How Escalation Management Can Proactively Support Your Customers

We have a question for you: how is your customer support team doing, at the moment? Answer truthfully. Is there anything in particular that you think might not be working so well?

If so, do you think it is impacting the level of service that you offer your customers (and, in turn, your brand reputation, and overall sales)? If any of this sounds familiar, then you are in the right place.

Our comprehensive guide will show you how to supercharge your customer service by implementing a solid customer escalation management strategy across all your platforms, from social media to your e-store and beyond. Keep reading to learn what escalation management is, what its benefits are, and how to integrate a customer service escalation process into your customer support strategy.

What is escalation management?

The expression “escalation management” refers to the process of giving priority ("escalation") to specific customer support requests and customer concerns based on their urgency, complexity, and time sensitivity. Such a query becomes a customer escalation and is instantly labeled as requiring a higher and prompter level of support.

For instance, if one of your customers contacts you to alert you that there are issues with your commercial proposal example, you will need to know whether or not that is an escalation. If the query was identified as high-priority, then it should become an escalation right away so that it can receive immediate attention and be handled by the most experienced agent within your escalation team.

By adopting a customer escalation management strategy, you can ensure that all your customer escalations always receive the right type of attention, support, and action. This becomes particularly crucial when dealing with frustrated customers, or when a customer alerts you to something not working in your systems.

With a solid customer escalation management process in place, you can achieve a wide range of benefits – as we’ll soon find out – with the main one involving greater customer satisfaction and retention.

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How does customer escalation management work?

Before describing the advantages of adopting a customer escalation management strategy, it can help to better understand standard customer escalations and their support workflows. As a rule of thumb, this process is designed by a professional figure called an escalation manager, and it involves four different steps:

  1. The definition of decision categories: To begin with, your escalation manager will need to identify some specific decision categories – such as technical, functional, staffing, financial, and so on – in order to create a hierarchical escalation, easily label customer queries, and funnel them through to the right category in a timely and efficient manner.
  2. The escalation procedure: Next, your escalation manager will need to decide which escalation category should be placed at the bottom of the escalation list. Starting from here, they will build up to the top-priority escalation category and end up with a complete, actionable priority list that includes all the previously defined categories.
  3. The key contributors to the process: While the escalation manager has a lot of responsibilities within the entire process, they are not the only professional figure that will contribute to the smooth running of your escalation management process. At least one more escalation team member needs to be identified and clearly named, in order for all customer issues to always be handled in the best and most efficient way, regardless of whether you receive them via email, customer calls, or even on social media.
  4. The final escalation management review: Lastly, your management team needs to provide the go-ahead before a solution is agreed upon. Preferably, you’ll want to get their consent in writing, so remember to get any relevant person to sign off any customer escalation documents.
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Customer escalation: the benefits

When it comes to customer satisfaction and engagement, all businesses can benefit from following an escalation management process to deal with customer issues. Here are some of the most remarkable advantages of this approach.

It boosts accountability and traceability

“Who dealt with Mr. Smith’s query about our freelance recruiter agreement?” “What happened after Paul spoke with the customer? Did Emil pick up that query?” “How close are we to closing this customer escalation, and why have we not closed it yet”?

The frustration that multiple steps in your customer support process generates can be overwhelming. This, though, will no longer happen if you choose to adopt a customer escalation management strategy.

Knowing exactly which member of your team is handling which request is paramount if you want that request to be satisfied quickly and accurately. With a hierarchical escalation management process in place, you can achieve better traceability of information, which in turn allows for higher accountability of each of your team members.

It slashes delays

Most companies have to deal with a large number of customer support requests, which means that they often find themselves overwhelmed and struggling with knowing which customer escalation to prioritize, and why. A robust customer service escalation process puts an end to this confusion and any potential delays by identifying exactly which query you should pick up first, and which ones can be dealt with at a later time.

It saves time and resources

If you have appointed an escalation manager to review your hierarchical escalation management process, then you can rest assured that all the escalated queries will be taken care of in the best possible way. As a result, solving a specific query will become almost as quick and easy as using a PandaDoc consulting contract template.

It empowers customer support team members

If you are in the process of hiring new members of your customer service team, the lack of an escalation process might hinder their development and success. On the other hand, with a functional escalation management strategy already in place, you can simply train any new recruit and give them all the tools and knowledge they need to manage escalations at their best.


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Escalation process and customer service

As we mentioned earlier, one of the biggest benefits of escalation management is better customer service. The reasons behind this are very simple.

By being able to identify right away whether a customer issue is urgent and needs to be escalated and dealt with by a senior member of your team, you will instantly convey a very important message to your customer. The message, in a nutshell, says: “You are very important to our company, and we want to take care of your query as quickly and efficiently as possible. We care about you and how our company can help make your life better.”

In a world where most company-customer interactions are digital and customer expectations are high, such a message becomes incredibly powerful. If you train all your customer service agents – from your newest staff member up to the most senior one – on all the steps to take in order to escalate a query, you can rest assured that the customer who sent that query will feel valued, listened to, and looked after.

All this, ultimately, forms the very basis of exceptional customer service – which, in turn, leads to that customer sticking around for longer and buying more products or services from you. Yes, because one of the greatest things of an excellent customer experience is precisely its active role in creating more satisfied customers, boosting your customer retention rates, and increasing your overall monthly sales.

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The role of technology

So far, we have been talking about the customer escalation process from a more human point of view: a customer sends a query, and a member of your support team decides whether to escalate it and how to handle it in a timely manner to respond quickly and achieve the best possible outcomes.

Nonetheless, as many interactions these days happen online, it’s also important to consider how the right type of technology might support a functional escalation management strategy. For example, have you ever thought about adopting an emotional chatbot?

Chatbots are software applications based on AI technology that appear as friendly and knowledgeable virtual members of your staff and provide a pleasant, seamless experience. Through pop-up windows that you can add both to your website and your social media pages, chatbots are always ready to take on customer service escalations and provide real-time, expert help that mimics a real-world, human interaction.

By adding a chatbot to your escalation management strategy, you will be able to tap into the power of advanced technology to support your escalation manager and their team with better managing escalations.

Technology is and will continue to be essential to your entire business operations – from your store management systems to your escalation management process.

Escalate, resolve, retain: the power of a solid escalation management strategy

All companies can benefit from a solid escalation management strategy – from small business phone service providers all the way to multinational food manufacturers, social media influencers, and everything in between.

This is because few things are more crucial for a business than ensuring exceptional customer service at all times. With escalation management, you can supercharge your customer's satisfaction, retain customers, and close more sales than ever.

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