7 Things Increasing Your Cost To Serve

Dec 5, 2022


Cost To Serve is a foundational metric is one to keep top-of-mind if you’re looking for an accurate understanding of support costs as a whole, or if your CFO or CEO’s looking for 20/20 vision into customer support operations. 

Cost per ticket will help you have data-driven dialogue with the rest of your company but, what happens when cost per ticket suddenly rises – and what can you do about it?

As companies start to grow and expand, every department feels that tension in different ways. With support, leaders are going to start seeing an increase in ticket volume, potential heightened numbers of escalations due to product updates or new features … 

Leaders start to lose the day-in, day-out knowledge of what’s going on with smaller teams of support reps including thecost per ticket. 

Most companies might be focused on new customers by measuring CAC (Customer Acquisition Cost), but the cost to serve tells a different story; one that paints a picture of how much it currently costs to support your customers.

So, where do we start to look into cost per ticket and the fluctuation? 

How do we measure Cost per Ticket?

The goal of a Cost per Ticket metric is to understand where customer support teams need to optimized so you can start asking things like: 

Do we need to hire more employees?

Are we prioritizing the right projects every day?

What product improvements do we need to make?

These questions become *much* easier to answer when you have data, ROI, and financial metrics to back them up and tell the story for us. 

The most standard formula for cost per ticket is: 

Cost per support ticket = 

Total cost of customer service / 

Total number of tickets resolved in a given period

Why is Cost per Ticket going up?? 

And what can we do about it?

1/ New features are … confusing 🤨

One thing to look at first: did you release new features or product updates? 

Increased customer support costs don’t always correlate to buggy products or technical issues – it can also mean unclear UI/UX, non-obvious integrations or features, or lack of announcement around new updates. 

If the increase in costs coincides with a new version launch, here are some steps you can take: 

– Collaborate to add UI tooltips and explanations into the product

– Proactively notify users of changes and potential issues

– Update the knowledge base to include new features

2/ Do your support reps need more training?

Think of all that the content and knowledge reps have to consume when they first get hired: technical skills, product knowledge, process, soft skills, industry information … it’s a lot. 

They have to walk away knowing:

All the ins and outs of the product

Any product issues that currently exist 

How to interact with a frustrated customer 

When to escalate support requests (and when not to) 

… and they have to keep up with it all as the product and company grow and expand. The sooner you can identify skill gaps, the closer you’ll be to figuring out what’s driving customer support costs. 

Measuring customer sentiment and customer satisfaction scores will give you a clue into what areas you may have to pay more attention to with reps on training and enablement, but what else can be done? 

– By measuring user sentiment and CSAT, identify support reps in need of technical training or soft skills training

– Update support scripts and instructions and *SHOW* the team where to find them

– Introduce mentoring and knowledge-sharing programs for the team

3/ Customers are checking in 

If your customers are checking in for status updates before your team is … then you need to go digging deeper. Right away. 

The longer it takes for your customers to hear from your reps – the more they’ll be reaching out. This leads to a whole cyclical effect: the longer it takes, the more times they check in, the worse the customer experience will be, and the more your costs will increase. 

Reach out to them proactively! Send customers messages to keep them in the loop so they don’t have to send you the dreaded ‘What’s the status here???’ email. 

Let’s get ahead of the curve: 

Group the most frequent customer requests by categories and tags so you can see which categories get the most attention. Then start to look into what phase those customers are in in onboarding. Are they totally new to the product? Are they in the middle of onboarding?

If so, maybe it’s time to integrate more tutorials into the product or update the knowledge base with a separate section for new users. Not only will it help them feel more ingrained with your brand – but it’ll drive costs down. 

But where else do we see that cost per ticket metric spike? 

With bug tickets. 

The number of escalations is a crucial metric that can kill cost per ticket. Bugs that need deeper attention can take forever to get onto engineering’s desk. 

To reduce the number of escalations, here’s what can help: 

– Clearly describe when and in what scenario an escalation should take place

– Group the most costly tickets by category or trend

– Check in recurring issues can be fixed at the engineering level

4/ Is your ticket routing ineffective?

Think about routing certain subject matter to specific reps so different people or teams can have a specific expertise. 

This might feel a little unusual from the start, but as you scale it starts to make more sense. This will give specific reps profound technical knowledge and allow people to feel confident in their area of expertise. 

By routing tickets efficiently, you’ll immediately reduce support costs because reps won’t have to go digging for a wider breadth of information – they’ll most likely already have their own process in place now that they serve a more succinct category and can get more granular.


Create it, keep it up-to-date, make it simple! It takes time and effort upfront but it pays off quickly. 

Surveys show that users prefer to find an answer on their own before contact support, so make it accessible and make sure customers know that it exists.

At the end of the day, think of customer support as a funnel: from a self-serve layer to conversations with a support rep to escalations and higher tiers (or engineering,) as you move down the funnel, cost per ticket increases.

With the right customer intelligence and automation tools in place, the team can tackle issues proactively, cut costs, and provide the best customer experience possible … 

Which is where Stylo comes in :) 

Want to learn more? Ask Stylo to see it in action!