A few weeks ago, I took my parents out for dinner at a fancy restaurant to celebrate their wedding anniversary.
They loved it: fantastic service and even better food. Our experience was incredible.
But unfortunately, our wonderful evening became a little awkward. Right after dessert, the waiter came to me and whispered, “I'm very sorry, Mr. Pandey, I'm afraid your card has been declined.”
I felt like Mike Tyson punched me in my gut. I could feel my face turning red with embarrassment. I tried getting my card unblocked through my banking app — dead end.
Eventually, I had to call my bank’s support, but I was put in the queue. My father offered to pay for the evening, which made me feel even worse.
I was stuck waiting, listening to elevator music for eight long minutes. But it felt like forever — it seemed like the restaurant staff was staring into my soul, not to mention my parents. Needless to say, I was humiliated.
Finally, I got connected with one of my bank’s support agents. The conversation went like this:
Me: *explaining my issue*
Agent: Sorry, sir, but we handle fraud inquiries. Please hold while I transfer you to the accounts department. They’ll know the best way to help you.
Me: *inaudible crying*
Have you ever been in a situation like this? I bet you have. It’s awful, right?
How many of us feel the same way when we contact support? We call, wait in a queue, and get connected to an agent who’s totally oblivious to our problem.
And what do we do next? At least 82% of us abandon the brand because we feel neglected and dissatisfied with their customer service.
How can brands fix this common problem?
It’s not that difficult, actually. Let’s discuss some crucial AI-based contact center routing strategies that make your customers happier and, more importantly, loyal. So, they can avoid the embarrassment of inaudible crying in front of their parents.
But first, let’s get on the same page…
- What is contact center routing exactly?
- Make the life of your customers (and agents) easier than ever
- Strategies that shorten your route to happier customers
- 1. Skill-based routing
- 2. Sentiment-based routing
- 3. Automated routing to self-serve options
- 4. Interactive voice response (IVR)
- Are you ready to make your contact center routing seamless?
What is contact center routing exactly?
When researching this topic, I did what most people would: I googled ‘Contact Center Routing’.
And it confused me. Not because I don’t have expertise on this topic — trust me, I do.
What confused me was whenever I searched for ‘contact center routing’, I found thousands of results on ‘call routing’.
Don’t believe me? Google it for yourself. I’ll wait.
It’s okay if you feel confused, too. Let me help you with the more accurate definition:
Contact center routing is the process of directing customer interactions on digital, traditional, and social channels to relevant departments and agents for immediate assistance.
Basically, it connects customers to the right agent in the right department who can best solve their problems.
For example, when I called my bank for a blocked account query, their system should’ve routed me to an agent in the account department and not the fraud division. If they routed me to the correct agent or department, I would have been a much happier customer... no inaudible crying.
Oh, by the way, now you know something that Google doesn't. 😉
Make the life of your customers (and agents) easier than ever
Fixing your routing issues not only helps your customers, but also your agents. Here’s how:
Customers would get quick solutions to their problems ✅
Agents would feel empowered to give quick solutions for those problems ✅
Happier agents = happier customers = higher revenue ✅
Beyond that, there are several reasons why your brand needs a contact center routing strategy.
1. Your customers would rather not talk to you. Period.
Before I called my bank’s support to get my account unblocked, I tried unblocking it myself — that’s what 81% of customers do.
I looked at the online resources provided by my bank but couldn't find a solution. I even searched the community forums for answers, yet I couldn’t find anything helpful. Then, I looked for their chatbot support, and, you guessed it, they didn’t have one.
So, my last resort was calling support. But by that time, I had grown impatient and started expecting immediate help like 90% of customers do.
It’s not wrong for customers to expect immediate help if they tried finding answers themselves but couldn’t. So, your support team must focus more on providing immediate help to customers.
To meet those expectations, you need automated call center routing.
In this type of routing, AI helps you analyze each customer query and identify its intent, tone, and sentiment.
And based on that analysis, AI routes customers to a chatbot (self-service) for routine cases or connects them to your best available agent for quick resolution and reduces wait times.
