Keeping your customer support response time as low as possible is a key part of meeting customer expectations and providing a great customer experience. But as your brand grows, it's just not realistic to respond to every ticket the second it rolls in. This makes developing a system to quickly assign priority levels to support tickets an essential strategy for every customer service team to implement.
To help you develop a support ticket prioritization process that will support your business goals, let's take a look at why it's important to prioritize customer requests. Then we'll dive into nine best practices that your support team can use to strategically categorize the support tickets that it receives.
What is customer service ticket prioritization?
Rather than responding to customer requests on a first-come-first-serve basis, ticket prioritization is the process of evaluating all incoming tickets to identify the most urgent. Once you prioritize tickets, you can triage — or assign — priority tickets so your team can respond to tickets that have the biggest impact on your company's revenue before moving on to low-priority tickets.
When prioritizing customer service requests, you should keep a few things in mind:
- Is the request time-sensitive? If so, consider making those tickets a higher priority. Non-urgent tickets, like a general question about your business, shouldn’t be the first in your queue to answer.
- Is the request on a live channel? If so, answer those tickets first. Customers naturally expect more time between emails than they do if they’re using a conversational channel like SMS or live chat to talk to your brand.
- Is the request a pre-sales question? If so, that should be a high-priority ticket because your customer service team could make the difference between making or losing that sale.
- Is the request automatable? If so, it should be low priority — at least for your human agents. Invest in self-service resources, like a help center or automated responses, so you can deflect these tickets that don’t need to take up your team’s time.
- Is the customer VIP? If so, consider bumping up that ticket’s priority. Return customers generate 300% more revenue than first-time customers, according to our data, so don't delay when a regular customer reaches out.
Let’s take a closer look at the types of tickets that make for low, medium, and high-priority tickets.
Low-priority ticket requests
Low-priority tickets are issues that are not time-sensitive, escalated, or in the way of a potential sale. They are frequently asked questions that you could automate with your helpdesk software — more on that later — or general feedback that you can pass to the rest of the team for long-term improvements to the product or customer experience. If you can’t deflect these tickets with automation, they can live in your support backlog for a few hours (or even a day or two) while you handle more urgent tickets.
Low-priority tickets include:
- Non-urgent customer needs like a request for a return label
- Frequently-asked questions like questions about your refund policy
- Automatable questions like customers asking about their order status
- Tickets with customer feedback should be answered and shared with the larger team, but are not time-sensitive
Medium-priority ticket requests
Medium-priority tickets require some type of product support from a human agent, not a chatbot or auto-response. However, they may not need your immediate attention, either because the ticket isn’t time-sensitive or the customer isn’t VIP.
- Tickets about the customer’s account, such as a customer having issues updating a shipping address
- Questions about recent orders like helping resolve a lost shipment or investigating why a discount didn’t go through
- Tickets on slower channels like email, where customers expect a bit of latency between responses
High-priority ticket requests
High-priority ticket requests include conversations with VIP customers, conversations on live channels, and questions that might enable a sale. Your team has a small window of time to answer these questions, so bump them to the top of the queue.
- Tickets from VIP customers because repeat customers contribute 300% more revenue than first-time customers and you can’t risk losing customer loyalty
- Escalated customers, especially if it’s a customer threatening to leave a bad review
- Conversations on messaging channels, such as SMS or live chat, for which customers expect immediate responses
- Pre-sale questions like someone asking for a recommendation for a gift or clarification about sizing
- Tickets in which a customer is threatening to leave a negative review are high-priority because negative customer review can deter other potential customers from your brand
- Questions placed shortly after an order, like a customer asking to change the product or update their shipping address before the order’s fulfilled
By breaking down tickets into these four categories for your reps, you can ensure that the tickets that will have the biggest impact on your company receive the swiftest attention.
