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What is Client Escalation and How to Manage It Effectively?

What is Client Escalation and How to Manage It Effectively?

November 22, 2023
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Author: Hamza

One of the keys to making a business successful is to ensure that customers are happy. If nobody finds value in your service or product, you can never succeed. So, what is it that a consumer wants? Around 60% of consumers say they would buy more from a business if they treated them better.

Whether you provide services or sell products, you must be ready to tackle any client escalation that comes your way. To be honest, such situations are quite stressful, but they can prove beneficial for your business if dealt with effectively.

With the right strategies, you can deescalate and transform a dissatisfied customer into a loyal one. This guide will discuss client escalation, its importance, and how to manage escalations from consumers effectively. So, let's get started!

What is Client Escalation, and When It Occurs?

Client escalations are situations where a customer query is transferred to a senior, more skilled agent by the first-level customer service agent.

An escalation in customer service occurs when the customer service agent is unable to resolve the problem faced by the customer. These escalations happen when the customer's query is beyond the agent's level of expertise, or they don't have access to tools that resolve the problem.

As a result, the query is escalated to a more experienced and skilled agent. These higher-level agents have the authority to utilize tools and techniques that help de-escalate the situation.

For instance, if a customer asks when they can expect a refund for their order, but the customer representative doesn't have access to refund information. Then, this representative will escalate the query to either a manager or the return and refund department. This constitutes client escalation.

Different Types of Customer Escalations

There are three different types of customer escalations. You may use one at a time or a combination of two or more, depending on the nature of your business:

1. Functional Escalations

Functional escalations occur when customer service agents realize that they don't know how to answer the customer's query. This happens when the query is beyond their level of expertise. Hence, it is transferred to a skilled agent or a specialized department.

2. Hierarchical Escalations

Hierarchical escalations occur when the customer specifically asks for a supervisor or higher-level representative. This leaves the initial representative with no choice but to transfer the query to the said representative.

3. Automatic Escalations

Nowadays, companies set up service level agreements (SLAs) to automatically escalate a query that isn't resolved in a specific period. Whenever an SLA violation occurs, a supervisor is notified and has to resolve the query as soon as possible to reduce customer dissatisfaction.

What is Client Escalation Management?

Client escalation management is the process that is set in place to make sure that every customer query is resolved by the right representative who has the skill set to satisfy the customer. This way, all the queries are dealt with timely and proficiently, which is what today's customers expect.

Why Client Escalation Management is Essential?

Do you know that 8 out of 10 customers believe the brands need to improve their customer experience? So, it’s high time that you improve your customer's experience, as it directly impacts your business's success.

The ultimate goal of any company regarding customer service should be to reduce circumstances that may cause client escalation. With that being said, escalations may not always be bad if they are handled effectively.

Customer escalation management needs to be in place to handle any serious customer query or concern. When a query escalates and is dealt with properly, it leaves a great impression on the customer. It even improves customers' view of the company, resulting in them being loyal customers for a lifetime.

Ultimately, when escalation is handled properly, you build everlasting trust with customers, making them feel valued and more connected with your company.

6 Best Practices for Effective Customer Escalation Management

Now that you are familiar with customer escalation management, let's focus on how you can effectively de-escalate customers' concerns. So, below are the six best practices for effective client escalation management:

1. Brief Your Team

First and foremost, you have to prepare your team to prevent any escalation from occurring. Provide them with the correct tools that they can use to resolve any customer concerns. A good practice is to prepare a response template that your teams can refer to when facing common queries.

2. Understand and Empathize With The Customer

When an escalation in customer service occurs, the customer representative should first try to understand what problem they are facing. First, fully understand what the situation is and then respond accordingly. Once the representative understands the situation, he/she should respond empathically. Empathetic responses will calm down an angry customer, giving the representative some time to resolve the problem.

3. Think From the Customer's Point of View

Dealing with an angry customer can be very challenging. They might even use inappropriate language. The best way to respond to a customer is to imagine what you would like to hear if you were in their situation and respond accordingly.

Remember that customers choose to communicate their problems with you because they want to give your brand a chance to redeem their trust. They could have chosen to refund or cancel the order but are willing to resolve the issue.

4. Create a Plan

You must compose a structured plan that will guide your team in dealing with client escalation. There are different levels to an escalation that you need to deal with accordingly. You can reduce the chances of an escalation by setting a plan in place that your team can follow. This way, your team will have a clear understanding of what they can and cannot do, which will allow them to make a decision and properly handle the situation.

Let's say the time of delivery of an order has passed, but customers still haven't received their order and have voiced their concerns. But the representative doesn't have access to contact the shipping company. In this case, if the representative doesn't have a plan to implement it, the customer can get frustrated, escalating the situation further.

Another way to promptly resolve customer concerns is by using tools such as the Shulex VOC AI Chatbot. As an advanced and better alternative to Intercom, the VOC AI Chatbot can be trained with your company data and policies. Afterward, it can handle customer queries promptly and accurately without involving any human errors. This way, customers get instant and well-crafted replies, which helps to improve satisfaction and foster loyalty.

5. Understanding the Customer's Value

An escalation in customer service may result in compensating the customer. Before you offer compensation, evaluate the customer's importance to your business. Check their order history and analyze the value of the customer. You can ask yourself these questions:

  • How much has the customer spent?
  • How long has the customer been supporting your business?

In this way, you will be able to identify a high-value customer and retain their relationship with the company by offering the compensation that they deserve. If a client escalation can be resolved with a refund, then don't hesitate to do so. Many brands' reputations get tarnished because they think of short-term revenue instead of lifetime trust and loyalty.

6. Resolve an Escalation ASAP

Resolving an escalation quickly shows customers that they hold value for the business. It's better to solve an escalation and deliver its resolution to the customer in the minimal time possible. When an escalation is left to be dealt with later, it causes more harm.

If an escalation lasts longer than 30 days, then the customer may start to have negative feelings about the brand. Ultimately, this results in distrust and negative feedback from the customer.

Wrapping Up - Be Smart and Strategic with Client Escalation Management

It's only a matter of time before your business faces a client escalation. When that time comes, you need to be prepared to provide customers with a satisfactory resolution. When you can't offer a quick resolution, it is better to make them feel secure that their concern is of utmost priority.

The issues customers face are of great importance to your business both for customer satisfaction and improving the products/services. So, you need to devise a plan for effective client escalation management. In addition, do consider deploying VOC AI Chatbot, the superior alternative to Zendesk, to modernize, automate, and enhance customer service with AI. To sum up, integrate robust client escalation management strategies and build everlasting loyalty with your customers.

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