Zendesk on Zendesk is a day-long discussion about a specific topic and how Zendesk Support uses Zendesk. Each session is hosted by a member of our Support team.
This session is about how Zendesk Support triages tickets. It covers:
- Staffing and scheduling for ticket triage
- Consolidating user details
- Completing key ticket fields
- Perks of ticket triage
This session is hosted by Rodney Lewis, Erin Hampe, and Chelsea Gaffney in our San Francisco office.
One of the first steps we take when a ticket comes in is making sure it's sent to the right person or team. Making sure this process, known as ticket triage, runs smoothly can keep response and resolution times down, prevent internal teams from wasting time sending tickets back and forth, and help you identify trends in incoming tickets. In this article, we'll look at the following elements of our triage process:
- Staffing and scheduling for triage
- Consolidating user details
- Completing key ticket fields
- Bonus perks of the triage process
Staffing and scheduling for triage
A designated triage agent is assigned to manage incoming tickets. This triage agent works out of the Untriaged Tickets view, which is set up as shown below:
The triage agent reviews and reassigns each ticket to the appropriate team for resolution. This triage agent is also in the best position to identify emerging support trends, assist the management of our problem/incident workflow, and assist during red alert events.
An agent on triage usually handles 30-50 tickets each hour. The majority of the time there will be one advocate assigned to this role an hour. However, in times where the amount of tickets become overwhelming for one advocate, we will have another trained agent help out.
We have a daily schedule which informs advocates of who will be on triage and when. Our support team makes sure that at least one advocate has eyes on triage at all times. Once a advocate is done with their triage shift, they will stay on until the next advocate is able to take over. Advocates handling this process must be well-rounded, well-versed in the product, and are able to multi-task and track trends in real time. We make sure that advocates are well trained and familiar with our system and team structures prior to stepping into this role.
There are two key components of triaging:
- User management
- Ticket review and escalation
Consolidating user details
One of the first steps when handling a ticket in triage is associating users with their correct organization(s). In our instance, organization is synonymous with subdomain, it’s generally something we can determine from the content of the ticket. We’ll head to the user’s profile and add the organization like below:
Not only does this help maintain our user base infrastructure, it allows Zendesk to retrieve any relevant organization information. There might be tags, notes, or custom fields on the org profile that should carry to that user’s ticket to provide additional information or influence triggers and automations. There could also be similar open tickets from other users in the organization that would help an advocate resolve the issue faster.
We’ll also merge alternate profiles into existing users when they’ve sent in a ticket from a new contact (a different email address, Twitter handle, Facebook page, or phone number). The system creates a profile page for each new unique contact, but we like to keep all contact information for one user stored in one profile. For example, when a voicemail is created, it’ll come through triage with the phone number stored as the only contact. If the customer happened to give us an email address in the voicemail, we can (try to) find their email profile in Zendesk and merge the two profiles together. The same process applies to social media tickets. By keeping all of the main contact information in one profile, we’re able to get a broader visual on the individual submitting the ticket.
Completing key ticket fields
Once we’ve listed an organization, we set field values and determine which Zendesk team should handle the ticket. There are four important fields we set in triage, as they determine the next steps in the ticket’s lifecycle:
- Type: Setting the type helps us to ensure tickets are accurately flagged when we transfer or escalate them, generate useful data for metrics, and isolate systemic problems so we can easily link incidents to them.
Priority: The priority helps stack the issues in order of severity. One of the most important parts of using this field is defining a priority taxonomy amongst your agents. Everyone should be on the same page as to what constitutes a low, normal, high, and urgent request or the value of the field drops significantly.
In our instance most tickets are set to Normal, with High reserved for issues that warrant more immediate attention (e.g. access, login, and channel issues). Urgent is used in only quite severe instances, which allows it to retain its power and transparency in communicating the true urgency of the request to the assignee.
About: The About field is a custom drop-down field that we have created which allows the agent to know what type of request they will be assisting with (e.g. Triggers, Macros, Reporting, etc.). This is also useful in escalations or assigning to our product champions, so they know right away what the ticket is about.
Group: This is when we determine which team within Zendesk is best suited for assisting the ticket. Is this a question for Sales, Support, Documentation or Finance? Sometimes it’s deciding which subgroup it needs to be sent to -- can this be handled by our Tier 1 support group or does it require our technical resources in Tier 2? Is the request in English or do we need to route to the appropriate language-specific queue? With over 150 unique groups in our account, there’s a lot to consider!
To help with the escalation process we use macros that assign a ticket to the proper group and add the correct tags for reporting purposes. A macro can also be used to leave an internal note if you have some extra information to share that is beneficial for the agent or group handling the ticket.
The perks ;)
There are added bonuses of triaging! While it was built for the two management tools above, there are a few perks that come along with having this role.
- We have a number of requests that come over Facebook & Twitter. The advocate that is scheduled for triage will have the responsibility of handling these channels of communication. Since they are handled directly at triage, we’re able to get public replies out quickly.
- Advocates get to take on new roles and responsibilities - we have a past blog post that dives into this!
- Members in triage have the ability to solve “quick wins” at their discretion. This means a ticket comes to the triage view and can be solved with a quick answer within a minute or less.
- Triaging is a great way for your company to identify trends. For example, if an advocate sees multiple tickets being sent in about the same issue, he or she will be able to identify the problem area and create a problem ticket. When an advocate notices new tickets coming in reporting that same issue, he or she will notify the proper teams and link those new tickets to that problem ticket.
- Your triaging advocates will also see a larger scope of your company. Since advocates are responsible for sending tickets to the appropriate team, you will get to know more departments and are able to develop a relationship with coworkers outside of your team!
Triage is a valuable resource that is a big part of our daily workflow. It is so important to us that we thought it may be useful for our customers as well. Now we want to hear from you! Does triage sound like a workflow that would be useful for you? Do you have a similar workflow to our triage duty? If you are not using the triage workflow, what are you doing now to sort your tickets?
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