The Right Time (and Way) to Escalate a Customer Issue

Customer issues and escalation is a huge concern for service industry. In this write-up, we discuss the right time and way to escalate a customer issue.

The Right Time (and Way) to Escalate a Customer Issue
The Right Time (and Way) to Escalate a Customer Issue

Customer complaints occur when a company fails to meet customer expectations regarding a specific product or service. Satisfied customers are the most important aspect of the long-term success of any modern business. However, customer satisfaction rates could potentially decrease exponentially if customer issues are not appropriately addressed and resolved.

Even if your company is able to avoid potential high-risk day-to-day scenarios, errors are almost inevitable. Therefore, your business must be equipped with a satisfactory customer support team to help monitor and address issues with customer experiences. Recent studies have shown that issue resolution is the most important customer service concern for approximately 90% of consumers worldwide.

Your business must be appropriately equipped to handle customer complaints, especially when they require escalation. You must also ensure that escalation procedures are both effective and appropriate. While having your business’s customer service department handle all consumer complaints and issues on the ground level is ideal, it may not always be feasible. Therefore, your business’s employees need to be aware of when it is appropriate to escalate a consumer complaint.

A Step-By-Step Guide- When And How To Escalate A Customer Issue:

1. Upon the Customer’s Explicit Request

Customers are usually provided with the option of directly approaching a manager. If your business’s customer service representatives are unable to resolve an issue directly, it may be favorable to forward the issue to management. This can help reduce the risk of a second consumer complaint and can also increase the speed of resolution.

Even after a customer issue has been escalated to upper management, there is still a risk of various problems, such as delays in the assigned team addressing the case. Therefore, to avoid the risk of delays during this process, the customer service representative escalating the case should also be involved in every step of the resolution cycle.

2. When Customer Needs Cannot Be Satisfied

A customer issue may need to be further escalated if the consumer’s needs cannot be satisfied with the available resources of the customer service department. If no commonality can be found and the consumer still requires a more appropriate solution, the issue may need to be escalated up the chain of command. According to a recent consumer trends report, approximately 62% of consumers believe businesses should care more about them and their needs.

Even though your business may try to eliminate the risk of unresolved customer issues as far as possible, it may eventually be inevitable. Customers can often be the most valuable form of quality control for your organization and can help determine whether a business is successful in the long term. Therefore, when customer service departments receive a customer complaint, it is crucial to focus on holistic, all-encompassing solutions to enhance customer experiences and avoid the risk of reduced customer satisfaction. 

3. When Potential Solutions Exceed Customer Service Capabilities

A customer issue may need to be further functionally escalated if the problem falls outside of the skills, competencies, and responsibilities of a customer support representative. In theory, customer service managers may be able to negotiate with customers to reach an appropriate solution for a wide variety of issues. However, there may be various issues with approving solutions and the jurisdiction of customer service representatives, particularly in terms of more technical product portfolios.

Traditional escalation processes can typically be extremely time-consuming as it requires customers to wait for a customer service representative to respond to queries, understand the issue and develop an appropriate solution. Therefore, before escalating a customer issue, your customer service representatives could potentially mitigate this by identifying appropriate, technical solutions. Recent studies have shown that 80% of customers believe that customer experiences need to improve.

Therefore, it is essential to allocate time and organizational resources to analyzing the various aspects of each unresolved customer issue and how it can be avoided. Developing a step-by-step analysis and troubleshooting process can help customer service teams effectively prevent and resolve various customer issues in the future, reducing the need for escalation.

4. In The Case of Unresolved Issues Involving Threats

If a customer is still not satisfied with a proposed resolution and consequently begins issuing threats, it may be time to refer the case to upper management. An experienced supervisor with prior knowledge of the intricacies of the case and legal legislation should be assigned to these tiers of unresolved customer issues.

Although many customer service representatives may be tempted to handle difficult customer issues while avoiding escalation processes as much as possible, this could be ineffective in the long run. If a customer threatens your organization, it may be time to escalate the issue to upper management or regulatory governance bodies.

Customer service managers are usually experienced in dealing with difficult customer issues. Therefore, when a customer service representative believes that they will not be able to resolve a customer’s issues and hence need to escalate a customer issue, they should be given the right resources to rectify the mistake.

How To Know The Right Time And Way To Escalate A Customer Issue:

Effective customer service processes are an extremely important factor for the success of any modern business. However, it may be difficult to understand when it is warranted to escalate a customer issue as well as which method of resolution to apply. Although each customer issue warrants a different escalation process, they should typically be escalated when the customer explicitly requests for a matter to be escalated, when customer needs cannot be satisfied, when potential solutions exceed the capabilities of customer service departments, and in the case of unresolved issues involving threats.18

Therefore, the above-mentioned step-by-step guide can help your business understand the right time and way to escalate a customer issue.

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