Do you want to improve customer satisfaction with your service?  One of the first things to do is look at your call routing strategies. According to research by Convergys, the top three reasons that make people unhappy are: 1. Having to make multiple attempts to resolve a problem 2. Resolutions that take too long 3. Having to repeat themselves. You can significantly reduce all of these problems through the smart application of contact center routing strategies. Connecting people with the right person the first time accelerates resolutions and makes for happier customers.

The problem is with variable demand and finite resources

The trick to providing good customer service is lining up your call routing resources with customer needs to deliver a consistent customer experience. At first glance, consistency seems to be mathematically impossible:

On the one hand, you have fixed resources: a fixed number of agents, limited skill sets, and a limited amount of time – particularly for real-time voice and chat interactions.
On the other hand, customer demand is almost infinitely variable and difficult to predict.
Too often, fluctuations in demand result in inconsistent customer service, dropped calls, and customers repeating the same story to different agents.

Contact Center Call Routing is the Key to Success

Successful contact centers use call routing strategies to deliver a consistent customer experience in the face of fluctuating demands and fixed resources.

An intelligent routing strategy goes beyond reducing wait times or call resolution times. While operational efficiency is an essential objective, the bigger payoff of intelligent routing comes from improving the customer experience.

When routing strategy integrates customer context, such as customer history and value, with business objectives and agents’ skills, it can become a competitive advantage.

How the design approach to contact routing increases 1st contact resolution
How to deliver a great customer experience while also driving operational efficiency
Best practices for designing your contact routing strategy

The Benefits of Advanced Call Routing

Advanced call routing takes the routing process beyond the basic caller data received through the phone lines. Instead, companies can now collect a wide range of information on their customers, from sales history to demographics that can help them with up-selling, customer retention and overall service quality.
Some of the benefits of this type of call routing system include:

• Improved prioritization of calls, so customers get to the department they need more efficiently

• Showing warnings to agents before the call is taken, so agents are prepared for the content of the call

• Enhanced analytics that make it easy to see how the current call routing system is impacting customer retention

In addition to improved customer service, advanced call routing can also be used as a sales tool for up-selling the right products and services to customers that call in with questions or concerns.
Call routing is a necessary evil for most customer service departments, but it does not have to be a source of frustration for your service team and your customers. With the right strategies and software, your call routing system can actually enhance your customers’ service experience.

Six Call Routing Strategies

Customer retention routing – There is much more in a CRM system than the raw customer data.  Business intelligence about the customer can calculate the risk that the customer is leaving (based on the purchasing pattern). When a customer calls, the routing engine taps into the CRM interface.

In addition to the account details, required skills and similar information, a “retention index” could be used.  This has three main purposes.

Prioritizing the calls and adjusting the routing strategy and messages
Showing a warning to the agent
Indicating, as a part of analytical reports, whether the current routing strategy is an effective tool in retention

Route the calls to the last agent they spoke with – Ensuring that calls go through to the right agent is one of the most crucial functions of a contact center, as both callers and call handlers can get frustrated when calls are misplaced.

One common criticism is that it is rare for a caller to speak to the same agent more than once, even though the technology is often in place to facilitate effective call routing. This ensures that follow-up calls are routed back to the original agent a caller spoke to, creating a much better relationship between customer and business, and quicker resolution of the call.In a sales environment it is crucial to build those relationships, especially if a customer with a hot opportunity is calling back to the sales team. Having the call routed directly to the original agent helps to continue the dialogue and hopefully close the deal.

Similarly, in a service center, where there is an element of troubleshooting, it is much more effective in terms of resolution if there is continuity of contact between and agent and caller, rather than presenting the caller with lots of menu options when they phone.

Best prospect routing – Allows the best prospective customer to be routed through to the best-qualified agent.  In effect the best prospect jumps to the front of the queue.

This arrangement seems to work well but it is easy to get bogged down in detail maintaining it.  Keeping individual skill records for agents can prove to be quite difficult.  It is possible that WFM systems could be much more tightly integrated with call routing, which could make this scenario easier to maintain.

Cross-selling in the queue – Queue messages can be customized to the individual customer.  This means that waiting time can be used as an opportunity to promote a new product or service tailored to the caller.

Multi-channel queuing – Where call centers have a single resource queue for managing inbound calls, email, web chat or social media messages. New work requests are pushed to the next available agent based on their skill profile.

Some organizations have moved from a telephone-only service to a true multi-channel proposition where people can now communicate with agents online, via text message and by email.

Routing across the enterprise, outside of the contact center – Most call centers only route calls to people within the contact center.  SIP-based telephone systems now incorporate a facility called “presence.”  Presence allows for the creation of an informal contact center using experts in the rest of the business.  This can enable those individuals to join the queue, but only when they are at their desks. 
This can be particularly useful for specialist situations, such as crisis management.

This concept can readily be developed to create a virtual call center, where calls are shared across multiple sites.  This can lead to better response times and higher resource utilization.

Call routing strategies improve customer satisfaction.

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