Escalating Customers

Mary Schmidt stopped by our little corner of the blogosphere yesterday and added a great comment to the conversation about World-class Greetings:

"[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.

Related Posts:
Apologies (Part 1)
Lower Prices Isn’t Always What Customers Want
"I Don’t Want Your Apology!"

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  3 comments for “Escalating Customers

  1. June 22, 2006 at 3:36 pm

    The Simple Things

    It’s been awhile since I’ve visited Mary Schmidt’s blog – and thanks to Tom’s post on Escalating Customers, I’m reminded of Ms. Schmidt again (and this time I’ll add her feed!). In a post titled Home Depot’s Real Problem, Mary…

  2. June 22, 2006 at 7:55 pm

    Tom, thanks for this no-nonsense approach. I have learned that very often a recipient on the other end is simply not informed or empowered to make the decision I need. So I feel refreshed by your wisdom here which clearly has the customer in mind. Maybe the firm is also in mine … because a resolved issue tends to get us back faster than a refusal to pass a call to a person in authority:-) Thanks for the keeper, Tom!
    Brain Based Business

  3. June 22, 2006 at 8:57 pm

    You’re absolutely right. In fact, there some truth to the fact that a “rescued” customer can be more loyal than a customer who was merely satisfied with the initial experience.
    Thanks for stopping by. Glad to have you back safely from Ireland!

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