Skill-Based Routing

Learn more about what skill-based routing is, and how contact centers around the world are leveraging it to improve case assignment and resolution time.

Pradeep Vasudev
March 13, 2022
4 min read

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What is skill-based routing?

In a contact center, skill-based routing refers to the automatic assignment of incoming cases to an agent or group of agents based on their skill set. Modern call center solutions allow you to configure skills for each agent with their competency level. Thereafter, the algorithm assigns incoming cases to available agents based on their skill, level, and the criteria provided by the supervisor/admin for each case.

Skill-based routing is mostly implemented for incoming calls in call centers. However, there are solutions that offer omnichannel skill-based routing — where the routing rules and skill criteria can be applied to cases from messaging apps, social media, live chat, SMS, and other digital channels.

How skill-based routing scores over traditional call queues

With traditional routing mechanisms, incoming cases are typically assigned to agents based on their availability (least idle or least occupied), or even assigned directly based on a preconfigured order of agents where if the first agent is busy, the call is routed to the next agent on the list. This leads to uneven distribution of cases in the team, and even worse, poor response and resolution times.

Now, Contact Center as a Service (CCaaS) is reshaping traditional routing mechanisms by introducing cloud-based technology and innovative approaches to customer interactions.

Skill-based routing can easily overcome this limitation by helping you gain a better understanding of the assignment logic in your team, and use agent skills as a metric to know what agent can best handle a particular case or situation. When augmented with other routing technology such as ACD and IVR, skill-based routing proves to be the best assignment strategy to improve your workforce management, agent productivity, and customer satisfaction.

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How does skill-based routing work?

Skill-based routing is an advanced case assignment mechanism that determines which agent gets to work on a particular case by matching their skill with the skills required to solve the case. To begin with, the contact center supervisor/administrator must configure each agent’s skills and the corresponding skill levels in their call center software, which is performed as explained below:

  • By studying inbound cases in detail, supervisors will be able to identify what type of cases are most frequent, what service level is needed, and what skills these cases require.

  • You also need to analyze your agents’ skill sets. These skills can be something related to your product/service — like expertise in a particular area of your product or technology — or a non-technical skill such as proficiency in a different language.

  • When this data has been collected, the supervisor then configures the skill criteria for inbound cases and the skills/skill levels of each agent in the call center software. Some solutions allow customizations so that these routing rules can be applied to only certain queues, while others apply it to all incoming cases in general.

Once this configuration is done, here’s a quick walkthrough of how cases will get assigned to the agents from there on:

  • Consider there are two agents in your team:

  • Agent A is an expert in products A & B, fluent in German

  • Agent B is an expert in product B, fluent in German and Spanish

  • Now, your customer service team receives a case. Through some initial automated data collection (IVR and ACD), you determine that the person is a German customer who’s looking for some information about product A.

  • By default, this case now gets assigned to Agent A since he’s the first and closest match to the required criteria. If Agent A is busy with another case/call, it will then be routed to Agent B, since they are the next closest match.

  • If there was a case that called for someone with knowledge of product B and fluency in German, it will again be assigned to Agent A first. If they’re occupied, it is then routed to Agent B, the next closest match to the provided criteria.

Note that this is a very simplified example of how skill-based routing works. The latest call center solutions use a huge number of combinations of these skills to enable supervisors to set up highly complex routing mechanisms.

Automatic Call Distribution (ACD) and skill-based routing

Automatic call distribution (ACD) is a basic call routing and diverting technology that assigns calls/cases to agents based only on their availability. A call center software powered by ACD assigns incoming calls to the first available agent on its list.

When ACD is combined with skill-based routing, supervisors can ensure that a case is assigned to an agent who possesses skills pertinent to solving the case. By matching cases to agents objectively and intelligently, skill-based routing improves your resolution time and the customer experience in a big way.

Interactive Voice Response (IVR) and skill-based routing

IVR widely refers to an automated call system in which users are presented with a pre-configured phone menu designed to understand their requirements better. Users navigate through specific sets of questions and input their responses through their phone keypad. This way, the system can collect all the data an agent might need to resolve the user’s issue before connecting the call with them.

Skill-based routing can prove to be a great addition to IVR, especially when your company handles a lot of calls across various products, regions, or brands. By simply tagging any of these criteria to a skill, and assigning them to suitable agents in your team, skill-based routing can easily streamline your inflow of calls and deliver a better resolution experience to your customers.

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How will skill-based routing improve my customer experience?

Now that we’ve established how skill-based routing works, here are a few reasons why you should be adopting it right away if you wish to improve your customer experience:

  • Routing to the right agent directly means better response and resolution times. When a case is directly assigned to an agent with relevant knowledge, the agent can address the customer’s needs and issues more promptly. This translates to better response times and quicker resolutions in the long run.

  • Agents need lesser training to work. When you hire new agents for your team, you’ll initially have to train them for a certain period in your organization. Skill-based routing lets you leverage the existing skills of your new agents so that loss of productivity is minimized. You can start assigning tickets to them during their training phase itself.

  • You can significantly improve customer satisfaction. Naturally, when agents with expertise in a specific area work on tickets that are highly relevant to them, their responses are faster and more accurate — which means your customers are going to be more satisfied than when they came in.

  • There are fewer escalations. With an omnichannel routing mechanism, questions asked via any channel will always reach the right agent on your team, which in turn reduces unnecessary assignments and escalations.

Ensure quicker, more accurate resolutions with skill-based routing in Sprinklr

Traditionally, businesses have struggled when it comes to the seamless assignment of cases across their teams — resulting in delayed resolution and low agent productivity. Sprinklr Service is powered by a world-class AI assignment engine that relies on robust algorithms to ensure that your cases always go to the right agent at the right time. The world’s only unified customer experience management (Unified-CXM) platform offers the following routing-centric features:

  • Leverage skill-based routing features available as a part of the AI-powered Assignment Engine

  • Assign cases and messages to your agents based on skills and skill levels

  • Ensure low customer waiting times using intelligent routing configurations

  • Allow skill criteria of your cases to be modified dynamically based on agent availability, service level, and skill proficiency

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