Escalation Management

Do you have an effective Escalation Management Plan (EMP)?

Readiness. Preparation. Training. Accountability.

The best way to effectively handle customer escalations when they occur is to have a well-defined escalation operation plan. A formal documented plan that outlines ownership, responsibilities, processes, procedures, and methodologies, all focused on proactively dealing with sensitive critical issues in an efficient manner.

Every company should expect there to be technical and business situations that fall outside of the norm. Being prepared for such events will ensure these situations can be dealt with in a professional way and desirable outcomes achieved.

An effective escalation process allows your organization to mobilize resources, communicate effectively, and set proper expectations with your customers.

The Escalation Management Plan should incorporate post-escalation actions targeted at driving continuous improvement. Information learned during each event should be analyzed (root cause and trend analysis) and used to refine the process for future escalations, as well as provide feedback to other cross-functional teams to drive positive changes in the organization

Document Escalation Process

  • Internal Process - internal triggers and processes
  • External Process - how customer requests an escalation
  • Formal written plans, flowcharts, definitions, contact methods
  • Training plan on Escalation Process (get everyone within the company on the same page)
  • Consistency and standard operational practices

Gather Escalation Details

  • Clearly define problem situation and historical data
  • Define escalation criteria, what steps are required
  • Details - technical vs. business Issue, time open, SLA exceeded
  • Rate escalation - prioritization and severity level
  • Standard vs. Fast Track Escalations
  • Customer Sensitivity (temperature)

Identify Escalation Team

  • Escalation Manager - person responsible to lead team, escalation owner
  • Stakeholders - people that have various levels of involvement, need to know
  • Resources involved - Technical Support, Engineering, QA, Account and Sr. Management
  • Defining accountability, responsibility and ownership

Escalation Resolution Plan

  • Team review of current state, factual data, impact to customer, analysis
  • Define actionable next steps to bring about solution
  • Define timeline of actions and levels of involvement
  • Resource allocation - correct talent is aware and involved
  • Minimize business impact - Detail work around if possible
  • Constant status checks - are actions making progress towards resolution

Escalation Tracking and Reporting

  • Document progress and actions - keep team constantly informed
  • Daily, weekly, and monthly reports
  • Standardize documentation, reports, issue resolution spreadsheet
  • Maintain escalation metrics (quantity, time, etc.) - dashboard

Escalation Communication Process

  • Set clear expectations with customer – keep open consistent dialog
  • Keep customer informed of plan, actions and progress
  • Define who to contact at trigger pints during escalation – management ladder
  • Daily correspondence - phone, email, face-to-face
  • Internal and external communications (written and verbal)

Resolution & Closure

  • Stakeholder and customer review
  • Issue closure - customer sign off and satisfied with end result
  • Define best practices - look for escalation process improvement
  • Resolution

Customer Post-escalation Review

  • Follow up with customer after resolution (10-30 days)
  • Ensure customer satisfaction is high

Root Cause Analysis

  • Engage internal teams to review and analyze situation and process
  • Drive long term changes in product and/or organization
  • Enhance support practices where possible
  • Modify documentation as required
  • Continuous Improvement