Escalation CSR Support Best Practices for Improving CX
Author: Mike Desmarais, Founder & CEO, SQM Group
Handling and resolving escalated calls can be very challenging and emotionally draining. SQM’s research shows that when the call is resolved on the first call, only 2% of those customers expressed intent to defect. When it took repeat calls to resolve the call, 5% of those customers expressed intent to defect. However, as previously mentioned, most alarming is when the calls were unresolved, 23% of those customers expressed intent to defect. SQM has many contact center clients that when the call is handled by the Escalation CSR Support Queue and the call goes unresolved, over 30% of those customers expressed intent to defect. Escalation CSRs are the last line of defense for protecting a customer from defecting. Clearly, for the Escalation CSR Support Queue to help retain customers, they must be excellent at resolving customer calls, preferably on the first call.
Most contact centers do not have a definition of what a complaint call is. In most cases they leave it up to the CSR to determine if it is a complaint. Given that most contact centers do not have a complaint definition, it is no surprise that CSRs are inconsistent in identifying, tracking and resolving customer complaint calls. It is SQM’s experience that complaint calls are significantly under reported. SQM’s belief is that when a customer expresses dissatisfaction, it should be viewed and documented in the CRM as a customer complaint call.
Most complaints are handled by the traditional CSR. SQM has found that very few organizations use dedicated CSRs for handling customer complaints. For the contact centers that have dedicated CSRs for handling complaints, SQM clients tend to call this group the ‘Office of the President’ or ‘Escalation Queue’. In general, very few organizations have a world class complaint handling process. The complaint handling process starts with the customer knowing who to make a complaint to (e.g., CSR, escalation CSR or supervisor) and where to make that complaint to (e.g., call center, website, email or a department). The reasons why customers do not complain are they do not know who to call, it is a hassle, it is not worth the effort or they think their complaint will not get resolved. An effective complaint handling process is the CSR being able to identify a customer complaint, treat the complaint as a gift, document it in the CRM for analysis and resolve the complaint to the customer’s satisfaction. CSRs should be held accountable to complaint resolution and Csat.
It has been SQM’s experience that calls handled by the Office of the President and Escalation CSRs are seldom surveyed for their feedback about their contact center experience. Customers with a complaint are by far the best customers to survey for finding opportunities to improve
Call EscalationSQM’s research shows that for those customers who do not achieve FCR it takes, on average, 2.5 calls to resolve their call. This represents an enormous opportunity to use escalation CSRs to assist frontline CSRs in resolving customers’ calls, preferably on the first call. It is very clear that an effective call escalation process can avoid many of the additional calls the contact center receives from customers whose issues are not resolved on the first call. At the same time, the contact center can improve FCR and Csat, reduce costs and retain the organization’s customers. SQM’s research clearly shows that if escalated calls are handled effectively, Csat does not drop. There is, however, on average, a 15% drop in Csat for each additional call required to resolve the customer’s call. Furthermore, operational savings are achieved because total AHT is shorter when the original CSR warm transfers the customer to the escalation CSR instead of two or more individual CSRs handling the call separately.
Call Escalation Metrics
Very few contact centers measure call escalation support queue performance from a customer’s point of view, using such metrics as calls resolved or FCR. Most clients SQM works with have used only traditional operational metrics (e.g., AHT, speed of answer, abandon and call volume) for measuring their call escalation support queue performance. The important message is that the escalation CSR provides solution options and asks the customer if they have resolved the reason for the customer’s call. In other words, let the customer be the judge of whether or not the call was resolved.
More details can be found in SQM’s book:
The purpose of this book, One Contact Resolution 2nd Edition, is to help contact center managers use best practices for improving customer experience.