How to Reduce Problem Resolution Time

When you work in an industry or government sector where you need to handle customers’ or constituencies’ non-emergencies or emergencies fast, your problem resolution time is crucial. The amount of time it takes for your representatives to solve problems plays a critical role in a customer’s satisfaction and, at times, safety. Once you know how to reduce problem resolution time, you can take steps to deliver more effective services and improve your customer’s satisfaction.

Find out more about what problem resolution time is, why it matters, how it’s measured and how you can reduce it. You might also want to know more about how you can reduce your incident response time.

What Is Problem Resolution Time?

Problem resolution time refers to the amount of time it takes for a company to resolve a customer service ticket or case after it’s opened. Problem resolution time is often measured from the moment a customer reports a problem to a company and to whenever the company solves the issue. Generally, the time is measured in business hours instead of clock hours to account for the staff’s downtime. 

Why Does Problem Resolution Time Matter?

Since shorter problem resolution times often lead to higher client or customer satisfaction rates, many organizations put a lot of effort into reducing it. When a customer contacts your company about an issue, they want to have it handled as fast as possible so they can get on with their day. Additionally, when emergencies occur at your company’s facilities or in your area, problem resolution time is even more critical, as quick incident resolutions can save property and lives.

Knowing your problem resolution time can also help you keep track of inefficiencies. For example, you may have an underperforming staff member who needs extra training or incident categories that tend to take more time to solve. By having in-depth information about problem resolution time, you can be more aware of what you need to take action on to solve inefficiencies. 

What Is ITIL Response Time?

IT Infrastructure Library (ITIL) refers to a best practice framework used by organizations and individuals looking to align their business’s needs with their IT services. You’ll often see ITIL referenced when discussing incident management and response time, as unexpected interruptions caused by incidents can harm your IT department’s service quality. ITIL response time refers to the time it takes your IT services to process an incident and solve it.

How Is Problem Resolution Time Measured?

Companies often measure their problem resolution time with the mean time to resolve (MTTR). This metric calculates the average time it takes a company to solve a customer’s problem. When a company tracks its MTTR, it can set goals for reducing its average problem resolution time and spot trends, such as longer problem resolution times during parts of the year. Companies often also calculate MTTR for specific incident categories or employees to see they need to pursue extra training or specific actions.

While MTTR is an excellent metric to understand how well your company is performing overall, it can often leave out some essential details and information you’ll need. Since MTTR lumps all of your numbers into one giant pool, you can miss some critical information about particular incident classes or staff members. When you use more metrics than MTTR, you can better measure your problem resolution time and have more data to use when you attempt to reduce incident resolution time.

Check out some of the other primary metrics you can use to measure your problem resolution time:

  • Percentage resolved: With percentage resolved metrics, you can see how many problems are resolved within a specific time limit and what incidents exceed the time limit. By having this metric in your corner, you can more easily measure your goals against your resolution times. With this information, you can change your incident-management practices to help your team achieve your goals.
  • Cumulative incident time and total number of incidents: When you’re trying to get a full picture of your problem response time and the factors affecting it, you’ll want to also gather metrics on your total number of incidents and cumulative incident time for a particular period. These numbers can give you greater context about different departments and how they’re performing.
  • Individual MTTRs for different incident classes: If you can define your company’s specific incident classes, you can utilize MTTRs for them. These separate MTTRs for each class can help you determine if particular incidents tend to take more or less time. You can use these numbers to focus your efforts on reducing MTTR for incident classes that take longer.

How Do You Reduce Incident Resolution Time?

With the information you gather from various metrics, the next question you’ll probably have is, “how do I reduce resolution time?” Keeping track of your resolution time is crucial to faster resolutions, but you also need to pair them with some best practices to reduce incident response times.

1. Automate Repetitive Processes

Whenever incidents occur, your team likely has to repeat a few basic processes. For example, customer representatives often have to handle tasks like escalation, due date changes, ticket assignments and priority adjustments. These tasks are usually simple, but they can take up lots of time and be fairly tedious for employees. Having to handle these tasks manually can increase your incident response times, as representatives have to handle busywork instead of providing solutions.

When you want to reduce incident response time, one great strategy is automating many repetitive processes. You can often find automated software designed to take repetitive processes out of your team’s hands and handle them without needing any human input. By automating many processes concerning incoming tickets, you free up your staff to work on more important issues and reduce the overall time it takes for them to handle new incidents.

2. Categorize Tickets to Improve Organization

Since different ticket classes often have varying resolution times, you may want to categorize them. When you categorize your tickets, you can set more realistic expectations for particular types of incidents. For example, employees might need to handle a more crucial issue faster than a standard issue. Additionally, you might want to set longer target times for more complex problems than simple ones. By categorizing your tickets, you can set target times and evaluate how your team is performing. 

Besides arranging classes of tickets, you can also increase organization by giving custom statuses to your tickets. These statuses increase transparency across your whole team, as your staff can immediately know what’s going on with a ticket. For example, your IT team might place an “on hold” ticket status for a ticket waiting on another action. These tickets can assist your team, as they’ll know what action they need to take to handle an incident.

