Social customer support

Contact centres: Four ways to route your customers more intelligently

6th Oct 2016

Today, we all use multiple ways to communicate, and have high expectations of the companies we deal with, often expecting to be able to contact them in the same ways we communicate with each other, be it via instant chat, telephone, email or social media. As more communication channels are added to mix, it’s getting harder and harder for the contact centre to route these customers effectively.

For example, can you route a customer call to the agent they spoke to on web chat recently? Or if a customer has a specific product issue, will you be able to route that call to the support team that has the training to deal with it? 

To solve this problem, the foundation of a successful inbound contact centre strategy should be an intelligent contact flow. All too often, inbound rules are designed at the implementation stage, essentially setting your contact centre processes in stone; there’s no room to refine or tweak the contact flows without involving the IT department and incurring significant IT costs and delays as well as long lead times. As a result, inefficiencies become inbuilt as customers are forced to follow a set path into the contact centre, meaning customer satisfaction suffers and agent morale drops.

Being agile in your processes is vital for achieving high levels of customer satisfaction without soaring operational costs, enabling agents to manage contacts across multiple channels while fulfilling both simple tasks and complex enquiries with ease.

This is not just about interactive voice response (IVR). This is about using data and information that you already have to guide customers through their contacts with you. The following methods of routing customers will help you to serve them better and remove possible ‘friction’ from customer interactions with your brand.

1. Data-directed routing

In the modern inbound contact centre, contact flows can be adapted in real time, by anyone, with limited training requirements and without the need to involve IT or incur costs. Everything is based on data look-ups; from the moment the customer contact comes in. Their phone number, email address or even account number can be referenced in the CRM instantly to identify them. If there isn’t an associated CRM entry, then they can be asked for an account number, or another piece of information.

Where they go from there is completely subject to how you want to assign the system to best serve your customers, and there are literally infinite possibilities. You could set simple and straightforward rules, like ensuring customers with an ongoing billing enquiry are routed to accounts. You can personalise the customer experience by drilling right down to the individual, making sure (depending on availability) customers go through to the agent they’ve spoken to before, helping assure the customer and allowing the agent to build a relationship. 

In email, or social media for that matter, keywords can also be used as data points for more intelligent routing. Say you’re a consumer technology manufacturer, a keyword search for a certain product name would get forwarded to the appropriate team for that product, anything containing the keyword ‘broken’ might go to support, or ‘invoice’ through to accounts. You can even build in additional data look-ups and checks for even smarter routing too, such as whether the customer with a ‘broken’ device currently in warranty? By adding as many layers as required you can ensure the query gets to the right place quickly for a satisfactory resolution.

2. Demographic-based routing

Going beyond using product or query level data points for intelligent routing, you may want to consider routing based on demographics and skills. Have you tried automating calls from women aged 60+ to team members who have demonstrated an ability to build a good rapport with that demographic?

Take this principle to a global level. With your cloud-based contact centre software you should be able to create global inbound numbers to present a ‘local’ presence in global markets. Then when you receive calls from a certain country you can direct them to team members in or from that locality. This obviously has potential benefits in terms of language skills, but it also affirms your contact centre’s local presence, which is likely to build customer loyalty. 

3. Respond to call flow fluctuation in real-time

The key to success here is in total flexibility, the ability to set up your contact flow for optimum efficiency, whether that is more sales or greater query handling, always with a focus on improved customer experience. But you’re unlikely to hit upon the perfect system through guesswork.

This is where waypoint reporting comes in, allowing you to tag points in the contact flow to then track and analyse the stats and track the contact routes. Are you seeing a surge in customers going through to certain teams at certain times? Is there a point in your contact flow where customers are dropping off more than others? Setting waypoint tracking gives you a greater understanding of where customers go in the contact flow, so you can analyse, tweak and test on the fly.

4. Data dashboards and displays

It stands to reason that with this kind of real-time data available you should have a dashboard that allows you to view it in real-time, so you can make informed decisions as you go. But there are great benefits to making this data transparent across the whole contact centre too.

The modern wallboard is a digital display that can present the data from your key call flow waypoints to everyone in the contact centre, so agents also know where the sticking points might be and where they can be focussing their efforts. KPIs can be integrated too, to show how teams or individuals are doing on call volume or customer satisfaction, introducing a healthy level of inter-agent competition.

According to our recent research, 78% of consumers say that they are likely to recommend a business that can direct their query straight through to an agent with specific expertise. By using the data you have, understanding your demographic and analysing your contact flow you can start to personalise and improve your customer service by routing them more faster and more effectively.

Enda Kenneally is VP sales & business development, at Magnetic North, a West Unified Communications Company.


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