Computer_Customer_SupportThe United States has held a public debt since 1789. While your accumulation of unresolved customer cases hasn’t been around quite that long, it probably feels that way.  An industry consultant even once compared the two, noting that a backlog “will never get reduced to zero, only grow and shrink over time.”

In my experience helping customer service organizations deal with backlog issues on complex products, there are three main reasons that cases go into backlog in the first place:

1.  The problem is very unique and difficult to triage and solve
2. The agent doesn’t have enough time to find the relevant content to help close the case
3.  The agent doesn’t know what to look for to triage the case

Regardless of the reason, each of these situations leaves the case unsolved and in a backlog queue. And once the accumulation starts growing, it becomes difficult to reduce. Organizations may already house the knowledge and experience that could help solve these cases, but accessibility to this relevant content is not always easy. It’s very possible that the case stuck in the queue could have been resolved as soon as it came in, but this lack of access to relevant content leads to a gradually growing backlog.

There is a new movement within knowledge management that connects content to experts, which can help close a high percentage of these complex cases. For example, using an Insight Solution, the first or second level support person can be connected to a more experienced person who can provide instantaneous guidance on the direction to take in solving the specific problem.

In addition to utilizing an Insight Solution for expertise finding, there are a couple more best practices I suggest for managing backlog:

1.  When a case is closed with a solution, there should be a subsequent search to identify similar cases that are not yet closed.
2. Any time an agent or manager views cases that are in backlog status, execute a search to identify new solutions that have been provided since the last time they were looked at.

These two steps aim to provide content to others as quickly as possible for reuse, which will have a direct impact on customer satisfaction, employee satisfaction and the organization’s bottom line.

Is your organization reusing existing knowledge to help resolve customer cases? Are you tapping experts within the company to advise other employees on how to best approach a case? If not, then it’s time to take a look at your knowledge management.  While politicians cannot agree on how to best alleviate national debt, I think we can agree that the key to reducing customer case backlog lies within an organization’s existing collective knowledge.