Upward escalation

There is always someone who wants to escalate. Whether it be a resolution to an unsatisfactory software support issue or the fact that a project is not being delivered on time, there is no shortage of people who want to be a squeaky wheel.

Now, don't get me wrong; everyone has the right to escalate an issue. You can build a healthy and long-lasting relationship with your customers if you allow them to escalate and provide them with an appropriate mechanism to do so.

For me, the process of upward escalation works best. If someone has an issue, you encourage them to escalate first with the person who responded. If they are still unsatisfied with the resolution, they can escalate to the next person up the chain of command. The escalation should then be allowed to continue up the chain of command as required until it reaches the top of the tree, which may be the CEO.

The opposite of upward escalation is, of course, downward escalation. This is where the escalation starts high up and navigates its way down the hierarchy until it falls to some poor bunny to resolve. The problem with downward escalation is that it involves far too many people who cannot solve it. As the escalation cascades down to the person who can fix it, a lot of noise and ill-will is generated. The customer is then conditioned to make noise at the highest level, believing this is the only way to get their voice heard. Though the customer may have their issue eventually resolved, you generally end up with many squeaky wheels.

So, there is nothing wrong with escalating issues. As long as you start towards the bottom and work your way up the hierarchy, you should find you get a satisfactory solution quicker.