Fine Tuning: Succeeding with SLAs--why, when, and how!

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22 comments

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    Michelle

    Can't wait to hear your great ideas for workflow and best practices Sam Chandler !!!

     

     

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    Sam Chandler

    Aw thanks, Michelle! I'm super excited to hear about the cool things people have done with Zendesk SLA targets!

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    Carsten Falborg

    Hi - looking forward to hearing more on SLA.

    What timezone is this in?

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    Sam Chandler

    Hey, Carsten! 

    The times listed are in the Pacific timezone (PST)

     

    Looking forward to hearing from you!

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    Sam Chandler

    Greetings, all! Section 1 of our Fine Tuning discussion on SLAs has been posted. Can't wait to hear your thoughts!

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    Sol Accinelli

    Hi Sam! Thank you for your first post regarding SLAs in Zendesk. I want to share our experience using this feature to see how others are dealing with this in their teams.

    • What SLA metrics does your Organization use when establishing SLA policies?

    Our SLA is that next and first reply should be under 24hs. Our main concern is that our customers aren't left without a reply for a full day. When establishing SLA policies in Zendesk, we created a workaround for tickets submitted by an agent on behalf of a requester, triggering a tag that activates an exclusive Full Resolution policy for those cases, that is later removed when the ticket changes status (so that the general Next Reply SLA policy will be applied in the future).

    We did this as we wanted all tickets to have this active and visible, so we could sort the tickets by the label ("Reply in 3hs", "Reply in -2d", and so on), so that the "most breached" are shown at the top, but as some tickets are still open but the agent has replied something to the customer (maybe something like "Let me check that and I'll write you back"), the label is hidden and the ticket drops to the bottom of the view. How are other dealing with sorting tickets and these policies? Are they useful for them? How?

    Other thing we wonder over here is how are others using the Full Resolution policy. We don't have any standard for how long a ticket should last until it's solved for good (we are in the Travel industry). How can you create that metric? What happens if the client keeps having new questions or updates, and reopening the ticket? I imagine this must be frustrating for the agents, but I'd love to hear other people's experience with this metric.

    Thanks in advance for your comments,

    Sol

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    Sam Chandler

    Thanks for your question, Sol! 

    Instead of focusing on how to get customers to stop reopening tickets, you might want to examine why they’re reopening tickets. Generally, if a customer keeps replying to a ticket after it’s closed it means that their issue hasn’t been fully resolved. Are these customers reopening tickets and asking new questions or are their questions related to their initial reason for reaching out?

    Look into a some recent tickets that have been reopened and analyze the comments after the 1st resolution time: 

    1. Are these new questions or related to the original request? Are there particular agents that have more reopens than others? If so, are the agents with higher reopens fully answering the question on their 1st response or could they have been more thorough in their answer? 
    2. Are your customers’ follow up questions related to issues that could have been avoided if proactive information had been given in the agent’s first response? 

    If the answer is yes in either scenario above, you might think about employing macros with canned responses to situations that frequently arise. It will help reduce your agents’ resolution time and reduce your ticket reopens

     

    Does anyone else have any suggestions for Sol?

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    Mat Cropper

    @Sam and @Sol: Not SLA related, but following on from what Sam says here.. One of the things we do is having a required 'topic' field on each ticket. The agent must select one of the topics in order to Solve a ticket. We then run analytics on reopens and negative CSAT responses against those topics to understand areas where agents have particular development needs, or we perform badly because of process problems. It takes a second to complete, but provides a wealth of useful information after the event.

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    Mat Cropper

    Just whilst we're talking about reopens, we do have a specific set of SLAs that are for that channel specifically ("Closed Ticket"). That way, if an issue is reopened as a follow up ticket our customer gets a very speedy response.

    As we all know, speedy responses do happy customers make, and if they're reopening an issue, chances are we did something to make them unhappy already. I don't want to fuel that negative feeling by making them wait longer.

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    Sam Chandler

    GREAT tips, Mat! Thanks so much for sharing

    Jeff Toister presented an awesome webinar that reinforces the methods you mention above and gives some other pointers along the same lines:  https://www.zendesk.com/resources/turning-data-into-action/ 

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    Wes Drury

    I setup some SLA's about a month ago and was surprised how easy it was to setup.  The only issue I ran into was that we were not populating the 'Priority' field so I had to go and update all my triggers to automatically populate that field.  I loved that I could setup SLA's per group as one of our metrics that we track is the first response time which is different per group.  Another great feature was being able to define  Business Hours vs Calendars Hours.  I know there is alot more to play around with but this was a great improvement over the old SLA setup.

