Implementing Skills-Based Routing in Your Contact Center

Earlier this week, I blogged about how skills-based routing is one of the most effective ways of making an impact on your contact center. After posting that blog, I took a moment to think through just how many contact centers I’ve talked to where they were NOT using skills-based routing. I was shocked to realize that many contact centers either don’t know how to do it or think that their technology can’t handle it.

The goal of this blog is to try to answer both. Consider this your skills-based routing "To Do" list.

  1. Identify the skills that your customers need.
  2. Identify the skill-sets of your agent pool that match those customer needs.
  3. Segment your agents into skill groups based on their skills. Typically, you will have multiple skill groups as not all agents have the same level of skills. This will ensure that if the first level of agents are not available, the second level can take the interaction.
  4. Define your queues. Depending on the technology you have at your contact center, here are a few suggestions:
    • Basic ACD Technology: Create separate queues for each agent skill group. While this isn’t very efficient and presents some logistical issues in manually moving agents in and out of queues throughout the day as demands rise, it does achieve the desired results at a basic level.
    • Advanced ACD Technology: Create one queue and use ACD route logic to route to the right-skilled agents within the queue. This provides the additional advantage of not having to move agents in and out of queues, plus it provides seamless routing of interactions to secondary agents when the primary agents aren’t available.
  5. Define how calls will get routed to those agents. Depending on the technology you have deployed at your contact center, here are a few suggested ways:
    • DNIS – offer special toll numbers for your customers with each toll number being identified with skill groups within your contact center.
    • Basic IVR or Auto-Attendant  – using one toll number for all customers but segmenting the customers through the menu choices that they press (press 1 for English, 2 for Spanish; Press 1 for Sales, 2 for Support; etc.) Again, not the most efficient, but it does work. While customers may not like the additional choices, it does get them the best service and they end up being happier.
    • Advanced IVR or Bulls-Eye Routing – using one toll number for all customers, first identify the customer by their ANI, customer ID, account number, etc. With this information, perform database lookups that identify their account priority, skills needed, products owned, agent last talked to, or a whole host of other possible attributes by which you can route them to the best skilled agent.
  6. Train your agents. The better trained your agents are, the better customer service they will provide. Additional training, however, will be necessary to fill in the gaps where you have identified the largest group of customer skills needed. Additionally, if your contact center generates revenue, your agents will need to be trained on how to identify and handle cross-sell and up-sell opportunities.
  7. Monitor, measure and adjust. Reports are crucial and customer feedback essential in making sure that your skills-based routing plan is working. Make sure you monitor the changes closely and don’t be afraid to make changes to get it right. Of course, implementing call recording, agent scoring and post-call satisfaction tools will help you get the answers you really need.

This list should get you started in the right direction. If you feel like I missed one or two items, let me (and others) know.

Tim Passios