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Article 8 min read

Ticket deflection: Enhance your self-service with AI

Boost customer satisfaction and enable your customer support agents to accomplish more with an effective ticket deflection strategy.

By Hannah Wren, Staff Writer

Last updated April 4, 2024

What is ticket deflection?

Ticket deflection is a customer service strategy that reduces the number of support tickets by providing self-service resources, such as AI-powered chatbots, community forums, frequently asked questions (FAQ) pages, knowledge bases, and more.

Everyone’s seen some interpretation of the famous I Love Lucy chocolate factory scene. Lucy and Ethel get new jobs wrapping chocolates, but as the conveyor belt speeds up, they start to lose control. Similar issues can pop up in customer service—tickets come quickly, people expect fast answers, and agents struggle to respond promptly.

If Lucy and Ethel had a highly skilled helper, their workload would have been more manageable. In customer service, that helper is called “ticket deflection.”

Ticket deflection uses web self-service options, such as a knowledge base or a chatbot, to address customer queries and doesn’t involve a customer support agent. Customers resolve their issues quicker, and live agents get a manageable workload—everyone wins.

Below, we cover the basics of ticket deflection, including its benefits, how to measure its efficacy, and 10 proven strategies to implement it today.

More in this guide:

How ticket deflection works

Ticket deflection leverages customer self-service options and artificial intelligence (AI) to answer customer questions without live agent intervention. Several common ticket deflection strategies depend on utilizing self-service resources, including:

For example, you can build a help center to address customer queries and needs while simultaneously deflecting tickets.

Ultimately, ticket deflection benefits both customers and agents. For customers, it means they can receive immediate assistance through self-service options—no need to wait on an agent. Meanwhile, agents benefit from a decreased ticket volume because customers can resolve minor issues independently, so they can focus on customers with more complicated requests.

How to measure self-service ticket deflection

Part of implementing a ticket deflection strategy is also establishing a way to measure its effectiveness. Look at your metrics before and after you make changes to get a clearer picture of your strategy’s impact. There are a few different ways to measure self-service success and ticket deflection.

Ticket deflection rate

The ticket deflection rate, also known as the self-service score, helps you measure your help center’s impact as a support channel. Determine your ticket deflection rate using this formula:

Ticket deflection rate = Total users of your help center(s) ÷ Total users in tickets

Let’s say that for every four customers who resolve their issue using self-service, one customer submits a support request. In this case, your ticket deflection rate would be 4. You can further segment this score to determine the impact of specific ticket deflection techniques. For example:

Chatbot ticket deflection rate = Total users interacting with chatbots ÷ Users sent to live agents

Self-service engagement metrics

Reporting and analytics tools can reveal a lot about self-service success with engagement metrics like total views, upvotes, subscriptions, unique users, average session duration, bounce rate, and more. These metrics can help you determine if customers are finding the content and if it’s useful. With Zendesk, you can leverage reporting and analytics features to quickly identify the self-service options that are performing the best—no statistics degree required.

Pick metrics based on your strategy and overall goals. For example, a customer effort score survey can provide insights into how the new ticket deflection impacts customer experience.

Reduce your ticket queue with Zendesk

Learn how ticketing software keeps both customers and employees alike happy.

Benefits of ticket deflection

Ticket deflection can result in shorter customer support wait times and a more engaging workday for live agents. Learn about some other deflection benefits below.

Four illustrations represent reasons to use ticket deflection.

Better customer experiences

Ticket deflection supports a better customer experience (CX). With chatbots handling simpler tickets, customers experience shorter wait times and round-the-clock support. Other types of ticket deflection, such as an FAQ page and knowledge base, also allow customers to find their own solutions without speaking to an agent.

Increased agent productivity and satisfaction

Most customer service tickets are typically resolved using quick fixes. It can be draining and boring for live agents to constantly address the same questions. When customers can refer to an FAQ page instead, live agents have more engaging work, leading to better employee satisfaction.

Ticket deflection also frees agents to focus on more complex, high-value tickets instead of handling repetitive requests all day. As a result, agents can accomplish more work and make a bigger impact.

Improved revenue

Customer service agents often interact with customers at their most vulnerable. A fantastic experience can create a customer for life, and a bad one can cause a customer to leave and dissuade others from trying your product or service. Ticket deflection improves time to value for customers, reducing churn rate, improving customer satisfaction (CSAT) scores, and boosting revenue.

