Customer service agents handle a wide range of issues as part of their everyday job. Their main priority is resolving customer issues and making them satisfied. Only by creating a positive customer experience can you establish a noticeable presence in this field.

However, customer complaints vary from simple to complex; some take more time and attention. This is where call escalation comes into play. Here, a customer’s call is transferred to a higher level of support for prompt resolution.

In this article, we’ll explain what call escalation is and how to handle call escalation in a call center. So, without any further ado, let’s get started!

What is Call Escalation?

What is Call Escalation

Call escalation, sometimes called supervisor escalation, occurs when a customer support team cannot resolve a customer’s concern or issue. In this situation, the initial agent requests a higher level of support or a senior representative to resolve the issues.

It usually occurs because the initial agent does not have the sound knowledge to provide an effective solution to the customer.

  • Limited knowledge or resources: The initial support agent might not have the dedicated expertise or access to the essential resources to resolve the issue.
  • Limited authority: The initial support agent may not have the authority to approve specific decisions or solutions.

Call escalation ensures that customers’ serious issues reach the right person for quick resolution. Thus, implementing such a strategy is crucial for enhancing customer satisfaction and prompt fixes to severe problems.

What Are the Different Types of Call Escalation?

There are three main types of call escalations:

Functional Escalation

An agent transfers the call to a higher-level support agent because the agent lacks enough skills or knowledge. The call is routed to a particular department or someone with specialized technical knowledge.

For example, general customer service may possibly escalate a complicated technical problem to the IT department.

Hierarchical Escalation

This involves routing the call to a higher level of decision-making or authorization. Escalation is often done because of complex problems or when it demands managerial intervention.

For example, a scenario comes up where a customer is furious about the service or the resolution needs a policy exception. The call may be routed to a supervisor or manager in such cases.

Automatic Escalation

In cases, call centers implement technology to automate escalations depending on several criteria. To be more specific, it includes things like too much time limit on a call or the signs showing a high escalation rate.

Importance of Reducing Escalation Calls

Reducing escalation calls is crucial for any call center as it helps many areas of the business. These are:

  • Enhanced Customer Satisfaction: Less escalation refers to fast resolutions and, eventually, happy customers. When the initial agent hears the customer’s concerns and solves them efficiently, then the customers will feel they’re being cared for and prioritized.
  • Improved Operational Efficiency: The more the escalation rates increase, the more it kills agents’ time. Low escalations free up agents to engage in calls, leading to more efficiency.
  • Increased Customer Loyalty: Positive customer experience ultimately results in establishing loyalty. When customer issues are resolved quicker, they will most likely stay loyal.
  • Boosted Reputation: Escalations are not a good sign from any angle; they frustrate customers. Making customers wait longer or not solving problems on the first try can damage the brand image.
  • Better Use of Supervisor Time: Reducing escalations allows supervisors to fully focus on enhancing the overall quality of service. High escalations prevent them from performing specific tasks, including coaching and development. 

How to handle call escalation in a call center proactively?

How do you handle escalated calls proactively

Better call handling management is crucial to stop it from happening in the first place and enhance the customer experience. Here are some of the strategies to understand the root cause of it:

1. Empowering Agents

Agents handle customer calls, so you’ve got to provide them with in-depth training. This should equip them in areas like proper communication and de-escalation skills.

Not only that, agents should also have access to the knowledge base including articles, FAQs, and troubleshooting steps.

To make sure the escalation doesn’t scale up, proper decision-making authority should be given to them.

2. Enhancing Communication

Problems can’t be resolved unless you first listen and understand them properly. Call center managers should initiate training programs that focus on guiding them to listen to customer issues actively. 

To maintain clear communication, encourage agents to speak in a clear and professional tone during the phone calls.

3. Identifying and Addressing Triggers

To understand customer behavior and preferences better, regularly analyze phone calls. Perform frequent analysis of past escalations to recognize common triggers. It can be tough problems, dedicated product areas, or a lack of agent knowledge.

Once the analysis is done, review the internal processes to have an idea of the triggers, so that it can be mitigated. This may include optimizing resources or offering additional training.

4. Technology and Automation

One of the best ways to reduce escalation in a cloud call center is to provide self-service options. Self-service options include FAQs, knowledge bases, or chatbots to resolve simple inquiries. The best part is that customers can figure out solutions to their problems on their own.

Through AI’s smart routing systems, calls can be routed to suitable agents based on the customer’s concern.

Besides that, call coaching tools can also be implemented to provide real-time guidance during phone calls. They might also play a critical role in minimizing escalations to some extent.

5. Customer Feedback and Improvement

Asking about the concerns that the customers are facing directly helps prevent escalations. Surveys can be conducted to gather feedback to understand their pain points and recognize room for improvement.

Furthermore, it creates an environment that fosters open communication with customers. Provide them the freedom to escalate as per the requirement. At the same time, show them the dedication to fix the problems at the first point of contact.

Best Ways to De-escalate Difficult Customers

Customers are of comprehensive behavior or nature, and customer service has no other options than dealing with them. Here are some tips to de-escalate complicated scenarios:

  • Regardless of the situation, never talk with them in an angry or frustrated tone.
  • In heated moments, only speak after breathing deeply for a few seconds.
  • Maintain a professional attitude during interactions with customers.
  • Actively listen to their words before providing them with a solution.
  • Use empathic words to acknowledge and respect their feelings.
  • Put your full attention on figuring out the solution rather than dwelling on problems.
  • Ask clear-cut questions to understand the root of the issue.
  • Offer customers a few practical resolution options.

