"[CSRs] should always, always, always be able to escalate when requested by a customer (I’ve actually been told "there is no manager" and, "there is nobody higher than me." Made the top of my head fly off.)"
What was interesting was that I had just read a profanity laced post (so I chose not to link to it) about a customer’s experience trying to get a simple issue escalated and resolved by U.S. Airways’ outsourced call center. The gentleman made three calls and three escalation attempts to simply get his name corrected on an e-ticket.
So, in an effort to keep Mary’s head on her shoulders, let’s talk for a moment about call escalation.
Escalation is an important issue in any business. It makes perfect sense for CSRs to attempt to help the customer before escalating the call to a supervisor. Many times the CSR can resolve the matter before transferring, but an insistent customer should always be transferred. In a corporate call center, the CSR should never tell the customer "there is no manager" or "there is no one higher than me" because it’s a lie and the customer knows that. (Can you hear the sound of angry customers and their footsteps as they walk away from your business?)
Many call centers have teams of senior or veteran CSRs who handle escalated "supervisor" calls. I think that’s okay as long as they are capable of handling the issues appropriately. What the customer really wants is someone who will resolve the issue, show concern and take ownership of the situation.
The key is to get escalated calls to people who can resolve the issue and/or have the experience to handle an impossible situation with the best service possible! When you refuse to escalate the call, you only escalate the customer’s anger – and that’s when they walk away, spreading very negative word-of-mouth about your business.