Ticket Deflection = Ticket Prevention + Ticket Resolution

22 Dec 2023

5.5 min read

Are you being sold a customer service tech that is based on ticket deflection? We’ve explained before that ticket deflection is not really a great term for what these sorts of tools do – or should be doing.

The basic point is: why would you want to “deflect” customer service tickets? Let’s explain. 

If your goal as a customer service team is to get through as many tickets as possible in a day, then sure, ticket deflection sounds great. But your goal should be to make your customers as happy as possible and provide the best possible experience you can.

These two goals are not mutually exclusive – there is a lot of overlap! Of course if you can get through more tickets in a day, customers are not waiting as long, and are less likely to get upset, which means the overall experience improves. 

But it’s not sustainable for a customer service team to just handle more and more tickets. It either requires impossible amounts of hours from the existing team, or a team that expands in proportion to the number of tickets. This is clearly not a great model for scalability. 

Given that constraint, it’s natural to look at ticket “deflection”, i.e. preventing tickets from reaching customer service. We’ve explained before (we’re starting to sound like a broken record) that your customers don’t want to be deflected – they want their case to be resolved.

Here’s a typical ticket deflection:

  • A customer hits your site

  • They look for information on whether you ship to their country

  • They can’t find that information

  • So they ask a chatbot

  • The chatbot doesn’t help them

  • They look for a way to get in touch with someone on live chat or the phone

  • They leave, never to darken your doorway again

Technically you’ve deflected a ticket, but no one would say that’s a good outcome. As we’ve said before, Ticket Deflection is an outcome that customer service teams like, but does nothing for the customer experience. 

Therefore we think that ticket deflection is best broken down into two areas: ticket prevention, and ticket resolution (without agent involvement). 

Ticket prevention vs. Ticket Deflection

On the face of it, ticket prevention sounds a lot like ticket deflection, but the key point here is the mindset. 

Ticket deflection is like putting up walls and barricades to stop a customer with a question from reaching the hallowed ground – your helpdesk. Ticket prevention is about going to the root cause and answering the question before they even know to ask it. 

So, think about your ticket deflection tactics – are they actually helping your customers find the right answer, or are they about making it harder for them to contact you and your team?

So given the end result of prevention and deflection is essentially the same, how can you be sure you are avoiding deflection?

The answer is: make it as simple as possible for someone to contact you and raise a ticket. There should be minimal hoops that customers need to jump to join a queue to speak to someone, or to fire a message. 

This means that if you have a chatbot, there should always be an option to speak to an agent during working hours – either through a button, or having a free text field where customers can ask to speak to an agent. 

If it’s always easy to contact you, then there’s no reason for customers to give up and turn away. But if you’ve made it as easy as possible for customers to find the answer they need without talking to an agent, then you are preventing tickets. 

How do you measure ticket prevention? 

Because of natural fluctuations in order volumes, it can be hard to know if your tactics are working. One week you may have less traffic on your site, and so naturally have fewer questions coming in, the next you have a big sale and traffic spikes.

The simplest and best way to measure ticket prevention is to use contact to order ratio

So if you do 1000 orders in a week, and you have 200 tickets in that week, that’s a 20% contact order ratio. If all things are equal, and you double sales the next week, you would expect to get 400 tickets.

This is helpful for retailers experiencing growth. One retailer we work with experienced huge growth as a business, and also had a huge growth in customer service queries, but when they looked at their contact to order ratio they realised that it had dropped from 18% to 14%. This suggests that their ticket prevention tactics were working. 

Adding in automatic ticket resolution

The main reason that you don’t want to adopt extreme ticket deflection tactics and throw up barriers to customers is that there are lots of questions that a customer could not find out for themselves.

Imagine a customer with a delayed order. They’ve got a tracking link, and it’s telling them that their order was meant to be delivered yesterday. How can they self-serve their way to a satisfactory conclusion?

The answer is they can’t, so they need to speak to an agent in order to find out where the order is, and perhaps get a replacement sent out. 

Unless, you can use customer service automation to resolve that question for them. Using artificial intelligence, and deep integrations to your shipping partners, warehouse and order management systems, you can automate this exact use case.

This is another form of ticket deflection – being able to solve customer problems without human involvement. The advantage of this is that it’s round the clock, it takes just a couple of minutes, and all of the human error can be removed. 


Conclusion – is ticket deflection worth pursuing?

The answer is that of course ticket deflection is worth pursuing, but it’s worth being very clear about what the tradeoff is between fewer tickets and worse customer experience. 

Making it very easy for customers to find answers to common questions is always going to be a good thing. Likewise offering services where customers can generate their own return labels, or apply for refunds or exchanges will help reduce tickets while also making the customer experience better for customers who use the services.

But if you are placing obstacles in the way of customers who have to jump through hoops to get in touch with a problem that requires customer service, then you are damaging the customer experience, and potentially turning away customers. 

To find out how DigitalGenius can help you reduce your ticket load and manage peak better, read this case study with Beauty Pie, and then drop our team a line.