Greater scalability

Chatbots and other self-service options enable companies to support more customers with fewer resources. Ticket deflection allows customers to resolve issues after business hours or while agents are away from their desks. And unlike live human agents, self-service resources like chatbots and knowledge bases can help multiple customers simultaneously around the clock.

For scaling companies, this is vital to keep up with demand and provide high-quality customer service consistently. With ticket deflection, your team can manage a growing ticket queue without inflating wait times.

10 proven strategies to improve ticket deflection

When it comes to ticket deflection, there’s no one-size-fits-all strategy. To improve and hone in on the right strategy for your business, consider the following high-impact tactics.

Ten icons represent 10 strategies to improve ticket deflection.

1. Use chatbots trained on real customer interactions

AI-powered customer service chatbots use natural language processing (NLP) and machine learning (ML) to interact with customers and provide a customized support experience without a live agent. AI chatbots are trained with large amounts of data.

For instance, Zendesk chatbots are trained on billions of real customer service interactions and powered by cutting-edge generative AI technology. This enables your business to deflect tickets and answer customer questions using natural human language without agent intervention.

2. Integrate chatbots with other systems

A chatbot is one of the most flexible forms of ticket deflection. For example, AI chatbots can provide answers to customers, guide them to other self-help resources, and route them to an agent. Connect your chatbot to your help desk, CRM, billing system, and more to create a comprehensive self-service ecosystem. With access to a wealth of information—such as shipping updates, account information, product availability, and so on—your chatbot can address more complex issues and deliver personalized support.

3. Be proactive

Chatbots have more than one use case. They can also provide proactive customer service with capabilities like:

  • Directing customers to their desired page

  • Helping customers decide between multiple products

  • Welcoming customers to your site with a link to the FAQ page

  • Surfacing knowledge base articles that can address customer issues

In addition to chatbots, include answers to common questions on product pages to get ahead of customer queries and deflect tickets. Suggest customers check out FAQ pages and knowledge base resources before they open a ticket, so they can resolve their issues without speaking to an agent.

4. Build AI into your customer portal

AI can help automate your customer service offerings, too. For example, Zendesk AI pinpoints content gaps and automatically creates knowledge base articles based on only a few bullet points. Additionally, Zendesk AI automatically identifies outdated articles or resources for the team so they can make updates and improvements. This ensures self-help resources stay accurate so customers open fewer tickets.

5. Utilize interactive voice response

IVR is an automated phone system tool that interacts with customers via voice or keypad inputs. It analyzes these inputs to provide the customer with pre-recorded responses. For example, IVR can share business hours, location information, answers to common questions, or other basic product information to reduce the overall number of tickets.

6. Make an FAQ page

Create an FAQ page to resolve a large amount of simple, repetitive requests from customers. Investigate which requests your agents deal with most often and feature those solutions on the FAQ page to help with ticket deflection. Consider adding videos or photos in a tutorial-like format.

7. Create a community forum

Develop an online forum with community forum software to help fill knowledge gaps in other self-service options. On a forum, customers can troubleshoot problems and share tips. This is a great solution for customers who aren’t able to resolve their issues with an FAQ page but still want a self-service option. Community forums can also be an invaluable resource for your company to source product ideas, identify bugs, and gather customer feedback.

8. Build a user-friendly knowledge base

Knowledge base software allows you to give your customers valuable educational resources for your products and services. It’s a deflection tool that customers and live agents can use to resolve issues, so make sure each entry is categorized properly and integrate a search bar for easy navigation.

9. Provide multilingual support

Properly communicating with customers is one of the most important parts of customer service. Multilingual support allows customers to use their native language, resulting in a better experience. Multilingual bots and knowledge bases are good places to start because these are typically a customer’s first point of contact when they’re trying to resolve an issue.

10. Analyze customer feedback

Your customers are your greatest resource. Tap into what they think about your ticket deflection strategy. Send them customer satisfaction survey questions after interacting with a chatbot or marking a knowledge base question as resolved. Asking customers to rate help center articles or FAQ tutorials is another great way to track which resources need a refresh.

Frequently asked questions

Improve ticket deflection with Zendesk

By implementing self-service options and prioritizing ticket deflection, your agents can focus on addressing complex tasks and improving your customer experience. With Zendesk, you can start deflecting tickets on day one. Our complete customer service solution empowers your business with valuable self-service options, including knowledge bases, AI-powered chatbots, community forums, FAQ pages, and more. See for yourself with a demo.

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