3 Slices of Advice When Taking an Escalated Customer Service Call

You sense an energy shift. The air stiffens as a silent hush falls over the room. A tapping of a finger on a desk echoes. You hear footsteps slowly moving in your direction. You begin to sweat. You have a strong desire to feverishly bolt away from your desk, arms flailing in the air, screaming. You know what lies ahead. 

Who hasn’t been in this situation, as a supervisor or manager, with a member of your team approaching for help with a customer who requests a supervisor. It’s a very fragile moment:

  • The agent is usually frustrated and/or deflated [insert other adjectives here].
  • The customer is usually pissed off [insert other adjectives here].
  • Something isn’t working right.
  • You’re going to make everything better.

If your job is to support your team, taking supervisor/escalated calls is part of the gig. More than likely, you’ve made it to your level simply because you’re good at handling these sort of calls. You got this! Easy peasy, right?

Admission: If you’re like me, who has taken gobs of escalated calls over the years, I still tense up when I hear a customer service agent ask me to take the call of an unhappy customer.

Enter “How Can I Help You Overdrive Mode”.

This mode consists of a strong desire to:

  • Take the frustrating situation off of the agent’s hands.
  • Coach the agent to prepare for this exact situation in the future.
  • Fix every single problem to the best of my ability for the customer.
  • Turn all frowns upside down.
  • And, at the end, still have time to make everyone margaritas!

So yeah, that’s a pretty big responsibility. And, it’s not always feasible. Especially the last part, which is a bummer, because come on, need I say more?

The moment before you pick up the phone to connect with an unsatisfied customer can be fearful – you don’t really know what you’re getting into – but I like to remind myself of this quote:

Yup, taking a manager call is sort of like this – jumping off into the deep end. There may be sharks or there may be mermaids waiting for you – either way, you just do it.

Here are 3 slices of advice that have helped me along the way when it comes to escalated calls:

Jump

If your role requires you to take escalated calls, you’ll no doubt jump to the chance immediately, fear or not. You’re in the mindset that you’re ready to jump into the call without much time to prepare.

Listen

The reason you’re taking this call in the first place is because the representative was unable to assist the customer. Listen to this situation and take note of areas in which you can improve your team’s freedom to assist. By shifting your perspective, you can see that these escalated calls are actually great opportunities to improve!

Coach

After jumping into the call, listening to the customer, taking ownership of the issue, and seeing it through to a resolution, you’ll want to take time afterward to coach the customer service representative. By doing a review of the situation, you have an opportunity to guide the representative in a direction to help them prepare for this situation should it occur again.

I hope these small bits of advice help you to improve your escalated supervisor calls!

Jenny Dempsey is the Social Media and Customer Experience Manager for NumberBarn.com. With over a decade of customer service experience, Jenny has been recognized through social media channels as a thought leader. She is co-founder and a regular contributor on the Customer Service Life. When she's not helping or singing to customers, she is studying to become an Integrative Nutrition Health Coach. Be sure to check out DempseyWellnessCenter.com and follow her on social media!

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