Article | 3 min read

The art of the ticket escalation process

By Andrew Gori

Last updated May 15, 2017

Most customer issues are resolved on the front lines: with the service agents tasked with walking your clients through their queries and concerns. But what if an issue raised in a ticket in turn raises more questions? Particularly questions that need to be addressed by your development team?

First, thank your super-engaged customer base for collaborating with you on making your products and services that much better. Everyone in the business is somehow responsible for customer service, even if they’re not the ones directly interacting with customers on a daily basis. Though your front-line teams are skilled, willing, and able to answer the everyday questions that arise, embedding the value of other teams and departments’ expertise is essential in shaping your customer experience landscape.

Sure, it can be difficult to know when and how to kick things up a notch, especially if you’re receiving feedback and inquiries day in, day out. The good news is that there are tips and tricks for integrating this workflow smoothly, taking it from your customer service pipeline to your development team. We promise we’re not just telling you what to do, either. We speak from experience, as all of these steps and processes are field tested and incorporated by our own development teams.

So peek behind the curtain to learn how we at Zendesk approach the art of escalating tickets.

All good things come in threes. Especially lists. Conveniently, we’ve identified three distinct phases of ticket escalation:

  1. Preparing a ticket for escalation
  2. During escalation
  3. After escalating the ticket

Preparing a ticket for escalation
Let’s start with your checklist for phase 1. You’ll first want to identify your ticket type and priority. Can your agents replicate the customer’s problem in a neutral test environment or only under their specific circumstances? If you picked the first, that means it’s a problem and it needs to be sent to the developer team. Assign it proper priority—most tickets are normal priority unless multiple accounts are impacted by the problem.

Next, you’ll want to take proper replication steps. Developers and customer service agents might read the same information contained in a ticket in different ways. So standardizing your summary—into a beginning, middle, and end—ensures everyone is speaking the same language.

During escalation
You’re now fully in phase 2. This phase is all about making sure the right information gets to the right teams, as well as the customer, as quickly as possible. First, are you selecting the right dev groups to handle the problem? Training your advocates on flagging the right group, with the best skill set to solve the problem, is key. Related: advocates should be adding relevant tags: this ensures the ticket is named properly from here on out. Last, but certainly not least, the advocate continues communicating with the customer. Though the issue may take some time to resolve, customers appreciate knowing their call has made an impact.

After escalating the ticket
Following up can be tricky, but it’s essential. At Zendesk, our rule of thumb is for the advocate to check on escalated tickets once every two weeks. If the advocate learns that no progress has been made, we’ve developed an internal checklist to move things along by asking the right questions.

Want to learn more about setting up your support organization for success? Learn how to provide global support.