"I Want to Speak to a Supervisor"

Coaching/Feedback

Apr 28, 2006

How do you respond to a customer who insists on speaking to a supervisor or "someone in authority" for routine issues that an agent is capable of handling? Is it rude to refuse the transfer? -- Lynn Cherry, Skylight Financial

Lynn Cherry

Answers

  • Andrew Alvarez Posted at 12:00AM on May 12, 2006

    From a supervisor's standpoint, it can be a bit frustrating. We have so much on our plate as it is handling site needs, and (if outsourced) the needs of the client all at the same time. If a customer is requesting to speak to a supervisor, then by all means, do so. There are many times when your customer may have had a bad experience with a previous rep, whether your company or not, and needs to ensure they are being taken care of properly. One idea is to implement something to the extent of "Senior Analyst,” or “Customer Care Expert.” Both would act as a point of escalation. It would also give that extra level for the irate callers that want to speak to the supervisor’s supervisor. -- Andrew Alvarez, Spherion

  • Posted at 12:00AM on Jun 2, 2006

    In our small community bank call center, under 10 agents, we have just one supervisor who is not always available to take over a customer's call. In order to still provide the customer with the feel that their call is being escalated, we have developed a little trick. Instead of passing the call along to a supervisor, we just pass it to another agent. Prior to transferring the call, we quickly inform the other rep of the situation and our reasons for any decisions that we have made. The second rep simply announces themselves as "Senior Customer Service Representative," which is a made up title in our department. This way the customer feels like their call and their business is important, without making a mountain out of a molehill.

  • Angelique Strumpher Posted at 12:00AM on Jun 2, 2006

    A customer who insists on speaking to a person with seniority is of the assumption that the agent who answered the call is not empowered to either make an informed decision or does not trust in the staff's ability to ensure that the customer query will be resolved within reasonable time. Invariably this is probably due to past experience. It is my belief that call centre managers do not always provide staff with the confidence and assertiveness techniques they need to deliver on the customer experience. Our response should be: My name is ????? Leave your query/ request with me and if I am not able to deliver on my service commitment to you then I will gladly get the supervisor to call you. Or My name is ????? Leave your query/ request with me and if I do not deliver on my service commitment to you then you are welcome to contact my supervisor directly on _________ to report bad service. This statement enforces empowerment. Empowerment comes with accountability for which the call centre agent is responsible. We need to put the ball back into our staff’s court as referring problematic customers is usually a cop out. -- Angelique Strumpher

  • Sel Posted at 12:00AM on Jun 16, 2006

    "Given a chance, I'll be glad to assist you with your query, after which if you still find the need to speak with a supervisor I will transfer the call." -- Sel

  • praveen Posted at 12:00AM on Jun 16, 2006

    Yes, I agree with your response. I was working in a call center with just 40 seats and when customers insist on talking to supervisor we just passed it to the next guy, introducing him as supervisor. And it's most of the time done with Do Not Call (DNC) list customers, when the customer claims to be on the DNC list. I would appreciate it if you could give us more help by providing help to improve agents, managers, etc. issues separately so that even an agent can know how he can become manager and at the same time manager can come to know about the issues of agents. Thanks. -- Praveen

  • stanley Philippe Posted at 12:00AM on Jun 27, 2006

    A customer/ caller who insists on being transfered to a person in authority is a person that may have had a bad experience with a rep. I have been in the call center industry for more than five years and besides management's efforts to provide excellent service to customers, some reps just don't get it or don't want to understand what we try to accomplish. I work in a call center with more than 256 seats and our purpose is to serve our customers' needs, so whenever someone insists on speaking to a person with seniority the procedure is the following: "Sir/ ma'am I will be glad to assist you with your request, after which if you still need further information or assistance I will transfer you to my supervisor." If the customer keeps on insisting he/she should be transferred immediately. -- Stanley Philippe, Datavimenca

