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Technology Optimization: Routing and Skills

Many elements play a role in routing, including the network, IVR, ACD, and potentially CTI and databases. Centers need to review or define a call path carefully, end-to-end, to apply the technology properly. Skills capabilities allow agents to handle various call types and priorities, and conditional routing makes “if…then…” decisions for each call. Most centers focus on phone calls, but also “route” emails and perhaps fax, mail, or even text chat as part of contact handling. So as we look at routing and skills, we also need to consider it across media.

contact routingMany problems in contact centers are due to overly complicated routing and skills. Making skill structures too granular makes it difficult to effectively route, track, manage, and optimize. It puts customers through needless gyrations to call different numbers, navigate prompts, and bounce around queues. At the other end of the spectrum, some centers suffer from overly simplified routing and skills. They put everyone into one bucket and expect their “super agents” to do it all. They wind up with a high transfer rate and low first call resolution.

Here are some tips to optimize your routing and skills.

FIRST: Keep it simple. Define end-to-end routing with the customer in mind and ease of management as a complimentary goal. Define channel use (toll free numbers) and prompts (whether in the network, IVR, and/or ACD) to match skills while minimizing the burden on the customer. Define skills only to the degree needed for the call types – not for tracking, not because you can break it down that much. Finally, define routing paths with the right conditional options but not too many gyrations. You don’t want “spaghetti routing” where you can’t decipher what goes where (and why) or what works and what doesn’t.

SECOND: Use the technology. Set up appropriate conditionals and skills to find the best available resource – including looking at backup skills or other sites. Use a routing tool for other media (e.g., email, chat) – whether it’s a function of your ACD or CTI, or a separate routing engine. You’ve got to be able to route, track, and optimize more than just phone calls.

THIRD: Make changes when necessary, and with purpose and understanding. Part of getting routing and skills right is continuous improvement; few environments are truly static. Use your reports to monitor results, and analyze, assess, and optimize based on what you learn. (Stay tuned for our next column which will address reports)

FINALLY: Tie routing and skills technology into the process and people aspects as well. Training is key to aligning skills and contact types. You can use routing and skills to help define career paths and create opportunities – across products, customer types, media, or other dimensions.