    Great discussion so far and great job Sam!

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    Sam Chandler

    Thanks, Wes! Glad you mentioned the Priority ticket field and Business vs. Calendar hours. That'll come up a little bit in Section Two as well.

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    Sol Accinelli

    Hi @Sam and @Matt, thank you for your feedback and tips. I see your point, and of course, you should see why the tickets get reopened after being solved, but regarding SLAs, what I wondered was how can you create a time metric around this. Maybe our case is different from other's. For example, when you are trying to sell something, at least we can't put together a metric to say what the full resolution time should be, as there is so much back and forward with a client. We are concerned our agents would be frustrated by being out of time as those cases can't be easily standardized. 

    Maybe in other industries it does make sense and wanted to know how this is used to see if this is something we could implement. 

    Thank you!

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    Wes Drury

    @Sol - One thing to note is that when you are talking back and forth with your client make sure to put the ticket in a 'Pending' or 'On-Hold' status as that will pause your SLA so the SLA is only counting time while its in your agents hands.

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    Sol Accinelli

    Hi Wes! Yes, back and forth, thanks.

    Yes, of course, but still you could go over the full resolution time. Maybe we are too permissive with our 24hs SLA for next reply? Because with that rule, I guess our full resolution SLA should be "24hs x average interactions needed"? Is this how others are crafting that metric? Or is it a lot less?

    No clue here, I'm just asking for tips, but I don't want to hijack the post either!

    Thanks,

    Sol

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    Sam Chandler

    Hey, everyone! Just wanted to let you know that Section Two has been posted. Can't wait to hear your thoughts!

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    Sam Chandler

    @Sol - You're not hijacking anything. You've got great questions and I hope you keep them coming :)

    I went back to your original post to get a better idea of your goals and workflow. In addition to monitoring your agents' reply times, it looks like you're utilizing the Zendesk SLA feature to put your most pressing features at the top of your queues. Instead of adding an SLA target to monitor reply time, have you thought about reconfiguring your View instead? You can reorder your Views by a plethora of options including "last update" and "last update by assignee."

    Not sure if that would solve everything but I thought I'd offer that option!

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    Sol Accinelli

    Hi Sam! Thanks for the follow up!

    Yes, regarding the views, we had them ordered by last update, but we got excited about SLAs labels and wanted to use them instead as they are so graphic and we hoped they would be a useful tool for sorting. We also wanted to stop using "last update" as we were running an automation to insert tags when tickets breached the SLA policy so we could put together reports about this, but that automation "unsorted" what we needed initially. 

    So we got to a point where: 

    • We have the views sorted by the label, risking tickets will be lost by not having the counter active, BUT we could report on the ones that did.
    • OR we could have the views sorted by "last update", have the labels active or inactive depending on what the agent did (and they could or not make sense with the "last update" order), and not having reports about this.

    Is anyone else having the same situation? =/

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    Mat Cropper

    Hi @Sol! I'm not sure if this will be helpful or not, but here's my setup.

    • We have multiple SLAs defined, each with 1st reply and requester wait time defined
    • Each SLA is for a defined 'user need' (eg. payment query, refund request, technical issue etc), and each value for 1st reply and RWT is different depending on the importance we place on the user need
    • All of our views are sorted by SLA
    • All of our views exclude Pending and On Hold tickets (ie. we don't distract our agents with tickets that are with the customer)
    • We run the same bump-bump-solve process as Zendesk, so that we nudge our customers to reply if they leave things for a while
    • We run automations to reassign tickets and add tags if we see that a ticket is getting close to breaching an SLA, or has been Open and not updated for a while (4 hours in our case).

    All in all, this works well for us. Our most important tickets tend to get to the top of the view, and everything gets its fair turn.

    Not sure if that's any use, but chipping in just in case :)

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    Mat Cropper

    Slightly off topic: Sam, have you thought about turning this fine tuning into a video? The tips you're giving in the posts are excellent, and it seems really well suited to a talk with some nice graphics ;)

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    Sam Chandler

    @Mat - I LOVE that idea! I agree that topics like SLAs and other business rules are best explained visually. I'll get with the team and see if we could get something going :)

    Thanks for your suggestions above as well!

     

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    Sam Chandler

    Hey, guys! Section Three is officially up!

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