  • Rebecca Gibson Posted at 12:00AM on Jul 14, 2006

    I would caution you against making the needs of the business (the need to conserve supervisors' time, the need to handle calls efficiently and cost-effectively) more important than the needs of the customer. To refuse to escalate a calls says, "We don't have the resources to adequately address our customer's issues to their satisfaction," "Our supervisors are too busy doing other things that are important to our business (?) rather than speaking with our customers," "We don't care if you're not getting the service you want." A request for escalation is a red flag: The caller is angry, dissatisfied, at the end of his rope. Many times there are factual issues that rep is capable of handling and many times the answer the caller gets from the supervisor is no different than the one they'll get from the rep, but the bottom line is: Is it worth losing that customer's business and having them bad mouth you to everyone who will listen because you weren't willing to escalate their issue? -- Rebecca Gibson, Magellan Health Services

  • Posted at 12:00AM on Aug 11, 2006

    I work with a call center with over 800 inbound seats, and what we have done is have a set of highly trained and vintaged agents who handle escalated, complicated calls. These agents are not monitored for the handle time and talk time and have been given higher levels of empowerments just like a team leader. They are also off calls during the day to call back customers. All transfers done to them are warm transfers, so they are in a better position to handle the customer. This resolves the issue of having a supervisor always available. We also provide our agents an escalation matrix which can be shared with customers so that there is no case of stonewalling customers.

  • Melissa Wilkerson Posted at 12:00AM on Aug 11, 2006

    I believe that if someone requests a supervisor, it is the right of that person, and the responibility of that supervisor to speak with them. I do not think it is the right of that call center worker to determine that the person just gets passed on to someone else. -- Melissa Wilkerson, Nursing Call Center

  • Posted at 12:00AM on Sep 22, 2006

    I feel that misrepresenting yourself as being a supervisor or senior rep when the people who hold those titles are not available is inappropriate at best. We only continue to escalate an issue for a customer if we as the "acting supervisor" don't follow through on our commitments. Then it's the organization as a whole that fails. I agree with trying to resolve the issue before sending to a supervisor. People would be surprised at the autonomy many companies are now offering in allowing their coordinators to make these decisions.

  • Rick Posted at 12:00AM on Oct 6, 2006

    I concur with the responders who recommend that the call be transferred to either an actual supervisor or to a specific group of agents designated and trained in handing these escalated calls. Additionally, I would add the recommendation that you put metrics in place to track the frequency of these calls. These metrics should include the data elements of date, time of day, call type / gate, reason for the call, resolution (if possible) and agent transferring (again, if possible). These metrics will allow you to gauge the extent of this event and, more importantly, allow you to examine root cause to mitigate the occurrence of this request. For example, your “root cause analysis” derived from the above metrics may reveal that your agents are having difficulty addressing one particular call type. You then could / should / would take action to train and coach your agents on better handling the identified call type with the goal of reducing transferred calls. This is just one example, as your root cause analysis could actually turn up many different things, or a combination of different causes. In short – focus on the cause of the transfer(s) and you will reap a greater return than just addressing the response. -- Rick (VP Large Financial Company / Black Belt Six Sigma / 25 yrs in call center industry)

  • Angie K. Posted at 12:00AM on Oct 6, 2006

    What an agent should do with a "I want to speak with a supervisor call" is to be empathetic to the customer and ask what the customer's needs are. Empathy helps to bring down the customer a notch or two and make a win-win situation in the end for both agent and customer. The agent can let the customer know that they can help them just as well or even better than the supervisor can help them, which can give the customer confidence in the agent resolving the matter. I don't suggest the agent to tell the customer "the supervisor will tell you the same thing I will tell you" since it would make the customer feel like the agent is being rude, and want to be transferred to the supervisor. But we must not forget that tone is everything on a call and that can really make or break the relationship customers have with the company and it's employees. -- Angie K.

  • Sahan Posted at 12:00AM on Oct 6, 2006

    It is unconscionable for an organization to misrepresent the escalation of a call by merely passing it off to another agent when a customer demands a supervisor. There is nothing wrong with explaining to the customer, however, that "I am in a position to respond to your concern and assist you in any way that we can without the need to transfer you any further. I am sorry that you were not happy with the response to your concern, but that is what we can do for you at this time. If you are looking to escalate your call in order to obtain a different answer, I apologize, but our position will not change." -- Sahan

