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Building an Effective Escalation Criteria Table [+ template]

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Maxime Manseau
September 22, 2023
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5
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Team Development
Hiring
Escalation
Support Operation
AI
Leadership

In a competitive B2B SaaS landscape, customer support isn’t just about resolving issues but creating a seamless, positive experience that promotes customer loyalty and referrals. A cornerstone of this experience is the escalation process, which ensures that customer issues are handled at the appropriate level of expertise.


The Escalation Criteria Table is an invaluable tool in this endeavor, enabling a structured, efficient escalation process. In this comprehensive guide, we'll dissect the anatomy of an effective Escalation Criteria Table, illuminating its pivotal role in optimizing support operations and enhancing customer satisfaction.

Section 1: Understanding the Need for Escalation

Different Support Tiers

  • Tier 1: This is the frontline of your customer support. Agents at this level handle common queries and issues. Their goal is to resolve as many issues as possible, thus requiring a broad but shallow knowledge base.
  • Tier 2: When issues surpass the expertise of Tier 1, they are escalated to Tier 2. Agents here have a deeper product knowledge and are equipped to handle more complex issues.
  • Tier 3: This is often the final level of support before involving engineering or technical teams. Tier 3 deals with the most complex or technical issues, requiring not just a deep understanding of the product but also technical expertise.

The Impact of Escalation

Customer Satisfaction: A well-executed escalation process minimizes resolution time, thereby enhancing customer satisfaction. Customers feel valued when their issues are taken seriously and resolved proficiently.

Resource Optimization: Proper escalation ensures that complex issues are directed to agents with the necessary expertise, allowing frontline agents to remain available for other queries, optimizing the use of resources and reducing the Cost per Ticket.

Section 2: Developing Your Escalation Criteria

Creating a well-defined Escalation Criteria Table requires a meticulous understanding of the types of issues encountered and the expertise available at each support tier. Here is an example:

Each criterion in the table needs to be thoughtfully developed to ensure accurate escalation:

  1. Technical Complexity (1-5): This measures the level of technical know-how required to resolve an issue. A score of 1 denotes basic technical knowledge, while a score of 5 denotes advanced technical expertise, often requiring input from engineering teams.
  2. Time Spent (0-30 mins, 31-60 mins, 1-2 hrs, 2+ hrs): Time is a critical factor in customer satisfaction. This criterion helps in understanding how long a Tier-1 agent has spent on an issue. If an issue is consuming an excessive amount of time, it’s a signal for escalation.
  3. Recurrence (1-3): Recurring issues are a red flag in any support scenario. A score of 1 denotes a one-time occurrence, while a score of 3 indicates the issue has recurred three or more times despite attempted resolutions. Recurring issues may signify deeper underlying problems that require advanced troubleshooting.
  4. Customer Dissatisfaction (1-5): Customer feedback is crucial. This criterion gauges the level of dissatisfaction expressed by the customer. A score of 5 would indicate extreme dissatisfaction, warranting urgent escalation to prevent customer churn.
  5. Product Functionality Affected (1-5): The extent to which an issue affects core product functionality can significantly impact a customer’s operations. Higher scores indicate severe impact, necessitating immediate escalation.
  6. Data/Security Risk (1-5): Any potential risk to data security or system integrity is a critical concern. Issues scoring high in this criterion should be escalated promptly to prevent potential data breaches or other security risks.
  7. Required Expertise (1-5): This criterion assesses the level of expertise required to resolve the issue, beyond the capabilities of Tier-1. High scores in this criterion indicate the need for advanced technical expertise.
  8. Documentation Availability (Available/Not Available): Adequate documentation can significantly expedite issue resolution. If documentation to resolve an issue is not available, escalation may be necessary to seek expertise from higher tiers.
  9. Previous Escalation Success (Yes/No): Historical data on the successful resolution of similar issues upon escalation can provide valuable insights on whether the current issue should be escalated.
  10. Customer Request for Escalation (Yes/No): Sometimes, customers may request for escalation. This criterion ensures that such requests are honored, enhancing customer satisfaction.


Section 3: Implementing the Escalation Criteria Table

Training

The implementation phase kicks off with thorough training to ensure that all support agents have a clear understanding of the escalation criteria and how to use the table. This includes not only formal training sessions but also hands-on exercises, like role-play scenarios, where agents can practice using the criteria table in real-world scenarios. Gathering feedback post-training is essential to identify any areas of confusion or concern, ensuring that all agents are on the same page.

Integration

  • Ticketing System: Integrate the escalation criteria table into your ticketing system to enable automated escalation based on the defined criteria.
  • Escalation checklist: Pair your escalation criteria table with your escalation checklist to ensure that higher tiers have the full context of the issues without having to engage in endless back-and-forth with customers or lower tiers.
  • Automation: Explore automation tools that can trigger escalation based on certain criteria, ensuring timely escalation.

Communication Channels

  • Internal Communication: Establish clear channels for internal communication during the escalation process.
  • Customer Communication: Develop scripts or templates to communicate escalation to customers professionally and transparently.

Section 4: Actionable Tips for Effective Escalation

Regular Reviews

  • Review Sessions: Conduct regular review sessions to evaluate the effectiveness of the escalation criteria table.
  • Update Criteria: As your product evolves and new issues emerge, update the criteria to reflect current realities.

Feedback Loops

  • Agent Feedback: Encourage agents to provide feedback on the escalation process. Their insights are invaluable as they interact with the system daily.
  • Customer Feedback: Post-resolution, seek feedback from customers on their escalation experience. Their satisfaction is a direct indicator of the process's effectiveness.

Automation

  • Automation Tools: Set up an escalation checklist and utilize automation tools to streamline the escalation process, ensuring that tickets reach the right expertise level faster.
  • Continuous Improvement: Regularly review and improve automation rules to align with evolving product features and support structures.

Section 5: Beyond the Table – What Next After Escalation?

Documenting Efforts

  • Comprehensive Documentation: Ensure all troubleshooting steps, customer interactions, and any other relevant information are thoroughly documented before escalation.
  • Accessibility: Make sure that the documentation is easily accessible to the higher-tier agents to whom the issue is escalated.

Seamless Transition

  • Information Transfer: Establish protocols for a seamless transfer of all relevant information to ensure that higher-tier agents have all they need to hit the ground running.
  • Customer Notification: Notify the customer about the escalation and provide them with the contact details of the new support agent handling their issue.

Conclusion:

Mastering the art of escalation is a journey towards operational excellence and superior customer satisfaction in the SaaS B2B domain. A well-structured Escalation Criteria Table is your roadmap on this journey, ensuring that customer issues are escalated accurately and resolved efficiently. It’s about building a culture of continuous improvement, where feedback from both agents and customers is the compass guiding your escalation process towards perfection.

Make sure to download our Escalation Criteria Table Template:

If you want to share your experiences, challenges, and successes in building and using an escalation criteria table 👉 you can e-mail me at max@birdie.so

If you want more of those, make sure to subscribe to our support newsletter👇, or follow me on Linkedin.

Peace, Love & Support ✌️

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