Let’s face it - not all of your agents will log into their helpdesks at the same time. If only one of your agents is logged in, all incoming tickets will get assigned to that one agent - which results in them having to simultaneously work on previously-assigned tickets while  managing the rush of incoming tickets. 


For example, your agents could be working on some issues that take time to resolve (such as product delivery issues, product bugs etc.) and some that require less time to resolve (such as recent order transactions, refunds, FAQs, etc.). With load balanced assignment of tickets, you (Admin and Supervisor) can define the number of tickets from a particular group that an agent can handle at any given time. This way, you can ensure that your agents aren’t overwhelmed; especially those who already have a lot of pending tickets.


How load balanced ticket assignment works


When tickets are assigned to a group for the first time (or when they're reassigned from another group), they are assigned to the least loaded agent first and are then distributed to other agents in the group until they reach the threshold you’ve set. Thereafter, tickets are assigned to an agent as and when they resolve one of the assigned tickets.  


Note: While computing the current load of an agent, only tickets with SLA ON status will be considered.


What happens to those tickets that come in when all agents are busy or offline


Incoming tickets wait for assignment in unassigned ticket queues. Tickets from the unassigned ticket queue are assigned to an agent who has not crossed their threshold when:

  • They make themselves available
  • They resolve a ticket
  • They change a ticket from Open to Waiting on Customer (or another SLA OFF status)
  • They delete a ticket or mark it as spam


All tickets in the unassigned ticket queue are sorted based on the time each ticket's been waiting in the queue (SLA ON status). The oldest ticket from this queue is assigned to the least-loaded agent who last received a ticket.


For example, you can set SLA as ON for tickets that are Open or Pending, and SLA as OFF for tickets that are Waiting on Customer, Resolved or Closed - click here to learn more about ticket statuses.

 

Here are a few examples scenarios with illustrations to make things clearer:


Let's look at a helpdesk where a group called Refunds has two agents and load balanced ticket assignment. The maximum number of tickets has been set to 5 tickets per agent.

SCENARIO 1



SCENARIO 2



SCENARIO 3




Note: If a ticket is manually assigned to an available agent, it will be counted as excess and so new tickets won’t be assigned to this agent until his/her number of tickets falls below the set threshold.

For example, if Dan's already reached his threshold of 5 tickets and is assigned 2 more tickets manually, he will not be automatically assigned tickets until his number of assigned tickets drops below 5.


Scenarios where load balanced assignment could be beneficial

  • Whether it’s rush hour or not, this feature takes both incoming tickets and the older tickets assigned to the agent into consideration while determining the load. 
  • If your team is a steady mix of trained and inexperienced agents, your agents with far more experience will be able to handle tickets faster than the those who just got introduced to the helpdesk. This will ensure that each agent in the team works according to their own pace. 
  • When an agent moves on to another task such as handling calls, live chats or attending team meetings or conferences, they don’t have to manually turn off automatic ticket assignment - new tickets won’t be assigned to him/her beyond the threshold. 


Quick guide to setting up Load balanced assignment

  • Login to your support portal as an Administrator or Supervisor.
  • Go to Admin > Groups, and click Edit next to the group you want to modify.
  • Use the toggle to enable Automatic ticket assignment.
  • Of the options available (Skill based ticket assignment is available on the Forest plan), click Load balanced ticket assignment.
  • Set the maximum number of tickets per agent by selecting a value from 1-100. The optimal number is 5 as it’s a concurrent limit - by setting a small number as threshold limit, you improve your agent’s chances of responding to assigned tickets faster.
  • Click Save.




When you have a number of unresolved tickets in your helpdesk at the end of a shift, you'll want these tickets to be automatically assigned to online agents of the next shift. Here's a best practice to be followed in such instances:

  • Bulk unassign all unresolved tickets of the agents whose shift just ended.
  • Now the tickets in Open (or other SLA ON statuses) will be assigned to the agents who come online in the next shift. 
  • Tickets that are not Open will be assigned to available agents in the active shift when the status changes to Open, based on the execution of the default Observer rule (Automatically reopen tickets when customer responds). 
  • This guarantees that tickets remain with the agents as long as they are available, and makes sure that customer issues are resolved by any available agent in the active shift when a response is received.


Alternatively, you can set up an Observer rule to unassign and change status to Open when the customer responds - this will ensure that an agent never gets more tickets than the set threshold, but does not guarantee that the previously-assigned agent will get the ticket when the customer responds.


Let’s face it- not all of your agents will log into their helpdesks at the same time. The prevailing scenario is, initially, only one of your agents will be logged in and all the incoming tickets will get assigned to this one agent. This leads to he/she working on the previously assigned tickets and simultaneously managing the rush of incoming tickets. 


Eg: Your agents could be working on issues that will take much time to resolve such as product delivery issues, product bugs etc and certain other issues which take less time to resolve such as recent order transactions, refunds, FAQs, etc. With load balanced assignment of tickets, you (admin and supervisor) get to define the number of tickets from a particular group that an agent can handle at any given time. This way you can see to that your agents aren’t overwhelmed, especially those who already have a lot of pending tickets.


