“Please hold, while I transfer you” or “can I speak to your supervisor?” Whether it is the agent or the customer initiating the transfer up the chain of command, call escalation is often something you want to manage to avoid. Try these strategies to cut back on call escalations.
What is Call Escalation?
When the initial person answering a customer’s call is unable to address the issue or answer the questions and transfers the customer to another agent, manager, or supervisor — that’s call escalation.
What’s wrong with escalating? Well, unless your customers like spending all of their time on the phone, putting them on hold and transferring them is likely to frustrate. On the managers’ side, customers often believe that action will happen faster if they just go directly to the supervisor. Yet, this is not always the case and when managers are overwhelmed with customer call escalations, they have less available time to do other, perhaps more valuable, tasks in the center.
Of course, call escalation can be useful. If it is going to save a customer from getting an incorrect answer or ineffective solution, obviously escalation is the better route to take. Additionally, properly managed call escalation can take advantage of information gathered about the caller (perhaps through the IVR) to send a call directly to a manager or supervisor, which can also reduce the risk of someone waiting on hold for an extremely long time.
Cut Back on Call Escalation
Nevertheless, there are several strategies that can help avoid the unnecessary call escalations that undermine center efficiency:
The most obvious way to avoid calls getting passed from one agent to the next, or on to leadership, is to sufficiently train customer agents. Along with educating them about policies, products, services, and procedures, also spend time on the customer interaction skills that can help them to deescalate the conflict.
Common strategies to minimize customer-driven escalations include:
- Active listening, demonstrating to the customer that the agent is hearing what is being said and respects his or her experiences.
- Empathy rather than sympathy. Just saying an insincere “sorry” is unlikely to go very far. Yet if the individual feels that the agent actually understands and is acting out a genuine desire to help, it will help lower their frustration levels.
- Explore solutions. Involving customers in determining an acceptable solution will help them to feel valued and can provide them with a better understanding of why the resolutions options are x, y, and z rather than the ABC one they had in mind.
Use Supervisor Tools.
Real-time monitoring provides management with immediate access to customer and agent interactions. Using call analytics, dashboards, and alerts can help maintain a consistent level of customer service and ensure compliance. With a supervisor barge or supervisor coach feature, call center leadership can improve outcomes by instantly participating in the contact or by providing real-time feedback to the agent during the interaction.
Encourage Good Escalations.
That’s right, as mentioned above, not all escalations are bad ones. It’s especially important for call center agents to understand that an escalation to the proper party or simply asking for help from a peer, boss, or subject matter expert is preferable to trying to solve the issue without assistance and actually making the issue worse. Avoiding a necessary escalation takes up the customers’ valuable time and makes others wait in the call queue while the resolution of this interaction becomes more difficult.
Clearly Map Out Escalation Paths.
You know call escalation is going to happen. That’s a given. So, the important thing is to make it clear to employees how best to handle the need to escalate. Document processes such as if X happens, then your first contact is Manager Sue. If Y happens, the next contact is Manager Phil. Delineating clear paths can also help avoid skip level escalations where a leader doesn’t get an opportunity to address an issue before it is taken even higher up to the boss’s boss.
These strategies can help cut back on call escalation and make your contact center function more efficiently. Implementing these tips may give your managers more time to actually, well, manage.also offers many features that can improve the lives of all your employees while positively impacting customer experience too!