Friday, January 20, 2012

4 ways to do better problem escalation and transfers

Everyone can recount a story of calling some service provider and being bounced from department to department, agent to agent, and inevitably being hung-up on mid-transfer. 

One of the biggest pain points that I see in service oriented companies is problem improper escalation. A problem comes in, the person receiving it is busy, doesn't know exactly how to deal with it or just doesn't care enough. So, they simply forward the problem on to the next person they can think of.

Deflection is easy to justify in your mind. I am too busy, someone else probably has more time to deal with this, or they will be better equipped to handle this. Forward.

This causes two main pain points, first, it obviously causes extra delay to the customer, usually unnecessarily.   Secondly, it causes the next person in the chain annoyance. They might know that you could have handled the issue just as well as they can but you chose not to.

Unnecessary escalations are a major issue in customer and staff satisfaction.

How do we deal with this problem?

  1. Ask yourself truthfully before forwarding the problem, is there anything I can do to resolve this myself?
  2. When you do need to forward a problem, clearly explain to the recipient why you had to forward the problem and specifically what you have done. The last thing you want is for them to have to repeat any steps you have already done. 
  3. Explain to the customer, clearly, why you are transferring them. "I'm sorry but I really think that [insert name here] would be better suited to work on this issue." 
  4. If possible, do a soft hand-off of the customer. Join the recipient into the conversation before transferring. "Hello Jon, I have Mary on the phone. She is having this problem. Can you help?"
Customers understand that different people have different expertise. What they won't forgive is a blind circle of transfers. Co-workers understand that some problems require escalation. What they won't forgive is unnecessary transfers.

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