Ticket deflection: Reduce support tickets through self-service

Customer Experience

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90% of customers say an immediate response (10 minutes or less) to their customer support question is important to them, and waiting is one of the most frustrating parts of contacting a support team. This means if your support center is experiencing a backlog and cannot respond to support calls or tickets promptly, you may want to consider a ticket deflection strategy.

A ticket deflection strategy redirects customers to self-service help options (like knowledge base articles), so your customers can get their resolution faster than waiting for a live agent. Keep reading to learn the benefits of ticket deflection, 11 actionable strategies, and how to measure ticket deflection success. 

What is ticket deflection?

Ticket deflection is when you reduce ticket volume by encouraging customers to use self-service options. When used effectively, it can reduce the burden on your customer support agents, freeing them to focus on VIP tickets or those that require a hands-on approach to resolve. 

Some examples of self-service options include:

  • Knowledge base.
  • Customer portal.
  • Chatbot.
  • Community forum.

What is service deflection?

Service deflection is another term used interchangeably with ticket deflection when customers use self-service options to get their answers rather than contacting a live customer support agent. 

Benefits of ticket deflection for your business

Why should your business look for ways to deflect tickets to self-service options? 

Reduces support costs

The average support ticket cost is about $15-37, but self-help options average $2 per ticket. 

Although self-service options require an initial investment in time and money, they have low maintenance costs once established. On the other hand, ongoing live agent support is costly for a business (agent salaries, training, software, desk space, benefit plans, etc). With an effective ticket deflection strategy, you save your live customer support team’s efforts for tickets that require the personal touch to resolve.  

Streamlines support operations

By analyzing the topics and frequency of your help desk tickets, you can identify which common or easily solvable support topics can be turned into self-service options. This will help ease the burden and stress on your customer service teams.  

Boosts agent productivity

As a result of streamlining your support operations, you can also boost agent productivity. By analyzing the topics, frequency, and customer sentiment in helpdesk tickets, you can optimize your ticket routing rules so the best-suited agents get the tickets best for their skill set. It can also help reduce agent burnout from resolving the same foundational issues repeatedly. 

Creates a better user experience

With an effective ticket deflection or routing strategy, you’re supporting a better user experience. Here are some examples of how it can boost your customer experience:

  • A chatbot can route a customer to a help desk article immediately rather than sending them to an agent (and waiting for a live agent to take their call).
  • Customers who prefer self-service options have a quick way to get support without contacting your live support agents.
  • Customers get consistent messaging, rather than potentially different responses depending on who they talk to on your support team. 

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11 strategies for effective ticket deflection

Here are 11 proven strategies to help increase your ticket deflection rates and optimize your customer support experience:

1. Create a knowledge base 

Your knowledge base should be logically organized and easy to search. Here are some tips to optimize this resource:

  • Include screenshots, pictures, diagrams, or videos to increase comprehension.
  • Add a search box so articles are easily searchable.
  • Link it to your chatbot to use the contents in text chats with customers.
  • Ensure your staff can use it too (it’s a powerful tool for customer support teams to reference).  

2. Optimize your FAQs

Publish an FAQ page using real questions from customers. FAQs are typically for customers who want quick answers. Make it easy to use by:

  • Keep answers short (~100 words) and link to additional resources where needed.
  • Organize FAQs by most asked questions, then by logical categories based on your content. 
  • Add a search box so articles are easily searchable.
  • Include support contact information for those who need further assistance.

3. Leverage AI chatbots

Chatbots (like Ada) can be a helpful resource for your customers, quickly answering common queries and linking to other self-service resources. You can build workflows and question prompts to help the chatbot quickly get to the root of the customer’s problem. Often, it can also help understand customer sentiment and determine when it’s appropriate to connect them to a live customer support representative.   

AI chatbots have huge potential for growth in the coming years. With advancing technology, chatbots can become generative and write their own responses rather than relying on pre-written scripts. 

4. Listen to your support teams

Don’t forget that your customer service agents have a wealth of information about your customer. This can help you develop updated chatbot scripts and other self-service support content to give customers what they need without engaging with live support team members. Listen to their feedback; they often have great ideas for optimizing their work processes. 

5. Optimize ticket prioritization strategies

You can include ticket deflection workflows in your ticket prioritization strategies. For example, if the ticket relates to a knowledge base article, you can re-route that customer to that article so you have time to prioritize the tickets that require a hands-on approach to your real agents. 

Ensure you have a good ticket triaging system so you can separate tickets into two groups: those with a high likelihood of achieving faster resolution through a self-service option, and those who need individualized support from a live agent. 

