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How to efficiently manage and reduce support ticket volume

Managing support ticket volume can often feel like an emotional rollercoaster for support teams. One minute things are cruising along smoothly, and then, suddenly, your team gets hit with a tidal wave of new tickets.

According to Intercom’s latest Customer Service Trends Report, 36% of support leaders consider “managing conversation or call volume” a key challenge for 2023.¹ 

That’s not at all surprising, as many support teams face various challenging obstacles, from escalating call volumes to the rise of more complex inquiries. In its report, The State of Customer Care in 2022, McKinsey found that 61% of surveyed care leaders noted a surge in total calls, driven by heightened contacts per individual and an expanding customer base.² Additionally, 58% of care leaders anticipated a further increase in call volumes over the next 18 months.

In this article, you’ll learn exactly what a support ticket is, and how to implement systems that can help you efficiently manage them. We’ll also show you some of our tried-and-true strategies for keeping ticket volume to a minimum.

What is a support ticket?

A support ticket is typically a record of the communication between a customer and a support representative. When a customer reaches out to a company with any type of query or problem, a support ticket is created to track and document the entire interaction.

At Intercom, however, we see support tickets a bit differently. Unlike simple queries that seek immediate information, support tickets are specifically designed to handle customer requests that require dedicated time and effort to resolve. 

While queries can be addressed on the spot using tools like chatbots or self-service resources, requests often involve collaboration with specialists from teams within the business. These requests demand careful attention and coordination to ensure thorough and effective resolution.

Types of support tickets

Requests vary in shape, size, and complexity, calling for different approaches and tools for resolution. To cater to diverse needs, Intercom has three distinct types of support tickets.

Customer tickets

When your team requires additional time to address issues, customer tickets become invaluable. These support tickets serve as a means to capture, track, and seamlessly share progress updates with clients. 

With customer tickets, you can streamline the support process in multiple ways:

  • Collect user information upfront: Say goodbye to lengthy back-and-forth exchanges. Tickets enable you to gather essential customer details right from the start, reducing unnecessary delays.

  • Real-time progress tracking: Empower your customers by providing real-time updates on the status of their requests. They can easily monitor the progress and stay informed throughout the resolution process.

  • Ticket creation without starting a conversation: Users have the flexibility to create support tickets without initiating a conversation, simplifying the submission process and saving time for both parties involved.

Enhanced reporting capabilities: Long-running queries require a more nuanced approach. You can accurately report on the status and progress of these complex issues, gaining deeper insights into your support operations.

Back-office tickets

When collaboration between support representatives and back-office teams is necessary to resolve an issue, the creation of a linked ticket simplifies the process. 

Back-office tickets offer several advantages:

  • Efficient collaboration: By assigning a separate ticket to back-office teams, you eliminate the need for constant tool switching. Everyone involved can focus on their specific tasks without unnecessary distractions.

Context preservation: Conversations, notes, and customer data are always accessible from the ticket itself. Both front- and back-office teams have constant access to the necessary information, avoiding any loss of context during the resolution process.

Tracker tickets

When faced with issues that impact multiple customers, such as bugs, service interruptions, or feature requests, tracker tickets become your go-to solution for streamlining the process. 

Here's how tracker tickets can benefit you:

  • Centralized management: Tracker tickets serve as a single record for all conversations related to a particular issue. Instead of discussions scattered across multiple documents, tracker tickets allow you to consolidate and manage everything in a single place.

Efficient customer communication: Keep your customers informed and save valuable time by broadcasting updates to all affected users simultaneously.

How to create a support ticket

There are several different ways to create a support ticket. All of them, however, require one thing: a robust ticketing system. Embedded within a help desk, this system changes conversations and live chats into customer tickets – with all essential information to initiate the resolution process.

Let's explore the essence of a support ticket system and the benefits it offers.

What is a support ticket system?

A support ticket system is a centralized platform that brings all customer requests together in one place. It allows support teams utilizing multiple channels to collaborate seamlessly and gain a holistic view of user interactions. 

