Task Automation in the Customer Support Center: Stop Re-Entering Data and Start Interacting with Customers

We write a lot about submitting incidents (or trouble tickets) and how they will be more rapidly resolved using a customer support software application.  We even talk about tracking that ticket from end to end. And saving money and time along the way.

But what happens in the middle? How do the incidents get resolved more rapidly? Where does that trouble ticket go in its journey through the customer service software?

Well, let’s go back and look at how we might keep track of those tickets now: how we escalate them, assign them, how we make certain they are closed. 

For many smaller enterprises, the ticket tracking system is very manual. It may be as little as a spreadsheet with some sticky notes thrown in. If that. For those using a rudimentary customer support solution, it is possible the system is made up of several non-integrated parts  causing tickets to be passed along somehow from one system to another either through a human keying them in or some sort of software patch to try to help things along.

As you can see, these approaches can result in errors and lost or unclosed trouble tickets.  Part of the problem is the inability to see the whole process at once, part of it is the introduction of errors through human data re-entry or poorly written code. Human error include those introduced into the data or process as it is retyped, a common problem with manual and/or repetitive processes.

One of the best things about an integrated customer support software solution is the ability to solve these two parts of the problem. The first by making data available for all areas of the system and the providing the ability to create specific reports with it. The second problem, of error introduction, is reduced for much the same reason. The system is integrated and all parts “talk to each other” with ease. With APIs the system can even talk to a different system when needed without introducing special patches. 

But what software is really good at is automating routine steps that can be easily missed in a manual system. And while some of those abilities are part of many applications there are times when even more automation is needed. With an application such as PhaseWare’s Event Engine many more of the incident management routines can be handled by the software. 

For each step of the process, an incident ticket is evaluated to determine where it needs to go next according to some preset criteria. This might be called business rule automation or workflow process automation. The rule may be as simple as determining if the trouble ticket should be escalated or closed, a typical if-then choice involved in many software routines. Or the rule may be more complicated, such as the rules about performing a multi-step process in which each step must be done in a specific order, something else software does a lot of. 

Anywhere a choice must be made, a business rule can be written to cover it. And if a business rule can be written for a human to implement, then software can implement it just as easily and much faster. Some examples may be:

  • a business rule to automatically send an email status report at a predetermined interval
  • a business rule to list the steps to handle a trouble ticket through a complicated investigation workflow with the steps in order, so no steps are missed because the system will not allow the second step to be input before the first. 
  • a business rule to automatically escalate incident tickets when they have aged a specific number of days with no interaction.

This is just a small list of some of the potential business rules or processes that can be automated. The software handles it in the background making certain it doesn’t fall through the cracks, that all the i’s are dotted and t’s crossed, and minding the p’s and q’s along with it.

Email from customers can be replied to and incidents created automatically using the content of the email to deteremine what needs to be done. Reports can be produced automatically and in real time if certain targets are missed. Ticket status can be automatically updated.

Not only does automation customer support software perform all these things automatically and without adding error, it does so without all the human intervention and busywork of the old system. Maybe each shift has one or more agents assigned to create incident tickets from incoming emails, go back to check up on aging tickets, or re-enter data into a separate application. Those agents can now be used to do the important stuff:

  • interacting with our customers,
  • creating relationships,
  • upselling and cross-selling,
  • giving the company a human voice and a human brain where it is needed most.

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