How load balanced ticket assignment works

When tickets are assigned to a group for the first time or when they are re-assigned from another group, they are assigned to the available agents in a load balanced fashion. In other words, these tickets are assigned to the least loaded agent first and are distributed to other agents in the group until they reach the threshold you’ve set. Thereafter, tickets are assigned to an agent as and when he/she resolves one of the assigned tickets.  


Note: While computing the current load of an agent, only tickets with SLA ON status will be considered.


What happens to those tickets that come in when all the agents are busy or are offline

Here comes the concept of unassigned ticket queues- the place where the incoming tickets wait for an assignment. Tickets from the unassigned ticket queue are assigned to an agent who has not met his/her threshold when:

  • Agent turns on availability. 
  • Agent resolves a ticket. 
  • Agent marks a ticket from Open to Waiting on Customer (or other SLA OFF status).
  • Agent deletes a ticket or marks it as Spam.


All tickets in the unassigned ticket queue are sorted based on the time since the ticket has been waiting for the agent’s assignment (SLA ON status in the queue). The oldest ticket from this queue is assigned to the least loaded agent who last received a ticket.


Eg: You can set SLA as ON for tickets that are Open or Pending and SLA as OFF for tickets that are Waiting on Customer, Resolved or Closed. Click here to learn more about ticket statuses.

 

Fret not. We’ve got scenarios with illustrations lined up to make these points clearer! :)


Take a helpdesk where a group called Refunds has tickets being automatically assigned to two agents through load balanced ticket assignment. The maximum number of tickets has been set to 5 tickets per agent.

SCENARIO 1



SCENARIO 2



SCENARIO 3






Note: If a ticket is manually assigned to an available agent, it will be counted as excess and so new tickets won’t be assigned to this agent until his/her number of tickets falls below the set threshold.


Eg: If Agent Dan has already reached his threshold of 5 tickets and is manually assigned 2 more tickets, he will not be automatically assigned tickets until the number of tickets with him reduces below the set threshold, i.e. reduces below 5 tickets.


Scenarios where automatic ticket assignment through load balanced assignment will be helpful:

  • Whether it’s a lean or a rush hour, this feature takes both the incoming tickets and the older tickets assigned to the agent into consideration while determining the load. 
  • If your team is a steady mix of trained and inexperienced agents, your agents with far more experience will be able to handle tickets faster than the those who just got their hands on the helpdesk. This will ensure each agent in the team works according to his/her own pace. 
  • When an agent moves on to another task such as handling calls, live chats or attending team meets or conferences, they don’t have to manually turn off automatic ticket assignment. New tickets won’t be assigned to him/her beyond the threshold. 


Quick guide to set maximum number of tickets per agent (Load balanced assignment):

  • Login to your support portal as an Administrator or a Supervisor.
  • Go to the Admin tab.
  • Click on the Groups icon.
  • The list of groups in your helpdesk will be shown. Click on Edit next to the group in which you want to enable load balanced assignment of tickets.
  • Use the toggle to first enable Automatic ticket assignment.
  • You will now be given two options to enable automatic ticket assignment (If you are on the Forest Plan, 'Skill based ticket assignment' would also be available). Select the Load balanced ticket assignment radio button.
  • Set the maximum number of tickets per agent by selecting a value from 1-100 from the dropdown. The optimal number is 5 as it’s a concurrent limit. By setting a small number as threshold limit, you improve your agent’s chances of responding to the assigned tickets faster without being unresponsive to a number of tickets assigned to him/her.  
  • Click on the Save button and see your agents get assigned to incoming tickets automatically.




When you have a bunch of unresolved tickets in your helpdesk at the end of a shift, you will want these tickets to be automatically assigned to online agents of the next shift. 


Here’s a best practice to be followed if you have agents who work in shifts or if you want any available agent to get back to a customer when the assigned agent is offline: 

  • Bulk Unassign all the unresolved tickets of the agents whose shift just ended.
  • Now the tickets in Open (or other SLA ON statuses) will be assigned to the agents who come online in the next shift. 
  • Tickets that are not Open will be assigned to the available agents in the shift when the status changes to Open, based on the execution of the default Observer rule ('Automatically reopen tickets when customer responds'). 
  • This setup guarantees that tickets remain with the agents as long as they are available, and making sure the customers' issues are sorted by any available agent in the shift when a response is received.


Eg: If an online agent has 5 tickets assigned to him already and a customer responds to two Waiting on Customer tickets, the agent’s load will go up to 7 tickets. However, if you usually have few customer interactions in your helpdesk, this should not be a concern as new tickets won’t be assigned automatically until the number of tickets with the agent falls below the set threshold. 


Alternately, you can also set up an observer rule to unassign and to change the status to Open when the customer responds. This will ensure that an agent never gets tickets more than the set threshold but this does not guarantee that the previously assigned agent will get the ticket when the customer responds.