2. Stop giving your customers reasons to abandon a call
As a customer, I’ve abandoned sooo many calls I can’t even recall (unintended pun).
And I know you feel the same way when you are stuck in a queue and have to listen to non-stop elevator music… ugh.
Most customers abandon calls because of these reasons:
Long queues or waiting times: most customers are willing to wait for a maximum of two minutes to connect with an agent. Yikes! — I waited for eight minutes, and it felt like eight years.
Minimal customer engagement options: when in the queue, nothing’s more annoying than music — unless it’s Beyoncé. Instead, use bots to talk with your customers to better understand their queries and collect relevant data for agents to help them faster.
Missing self-serve options: customers feel forced to contact support when self-serve options are unavailable, so they often drop calls. Moreover, self-serve options like community forums, knowledge base, chatbots, etc., can also reduce the burden on your agents.
Keeping your customers engaged and making them feel heard in queues gives them enough reasons to wait for the solution, reducing call abandonment rates.
After customers have provided all the relevant information, it’s only natural to expect fast resolutions. Let’s talk about that now.
3. Create a happier customer service experience with faster resolutions
There’s one thing I know for sure: if I receive faster resolutions from agents, I’ll definitely be happier.
According to Microsoft, 33% of customers share this feeling with me. For them also, getting issues resolved in a single interaction is the most important aspect of a good customer service experience.
Contact center routing is a great way to fix this as well.
By routing customers to your best available agents, you can provide them solutions at first interaction to ensure a high first contact resolution (FCR) rate.
On receiving solutions at first contact, your customers will be happier, resulting in a higher customer satisfaction (CSAT) score.
4. Make your agents feel relaxed and empowered to help customers
Being an agent is tough.
Think about it. An agent handles hundreds of customer queries a day. That means calming hundreds of angry voices and trying to make them feel happier. And the best agents push themselves to make each customer feel that way.
In addition, angry customers leave an agent feedback more often than satisfied customers — which means it’s easier to score a 0 than a 5.
If you were an agent for a day, how would you feel? I know that I would feel overworked, stressed, and exhausted. Most agents feel the same way. According to a study, 74% of agents are at risk for burnout.
Contact center routing is an easy and effective step to making your agents feel happier.
An AI-powered contact center routing strategy helps keep your agents’ life more peaceful by carefully dividing inbound cases between them to avoid burnout while improving support quality.
You see how challenging it is to be an agent? Especially when those agents aren't empowered to help you like they should be. So, next time you call in for support, remember to be kind... even when you're frustrated.
5. You can save a fortune on customer service
Contact center routing not only makes your customers and agents happier. It also puts a smile on your brand’s finances.
Let me tell you how with some simple math.
According to research, the cost per call in any industry can be higher than $8.
On average, a contact center has 100 agents, each receiving 30 calls a day.
So, the daily operational cost of an average call center is:
8 (cost per call) x 30 (calls per day) x 100 (agents)
That’s a DAILY cost. Imagine monthly ($720,000). How about yearly? Just the thought of it makes me sweat.
Now, imagine if 15 of those 30 calls are routine customer queries. Don’t you think that puts a dent on your budget and affects agent productivity? Because bots can handle those queries, all you have to do is create a workflow and route customers with routine queries to a chatbot using AI. This simple fix amounts to several wins for your contact center.
You will slash your contact center operational costs significantly
Your customers will receive immediate response and resolution from chatbots
Your agents won’t feel overworked and focus more on helping other customers
There will be shorter queues
Just from effective routing, your customers, agents, supervisors, and finances will feel happier.
So, let’s discuss the various contact center routing strategies that you can use to shorten your customers’ route to happier.
Strategies that shorten your route to happier customers
1. Skill-based routing
Again, let me take you back to my situation: I called support for an account department related query but got connected to a fraud department.
That’s how traditional routing systems operate; they route incoming cases to idle agents.
If you have a tight budget and your agents can handle ALL customer queries, whether it’s account-related, product-related, and so on, using traditional routing isn’t that bad.
But it does increase the risk of poor resolution time and agent burnout because of uneven case distribution.
That’s why it’s best to use skill-based routing.
