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7.4. Escalation

Escalation is the process of transferring responsibility for resolving a problem from one agent to another agent or to a pool of agents. Escalation occurs when one agent has completed all the work that he or she can on the problem and there is still work to be done. Many service centers refer to this as routing instead of escalation, choosing to use the term escalation for nonroutine transfers. We will use the term escalation to refer to both routine and nonroutine transfers.

Routine transfers imply predefined rules and guidelines. For routine escalation to work effectively, those guidelines and rules must be well defined, firmly in place, and constantly monitored and tuned. The overall performance of the service center is greatly impacted by how well escalation is handled. In a multitiered service center, escalation is predefined to control the transfer of problems from one tier to the next. Generally, a multitiered environment is organized so that tier 1 can handle 80 percent of the problems reported. Tier 1 is usually composed of agents who are considered generalists because they have a broad range of knowledge that spans all of the products supported by the service center. Tier 2 and 3 are typically composed of experts who have more in-depth knowledge of fewer products. Tier 1 agents generally know a little about a lot of products, while tier 2 and 3 agents know a lot about one or two products. When a tier 1 agent cannot resolve a problem, it is transferred (escalated) to a tier 2 specialist. Problems can also be transferred when an agent exceeds a predefined time limit for resolving problems, when an agent does not have authority to fix a problem, when a problem is predefined to be handled at tier 2 or 3, or when a customer asks for the problem to be escalated (nonroutine).


  

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