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A huge support ticket backlog is a symptom of failure demand

June 7, 2022
Avatar photo Jani Jokela

Organisations have struggled with the growth in customer contact volume and complexity as the Covid-pandemic accelerated digitalisation and made digital channels mainstream almost over night. Contact volumes keep on increasing as expectations for service quality rise. Needless to say, efficiency in managing customer support ticket queues is turning into a major factor when it comes to competitive advantage.

Overtime work is not a sustainable nor a cost efficient way for taming long ticket queues, but it often is the only way to tackle the huge ticket backlog and to ensure the availability of customer service. If the root causes that cause the queues cannot be eliminated, the the ticket backlog will – for sure – pile up again.

If your goal is to get rid of the tradition of overtime work in managing ticket queues, identifying failure demand can be the most effective starting point for achieving that goal.

Failure demand occurs when service supply and demand do not meet

A customer usually calls or sends an email when they have a problem they can’t solve through the self-service channels: there is a delay in delivery, there is a problem in invoicing or the renewal of the order cannot be done. 

Failure demand occurs when customers unwillingly and reluctantly have to return to the service as their problem cannot be solved or the solution offered solves only partially the problem they have. In other words, failure demand accounts for those customer contacts that have been made about the same issue several times – possibly even in several different channels.

Such contacts and situations are extremely frustrating for customers, burden customer service staff and will increase the customer service costs. 

The volume of failure demand is actually very high. According to academic research findings, in the financial industry, 30-60% of all customer contacts are failure demand. For telecommunication operators, failure demand can account for more than 70% of all contacts. 

In order to permanently reduce long support ticket queues, it is important to identify the root cause for failure demand – which usually is somewhere in the operational level, not in customer service.

In other words, companies need to recognise what are the kind of customer problems that repeatedly remain unresolved. Only when the root causes have been discovered, it is possible to analyse why those problems cannot be solved.

On a mission to find the areas for development

Identifying the right development areas related to customer experience is a challenging task. Today’s companies can have thousands or even tens of thousands of customer contacts a week, as well as several service channels. Finding the right development areas can sometimes feel like looking for a needle in a haystack. 

Of course, different technologies are being used to classify problem areas. Every customer service team surely has a contact reason technology in place to show what the customer’s problem is related to: delivery, invoicing, the product itself, etc. 

However, contact reasons are not able to demonstrate the volume of failure demand in customer communications, nor the root causes for failure demand. And it is precisely by identifying and analysing failure demand that would make visible the weaknesses of the organisation that repeatedly and unnecessarily lead to customer contact. 

Does the solution require consulting, technology or fortune-bearing?

Identifying failure demand has previously required lengthy consulting processes. Customer contacts and customer service’s ability to solve customer problems during the first contact have been manually reviewed and analysed. However, manual analysis is neither scalable nor cost-effective. In addition, if the actual development work can only be started after months of doing analysis, the customers’ everyday lives – and problems – may already have changed.

Luckily, consultancy is not the only possible option anymore. Aiwo is the first service provider in the market that offers unique technology for identifying failure demand. This is a significant innovation in the field of customer service, as it will greatly accelerate the discovery of root causes and a situational picture of failure demand. The technology also enables real-time monitoring of the effectiveness of development activities. 

Of course, the identification of failure demand does not in itself eliminate the sources of failure demand. However, it guides you to the right development areas, which are usually related to something completely different from the customer service team’s efficiency in handling support tickets. 

And the sooner the sources of failure demand can be identified, the sooner changes can be made to the service that will help provide customers with exactly the service they need. This, in turn, has really positive effects both in terms of cost development and customer and employee experience. 

The number of customer contacts is not decreasing – reducing failure demand is already a competitive factor 

According to a customer experience survey by Genesys, the number of customer contacts has almost doubled between 2020 and 2021. Everyday employees working in customer service have also recognised that customer contact volumes have been increasing for a long time now. Therefore I dare say that the volume of failure demand has also increased. If hiring more people in the customer service team is not an option, overtime work will continue to be one of the only options to tackle the huge ticket backlogs. Both of them are a costly way to solve the problem.

However, there is no use in optimising work that should not be done in the first place. A better way of managing the support ticket queues would be to minimise the volume of failure demand. Identifying failure demand is an efficient way to find the right areas for development to achieve this goal.

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