Skills-Based Routing

Choosing the best agent for the session

What is Skills-Based Routing?

The aim in handling every incoming customer contact session – phone, chat, email or any other medium – is to maximise both customer satisfaction and potential revenue for the contact center. To produce the best possible outcome, the most suitable agent should be chosen for each session.

With Softdial Contact Center™ (SCC), this can be achieved using skills-based routing, which is the process of:

  • assigning skill requirements to each incoming session, based on what can be gleaned about the customer and their intentions
  • assigning skills to each agent according to their differing abilities and talents
  • routing inbound sessions to those agents whose skills most closely match the session’s skill requirements.

Assigning skill requirements to incoming sessions

Skill requirements can be assigned to each session as it passes through the SCC system, and may be determined in several ways:

  • As a result of selections made during IVR/bot interactions e.g. “to talk about your finance plan, press 1” would assign the ‘Financing’ skill requirement to the session.
  • As a result of its destination; for instance, a dedicated Sales phone number or Service email address
  • As a result of automated database lookups against an external CRM or other customer data source made using the caller identity (CLI for voice, chat handle or email address) as a reference. These lookups are automatic in the case of unique identity or can be made as part of the routing and queuing dialog through Softdial Scripter™.
  • As a result of speech/ text analytics, indicating an intention or sentiment. For instance,
    • “I want to buy…” might assign a sales skill requirement
    • “I’m really annoyed that…” might assign a complaint handling skill requirement

The skill requirements of a session can be either:

  • Relative – with a rating between 1 and 10
  • Absolute – with no rating. The session either requires this skill or does not.

For relative skill requirements, the numerical value can be assigned to indicate its importance relative to others for this session. For example, if the session relates to account management but the subject is not a complex one, a value of 3 could be set against the ‘account management’ skill requirement.

Assigning skills to agents

Agents are assigned ‘skills’ corresponding to the agent’s abilities, which determine which sessions they can handle. As with skill requirements for sessions, for each skill identified, a numerical value can be assigned to indicate this agent’s level of ability. For example, an agent may be assigned the ‘account management’ skill with a value of 8, indicating a high level of competence.

Using skills to drive routing

The dequeue operation depends on whether all agents servicing the queue are busy:

Are all agents busy?

Dequeue operation

No Select the best agent to handle the next session.
Yes Select the best session for the next agent. In a busy contact center this is the norm.

In all cases, time is a factor. Selecting for skill on an absolute basis tends to leave sessions for which there is not a good skills match in queue far longer than the SLA time.

The selection algorithm takes time in queue into account as a factor in selecting which session to give to an agent. Supervisors can configure the relative importance of time in queue, as this will be different for different lines of business that the contact center supports.

When considering agent skills, supervisors need to assess and rank agent handling performance in order to maintain customer satisfaction levels.

The SCC philosophy of ‘if you can automate a management task, you should’ comes in to play. Agent skill metrics can be adjusted automatically, using either:

  • gross measures (such as percentage of first call resolutions), or
  • more detailed information garnered from customer feedback surveys.

As everything that can be done in SCC has a published API, Sytel’s Softdial Scripter™ can drive all of these operations.

This also prevents supervisor bias from getting the skill metrics not quite right.

Adjusting skill metrics is a business-specific activity, but again there are library scripts that can be customised to meet customer-specific needs. This frees your supervisors from administrative burden, allowing them to focus on the key job of motivating and supporting agents to achieve best performance.

Skills-based routing example

Below is a simple example of skills-based routing in action.

Skills-based Routing (SBR) Example

See also …

Optimised Inbound Routing

Smart rules and ‘best-available’ decisions to drive great customer service

Preferred Routing

Connecting to an agent with a previous successful relationship with the customer

Softdial Pathfinder™

Simple building blocks to allow the development of any kind of routing rules, for any media, for realtime deployment

Advanced Routing

Highly complex rules and conditions to be applied to session flow for all media types

Advanced Routing Examples

Five use case examples showing how Pathfinder may be used to optimise the customer experience

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