How to Efficiently Handle Escalation in Your Contact Center
Contact centers go through a large number of customer concerns every day. Not all of them can be handled adequately by your front line agents. In order to maintain efficiency and cope with consumer demand, it’s smart to segment different types of calls and assign them to different departments that specialize and can handle different concerns faster.
Marketing professionals use this concept through market segmentation. In market segmentation, different consumers are categorized based on their needs and spending preferences and are given different levels of service. In contact centers, you can provide better service by segmenting customer concerns depending on their difficulty to resolve. In order to do so, a proper ticket escalation system needs to be in place.
Most modern contact centers are structured with a front line customer-facing group of agents, known as “Tier 1.” These agents resolve the majority of concerns and are trained to handle easy and routine concerns in a fast and efficient manner.
Centers usually have a separate team of agents “Tier 2” to handle escalated concerns. Usually, callers for this group are irate customers who can’t be de-escalated and require a manager or supervisor.
Some centers do not have a Tier 2 or senior agent group and instead rely on actual supervisors and managers to handle escalated calls. The drawback to this is the strain it puts on management, who are unable to do their jobs effectively if they must take time to handle escalated concerns. Escalations at this level also tend to have more empowerment to give out goodwill tokens in order to preserve a good relationship with the customers.
Finally, you have different departments for concerns that require more technical knowledge than what front line agents are trained for. These departments are usually billing and finance people in the back-end that are in charge of resolving customer payment issues, as front line agents usually don’t have the ability to process these kinds of concerns.
Documentation is Important
Regardless of the escalation system you will be using, it is important to have clear documentation of what qualifies for escalations and what types of calls should be handled at Tier 1. If there are no clear rules on how to escalate, the escalation system loses meaning as concerns meant for Tier 1 can end up in other levels. That defeats the purpose of segmenting the concerns in the first place.
Be sure documentation is clear and agents at all levels are trained appropriately on which types of concerns need to be escalated.
Set Up a Clear Ticketing System
After training your people on what concerns need to be escalated and which ones shouldn’t, the ticketing system should be clear, easy to use, and reliably get concerns to the right people.
Tier 1 agents assigning a concern to the billing back office should be able to set it easily, allowing the concern to reach the people who can resolve it. The system should also be easy to search for past incident reports. If the customer calls back to follow up, any agent can pull up the case, find out who initially escalated it, who worked on it, and any status updates on the case.
If the back office needs additional information from the caller, it should show up in the case. If you have an outbound department that calls customers for these concerns, it should be queued to that department as well.
Make Sure Escalation is Available on All Channels
Today’s consumers are a very tech-savvy bunch. They all want to choose how they engage with your company, whether they do it through social media, voice call, chat, or SMS. The escalation system should be available on every channel. If a customer raises a concern regardless of how they contacted your company, their issue should reach the right people who can resolve it.
It’s a Work in Progress
Remember that the escalation system does not need to be set in stone. As the center operates and gains more data on what types of concerns are common and what kinds of solutions are used at all levels, it will make sense to revise itself depending on what kinds of concerns are more common.
If you’re finding a lot of one type of concern being escalated that it causes strain on the upper tiers of escalation instead of increasing manpower in the upper tiers, it may be time to re-evaluate the escalation rules. Find out if the solutions done at higher levels can be implemented at the frontline tier and revise the training so that Tier 1 can handle these concerns.
Ultimately, the segmentation is meant to make things more efficient and save the company on resources and labor, not the other way around.
It is fortunate that most modern contact center software is fully capable of handling most of the legwork here when it comes to escalation. Today’s systems work on all customer touch point channels and have a system-wide database that works on all points, leading to one easy-to-use ticketing system everyone in the organization can use to serve customers better.