  • Marcus Dyck Posted at 12:00AM on Oct 20, 2006

    I work in a contact center with over 600 seats. Now, being a supervisor I can say, passing the customer to a higher level is very important. A supervisor has the skills needed to know how to handle the customer. Just passing it to your neighbor who has the same phone handling skills as you doesn't make a marginal difference. How you deal with a customer makes a world of difference. When we are extremely busy I work overtime on the phone to help with the call volume. I have numerous customers say to me immediatly upon asnwering that they wish to speak to a supervisor. With out skipping a beat I ask them to tell me the problem so I can let my superior know before passing on the call. After the customer states the problem, I tell them that its a very simple issue and I can help them out and how it can be done. Being able to take control of the call and not only calming the customer down but to leave them with the feeling that I've made a huge differece is what needs to happen. I've taken alot of simple calls from reps who just don't handle their calls properly. Instead of stating what they can do, a lot of the time the rep will state what they can't do, and this makes all the difference. Over the course of the last few years when I've worked on the phone I've never passed a call on. If the rep handles the phone correctly the most that should be needed is a little note to the superior in regards to what's going on and what needs to happen. Identifying and correcting reps' phone etiquette should be a top priority of any contact center, These people represent who your company is. -- Marcus Dyck, Sears Canada

  • RepCare Posted at 12:00AM on Oct 20, 2006

    (He asks rhetorically) If you're going to lie to the customer about another agent pretending to be a supervisor, why not just put the customer on hold and pretend that you called the supervisor and got permission to simply repeat the previously stated answer/position? In either case you're demonstrating unethical and (frankly) immoral behavior as an individual. If your company tolerates that, then they take on that guilt as well. We all know customers can be irrational and can demand more than we think they deserve. But that does not give us as reps or our employers permission to lose our own integrity. Be honest. Explain to the caller that a supervisor is not available. Offer another channel for the concern to be escalated (email, voicemail) and emphasize that you personally are eager and empowered to help right now.

  • Mason Weaver Posted at 12:00AM on Nov 3, 2006

    I worked previously in an 500+ seat center for a major satellite company where I was one of sixty supervisors, and I currently work in a 10-seat center for a non-profit where I am the only supervisor. I concur that having another agent take the call claiming they are a supervisor, or refusing the transfer altogether are both unethical, unacceptable options. At the very least, it's poor customer service, at worst completely inhumane. I agree that agents should be empowered to handle escalated situations, but to the effect of creating less supervisor calls, not trying to handle them themselves. -- Mason Weaver, Dallas Symphony Orchestra

  • Erik Posted at 12:00AM on Dec 1, 2006

    I am a supervisor at one of the largest outsourced call center providers in the United States. All of our centers have an average of 400+ inbound seats. De-escalation training is very imperative in large call centers. The viewpoint and solution changes greatly when considering the size of the center. In a small center the idea of an escalation to a supervisor of some sort is more feasible because the workload is not as heavy. In a larger call center, with many supervisors, it causes problems because other questions may go unanswered while the supervisor takes this call. Therefore, the quality of service drops, causing longer handle time and poor first call resolution statistics. The agent should ask the customer for the information to pass along to the supervisor, while in the meantime looking at the problem themselves. If the customer's problem is within the skills of that rep (and it always should be), they then can state to the customer that it is easily fixable and can handle it for them quickly, followed by a lot of empathy to calm the customer. All call centers should have de-escalation as part of their main training of new hires and incorporated in further training later. -- Erik

  • Luke Fowler // Team Leader, Contact Centre Posted at 12:00AM on Dec 1, 2006

    Some great tips. To summarise the best of them; 1) Empower your agents with adequate training and strong processes 2) Create a second tier of support - Senior Reps / Supervisors, and third tier of support - Team Leaders 3) Put metrics & reporting in place to track escalations - Why are they being escalated, what was the resolution, and of course your usual handle time data. Then feed this data back into the business for improvement. 4) Ensure your Team Leaders & key people take action on that feedback! In my opinion, your team leaders should spend more time developing staff and their careers, as well as achieving strategy goals for your contact centre. They should spend less time speaking with customers. This doesn't mean to say that Team Leader's shouldn't be "The Best of the Best" in customer service, but they can provide more value (and in the end you'll get less escalations) if their energies are applied elsewhere. -- Luke Fowler, AUSTRALIA

