Introduction to Call Routing Techniques
Updated: Feb 7
Connecting customers to the agents as quickly as possible is the first most crucial requirement of a contact center. However, connecting them to the right agent is also equally important.
This can be done only through a better Call Routing Technology. Today, in this article, we will look at different call routing techniques available for a contact center, mainly for the inbound queues.
The Call Routing System, otherwise known as Automatic Call Distributor (ACD), is a tool or software that routes the customer call from IVR (Interactive Voice Response) to the right agent according to the pre-defined algorithm. The pre-defined algorithm defines the type of call routing system, which we will discuss in this article.
The main benefit of using the right method of call routing is optimizing human resources, which can save a lot of money for an organization. Identifying which call routing strategy will benefit your organization depends on the desired service level type, technical capabilities, cost to build the strategy, etc.
How does Call Routing Work?
Usually, a Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) phone system in contact centers is used along with Computer Telephony Integration (CTI) to create an IVR and Call Routing system.
In simple words, the customer calls the contact center, reaches the IVR, selects appropriate options in IVR, and either the query is solved in IVR, or the call gets connected to an agent.
Some of the information used to determine the routing techniques are:
Caller ID - Unique ID or the phone number of the customer
Time of the day – The time zone of both caller and the contact center
Location – The location of the caller
IVR – Pre-defined options which will help the caller to reach the appropriate department
Self Service – Most of the basic queries are answered in IVR using the Artificial Intelligence
Agent Skills – Depending on the options selected in IVR and the customer profile, the call will be routed to an appropriate agent.
Types of Call Routing Techniques
Most Idle/Least Occupied Routing
This is the most common type of Call Routing method where an agent with the most idle time gets the call first at the time of call arrival. The call center uses this type of call routing, where the agents are universally trained on the process without any special callers. This method is also called Least Occupied technique since the agent with the most idle time will have the least occupancy at the time of call arrival.
Skill Based Routing
The second most common call routing technique is Skill-Based Routing. In this method, agents are separated according to their special skills. The special skills could be process-based (e.g., Tier 1, Tier 2, etc.), language-based (e.g., English, French, Spanish, etc.), and many other skills depending upon the business requirements. When the IVR identifies the type of customer calling, the call will be routed accordingly to the right agent. For example, a customer may be a Spanish speaker whose call will be directed to a Spanish-speaking agent.
Department Based Routing
In this routing method, the calls are directed to the respective department according to the customer's selection in IVR. For example, the departments could be Sales, Service, Billing, Technical support etc. So, when a customer calls the contact center, they have to go through the IVR to select some pre-defined options. Then, according to the chosen department, the calls will be routed to the right agent of that department.
Value-based routing, also known as Smart Routing, is the technique of redirecting the call basis the customer value. Customer value can be demographics, previous action on the call, potential frustration, or lower customer satisfaction. The system analyzes data according to the value of the customer, and the call is directed or routed to the most appropriate agent. The Value-Based Routing sometimes can also be referred to as Business Rules Routing.
For example, a customer call who had given a low score in the survey during the previous call may be directed to the escalation team directly instead of the front-line agent.
Geography Based Routing
This is a type of routing where the system identifies the caller's location through GPS and the customer's phone number. The call is then routed to the respective location. This type of routing works when a contact center has multiple branches to support all the customer base locations.
Data Directed Routing
Data-directed routing is an intelligent routing technique where the call might be routed to the appropriate department depending upon the customer's data. For example, a customer may call for a credit card query, but his bill may be overdue from a long time ago. The system identifies this, and the call is automatically routed to the collections department. This may also happen in the case of a frustrated customer whose call can be directly routed to the escalation team, though the customer selected a different option in IVR.
Round Robin Routing
Round Robin call routing is a technique where the call is distributed evenly across the agent one by one. When a call arrives from the IVR, the system identifies the agent who took the last call and then directs the call to the next agent. The next call then goes to the next agent. The order of agents who would take the call is pre-defined in the system. The major disadvantage of this method is the uneven distribution of wait time as the caller might wait for that particular agent to answer.
In today's world, a customer may contact the call center using multiple media such as email, chat, etc. Multimedia routing is a technique where the other media is converted to a call. This type of routing would be mainly Outbound. For example, a customer will send an email to the contact center, and as soon as the email is received, an outbound call will be placed by the system, and the agent will speak to the customer.
The above-mentioned Call Routing techniques are some basic types that are still widely used in many contact centers.
Even though we have seen different call routing methods above, sometimes the call may get misdirected to the wrong agent. The agent then would politely assist the customer by transferring the call to the correct department. This may lead to customer dissatisfaction. This is the only major drawback of the call routing techniques, which is inevitable.
However, with the recent development in Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence, many advanced Call Routing Techniques are built, proving to help optimize a contact center's operations.
Thank you for Reading, and Stay Tuned😊