4 Dumb Reasons to Escalate – Plus 4 Dubious Ones

Escalation management consumes lots of resources, including resources who time should be devoted to other pursuit. Think about executives (who should be working on strategic decisions) or sales reps (who should be selling). Even support and engineering resources who are devoted to helping customers can be over-utilized in escalations, causing them to have less time for regular issues, hence creating a vicious cycle that creates more and more escalations.

Here are 4 dumb reasons to escalate–situations that probably don’t need an escalation.

  • We missed an SLA –> Apologize to the customer and investigate  why the failure occurred.
  • The customer has had no update for “too long” –> Get the case owner to update them. And check whether the owner needs training on managing commitments, or how to deliver the dreaded “no progress” update.
  • The customer is not clear on the next steps –> See above if what’s missing is the communication of the action plan. If there’s no action plan, get your senior team involved first.
  • There’s a large sales opportunity at stake –> Tag the account and keep an eye on their cases. Help the sales rep manage their anxiety.

And here are 4 dubious reasons to escalate–situations where some underlying process is broken. You may have to create an escalation to address the immediate issue, but you really need to address the deeper problem.

  • A fix is late in coming and the only way to get it is to raise a priority by creating an escalation –> Do you need to escalate issues to get fixes? Your fix delivery system is broken and needs changing.
  • The customer complained to an exec –> Why was the issue not caught by your team? Fix the escalation request process.
  • The customer has many cases open –> Why are there are so many issues? Implement an alert mechanism to identify customers with abnormally high case volumes.
  • The customer is close to going live –> Do you have a system that tracks go-live date and proactively checks that adequate progress is made? If not, create one.

I’m a great fan of well-executed escalation management. But escalation management is not the answer to all support problems.

How are you determining what escalations requests are legit? Please share in the comments. And let me know if your escalation management process needs a refresh.

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