Customers want a personalized service that you can only offer with better call routing. So what are the obstacles, and how do you overcome them?
Most areas of your business collect customer data. Where does it go? There’s plenty to inform the sales funnel. Ads are based on my browsing, upselling’s based on my shopping basket and loyalty schemes get me coming back. All good stuff.
But it goes wrong with customer service. I pick up the phone and suddenly the business that knows my social calendar and shoe size… knows nothing about me.
Why aren’t contact centers better at call routing – and what can you do about it?
What exactly makes great call routing?
We need to define exactly what we’re talking about. Let’s explore the different aspects of great custom call routing.
First aspect: custom call routing means customers get service that’s modified by what you know about them.
Second aspect: call routing should feel as human as possible. That might mean the callers can speak to the same agent, or that the agent gets detailed information about them in real time.
Research from Genesys backs these ideas up. Most customers like it when you know their account history and can route them to an agent with the right skills.
So far, so straightforward. But there’s also a more nuanced idea.
Third aspect: custom call routing means anticipating needs. In other words, it’s not enough to know everything about a customer; you’ve got to plan for the next action they may take.
Call routing is data-hungry
You already have enough data to make call routing specific to me. My profile is on file somewhere. You know the number I’m calling from, and I’m probably supplying data in your IVR.
So here’s what should happen with that data:
I call from my smartphone. The number is linked to my profile in your CRM so you know who I am. I’m a fairly new customer and – look at that – I have an open ticket with your Helpdesk.
Before you do anything with my call, you trigger a specific question in IVR: am I calling for an update on that issue? Yes I am, so I don’t need to do anything else in IVR.
You can route me to an agent who has the right skills and make sure they have all my information to hand. If the agent who logged my ticket is free, you can even route me straight to her. I get the help I need. Done!
It’s the process you would design for your contact center. In fact, it’s the process you would design for yourself, as a customer.
Most importantly, it delivers all three aspects of call routing that we’ve explored. My journey through the call flow is modified by the data you have about me. Routing me to the same agent brings the human element to your service. And you’ve anticipated why a caller with an open ticket would get in touch, creating a personalized call experience for them.
The experience is better, and much faster. What’s more, a lot of the friction points have been pre-empted. If I have an open ticket with your Helpdesk, and I’m calling you – what mood do you think I’m in?
Do I want to go through a giant IVR menu? Or explain my issue from scratch? Or land with an agent who’s not equipped to help me?
So why don’t more contact centers do that?
Collecting and storing data generally aren’t the problem. Real-time access is the problem. A lack of integration (and automation) between telephony and other business systems puts the data out of reach.
And what’s the point of data you can’t use?
A recent Deloitte study showed that personalization of customer service was a priority for 58% of consumers. But the biggest challenge that businesses anticipate for making their investments work is integration with existing systems.
That’s hardly surprising. We’ve already talked about integrating IVR, CRM and Helpdesk. There are also voicemail features, SMS and possibly BI and ERP too. They can either inform an interaction or get updated on the outcome. That’s not to mention the useful data you might want to put on screen for agents.
Integrating a lot of systems with telephony has always been one of those ‘technically feasible, not worth the effort’ jobs. When we talk to people in this industry about how simple integrating systems can be (with the right toolkit) they’re usually shocked.
Those are the problems. What’s the solution?
The fact is, once you have the right toolkit you can easily get from siloed call systems, to the ideal: integrated systems, personalized service and custom call routing.
Speaking from our own experience, APIs are key. They help to address the big challenge of moving data from one system to another in a way that both can use.
Not 100% clear about APIs? Think of them as part librarian, part translator for data - they organise data and make it accessible in different formats.
Integrating with APIs isn’t quite enough though. Why? Because well-designed call routing isn’t ‘one and done’. It’s a process that evolves over time. You might start by integrating telephony and your Helpdesk to route calls to the agents with the best skill set. Later, you’ll want to finesse your call routing – study the outcome – and finesse it some more.
But if each step needs a software project it’ll take too long, cost too much and involve too many stakeholders.
That kills good ideas and it’s why you need more than API integration. You need to give the people close to the action the ability to evolve service, without coding.
For example, the babelforce platform gives you programmable connectors to other systems. Everything a developer could do with an API is also available to your contact center operations team. They may not have coding skills but they know exactly how to improve service – so let them do it without needing to code at all
Letting your systems talk to each other, giving agents timely information and anticipating caller needs; once you break down the problem, personalized service and custom call routing look pretty easy to offer. (So long as you work with the right platform…)