Digital product managers: Can you tell which of the below issues should be an actual business priority for your team to investigate, and which are just minor distractions?
- Your CEO forwards a frantic email from a friend saying they struggled and couldn’t complete an order on the website with the subject line: “Can you please look into this?”
- Your CX/VOC manager forwards a series of survey responses indicating customers were unable to log in on the mobile app due to a persistent error.
- Your CMO schedules an emergency meeting about the spike in bounce rates on the new marketing landing page.
Every day, digital teams are tasked with investigating supposed “5-alarm fire” issues by various stakeholders and executives, who themselves, often disagree over the severity of the issue. As a result, you’re in constant fire drill mode, treating every issue as a crisis in order to appease what we call the “loudest voice in the room.”
While satisfying stakeholders might get you bonus points in the short term, managing digital priorities this way is inefficient, especially when teams are being forced to do more with less.
The good news – it’s entirely avoidable. In this blog, we’ll discuss the cost of executive escalations, with actionable takeaways for how to manage the loudest voice in the room.
The cost of unnecessary executive escalations.
While placing the customer at the center of everything you do is what we champion at Quantum Metric, in the case of executive escalations, one specific customer’s complaint does not always represent the rest.
For example, take the CEO forwarding a frantic email from a friend. When this vague yet somehow high-stakes issue is brought to your team’s attention, a lot of resources are going to go towards solving something that might have an outsized impact on the business. However, it might also have minimal impact, especially in comparison to other more critical issues. The point is no one has clear evidence of impact. In other words, an entire team will drop everything to work on a diving catch that isn’t even going to make a difference.
This is not only disruptive and frustrating, it’s costly too.
In our recent Efficiency Index Report, digital leaders noted that the biggest digital time waster is executive escalations with 27% of leaders saying unnecessary escalations (e.g. boss forwards a website complaint from a friend or relative) interrupt half of their other digital priorities each week.
When you calculate the cost of that interruption, the average digital team wastes a day each week on executive escalations, which adds up 2 months a year on escalations that have no real impact on their business!
So, what can teams do about it?
5 tips for managing and mitigating executive escalations.
1. Monitor for high business impact.
It’s tempting to react to every customer complaint, but this can be counterproductive as the volume of daily escalations increases. Instead, you should calculate the impact of every customer behavior so you’re only alerted to anomalies that have the highest business impact. This requires monitoring 100% of sessions at scale, not just activity of customers who leave feedback.
- How it mitigates escalations: With real-time intelligent anomaly detection and quantified alerts, low impact issues and false alarms are diminished, so there’s less reacting to isolated customer feedback or a small sample. Stakeholders and execs are only pinged when a truly critical, business-impacting anomaly occurs.
2. Quantify feedback instantaneously.
One of the biggest causes of unnecessary escalations is the over-reliance on surveys or other customer service feedback alone, and the inability to understand the impact of any given customer complaint. Was the problem a one time thing, or is it impacting every user on your mobile app? Instead, from any individual survey, teams need to quantify the overall impact on conversion, numbers of users affected, and annual opportunity.
- How it mitigates escalations: With quantification tied to conversion via heatmaps and session replay, it only takes seconds to determine whether the issue a customer experienced is unique to them, or representative of a larger issue. This lets you follow up quickly and accurately, and move on with your day as planned.
3. Diagnose the problem more efficiently.
Diagnosing the root cause of a problem with limited expertise is another reason investigations can drag on. Most stakeholders and execs aren’t data experts, which means expertise can become the bottleneck. To diagnose issues efficiently, you need a fast way to understand the right questions to ask.
- How it mitigates escalations: With pre-built guides directing you to the critical questions and answers tailored to the language of your unique industry, anyone in your org can be an expert and understand exactly what’s happening to your customers, and take action accordingly.
4. Prioritize with confidence.
If you asked all your team leaders what should be the #1 priority, would they agree? Help teams instantly align on what to tackle across your digital experience by stack ranking product issues and opportunities in one place, based on business impact. Then, coordinate optimization plans based on a quantified single version of truth.
- How it mitigates escalations: It’s easier to diffuse misalignment over executive escalations with evidence, when you can instantly show them how their “5-alarm fire” actually ranks on the quantified priorities list.
5. Break down silos with cross-team insights.
Data silos are a common cause of executive escalations, as a myriad of tools and technologies propagate across the org, leading to misalignment over priorities. This leads to a “me-first” mentality among team leaders, who can’t agree on who’s issue has the highest business impact. For example, the product team’s spreadsheet says one thing. The tech team’s tool says another. Which is accurate? Consolidate your analytics tech stack with a single version of customer-centric truth so you can build confidence and cross-team alignment.
- How it mitigates escalations: Executives will no longer have a reason to escalate issues when everyone can align around what’s impacting customers and the business.
Too often today’s digital enterprises are plagued by waste, complexity, deliberation, and guesswork due to unnecessary executive escalations.
Acquiescing to the loudest voice in the room is often the result of poor confidence in data, caused by a myriad of traditional analytics tools with generic metrics, charts, and graphs that are difficult for most stakeholders to interpret, let alone, agree and act on.
By leveraging quantified customer signals, organizations can significantly reduce the likelihood of unnecessary executive escalations, resulting in improved operational efficiency and ultimately boosting revenue, cost savings and customer satisfaction. Additionally, real-time monitoring and alerting tied to business impact empowers teams to address issues that matter to customers before they reach executive-level. Lastly, organizations that nurture a culture of Continuous Product Design, with collaboration and transparency to help teams grow and adapt as customers change, will reduce the recurrence of ongoing escalations.
Looking for more tips to manage team resources? Make sure to download our Efficiency Index.