Best practices for prioritizing customer service requests
Prioritizing support requests is a key part of creating a customer journey optimized for maximum revenue. If you want to start using a ticket prioritization process that will boost both customer satisfaction and your bottom line, we've got nine proven best practices below:
- Respond to your most loyal customers first
- Tag repeat customers as high-priority tickets
- Automate simple requests wherever possible
- Mark tickets with urgent pre-sale activity as high priority
- Prioritize messaging channels
- Deprioritize (or auto-close) no-reply tickets
- Bump up customer service requests where customers are threatening to leave a negative review
- Mark any incoming tickets about recent orders as first-priority
- Respond as quickly as possible (regardless of ticket prioritization)
1) Respond to your most loyal customers first
As we mentioned earlier, repeat customers generate 300% more revenue than first-time shoppers. VIP customers are even more valuable than your average repeat customer because they recommend your brand to their friends and leave positive reviews, both of which are highly valuable growth tactics for your brand.
Make sure these VIP customers are your highest priority to prevent customer churn, which is costly for your bottom line.
How Gorgias can help you respond to VIP customers
With Gorgias’ Rules, you can automatically tag tickets coming from customers who spend a certain amount or make a certain number of purchases within a certain time frame. Here’s a Rule that automatically tags tickets from customers who spend $100 or more within your store:
Then, you can create a high-priority view that automatically gathers all tickets with the tag “VIP customer” that your team can prioritize.
2) Tag repeat customers as high-priority tickets
Building on the previous section, it's a good idea to prioritize any tickets from repeat customers. Although repeat customers only make up 21% of the customer base for most brands, they contribute 42% of overall revenue. Based on our data, your repeat customers will, on average, contribute 300% more revenue than first-time customers over their entire lifespan.
So, even if a customer has only purchased one item before, jump on any future requests because you might have the chance to improve customer retention.
How Gorgias can help identify repeat customers
3) Automate simple requests wherever possible
Low-priority tickets might not be as important as others, but they still demand a timely response. If your customer service team has to spend a lot of time responding to common, repetitive requests, they might not have time to give high-priority tickets the attention they deserve.
Thankfully, tools such as Gorgias can enable you to respond to common support requests automatically so that your reps can spend their time focusing on higher priority tickets. With Gorgias, you can create canned responses, called Macros, and automatically send them with automation Rules to a wide range of common customer requests, including "Where is my order?" requests, questions about product variants, pricing, and sizing, questions about returns, etc. Gorgias also provides self-service tools such as a comprehensive knowledge base and chatbots to help reduce your team's workload.
Responding to these common customer requests via automation and self-service options offers numerous benefits. For one, it provides an immediate response and resolution to what is likely a large percentage of your tickets. It also eliminates a huge burden from your support team's workflow, giving them more time to focus on complex requests and high-priority tickets.
How Gorgias can help you automate answers to simple requests
With Gorgias, you can fire (still helpful) pre-written responses to customers who ask simple questions, such as questions about the status of their order.
When we mention this to some customer support professionals, they get nervous because they don’t want to offer low-quality automated support. And we agree, that’s not the goal. Gorgias’ automated responses are especially helpful because our templated Macros are dynamic – more on that below. Plus, we only recommend automating repetitive tickets that don’t actually need a human touch. Plus, automating these tickets frees up your agents to provide human support on tickets that need it most.
First, you’ll create a Macro, or a templated response, with dynamic fields that pull customer data directly from your Shopify, Magento, or BigCommerce store. You can pull order numbers, order statuses, and more.
Then, you’ll create Rules that automatically fire the appropriate Macro when customers ask an automatable question. Here’s a rule that gives customers their order number when they ask:
4) Mark tickets with urgent pre-sale activity as high priority
Seventy percent of all ecommerce shopping carts are abandoned before the customer completes their purchase. Of all the metrics that keep online store owners up at night, this one is near the top.
Good customer support, however, can go a long way toward reducing your cart abandonment rate. While there are several reasons why customers abandon their cart, questions or issues arising during checkout are a couple of the most common. Therefore, quickly addressing these questions and concerns can substantially boost your store's conversion rate.
Best of all, you don't even have to wait for the customer to contact you first. With Gorgias live chat, you can flag customers with best-selling items on their cart or customers lingering on the checkout page and contact them proactively to see if they need any assistance. But regardless of who contacts who first, pre-sale tickets should be marked as first-priority tickets.