With a support ticketing system, teams can efficiently handle requests, access complete conversation histories, prioritize and categorize queries, and escalate tickets when necessary.

Benefits of a support ticket system

Improved organization and efficiency

Support ticket systems streamline customer request management, eliminating the risk of overlooked issues. 

Each ticket acts as a comprehensive hub, housing vital user information like contact details, issue descriptions, and attachments. This organization allows support reps to easily access and manage customer interactions for prompt and efficient resolutions.

Enhanced prioritization and escalation

Efficient customer request handling relies on smart prioritization within a support ticket system. When an effective prioritization system is implemented in your team’s workflow, support reps can rapidly spot and address high-priority tickets, ensuring that urgent matters receive immediate attention.

Tickets can also be escalated to specialists when necessary, and complex problems can likewise be handled by the appropriately qualified team members. 

Clear communication and tracking

Tickets or support ticket systems that provide a complete history and context create transparency around queries from start to finish. Both support staff and customers are able to see each step of the process, keeping everyone on the same page and reducing the chances of miscommunication. 

Knowledge base development

Your support ticket system is a rich source of helpful information just waiting to be tapped into. By reviewing common issues that bubble up, you can begin putting together a knowledge base or improving your existing one. 

Start this process by compiling frequently asked questions, troubleshooting guides, and self-help articles that you believe will provide real value to your customers.

Digging into your support tickets is a great way to improve your product. You’ll be surprised at how quickly patterns emerge – whether it's confusion around specific features, complaints about sluggish parts of the app, or bugs that keep resurfacing. 

This intel helps you get ahead and address potential problems before they escalate – or, worse yet, lead your customers to start considering competing products in the marketplace. 

Collaboration and knowledge sharing

When your team can seamlessly pass information back and forth, it strengthens your whole support front. By utilizing a ticket system, your reps can leave notes to fill each other in on developments, contextual details, and other updates. 

This knowledge sharing helps to ensure that all teams are well-informed and equipped to handle a wide range of customer inquiries.

Improved customer satisfaction and loyalty

By providing efficient, organized, and personalized support through ticket systems, you can significantly improve customer satisfaction. Prompt resolution of issues, clear communication, and a proactive approach to addressing customer concerns foster positive experiences and strengthen brand loyalty.

Streamlined support channels

When your support ticket system is integrated with other customer touchpoints, it can simplify how your team handles their support responsibilities. By connecting systems for email, phone, and live chat, support reps spend less time navigating from one isolated, stand-alone tool to another. Plus, they don't have to bounce between separate interfaces to assist someone who started on a different channel.

Scalability and growth

Ticket systems are designed to handle large volumes of customer inquiries, making them well-suited for growing businesses. As user bases expand, these systems can accommodate the increased demand while allowing you to maintain a high level of customer support at scale.

Performance analytics and improvement

All the tickets your team is logging are packed with useful insights capable of helping you boost support performance. Tracking metrics from the system, including resolution time and satisfaction ratings, lets you see how your team is performing – both quantitatively and in the eyes of customers. With this actionable data, you'll know exactly where to focus your efforts to enhance the experience of your customers.

Key support ticket metrics to follow

Having highlighted the advantage of performance analytics for improving your support, let's take a look into the key ticket metrics for monitoring within your system.

Ticket volume or total conversations

Keeping an eye on how many tickets your team handles in a given time can reveal a lot about your support quality. Knowing peak volume times helps you make smart decisions about hiring and utilizing tech tools to continue meeting customer needs.

Resolution time

If there’s one inarguable fact in customer service, it’s that resolution time is the key to customer satisfaction. According to Forrester research, customers are 2.4 times more likely to remain loyal to companies that quickly resolve their issues.

This metric measures how long it takes for your support team to resolve a ticket. Slow resolution times can stem from any number of complicating factors, including inadequate tools, inefficient ticket-logging processes, or simply a lack of the appropriate expertise.

