No matter how much time, effort, and money you invest in product or service development, you simply can’t please every person all the time. There are going to be times when customers have questions and complaints that your company needs to address.
When these customers contact you seeking help for their concerns, how will you handle it? Are you prepared to provide the answers they need or make repairs and reparations? Do you have the pieces in place to adequately support your products or services, and furthermore, to escalate the level of service depending on the issue?
There’s more to customer service than creating FAQs or posting an email address on your website. You need a system in place to ensure every customer receives the technical support they need to have a good experience with your company. Here are a few tips for highly effective customer escalation management.
1. Professional Help
Many businesses simply aren’t prepared for the level of customer service required to support their products or services. Even if they have support staff in place, they might not have the infrastructure or experience to properly set up an escalation system.
This is where a reputable and reliable outsourcing partner can save the day. Just as a business might hire an accountant, a lawyer, or other professionals for needed services, seeking help from a third party that specializes in IT support could provide the best possible solution to this dilemma.
An IT partner can address your needs and help you to come up with a suitable solution that works for your budget, including infrastructure like hardware and computer networks, as well as ongoing support services. Your staff will still be responsible for interacting with customers, but your IT partner can help you to put an appropriate customer escalation system in place.
2. Tiered Support
There should be several opportunities to satisfy customer needs prior to a situation reaching the executive team. Tiered support can have many levels, starting with FAQs on your website that attempt to address the most common and easily fixable scenarios.
If these don’t help, customers should be encouraged to contact support via phone, email, or even live chat features. This allows customer service representatives to interact with customers in a timely manner.
The next level of escalation could involve product managers who are more familiar with the goods or services under contention than the average customer service representatives. If this professional is unable to correct the issue, the next step should be to send customers to junior executives. This is the point at which the customer is usually granted some form of reparations because there is simply no immediate solution to the problem.
3. Trained Staff
In order to properly do their job, customer service representatives need targeted training. This means they have to understand the products or services the company sells, as well as be apprised of actual and potential problems that may arise.
They also need to be given protocols for addressing customer concerns, including not only the authority to solve problems up to a certain level, but also the policies and procedures for escalation.
4. Manage Customer Expectations
Customers may not always receive the immediate attention they crave, in which case your company should temper their expectations. For example, customers who contact your company via email should receive an automated reply immediately to let them know their message was received and that they will be contacted within a set amount of time, say 24-48 hours.
Those who call in should not wait endlessly in an automated cue. They should be given an approximate wait time and offered the option to leave a call-back number so they don’t have to wait on the line. A big part of keeping customers happy is trying to not waste their time, and managing expectations in this area is a great way to avoid a negative experience.
5. Avoid Escalation if Possible
Even though you probably put about as much into your escalation system as your computer security, you don’t want to escalate problems unnecessarily. This means empowering support staff by providing them with the proper tools and training to handle almost any problem. With the right IT partner in place and a solid training program you can do a lot to make sure that customers get the help they need from the first person they speak with.