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Escalation Management: Help Your Agents with Real-Time Insights from AI

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  • Every contact center has an escalation process: a means of guiding customers to the right resources for their questions, complaints, and requests. Escalation management is important to customer experience; have a way to give your contact center agents a leg up. Artificial intelligence is one way to give your agents a boost.

    AI can remove pressure from your team by:

    • Automating easy answers
    • Providing agents with real-time tips and suggestions on how to handle conversations
    • Gathering data from recorded conversations to inform future coaching and training around escalations

    Let’s take a look at how contact centers manage customer service escalations today, and how AI can assist in each of the above ways.

    What Is Escalation Management in Customer Service?

    Escalation management is the process of guiding a customer through any concern. The contact center escalates the inquiry until it reaches its resolving individual.

    In the case of a technical question, escalation management might look like this:

    • A customer calls in with a question that an automated system can’t answer
    • The AI escalates the call to a live agent
    • If the agent can’t find the answer, they escalate the call to someone who knows what the customer needs
    • The person with the proper knowledge answers the question and resolves the problem

    The Importance of Escalations

    How the contact center handles customer conversations decides the reputation of the business. Great customer service escalation results in a great customer experience and great reviews. Escalation management is also a reflection of contact center management. Knowing when to transfer a customer results in:

    • Less wasted time,
    • Quicker resolutions, and
    • Happier customers.

    Remember: well-served customers are returning customers. And returning customers are more likely to recommend your business to their friends.

    By making sure your agents know when and how to escalate a problem, you expedite the resolution time. Clear escalation policies result in a better, more efficient call center.

    Setting Expectations of SLAs

    Before deciding how problems escalate in your organization, you need to know what your Service Level Agreements, or SLAs, are. SLAs are the general understanding between you and your customers about how long they should expect a resolution to take.

    A popular call center SLA is “80% of calls answered within 20 seconds.” Regardless of the time you commit to your customers, an SLA should be specific, including consequences of failing to meet it.

    AI’s Role in Customer Service Escalation

    Now that we’ve established the basis of what escalation management is, here’s what AI can do to streamline escalation management.

    AI is ready to take on challenges like agent performance and agent training, both of which tie into escalation. AI can also:

    • Pull information together from disparate data silos
    • Organize relevant details for agents
    • Ensure agents have access to answers and processes, including when it’s time to escalate up the chain

    The Value of AI-Enabled Escalation: Escalators vs. Stairs

    Traditionally, issues get escalated in ticketing systems. An agent tries to solve the customer’s problem and, if they can’t, they flag it and pass it up the appropriate chain. The process continues until the issue gets resolved. It’s straightforward, but the escalation or delay can frustrate customers, especially if there are long holds between each transition.

    The bottleneck to traditional escalation is people. Your agents can’t take two calls, respond to an email, and a text all at once. They aren’t all experienced veterans, and they can’t drop their current call to assist another one. AI provides a way for your people to address these problems.

    Advances in semantic intelligence are paving the way for more effective AI assistance. By listening for the intent behind the words, AI can tell an agent when an issue needs escalation.

    Even your best agents can’t be right 100% of the time. Unpredictable situations come with the territory of the customer service industry. 

    A key benefit to AI is data analysis that includes:

    • Ingesting all the conversations that occur in your contact center and their outcomes
    • Give response suggestions to the agent
    • Identify when it’s best to pass a call up the escalation chain

    Keeping Escalation from Escalating into an Issue

    Escalation plays a vital role in customer satisfaction and should be part of your contact center assessments: proper escalation is part of the customer communication process, and is tied to CSAT scores. The same data that AI uses to suggest actions to your agents can:

    • Alert your coaches and QA teams of possible gaps in your contact center’s escalation process
    • Identify what specific parts of it your agents are struggling with
    • Inform training decisions to ensure agents know exactly what they need

    When building agent rubrics, it’s important to include escalation as an item. Rubrics, once built out, get scored by AI on 100% of an agent’s calls. NLU models review every interaction to identify previous opportunities for escalation and improvement.

    This is the part of the process where QA teams and coaches come into play, and ensure all personnel know the escalation process, and understand when and why to initiate the process.

    Bringing It Back to the Ground Floor

    The success of a contact center depends on how it serves customers, and an effective and efficient escalation process plays a key role. Better customer service results in a better customer experience. And better customer experience creates returning customers and good reviews.

    Automation can augment your contact center’s ability to handle escalation. From quick answers to real-time agent assistance, the artificial intelligence:

    • Optimizes the customer journey
    • Streamlines the escalation process
    • Makes it easier for your customers to get the answers they need

    The most efficient contact centers blend AI and humans to create excellent customer experiences. AI helps agents improve, augments their decision-making, and ensures quality customer service.

    Build Your Contact Center on a Level Surface

    Level AI assists contact center agents in meeting their SLAs. AI technology can give your agents the boost needed.

    Request a demo and find out how Level AI can transform your contact center and better manage your escalation process.