Support tickets per support representative

Figuring out the ideal caseload for your reps matters, so track the average support ticket volume they handle daily. The number of conversations an individual support rep can comfortably handle depends on factors like their experience level, the specific industry of your business, and the types of issues customers are reaching out with. 

First response time

Providing a quick first response is important for any customer support ticket. Even if you can't fully solve the issue right away, being able to acknowledge the customer’s query in a prompt fashion can go a long way in reassuring them of your company’s efforts. 

It's also a great opportunity to set appropriate expectations – if delays are a possibility, be upfront about that so customers have a clear understanding of realistic timelines.

Resolution rate

Resolution rates vary based on different factors specific to your company. However, it's crucial to monitor this metric closely. If you notice a decrease in your resolution rate of support tickets, it could be due to factors such as bugs, inefficient workflows, or a need for improved training and resources for your representatives. 

Whatever the case may be, resolution rate decreases are something that demand attention and a rapid, concerted response. 

Tickets completed

Comparing open tickets to closed ones is an easy way to check how your team is handling its workload. In an ideal world, those numbers should stay pretty balanced – meaning your support crew is tackling issues as quickly as they come in.

Tickets by hour

Checking how many tickets each rep closes per hour is a good way to measure their efficiency. The "tickets by hour" metric shows your average throughput. This can help you identify whether performance needs boosting or if you'd benefit from adding more folks to the team.

Number of tickets

This support ticket metric is just as straightforward as it seems. More issues logged means more time spent resolving them. Pay attention to what's driving people to reach out – it's a sign of pain points in your customer experience that you may be able to address through carefully conceived, well-planned interventions. 


A big pileup of overdue tickets is a clear sign you might be stretched too thin in your support capacity. Substantial backlogs mean customer issues are lingering longer than they should, or you need more hands on deck to manage the workload. 

A third possibility is that ticket management hasn't been on point within your team (for example, reps completing tickets but forgetting to close them out properly).

Speaking of backlogs, Hospitable witnessed a significant transformation in its support operations after integrating Fin, Intercom’s AI chatbot. Using Fin, Hospitable was able to resolve 500 support queries that were in the company’s backlog.

Fin can resolve over 50% of your customer queries instantly and accurately. Read more and discover everything you need to know about Fin, our breakthrough AI chatbot that’s transforming customer service.

How to better manage customer support tickets 

Finally, let's focus on what truly counts in the customer service arena: efficiently managing customer tickets while ensuring quality responses and high customer satisfaction.

Invest in self-service support

Empowering customers to help themselves is an all but guaranteed way to reduce tickets. According to McKinsey’s 2022 State of Customer Care Survey, 65% of customer care leaders identified enhanced self-service as a significant factor contributing to decreased call volume.

When you give people easy access to answers through a knowledge base, FAQs, or automated chatbots, it allows them to address simpler, more straightforward queries with ease and expediency. 

No longer will common questions clog up your queue – customers can attain resolution for these types of issues independently. Needless to say, this translates directly to lighter workloads for your team.

Categorize support tickets

When requests range between everything from refunds to bugs, you need an established sense of order. Route tickets into categories like billing, signups, or outages. The right ticket software lets you add labels in a snap so representatives have all the context they need right away. 

As an example, let’s look into Intercom’s Help Desk categorization system. Using our platform, you can label support tickets in three different ways:

  • Topics are the most consistent, automated way for you to categorize support tickets in your workspace. You can set keywords and phrases to include (or exclude) and any matching request will be automatically added to a topic.

  • Data attributes are the best choice for managing your Help Desk and categorizing all of your support tickets for reporting purposes. For example, by type, priority, product area, etc.

  • Tags are useful for marking specific messages or parts of the support ticket so you can find them at a later point. For example, you can highlight feedback on features for your product team, or bookmark requests affected by a bug or outage.

Keeping similar cases together means your team can fast-track resolutions without wasting time jumping between unrelated issues.

