For call center agents, efficient routing is more than just a buzzword. It’s not something that can be discussed in one day; it’s a practice that takes years to perfect.
And because there are many factors and variables involved, what works for one company may not work for another.
However, by following these seven suggestions, you’re well on your way to creating an efficient call routing strategy that will improve customer service and increase productivity.
1. Define your customer service vision
A clear understanding of the definition, purpose, and goals of your center is essential when establishing a route map; it’s one of the first questions you should ask yourself: “What do we stand for?”
Once you know where you’re headed, then defining what geographical markets will generate the most revenue is important.
2. Map out your geographic data.
When mapping out which areas of the country are central to your company’s focus, include key information about population demographics, culture, language spoken by residents, economic status, etc.
This information will help you identify potential hot spots and determine what language services are available.
3. Keep your current network in mind and set up a buffer zone.
Many times, you’ll have an existing client base that can be served by the same call center agent who currently manages their calls.
If that’s the case, then keep this information in mind while mapping out your routes.
4. Include a buffer zone
The general rule is that top-performing companies have a call center agent within 3-5 minutes of any given customer, but this doesn’t give you much flexibility in the event of an emergency or if your company decides to launch a new product or service in another part of the country.
In order to keep your routine as efficient as possible, place a buffer zone of at least 30 minutes between any areas that are less than 3-5 minutes apart.
5. Determine which markets need more structure.
If you have a high concentration of call volume in one area, then it’s probably time to revamp the routing strategy and put some sort of barrier between these calls and others that are being handled simultaneously.
On the other hand, if there’s just a little bit more volume occurring in another place, you can either leave it as is or add a barrier.
6. Decide whether to use ACDs (Automatic Call Distributors), PBXs/IVRs (Interactive Voice Response Systems), or hybrids that combine both features.
Remember that phone auto attendant solutions route calls based on information entered in an electronic patch panel. This virtually eliminates human error and speeds up call handling time to keep service levels at their peak.
Well-designed IVRs allow for rules-based routing, which offers the same benefits as ACDs, but at a lower cost: they can be customized so specific numbers go to specific agents and calls get transferred automatically based on buttons pushed by the customer.
IVRs still require human monitoring but do not require agents to manage ACDs.
7. Set up a quality monitor system.
In addition to listening in on calls during peak and non-peak hours, from time to time, you should target specific areas of the business for agents who handle multiple queues or positions.
This will ensure that you’re not missing any opportunities to improve service and keep callers happy. Key metrics to pay attention to include first call resolution, the average speed of answer, abandonment rate, and dropped calls.
8. Know what’s going on at all times with real-time analytics.
By logging into a centralized portal, every agent has the ability to see how busy each position is and understand who is taking calls in real-time.
With information like this, agents can make a quick judgment call, and route calls to the appropriate destination.
Create a training plan that teaches your agents how to properly use the routing system.
Because this strategy is so complex and has many variables that can be tweaked at any time, it’s important for them to know how their individual actions affect the rest of the call center.
And because it’s not just about properly pushing buttons, new agents should receive hands-on training that also includes information on how to recognize good vs. bad calls and how to deal with distressed customers.
So there you have it!
Seven guidelines that will improve your company’s service levels without breaking the bank. And be sure to monitor the analytics since this information will help you identify problem areas and areas that are underperforming.
So remember these steps for improving your routing system and increasing productivity.
While making changes is never easy, by following these guidelines, you’ll be able to gradually work towards efficiency and increase productivity.