A quick guide to stirring things around
Oh escalations, the IT equivalent to a minor heart attack. However, just like its coronary disease equivalent there is an assortment of small and (mostly) easy paths that can be taken to avoid or even partially eliminate the risk and in turn avoid unhappy customers, fines and dare I say, cancellations.
A well-established knowledge base gives these junior team members an easily accessible resource to turn to.
1. Quality Knowledge Base Articles
Internal Knowledge Base or FAQ articles should be the first line of defense against escalations. More often than not professionals may be put in a position that forces them to rely directly on senior knowledge-transfer, aka “how do I do this?” A well-established knowledge base gives these junior team members an easily accessible resource to turn to.
- This a great option for large teams, especially if user training is sparse and a new employee is tasked with either solving or dispatching a large number of tasks (think Call Center operations or NOCs).
- Self Service operations can immensely benefit from this little tip alone; customers are able to deal with a detailed service catalog designed to cover contracted services straight from user or customer portals without resorting to agent contact. Customers appreciate having a quick go-to guide should questions arise.
- A well-built FAQ can also be provided to your customers directly, which leads us to our next topic:
2. Known Error Databases
How do you combat incidents even before they are open? Known error databases allow for the automation of incident management scenarios by preemptively allowing customers access to information that could potentially solve the target issue being reported – sometimes even before it is reported.
OTRS, for example, allows FAQ article keywords to be defined so as to actively suggest articles previously published in the FAQ module when a new ticket is being opened. However, by potentially, I would like to state that a fallback scenario must still be made available in case the customer is unable to have the issue solved through FAQs.
Just keep in mind that you don’t want to overload agents with notifications, or the opposite could occur.
3. Better Notifications
This one sounds easier than it actually really is. Effectively notifying agents that a task must be taken care of takes planning and tools that are up for the task.
- For instance, if agents are being notified exclusively by a designated platform, are they getting notified often enough?
- Rather than notifying agents only when a ticket or request is created, why not also remind agents when a certain percentage of the SLA counter is met? The proper setup of SMS and/or email notifications can greatly decrease the chance of escalation by assuring that professionals are properly notified within due time.
Just keep in mind that you don’t want to overload agents with notifications, or the opposite could occur. The idea is, reinforce areas and/or services most commonly affected.
4. Review active SLAs
When all else fails, active SLAs could also be revisited. I’m not necessarily arguing towards renegotiating existing contracts: that task by itself would more than enough for writing pages and pages.
- However, with that being said, do take into account that SLAs should not be viewed as static documents and, in fact, should have clearly defined frameworks allowing for revisions during the existing term of the contract.
- SLAs should be systematically reviewed when, for example, there is increased demand by customers that results in greater Infrastructural demand, and therefore, more technical effort.
Lastly, as a bonus, keep an eye open for Key Performance Indicators. Your increased escalations might be a clear sign that your business is successful and it might be time to hire.