  • A.Antoine Prasad Posted at 12:00AM on Apr 6, 2007

    Dissatisfied customers who did not receive a satisfactory answer when they had a conversation with the agent normally like to talk to the supervisor. These customers are to be treated very carefully, as these customers are most likely to leave our product and opt for the competitor's product. Try to convince the customer that you would be providing him just as satisfactory a solution as your supervisor will be doing. If the customer still insists on talking to the seniors just transfer the call. Usually a call centre should have a desk which would deal with the escalated calls. -- A. Antoine Prasad

  • Ayman M.Abd El Monen Posted at 12:00AM on Apr 6, 2007

    I think when the customer asks for a supervisor he believes that the supervisor will do the things which the agent can't do or maybe the customer wants to hear the information from a high level just for his satisfaction, so you have to transfer him to the supervisor just to keep your customer satisfied. -- Ayman M.Abd El Monen, Xceed Contact Center

  • Ric Watts Posted at 12:00AM on Apr 20, 2007

    I am stunned that you would pass a customer off to another rep and let them "pretend" to be a supervisor. This is flagrantly unethical. Are you stuck in a position where you don't feel you have the resources to handle the escalated calls and still get your work done? If the number of escalations you are asked to take is this high then you need to resolve that issue first. Is it policy decisions that are not customer friendly? Do your reps not have the training to de-escalate the call? I manage a fairly small team right now (only about 14 people) but I take maybe 3 to 5 escalations per month. That is hardly a drain on my time. Nine times out of ten all the rep has to do is begin a dialog with the customer and they will open up and begin to trust them. For instance a rep might try something like this: "Sir/Mam, I will gladly get my supervisor for you. While I wait for him to get to the phone can give you some idea about why you called today?" If the customer is unwilling to give this info they should then review any notes placed on the account. Rarely do customers call in angry out of the blue. They have previous contacts that did not go well. At this point the rep knows why the customer called and can follow up with, "Sir/Mam, my supervisor is able to take your call but honestly this is a very simple matter to clear up. All we have to do is...." It helps tremendously if you have trained your agents to use proper empathy for the customer’s situation. -- Ric Watts

  • Darryl Blair Posted at 12:00AM on Apr 20, 2007

    As a customer that recently had a bad experience with a call centre I can safely say that I will continue to ask to speak to a supervisor if I am not satisfied with speaking to a front line agent. I had an issue with some information that was previously given by an agent and called back to verify the situation. The agent had no record of my previous conversation and insisted that it would make no difference who I spoke to, the company's policy would not change even if the original agent had made a mistake and given me incorrect information. I still insisted on speaking to a supervisor and was told one would call me back tomorrow. After calming down after half an hour I decided to call the supervisor instead of waiting for them to call me as I really needed to get the issue sorted out on the day. I called the call centre asked to speak to the supervisor who was going to call me back and was told she not available. I asked to speak to another supervisor and suddenly the original supervisor became available. I spoke to the supervisor and was put on hold for 10 minutes while she checked some details with the warranty department. After returning from being on hold the supervisor agreed that because an agent had given me incorrect information the company would pay for the mistake and my issue was solved. In my case it was not that the agent did not have skills to handle my call it was she did not have the "authority" to make a decision on my case. The moral of the story is as a customer I have the right to ask to speak to a supervisor if I feel the agent is not empowered to resolve my issue. -- Darryl Blair, Customer

  • Sean McCloskey Posted at 12:00AM on May 4, 2007

    I have worked several call center jobs. In some cases we were told to avoid supervisor contacts at all costs. In others we were empowered to either say we were supervisors or to pass off to another agent who claimed to be a supervisor At issue here is that agents by the very nature of the job are situation de-fusers. It is a rare, but nice call, when someone calls to pay a compliment on a product or service. The reason customers are calling is because something doesn't work, the reason they ask for supervisors is because they have jumped through many hoops, OR they learned in the past that agents are not authorized to setup exchanges or refunds. I myself like to educate the customer and tell them their options. Always tell them what you can do, and never tell them what you can't. In the end it's the public perception; if the customer hears from a supervisor that there is nothing that can be done, they feel better for some reason. Also, it should be noted, telling a customer that the supervisor is not technical and cannot troubleshoot or help with the specific issues usually helps. -- Sean McCloskey, Eidos Interactive

