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HOW TO HANDLE ESCALATIONS IN A CALL CENTER

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Table of Contents

Employees in contact centres are used to working with a variety of clients with a variety of problems. However, they are sometimes confronted with circumstances that put their ability to deal with customers and provide successful solutions to the test. Handling an escalated call is one of the most difficult conditions that workers face. It’s something that no contact centre employee wants to deal with, but it’s something that can’t be avoided if the situation arises. It is important for every contact centre to properly manage escalated calls and fix issues.

01

WHAT IS CALL CENTER ESCALATION?

An escalation is the method of forwarding a contact, such as a phone call or a chat, to a supervisor or a more knowledgeable agent in a contact centre. This can happen if the original agent lacked the necessary expertise or permission to assist the customer, or if the customer demanded to communicate with a supervisor.

Agents learn the basics during their initial training with a new organisation, and as they manage more and more encounters, they learn about more unusual issues. It’s not uncommon for a new agent to run into a problem that they don’t know how to fix. They will escalate the investigation until they have exhausted all available resources, such as a knowledge base. 

Whatever the explanation, companies should try to avoid escalations as much as possible because they have a negative effect on the customer experience. Being moved means the consumer has to work harder to solve their dilemma, which has a negative effect on how consumers see companies. Contact centres should have a transparent and well-communicated escalation management plan in place to minimise escalations. They should also ensure that agents are well qualified and have enough resources on the contact centre floor. Businesses should study and question any policies that lead to the high number of escalations on a regular basis.

While escalations can never be fully removed, companies can handle their effect on consumers with the right approach.

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02

WHY ARE CALL CENTER ESCALATIONS IMPORTANT?

An escalation mechanism seems to be a smart idea on the surface. In the context of call centres, the escalation process refers to the transition of calls to more seasoned call centre staff, such as managers and supervisors.

For two reasons, this seems to be a smart idea:

  • When a call centre agent doesn’t know how to handle a customer’s complaint, it’s best to transfer the call to a supervisor or manager. It seems like a better option to have a mechanism in place that allows the call to be forwarded to someone who is in a better position to answer the customer’s complaint, rather than giving them no solution or, worse, the wrong solution.
  • Rather than making callers hang up at peak hours when the load becomes too much to manage and there are more than an acceptable number of callers in queue, it seems like a smart option to pass some of the increased load to supervisors.

Why, then, could making an escalation process in your call centre be your greatest blunder? The problem is that many call centres with an escalation mechanism begin to rely on it excessively rather than using it only in emergencies.

A high escalation rate in a call centre suggests inefficiencies, which could act as a red flag to the call center’s owner. A high escalation rate means:

  1. A high escalation rate indicates that the call centre agents lack the necessary skills and understanding to handle complaints, so they pass the majority of calls to the supervisors.
  2. Since the call centre operators lack the authority to provide solutions to customers, the majority of calls are routed to someone with a higher position of authority.
  3. Your call centre agents are not prompt or direct enough in resolving customer issues, resulting in a rise in call volume and a transfer in calls to the seniors.

It can irritate a customer to explain his or her dilemma to a call centre agent just to have to re-explain it to a superior. They may be irritated and, in some situations, angry because they have already been waiting for a call centre agent to respond to their call. Also, if the supervisors and managers are too preoccupied with dealing with consumer issues, it means that they are diverted from their primary duties during the day, which may negatively impact your call centre in the long run.

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03

HOW TO HANDLE ESCALATIONS IN A CALL CENTER

Some call centers, on the other hand, have a high escalation rate, while others are able to obtain “First Call Resolution” (FCR) more regularly. Although variables such as industry and call centre volume influence the actual rate and amount of escalations, it is often more effective to minimize escalations. But how will this be accomplished?

Managing One’s Own Behavior and Reactions

If a disgruntled customer calls in and is visibly upset, the service representative must recognize that the customer’s anger is aimed at the business rather than at them personally. As a result, it’s important for the service representative to keep an emotional distance between themselves and the charged atmosphere generated by the customer’s emotions. Both sides are human and prone to making mistakes. However, it is the responsibility of the service representative to maintain professional body language, tone, and demeanor while not being emotionally involved in the situation. Reps may be trained on inefficient forms of managing escalation in call centers at regular weekly meetings.