When you combine ticket status with improved ticket classifications, you can reduce incident resolution time. These organizational tools help your team prepare to handle a particular ticket’s needs quickly. They also help you set more realistic incident response time expectations for your team.

3. Track Performance With Reports and Analytics

One of the first steps to reducing response time is accurately tracking your team’s performance. If you don’t have the correct data, you’ll be taking shots in the dark whenever you attempt to streamline your operations. As a result, it’s crucial to use a system that can provide you with analytics and reports.

With reports and analytics, you can get a complete view of your team’s incident response times and areas needing improvement. For example, you can utilize a multi-channel report describing the nature of incoming requests and support performance to better understand your response time. With information like this in your corner, you can keep track of an individual’s performance and common problems. After receiving this information, you can craft a solution to the problem.

4. Utilize Canned Actions for Common Replies

Anyone who’s had to respond to customers’ queries and issues knows you often have to write out very similar responses. Sometimes, there’s a simple solution to a common problem or a need to request more information from the customer. Without canned actions, your staff will have to manually write out very similar emails every day. These manual responses can be very time-consuming, which effectively reduces response time.

With canned actions, you can create a few email templates designed to answer common queries or issues. When a representative receives an email fitting a templated response, they can select the email from a dropdown menu, populating the template into their reply. As a result, the representative doesn’t have to spend time writing a response. Instead, they just click the template and send the email, closing out the ticket fast.

By giving your staff access to canned actions, you can significantly reduce your incident resolution time. Because canned actions help team members automate their responses, they can resolve tickets faster. Even if they need to slightly reword a template email to meet a customer’s unique needs, it can cut down on the busywork associated with representatives having to write the more standard language used in the rest of an email.

5. Provide Self-Service Options

Another key way to decrease incident response time is to reduce the number of tickets your team has to handle on any given day. When representatives get tied up managing tons of incidents, wait times tend to increase and the representative can feel overwhelmed, leading to lost productivity. If you want to know how to reduce the number of incidents your team has to handle daily, you can start by providing self-service options to your customers.

Essentially, a self-service option gives your customers the information they need to handle issues by themselves. While customers can’t often handle complex issues independently, they’re usually able to address simple issues if you give them easy-to-follow instructions. You can find self-service options taking the form of FAQs, how-to-articles for fixing common incidents and intuitive search functions to help customers solve incidents.

Many customers enjoy self-service options, as these selections take away the need to spend time speaking with someone. Self-service options can also reduce response times as your team won’t have to deal with as many incidents. Additionally, minimizing your representatives’ incidents helps them stay more focused and stress-free when handling a customer’s ticket.

6. Use Mass Notifications to Help Cover Shifts

When your support team is understaffed, they’ll likely struggle to handle incidents quickly. As a result, the work can pile up and potentially overwhelm them, leading to longer response times. Additionally, when you’re short-staffed, your team could have to put certain incidents on hold until a qualified staff member arrives, causing your response times to increase significantly.

With a mass notification system, your incident managers can quickly contact relevant staff members if you end up short-staffed. Instead of calling or messaging staff members individually to check their availability, a manager can use a mass notification system or an on-call communication system to alert employees about availabilities. By notifying team members in this manner, your managers save time and can often quickly get someone to cover a short-staffed shift, helping your team reduce their response times.

Mass notification systems can also help keep managers more focused on crucial tasks, like providing their expertise to support staff. Alongside a mass notification system’s ability to help managers quickly find coverage, managers can also use it to inform staff as soon as the shift is filled. This feature prevents them from having to spend time on the phone explaining to employees they’re no longer needed. Because fully staffed shifts and more focused managers often lead to reduced response time, mass notification systems are essential.

7. Reduce Waiting Time

When a customer has to wait for a long time on hold before a representative speaks to them and solves their problem, they can become frustrated and bring that frustration to the conversation with the representative. This waiting time can reduce the customer’s opinion of your company, and their feelings can make it more difficult for the representative to solve the customer’s issue. Additionally, in an emergency situation, the waiting time can affect the amount of damage or injuries.

If you want to improve your customers’ experiences, minimize wait times with these best practices:

  • Improve internal communication: At times, a representative may not have the expertise to handle a ticket. With greater internal communication, your team can better collaborate to solve a ticket and reduce wait times.
  • Greater data centralization: When a customer reaches out to your company, greater data centralization can help your team quickly know who the customer is and any relevant information they need about them. Data centralization also helps the representative access relevant information about a customer’s problem faster. By centralizing your data, you can reduce wait times and deliver a more personalized experience to customers.
  • Assign new tickets immediately: When a ticket comes through your system, your team should immediately assign it to the relevant representative. This fast assignment prevents tickets from becoming lost and gets customers to a representative fast.

Learn More About How Hyper-Reach Can Help

At Hyper-Reach, we can help you reduce problem resolution time. We offer a critical management system designed to help you send non-emergency and emergency mass alerts and notifications to your team. With our non-emergency communication solutions, you can speak with customers, send updates and manage special events and staff. Additionally, we know the importance of incident response, so we made our system to help you quickly eliminate rumors, put the right staff in action and distribute critical information.

Check out our solutions today to learn more about how we can reduce your incident resolution time. If you’re ready to try out our solutions or have any questions, please feel free to request a demo or contact us.