Smart Call Routing For Smarter Customer Service

April, 2013

In order to route an incoming call so as to achieve the fastest resolution/ greatest satisfaction, in the shortest time, involving the fewest people, perhaps we should adopt a similar approach to that of dating websites.

Online dating websites are plentiful. Their measure of success is the percentage of clients who go on to form successful relationships (i.e. customers who achieve satisfaction from the service). The #1 site is that which achieves the highest percentage of satisfied customers. So how does the #1 site get to be #1? By

  • taking a detailed snapshot of a personality – not just age, sexual preference, etc, but also likes, dislikes, hopes, fears and other character traits
  • using some smart rules to suggest potential matches

Customer service operations have a similar challenge: to route a caller so as to achieve the maximum value/ fastest resolution/ greatest satisfaction, in the shortest time, involving the fewest people. Probably the best way to meet this challenge is to adopt a similar approach to the dating website:

  • build an instant profile of the caller, and
  • use smart rules to route the call to the agent most capable of handling it

Research suggests that investment in smart call routing solutions may be just as important as investment in keeping wait times down. Why? Well, consider a high quality restaurant; customers generally don’t mind waiting as long as the food is excellent. Similarly, when it comes to customer service, users by and large don’t mind waiting provided that their reason for calling is satisfied. This suggests that effort and investment in the call center, as well as being spent on maintaining short wait times, should also be spent on smart call routing, agent training and equipping, so that calls get routed to the agent with the best chance of satisfying the customer need.

So, back to our dating example: how does a call center build a profile of the caller? As soon as a call comes into a queue, some data may already be visible. This data falls into 2 groups:

  1. Data that does not enable identification of the caller:
    • IVR route – the caller may have selected particular options
    • DNIS/ DID – the caller may have dialled a particular numberThis is useful data, but doesn’t really enable a tailored routing effort. However:
  2. Data that does enable identification of the caller:
    • CLI – calling line identity
    • IVR data captured – the caller may have entered particular details e.g. account number

Here’s where ‘smart’ gets smarter. Any captured data unique to the caller’s identity enables the searching of CRM databases, which can then reveal a great deal of useful information, including:

  • account history – e.g. he has an outstanding bill, or she is a high-value customer
  • interaction history – e.g. he has been abusive in the past, or she often returns purchased items
  • language preference – e.g. his first language is Spanish

The ability to interrogate multiple line-of-business databases instantly opens up a wide range of possibilities for using that intelligence to connect the caller to the best possible agent, e.g. a collections agent, an agent with conflict resolution training, or a Spanish speaker. Doing so increases the chance of that agent being able to resolve the call quickly without transferring, thereby keeping costs down and customer satisfaction high.

Like a dating website, smart contact centers invest in smart routing solutions to increase the chances of a match made in heaven.

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