Last updated on January 14, 2019

A Simple Guide to Customer Escalation Management

Escalation Management officer doing meditation

Every customer support service must be backed up by a competent escalation management system. Otherwise known as “incident management.”  Escalation is the process of passing on calls from the support agent to more experienced and knowledgeable employees in the company, such as managers, supervisors, and even fellow agents. Calls may also be transferred to certain individuals in the company who are designated to the specific department involved in the customer’s concern (e.g. IT personnel, billing personnel, etc.). Managing escalations in customer service helps diminish the instance of providing incorrect and insufficient solutions to customers or leaving the problem presented unresolved.

escalation management agent

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Escalation management can be subdivided into 3-4 levels called ‘tiers’, and each is designed to address customer queries based on the difficulty and nature of the problem. The higher the level of the tier, the more specific and complex the concern being addressed is. There are also two types of escalations. One is functional escalation, where the endorsement of the problem is based on the skills and functions required to provide a specific solution. The other is called hierarchical escalation,which involves notifying fellow support agents and supervisors of probable breaches of Service Level Agreement (SLA). Usually, hierarchical escalation paves the way to help determine which department is needed to help resolve the problem.


What are the 3 basic requirements of escalation management?

Incident management is not simply about passing calls or customer concerns and then hoping to reach the right solutions. It entails specific steps to better guarantee that the entire process will run smoothly and effectively. Some might say that escalation should be used sparingly, as customers can get frustrated and exasperated being passed on to different people just to acquire a feasible answer to their concern. The truth is, escalation management also helps minimize instances of long call queues especially during peak hours.

So what are the key aspects that enable a reliable escalation management system?

1. Get employees and supervisors/managers to cooperate

Enforce a systematic process of corresponding to certain customer issues by having supervisors or employees at managerial level to cooperate. Getting other departments, from IT, billing, sales and product development on board with customer support will help support agents to turnover customers to the most suitable people for more intricate queries. The involvement of each department in escalations should be clearly defined so that everyone has a clear idea of their accountability. Likewise, the team will more likely work together more solidly if there is an understanding of how important the role and involvement of each department is.

2. Provide efficient customer support training

Talk time is very crucial in customer support. Customer service personnel need to exhibit excellent communication skills because this will help pinpoint more accurately the gist of a customer’s complaint and come up with the suitable solution for it. To achieve this, support agents should be provided with adequate training and coaching to help them be more assertive in resolving customer concerns. Educate agents on the right way to keep customers engaged and maintain professionalism and politeness even when dealing with irate customers. Allow them to gain enough familiarity with the business’ products and services, the policies involved in the development, distribution, and marketing of the services being offered, along with the limitations of responsibilities covered by the company.

More importantly, investing in honing the skills and knowledge of support agents empowers them and makes them more prepared to take on varying levels of client queries.

Escalation management team doing fist bump

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3. Keep a complete record of each escalated issue or account

Real-time monitoring and recording every instances of escalation will provide references for businesses to determine how efficiently customer concerns were handled. Previous call logs can be analyzed to review whether standard escalation procedures were followed or not. Was the call escalated to the appropriate department? How well was the problem assessed? Was the customer satisfied with how their queries were answered? At present, there are innovations in escalation management such as live monitoring and voice analytics tailored to boost the efficiency of the customer assistance.

Proper documentation of the every escalation that took place will enable business owners to generate metrics and determine how else support services can be enhanced to provide better assistance.


How important is escalation in customer support?

Ideally, the less escalation are made, the more efficient a support system is. However, it would still be very beneficial to prepare an elaborate and systematic process that helps a business’ help desk handle even the most crucial and sensitive customer concern.  Escalation is an effective method of returning the trust and support of dissatisfied or disappointed customers.

Escalation, bridges the gap between the business and the customers. While faith and confidence is restored, it also gives the customers a new impression of the business.  The escalations team may make or break the business.  A good escalation team is the backbone of a company.


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