  • Christa Vandarwarka Posted at 12:00AM on May 18, 2007

    I heartily agree with the respondents who find "pretending" to be a supervisor ill-conceived at best. If a customer immediately requests a supervisor, I suspect that that they feel that they won't get the appropriate level of service from the phone rep. I say take the call. Additionally, I have made it a practice to make sure that all our reps know that if their Supervisor or Manager is not available and the caller wants someone NOW, they can (and have) transferred the call to me, their division Director. After taking care of the customer’s initial reason for calling, take some extra time do some fact-finding with your caller. Ask the customer why they felt the rep who initially answered the call wouldn't be able to assist them. You may find that the patient has had a previous experience with your call center that you should be aware of. If not, you may find that the customer has had a bad experience somewhere else and is transferring their frustration to your team. Most important, be sure to follow-up with any training opportunities that you uncover. Your team and your customers will both reap the benefits! I have been able to work with customers in the past (I have nearly 30 years in the Customer Service business) and have been able to change customers' perceptions and thereby enhance their customer experience with us. I also never hesitated to give my direct dial number to callers who feel the need to have a contact person who they feel truly listens. It's not that our team doesn't listen - it's a simple fact that some customers need a more personal connection than others do. We try to meet the needs of all of our customers. -- Christa Vandarwarka, UW Physicians

  • Mujahidin Zulkiffli Posted at 12:00AM on May 18, 2007

    When I used to be on the agent's seat taking calls, I tried my best to deal with the call myself without having to transfer to a supervisor. What I did was to put myself in the customer's shoes and try to think like a supervisor. I never did anything outside my authority level but I know what my supervisors can do. So, rather than having a supervisor taking over my calls, I would put the customer on hold, get to my supervisor, sell the customer's situation so that my supervisor will understand, which leads them to liking my idea of a 'Satisfiable Resolution' or a win-win situation. I sometimes have to convince them that this should satisfy the customer's need and they do not have to take the escalated call if they can empower me to offer the customer my idea. This often works (my supervisors agreed most of the time or at least they offered something to that same effect, if not slightly less). 18 months after being an agent, I was promoted to join the supervisors' league. I then come to know that many escalated calls are escalated because of our own agents' inabilities to take responsibility to resolve the customer's situation. What they do most of the time is to repeatedly say 'NO' or 'I DON'T HAVE THE AUTHORITY TO DO THAT'. Both intentionally or unintentionally lead to the call being escalated. I always try to coach my staff to handle these calls the way I would, but most of time I have to take over. After I resolve the query, I will then ask my staff if they can handle it the way I did and in future to think before saying 'NO' and get my agreement if they can come up with a win-win. -- Mujahidin Zulkiffli, Le Concierge

  • Tim Posted at 12:00AM on May 18, 2007

    Generally, we find that customers requesting a supervisor are doing so in the belief that they will get a better level of service from the supervisor. As such, our supervisors are trained to ensure they deliver a *different* service to the agents. By that I mean, supervisors are under strict instructions not to handle the tasks that would normally be dealt with by an agent. Escalations of an existing issue? Fine. Complaints about service received? No problem. Just want to raise a normal request? Sorry, we'll have to transfer you back to an agent. -- Tim

  • Jim Nickerson Posted at 12:00AM on Jun 15, 2007

    I have worked in a call center for over 15 years. I agree that most "I want to speak to a supervisor" customers are frustrated and feel that only someone with what they view as having empowerment can resolve their issue. However, to lie to a customer by stating you will meet their request and just simply put them through to another representative is simply not acceptable! Under any circumstance! Instead, take ownership of the call and the customer's concerns. Advise you will be more than happy to assist them with their request. Inquire what the issue is - under the interest of finding the most appropriate person to transfer them to. Use this probing question to find out what the issue is, ask the customer to hold and find the resolution. Go back to the customer, apologize for the hold, and inform them that you are still continuing to seek someone for them to speak with but also offer the resolution. Afterwards ask the caller if they would still like a supervisor. I guarantee that most will not, and a majority of those that do will only want to to impress upon the supervisor what a competent representative you are (you did just fix their urgent issue that only a few minutes before they thought only a supervisor could resolve ... that does make you competent in the customers eyes!) But under no circumstance should transferring the caller to another representative, under the pretense of being a supervisor, be acceptable. If the caller asks the second representative their title, they are either going to be lied to (Why call your department customer service if you are just going to lie to them?) or they are going to now be further upset - not only about their original issue, but now with two employees that have tried to "snowball" them! -- Jim Nickerson

