A happy customer is a returning customer. Your customer service agents may have tried everything in their power to resolve a situation, but sometimes they just need the additional help. This is when it’s time for ticket escalation.

If frontline service agents are unable to meet the expectations of customers, a help desk escalation process can save the day. Agents can escalate tickets to supervisors. If supervisors need to escalate, they can utilize the ticket escalation process to ensure issues are assigned to the appropriate department.

Customers value speedy and accurate resolutions. If these are delivered, loyalty to your business is far more likely. A robust ticket escalation process reduces the chance of missed tickets or delays, and ensures issues are dealt with promptly and professionally.

Gartner research says, when customers are unable to find resolutions for their customer complaints, 96% are more likely to be disloyal to brands, and 81% are likely to share negative word-of-mouth. This alone is encouragement for why we must pay attention to the ticket escalation process when it comes to customer service.

Within this blog, you will learn all about ticket escalation, and how to manage it, so you can excel the expectations of your customers, and grow your business.

What Is Ticket Escalation?

One of the key features to look for in a help desk software solution is a ticketing system. Within this system is a multitude of tools that streamline your service team’s daily tasks. Escalating complaints is just one task that benefits from help desk software.

Ticket escalation is the process of handing over a customer query or complaint (in the form of a support ticket) to a senior team member for a swift and satisfactory resolution. For example, if your front line representative is unable to answer a customer query, then they may escalate it to a team leader or manager for a satisfactory resolution.

Illustration conveying the goal of ticket escalation

The main goal of ticket escalation is reaching an agreeable resolution as quickly as possible. In a fast-paced world, customers don’t like to be kept waiting.

Your business may boast the most well-trained customer service agents in the industry, but customer tickets will need to be escalated from time to time because the front line agent may not have all of the answers or the experience or authority to make a superior call. That’s why it’s important to have an efficient and effective way of getting that ticket escalated.

What happens for ticket escalation?

The ticket escalation process is a standard operating procedure followed by a customer support team to move an unresolved support ticket to a senior colleague who has more experience and the likelihood to resolve the issue.

A ticket escalation matrix is often used which is sorted depending on several factors. Often, 4 stages of escalation are available, and a priority is set depending on where the ticket is placed. If the ticket fails to be resolved in the required timeframe SLA, then it will be shared with the next person in line or manager to resolve the issue.

How Does the Escalation Process Work?

All good escalation processes are based on a hierarchical tier system. Usually starting with self-service, queries are sorted into tiers based on their complexity. More experienced or senior support staff will have access to higher tier, meaning tickets can be escalated to them.

A service desk escalation process will vary from business to business, largely depending on its size. They may be completely manual, or they could be automated for optimum efficiency. However, most will generally follow this structure:

  • Tier 0 – Self-service knowledge bases and chatbots can be accessed online by customers, before a ticket is created.
  • Tier 1 – Service agents with access to help desk tools and basic product knowledge can help customers. Otherwise, they can make notes and assign tickets to the corresponding tier.
  • Tier 2 – Senior agents, like supervisors or managers, that have access to additional resources, as well as greater experience, can handle escalated tickets. After troubleshooting, if unable to resolve a ticket, they can assign it to a higher tier or appropriate department.
  • Other Departments – Particularly if issues are technical, other teams – such as engineers or developers – can use specialized expertise to fix problems and resolve tickets.
Structure of ticket escalation

The number of tiers depends, again, on the size of a business. Generally, organizations should aim for speedy resolution so that customers can access themselves using self-service resources.

For a growing business, investing in ticketing software that enables tickets to be quickly assigned to those best placed to help is crucial for boosting customer satisfaction.

When to Escalate Tickets

Successful customer service teams should be able to identify what constitutes an escalating complaint. No two customers are the same, and a variety of challenging situations will arise each day. Knowing when to initiate the ticket escalation process can be the difference between a happy customer and a frustrated one.

Ideally, your frontline agents should be equipped with the tools and knowledge to handle most queries or complaints themselves. Having a framework that helps identify when to escalate tickets ensures that higher level staff are not over-assigned tickets unnecessarily.

Scenarios where ticket escalation is necessary include the need for more expertise or authority. Frontline agents don’t typically have the power to waive fees or discount prices, for example. If an issue is particularly technical, the help desk knowledge base may only be able to assist an agent so far.

Tickets that will require additional time to resolve should also be escalated. SLAs are in place to ensure customer’s have their queries dealt with inside a specified timeframe. If agents are unable to meet this, the ticket must be escalated. Many companies have rules on how long an agent should spend trying to resolve one ticket, in order to avoid wasted time.

