How to reduce customer escalations

Providing excellent customer service is an art, which has many facets including mastering the tricks to reduce escalations.

In every call center, telecaller or agent has this one nightmare – ”I want to speak with your manager.” Sounds familiar? Well, customer escalations take away the essence of great customer experience for everyone. Customers can be demanding and might tactfully use escalations to get faster resolutions and quick attention. This makes situations messy for a number of people.

Escalations take away the ownership from reps, putting them in a helpless spot, where they cannot do anything besides wait for the manager or the supervisor to pick up the call. In most of the cases, supervisors and managers would also have the exact same resolution for their query or grievance. At some point, everyone has to deal with an upset customer.

But, instead of considering customer escalations as a death knell for customer satisfaction, contact center operators can have a well defined process in place, in order to minimise escalations. If you prepare your reps for the worst call experiences really well, chances are that their average calls would yield satisfactory customer service. There cannot be ideal scenarios in any industry, especially in a contact center, where the variables involved are too many.

However, there are things that can be done to minimise escalations in a contact center. Here are some tips to be implemented, for the same.

1. Listen carefully to the customer

Listen very attentively what the customer has to say, and let them finish. Most of the times, as soon as you answer the call, the customer would shoot his concern and query directly, in one breath. Pay attention. Then gently pick up the pace and ask questions, let them know that you will do everything in your reach to help them. Tell your customers how valuable they are, and how important it is for your business to give them the best customer service experience possible.

2. Ask questions in the right manner

Sometimes, the customer would be really frustrated when they call you, which can be because of the issue they are facing, long holding time, or excessive delay to get through to the right department. So it is very important to gather all the information you can from him or her. This will help you to understand their perspective in a better manner, before jumping to any conclusion. Asking questions in a caring manner will also build a certain level of trust and can lead to reduced or no customer escalations.

3. Apologise without blaming

Usually, when a customer expresses his concern and discomfort, his expectations would be to talk to somebody in a position to answer him honestly, about the how, why and when of a problem. If he or she senses that you are that person, and you are sincerely sorry, it usually diffuses the situation. Don’t blame another person or department. Just express your desire to help him or her to get it all sorted.

4. Empathise not just sympathise

When you empathise with a customer, you put yourself in his shoes. While being sympathetic only means that you know he is facing an issue, and you are just sorry. Making him or her believe that you know how it actually feels to be in their spot can calm them down, and hence prevent unwanted customer escalations.

5. Ask the customer, “What would be an acceptable solution to you?”

It has been often observed that if you put the ball in customer’s court, they tend to become more understanding. Asking them what they actually want as a resolution can actually make them think from your perspective. He or she might not know the procedure, that is where you can pitch in your assistance and make them feel important and valuable.

6. Explore options, find ways to help

There can be situations where you feel that the resolution he or she seeks cannot be guaranteed or given instantaneously. In such situations, try and explain the customer the importance of following a strict procedural pattern. Guide them step by step through the process. Make them aware of all the possible ways and solutions for their concern.

7.  Negotiate a resolution

Once the customer has agreed to a course of action with his terms and conditions, start negotiating to bring him or her on the same page with what you can genuinely offer him or her. Once that has been done, make sure that you document the resolution proposed and accepted by the customer. This cements the feeling in your customer’s mind that he is in control of a situation and reduces customer escalations.

 8.  Be sure to deliver on promised standards

One of the simplest ways to minimise complaints is to ensure that customers receive exactly what they have paid for. Anything less represents valid ground for protests and objections. There are two major ways that businesses can ensure they are delivering advertised standards of service. The first is to make sure that the product or service description is accurate and not overly exaggerated. The second is to maintain meticulous level of quality control that are overseen by all staff members.

9. Ask for feedback

Communicating with customers and actively asking for their opinions is a great way to identify problems before they begin to escalate. Not only will customers feel as though the business cares about their wants and needs but it also represents an opportunity to identify issues that other customers may have experienced but were not forthcoming enough to raise.

10. Thank your customers!

Always respond to customers. Thank them for their feedback. It doesn’t matter how big or small your organisation, that customer, however frustrating/persistent s/he may have been, could have given you the best piece of information to improve your sales! It could have been the one thing that numerous customers are annoyed about. There are many ways you can and should do this too!!

A little positive thinking about complaints and feedback can improve your customer service and sales enormously and if you need more help with creativity and a different angle look.

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