- Skills-based routing matches customers with the agents that are best suited to deal with their issues and concerns.
- Skills-based routing leads to many benefits, including increased customer satisfaction and retention, and higher agent satisfaction and productivity.
- Skills-based routing is included as part of well-designed collaborative communications platforms for contact centers such as RingCentral.
Has a customer ever reached out to your contact center and been connected with an agent who was simply not the right person to handle the customer’s issue? Likely, the answer is “yes.” No contact center has a 100 percent success rate in getting the customer to the right agent every single time.
However, there is something you can do to improve your success rate exponentially. You can implement skills-based routing. Read on to learn the benefits it can bring to your contact center.
What is skills-based routing?
Skills-based routing is a technology that matches customers with agents who are best equipped to deal with their problems. It’s a built-in feature of market-leading cloud-based contact center software.
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How does skills-based routing work?
We’ll illustrate how skills-based routing works with an example.
Jon bought new speakers, but he’s having a problem connecting them to his computer. He calls the contact center to troubleshoot the problem. Based on Jon’s issue, he’s connected with Frank, who specializes in dealing with hooking up speakers to computers.
Benefit 1: Customers get to the right agent, the first time
The clearest benefit from skills-based routing is that customers get to the right agent the first time.
No one wants to waste time or energy talking to an agent that can’t help them. In fact, it’s enough to make customers drop a brand like a hot potato. Research shows 41% of customers stopped using a product or service after they were passed from rep to rep during an interaction with a company.
Benefit 2: Improved first call resolution metrics
When customers are routed to the right agent, there’s a much higher chance that an agent will solve that customer’s problem during the first interaction. First call resolution metrics are an important measure of your contact center’s health – they show how many customers you’re able to help the first time they reach out to you.
Benefit 3: Lower average handle time
The metric of average handle time measures the average amount of time it takes an agent to handle a customer interaction.
Skills-based routing enables interactions to go to the agents who are most suited to deal with that situation. Because of that agent’s experience, it will take that person less time to solve the problem, because it’s a familiar issue with a familiar solution.
Benefit 4: Higher customer satisfaction
The two previous benefits have an effect on another important contact center metric: customer satisfaction.
It makes sense – when an experienced agent can solve your problem quickly, you tend to be more satisfied with the company, which brings us to our next benefit.
Benefit 5: Higher customer retention
High customer satisfaction tends to lead to higher levels of customer retention. “Customer retention” measures how long you keep customers.
When customers know that they’ll be connected to a knowledgeable agent who can handle their problems quickly, they’re more likely to stick with you because they know they’ll have a better experience.
Benefit 6: Higher agent productivity
Skills-based routing has benefits for agents as well as customers. One clear benefit is higher agent productivity.
Agents won’t sit idle waiting for calls or other interactions to come in. Rather, they’ll be working on customer issues based on their skill set, so there will be a stream of productive work that matches their abilities.
Benefit 7: Higher agent satisfaction
Put yourself in an agent’s shoes for a moment. You’re a new agent, and you receive a chat message from a customer. She has an issue that you haven’t yet dealt with on the job – more to the point, you don’t remember this issue coming up during your training.
You’re now under pressure to solve this problem, only you’re not sure how. The first thing that comes to mind is to contact the supervisor and ask him what to do. He suggests passing off the interaction to your more-experienced colleague, so you do that.
If this happens enough times, you’ll start to feel frustrated with your job. You won’t want to stay in a position where you don’t have the skills or tools to succeed.
You can also look at the situation from the perspective of an experienced agent who’s dealing with basic customer interactions. It would be boring for an agent with seven years of experience to only deal with basic questions – that employee wouldn’t be given much of a chance to put all of the knowledge they’ve gained to good use (helping customers). That agent would feel disengaged, and might take all of those skills elsewhere.
Skills-based routing ensures that agents handle the interactions that are right for them, so no one is being overly challenged, nor are they getting work that is not challenging enough to hold their interest.
Benefit 8: A more efficient contact center
It’s inefficient for agents to hand off an interaction – handle time increases, which means that the interaction becomes more expensive. However, when an agent with the right skills and knowledge deals with the customer, there’s a higher chance of first call resolution.
Additionally, skills-based routing shortens the amount of time other customers have to wait to deal with an agent; agents with other skill sets are free to speak to customers.
Benefit 9: Managing the contact center is simpler
Because skills-based routing is a feature of contact center software, managers no longer have to worry about making sure that a particular agent handles a specific set of interactions. The software takes care of that automatically.
Instead, managers can focus on improving performance, retaining agents, and otherwise driving value for the contact center.
Reap the benefits of RingCentral’s skills-based routing at your contact center
RingCentral’s contact center software features built-in skills-based routing. Skills-based routing leads to a better customer experience, happier agents, and a more efficient contact center. To learn more about skills-based routing and other contact center features that lead to better customer experience, download our eBook: The Future of Customer Experience.
Originally published Apr 16, 2021, updated Jan 30, 2023