Recognizing the Issue

Because of their place in the chain, customer service reps often believe they can extrapolate all aspects of the problem from the initial explanation of the customer’s problem. This, however, can prove to be highly ineffective and aggravate the customer even more. Employees must avoid falling into the pit of concentrating too much on the cold ‘reality’ of a problem and ignoring the potential for emotional distress. The customer service representative must recognise and consider the emotional or mental burden that it causes and provide a solution that effectively addresses it. To move on to the constructive stage of mapping solutions quickly, the rep must avoid putting their view of an issue and its consequences on the consumer, and, most importantly, avoid playing a blame game rather than taking the ownership of the problem.

Have a direct impact on the environment

A call center customer service representative, like any other work that involves working with other people, must maintain a high degree of professionalism at all times. It entails making decisions, believing in yourself, and acting as though you are in control. The service representative must be qualified to maintain control of the evolving situation with the customer and be ready and able to assume full responsibility for effectively shaping and influencing the case in the desired direction in order to defuse the heated discussion. Here are a few fast and simple pointers to remember:

  • When faced with escalating situations, it’s more common to deal with feelings rather than reality.
  • It’s important to control the conversation’s pace; a slower tempo has been shown to alleviate anxiety in many people.
  • Customers don’t care why anything happened; instead, take responsibility and have solutions.
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Work out a compromise

It is the customer service representative’s duty to shape after the customer has been given the opportunity to list their complaints in detail. It steers the discussion in directions that are likely to elicit even a minor positive response from the consumer. Any basis on which the customer agrees with the employee can be used as a point of departure to move the dialogue and de-escalation process forward. It has also been observed that negotiating an arrangement with a customer that entails various complexities is challenging. In general, it is massive in scope, encompassing various facets of the issue for which they are seeking redress. To stop the escalation of call centers, it’s critical to move rapidly and achieve a series of tiny, mediated settlements. This is important because it aims to encourage all parties to make concessions that result in a mutually beneficial solution. This aids in the development of rapport and shows that the service representative is willing to engage on a human level in order to collaborate and solve the issue. This also means that there will be more opportunities for customer retention.

Active Listening/Giving People a Place to Vent

The customer must be given a place to vent and unload all of their frustrations caused by the flaw in the service or product for which they are seeking redress. It’s critical not to rush the customer into a formal investigation of the problem; instead, allow them to go at their own speed, knowing that one cannot rant indefinitely and will eventually stop. The customer must be able to verify that the employee is paying attention and comprehending their situation. Both verbal and nonverbal signals may be used to communicate the same message. Nodding, friendly smiles, audible acknowledgement, and other small gestures will go a long way toward making the customer feel less aggrieved. Finally, a few reflective questions, i.e., qualitative questions focused on what knowledge the customer shares during the conversation, will clear the customer’s mind of any doubt.

A Group of Professionals

Customers will often fail to consider solutions offered by the first in the chain of command in the customer service department and request that it be moved to a superior for a variety of reasons not limited to a particular agent’s inadequacy. This costs the organization money, time, server traffic, resources, and energy from a human agent whose skills are better suited to other tasks. There will be no resources left to spend on enhancing results if the superiors are busy providing alternatives to any alternative customer who calls in. As a result, if a situation gets out of control, team leaders should step in. Customers will wait less after being assigned to a manager and the managers’ vital resources will be freed up, enhancing results and productivity while also increasing customer satisfaction.

If you want to run a successful call center, you should prioritize getting a high First Call Resolution rate. This can be accomplished by giving your call center agents enough training on policies, goods, and services to allow them to make decisions. You should also teach them how to communicate with irate customers in a respectful and efficient manner. Your call center agents would be able to handle the majority of customer inquiries themselves if they are well-informed and communicate effectively.

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04

Conclusion

Handling customer escalation is an art and an ability that takes time to develop. Having empathy during such calls is much more important than pointing out who is right. However, we suggest using an Omnichannel Customer Service programme, which will provide a clearer understanding of the customer experience and assist the agent in quickly navigating through problems without annoyance.

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