Nearly 8 in 10 customers will forgive an organization for making a mistake if they receive excellent support during the resolution process, according to Salesforce. Another 90% say that positive service experiences increase their likelihood of making a repeat purchase.
These statistics show how important customer support quality can be in making, or breaking, your organization. While there are undoubtedly many factors that influence customer perceptions of support, escalations are one of the most significant. No one likes being bounced between multiple agents or managers to get an issue resolved.
With that in mind, we’ve outlined three simple ways that support can avoid escalations while resolving customer issues.
Before diving in, let’s first discuss the difference between “escalating” an issue and “transferring” it. In the traditional sense, escalating means routing a customer issue to the next level up in the organizational hierarchy. This person may be a more experienced agent, a shift supervisor, or a department manager.
Conversely, a transfer involves routing a customer to a support agent in a different department. A good example is when a customer contacts customer service for a highly technical problem. The support agent will reroute the customer to the appropriate department which is not considered an escalation.
Related Article: 7 Tips to Hear the Voice of Your Customer
Customer support personnel frequently encounter disgruntled or otherwise dissatisfied individuals. Despite this, it's still possible to deliver a positive support experience when a frontline agent applies a few techniques to avoid unnecessary escalations:
When customers contact support , they expect to be connected with knowledgeable and helpful professionals. To meet these expectations, agents should exhibit confidence from the moment they answer the phone or respond to an email. If they fail to do so, customers are more likely to become agitated and request to be transferred to a more tenured team member.
Once an agent confidently sets a positive tone, they then should use active listening skills. This lets the customer do most of the talking at the start while gently guiding the conversation in the right direction. Agents should be careful not to interrupt, especially if a customer is venting frustrations.
Most customers understand that support agents did not cause their problem. They simply want someone to listen and validate their concerns. Agents can accomplish this by reiterating the experiences that the customer describes. Mirroring the customer’s complaints will also help agents better understand the problem they need to solve.
Once an agent has laid the foundation for a positive support experience, it is time to get to the root cause of the issue. Agents should ask targeted questions to navigate the customer’s complaints and determine how they would like to resolve the problem.
At times, customers will contact support with multi-faceted problems. When this occurs, it's essential to break down the problem into smaller portions. This enables an agent to resolve manageable aspects of the issue before rerouting if necessary.
Unfortunately, not all customer complaints are rooted in facts. Regardless, support agents must always exhibit sympathy and understanding, even if the customer seems unreasonable. They can accomplish this by using affirming phrases such as “I can understand why you are frustrated” or “Let’s work through this issue so that you can enjoy the product you purchased.”
Few things will frustrate a customer more than an agent who makes promises they are unable to keep. By following the do's and don'ts of customer support, agents should choose their words carefully and be clear about what they can and cannot do. The majority of customers will be understanding if support staff are transparent about what sort of resolutions they can facilitate.
Putting customers on hold for an extended period is another surefire way to cause an escalation. When customers are placed on hold, they are left to stew on their frustrations. This is especially true if they were in the call queue before connecting with a support agent.
When searching for information on a computer or through other technologies, some agents will simply not speak while reviewing accounts or making notes. Long periods of silence can be just as frustrating as being placed on hold.
To remedy this issue, be sure agents narrate each step or set of actions including a detailed explanation of efforts to resolve the complaint. This narration will ensure that the customers knows exactly what support is being provided.
The best practices outlined above are a great way to reduce escalation rates and resolve customer issues on the first contact. However, even the best strategies will not eliminate support woes if agents are overloaded with unreasonable contact volumes. To address those concerns, you must expand your support capabilities.
That’s where we come in. At Goodbay Technologies, we provide client partners with superior inbound and outbound support capabilities to extend your reach across a full range of contact channels. To learn more, contact Goodbay Technologies today.