What is escalation management?
Escalation management involves transferring calls to top-level representatives who have more experience than the agent who initially answers the call. It focuses on keeping the customer experience as seamless as possible.
Let’s start with the basics.
What is an escalation?
When a customer faces an issue, they will get in contact with your customer support team. They’re looking to get answers as quickly as possible and then get on with their day. Now, if for some reason the support agent that they are conversing with is not in a position to resolve their issue, the conversation could get transferred to another agent, a supervisor, a manager, or someone higher up in the hierarchy.
The agents may initiate the escalation process themselves, or the customer may voluntarily request to get the conversation escalated.
Escalations could occur if the agent is not well-versed with the issue that needs to be resolved, if they need authorization from someone else in the organization in order to do something, or if the customer is just frustrated and wishes to speak to a person who is higher up on the organizational chart.
Escalating a conversation too many times could annoy your customers and would certainly have a negative impact on the customer experience. You need to have an escalation management process in place and find ways to reduce the number of escalations.
What are the different escalation types ?
The types of escalations are:
1. Functional escalation
This occurs when the support agents themselves realize that they cannot handle the issue on their own. It can occur if they realize that they do not have the necessary expertise to resolve the issue and they could hand the conversation over to another agent or team.
2. Hierarchical Escalation
This usually happens when the agent cannot resolve the issue and the customer is demanding an answer. It could also happen if the agent does not have the authority to agree to the solution that the customer is proposing. In this case, the agent could transfer the case to a supervisor or manager.
What is escalations management ? Why it's important?
However effective your customer service agents are, they can’t make everyone happy. There are always going to be a few customers who come up with issues that your customer support representatives did not expect at all.
If you don’t have a good escalation management process in place, then these customers are bound to have a bad experience. That means that they might stop doing business with you.
But your problems would probably not be limited to those customers leaving you. It’s very likely that they’ll tell their family, friends, and other people in their circles about their frustrating experience, tarnishing your reputation
To make things worse, they could very easily post something on social media about their experience, which could snowball and turn into a PR nightmare.
An effective escalation management process has the potential to save you from these troubles.
How can you reduce the need for escalation?
1. Train your agents
Provide extensive training to your support agents, especially on the technical aspects of your product so that they do not need to escalate conversations to anyone from your tech team.
2. Empower your agents
A lot of escalations occur because your agents do not have the authority to take certain actions and decisions. Empower agents to take decisions that are in the best interest of the customer and the company. You could set a limit as to how much the decision could cost.
For example, at the Ritz Carlton, staff members are at liberty to spend up to $2000 to fix customer issues, without needing to seek permission from management.
$2000 might be too much for your team to spend, but it is worth empowering them within a reasonable limit.
3. Context-based routing
Directly routing your customer conversations to agents who are equipped to deal with them saves your customers the frustration of needing to get their query escalated.
Engati Live Chat routes conversations to agents based on the context of the query, to ensure that minimum escalations are required.
How to handle escalations in the best way?
1. Demonstrate empathy
You don’t want the escalation to feel like your agent is covertly saying “Yea, that’s not my problem, let me send this away for someone else to deal with.”
Your agents should listen to the customers’ problem, summarize and repeat it to them so that its clear that you know what the issue they are facing is. They also need to pay attention to the customer’s tone and acknowledge their emotional state. They could say somethng like, “That must be rather disappointing” (replace disappointing with whichever emotion you think they are experiencing). Think about what you would like the company to say if you were in the customer’s place.
This shows that you actually understand them and care about them.
2. Determine how valuable the customer is
You need to treat all your customers well, but you can’t really treat all of them the same. You should prioritize the issues faced by your most valuable customers. These are also the customers that you would want to be generous towards in terms of compensation offers to make up for the issues that hey faced.
You should also determine the urgency of the queries from your other lower value customers, making sure that the priorities are clear.
3. Close each escalation within a reasonable amount of time
Responding quickly shows your customers that you have their back. Resolving queries quickly shows your customers that you care about them and about the issues that they are facing. It makes it clear that you are prioritizing them.
Determine a reasonable amount of time in which you could resolve their queries and strive to close the escalations within that time, hopefully even sooner. If you take longer than this time, your customers might feel like it takes too much time to their their issues resolved and they might just stop doing business with you.