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Why email ticketing systems make customer service teams more efficient

In the dynamic customer service landscape, amid evolving trends and shifting communication channels, one enduring classic — email — has remained steadfast.

Despite the emergence of new communication mediums like chatbots and self-service solutions, email is still the preferred choice for nearly 52% of customers.1

While businesses recognize the significance of email as a customer interaction channel, a notable gap exists between their ability to manage the influx of email inquiries and their customers’ expectations. 

According to a recent survey of 3,200 European customers by SuperOffice, nearly 46% expect a response within at least four hours, while 12% expect companies to get back to them within 15 minutes or less. The actual average response time for customer service emails, however, is 12 hours and 10 minutes — a considerable disconnect between expectations and reality.2

Today, merely having an email channel is insufficient for effective customer service. Businesses need a robust, systematic process for handling customer inquiries promptly and efficiently. An email ticketing system can provide exactly that type of powerful, advantageous process. 

An email ticketing system streamlines your organization's email handling process, reducing response times and meeting customer expectations more effectively. The system immediately makes the constant influx of inbound inquiries more manageable, allowing you to foster meaningful interactions and deliver on the promise of quick, hyper-responsive customer service.

In this article, we’ll take a close look at the impact of email ticketing systems and examine why they’ve become such a fundamental necessity for today’s most competitive businesses.

What is an email ticketing system?

An email ticketing system is specialized software designed to streamline and organize customer inquiries received via email. It acts as a centralized hub, converting each email into a "ticket" containing all pertinent information about the customer's request or issue. 

These tickets serve as unique identifiers for individual customer inquiries, enabling businesses to efficiently organize, prioritize, and track service requests.

How does an email ticketing system work?

Email ticketing software transforms the traditional email-based customer support process into a streamlined mechanism for handling customer inquiries with maximum efficiency. Further, these software platforms ensure that each interaction is managed effectively, contributing to a positive and memorable customer experience.

Here's a step-by-step breakdown of the operational flow of email ticketing systems:

  • Step #1: Ticket creation

The customer initiates contact by emailing the company's designated customer support address. Upon receiving the email, the ticketing system automatically extracts essential information, including the sender's contact details, email subject, and message content. This captured data forms the foundation of a unique ticket, which serves as the central record for managing customer interaction.

  • Step #2: Ticket prioritization and categorization

The ticketing system categorizes tickets based on predefined criteria, such as keywords, customer information, or the nature of the inquiry, facilitating efficient routing to the most appropriate agents. It also prioritizes tickets based on urgency and the degree to which the issue could impact business operations. As a result, critical issues requiring immediate attention are rapidly prioritized and promptly addressed.

  • Step #3: Routing and assignment

The system determines agent availability through real-time checks or predefined schedules. Once an agent becomes available, the ticket is routed based on fit between expertise and the specific nature of the issue. This routing system helps guide inquiries to the service professional with the necessary skills to resolve the issue with speed and confidence.

  • Step #4: Status updates and consistent monitoring

Throughout the resolution process, the agent regularly updates the ticket status within the ticketing system. This continuous monitoring keeps the customer informed, provides real-time insights into the progress of the inquiry, and ensures that the support rep is adhering to the predefined service level agreements (SLAs). 

  • Step #5: Closure and feedback

Once the issue is resolved, the ticket is marked as closed, and a final notification is sent to the customer. At this point, the ticketing system may prompt the customer to provide feedback on their experience. This valuable feedback helps give businesses a better understanding of customer expectations and, more importantly, whether the business is measuring up to those expectations.

Additionally, most email ticketing tools include built-in reporting and analytics, providing businesses with insights into customer service performance. Using these tools, customer service teams can track critical indicators and make informed decisions to continue efforts to optimize their customer service strategies.

A good ticketing system can optimize your customer service process. Check out how ticketing systems are evolving for next-gen support.

Why do organizations need an email ticketing system?

In today's fast-paced customer service environment, traditional email response strategies – with reps manually taking on the endless influx of inquiries – often struggle to keep up with the demands of modern customer interactions. Their limitations often hinder your support team's ability to provide timely, effective, and personalized service. This, in turn, negatively impacts key performance metrics such as response time, resolution rate, and customer satisfaction score.

A major drawback of traditional email inboxes is their susceptibility to miscommunication and lost emails. Without a structured system for managing inquiries, confusion can arise, responses can be delayed, and customer interactions can even get lost altogether. Over time, an accumulation of these mishaps can damage a brand’s reputation and erode customer loyalty.

Moreover, manual ticket handling through traditional inboxes can be inefficient and time-consuming. The absence of automated processes and transparency around who is responsible for specific customer issues can lead to delayed responses, missed deadlines, and an inability to track progress effectively. 

