How customer support triage delivers the help customers need

Your customer support team receives a wide range of support tickets every day, from the routine to the complex. To give each customer stellar service, you need structure. With a system of categorization and prioritization, your support team can work like a well-oiled machine.

This is where customer support triage can help. Customer support triage is a way to organize and streamline how your associates help customers. Here, we’ll talk about what customer support triage is, how it works, and what it looks like in action.

Customer Support Triage Defined

Customer support triage is the process of categorizing and prioritizing customer support tickets and routing them to the associates best prepared to help. 

Customer support triage ensures your customers get the service they need when they need it. It also makes sure those with the most critical needs and complex problems get faster service. 

The customer support triage process will first decide if a ticket needs any special attention, such as translation from Spanish to English. Then, it categorizes the ticket so it goes to the right customer support associates and prioritizes it. This way, the most critical tickets get pushed ahead of less critical situations, and associates are working on tickets they are more likely to know how to solve.

How Customer Support Triage Works

Customer support triage can help organize an influx of tickets, which can otherwise be difficult to address, helping you deliver stellar service. 

Here are the three basic steps of creating a customer support triage process:

1. Identify Special Needs

The very first step in customer support triage is determining if a ticket needs particular attention before it’s assigned. For instance, if a ticket isn’t properly filled out, a team will need to find where the ticket came from and identify the issue it is attempting to describe. Once the request is easy to understand, you can decide how to categorize it.

2. Use a Case Categorization System

Support agent applying customer support triage best practices

The next part of developing a customer support triage process is creating categories for your customer support tickets. When you address tickets in order of urgency and send tickets to associates who are qualified to address them, you’re set up to deliver better value to your customers.  

Let’s look at some of the categories you’ll need to develop, starting with the most important one.


Urgency is by far the most critical category, as this will help make sure associates address most critical support tickets first. For example, an error that makes it impossible to use a product would receive the highest priority because the longer the product isn’t usable, the more likely it’ll lead to poor customer satisfaction and potential customer churn.

However, a customer’s question about how to change their profile image is a lower priority because the change is purely aesthetic.

Management is responsible for defining the levels of urgency and establishing what customer support tickets are the most urgent. Categories like “potential churn” or “severe revenue loss” are most important.

Customer Type

Customer type is another factor many customer support teams look at when categorizing tickets. For example, one of your largest customers will likely get a higher priority than one that only makes up a small fraction of your revenue.

You may also prioritize tickets that come directly from the company CEO than a mid-level manager.

Service Level Agreement (SLA)

If your company offers tiers of services or a free and paid product, you’ll want to account for these levels when categorizing tickets. Those who pay for their service or pay for a higher tier of service should generally get a higher priority. You can also offer expedited customer service as a selling point for your higher product tiers.

If your product offers a free trial, you may also opt to prioritize service for users in the trial period to help encourage them to convert to a paid account.


Support agent thinking how to better work with customer support triage

If you run a multichannel or omnichannel customer support team, you get tickets from several channels, such as phone, email, live chat, email, and even social media. If you have dedicated teams to each channel, you’ll want to categorize your ticket by channel so they go to the right support team’s workflow and reach a support agent on that team. For example, if a customer contacts your company via email, the ticket will head directly to the email team who can reach out to the customer according to their process. 


If your company offers multiple products, you may have help desks for questions specific to each product. When you triage tickets with this dedicated setup, the process should include routing these customer issues to a specific team.

Required Expertise

When routing tickets by category, make sure support requests go to associates who have the experience needed to address them.

In many customer support teams, certain associates are specially trained and qualified to handle high-priority customers and complex customer support issues. They also have a more extensive knowledge base that allows them to address advanced tickets efficiently.

When associates with the right training and knowledge are on hand to resolve advanced tickets, these customers will typically see a lower response time — a key customer support metric — and a generally improved customer experience.

3. Define Customer Support Roles

Next, you need to define what ticket categories your customer support associates will work with. Make sure to place your agents in the right roles, aligning their strengths with each category’s needs.

For example, your high-value clients with the highest priority should always go to your most experienced and knowledgeable team members. However, you can route new customers who may only need help with basic questions to the general customer support team.

You can also cross-train associates so they periodically rotate responsibilities. This way, when your ticket volumes increase in certain areas, your associates can help pitch in. So, if you suddenly have an influx of high-urgency tickets, you can ask associates from lower-volume areas to help. 

Rotation may be not work well in a large customer service team that sees a steady flow of tickets daily. However, this is a good option for a smaller team that may only get a handful of tickets per day but can experience random higher-volume days in certain areas. 

When the right associates address each ticket, the resolution time will go down, and your support costs may also decrease. Your team member morale may also go up when you’ve set them up for success this way.

What Customer Support Triage Looks Like in Action

Once you’ve defined the categories of your customer support triage plan and who will work on tickets in each one, you’re ready to use the system. Here’s how it looks in action:

  1. The ticket enters the customer support queue via phone, email, chat, mobile app, social media, or any other channel.
  2. The ticket enters the triage process, which can be automated or manual, where it’s examined to determine if it has special needs. If it has special needs, triage routes it to the appropriate team. If there are no special needs, triage reads the ticket and places it in the appropriate urgency category.
  3. The triage system continues by categorizing the ticket based on the customer’s needs and places tags on the ticket to route it to the right team.
  4. Appropriate team members are assigned tickets based on categorization and urgency.

Customer Support Triage Can Streamline Your Team’s Workflow

Support agent explaining how customer support triage works

With a solid customer support triage system in place, you can address the most urgent customer support tickets earlier and send them to associates who are most qualified to help.

A solid triage system can help boost customer service metrics, such as average resolution time, average ticket cost, and response time.

Want more customer service tips and tricks? Check out the PartnerHero blog.