Support Snap: Prioritize



OK, we all know what it means. It’s something we’ve been practicing our entire lives. You look at the options before you, and  you make snap decisions about what matters most, what’s the most important or the most pressing or the most urgent.

Sometimes we think we’ve got this down to an infallible instinct, so we quit thinking about it. Guess what? That’s a mistake!

When you’re running a busy help desk or supporting customers in any capacity, really, the ability to prioritize effectively is one of the most vital skills in your toolbox. And it’s not something you should leave to “instinct.” It’s something that deserves a little attention.

So today, make prioritizing a priority!

Tickets are coming in constantly. You have to think of it in terms of an emergency room. When you come in with a broken arm it’s an emergency. But when right behind you comes somebody with a life-threatening injury, somebody whose life is in immediate danger, you probably don’t expect the entire hospital to turn away from that emergency to set your broken arm. I hope.

Customer support is the same. Yes, every customer matters. Every support ticket is a priority. But don’t focus all your energies on giving one customer a band-aid when there’s another customer dying at your feet.

Create a priority system. 1-5 is a good place to start. If you already have a support form that requires users to choose a support “category,” you can use those categories as your priority labels. Here’s an example:

Priority 1 –>> “I can’t login.”

Hopefully none of your customers are in danger of bleeding out literally. But for a business, being unable to login or otherwise access a system they depend upon is pretty close. These issues are Priority 1. Get people who can’t work, back to work.

Priority 2 –>> “I have a billing question.”

It may seem self-serving to make this Priority 2. After all, you’re the one who benefits from proper billing, right? Not necessarily. If some glitch has caused a customer to be charged improperly, it can be a major problem for the customer, too. And chances are, if they’re emailing you, it’s not because they haven’t paid you enough. It’s because they feel they’ve paid you too much, or haven’t gotten what they paid for.

The sense of being cheated makes people very unhappy. Very unhappy customers should be high priorities.

Priority 3 –>> “I think something’s broken.”

It can be tricky to decide whether this should be Priority 2 or 3. “Something’s broken” can mean a lot of things. We find that in most cases, though, the most urgent “something’s broken” requests naturally fall into either “I can’t login” or “I have a billing question.” So Priority 3 is really a catch-all for all those other, more minor “this isn’t working right” issues.

Priority 4 –>> “Other” and emails not submitted through your support form.

Once you’ve handled Priorities 1-3, you can focus on whatever other things have trickled through, with the reasonable assumption that none of them will be absolutely urgent.

Priority 5 –>> “I have a feature request.”

Obviously this is important. You want to continually improve your product and the customer’s experience. But this is where “important” and “urgent” are not the same thing. Worry about the urgent issues first. Stop the bleeding. Then you can go back to administer bandaids and set broken bones.

Automate, Automate, Automate

If you come into your inbox Monday  morning with these priorities set, you’ll find it a lot easier to work your way through things in the most efficient order.

If you’re using a help desk like Snappy, of course, this is all even easier, because you can automate your prioritization! Using Snappy’s Triggers, you can automatically tag anything that comes in with certain words (like “login”) as Priority 1, etc. You can even automatically assign them to individual staff members, so each person logs in Monday morning with their own prioritized inbox, ready to dive in and start solving problems.


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