Traditional email inboxes also lack adequate tracking and reporting capabilities. And without data, organizations struggle to make the kinds of decisive, statistically informed decisions that improve their support processes.

Email ticketing systems address these limitations by providing a structured, efficient, and trackable approach to managing customer inquiries. These systems enable organizations to improve their key performance indicators (KPIs) and enhance customer satisfaction by streamlining communication.

Customer service metrics are evolving quicker than expected. Here's how you can accurately measure success in this new era.

How does an email ticketing system address common challenges?

Email ticketing systems can effectively address a wide variety of challenges businesses often face in managing customer inquiries and delivering solid, dependable service. They bring an array of practical benefits that can dramatically reshape the way frontline teams handle customer interactions. 

Here are some key advantages businesses benefit from  when they use an email ticketing software:

  • Enhances efficiency and organization: By capturing each request and creating a unique "ticket," these systems ensure that no customer inquiry gets lost in the shuffle. The system’s centralized organization streamlines the process, enabling agents to prioritize the most pressing customer issues and handle all of them more efficiently.

  • Enables centralized communication and collaboration: With a shared view of customer history and real-time communication capabilities, agents can work together to address customer needs promptly and consistently. This collaborative approach creates a more unified, consistent support experience for customers.

  • Helps deliver personalized support: Email ticketing systems maintain a detailed history of customer interactions, providing valuable insights into preferences and past interactions. Agents can leverage this plethora of knowledge to tailor their responses and deliver personalized support that resonates with each customer's expectations and specific circumstances. This personalized approach fosters positive experiences, cultivates meaningful connections, and, ultimately, enhances customer satisfaction.

  • Eliminates repetitive work: By automating routine processes such as ticket routing, prioritization, and status updates, email ticketing systems can free up valuable time, allowing service teams to focus on more complex, rewarding, and customer-centric tasks. This automation improves agent productivity, reduces the risk of errors, and ensures consistent service delivery.

  • Improved response time and service efficiency: Email ticketing systems can prioritize and assign tickets based on predefined rules to ensure customers receive timely responses and resolutions. This mechanism, coupled with automated workflows, leads to improved response times, heightened customer satisfaction, and overall service efficiency.

  • Assists in tracking and monitoring: By attributing unique identifiers (ticket numbers) and status updates to each customer inquiry, email ticketing systems help support teams easily locate and track individual interactions. This level of information transparency facilitates proactive communication with customers and improves resolution times for all manner of inquiries.

  • Better analytics and opportunities for optimization: Email ticketing systems provide analytics that transform customer data into actionable insights. This information empowers businesses to identify areas of strength and weakness, refine their customer service strategies, and make data-driven decisions that enhance the overall experience and drive business growth.

In addition to addressing the limitations of traditional email inboxes, email ticketing systems also play a crucial role in lowering operational expenses and allowing businesses to allocate resources more effectively.

Still wondering how ticketing systems do the heavy lifting? Read our in-depth guide to get a better understanding.

How to choose the right email ticketing system

Navigating the vast array of email ticketing systems can be overwhelming, but selecting the right one is crucial for optimizing customer service operations and achieving your most important business objectives. 

Here's a comprehensive guide to help you choose the best email ticketing software for your organization:

Assess your needs

Before diving into software comparisons, take a step back and thoroughly assess your company's needs. Factors to consider include:

  • Company size: Consider the scale of your operations. Some systems are tailored for small businesses, while others are robust solutions better suited for enterprise-level demands.

  • Industry: Certain industries may require specialized features. For instance, most healthcare companies might require comprehensive security measures, while e-commerce firms may prioritize integration with existing order management systems.

  • Budget: Determine a realistic budget for your email ticketing software. While some solutions offer feature-rich packages, others provide more cost-effective options for businesses with limited resources.

Confirm your must-have features

Once you have a clear idea of what your business needs, prioritize the essential features that are capable of delivering them. Some of the critical elements that you should be considering include:

  • Ticket management: This effortlessly captures, categorizes, and prioritizes customer inquiries for a streamlined resolution process.

  • Integration with knowledge base and FAQs: Email ticketing systems that seamlessly integrate with your organization's knowledge base and FAQs facilitate prompt, accurate responses.

  • Integration with other tools and software: Integration capabilities with existing CRM and other business tools can enhance data-sharing and accelerate various operational processes.

  • Automation and workflowsAutomation features that handle routine tasks allow your team to focus on more unique, intellectually challenging customer interactions.

  • Reporting and analytics: Some email ticketing systems provide comprehensive reporting and analytics tools that help businesses track key performance indicators, identify trends, and make data-driven decisions.

  • Built-in collaboration tools: Collaboration features, such as shared ticket ownership and internal messaging, encourage teamwork and knowledge sharing among your staff.

