You might have a contact center with 500 agents. But if you do not recognize their skills and put them to good use, you wont make the most of your workforce.
All your agents are making and receiving calls — some more than the others, some better than the others. Your contact center’s efficiency depends substantially on whether the right agents are on the right calls. How do you ensure this? You set up a system that directs these calls to agents based on certain parameters. This is where you set up your skill-based, time-based, priority-based or campaign-based call routing.
How to route your business calls
Create skill groups: Calls get routed only to agents who have been mapped to a particular skill. The first step is to identify the skill of an agent and to map them to a particular group. For example, sales or support. You can map agents to two skills. For example, Nina is mapped to the “German” skill group and to the “sales” skill group.
Use your IVR: The IVR will give the caller options that have been listed according to skill groups: for sales queries, dial 1, for complaints, dial 2…and so on. For example, if you are in the hospitality business, you can give callers options such as ‘Reservations and Cancellations’, ‘Accounts’, ‘Memberships’, and so on. If a caller selects the first option the call gets routed to an agent who is well-versed with reservations and cancellations procedures.
Once the customer selects the desired option, the call is directed to the right agent in that skill group. You can prioritize among agents too. So calls get routed to highly skilled agents first and then, as a fallback route, to next skilled agents. (We’ll discuss more on fallback a little later.)
Hunt your agents: The system applies the “hunting” mechanism to look for the “Next Free Agent” based on the agent’s idle time – that is the time for which the agent hasn’t been on any calls. Ozonetel uses the ACD or Automatic Call Distribution logic as the core feature for call routing. So the call goes to the agent most idle, first.
Even if they’re offline: In a skill-based routing mechanism, hunting, or looking for the right agent to handle a call, is done on the basis of an agent’s ID, if it is an online campaign. In offline campaigns, the agent’s phone number is the sorting tool — it connects the caller to the agent whether the agent is logged into the system or is on the move.
According to their shift: Do your agents work in shifts? You can manage your agent rosters by combining skill hunting with time-based routing.
Skill-based routing: route calls based on agent capabilities
The skill-based method of call routing involves identifying an agent’s skills and assigning calls from a particular group to him or her based on those skills. For example, if you have an agent that speaks fluent German in addition to English, you route calls from German-speaking callers to this agent. So, just like you sort your callers into categories such as VIPs, complainants, first-time callers, you also group your agents based on their areas of specialization and map them to the right group. One agent might be exceptionally patient and able to handle a frustrated caller while the other might be an old hand and knows how to keep your VIP callers happy.
The advantages of using skill-based routing
- Superior customer satisfaction: When you connect callers to the right agent in the first attempt and resolve issues faster, everybody is happy. Your caller is the happiest because s/he hasn’t spent several minutes getting transferred from one agent to another.
- Helps with your metrics: Skill-based call routing is a logical step towards ensuring your metrics such as Average Speed of Answer and Average Handle Time are at their optimum. Agents can get to calls faster, queue time is short, and calls resolve faster.
- Better workforce management: You can map callers to agents based on what they are good at. There is little scope for under or over-utilization of manpower.
- Clued-in agents: Since agents know what calls they will handle beforehand, they are better prepared and are not left fumbling for answers.
- High FCR rate: We have seen that skill-based routing results increase the chances of first call resolutions
Time-based Routing: Route after-hour calls
Some businesses want their customers to be able to reach them at all times of the day. They can use time-based call routing to have their agents accessible all the time. For instance, if a business works from 9 am to 6 pm but offers 24/7 customer service, inbound calls after 6 pm divert to an agent’s cellphone. So even if the agent is at home or traveling, s/he receives the call.
One feature our clients like using when applying skill-based call routing is Fallback.
Fallback comes into play when call volumes are high. The agent/s the call has been routed to is busy. You don’t want to keep your caller waiting in queue for too long.
So you define a timeout: lets says if a caller is not connected in 30 seconds, the queue times out. You define what happens next, in the fallback rules. Your call could disconnect or move to voicemail. But you can also divert it to another support center, in another city. Or the call route it to another skill group.
Our recent survey among customers who use our product revealed that most of them like to use skill/multi-skill and voicemail features as Fallback.
To illustrate a multi-skill fallback mechanism, if a caller needs to speak to someone who is fluent in Spanish but all agents from the Spanish-speaking skill group are busy, this call can be routed to an agent from the multi-skill group who speaks Spanish and English. The purpose is served in the end.
How experienced businesses route their calls
Priority Call Routing: One of our clients, an eCommerce business, prioritizes callers based on their customer history. They award high priority to their regulars and want these calls answered within ten seconds. So they assigned a team of highly-skilled agents to these VIP customers and gave them a priority. All customer calls from this VIP category automatically route to this priority skill group. (Read more about VIP routing here)
Virtual Mapping: In contrast, Enterprise Capital A US-based, lending platform with specialized financing programs, has configured one skill per agent. They have published a virtual number for each agent, which is, in turn, mapped to a unique skill. When regular customers call, they can dial the agents’ extension number to connect with them. These calls then connect to the agent via their desktops or to their cell phones if they are not at the desk.
(Read about Enterprise Capital’s Call Routing Here)
Sticky Agents: Other Clients ensure that every time your customer/prospect calls, they connect with the same agent using our sticky agent call routing.
(Read a guide to using the sticky agent feature here)