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Help Desk Tips is a weekly series featuring best practices and tips from support professionals on optimizing your help desk and support department.

Every help desk includes tags among its features, which help customer support teams categorize conversations, monitor trends, and trigger workflows that automate certain actions. But how do you determine what those tags should be and keep everything organized?

3 questions to ask before setting up or overhauling tags in your help desk

Bill Price, former Global VP of Customer Service at Amazon, wrote in his book The Best Service is No Service that he worked on getting Amazon’s list of codes down to fewer than 30. In the process, he reorganized how they used contact codes — otherwise known as “tags” — so the Amazon customer service team could quickly notice trends and provide more organized support.

Price asks a few big questions when advising companies on their tagging process:

1. Are we organizing with arbitrary categories?

If you’ve ever used a bookmarking app, you know tags like “interesting” and “cool” quickly turn into meaningless catch-all buckets. The same is true for support.

Begin with this question: If this tag were trending up, could we tell if it was due to an increase in good conversations or in bad conversations? A good example is “Payments” — if your “Payments” tag started to spike, could you quickly identify if it was due to productive contacts or unnecessary ones? Would you want to have more, or less? Contrast that to a “Payment failed” tag, where it’s obvious.

Related Tip: Help Desk Tip 1: Use Tags to Delight Your Customers

2. Do we need to know what, or why?

When companies organize conversations, it’s common to list what the customer emailed in about but not why they needed to make contact in the first place. Price argues that “shipping issue” isn’t all that useful as a category; wouldn’t it be better to distinguish further with tags such as “late by shipper” or “warehouse delays”?

3. Do our identified problems have clear owners?

When a problem doesn’t have an owner, it’s far less likely to be fixed. Price recommends categorizing by the MECE principle: using groups that are Mutually Exclusive and Collectively Exhaustive. This ensures problem categories have one “owner” whose department caused the contact in the first place.

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