One of the best ways to ensure a positive customer experience is to make sure that customers are connected with a knowledgeable agent — one who is skilled to handle a particular call or issue. Call centers do this by using “skills-based routing”. This feature overview will dig into the details of what to look for when evaluating different call center software providers if skills-based routing is an important feature to you.
Brief Overview of Skills-Based Routing
Skills-based routing is a feature used by contact centers to match incoming calls, emails, or chats with agents who possess the right skill set to handle the customer's specific needs. This approach ensures that customers are connected with agents who are best suited to resolve their issues, leading to increased customer satisfaction and improved call center efficiency. Skills-based call routing is just one of many different types of call routing that are used in call centers.
How Skills-Based Routing Works
Skills-based routing works by first identifying the necessary skills required to handle specific types of interactions based on factors such as product knowledge, language proficiency, or technical expertise. These skills are then assigned to agents based on their qualifications and experience. Call center managers typically set these initial skills by associating different agents with different skill sets (sometimes this is referred to as “skilling”). In some contact center platforms, skilling can be done automatically. For example, if an agent has successfully handled many calls of a particular type, that agent may automatically be assigned a high skill level for that particular call type.
Call center managers also may establish characteristics of different campaigns. For example, a high-touch customer service campaign may require highly proficient agents.
Once agents have been assigned skill levels, and campaigns have been created with skill characteristics, calls can be routed using skills-based routing.
Contact center platforms use an automatic call distribution (ACD) system to route incoming calls, emails, or chats to the appropriate agent based on their skills. The ACD system considers several factors when determining the best agent for a particular interaction, including agent availability, current workload, and skill proficiency.
Skills-based routing ensures that for every interaction, the ACD will route the interaction to the agent who is available and who has the highest skill for that particular interaction.
Types of Skills-Based Routing
There are several types of skills-based routing strategies that organizations can implement in their call centers:
- Single skill routing: This is the simplest form of skills-based routing, where each agent is assigned a single skill. Calls are routed to the first available agent with that specific skill. As a simple example, multi-lingual call centers will route Spanish-language calls to Spanish-speaking reps (i.e., agents who have the skill of speaking Spanish).
- Multi-skill routing: In this approach, agents are assigned multiple skills, allowing them to handle a variety of call types. The ACD system routes calls to the agent with the highest skill proficiency required for the interaction. As a simple example, a multi-lingual call center may have English and Spanish-speaking agents as well as English and Spanish-speaking agents who have high proficiency in a particular type of call. The skills-based routing will first ensure that an agent skilled in the caller's language is selected, but then will ensure that most competent agent speaking that language is selected.
- Advanced routing strategies: These strategies involve using additional data, such as customer history or interaction context, to further optimize the routing process. This can help ensure that customers are connected with agents who are not only skilled in handling their issue but also familiar with their specific situation or account.
Key Factors to Consider When Choosing Call Center Software with Skills-Based Routing
When evaluating call center software that includes skills-based routing, it's essential to consider several key factors:
- Routing algorithm flexibility: Look for a solution that offers customizable routing algorithms, allowing you to fine-tune the routing process based on your organization's unique needs.
- Reporting and analytics capabilities: Robust reporting and analytics tools are crucial for monitoring the effectiveness of your skills-based routing strategy and making data-driven adjustments as needed.
- Maintainability: Choose a solution that allows you to easily maintain and extend the skills your floor needs. For example, if your call center has thousands of agents, how flexible is the solution in allowing you to mass-reassign agent skills? In situations where you need to quickly shift the call center floor to accommodate a new campaign, the ability to “bulk reassign” is important (otherwise you may be spending hours slowly reassigning skills).
- Automation. Does the solution allow you to automatically update or assign skills based on agent performance? Your routing strategies should acknowledge the good (and poor) performers — having automatic skill assignments can help you ensure that good performing agents are assigned higher skills (and handle more important interactions) while poor performing agents are assigned lower skills (and handle less important interactions).
- Omnichannel. Does the solution allow you to use skills-based routing across different channels?
Benefits of Skills-Based Routing
Implementing skills-based routing in your call center offers several significant benefits:
- Improved customer satisfaction: Connecting customers with agents who possess the right skill set to address their needs increases the likelihood of a positive experience and fosters customer loyalty.
- Increased first interaction resolution: Skills-based routing increases the chances of resolving customer issues on the first interaction, reducing the need for callbacks and repeat interactions.
- Enhanced agent productivity and morale: By assigning agents to interactions that align with their expertise, they can work more efficiently and confidently, leading to higher job satisfaction and reduced turnover.
- Better resource utilization and cost savings: Skills-based routing enables more efficient use of agent resources and can lead to reduced operational costs.
Example Call Center Software Providers with Skills-Based Routing
- Genesys Cloud: Genesys Cloud offers a robust skills-based routing solution that integrates seamlessly with its comprehensive suite of call center software features, including workforce management, quality monitoring, and CRM integrations. Additionally, it provides powerful reporting and analytics tools that enable data-driven decision-making.
- NICE inContact CXone: NICE inContact CXone's skills-based routing feature allows for customizable routing algorithms, ensuring the optimal match between customer needs and agent skills. It also offers integration with other essential call center software features and robust reporting capabilities.
- Five9: Five9's skills-based routing solution is designed to optimize agent performance by routing calls based on skills, availability, and other factors. It includes integration with CRM systems and provides real-time reporting to help monitor and adjust routing strategies as needed.
How to Effectively Implement Skills-Based Routing in Your Call Center
To implement skills-based routing successfully in your call center, follow these steps:
- Define agent skills and proficiency levels: Clearly identify the necessary skills required to handle various types of interactions and determine each agent's proficiency level in those skills.
- Implement a continuous agent training program: Ensure that agents receive ongoing training to develop new skills and improve existing ones, enabling them to handle a broader range of customer issues effectively.
- Monitor and adjust routing strategies based on performance data: Use reporting and analytics tools to track the effectiveness of your skills-based routing strategy and make data-driven adjustments as needed.
- Collaborate with agents to refine the routing process: Engage with agents to gather their feedback on the routing process and use their insights to make improvements, fostering a sense of ownership and commitment to the success of the skills-based routing strategy.
By implementing skills-based routing in your call center, you can optimize agent performance, enhance customer satisfaction, and ultimately, drive business success.