6. Implement omni-channel deflection

Don’t just focus on your website. Implement ticket deflection across all touchpoints, including email, social media, and apps. Facebook, Instagram, and even Whatsapp for business all support chatbots at this point, allowing you to have consistent and immediate messaging across all customer touchpoints. 

7. Merge customer tickets

Customers may submit multiple tickets for the same issue, which bogs down your help desk system. A helpful strategy is to merge multiple tickets from the same customer. You can provide them with links to self-service options or address all the customer’s concerns (related or not) when you contact them. You can explore ticket merging with software like Zendesk and Freshworks, for example. 

8. Create a community forum

Create an interactive forum where customers can post questions and their peers can answer. This takes a burden off your customer service teams. You could also assign customer service agents to monitor the forums to gather valuable customer feedback and comment on your support teams’ behalf with helpful resources and responses. 

9. Add proactive in-app guidance and support

If you have a customer app or website, you can be proactive and use pop-ups or prompts to provide helpful information at the right time. For example, if you get a lot of support tickets from people who can’t find their account upgrade or renewal page, you could show a pop-up message or alert within a month of account expiry that shows customers where to find the renewal screen. 

10. Don’t always focus on the “big” tickets

Many companies often focus on addressing the tickets that cost the most agent time. While this is important, it usually means the quick wins or “low-hanging fruit” gets overlooked or deprioritized. These low-hanging fruits are issues that don’t take much time individually but add up to significant time when added together. Often, you can create a knowledge base article to address these minor issues and set up an automation to direct customers to that article. 

👉 Learn how Idiomatic can help you identify these quick wins from your support ticket data. 

11. Be proactive

Address common issues before they become a problem for your customers. For example, contact customers early to inform them about product changes or launches to avoid an influx of questions and complaints. Or, monitor unfinished online subscription renewals or abandoned shopping carts. Set up automated messages based on triggers or actions users take (such as leaving items in an online shopping cart for more than a day or having a ticket unresolved in the system for a certain amount of time). 

What is an example of call deflection?

Idiomatic is a customer feedback analytics software that can analyze the contents of support tickets, create automatic tags and categories, and help you better understand what support tickets take the most time and cost the most money. 

Idiomatic helped Medium optimize its ticket deflection strategy by analyzing support tickets and noticing one issue dominating ticket volumes. Based on this insight, Medium used Idiomatic labels to automatically trigger an action to send these customers an automated response that included a link to a comprehensive Help Center article on the topic.

The result was Medium could deflect 100% of the tickets about this issue so overall Medium support reduced more than 5% of ticket volume for agents by automating these responses.  

👉 Find what types of tickets are dominating your help desk with Idiomatic’s custom Ticket Driver Report.  This analysis pinpoints which user issues are costing your support center the most money, and surfaces those ready for automated workflows. 

How do you measure successful ticket deflection?

You can measure the success of your ticket deflection strategies using the formula below. Higher scores are better because they mean you’re deflecting more tickets from your human customer support team. 

Total # of customer self-service actions / Total # of support tickets = Ticket Deflection Ratio

In addition to the above “big picture” calculation of your deflection ratio, you can get more specific insights by measuring the below Key Performance Indicators (KPIs):

  • Number of self-service events: This KPI can tell you which self-service options are most used so you can invest more in that channel if necessary.
  • The success of self-service resources: This helps you understand if your self-service options solved the customer’s queries or if they still had to contact a live agent. 
  • Customer satisfaction: Survey customers after customer service team interactions and self-service portals to learn if they were satisfied with their results. 

How to get started creating a ticket deflection strategy

If you’re unsure of where to start, we suggest starting with the small, quick wins. 

For example, Idiomatic’s Cost per Ticket report helps you understand fully loaded costs per ticket, per help desk channel, customer segment, and customer issue. 

With Idiomatic’s insights, you can also find the low-hanging fruit—commonly asked support tickets that could be quickly addressed through an automated response to a knowledge base article or other self-service option. This means fewer tickets get to your live agents, who have more time to focus on the tickets that require a human touch (usually more complicated or unique issues). 

Idiomatic supports optimizing customer support teams by:

  • Automating triage of tickets
  • Processing large amounts of ticket and customer data at scale
  • Providing 24/7 monitoring for spiking ticket volumes
  • Tracking and segmenting ticket data into different user segments
  • Categorizing tickets by user issue so that all support metrics (time to resolution, cost per ticket, etc.) can be analyzed per user issue, which is much more actionable 

Learn more about how Idiomatic’s insights can help you implement an effective ticket deflection strategy with a free, no-obligation demo.

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