticketing. In an informal study conducted over at statuspage.io, they sent 100 support e-mails to various companies asking how they handle their support and charted their responses.

Out of 100 emails sent, the results:

  • 63 Auto-replies. Talk about impersonal. And in this day and age how many people pay close attention to, or sometimes even read, an obvious auto-reply?
  • 11 conditional replies, companies stating they use a mix of human responses and autoresponders during certain times such as nights and weekend.
  • 4 responses from humans where companies indicated they only used human responders.
  • The remaining 22 emails either received NO response or a failed delivery notification.

There are two ways to look at this. First, only 4% of companies use human-only responses to customer support inquiries.

Second, 63% of companies think it’s a good idea to have their first contact with an angry/upset/troubled customer be an auto-generated form email. And more than likely it assigns them a ticket number as well.

What's wrong with that picture?

The Alternatives to the Ticketing Treadmill

It may seem crazy to consider abandoning email support or your ticketing system altogether. However, there are alternatives that work. Livechat and phone are still good options that provide direct to the source solutions for complex issues that may not have been able to have been resolved in a single e-mail anyway.

Online communities are also becoming a popular place for support and guidance. We’ve previously talked about the potential of online communities to increase satisfaction with self-service support and that trend is continuing to grow. Going this route also frees up the other support channels to provide quicker, more efficient service to the customer.

One thing is clear. The archaic email/ticketing system for handling customer service issues is falling out of favour with the public. They want alternatives that better suit their needs and suit the way they want to communicate. If you aren’t putting the customer first, you aren’t doing customer service right.

Want to learn more about how self-serve customer support can help your company save money? Find out from our report Transforming the Digital Customer Service Experience. 

Topics: Community, News, Support

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