Scaling complex customer support
Support engineers, or agents, often encounter a wide variety of requests from a wide variety of customers. Below, we'll outline how we can help with organization, and we'll offer solutions for growing companies that need to allocate support resources wisely. We'll also explore what to do if you feel your agent teem needs balancing.
We'll follow a specific scenario to outline how an IT team could use Atlassian tools to successfully field customer support requests and effectively scale by leveraging Jira Service Management and Confluence.
One team's example
Say an IT agent has ~300 potential customers sending them email requests or dropping by their desk to talk to them directly. The company as a whole is growing, but their current support method won't scale effectively. Below, we'll explore how Atlassian can help companies like these, as well as companies of all sizes, ensure agents and customers get the support they need.
Jira Service Management
Jira Service Management offers features for both customers and agents.
Customers primarily access Jira Service Management through a portal. A Jira Service Management portal is essentially a more user-friendly Jira create issue screen that allows for some additional functionality, covered below.
An agent using Jira Service Management triages and works on tickets submitted by customers. The agent typically conducts their work in queues, which are essentially Jira filters.
Some of the features Jira Service Management offers for the portal include:
Where customers submit requests.
Allows for customers to quickly search for request types, as well as documents within any linked knowledge base.
Found on the left side of the portal. Allows for categorization of similar request types to reduce clutter.
If a customer finds a request type that fits their needs, they can select it and fill out the required information.
Some of the features Jira Service Management offers for the queue include:
Where agents work on tickets submitted through the portal.
SLAs (service level agreements)
If requests meet certain conditions set by your team, you can bind the request to SLAs that could include time to first response, time to resolution, etc.
Allows for certain actions to be automatically executed on requests when conditions are met. Think of creating automation rules as a "when, if, then" formula.
Jira Service Management comes bundled with reports that include:
Confluence can be used in conjunction with Jira Service Management as a knowledge base. Knowledge bases provide customers with documentation related their request with the hope that the customer can self-serve and a ticket never even needs to be opened.
Linking Confluence to a Jira Service Management project won't add any features to Confluence itself, but you can organize information within Confluence to streamline workflows.
Jira Service Management + Confluence
As a Jira admin, you can connect a Jira Service Management project to Confluence spaces to enable the knowledge base functionality by following these steps.
Once your project and space are connected, you can ensure the right content is being suggested to customers in a helpful way with these tips:
- Create meaningful titles for documents.
- Add labels to documents for categorization.
- Give request types meaningful titles.
- When a knowledge base article is presented to a customer, coach them to provide feedback about whether the document was helpful.
These are some impactful ways to ensure certain documents are proposed to customers based on their search or request type. The rest is handled by the Jira Service Management search algorithm which takes into account page titles, labels, and user feedback about whether a document was helpful.
You can only connect a single Jira Service Management project to a single Confluence space, so you must consider how data will be structured in a space.
Now that you have a place for customers to submit requests, a place for documentation pertinent to the questions being asked, and both are integrated, the next steps are to:
- Ensure your Jira Service Management request types are clear and concise.
- Build your Confluence space out so that documentation is easy to find and easy to update.
- Measure everything. It is important to set a baseline on actions happening through the portal so you know where improvements are needed. You could generate a dashboard or Jira Query Language filters that pull information on the following:
- Which issues are requested most:
1project = "JSMPROJECT" and "Request Type" = "NAME"
- Whether agents abiding by SLAs:
1project = "JSMPROJECT" and assignee = "USER" and "Time to first response" = everBreaced()
- How many requests knowledge base articles deflect:
- In the reports section of your Jira Service Management project, check the requests deflected and requests resolved reports. These reports rely heavily on users inputing feedback on knowledge base articles when they are suggested to them. It’s important to coach users to leave feedback so you know if articles are performing well.
Jira Service Management's built in reports can help you make informed decisions about staffing. The following reports can provide insight about your current staff's capacity:
The number of requests assigned to your agents.
Do your agent(s) have > X issues? If they are trying to juggle more than X, there could be a reduction in service.
How your team is tracking towards your SLA goals.
If SLAs are continuously breached even when agent(s) are working as fast as possible, you may either need to modify the SLA or increase staff.
The average customer satisfaction rating for your team.
If you send post-resolution surveys to your customers, check to see the cause for some of the lower rated reviews. Is it related to response time?
Created vs. resolved tickets
Compares the number of requests created and resolved over time.
You want agents to close as many tickets as customers create. If requests are piling up and your agent(s) can’t manage them all, it could be time to expand your team.
Time to resolution
Compares the length of time taken to resolve requests of type or priority.
Similar to SLA goals.
SLA met vs. breached
Compares the number of requests that have met or breached an SLA goal.
Similar to SLA goals.
Jira Service Management reports make it easy to identify actions you could automate to lighten your agents' load and improve the user experience. Once you identify where you want to automate, Jira Service Management has built in automation rules that can be applied or created. Check out these details about what’s included out-of-the-box.
Jira Automation provides much more functionality to your automation tool kit, and works across tools like Slack, Microsoft Teams, Bitbucket, GitHub, and more.
Once other teams in your company see how well your portals and knowledge bases work, they may want their team to work with Atlassian tools, too. You'll need to decide whether you want to add them to your Jira Service Management portal and knowledge base, and whether you want your team's agents to work on their tickets. You can present the following questions to interested teams to help make decisions about scaling:
Does my team need a Jira Service Management project and/or a bnowledge base?
Questions to consider:
Can I put my team in your Jira Service Management project or knowledge base?
For many reasons:
How do I manage my growing knowledge base?
It’s not uncommon for large support teams to have a content management team that ensures articles are up to date.
We hope the above suggestions help you with your team structure, but ultimately, how you compartmentalize your teams and content is up to you.
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