ReadingWhat is ticket escalation? And how to handle them?

What is ticket escalation? And how to handle them?


Customer support tickets come in all complexities, urgencies, and particularities.

While some can be resolved in the first contact, some may need more time, patience, and expertise. And considering that support experience has a direct impact on customer happiness, it is essential to have a ticket escalation system.

To achieve overall customer satisfaction, companies require a system that efficiently manages ticket handling and prioritization along with streamlining the resolution process. This active approach ensures a smoother resolution process for customers.

Let’s learn the intricacies of ticket escalation.

What is ticket escalation?

Ticket escalation is a support process within the ticketing system.

When a support agent is unable to resolve the customer’s issue or query, is moved or elevated from one level of support to another with higher technical expertise or authority. This could be due to the complexity of the issue, lack of technical expertise, or the need for a higher authority to make a decision.

Additionally, ticket escalation helps in identifying recurring issues, which when addressed at a higher level, can prevent similar issues from occurring in the future. This proactive approach helps in improving the overall customer experience.

The primary goal of ticket escalation is to effectively and quickly resolve complex or challenging issues.

What is a support ticket escalation process?

A ticket escalation process, also known as a help desk escalation process, follows a tiered support structure.

For instance, basic customer inquiries can be managed on the first level of a support team and more complex and critical queries can be effectively managed by higher-level support agents or technical experts.

Here’s a general overview of a typical tiered escalation process:

Tier 1 / Level 1 Support: The initial point of contact for customers is managed by chatbots in Tier 1 or Level 1 Support. These virtual agents act as frontline support, addressing basic inquiries and attempting to resolve straightforward issues using information from a knowledge base. If the issue surpasses the capabilities of the chatbot, it is then escalated to the next level of support.

Tier 2 / Level 2 Support: Support agents handle escalated issues that are beyond the scope of Tier 1. They have deeper knowledge and resources to troubleshoot and resolve more complex problems. If they cannot resolve the issue, it moves to the next level.

Tier 3 / Level 3 Support: The third level typically involves senior support staff, specialists, or engineers with advanced expertise. They deal with highly technical or challenging problems that lower tiers couldn’t solve. If necessary, they might involve development or engineering teams.

Developers / Engineering teams: Specialized teams or developers are involved in resolving issues that require code-level troubleshooting or deep product understanding. They can provide solutions or fixes that go beyond the capabilities of regular support teams.

Senior customer service manager: If the issue remains unresolved at the lower tiers, it may be escalated to higher management or a senior team member within the organization. This could involve supervisors, managers, or specialized teams responsible for handling exceptional cases.

The ticket escalation process might also involve time-based escalations, where tickets that haven’t been addressed within a certain time frame automatically move up the tiers to ensure timely resolution.

Key reasons for ticket escalation include:

  • Complexity: Issues that require specialized knowledge or skills.
  • Time sensitivity: Problems that need urgent attention or resolution.
  • Policy or SLA compliance: Escalation might be necessary to meet service-level agreements (SLAs) or company policies regarding issue resolution times.

For example, in a software support team using DevRev, if the chatbot is posed with a complex issue beyond its scope, support teams can seamlessly create an issue within DevRev. This issue is then escalated to the product teams, initiating a collaborative process where support and product teams work together, involving engineering if necessary, to efficiently resolve the escalated issue. This approach highlights the synergy between support and product teams, as facilitated by DevRev, to provide comprehensive solutions to customers.

Why is ticket escalation necessary?

Let’s take a look at a few findings from Statista reports.

  • Customers prefer faster responses and consistent support on all platforms.

Social media: 37% of customers expected a same-day response to their queries or complaints, while 28% expected a response within an hour followed by 18% expecting a response immediately. (Source)

Live chat: The customer wait time when using live chat worldwide decreased between 2021 and 2022 to 30 seconds. (Source)

General: 46 percent stated they were prepared to wait three days for a response from a brand they have contacted. (Source)

  • Customers prefer to speak to a knowledgeable customer support agent.

39 percent of respondents from the United States stated that a good customer service experience would be one with a knowledgeable representative. (Source)

  • Customers expect a positive customer experience to make their next decision.

Customer loyalty: Nearly eight out of 10 global consumers deemed good customer service important to keep them loyal. (Source)

Repeat purchase: 94% of responding customers purchased again because of a positive customer service experience. (Source)

Customer recommendation: 82% of customers would recommend a company based solely on excellent customer service. (Source)

These statistics highlight the critical role efficient support systems play in meeting customer expectations leading to loyalty, repeat business, and positive recommendations.

While ticket escalation can help you fulfill your customer expectations and improve the bottom line, it can also streamline the support process — from smooth resource allocation, and timely resolution to adherence to policies within the customer support team.

