The Real Costs Associated with Email-Based Support

    By 2017, 132 billion business emails will be sent and received per day, and by the time you finish reading this, 20 billion more business emails will be written.

    Email has been our go-to mode of communication for some time now. And, while it’s great for conversation, email often gets used in parts of the business where it’s not scalable — including internal support.

    A few email exchanges may seem harmless and inexpensive, but as your company grows, your internal service desk will become flooded with email requests and have no way to prioritize, categorize, assign or deflect them. The result? Lost tickets, wasted time by agents and unhappy employees.

    Until now, there have never been data points or research on the real costs associated with email-based support. Recently, CE&I research partnered with JIRA Service Desk to conduct primary research on this topic. They surveyed customers who either rely only on email support or have relied only on email support and then invested in a service management tool.

    This slideshow features highlights from their study.

    The Real Costs Associated with Email-Based Support - slide 1

    The Problem with Using Email for IT Support

    Click through for findings from an email IT support study from Atlassian, provider of JIRA Service Desk, and CE&I.

    The Real Costs Associated with Email-Based Support - slide 2

    Insufficient or Inaccurate Information

    Forty percent of the time, the original email from the employee does not contain the right information about the problem.

    Imagine you’re having a problem with your home digital subscriber line (DSL). You email your provider saying there is a problem — but you don’t know what information is needed. There is no way they can begin to solve the problem without a lot of additional information about the environment – what router you have, what operating system your computer is on, etc. It’s a constant guessing game for you, and frustrating for the agent.

    The Real Costs Associated with Email-Based Support - slide 3

    Back-and-Forth Emails

    Seventy percent of those who rely on only email support found that it’s problematic to continuously go back and forth with employees trying to get the right information.

    Support staff and employees become engaged in a ping-pong conversation trying to get the right information. For example, as you are trying to resolve your DSL issue, the agent asks about the router and operating system. You email back that you don’t know. Then the agent asks you to look at the bottom of the router for the number. You provide it. Then they ask you to clarify the operating system. You provide it, and seven emails later, the agent finally has the necessary information to begin troubleshooting the problem.

    The Real Costs Associated with Email-Based Support - slide 4

    Unable to Assign Tasks

    Sixty-five percent of the time, the service desk manager can’t assign work to agents efficiently.

    Relying on email support via a single email box often leads to agents colliding with each other and redoing work that has already been done. Multiple agents can respond to an email, unaware that another agent has already replied. Conflicting information may also be given, creating customer dissatisfaction. Or worse, no one replies to a service request because they believe another agent will handle the issue – leading to an unhappy employee on the other end. By investing in a service tool, issues can be assigned to only one agent.

    The Real Costs Associated with Email-Based Support - slide 5

    Lack of Reporting and Oversight

    Sixty percent of those on email support can’t report on team performance.

    Email is a great tool for simple communication. However, it does not offer a way to track and report on activities and performance. Teams are not able to identify trends or areas that need improvement, nor can they properly plan capacity, budget or headcount.

    The Real Costs Associated with Email-Based Support - slide 6

    Investing in a Service Tool

    Sixty percent of respondents relying on only email support reported that they plan on investing in a service tool in the near future.

    Investing in a service tool can mitigate the pain of lost time and efficiency. Indeed, for those who have invested, the top benefits that they saw were:

    • Increased productivity 
    • Meeting service-level agreements
    • Employee satisfaction

    By investing in a service tool, those using only email support anticipated managing the inefficiencies and costs of being on email support more effectively – leading to faster response times and delighted employees across the business.  

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