  • Andrew Posted at 12:00AM on Jun 15, 2007

    Is it ethical to have another agent pose as a supervisor? Sure, depending on how it’s done. I’ve personally used escalation calls as a training method for agents I feel are ready to further their career. Each center has their own procedures and tasks that must be completed by each supervisor. In one center I worked in, I managed a team of 25. My daily tasks included payroll, attendance, daily quality evaluations, daily coaching, policy violation checks every hr. My line of business consisted of the majority of calls that could be considered escalations from the company branding. Our transfer rate was at about 50%, not because we were just getting the calls off the line, but to ensure the transaction was completed, we were forced to transfer to a 3rd party. Not to mention, calls for assistance, calls from HR, calls from “Upper Management,” etc. In other words, it was in the best interest of our customer to have the trained rep speak with them as a point of escalation -- we just approved all action taken first. In the center where I work now, I work as a trainer. The supervisors here are in the same boat as with my previous center. I really feel for them because they try their hearts out to get every escalation that comes in. With a center of nearly 1,000, teams of 20-30 agents each, and literally millions of customers, it’s not feasible. Many take “call back slips” and come in on their day off to call the customer back. Does this go above and beyond their duties? Absolutely. I’ve seen the morale of a few start going down the drain, though. A smart manager I had told me once that the best way to get promoted is to train someone to take your spot. When done right, that’s exactly what I feel agent supervisors are. -- Andrew

  • Joe Tirio Posted at 12:00AM on Jul 13, 2007

    I've managed contact centers of all sizes and descriptions for over 20 years now. Most people don't call a center to speak to a supervisor, they call to solve a need. A vast majority of the incidents are really coaching opportunities for your agents. Here are my recommendations for happier customers, better prepared agents and properly utilized managers: 1. Agents should tune in early for signs that could escalate the call. Warning signs could be, mention of repeat calls, mention of unresolved issues and/or extreme situations. 2. Have the agent prep the escalation with the customer: Customer: Let me talk to your supervisor. Agent: I'd be glad to do that, we really do want to help you. Let me make sure I understand the issue and what you need. That way I can pass it along to my supervisor and you won't have to retell the story. What I thought I heard you say was... Get a summary of the issue and the customer's desired outcome. At this point, the agent may realize that they can do it and don't need a supervisor. If that's the case, then they should offer to resolve it there. 3. Engage a supervisor/Lead/etc.: With issue summary and desired outcome in hand, the agent can engage the supervisor in meaningful discussion. They can brainstorm for a second to try to find a solution. Now, you may even ask the agent if s/he feels comfortable bringing the solution to the customer and being their 'hero'. If not, take the call but let the agent listen as you model the desired behaviors and deliver the solution. 4. Pass the call back to the agent for implementation of the solution and follow-up. Now your customer has more respect for your agent's capability, your agents know they can't just "dump and run", they get a demonstration of how to talk to an upset customer and have had an opportunity to partner with the supervisor in developing the solution. The supervisor has a bonding moment with the agent as they work through the solution and an opportunity to develop new skills in that agent. -- Joe Tirio, Abbott Laboratories

  • Kevin Posted at 12:00AM on Nov 30, 2007

    I worked in a large multi-site call center with both domestic and offshore sites for a very large mortgage company, one of the top five largest to be more precise. I specifically managed the "supervisor" call center portion (for five years) consisting of over 125 tenured call center reps that served as first level supervisors for escalation purposes supporting approximately 1600 call center employees across all of the centers. I agree an agent passing the call to the agent sitting across from them is unethical, but to have a specific staff handling supervisor escalations is good business practice. -- Kevin