How Gorgias can help tag pre-sales tickets
Depending on your brand, you may already start to recognize which tickets indicate a customer is close to making a purchase. If you sell footwear apparel, for example, this could look like customers asking whether they should buy a size 11 or 12 if they usually wear 11.5. With Gorgias, you can create Rules that automatically detect such questions and add tags to help you prioritize.
Here’s a rule that automatically tags any tickets asking about product sizing with “pre-sale” and sends a macro response that links the customer to your size chart:
5) Prioritize messaging channels (like live chat, SMS, and Instagram or Facebook messages)
One of the biggest reasons why live chat and other messaging support channels such as SMS and social media messaging applications have become so popular with consumers is because they offer swift support.
A customer who contacts your support team via one of these channels will expect a much faster response than a customer who sends you an email. This is why it's important to treat these messages more like phone calls you've put on hold than emails you haven't responded to yet.
While the exact categorization that these tickets fall under will depend on other factors (such as the customer they come from and the nature of their requests), customer service professionals should inherently give tickets from instant messaging channels a higher priority than email requests.
How Gorgias helps you automatically tag tickets from specific channels
As your team grows, you may dedicate agents to specific channels based on preference, competence, or the level of complexity you tend to see coming through one channel or another. For instance, you may assign a more general agent to SMS while an agent with more advanced product knowledge can handle in-depth questions over email.
Here’s a Rule in Gorgias that will automatically tag all incoming tickets in your SMS channel. You can then send all tickets with this tag to one agent’s dedicated view so they never have to go searching for tickets and can just focus on providing fast, high-quality answers.
6) Deprioritize (or auto-close) no-reply tickets
Customer support is a two-way street and requires back-and-forth communication in order to reach a resolution. If a customer isn't responding to your rep's messages, it's okay to go ahead and deprioritize that ticket or close it out completely. Likewise, your helpdesk might be turning spam messages or social media comments that don’t need a response into tickets.
How Gorgias can auto-close no-reply tickets
Using Gorgias to set up a rule that will auto-close no reply tickets is one great way to prevent these tickets from wasting your support team's time.
Here’s a rule that automatically detects comments on your Instagram ads and posts. Your customer service team shouldn’t ignore social media comments as a practice, of course. However, you might activate this rule after an Instagram giveaway if you’re experiencing an influx of unwanted tickets.
7) Bump up customer service requests where customers are threatening to leave a negative review
Few things damage your brand image and online presence more than negative customer reviews. If a customer mentions that they are considering leaving a bad review of your company, you should automatically bump their ticket to a higher priority.
In fact, you may want to bump up tickets from any upset or angry customer. With Gorgias' intent and sentiment detection features, you can automatically detect when a customer is upset and bump their ticket up to a higher priority level. Gorgias can also detect keywords that allow you to prioritize tickets from customers threatening a negative review.
How Gorgias helps you stop angry customers from leaving reviews
With Gorgias’ intent detection, you can automatically detect tickets with threatening, negative, or offensive sentiments in their tickets. You can also scan all tickets for words similar to “review” or “warn” (as in, “I’m going to warn my friends to stay away). The rule below scans all tickets from Facebook and Instagram comments for those words and tones, automatically tags them as negative comments, and escalates them by tagging “level 2”:
8) Mark any incoming tickets about recent orders as first-priority
If a customer submits an order and immediately sends a support request, they likely input the wrong address or purchased the incorrect item(s). If you can catch that request before you package and ship the item, you’ll save yourself the cost of shipping the product and handling the return or the exchange. Plus, you’ll save the customer from the negative experience of having to wait for an item they didn’t want in the first place, or having their item sent to the wrong address.
So, develop a system to flag any support requests coming from customers who placed an order within the last two hours.
How Gorgias helps you find tickets about recent orders
This is one example where Gorgias’ deep integration with Shopify is a huge asset. Gorgias’ Rules can analyze customer data and identify when a ticket is from a customer who placed an order within the last couple of days. The rule below does just that, and adds the tag “Urger Order Edit” to let your customer support team know they need to act before the order fulfillment team sends an incorrect order.
9) Respond as quickly as possible (regardless of ticket prioritization)
Forty-six percent of customers expect companies to respond to support requests in less than four hours, while 12% expect a response time of 12 minutes or less. To meet these ever-increasing customer expectations, you will need to keep your response time as low as possible for all types of tickets.
