Traditionally, call centers operated on coming up with reactive solutions. They functioned more like an intermediary between customers and a company. They didn’t have the capability to enhance their interactions with the customers to generate better customer service.
Customers couldn’t be properly satisfied with the experiences created by these call centers.
It’s not that companies didn’t know about the importance of customer experience, it’s just that technology hadn’t advanced enough.
Today’s call centers have picked up on that slack. They’ve come up with the technology and strategies for enhancing customer experience. Modern call center’s are viewed as strategic customer interaction points of contact. It is a touchpoint that can have a huge impact in fostering and building strong relationships with customers thus, improving the overall customer experience of the organization.
Access to data and technological advances have made it possible for companies to unlock actionable insights for their customers leading to better solutions for them and the organization.
What is call routing in a call center?
Call center routing is a feature of a call center management system that automatically places and queues inbound customer calls to a specific department or agent. This is done through sets of predefined rules and criteria so, all of it happens even before an agent picks up the call.
This type of call routing is also known as ACD (Automatic Call Distribution) system.
How does call center routing work?
Routing a call depends on the contact center’s policies, but all of them generally have a similar approach. The call routing system automatically takes calls and processes them till it reaches an agent.
There are three different phases that happen when a call is being routed:
In this phase, customer calls are sent to an IVRS (Interactive Voice Response System). This is an automated phone system feature that interacts with callers and gathers information by giving them choices via a preset menu. It then performs actions based on the voice responses of the caller or through the phone keypad.
For example, when you call your phone company to enquire about your balance, you’ll probably get an IVRS system telling you to, ‘press 1 for language’, ‘press 2 for balance enquiry’, etc. That is how the system queues you to the proper department or channel.
Once a caller inputs the required information, the ACD forwards the calls to the appropriate department or agent depending on priority, skills, and other metrics followed by the call center.
After the calls are placed in their respective queues, they get routed to the agents. This distribution of calls is based on the call center’s policies; a call might go to the most skilled agent or to the agent who has been most idle in a shift. All of that depends on the strategies that the call center has in place.
All of these phases happen within a span of a few minutes. This enables the caller to receive information and assistance in a short period of time.
The speed and efficiency of call center routing systems play a big role in delivering customer satisfaction and enhancing customer experience and retention.
Image source: www.ir.com
Call center routing strategies
Individual call centers have different strategies; it all depends on their business needs.
Listed below are the most common call routing strategies:
1. Direct routing
In this type of routing strategy, there is a number for every department. If you need to call the customer service department, you’ll have to dial the customer service number. If you need sales, you’ll have to dial the sales number. If the number is busy, the caller needs to keep on trying. The call is always connected to the first agent that is free to talk.
This strategy is usually used by small organizations who’re just establishing themselves and only have basic customer services. It’s used to just let customers be able to be in contact with the organization.
2. Least occupied routing
This strategy entails automatically routing calls to an agent who has taken the fewest calls in a shift up to that point in time. This type of call routing ensures fairness among all the agents by distributing a similar number of calls between them.
Though it’s fair, this type of routing fails to utilize the skills of specialized agents. Unskilled agents might receive calls that require specialized and experienced agents, whereas an experienced and skilled agent might receive basic enquiries that could have been handled by any agent.
3. Skills-based routing
This kind of routing involves identifying and grading your agents’ skills. Each agent is defined with a particular list of strengths and weaknesses they possess. Whenever a particular type of enquiry comes, it will be automatically directed to the agent who has the best skills to deal with it.
If this type of routing strategy is implemented properly, it can be one of the most efficient routing strategies. Since this utilizes the skill sets of particular agents, a higher number of agents will be taking as well as resolving calls simultaneously.
Complex queries will be directed to agents capable of handling them while simple queries will be handed to less skilled agents. Since this strategy usually has the highest call resolvement rates, it also offers the highest levels of customer satisfaction.
The only drawback in utilizing this type of call routing is that for a smaller call center, it can hold back an inexperienced agent from ever gaining any experience.
Also, if the skills, strengths, and weaknesses of an agent aren’t properly measured or poorly implemented, customer issues could be resolved unsatisfactorily leading to negative customer experiences.
4. Intelligent call routing
This call center routing strategy routes calls according to predefined priorities like location, agent skills, language, etc. This strategy enables companies to segment and gives priority to calls based on the service and level of service required.
For example, customer A calls and selects 1 for English and again selects 2 for billing from the menu options. Then, customer B calls and selects 1 for English and 3 for technical help. If the only agent available in the queue has skills in English and technical help, customer B’s call will be dispatched to the agent as that will be the optimal match, even though customer A had called first. So, the system will wait till an optimal agent who has English and billing skills becomes available before routing customer A’s call.
This type of strategy will help your company to identify the service needs of the customer and assign the best agent. This ultimately helps in maximizing the productivity and resolve rates of your call center.
5. Data directed routing
Data directed routing, also known as smart routing, identifies callers by their number, account number or helpdesk customer profiles. The system then directs the call to an appropriate agent based on the data generated by the customer profile.