Route tickets to the right people

Skill-based routing is a great way to match customers to representatives who can truly help them as quickly as possible. Rather than just assigning tickets to the next available rep, tickets are strategically directed to people with expertise in that specific request.

Through support ticket software, this process can be either manual or automated. You can set clear rules to route requests to the most qualified representative, considering details like the issue described, how long a customer has already waited, or any other important details about them.

As a result, queries are answered by individuals with the authority and expertise to handle them faster. When you put a rep on a job they’re perfectly suited to address, tickets are cleared at lightning speed.

Read more: Switch to an automated ticketing system and say goodbye to manual processes.

Prioritize tickets based on their urgency

Prioritizing urgent tickets tackles two problems at once. First, it provides a clear starting point for reps who may otherwise be unsure where to begin. Second, it ensures that the most urgent issues are addressed immediately. 

After all, nothing frustrates customers more than seeing their time-sensitive issues go unresolved. Left alone, these critical cases will multiply as clients follow up on a ticket’s status over and over. 

By deploying a support ticket system, you can automatically set the priority of every request. For example, prioritize requests from high-value customers at risk of canceling by identifying keywords like "Cancel" in their message (to identify high-value customers, look to see if their monthly spending exceeds a certain threshold).

Have an escalation plan ready

In customer support, not all tickets can be resolved at first pass. While resolving them in a single interaction is always ideal – and certainly always the goal – some cases require specialized assistance. 

This is why you should have plans ready for escalating support tickets, outlining when and how to proceed with escalation. For example, certain issues have set resolution times; if those are not met, the ticket automatically moves to the next level.

Under certain specific scenarios, escalation should be mandatory. Technical glitches or bugs almost always need to be bumped up to the development team, while billing concerns may require the finance team's input.

Regardless of the situation, the primary objective is delivering prompt resolutions to foster satisfaction while also preventing an overflow in your support inbox.

Learn more about the role of ticket escalation in boosting customer service efficiency.

Equip your support teams with knowledge

Just as an external knowledge base helps customers learn about your offerings, your team benefits from an internal one as well. Implementing an internal knowledge hub gives everyone access to the same reference material.

When handling customer queries, reps can search for solutions instead of waiting on others or escalating tickets prematurely. This allows for faster resolution, which keeps ticket backlogs under control.

Embrace proactive support

There’s no better support process than the ability to prevent issues before they arise at all. Implementing a proactive approach will almost always reduce the overall number of tickets your team is handling. 

Proactive customer support means providing customers with the resources to solve problems without needing to contact you. Traditionally, this involves guiding new users through onboarding, but keeping customers in the loop about ticket progress is just as important.

Even after a ticket is issued, stay proactive by automatically sharing updates with your clients in the messenger and over email. Give them visibility into progress so they don't repeatedly follow up.

Uncover the potential of Intercom’s support ticket system

More tickets may mean more customers – but only to a point. A never-ending flood of issues actually means your support is struggling to keep up. And customers won't stay happy waiting forever to hear back.

The overview of support tickets and the strategies to reduce their volume provided in this guide are a good starting place to increase your team’s efficiency and move toward more manageable workloads. Intercom can streamline your ticket workflows and assist you in offering prime support.

Our help desk brings structure to incoming requests. But we go way beyond reactive support. Proactive messages and Fin, our AI chatbot, can help resolve issues immediately. Customers get the answers they need, and fast, without any time-consuming hassle.

Level up your support ticket management. Start a free trial or ask for a free demo to get started.


1. Intercom, Customer Service Trends 2023. We commissioned an independent market research firm to survey a random sample of 1,775 global customer service leaders and decision-makers. The study’s margin of error is +/- 2.3% at the 95% level of significance.

2. McKinsey & Company, 2022 State of Customer Care Survey. McKinsey surveyed more than 160 industry leaders and experts to find out how their operations have been affected over the past two years of the COVID-19 pandemic.