When should you escalate tickets?

You can escalate support tickets when they cannot be effectively addressed or resolved at the current level of support. Here are common situations when you can escalate customer tickets:

  • Complexity: When the customer issue exceeds the expertise of the frontline service agents, it can be escalated to higher customer service teams who have in-depth knowledge.
  • Time sensitivity: Urgent customer complaints that have strict time constraints, especially if they’re critical to a customer’s operations or are causing significant disruptions. Ticket escalation can prioritize faster resolution.
  • Repetitive problems: If the same issue occurs despite attempts at resolution or if it affects multiple customers, marking them high priority tickets ensures a deeper investigation. This approach not only addresses the immediate concerns but also prevents the need for regular escalations, enhancing overall efficiency.
  • Policy or SLA compliance: There are times when customer tickets need to be escalated to meet service-level agreements (SLAs) or company policies regarding issue resolution times. If a ticket risks breaching these agreements, it should be escalated promptly.
  • Customer impact: Issues that impact multiple users, key accounts, or critical systems should be escalated to prevent widespread negative effects and ensure rapid resolution.
  • Resource limitations: If the resources (tools, access, information) available at the current support level are insufficient to resolve the issue effectively, it can be escalated to access additional resources.

To make this identification process easier, you can use helpdesk software that provides comprehensive details about all customer tickets along with streamlining ticket management because, ultimately — effective ticket escalation matters.

You can consider using a customer ticket management software that allows tech companies to track, measure, search, and resolve support tickets.

What is a general customer ticket escalation flow?

Although it depends on the company, product, and customer queries and issues, here are a few parameters that you can consider as a foundation to build your own escalation flow.


Three ways to handle ticket escalation

Here are three ways you can handle ticket escalation

Automate tasks and workflows

Managing a large ticket volume takes up a lot of time for the customer support team. While they could be resolving customer complaints, they spend managing and coordinating the process. In this situation, the following solutions can be of great help.

  • Self-service: Enable customers to access support independently through self-service portals or knowledge bases, reducing the need for ticket escalation.
  • AI-based chatbot: Implement AI-powered chatbots to address common queries and guide users through troubleshooting steps, potentially resolving issues before escalation is necessary.
  • Automatic triggers: Set up automated triggers to identify specific conditions or criteria that warrant escalation, ensuring timely and consistent handling of critical issues.
  • Automated escalation: Utilize automation to seamlessly move tickets through the escalation tiers based on predefined rules, optimizing the allocation of resources and expertise.
  • Automated ticket closure: Implement automated processes to close tickets automatically once resolved or after a specified period, streamlining the closure of straightforward issues and allowing support teams to focus on more complex challenges.

Provide omnichannel customer support

You can implement an omnichannel support strategy to offer assistance across various communication channels such as email, chat, phone, and social media. Further, build and manage ticket escalation processes while seamlessly integrating with the omnichannel support system to maintain a consistent and unified customer experience.

An AI-native platform like DevRev can help you preserve the context of customer interaction all the while enabling you to share the ticket history with your product teams for a better understanding of the problem.


Create a Service Level Agreement (SLA)

You can create SLAs to ensure you’re delivering a standard service to your customers.

SLAs can guide support agents on when, how, and to whom they should escalate specific issues. Therefore, when crafting SLAs, they must be both concise and clear in articulating the ticket escalation policy.

DevRev enables you to set up SLAs that explicitly outline a timeframe within which tickets are expected to be resolved. Consequently, if this timeframe is surpassed, the system can trigger an automatic escalation of the situation by the agent.

Above all, DevRev helps you write SLAs in a manner that aligns with the intended customer outcome, emphasizing the importance of synchronicity between the SLAs and customer expectations.

Use help desk software to manage and track metrics of ticket escalations

A help desk software for ticket management works as a communication channel, repository, as well as task management platform. It is a centralized system for organizing, prioritizing, and assigning tickets to appropriate support levels.

With comprehensive platforms like DevRev, support teams can document the entire lifecycle of an escalated ticket, capturing details such as initial problem descriptions, troubleshooting steps taken, and subsequent resolutions.

Along with detailed documentation, you can also improve your ticket management and overall support by measuring the real-time metrics and improvising accordingly. You can measure —

  • Resolution time: Easily track the time taken to resolve escalated tickets, helping identify areas for improvement in the support process.
  • User satisfaction ratings: Gather feedback from users to measure their satisfaction with the resolution process and identify areas for enhancement.
  • Escalation resolution percentage: Monitor the percentage of escalations successfully resolved at each support level, offering insights into team performance and workload distribution.

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