Call Routing Best Practices

Highlights

  • Intelligent contact center call routing increases customer satisfaction while addressing business imperatives for higher efficiency and lower cost to serve.
  • The combination of intelligent call transfer methods and technologies improve customer satisfaction while lowering customer service costs.
  • Call routing optimization is shown to increase agent productivity by 5 to 7 percent and lower contact center costs by 2 to 4 percent.
Johnny Grow Revenue Growth Consulting

Contact center call routing best practices accelerate performance improvements, lower risk and increase ROI. Below are several best practices we've implemented many times at contact and call centers.

  • Adopt universal queuing to consolidate customer inquiries across channels. Omnichannel customer support will only increase. More importantly, omnichannel support engages customers where they reside and therefore decreases customer effort (CES) and increases customer satisfaction (CSAT).

Using different channels for different types of cases can shift many cases to lower cost channels and thereby lower total operational costs. Universal queuing simplifies omnichannel management, drives call center scheduling and staffing efficiencies and improves contact center quality of service.

  • Optimize call transfers with the right mix of call routing methods and technologies. Call routing methods apply rules-based decision engines to route each caller to the best agent. Methods may be based on agent skills, availability or utilization, time of the day, customer location or other customer information. Seldom does a single method deliver optimal results. Instead, each method has something to offer and it's normally a combination of methods that deliver the biggest performance improvements.
Call Routing Methods
  • Intelligent call routing is data driven routing and uses combinations of data to optimize human resource costs and help get the right customer to the right call center representative. It uses four types of data, being caller data (i.e., Dialed Number Identification Service (DNIS), Automatic Number Identification (ANI)), caller input from ACD or IVR systems, caller information, such as their CRM customer record or case history, and agent data that may include things like skills.

A mix of data is used to match each caller with the best agent. Experimenting with different combinations of data will surface incremental improvements in call transfers and many customer performance measures.

  • Integrating call route technologies with CRM software systems can drive further performance improvements. Computer Telephony Integration (CTI) and Contact Center Interaction Management (CCIM) systems are the primary tools to connect call transfer technologies with CRM software.

Once connected, CRM can authenticate customers, display screen pops of case history or customer history, identify entitlements or SLAs, integrate customer data with telephone controls (i.e., click-to-dial) and empower the agent to perform all or most tasks in the CRM application and without having to navigate to other systems.

  • Customer sentiment is overwhelmingly negative toward Interactive Voice Response (IVR) systems. However, experience clearly shows that IVR frustrations are based on poor design and not the technology.

Methods to improve the IVR experience include streamlined menu design, eliminating marketing or superfluous messages, announcing expected wait times and offering alternative channels such as virtual agents, bots or customer self-service knowledgebases.

  • Optimized call routing results from iterative advancements. Success is achieved from a journey built on a steady stream of continuous improvements. So, it's important that adjustments to your ACD, CCIM, IVR system can be made by contact center managers, and not relegated to the wait times when IT or more technical resources are needed. When choosing or upgrading your call route technology, ensure that transfer adjustments can be made by non-technical people in an easy to use interface.
  • Customer feedback is essential for call center performance improvements. Use your CRM system or case management application to automatically distribute concise customer satisfaction surveys at the completion of each case. Ask about timing and effectiveness of being routed to the right agent. Customers are your best source for call transfer improvements and their feedback is a gift.
  • Accommodating peak demand is a difficult challenge, especially when spikes occur occasionally or without advance notice. Adding virtual queuing or call-back queues is a simple method to flatten high call volume periods without sacrificing customer satisfaction. Virtual queues replace hold time with call backs. They prevent customers from having to wait on hold for long periods while keeping their place in line. A Contact Babel survey of 200 call centers found that those who offered a call-back option achieved a 32 percent decrease in average abandonment rate.
  • Customer service organizations with siloed customer communication channels tend to dedicate agents to channels. That can improve agent productivity at an individual level while at the same lower overall group productivity. Agent omnichannel cross training offers another opportunity to shift resources to accommodate fluctuating call volumes. Training agents on multiple customer support channels aids universal queuing and more efficient call planning.
  • Resolving issues before they happen is a hallmark of customer service excellence. Proactive customer support is a customer service best practice that impacts call transfers by reducing call volume. Proactive customer support uses data to predict future incidents and take proactive action to preempt calls, reduce call volume and significantly increase CSAT. The best customer service call is the one that was avoided.
  • Real-time contact center analytics are essential to identify variances in need of quick course corrections and pursue a path of continuous improvements. However, too many times call analytics are restricted to call center managers. A call center best practice is to give agents visibility to call transfers and related analytics. Real-time monitoring of call queues and performance measures will encourage agents to step up when necessary, ensure everyone keeps their eyes on the metrics that matter and solicit performance improvement ideas from the reps closest to the action.
  • Caller route optimization is not a simple, deterministic problem to solve. The number of dynamic variables require more advanced analytics. Artificial Intelligence (AI) is the single most effective technology to move beyond simple queue-based routing to highly efficient and intelligent call routes. AI algorithms can capture call transfer and tracking statistics (i.e., wait times, abandonments, number of transfers, time per call) from your ACD, CCIM or IVR system, agent performance from your case management system and customer satisfaction data from your CRM system to identify patterns or improvement opportunities that otherwise exacerbate or go unnoticed. AI can apply data to flag inefficient processes and find the optimal combinations to create efficiencies and determine the best agent for each call.
  • Optimizing call routes can have unintended effects on some agent performance measurements and workforce management. Staff forecasting and scheduling may need adjustments as new customer support channels are introduced and agents become part of a multi-skilled and blended resource pool. Even individual call transfer improvements such as moving high-value customers to the front of the queue, using virtual queuing or dynamically shifting agents among channels can skew performance measures in unplanned ways. New efficiencies may require recalibration of key performance indicators.