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Addressing High-Risk Situations in a Timely Manner

Achkan Chavoushi

Not all customer interactions are equally important. Within the vast stack of emails, tickets, chats, and phone calls that CX teams receive on a daily basis, there will be a certain number that require immediate attention to prevent an issue from spiraling out of control. 

The challenge for CX leadership is twofold: how can you identify which issues are the most urgent, and how can you ensure they are dealt with as quickly and effectively as possible?

In this article, we’ll look at the significant impact that high-risk issues can have, the benefits of resolving them promptly, and the strategies you can implement to do this successfully.

Precap: Here’s what you’ll learn in this 5-minute read

  • How addressing high-risk issues promptly impacts ROI
  • The main challenges in prioritizing high-risk tickets
  • The role that time plays in high-risk situations
  • The financial implications — if you get it wrong
  • The hidden cost of unnecessary escalation
  • How AI can help you address high-risk issues promptly

The ROI of Promptly Addressing High-Risk Issues 

The quicker you can respond to and resolve high-risk customer issues, the less chance there is of them escalating, involving more agents, and requiring compensation in the form of credits or refunds. Acting swiftly to resolve customer issues also benefits ROI in the longer term, by positively impacting customer satisfaction and retention. 

To explore this further, read to the end for a link to our strategy guide — focused on how you can build proactivity into your CX operations.

Challenges in Prioritizing High-Risk Tickets

For most organizations the problem is clear — how do you filter out the truly urgent issues from the mass of customer conversations and tickets you’re receiving on a daily basis?

The way to get started is to perform a thorough manual review of your inbound tickets. By going through the list sequentially, you can triage tickets according to urgency, and assign them to the right agent to resolve them as quickly and effectively as possible. The issue here though is volume — for most organizations, manually reviewing each interaction is a laborious, and therefore expensive process. 

A better alternative is to implement a technological solution that can handle this part of the process automatically, freeing up agents and managers to focus on addressing the high-risk issues rather than spending most of their time reviewing, identifying, and routing these issues — and reducing the time-to-response. We’ll explore the role AI can play in more detail later in the article. For now, let’s look at why time matters so much in these types of high-risk interactions.

The Role of Time in High-Risk Situations

In any high-risk customer interaction, time is a critical factor. Customers who get in touch with an urgent issue quickly become frustrated if they feel their problem isn’t being addressed. Even a few hours' delay before receiving an acknowledgment of their issue can lead to extreme frustration, and lead them to search for alternative resolutions — requesting a refund or compensation, canceling their order and buying from a competitor, or leaving a negative review on social media. 

In the long term, if your CX team is unable to address these high-risk issues promptly, the result is lower brand confidence and poor customer relationships — reducing return business, lowering customer lifetime value, and requiring you to spend more on customer acquisition.

The Cost of Escalation

Another consequence caused by delayed responses to urgent customer issues is the need to escalate the ticket up the chain. Whether that’s because the issue has become more complex, it requires sign-off on compensation, or simply because the customer has requested to deal with someone more senior, the result is that tier-2 and 3 agents — or even management — have to get involved.

This has a dual impact — higher-level team members’ time is more expensive, but also there’s the additional opportunity cost of removing them from their primary duties to deal with high-risk issues, which can cause delays or backlogs elsewhere. Early detection and intervention is crucial to prevent this type of costly escalation.

In the next section, we’ll offer some real-world examples our clients have experienced where detecting and dealing with an issue early made a business-critical difference to the outcome of a high-risk situation.

The Financial Implications of High-Risk Situations 

Let’s talk about why finding a solution to quickly and accurately identify these high-risk issues is so important. Essentially, the more urgent customer issues that go unresolved — or at least aren’t resolved in a timely fashion, the greater the unnecessary financial burden you place on your business. Solving issues early costs less — it’s as simple as that. Here are some real-life examples. 

Compensating e-commerce customers 

Zola is an online wedding business that supports couples planning and booking their wedding, as well as operating a registry service for guests to buy gifts.

Post-COVID, a surge in wedding booking and rescheduling led to a number of CX bottlenecks — where high-risk customer issues were getting lost in the stack, resulting in late resolutions and the company having to offer customers credit as compensation for the negative experience in an attempt to retain their custom.

Deploying an AI solution allowed Zola’s CX team to identify these high-risk tickets and route them to an available agent to be addressed as a priority. The result was an 18% reduction in escalations, leading to higher retention and saving $6k/month in “make-good” credits.

Read the full Zola case study here

Fraudulent tickets at a fintech company

Novo is a financial platform providing checking and debit products to small businesses and independent contractors. They recently experienced a huge spike in a certain type of ticket — passwords and login issues. Numbers went from around 50 a week to a thousand in two days — causing concern for the CX team.

The potential cost to the business was substantial — it would take many hours of manual work to identify which of the login or password inquiries were fraudulent, and in the meantime, genuine customers who had submitted a similar ticket might have been unable to access their accounts. This could lead to compensation claims or increased churn down the line — and reputational damage to the brand.

In fact, the AI solution used at Novo was able to flag fraudulent inquiries as they came in. Once alerted, the CX team identified the source as being a bot network and were able to set rules to deal with any future instances, closing them off automatically — meaning agents didn’t waste any time dealing with them manually.

Read the full Novo case study here

V. Leveraging AI  to Address High-Risk Issues

As we discussed at the top of this article, while manually triaging tickets is highly accurate — it’s an extremely slow process. Ideally, you need a tool that can perform this step for you, tagging and routing tickets based on how urgent and high-risk each issue is. That’s where AI can help. 

The key word here is intent. AI solutions that can accurately interpret customer sentiment and intent using natural language processing are able to perform triage on your inbound tickets in real-time — flagging high-priority or high-risk issues for immediate action, as well as providing a first response to the customer — even if it’s just to notify them that the issue is being dealt with.

The most effective AI solutions allow you to customize intents, so you can train the Ai to respond to issues specific to your business and offer targeted solutions.

Of course, AI doesn’t solve the whole problem — there are limitations to its abilities. But what it can do is free up a substantial amount of agent time, providing your agents with the data and insights they need to make informed executive decisions on how to proceed — without unnecessary delay. 

As a result, your customers receive relevant, timely feedback that addresses their issue directly and offers a workable solution, damage to your brand reputation is minimized, and you reduce the negative impact on CSAT and CLTV.


Ultimately, addressing high-risk issues proactively and effectively is key to the success of any CX team. If you can get it right, it has a significant positive impact in a whole range of areas — from short-term factors such as enhanced customer satisfaction and reduced churn rate to long-term benefits including higher customer lifetime value and improved brand perception. 

To find out more about how you can make your CX function more proactive, and discover actionable strategies you can use, check out our guide: Building a Proactive CX Organization: Tips, Strategies, and ROI  

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