Customer support tickets come in various shapes and forms, and from multiple channels – webforms, email, messaging and live chat. When a ticket enters a support team’s inbox, many companies triage it, tagging it based on the topic or urgency, and route it to the appropriate agent or team. This process helps streamline workflows, ensuring the right eyes are on the right ticket, and issues are resolved as quickly and accurately as possible.
A query related to a warranty on a recently purchased laptop computer may be tagged ‘warranty’, while a ticket received in French would be sent to a team member who speaks that language and is able to translate. Historically, this was a fairly manual and time-consuming process, but companies are now leveraging technologies such as AI to streamline ticket triaging.
In this article, we’ll share a bit of insider scoop on the technological transformation that is occurring behind-the-scenes including:
- What is ticket triage AI?
- How does ticket triage AI work?
- Why is it so important?
- How your business can implement it
In the world of AI, ticket triage refers to the automatic pre-processing of tickets by AI-powered virtual assistants. With a little help from this dynamic technology, tickets can be enriched with actionable insights, such as urgency/severity, and the category of the issue. By leveraging Natural Language Processing, these virtual assistants can grasp a customer’s true intent in order to properly prioritize tickets and route them to the right agent.
However, modern AI platforms such as Netomi’s, are taking ticket triaging one step further. They can identify if there is information needed from a customer that has not yet been provided, and request that information before looping in a human agent. If a customer is inquiring about upgrades on an upcoming flight but hasn’t yet provided their flight confirmation number, for instance, an AI agent can ask for this background information. This ultimately means the human agent doesn’t need to spend as much time closing the ticket.
A second form of ticket triaging occurs when AI agents gather information and contextual data from back-end systems such as order management or CRM platforms on behalf of an agent. So, even if a virtual agent is not completely resolving a ticket, it can significantly reduce resolution time by doing a lot of the groundwork for agents. Like an investigative journalist, AI is first conducting research and gathering evidence prior to composing the story. This will all be collected prior to passing the ticket to a human agent, so that the agent will have the required information to make an informed decision.
A robust, well-trained AI can figure out what a customer is looking for when they first engage with the customer service department of a business, playing a key role in live human handoff, to dramatically accelerate response times. This is a critical step in the process – when it is not confident in its ability to understand a user’s intent, the Netomi AI takes the best course of action, escalating a customer to a human agent to minimize their frustration, rather than offer them an incorrect or irrelevant response.
With native integration into agent desks such as Zendesk and Gladly, the Netomi chatbot sits right within the platform to transfer chats to specific departments or agents. Once the intent is understood, the ticket would then be tagged for tracking purposes (such as refund or delivery status). The ticket may be prioritized based on certain customer attributes, such as the length of time for which the customer has been with a business, and the class to which they belong (if a customer is considered part of a VIP category, for instance, they would escalated directly to a human agent to receive specialized treatment).
Also on the agent side, as a fourth type of triage, AI offers support to preserve their overall sanity with sentiment routing. By monitoring agent conversations, AI agents are able to identify which human agent is having more difficult customers based on customer sentiment as well as the nature of the issue, while also taking into account factors such as the conversation length – is it dragging on for too long? The AI can then anticipate agent stress level and the micro-impact that closing a specific ticket will have on their immediate well-being, and reroute the ticket to a different agent if needed. This avoids situations in which one agent is consecutively assigned exasperated customers, which takes a great toll on their job satisfaction. Potential crisis, averted!
Additionally, with ‘Agent Assist’ or ‘Co-Pilot’ mode, suitable replies are recommended by the AI and help agents work faster, taking a bit of work off their plate. For instance, a customer reaches out to a support team via email to inquire about her order status. This request is then sent to an agent for review, along with a suggested response, which the agent could then accept and send, edit, or reject and compose their own response. This ‘review mode’ is like ‘semi-auto pilot mode,’ one in which the AI and the agent work in tandem.
Not all tickets are suited for automation, however – begin with automating the right kind of queries – those that are basic and repeatable, such as ‘what is your refund policy?’ A complicated issue such as ‘software failure’ might be classified as a ‘high priority issue,’ as it has a large impact on a large customer base, and would likely require some advanced technical expertise and assistance from a human agent with knowledge in this area.
A tremendous time saver, the ticket triage AI process is beneficial for both:
Customers, by offering speedy resolution times, for superior customer service.
Businesses, by enabling them to help their customer support teams. According to a 2022 report from Freshworks, 1 in 3 leaders believe that building new generation digital platforms to help customer-facing teams work better stands as a top priority, when it comes to digital investments. What’s more, features that allow for greater efficiency, like AI-based ticket classification and the automatic routing of incoming customer contacts to the right agent, can save agents up to 1.2 hours per day. That’s a lot of valuable time that can be saved!
Agents, by enabling them to work on more interesting and high-value tickets. Agents today are overworked, and many are feeling undervalued and a lack of empowerment – 74% of call center agents are at risk for burnout, and turnover rates sit between 30% and 45%, among the highest of any industry.
A 2022 Zendesk report revealed that only 15% of agents are extremely satisfied with their overall workloads. With AI helping to sift through, categorize and disperse tickets, agents are free to tackle other challenges and concentrate on tasks that require more creativity and critical thinking – skills and competencies which only a human can provide, and are oh-so-essential to hone.
AI-based ticket triage is a joint effort – it is a combination of people, tools and processes. By working with a trusted partner to automate a large part of the process, businesses can bring AI into the equation.
As ticket volumes continue to increase, the answer lies in AI-powered solutions. With the right tools and processes in place, customer service departments can operate like well-oiled machines, streamlining their workflows while also improving the agent experience, and, in turn, the overall experience for their customers.