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Designing a Process For Customer Service Issue Escalation

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Most companies have some sort of customer service. However, the companies that are good at customer service do more than just offer it. They have a process for escalating customer issues to prevent their losing the customer. Then they train their customer service staff in that process, as well as how to best serve the customer within company policy and manage to keep them happy too. Consider documenting a customer service escalation process and training towards using it. At a minimum the process should include the following levels of escalation.

Always start the escalation process with the first person to talk with the customer. For a phone or internet customer service, this is typically a customer service representative (CSR). When the CSR is working with a customer, it is their responsibility to try to resolve the customer’s issue or problem in a pleasant manner. The CSR should make an effort to really meet the customer need without lying or bending company rules. Often a solution at the first level will make the customer happy enough that they continue business with the company. Training on how to improved customer service offered on the phone and in-person will help make this step more effective. This type of training should include role plays to allow the new CSR to practice. Since the CSR job can be stressful and new information is always pertinent, it is important to offer periodic retraining as well.

If the customer’s issue is related to a technical problem or a specific product and the CSR does not have the information to help the customer, then they should pass the issue onto an appropriate expert for resolution. The CSR should let the customer know that an expert will need to handle the issue and give an idea when the customer may expect to heat back from the expert. The expert should reply as soon as they find an answer for the customer, even if they must take the time to leave a voice mail or compose a detailed email. If a customer’s problem goes this far, only a quick and great solution will result in a happy customer. Providing a list of product or technical issue experts that CSR’s may refer to will make this second escalation step easier. However, the experts should receive some additional training in people skills so that they treat the customer appropriately as well.

When there is no expert or the expert does not resolve the issue, the CSR should request the issue be promoted to the customer service supervisor or manager. Or the customer may request this third level of escalation if they are unhappy with what they have encountered thus far. The supervisory person should resolve the issue for the customer immediately after they receive the escalation. The supervisor or manager will have to sincerely apologize to the customer and explain what they are going to do or have done. It they do not, the problem will only get bigger as customer may choose to personally escalate their complaint to a fourth level that can result in unfortunate consequences for the customer service group.

A customer service escalation path that is well designed and has properly trained representatives should indicate no need for customers to want to seek a fourth level. However, the fourth level the customers could choose to implement their self. This might be to write a letter or email to the division manager, the company president, or the organization’s CEO. Or for external customers, they may choose to file a complaint with the Better Business Bureau. Customers that chose to escalate to a fourth level will be lost to the company unless they get a solution that they feel is above and beyond anything that could reasonably be expected at the other levels. Prevent the need for the customer to desire this level of escalation by answering their need and resolving their problem at one of the first three levels.

For the reasons outlined above, consider documenting a customer service escalation process and training customer service staff appropriately. An effective process for escalation of customer issues will help maintain current customers as future ones. Be a company that offers more than a customer service contact, but be one that is good at delivering the service as well.

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Source by Shirley Lee