Best practices to prevent the number of escalated calls

Here are a few of the best practices to put a stop to the number of escalated calls in your AI contact center:

A. Focus on Agent Empowerment and Knowledge

Focus on Agent Empowerment and Knowledge

First and foremost, call center managers should invest in training and development programs for agents. Agents should have adequate knowledge of the products, services, and typical customer queries.

Proper agent training regarding building communication skills also needs equal attention. The nature of work in the call center demands specialized skills in active listening, clear communication, and escalation matrix.

Apart from that, you should give agents the power and authority to make decisions independently. This will remove unwanted escalations requiring supervisory supervision or the approval of higher authorities.

B. Offer the Right Resources

You must provide agents with access to the knowledge bases, troubleshooting guides, and additional resources. It allows them to figure out answers in quick succession, eliminating the requirement to escalate because of not having enough information.

Additionally, you should offer tools and resources, such as customer account information, policy guidelines, etc., for making critical decisions independently.

C. Identify and Address Escalation Triggers

Identify and Address Escalation Triggers

Call center managers or supervisors should frequently analyze call center data to recognize trends in escalation triggers. They should also deep-dive into specific products, service issues, or time frames to identify improvement opportunities.

After knowing the most identical escalation triggers, you should look to create proactive solutions. This may include betterment products or services that are causing the most trouble or providing the best possible resources for agents.

D. Prioritize Customer Communication

Be direct and realistic about the approximate wait times, resolution timelines, and available solutions during interactions with the customer on calls. This lowers customer frustration and eliminates unrealistic expectations, leading to escalation.

Customer concerns vary from simple to complex; sometimes, instant solutions can’t be provided. Consider alternative solutions like callbacks, follow-up emails with updates, or temporary solutions in such instances. 

E. Allow Self-Service Options

Provide customers access to online resources like FAQs, chatbots, or a knowledge base to deal with simple issues on their own. Making customers independent in finding solutions can make them not reach out to make a call to agents.

Challenges and Solutions in Call Escalation Management

Challenges in Call Escalation Management

  • Identify subtle signs like changes in tone, repeated questions, or long pauses as they express customer dissatisfaction.
  • Not adequate knowledge or resources can make it challenging to resolve the issue, leading to escalation.
  • Not having proper guidelines related to escalation criteria might make agents escalate a slightly tough call.
  • The unavailability of supervisors due to various reasons can delay the resolution of customer issues.
  • Poor handovers between agents and supervisors may lead to wrong information sharing and more wasted time.

Solutions for Effective Escalation Management

  • Equip agents to actively listen to customer problems that cause frustration.
  • Provide agents access to a comprehensive and up-to-date knowledge base.
  • Create a well-organized escalation guideline that entails criteria for escalating calls.
  • Develop a clear scheduling strategy to make the supervisor available during peak hours.
  • Implement a structured handover process for correct information transfer.
  • Frequently monitor automatic calls to get detailed insights into agent communication and knowledge gaps.
  • Implement call center software with all the right features to identify areas for improvement.


And that’s a wrap! This article explains call escalation and how to handle it in a call center. We hope it helps you.

Understanding call escalation and implementing the strategies mentioned above will benefit both agents and customers. An optimistic and efficient approach to escalations is crucial for maintaining customer satisfaction and loyalty.

Addressing customer issues, no matter how complex they are, is necessary for a call center to stay in the competition. Knowing the reasons behind escalation and applying practical strategies will help you run your call center seamlessly.


How do you handle escalation in a call center?

You can handle escalation in a call center by identifying signs of frustration, actively listening, and empathizing with customers or getting more customer information.

How would you handle customer escalations?

Handling customer escalations is a prolonged approach, and it can be done in several ways:

  • Understanding the customer’s point of view
  • Recognizing warning signs
  • Escalation scenario simulations
  • Knowledge base creation

What are the 3 stages of escalation?

The three core stages of escalation are:

  • Tension or Awareness
  • Agitation or Frustration
  • Peak or Outburst

What are the types of call escalation?

There are generally three types of call escalation:

  • Functional Escalation
  • Hierarchical Escalation
  • Automatic Escalation
Prasanta Raut

Prasanta is the founder and visionary CEO of Dialaxy. He is on a mission to redefine the landscape of SaaS solutions, infusing creativity and ingenuity into every aspect of Dialaxy’s offerings. His fervent dedication to simplifying sales and support processes drives Dialaxy’s forward momentum, delivering unparalleled value to businesses of all sizes. Embark on a transformative journey with Prasanta and Dialaxy as they pave the way for a new era of sales and support excellence.

Prasanta Raut

Prasanta is the founder and visionary CEO of Dialaxy. He is on a mission to redefine the landscape of SaaS solutions, infusing creativity and ingenuity into every aspect of Dialaxy’s offerings. His fervent dedication to simplifying sales and support processes drives Dialaxy’s forward momentum, delivering unparalleled value to businesses of all sizes. Embark on a transformative journey with Prasanta and Dialaxy as they pave the way for a new era of sales and support excellence.