Get a broader view on the customer service and support industry with The Supportive, a monthly series by Mat at Help Scout.

In this month’s Supportive, Mathew Patterson explores prioritization in customer service. What’s best, and what’s fairest? Watch the video then check below for additional resources!


Your support team starts out answering the oldest conversations first, and it works really well. Everybody gets excellent service, your customers are happy, and the support team feels great about treating every customer in the same way.

However, as you add more customers, more support, pricing tiers, and perhaps some sales and success teams, “first in, first served” isn’t always the most effective system to use. Should a paying customer who can’t log in really have to wait behind that free customer who is submitting his 19th feature request of the week?

The higher your support volume, the less likely “first in, first served” is to deliver you and your customers the best results . There are so many other factors to consider. For example:

  • What time zone is this customer in? If you answer now, might they only read it in 6 hours anyway?
  • Is this question blocking their entire work day?
  • If you go above and beyond for this particular customer, who will be left waiting longer for help?
  • Which staff are available to handle escalated questions?
  • Are there VIPs in the queue who you’re giving a poor experience right now?

Delivering the best experience to the greatest number of customers in the most efficient manner takes a more considered approach.

Get smarter about prioritizing your support queue

Support teams who make informed, deliberate choices to deliver better service are the ones who will find themselves in the top of the customer service salary charts.

Mathew Patterson

Mathew Patterson

After running a support team for years, Mat joined the marketing team at Help Scout, where we make excellent customer service achievable for companies of all sizes. Connect with him on Twitter and LinkedIn.