If an issue affects numerous people, or is widespread, tickets ought to be escalated. Problems to do with your business’ website or service should be fixed as quickly as possible, meaning immediate escalation to development or engineering teams may be necessary.

How to Manage Ticket Escalation

When dealing with unhappy customers, the situation is often delicate. This is where diplomacy, as well as accurate and prompt help, is of the utmost importance. To deliver this consistently across your service team, having easily accessible ticket or email escalation samples is advised.

Equally, you can use your help desk software to automate the escalation process. This can be customized by using keywords and rules to determine which teams tickets are sent to. For example, if a ticket refers to a billing issue, it can be automatically assigned to the Billing team. This cuts down wait time, reduces the workload of service agents, and increases the cost-effectiveness of your business’ customer service procedures.

It’s wise to keep track of issue resolutions. Despite tickets being escalated to other team members, it is the responsibility of the original agent to follow the ticket and ensure it gets resolved. Not only does this avoid SLAs being breached, it also provides a valuable learning opportunity for the agent in how to resolve certain issues in the future.

How to streamline ticket escalation?

Here are some strategies which will help you to streamline your general ticket escalation process and increase team efficiency, no matter how crazy your ticketing system gets:

1. Define SLAs properly

Your service level agreement is built around the expectations of your customers (SLA). Your SLA is the rulebook that should include standards for every communication channel you use as well as your company’s default policy. Your SLA highlights the standards that your customers can expect from you and establishes benchmarks for your agents. To automate repetitive tasks, enter your SLA into your customer service ticketing system.

Based on the nature of the customer issue, you should include a time frame for resolving your escalations. Escalation tickets can indeed be difficult to time since they necessitate more distinctive scenarios and less widely accessible solutions. However, it’s still a good idea to have a rough idea of when escalated tickets will be resolved.

2. Repeat in order to escalate

The issue with developing ticket escalation guidelines is that they all depend on how people interpret them. Fortunately, there is at least one reliable method for determining when a ticket should be escalated. Instruct your agents to simulate the events that resulted in the escalation in a test environment. If they are able to reproduce the problem, the support ticket indicates a product-wide issue that must be shared with the tech development team for resolution.

If the problem cannot be replicated, it may be isolated to a single user and should be escalated to higher customer service teams or agents. This also contributes to the ticket’s priority level. A problem that affects multiple groups is always more serious.

3. Generate heuristics for allocating priority

Certain support tickets may need to be prioritized due to unforeseen circumstances. Create a standardized protocol and checklist for agents to use in determining the priority level of a ticket, in addition to your SLA. This allows you to keep track of the tickets that need to be fixed and those that can wait a little longer.

Agents should be involved in the development of heuristics. You presumably have a bird’s-eye view of your department’s operational processes if you’re the head of department. You may be aware of the key performance measures, but findings rarely include the finer details and performance measures that your representatives have direct exposure to. So, develop heuristics according to suggestions from end users, and be open to possible changes if necessary. With exception of your SLA, your heuristics are not required to be fixed — just the service they provide is unchangeable.

4. Keep the customer informed

Ticket escalation almost always results in increased customer frustration. You don’t have to keep them updated all the time. However, if you are aware of a stumbling block, it is critical to keep customers informed of the process and progress of their query. After all, slow or poor communication is the second most common reason customers, particularly new customers, leave your company.

Maintain contact with the customer throughout the escalation process, even if you have nothing new to add. This may enable them to provide more details during the updates.

For the stakeholders involved, ticket escalation may appear to be a difficult situation. Even so, once the escalation process is optimized, it can help you navigate critical challenges such as customer churn.

Wavity’s Effective Help Desk Ticket Escalation Management

In conclusion, ticket escalation is a necessary part of customer support and can be a powerful tool when managed correctly. By setting clear expectations and having concrete protocols in place, your team can handle ticket escalations quickly.

When handled correctly, ticket escalation can help businesses prioritize urgent issues, reduce resolution times, and improve customer experience. It is essential to have a well-defined escalation policy that outlines the escalation steps, responsible parties, and expected timelines to ensure the process is efficient and effective. Effective communication between team members and customers is also crucial to ensure a smooth escalation process. By implementing a robust ticket escalation process and continually monitoring and refining it, businesses can build stronger customer relationships and improve overall business performance.

Looking for an effective help and service desk solution for your business? See how Wavity can help today!

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