Using automation to instantly respond to common customer questions is the best way to speed up your response times. Along with providing an instant resolution and response to a significant chunk of the support requests your team gets, leveraging automation can also reduce your support team's workload so that higher priority, more hands-on tickets receive a faster response as well.
Once you develop a system for prioritizing tickets, you can create or refine your service-level agreements (SLAs) to reflect how fast your team strives to answer tickets based on question type, customer type, and channel. You may need to think about your staffing schedule to make sure you have agents ready during peak hours, especially for live channels like SMS and live chat.
How Gorgias helps with prioritizing service tickets
As your brand grows, prioritization without support from a helpdesk becomes nearly impossible. You could staff someone to field all incoming messages in your email inbox and social media accounts and manually triage, or label tickets with priority and send them to the right agent. But it’s much more time- and cost-efficient to use a tool that can streamline the process with the help of automation.
With advanced intent and sentiment detection features, Gorgias can analyze each incoming ticket based on natural language processing (NLP). Gorgias then allows you to create Rules that determine the ticket's priority level (among so many other things) and assign it to a specific agent by sorting it into agent-specific Views. This way, your team can focus on resolving important tickets rather than figuring out what that order is first.
Here’s how Gorgias processes the language on an incoming ticket and applies a rule to automatically take action – in this case, add a tag to cancel that person’s order:
From there, you can create a View that puts tickets with priority tags in a specific queue. Or, depending on your team’s setup, you can assign certain agents to handle different views, so every agent can focus on a certain channel, priority level, product line, or type of customer.
Gorgias also enables you to automatically respond to common customer questions and repetitive issues that make up a bulk of your support team's workload (like WISMO, or “Where is my order?” tickets), freeing team members up to spend more time focusing on higher-priority tickets. Never miss a ticket, never take too long on an urgent ticket, and never waste time clicking and dragging tickets to different agent views or manually labeling tickets.
Love Your Melon, an apparel brand that uses Gorgias, used to have an average first-response time of around 10 minutes before using Gorgias because they were swamped with tickets. With Gorgias’ automatic responses, they are now able to instantly answer 25% of their tickets with helpful automated responses, freeing agents up to handle more complex questions in the queue. Check out our full customer story on Love Your Melon:
“The level of automation provided by Gorgias, like the Rules that can auto-close tickets, has been proven successful. Love Your Melon team has increased their productivity and efficiency thanks to Gorgias.”
- BerniDe Kolar, Customer Service Director at Love Your Melon
How Gorgias helps your team respond to all tickets quickly
Gorgias is full of features to help your tickets provide fast, helpful answers to customers across all customer service channels. Intent detection, Macros, and Rules — all described in detail above — help deflect low-impact tickets, get tickets in front of the right agent, and provide templated responses so agents don’t have to write messages from scratch.
On top of that, Gorgias can help you create self-service resources (like FAQ pages and help centers, chatbots, and self-service flows) to help customers help themselves, eliminating any wait time associated with reaching out to agents and reducing the volume of tickets your team receives.
Last, Gorgias’s integrations with ecommerce platforms (Shopify, Magento, and BigCommerce) and other top-rated ecommerce tools mean your customer service team won’t lose time throughout the day shuffling through tabs to copy/paste information between disconnected tools. You can see a customer’s entire order and conversation history in the sidebar, modify orders from within the helpdesk, and share data with 85+ tools you already use like Klaviyo, Attentive, and ShipBob.
Automate ticket prioritization with Gorgias
Prioritizing support tickets enables you to deliver the swiftest and highest quality service to tickets that will have the biggest impact on your business. And, with Gorgias, this otherwise tedious process can be completely automated.
Find out how our customer, Comme Avant, uses Gorgias Tags to save time and easily manage 7,500 tickets a month with a very small team.
“Using Gorgias helps us save some precious time, the time we can use to manage our business. It is beneficial, especially when you receive a lot of messages every day.”
- Sophie Lauret, Co-Founder of Comme Avant
Ready to learn how Gorgias can help empower your ecommerce success? Take a look at our tools and resources to help grow your store to new heights.