Streamlining Customer Support: 3 Steps to Tackling Ticket Backlogs


Customer service ticket backlogs— especially during holiday sales events — can be a breeding ground for customer neglect and missed revenue. While the bump in revenue is exciting, these seasonal surges always bring an increase in customer service tickets— tack on global supply chain jams and shipping delays and things start to pile up and get messy!

But here’s the kicker about customer service backlogs: left unchecked, they’ll get bigger. Much, much bigger.  

So what can companies do now to avoid ever getting buried in a backlog in the first place?

The problem starts with emails going unanswered

Historically, email support has been one of the highest-volume channels for communicating with customers. But is it the most dependable?

In our 2023 State of Online CX study, we found that 40% of pre-sale emails were never even answered during one of the biggest shopping periods of the year – Black Friday through Cyber Monday. Of the emails that were answered, it took most companies almost an entire day (or more) to respond. By then, customers have moved on and found a better deal to invest in.

We also saw enterprises with email backlogs that had grown seven times their original size in just two weeks. In some of those cases, the amount of emails in a backlog outnumbered the company’s entire customer base!

Though backlogs can build up quickly, the compounding effects may last for years, costing businesses revenue (and their reputation).

Why else are retail and ecommerce brands experiencing backlogs?

Both enterprise and high-growth brands are particularly likely to experience crippling customer service ticket backlogs. Here’s why:

  1. Holiday volume is lasting longer than ever. Black Friday and Memorial Day are no longer a single day, but a month-long season unto itself. What was once a short flurry of activity is now an ongoing burn of remarkably high volume that’s getting harder and harder to keep under control.
  1. Today’s consumers wants answers, well… now. Today’s consumers expects rapid-fire responses to customer service questions. In fact, according to our most recent research study, brands with the most “exceptional” experiences answer emails in under 1 hour. And, according to Zendesk, 51% of consumers will contact the brand through an alternative channel if they have not received an email response after one hour. The longer a customer doesn’t hear back from you, the more tickets they’ll pour into your backlog and even then, they might just abandon you completely. While you’re digging out of your mountain of unanswered messages, that customer may be long gone.
  1. Perfect seasonal staffing is next to impossible. It’s difficult to forecast how much customer service support a business will need during the holidays (or other high-volume seasons). But ecommerce brands’ inability to strike the perfect balance can spell trouble. If the full holiday team cannot tackle a backlog right away, there’s no way they will be able to recover in a short period of time. The backlog won’t go anywhere, and the rate of tickets coming in will remain unchanged or increase. On the flip side, hiring more people to help could blow your budget entirely.

How to avoid the “snowball effect” of an unattended backlog

While backlogs may seem like an inevitable part of doing business in retail and ecommerce, losing control of them doesn’t have to be. Here are some ways to avoid lasting damage that can come from a compounding backlog:

  1. Be transparent with your customers! Today’s consumers loves authenticity as much as they love (and demand) speed.  If your company is experiencing delays in responding to customers, this must be proactively communicated via all digital channels: homepage banner, text, email, and social media. When customers are in the loop, they’re less likely to (over)fill your backlog with more tickets.
  1. Opt for a flexible, on-demand staffing solution. There’s a way to get outside “human power” without having to deal with a subpar call center or getting into the “hiring-and-firing” cycle of temp workers.  Companies like Princess Polly and Paula’s Choice use Simplr to prevent customer neglect and enable their internal CX teams to focus on creating amazing pre-sale customer experiences.
  1. Make smart decisions about automation and self-service options. Automation is a way to give customers quicker answers to their questions about returns and order statuses without filling your inbox. Chatbots powered by LLMs (Large Language Models), for example, are one great solution that are sure to enhance the ecommerce experience. But take your time to find a vendor that will provide a safe and superior automated CX experience!

Don’t let your business (and your customers) get buried in backlog

Backlogs can happen to anyone. Even some world-class brands with award-winning customer service have experienced detrimental backlogs at hands of today’s ever-demanding consumers.

But don’t ignore the financial risks of an out-of-control backlog: customer neglect, employee burnout, damaged brand reputation, and, of course, the missed revenue that’s just sitting in a queue.

With the right plan and solutions to support a trusted approach to CX, customer service ticket backlogs don’t need to bury your business or leave your customers out in the cold.

If you’re interested in preventing backlogs altogether (or if you need help digging out right now), contact Simplr.