How to Handle Escalated Calls in a Call Center?

Call Center Hiren October 31, 2022

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Call centers put more than 100% effort into keeping clients satisfied and agents productive. Even expensive training and a call center solution are arranged to handle poles apart or similar concerns of clients. There are multiple goals that a call center aims to achieve and one of them is to reduce the number of escalated calls.

Neither agents nor supervisors like to deal with an escalated call because it not only affects various other aspects and KPIs, but also creates a challenging situation to handle a furious customer. Despite the fact that customer care centers invest a lot of resources to avoid this situation, it keeps on increasing. According to a statistical result shared by HBR, the call escalation rate has increased by up to 68%. This is a worrisome figure because as per the industry benchmark, it has to be <10% of overall calls.

You cannot avoid this situation 100% even if you have given exceptional training to contact center employees, but there are some top tips that you can definitely follow to control it as per the industry benchmark.

What is the meaning of an escalated call?

Before we delve deeper to learn the best practices for handling an escalated call, let’s first understand this industry term or jargon to drive this conversation in the right direction.

In any call center, the traditional process is the customer or prospective client gets connected with one of the agents depending on different call routing rules implemented into the call center software. The agent uses his knowledge and system to resolve the concern of the customer. However, in some cases, customers don’t get satisfied with the response of the agent. In some cases, customers are infuriated and they refuse to have any conversation with the agents. In this case, a majority of clients demand to talk to the higher authority or supervisors. This type of call is an escalated call. It is also known as supervisor escalation or call center escalation.

Thus, an escalation call meaning the customer escalates the call and demands to talk to the supervisor only.

The KPI used to measure escalated calls is the escalation rate, which is the average percentage of the total number of calls that are transferred to the supervisor on demand of the customer.

As one can imagine, a high number of supervisor escalations wastes a lot of time for contact center employees, both agents, and supervisors, plus causes an ordeal of talking to a fuming client, all they want to do is avoid or reduce this rate.

What are the common reasons behind the increased number of call center escalations?

It is necessary to understand the common factors along with understanding call escalation meaning. There can be several driving factors that can increase this type of call, some of the common ones are as below:

  • Poor knowledge of the agent
  • Poor intellectual skills of agents
  • Insufficiently trained agents
  • Query complexity
  • Too many attempts for resolution from the client
  • Multiple call transfers by agents
  • Too long call hold time
  • Unacceptable resolution from the client side
  • System or product issue
  • Sentiments of customers

Why does it matter to reduce the number of call center escalations?

High rate of call escalation meaning a series of drawbacks and setbacks for a call center such as:

  • Reduced agent productivity
  • Interruption in the operations of supervisors
  • Reduced supervisor efficiency
  • Damaged agent morale
  • Reduced client satisfaction and retention
  • Damaged brand position
  • And more

How to handle escalated calls in call centers?

You cannot really avoid escalations, but by handling them well you can reduce the drawbacks associated with this type of call. Here are the top tips to follow for handling an escalated call more efficiently.

1. Listen to the customer patiently

Time is money in any call center. Usually, supervisors have the same resolution as the agents. This leads them to quickly give the resolution and not waste time listening to the client. In more than 98% of cases, agents have already informed supervisors about the escalation reason. Thus, the supervisor already knows the matter and there is a strong urge to skip the elaboration. But, this could frustrate the client even more and increase the escalation level. Thus, the best start for handling this type of call is to be a good listener. At least, let the client get his all emotions drenched.

2. Empathize with the customer

The common mistake made by all supervisors while dealing with an escalated call is they start with an apology, which is quite straight and robotic. It is necessary to show empathy to the client at the beginning of the conversation. Use positive words to gain some positivity back into the client and his behavior. You might not be able to pacify him immediately, but empathetic nature will help in reducing the anger level in the client. This would further help in reducing the time otherwise you would need to spend dealing with this client.

3. Offer multiple resolutions

As mentioned earlier, the supervisors will have the same solution as the agent would have. However, supervisors often hold some power and offer to delight clients that have crossed the patient level and escalated the call to yell their lungs out. In this case, the supervisors can better handle this type of call if they have something else to offer. For example, a supervisor may give some discount on the next purchase or a supervisor can give added resolution to the existing issue like a small complimentary gift to compensate for the inconvenience.

The supervisors can bundle the right options to pacify customers and handle escalations more efficiently.

4. Be sincere in the apology

In many cases, clients will not receive the solution they are seeking even if they escalate the call to the supervisor because the resolutions are fixed and predefined. In this case, the only thing other than the existing resolution a supervisor can offer is a sincere apology. Sometimes, this apology sounds quite fake and monotonous, which further fuels the agent. Supervisors can be more sincere in their apologies. Also, they can mention that they will take it as feedback and pass it to the higher level. This can help in reducing the drawbacks associated with an escalated call.

5. Never be rude to the client

This is the last thing a customer would expect and accept from any call center employee. The responsibility of a supervisor is even higher and there is no scope to get rude to a client in any case. Being polite, humble, and empathetic is the demand of their role. This applies to both clients and agents. Escalation call meaning an infuriated client, which may lead supervisors to lose their patience. However, it is not at all acceptable behavior and it may spoil the whole effort done by the agent, supervisor, and other team members. Thus, rude behavior has to be avoided at any cost.

Conclusion

Call centers have several aspects to deal with and escalated calls are one of the most common challenges faced by them. Always keep in mind that you cannot avoid them 100%, but you can definitely reduce the call escalation rate with the right training, tools, and attitude.

Using the right attitude to handle this type of call in the amalgamation of the best tools and a knowledgeable team can help in reducing the devastating impact of this type of call.

Technology tools can play an effective role in achieving the benchmark of call escalations. DialShree: Omnichannel Contact Center Solution has an inbuilt knowledge module to keep your agents well acquainted with the required knowledge and information to handle clients. It also has AI and other quality assurance tools to boost customer satisfaction without involving supervisors. Contact us to know more about this software and how it can benefit your call center. Book a demo NOW!

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