Skill-based routing ensures that cases get transferred to agents most equipped to handle a query. AI learns about every agent’s skill set and matches it with the skills required to solve a case.
For example, if a customer from Germany calls your brand’s support, AI will connect them with an agent who speaks Deutsch (danke shön! — that’s ‘Thank you’ in German).
As an ever-evolving model, AI continues to study each agent-customer interaction to improve routing.
Contact center supervisors can also use the data collected by AI to configure skill criteria for inbound cases with every agent’s skill set.
If you thought that was awesome, let’s talk about sentiment-based routing.
2. Sentiment-based routing
I love this one.
When customers contact support, they are often angry, annoyed, and impatient — all negative emotions.
What if you could identify your customer’s sentiment behind their query? Thanks to AI, it’s possible.
AI analyzes customer sentiment in each interaction and routes them to agents or supervisors accordingly.
Here’s an image showcasing the power of sentiment analysis. Look at how AI analyzes each sentence and each word to identify the sentiment, context, and severity of the customer’s query.
If your customer seems furious, AI can prioritize and route them to chatbots or agents for immediate assistance. If agents aren’t available, AI can inform your supervisors, and they can help customers resolve their queries.
Don’t you love this? By the way, that’s how deeply Sprinklr analyzes a customer’s query. You can sign up for a 90-day free trial and see it in action.
3. Automated routing to self-serve options
Now, this is much more advanced than simply routing routine queries to self-service options.
Allow me to explain.
During seasonal surges, there’s a spike in customer queries so it isn’t always possible for agents to provide end-to-end support. So they route them to AI-powered chatbots or voice bots for feedback and routine queries — after resolving their primary issue.
Moreover, most customers prefer using self-serve options before requesting live agent support. You can incorporate AI into your self-serve options and provide more human and personalized support.
For example, customers access your knowledge base for solutions daily. You can incorporate a chatbot that offers personalized solutions based on your customer’s search patterns.
4. Interactive voice response (IVR)
Lately, whenever I contact customer support, I get connected to an IVR system that gives me a series of pre-recorded menu options, and I just have to select the right ones.
That’s an excellent system.
IVR makes it easier for me to get my queries resolved. Sometimes I don’t even have to talk to an agent.
But it’s not just customers that benefit from IVR. You can also use it to improve your contact center operation. Here’s how:
Faster support: customers can quickly resolve their queries themselves without the help of an agent.
Improved agent productivity: inbound call volumes get reduced drastically, easing agents’ workload, and empowering them to provide better support.
Better case-agent mapping: IVR collects relevant information from the customer and maps them to the right agent.
Lower operational costs: IVR can offer 24/7 support to customers at no additional cost. It can also collect valuable information to improve your customer service.
Here’s how an IVR works:
IVR collects all the relevant information from your callers in the queue to understand more about their issues. Based on that, AI routes the caller to the best available agent and shares the collected information for faster resolution.
Are you ready to make your contact center routing seamless?
AI plays a BIG role in creating seamless customer experiences — understanding sentiment, intent, automating routing, and more. But don’t be 100% dependent on AI because agents are the real superheroes — after all, Iron Man doesn’t always need Jarvis to save the world.
AI gives you the data and makes it easier to help customers, but you must monitor every customer service metric to determine service quality better and whether your customers actually feel happier.
Upon measuring these metrics, you can train agents to serve customers faster (and better). You can also identify improvement opportunities and inform your strategies to reduce wait times and achieve a higher CSAT score.
By the way, after what seemed like forever, I FINALLY got my account unblocked (whew). And the agent I spoke with was empathetic and openly took my feedback on routing. He also agreed that it’d make their lives easier. Hardik, if you are reading this, I wish you the best… I hope you are able to convince your supervisors to implement a quality routing system soon. And thanks for saving my parents' anniversary.
To learn more about how AI can benefit your contact center and what to look for when choosing a smart routing solution for your business, download our eBook: How to Resolve Issues Faster with the Right AI-Powered Routing Strategy.
Find out how Sprinklr Service automates contact center workflows and processes, making it easy for businesses to provide personalized interactions and resolve customer issues efficiently.