How to improve Escalation Processes for best-in-class Customer Experience

Customer Intelligence 6 min read

Customer support is one of the most important aspects of any business. To provide fast, quality service, companies are turning to AI-powered support automation platforms, to streamline the customer support process so that employees can focus on more complex tickets.

When customers have a complex issue that automated support cannot solve, they need to speak with a team member who can help them resolve their problem. That’s where a well-thought-out escalation process comes in.

Resolving customer issues on the first contact is the ultimate goal of every organization.

Failure to do so can cause customers to rate a company’s customer service as inadequate. This has implications – statistics show that most customers – 89% – start buying from competitors due to poor customer service experience. You can batter your customer service with the best customer support software.

But let’s face it – for most businesses, achieving a 100% first contact resolution rate is a near-impossible task. No matter how well you hire or train your service reps, there will be times when those at the frontline will not be able to resolve customer issues.

Some issues are too technical for the service staff and have to be handed over to the technical team for resolution. This is where a ticket escalation process becomes necessary.

As your business grows, the ticket volume also increases. So, the earlier you streamline your ticket escalation process, the better.

What Is a Customer Escalation?

A customer escalation is a support situation where an initial attempt to resolve a customer’s ticket has failed and the ticket has to be passed on to the next stage in the support process. For example:

  • A customer attempts to resolve their problem by using a chatbot but does not receive a satisfactory solution
  • A customer attempts to reach out to a human agent, but fails to connect with a live support representative within a satisfactory amount of time and gives up
  • A customer chats or speaks with an agent, but the representative fails to solve their problem, requiring intervention from another team member

Escalations may occur at different points in your customer journey. Some customers may experience difficulties during their onboarding. Others may have trouble adopting advanced features. Still, others may experience billing difficulties during the renewal process. Where escalations tend to occur in your customer journey will depend on the specifics of your product.

What should an escalation process do?

An escalation process moves more complex customer inquiries that an AI-powered support automation platform does not have the answer to, to a human-in-the-loop (HITL) who does.

It’s essential always to have a HITL when planning out an escalation process. The support automation platform allows the HITL to see the question asked, the context around it, and who requested it. That way, customers have a seamless transition between tech and human and don’t need to repeat themselves. It also allows the support team to resolve the issue quicker.

As the HITL resolves complex customer issues, they also continue to build the organization’s knowledge base. The next time a customer asks the same question, they can receive an instant answer from the automated platform.

Why Effective Ticket Escalation Matters?

A ticket is escalated when your agents are unable to resolve a problem at the ground-level. This only means that it will take more time to resolve an issue and might potentially lead to unhappy customers and overworked agents.

Ticket escalation is often frowned upon, but it is necessary for a streamlined support process.

Now, we know that customer expectations are going through the roof.

27% of customers expect a business to share an instant response over email. While 62% of customers expect a response within 24 hours.

Therefore, for effective ticket management, you must ensure that ticket escalation is fast, leads to a better solution, and the customer is kept informed along the way. A faster support ticket escalation process can help you boost customer satisfaction and win their valuable trust.

Be Honest About What Happened

The best cure for customer discomfort is information: honest, up-to-date, and timely information. Think of a customer complaint as an opportunity to build customer trust. During an escalation, be sure you:

  • Acknowledge the problem.
  • Accept responsibility for finding a solution.
  • Communicate how you’ll fix the solution.
  • Reliably estimate how long it will take to deliver a solution, with the goal of resolving all escalations within 30 days.
  • Explain how the customer can employ the solution.

You should also let your customer know if and how they can continue using your product or service while the specific complaint is addressed. Any time spent away from your brand is time your customer can spend looking at alternatives.

The process of open communication may seem labor-intensive, but it can turn an unhappy customer into a content, loyal one. If you’re not telling your customers exactly what went wrong, how you’ll fix it, and when they can get back to work, you’re allowing your competitors to offer them other solutions.

Automated Follow-up Communication to Ensure Successful Resolution

After a customer reaches out for assistance, prompt follow-up communication forms a critical part of effective support. A delayed response to an escalation may increase customer frustration, compounding the original issue and increasing dissatisfaction.

Automating your follow-up process helps you shorten response time while ensuring that the right person reaches out to the customer. Automatic alerts and reminders instantly advise the appropriate personnel of escalation situations to promote a timely response and resolution.

Document the Ticket Escalation Process

Ticket escalation is an integral part of the broad ticket management spectrum of customer support. To ensure consistency and provide standards for efficiently handling tickets, the ticket escalation process should be documented. The best way to do this is by documenting the escalation procedure for IT support.

The ticket escalation policy provides answers on how your company handles problems that frontline service agents are unable to address.

When developing an escalation policy, you need to define expectations customers have with your company and the ones that service agents are required to meet. Your customers need to know what to expect when they reach out for help.

In the same way, your service agents should be aware of what is expected of them in the escalation process. Some of the details that a ticket escalation policy should have:

  • The estimated duration for resolving tickets
  • Who should be notified when an issue needs to be escalated?
  • Who should be contacted when the issue is still unresolved after the first escalation?
  • How often customers will be updated and by whom?

Once your escalation policy is ready, integrate it into the service level agreement (SLA). This will clarify what customers can expect from you when it comes to issue resolution and provide standards that service agents need to meet. A help desk software allows you to streamline your business operations. You can meet the SLAs (Service Level Agreements) and prioritize certain actions as and when required. Knowledge Base integration with a help desk software helps to lower the support costs by 80%.

Conclusions

Problems can emerge in any type of project.

Many are small and can be solved within the team, but others can be much larger and have a strong impact on the project.

This is why a formal project escalation process should be always defined, therefore ensuring that management is aware of critical issues in order to enable correct decision making is essential.

The escalation of the project is both an art and a science that also presents a certain amount of risk. If handled badly, in fact, an escalation can lead to violent clashes even on a personal level.

Identifying project situations where escalation is the only way out and having the courage to face these situations professionally by following a structured escalation procedure is the key to helping the project.