  • Anonymous Customer Posted at 12:00AM on Nov 30, 2007

    I'm not a CSR myself, though I have managed and taken calls for a technical support department. I believe I am a reasonable, rational, and intelligent person. As a customer calling a customer service center, I want to get the issue at hand resolved just as quickly as the CSR does. Most of the time, the issue gets handled with no problems, to complete satisfaction. However, sometimes the CSR does not handle the issue to my satisfaction, and I understand the CSR may not have authority to resolve the issue in a way that I'd like, so I ask to speak with a supervisor. In my mind, a supervisor (or CSR Team Lead) is there to handle the situations not deal with the policies/procedures/CSR Handbook. Here's the point I REALLY want to get across: Please, for the love of all that's good and fluffy, do not tell me (the customer) that the supervisor is going to tell me the exact same thing you're saying. Why? Well, here are a few reasons... 1) It borders on rudeness, which is a symptom of bad customer service. 2) You, as a CSR, don't actually know what the outcome may be. You are not your supervisor, so don't make their decisions for them. 3) This is a really quick way to annoy the customer, which can introduce hostility, which, when all is said and done, merely serves to double the call length. Remember, in most cases, the customer is not calling just to make your day worse. Granted, I may be the exception and not the rule, I don't know. But please keep in mind, there are people out there who are calling to receive some assistance to solve a problem they're trying to deal with.

  • Posted at 12:00AM on Nov 30, 2007

    I've worked in numerous call centers over the past decade as both an agent and as a "senior analyst/agent." In most of those call centers, the supervisor's actual job is to monitor the statistics of the agents on the telephone (talk time, sales ratio, etc.) In a very large way, supervisors didn't have any more power than the agents answering the telephone. So, in a very real sense, a customer talking to a supervisor didn't achieve ANYTHING except to consume the supervisor's time and get the call passed back down to either the original agent or a senior agent to handle the issue.

  • Nick J. Posted at 12:00AM on Nov 30, 2007

    I am what is referred to in the industry as a "Tier 2" agent or a "Sr. Specialist". In the company that I work for our department is also responsible for managerial escalations and supervisor requests. Our front-line agents see supervisor requests as an opportunity to dump calls on our department and do not pass these calls amongst themselves because they know that we are required to take any call escalated as a supervisor request. My issues with this is that customers abuse this. They know that their issue or concern can be handled by a front line agent but they want to speak to someone more tenured, or they want to get away from front line agents who have an accent so they ask for escalation, and many many other pointless reasons that waste the time of our department. Now, do not get me wrong, it is not that I do not care about the concerns of my customers. However, when you ask to speak to a supervisor to handle something small and trivial there is now someone who has to wait for that supervisor for something really serious, and when I get done with your small issue I now have someone whose big issue is even bigger because they had to wait. Furthermore, it is very frustrating when individuals ask to speak to my supervisor because above me in our phone chain is no one -- the managers above us are payroll and scheduling types and have far better things to be doing. My department is in a position to replace whole computers, give complimentary gifts, and other things of that nature. Our managers do not have that access in some circumstances and would then after talking to you have to bring the call back down to us for resolution. In short - do not request a supervisor unless you truly need a supervisor to resolve your issue. Feel out the agent you are dealing with and see if they can help you first. It will make everyone happier in the long run. I do not agree with people who are not supervisors posing as such, but I also do not agree with a mentality that you should be escalated just because you want to be. -- Nick J., Sr Technician/Supervisor

  • P.Wilson Posted at 12:00AM on Dec 14, 2007

    I have worked as a front line agent and in my experience, when a customer states they would like to speak to a supervisor it is initially because they feel the agent is not capable of handling their situation. It is out of frustration, and anger of the initial mishandling of the order. One way I have found to defuse the situation is to show empathy for the situation. Everyone that calls with a problem wants the reassurance that you are going to do everything within your power to help them. Second, don't be afraid to embrace the authority you do have, and take control of the situation. Begin to ask questions, and you'd be surprised what you will find out -- small underlining facts that have been missed in the storm that can bring light to the unfortunate situation. And when placing the customer on hold to research their order, make sure you inform the customer how long you will have them on hold. Come back, just to give them an update. This reassures them you are still working on their order. This idle time and confirmation you are HELPING is enough to calm them down. My experience is when you can finally calm the customer down, they do not have a need to speak to the supervisor, knowing your company's policies, and what you can actually do for the customer is enough. Also, on the other side, I have been absolutely chastised by supervisors because I have escalated the call to them, simply because I was unable to change the customer's mind state. More often I am finding the supervisors are not thinking most front line agents are doing everything we can to defuse the escalation. I do not look forward to a hold time in addition to the time I spent going over the situation with the customer, and then warming the supervisor to the situation all over again. It's tedious. So for all the supervisors please know that frontline agents are wanting to help the customer, for them and also for ourselves. -- P.Wilson, CSRNet LLC