  • Scalability: Flexible systems that can scale alongside your business have the ability to effortlessly adapt to your growing customer base, catering to evolving needs without compromising performance.

  • Omnichannel capability: Even if your company still uses email as its primary support channel, customers are increasingly looking for businesses to  communicate through their preferred channels, including chat, text, and specific social media platforms. . Even if your company doesn’t currently support omnichannel capabilities, choosing  an omnichannel ticketing system ensures that your ticketing system is well-prepared for the transition if and when you do decide to move forward with it.

  • User-friendly interface: The easier and more intuitive a ticketing system is for your team to navigate, the faster they’ll be able to leverage its capabilities.

Conduct demos and trials

Take advantage of free demos and trial periods offered by software vendors. This gives you a risk-free opportunity to get hands-on experience with the email ticketing system's functionality and evaluate its suitability for your business.

Gather feedback and decide

Involve key stakeholders in the evaluation process, including customer service agents, managers, and IT personnel. Incorporate their feedback and consider their perspectives to make a more informed decision that takes into account the interests and preferences of everyone involved. 

By considering these factors and prioritizing the most essential features, you can effectively navigate the myriad email ticketing systems available on the market and find the one that aligns best with your business objectives and customer service goals.

Optimizing an email ticketing system for success

The true power of an email ticketing software lies in how well it's optimized for efficiency. Let's delve into the key strategies to ensure your system is not just a tool but a powerful catalyst for success:

  • Establish clear ticket categories: Create a comprehensive ticket categorization system to ensure efficient routing, prioritization, and handling. This involves defining clear criteria for assigning tickets to specific categories based on issue type, impact, or urgency.

  • Utilize an urgency vs. impact matrix: Prioritize tickets effectively using an urgency vs. impact matrix. This matrix classifies tickets based on urgency (immediate need for attention) and impact (level of business or customer disruption), helping service teams to focus on the most critical issues first – all without having to expend the time and mental resources determining what those are.

  • Adhere to service level agreements: Adherence to SLAs is non-negotiable. Define clear expectations for response and resolution times, and clearly communicate the importance of meeting these benchmarks to instill customer trust and reliability in your service.

  • Eliminate overlap and duplication: Prevent ticket duplication and overlap by implementing conflict detection mechanisms that identify similar or identical inquiries from the same customer and merge them into a single ticket. This eliminates redundant work and ensures that no issue goes unresolved.

  • Define escalation triggers and paths: Establish escalation triggers for tickets that require additional attention. By clearly defining the routes for escalating issues, you pave the way for swift and effective resolution for even the most complex, challenging problems.

  • Provide comprehensive training: Carry out thorough training for your team on whatever email ticketing software you select. The better-trained your agents are, the more capable they’ll be at navigating the system with confidence and consistency. Over time, this will almost always result in faster response times and superior customer satisfaction levels. You’ll also want to implement ongoing training as the system evolves or when new features are introduced.

  • Leverage automation and integration: Harness the power of automation and integration features. Automate repetitive tasks, integrate the system with other tools, and create a seamless workflow that maximizes efficiency and minimizes manual effort.

  • Consistently monitor, measure, and optimize: Regularly monitor and measure the performance of the email ticketing software using key metrics such as response times, resolution rates, customer satisfaction scores, and agent productivity. Further, you’ll want to track trends, identify areas for improvement, and make data-driven decisions to optimize the system's effectiveness.

Looking for more actionable insights to optimize your customer service process? Download our Customer Service Trends Report 2023 now.

Give your team members the resources they need to keep your customers satisfied

The customer service industry is rapidly evolving. In today’s customer service landscape, consumers demand fast responses, quick resolutions, and personalized assistance throughout the entire process. 

Your business needs to be prepared to meet these heightened expectations. But how do you make sure that you’re ready to do that? 

It's simple — embrace the transformative power of email ticketing with Intercom's Help Desk and elevate your customer service to new heights. Our Help Desk offers a comprehensive suite of features, including but not limited to:

  • Automated ticket routing and prioritization to ensure that critical issues receive prompt attention.

  • Real-time insights into customer interactions to identify trends, predict potential issues, and make informed decisions.

  • Robust reporting and analytics to track performance metrics, measure customer satisfaction, and identify areas for improvement.

  • Seamless integration with knowledge bases, FAQs, and other resources.

So, are you ready to empower your support team to consistently deliver outstanding experiences and foster resilient, long-lasting customer loyalty? Start a free trial or book a demo session today.

Sources 1. Business Wire. January 2022 market study by Idomoo and Arlington Research. 2,000 adult consumers were surveyed in the US and UK.

2. Superoffice. Based on a survey of 3,200 European consumers.