Why Reward Experts for Escalations?

Posted by Andrew Ciaccia

In traditional call centers, an escalated call is one of the most challenging situations an agent can face. Customers often are angry when they demand to speak with a manager, and managers don’t appreciate the cost and hassle of dealing with upset people.

By contrast, using Directly, on-demand experts can earn partial rewards for escalating questions appropriately, and the majority of customers rate their experience as positive.

Why would you reward experts for escalations?

Rewards motivate behavior that produces great results. For the past 90 days, across all companies using Directly, experts resolved 63 percent of the questions sent to them. 33 percent of the questions got escalated back to the in-house team (and 4 percent fell into other categories). Of the tickets escalated by experts, 77 percent received “helpful” ratings before the question reached the in-house team.

This is kind of crazy. The customers had not yet had their issue resolved. They were getting bumped up the chain. And instead of being angry, they already felt helped because they knew the expert escalated their question.

Some Escalations are Better Than Others

The findings get even more counterintuitive, but to understand why, you first have to understand the three escalation categories in the Directly platform.

1) Expert-escalated tickets. Experts earn 15 to 20 percent of the total reward amount for appropriately escalating questions. Valid reasons include a) a question requires account access to resolve it, and b) after multiple exchanges with a customer, the expert determines that the customer needs more help. This turnaround typically takes minutes and customers rate these escalations the highest.

2) Time-escalated tickets. Questions that don’t get answered by the experts automatically escalate to the in-house team after a time-period that the company specifies, often hours.

3) Customer-escalated tickets. The customers feel they aren’t getting the help they want and escalate the ticket themselves.

Prior to rolling out partial rewards for escalations, experts typically didn’t touch questions they thought would escalate. There was no incentive to do so. So the questions sat until the time-out period was up.

Rewarding Escalations Increased Resolved Tickets

By putting a partial reward on appropriate escalations, not only did experts escalate the tickets in minutes they couldn't solve, but by spending a little more time with the questions, they ended up resolving a higher percentage than before.

For example, in April, we implemented escalation rewards with a company, then compared results for the 30 days before and after. Total escalations dropped by 25 percent, because experts resolved more tickets, and time-based escalations dropped by 60 percent.

The upshot is that by partially rewarding experts for escalations, you resolve more tickets and take care of the escalated tickets faster.

And for every ticket you resolve quickly through an online channel, you avoid provoking customers to pick up the phone and dial the call center.