For example, a VIP customer would be identified and routed to a specialist agent. An existing customer would be directed to the customer support department, whereas, a new customer would be directed to the sales department.
The only limitation this strategy has is that it routes calls based on assumptions; If existing customers call they might not want the customer support department, but might be calling to have an upgrade on their product. In which case the call should have been diverted to sales. This misdirected routing could lead to extended waiting and resolvement times.
But if implemented properly, this routing strategy is an efficient way to utilize the skills of your agents. It helps lower transfer times and usually directs calls to the most appropriate agent or department. It also cancels out the problem of customers pressing the wrong menu numbers, which happens in intelligent call routing.
Benefits of call routing in call centers
Now that we’ve gained some insights about some of the more significant types of call routing strategies, let’s look at how they can benefit your organization.
Successful call routing helps both your customer service agents and your customers to optimize their time and have a higher chance of resolving issues. Also, since call routing involves directing customer calls to the best-suited agent, your organization’s customer experience can only improve. By implementing efficient call routing in call centers, your service team can improve upon their FCR (First-call resolution), meaning they could resolve customer issues during the first call itself.
Listed below are some major benefits that can happen for your company by implementing call routing in call centers and following call routing best practices:
Improves Customer Experience
The main objective of any call center is to answer customer queries and resolve their issues. An efficient routing system to handle your customer calls enables you to do just this.
Routing calls to the right agent with the right skill sets without too much waiting time will vastly improve your FCR rates. Your service agents will come across as capable and confident. All of this will lead to a better customer experience and a positive image for your company in the market.
Reduces waiting and holding time
Nobody likes it when their calls are put on hold and you have to wait forever till an agent who can’t help you eventually picks up your call. Every customer would want instant service. A scenario like this means repeated callbacks, a lower FCR and a disgruntled customer. Implementing routing strategies for your call center lets you minimize the occurrence of such instances. Smart ACD managed routing minimizes the wait and hold time by instantly assigning the call to the most optimal agent based on the services required by the customer.
This reduces time in transferring calls from one agent to another or from one department to another, saving both your agents’ and customers time.
Increased first call resolution rates
The faster that agents are assigned with customer calls, the faster they can work on assisting and resolving them. Implementing and utilizing call routing strategies will help increase your FCR rates to go up.
This is possible because the system automatically assigns the most suitable agent for the customer issue concerned. Since customers can input the services they desire like, language, service required, i.e. sales, service, billing, etc. The system can assign specific agents with the required/desired skill set to the customer. This specificity can help ensure increased FCR rates for your company.
Employee time utilization
There can be times when your customer service agents get inundated with customer calls. When they’re continuously on a call with customers with no breathing space, it can be overwhelming and can lead to burnout.
Call center ACD systems can help you to balance your agents’ workload by distributing calls evenly. This can help your agents have small gaps in between calls to compose themselves and gather their thoughts in preparation for the next call.
Skill-based systems also allow your agents to not get pressured by calls about which they have no knowledge. Since the system distributes calls according to an agent’s skill, the calls they receive will be within the domain of their expertise.
Reduces call abandonment rate
The most common cause for call abandonment, when a caller disconnects the call before any conversation occurs, is the frustration of being put on hold and having to wait for a long time.
Since call routing strategies enable calls to be connected and redirected to the right agent, call abandonment also drops significantly. Shorter hold times for customers due to utilizing call center routing strategies also aids in reducing call abandonment rates.
Decreases in call abandonment can only mean better FCR rates, important calls not being missed and enhanced customer experience.
Enhance your customer experience by implementing the perfect routing strategy
As your organization grows, the number of customer interactions also grows along with it. Retaining your customers by providing an exceptional customer experience has nowadays become the norm rather than a value-added service.
Kapture can help you in setting up your call center routing by integrating call center CRM with your cloud telephony partner and programming efficient call routing strategies according to your needs. Whichever strategy you choose, be it data-based routing, skill-based routing, or intelligent routing. Kapture can help you implement it.
Omnichannel support lets your customers and agents interact with each other on a channel and language of the customers’ choice. Such flexibility for customers ensures smoother and lesser waiting times.
360° customer views with AI-powered agent assistants mean that your service agents can get real-time access to customer profiles at their fingertips. This gives them the ability to resolve customer issues faster and more efficiently.
KMS (Knowledge Management System) lets your agents and customers access a centralized knowledge base directory with FAQs and more, which helps in resolving issues faster, while also lessening your agents’ workload. The reporting and analytics feature also helps in monitoring your agent’s performance, so as to know which areas need improving.
Implementing technology with your call center routing will definitely benefit you and your customers and it’s not a very difficult thing to do either. The easy installation and the scalability of the system make it a very tough proposition to ignore.
About the Author
|Elvis Richard Cormuz|
|Elvis hails from Darjeeling and has had vibrant work-life experiences – he is a musician, social worker, and freelance translator/transcriber, his hobbies include music, movies, and reading.|