What is escalation rate and how do you reduce it?

Natalie Smithson
AI enthusiast | Tea addict | Focused on using AI assistants to win the working week

What is escalation rate?

The escalation rate measures the percentage of customer enquiries that are passed from automated systems, like AI chatbots, to human agents for resolution. Monitoring this metric can enhance operational efficiency and help maintain a healthy customer satisfaction score.

A low escalation rate suggests your AI chatbot efficiently handles most customer queries, reducing the workload on human agents.

How do you calculate your escalation rate?

To calculate your escalation rate, divide the number of AI chatbot enquiries that escalated to human agents by the total number of AI chatbot enquiries received. Regularly analysing this metric helps your teams identify trends, fine-tune AI chatbot responses, and streamline your escalation process for improved performance.

Why does the escalation rate matter?

The escalation rate is a critical indicator of your AI chatbot performance and customer service efficiency. A high escalation rate may indicate issues with the capabilities of the AI chatbot you’ve chosen (or the platform it’s hosted on), customer experience, or the need for better training data, especially if you’re using large language model (LLM) input. The result is more pressure on your teams to resolve queries an AI chatbot should be able to handle, which takes them away from working on high value tasks since they don’t have the time.

By actively managing and reducing your escalation rate, you can optimise resource allocation, improve customer experience, and streamline operations, leading to enhanced service delivery.

What is a good escalation rate benchmark?

An optimal escalation rate benchmark typically ranges between 5% and 10%. This range suggests that your AI chatbot can efficiently handle most customer inquiries without escalating to human agents. Setting and regularly reviewing this goal can help to enhance AI chatbot performance, provide relevant training, and customise responses to reduce escalation instances.

Rethinking escalation rate strategies to suit the age of AI

The thing to remember about the most advanced AI assistants is they get smarter and therefore more valuable to you with every new conversation it has with your customers:

  • Every time it gets a question it doesn’t know the answer to, it learns it (providing it’s a relevant question), so more and more queries can be answered as time goes on, reducing friction for customers since answers are immediate and 24/7.
  • If an AI assistant doesn’t know the answer to a question and your contact team is online, your AI assistant can seamlessly pass your customer over to a human agent using live chat, so the query can be immediately addressed and worked out before it needs to be escalated. As your live chat feed starts to highlight where customers struggle, or where your bottlenecks are, you can quickly improve your processes and information. As a result, instant chatbot resolutions go up, and the time your team members spend on longer live chats goes down, so your support teams become more efficient.

A green chart on the left shows the number of conversations with the AI assistant going up and up. A red chart on the right shows the number of live chat conversations with the support team going down and down.

Naturally, if your escalation rate is high, you’ll want to put a stop to this altogether. Using an AI assistant will help with this, since your support service gets faster, more accurate, and more readily available:

  • Instant answers to routine enquiries and continuous training to answer new ones.
  • 24 hour service; your AI assistant never needs time off!
  • One central store for all your customer data across all channels means you have a constant finger on the pulse of customer communications, so can nip any issues in the bud.
  • The average resolution rate for our advanced AI assistants is 96%, which means only the most unusual or complex queries are ever escalated, ready for your team to put their expertise and experience to best use.

Dishing up the customer service pie differently

Like many organisations, your telephone communications might currently command the largest piece of what we call the customer service pie, where customer service operations hinge on standard business hours. The problem is, if your support is only active for 8 hours from 9-5, how do you help people for the rest of the 16 hours in a day? Using an AI assistant keeps your support open 24/7 and is a far less expensive ‘pie strategy’.

Rethinking the customer service pie: 80% AI chatbot, 15% live chat, 5% phone

Using an AI assistant is not only about saving money, it’s about saving you valuable time, too. “Having an AI assistant can help reduce the number of enquiries you have overall,” says Aaron Gleeson, Implementation Lead at EBI.AI, “resulting in your support agents having more time to provide a better quality and experience to your customers.”

“Our AI assistant assists customers by making useful information more readily available in ways that haven’t been possible before, and therefore reducing pressure on our service centres.” ~ Claire Hird, Operations Director for Legal & General Insurance

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FAQs

What factors can impact the escalation rate?

Factors such as AI chatbot training data quality and safe use of large language models (LLMs), user experience design for your AI chatbot, and the complexity of customer enquiries can significantly impact the escalation rate.

How can I reduce my escalation rate effectively?

You can reduce your escalation rate by continuously improving your AI chatbot capability by making use of scalable features, providing ongoing training, and updating responses based on customer feedback ― this is all automated for you on AI Studio, or done for you entirely using our managed service.

Is there a specific industry where escalation rate is particularly crucial?

Industries with high-touch customer service, like healthcare or finance, often place a significant emphasis on maintaining a low escalation rate to demonstrate seamless and efficient customer interactions you can trust.

What are the benefits of monitoring and managing the escalation rate?

Monitoring and managing the escalation rate can lead to improved operational efficiency, a higher customer satisfaction score (CSAT), and better resource allocation within your teams.