7 Signs that Customer Support Isn’t Cutting It

Olena Gapak

Out of control escalations?

A growing number of frustrated customers?

A monstrous ticket queue that won’t quit?

These symptoms can signal that something is off with your product or support. Or they could be an anomaly (aka noise).

Support leaders know how to fix support issues, but spotting the right trends and patterns within support data is hard when scale happens. Sifting through all of the noise to find the right signals is slow! When companies deploy a new round of funding for growth, launch a new product, or overhaul current products— expect to see support cases on the rise.

When that happens - keep an eye open for these seven signs that indicate a Customer Support issue that needs fixing.

1) High Tickets Volume for the Same Topics

Tracking tickets-per-topic is all about the quality of your taxonomy. This metric doesn't say much if categorization and tags are confusing. Or if tickets are often left uncategorized.

First, you'll have to check if the categories are not too broad.

Within the proper taxonomy, tickets spikes on the same topic are a symptom of:

  • Incomprehensible UI of the particular feature.
  • Obsolete or confusing knowledge base.
  • Repeated bugs that engineers have to address.

2) Long Time to Resolution

Long Time to resolution is about triage or knowledge sharing within the support team.

Option 1: it takes too long for a customer to get to the right rep.

Option 2: it takes too long for a rep to find the answer inside scripts, documents, and systems.

Compare the Time to resolution metric to the number of escalations and reps involved. No one wants to explain their problem several times. If your customer needs to, you might need to improve the triage process.

3) Long Time to first response

Time to first response is a strong predictor of customer satisfaction. Not a big surprise–no one likes to wait!

Even if the issue is not that serious, make a customer wait for too long, and it will be. The longer the waiting time, the higher the customer's frustration. And high frustration means high churn and low brand loyalty.

Reducing Time to first response is not about hiring more reps. Usually, there's a better solution. Introducing self-service, updating the knowledge base, and building a community around the product.

4) A ticket backlog that never goes down

There's no universal benchmark on how big a support backlog should be. Keeping your backlog empty is hardly realistic. Launch a new product version, start onboarding several customers at once – and you'll get spikes in the number of tickets.

But an overflowing backlog is a clear sign: it is the right time to automate the process and scale the team.

5) Very high customer frustration

For modern teams, monitoring customer frustration is a day-to-day task. It is something to do in real-time, not via occasional surveys.

Does frustration spike on a specific part of the product? Then the best thing to do is report it to the product team. And include updates to the development roadmap.

Is customer frustration high across all topics? Then it may show a need for soft skill training for the reps. Or, as mentioned before, it may be a sign of too long Time to first response.

6) Support handling issues that are product bugs

Dealing with the same issues over and over is frustrating for the customers. But addressing the same bug reports is also frustrating for the reps. Especially when it's product bugs support reps cannot fix by themselves.

The solution here is to track the right metrics and show how they affect costs and ROI. The number of bug-related tickets doesn't say much for anyone outside the support team.

What metric speaks for itself? Cost per interaction combined with the number of bug reports.

7) Opinions and Finger-pointing

For every issue, we are trying to find a root cause. But there's a thin line between looking for a cause and looking for someone to blame.

Support blames the product team. Developers blame the support team. The attempt to understand what's happening turns into finger pointing. Unfortunately, it is not that rare.

When the blame game starts, there's no place for improvement.

At this point, we have to shift our mindset. Switching from a battle of opinions to clear numbers and trends is the only way to save the situation.

If you’re noticing one or more of these common issues – Stylo might be able to help!


Stylo helps customer support teams become world-class operators.With 5 min integrations into ZenDesk, Salesforce, Jira, and any other helpdesk/ticketing system, customer support teams can handle more tickets quicker while improving response quality and time to resolution.

We do this by organizing customer data into meaningful categories so you can see detailed trends as they unfold. Things like:

  • Frustrated customers. Pinpoint what's causing dissatisfaction.
  • Confusing product features. Understand spiking tickets.
  • Support reps who may need coaching. Identify training gaps.

Ask Stylo to see it in action!

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