Top 3 Tips for Handling Customer Support Issue Surges

The world has gone digital. From on-demand food delivery, e-commerce purchases, telehealth, and more, customers are looking for great digital experiences that not only mirror the experiences of speaking with someone face-to-face or visiting a brick and mortar location, but that goes above and beyond.

The reality is, with many consumers now staying at home, digital support requests are increasing and the need to provide streamlined support that can not just resolve issues in a timely manner, but put customers at ease and give them peace of mind is more important than ever.

How can customer support teams handle these surges in support requests?

1. Queue Customization

Support requests come from various channels. Voice calls over PSTN and in-app VoIP, in-app chat and website chat, and email and community forums. Each channel carries a different customer urgency.

One potential problem is companies may use a limited number of channels reducing the bandwidth of available agents. Instead of offering a great customer experience, agents spend more time triaging as quickly as possible so customers aren’t stuck on hold.

Supervisors should be using customized queues, based on support data reports, to manage incoming requests. If there is a frequent, but low urgency issue that is solved with a self-service solution, create the support page and route it through the IVR queue. Create Direct Access Points (DAP) for more urgent issues that route to queues with specialized agents.

Filling a support request and sending the next issue to the next available agent in a round-robin fashion creates bottlenecks and confusion and results in frustrated customers. If you support multiple channels, assign agents accordingly.

For example, a specialized agent may be able to handle multiple chat conversations for urgent issues simultaneously and quickly find answers while a less experienced agent might be better suited in handling a large volume of low priority issues. Find strategic answers with available resources and iterate with the right queue customization.

2. Accurate Wait Times

It doesn’t matter what channel you contact support from. Seeing the wait timer can cause immediate customer frustration which can be heightened by the urgency of the request, a stressful situation, and more. Rather than giving broad ranges and time intervals, the wait timer should be using platform data to provide accurate wait times based on the channel.

Even when the displayed wait time might be high, consumers who see a consistently falling queue know that agents are working through issues and resolving inquiries. Accurate wait times may differ based on the contact channel and if possible, wait times should be unique to that channel instead of a general wait time.

Channel-specific wait time information is found through accurate platform reporting and the use of customized queues. If all support requests are being routed into a general queue, then wait time accuracy will be skewed and consumers on hold won’t know the actual amount of time they will be waiting.

3. Call Back Option

Customers, who see long wait times, may not have time to wait. In this case, providing a call back option is useful.

instacart in-app supportConsumers can select a preferred time frame, sign up for that queue, and then go about their day. When it’s their turn, the agent connects with the consumer on their channel of choice and works to solve their issue. This alleviates a lot of pressure in active queues because managers can set call back blocks to reflect times with less incoming requests.

Call back options also give consumers the convenience of picking a time when they can focus on solving the issue with the agent. Call back options might seem like a last resort, but they should be used in parallel with customized queues. In the initial IVR tree, the call back option should be located among the different communication options.

Don’t Triage Support Requests, Strategize

The first line of customer support is having the right channels to adequately manage all incoming requests. The second is channel optimization through queue customization. Send support requests to the right place, whether that be a self-service solution or a Knowledge Base. For urgent requests, set up Direct Access Points to route customers to the right agent.

Use all available data to make strategies to place agents in the right queues. Utilize specialized agents to work with VIP and high priority accounts. And use call back options to give consumers the choice to not wait on hold.

As support requests are increasing, it’s up to the support supervisors and business leaders to create the best strategy to provide a positive customer experience along with supporting the incoming volume of issues for agents. These tips are just a starting point and by using actionable data, even more customization is possible.