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What is ticket escalation?

Definition: Ticket escalation is the process of transferring a customer issue to a higher or different level of support, when the initial contact doesn’t reach a resolution. 

When a customer support agent can’t resolve a customer issue, it’s directed towards a specialized department or senior employees with more authority or experience.

Ticket escalation prevents unresolved issues by making sure all tickets are resolved efficiently and on time.

What is the ticket escalation process?

  1. Triage

Ticket triage comes before escalation, and it is the initial assessment and categorization of tickets based on pre-defined criteria such as issue type and urgency level. After the initial support level fails to resolve the ticket or determines to redirect it, the escalation process begins.

  1. Criteria

The escalation process begins with the pre-defined criteria triggering the transfer. Escalation is triggered by specific keywords, resolution time, or when the initial customer support finds the issue complex, high-priority, severe, or specific.

  1. Levels 

The ticket is transferred from Tier 1 to Tier 2 or Tier 3, depending on the nature of the issue.

  • Tier 1: The first level of customer support agents or chatbots resolve basic customer inquiries and direct more complex issues to other levels of support.
  • Tier 2: More specialized agents that deal with more complex issues such as billing, technical issues and customization tasks.
  • Tier 3: Employees with authority, expertise, and special permissions for advanced tools or work closely with the product development or engineering team.
  1. Timeframe and notification

Businesses define the timeframe within the Tiers in terms of expected resolution deadlines and a notification system for alerting the employees. Notifications are usually sent via email, text, or chat, and the expected resolution time is defined in the company’s SLA (service level agreement).

  1. Resolution

Once the agent is notified, they resolve the issue in a timely manner and close the ticket upon resolution.

  1. Follow-up

After the resolution, the higher-level employee analyses the ticket escalation to find patterns and areas of improvement, such as clarifying information for employees or organizing training.

When should you escalate a ticket?

Complex issue

When a ticket involves a complex problem that requires knowledge and expertise not available to the first level of support, it is transferred to a higher level of support. An example is a complex technical issue that requires the interference of the software developer.

Specific issue

When a ticket requires the involvement of a specific department or area of responsibility, it is transferred to the second tier. For example, a specific billing issue is directed to the finance department.

High-priority issue

Customer tickets are classified as high-priority based on the severity of the issue or the impact the unresolved issue has. A security break or data loss is considered a critical issue that needs immediate attention from higher levels of management and support.

Time-consuming issue

If a ticket takes more time to resolve than it’s predefined by the service level agreement, it is transferred to the second tier of support due to the potential impact on customer satisfaction. If a customer issue hasn’t been resolved for 4h, a senior takes over to speed up the resolution time.

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Article FAQs

What are the three types of escalation?
The three types of escalation are hierarchical, functional, and automatic. Hierarchical escalation is based on levels of employee expertise, functional escalation involves routing to the appropriate department, and automatic escalation is triggered by predefined criteria such as customer status.
What is the formula for escalating tickets?
A general formula for escalating tickets includes four key elements: defining criteria, setting escalation levels, establishing timeframes, and implementing a notification process.
Why do you need a ticket escalation process?
Ticket escalation benefits both customers and employees because it ensures an effective resolution of complex or high-priority issues, efficient staff, and resource allocation, increased customer satisfaction, and streamlined operations.

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