Escalation Management Framework Techniques to Put into Action Now


When operating within a customer-centered economy, maintaining client satisfaction is an absolute necessity—a fact that’s been made all the more true thanks to today’s increasingly digitized business landscape. As communication becomes more fast-paced, client expectations for timely, personalized responses to their issues have risen as well. Customers want to feel valued, and if a company is not meeting their need for conflict-resolution, it can lead to dissatisfaction, and eventually, cause them to find a new provider. 

The proper usage of an escalation management framework can help you avoid these churn-inducing scenarios. In fact, employing certain techniques can actually turn these issues into opportunities to deepen the client/company relationship and increase lifetime customer value.  

To help your company capitalize on these opportunities, we have profiled methods to best identify potential escalations, address them through action, and benefit from their resolution. With these approaches, you can evolve from dreading escalations to seeing them as a way to grow closer to your customer base. 

Identify Potential Escalations by Tracking These Elements

By using Customer Success software to collect, view, and sort client data, you will be afforded a few different ways to identify escalation sources, even before a specific case occurs. Aided by this software, your escalation management framework can be vigilant towards these indicators:

1. Support Tickets

If a product is not working as expected, customers find answers by opening a support ticket and speaking with an assigned agent. Tracking certain trends related to these tickets, such as the volume of incidents per user and the average time to reach a resolution, can point towards future escalations. Additionally, monitoring customers who haven’t logged any tickets in awhile can also indicate there is a problem ahead. The type of submitted ticket is the most telling sign that an account might be inching towards an escalated state—a critical support ticket is an obvious sign that there is friction between the customer and the product, and it should be addressed as such. 

2. Drops In Usage

By tracking customer product usage, you are able to see how different accounts are using your products. If you witness a significant decline in license utilization or a change in function use, it can be a sign of a brewing escalation. 

3. Organizational Changes

When a customer is undergoing personnel or organizational adjustments, you need to be prepared for the scenario in which the new leadership is skeptical about your product. Indications might include a key contact beginning to show low usage or suddenly becoming unresponsive to emails. After all, it is not uncommon for successors to step into roles and begin critically evaluating how their predecessor did business. This can create friction between your company and the customer, especially if the successor is more familiar with your competitor’s product. 

4. Poor Customer Feedback 

Net Promoter Scores detail how likely a customer is to recommend a product to one of their peers. Along with other forms of feedback, such as Customer Satisfaction Surveys and Customer Effort Scores, this industry-standard measurement is a solid indicator of customer satisfaction. When it starts to track negatively, escalation could be on the horizon. 

To prepare yourself for when accounts become escalated, use an early warning system to identify these factors. Not only does this early detection allow you to be proactive against escalations, but it also allows you to better craft action plans to address the issues.

Develop Escalation Plans from the Data in Your Escalation Management Framework

Once clients have reached an escalated state, managing the issues at hand in a timely manner is key to minimizing churn risk and developing tighter engagement. Properly navigating these situations can also lead to expansion opportunities and improve client adoption. On the other hand, mismanaging the situation can lead to a loss of team morale, in addition to possibly losing the client’s business.  

Developing an intelligent plan to handle a variety of scenarios, including escalations, is essential. This requires a well-defined process that is understood across your enterprise. Specific goals, KPIs, and analyses all play a factor here, and the following techniques will enable you to develop these components from your escalation management framework to create decisive action:

Analyze Pertinent Data to Create Goals

When addressing accounts in escalation, you need to tailor your goals to the unique properties of the situation. This means using CS software to view certain metrics and KPIs, such as:

  • The trend of escalations and at-risk accounts over time
  • The different segments that are at-risk
  • The escalation stage the customer is at: 
    • Is the customer at risk? 
    • Are you building a plan to solve the issue and move forward? 
    • Was the plan approved by the customer? 
    • Is the customer recovering? 
    • Is the escalation resolved?
  • What the average time of resolution is
  • What the reasons for escalation are

Based on these data points, you can create well-informed goals to fix the issues. If you see that a certain percentage of escalations are due to product complications, you can speak to the product team about the pattern. From there, you can address the problem for the benefit of both escalated clients and those that are at risk of becoming escalated. By looking at which accounts are approaching renewal, you can see where your priorities should reside. 

Once created from these metrics, these action goals need to be executed by the most appropriate people, another capability of CS platforms. 

Manage Escalations by Setting Next Steps

Customers become escalated for a wide variety of reasons, and accordingly, should be aided by those best prepared to address their pain points. Those customers who are in an escalated state due to organizational changes won’t have the same needs as someone who has been experiencing prolonged product issues. As a result, you need to ensure that the right people are aware of these problems and engaged every step of the way. 

To accomplish this, a CS platform connects an entire enterprise, from sales teams to managers to customer support members, to allow them to see the same data sets. As soon as a customer is put into an escalated state, everyone can be looped into the change and can assign specific responsibilities to those best equipped to handle them. Once these tasks are gradually completed, they can be marked as such, keeping everyone informed on the progress towards de-escalation. As de-escalation is achieved, this centralized communication also opens the way to capitalize on the opportunities arising from the resolution. 

Turn Escalations into Opportunities 

By implementing these techniques into your escalation management framework, you can gain a better standing with your client base, as well as find points of improvement within your organization by discovering various problem sources. By fixing these issues, a deeper connection with your customers will be created, a result that lays the groundwork towards advocacy. As client relationships become stronger and one successful campaign follows another, your employee morale is also bound to improve as well. To procure these benefits, however, you need the right customer success software to manage these escalations and provide you with the data you need. 

In these challenging times, you can’t afford to buy before you try. Get started for free today. Totango’s customer success platform empowers businesses to fortify their escalation management frameworks to deliver reliable and timely resolutions. 

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