  • Posted at 12:00AM on Apr 7, 2008

    I am currently employed with a call center providing insurance for wireless carriers in the US (i.e., AllTel, Verizon, T-Mobile, MetroPCS, Western Wireless, CricKet, etc.) and I am in the escalations department, or ACC (Advanced Customer Care) department. Our department handles all of those callers requesting to speak with a supervisor, or threatening legal actions, etc. Our department also provides instant support to our CSRs. In our company, the escalations department is given more power than supervisors as far as our systems go, and we are empowered to assist in literally every situation. Mind you, the CSRs have a lot of power, and for the power they don't have they call us for support. If a customer wants to be transfered to a supervisor (or specialist), they obviously feel that they will be able to resolve their issues. Sure there are many cases when the supervisor will say the same thing as the rep, but the customer is a lot happier to take that from a supervisor than a CSR.

  • chander Posted at 12:00AM on Jun 2, 2008

    "OK, sir, as you want to talk with the supervisor can I know the issue if I can resolve better than your team leader or the supervisor?" -- Chander, Effort BPO Ltd

  • Jaded Posted at 12:00AM on Jul 28, 2008

    I came across this post after having a horrible experience with one of my vendors when calling support. And in this case, I was the angry customer. I had a minor issue that was an annoyance but not critical, so I called the support team. This vendor, a software company, has grown a lot during my time using their product. When I started there was one level of support with knowledgeable employees. Now there are more levels, but Tier 1 support has less experience with application than I do. I only call when I encounter a strange issues, so this is pretty frustrating for me, since it is pretty rare that Tier 1 support can solve my problem. Back to the story, during my first support call reporting the issue, the rep determined that my call needed escalation to Tier 2 support, and assured me that they would call within the next day or so. After a few days, I hadn't heard anything, so I had to call in again. The rep again promised the same. Two weeks after my first call, I received an email: "We were really busy so we didn't get back to you. I bet your issue is resolved by now, but if it isn't, reply." So clearly I was pretty irritated by this email. I replied, waited a week and still hadn't received a response. When I called again the case had been closed. I said the issue is still outstanding, and asked when I should expect to hear from the Rier 2 team. I spoke to a Tier 2 person for a few moments who assured me that they were researching my issue, and the agent put me on hold. I was disconnected and had to call again, but only had the opportunity to leave voicemail. Another week went by, and the issue was STILL open. So I called again and spoke to a new agent. This agent was completely unhelpful and even told me that it wasn't in their scope to resolve this issue. The agent told me that I would need to contact their other division. They didn't have the number, and told me I would need to find it myself. This was the point that really irritated me. I had wasted 4 weeks on this issue and placed many phone calls with no response. I requested to speak to a supervisor again and got pushed up the food chain a few levels. I finally found someone who was helpful in managing my case and the issue was resolved within 4 days. The new agent kept me in the loop with twice daily updates via email and voicemail, and I felt like they were making my issue a priority. This was a complete 180 compared to the other agents I had dealt with. One of the posters above mentioned that finding out the history is critical. It is also critical that each agent leaves detailed notes every step of the way so your teammates will understand the history and be able to act accordingly. My case clearly didn't have any notes so subsequent agents had no idea why i was so frustrated and irritated with them. -- Jaded

  • David Posted at 12:00AM on Aug 11, 2008

    "I am authorized and delighted to be of assistance to you. Let's work together to see if we can find a solution that works for you. If at that point you still would like to speak to a supervisor, I will transfer you to a supervisor." -- David

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