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April 29, 2013

Deriving Value from Skills-Based Routing: A Guide to Implementing Skills-Based Routing Effectively


Justifying a technology investment in a contact center comes down to understanding the solution’s applicability and how it can benefit agents, customers, and the business as a whole. Skills-based routing can lend to better business performance by improving agent performance and the customer experience, particularly when routing plans are implemented wisely and maximized by best practices.

In planning for skills-based routing, the first step is to determine the types of skills that contact center agents possess or must acquire. Depending on the organization, the industry it serves, and its processes and requirements for customer care, agent skills fall into four principal classifications.

·Proprietary skills, which require training specific to products or services such as billing, scheduling, reservations, or parts. These are the most common skills among agents.

·Technical/industry skills reflect an agent’s expertise and often require special training, such technical troubleshooting (Tech Support or Help Desk), language proficiency, or professional licensing (insurance, financial brokerage services, etc.). While these skills are highly specialized, they are not always unique to the organization.

·Behavioral skills include skills important for relationship management, such as an agent’s demeanor that’s direct and to the point in contrast to one that is patient and nurturing. Typically, behavioral skills are not applied outside a relationship-based model.

·Passive skills are assigned by the organization and are transparent to the agent and customer. These skills usually pertain to geographic alignment or team assignment.

After concluding which skills are relevant to the business, the next step is to determine if those skills can be taught or if agents possessing the skill should be hired. Scale is also a key consideration, although there is no prescribed size a contact center must be to take advantage of skills-based routing. (Note that, in a small contact center, skills-based routing can segment a smaller operation and inhibit the nimbleness of agent resources.)

In the same manner as assessing agent skills, evaluate existing contact center, customer care, and business operations thoroughly. Thereafter, perform a gap analysis to understand barriers that might hinder arriving at the wanted state. It is at this point that the contact center can demonstrate how skills-based routing delivers measurable value to the business.

Best practices

Rule #1: Ensure that the routing plan is relevant — and simple to manage. That is, a plan should be free of excessive design complexity, and should provide transparency within workflows as to how and why interactions traverse specific decision points. The following best practices can help.

Design routing plans in a practical, appropriate manner

High priority customers are a good example. It’s common to offer service that includes routing such customers to a dedicated agent. But if the agent is unavailable, interactions queue for a larger subset of agents for a set duration, and the routing design can force unnecessary hold times. By instead queuing a priority customer’s interaction for all agents with the wanted skills, the rate of immediate answers increases, average speed of answer and abandons decrease, and the quality of service remains neutral.

 




Edited by Stefania Viscusi


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