contact center agentAlmost everyone has a bad customer experience story with contact centers. From being placed on eternal hold to being transferred repeatedly without being helped, it’s easy to relate to tales of service gone wrong because they are so incredibly common. However, the majority of contact center frustrations can be traced back to ineffective agent routing, which typically uses a queue-based approach.

If your contact center continues to rely on queue-based routing, despite its shortcomings, it’s time to reconsider. With customers having more choices and higher expectations than ever before, an automated routing approach can make a difference in the experience you deliver.

We recently caught up with Lizanne Kaiser, Business Consulting Director of Genesys, to learn more about today’s routing challenges. She offered insights into how switching to an automated approach can help you dramatically improve your customer experience.

Q: What’s driving the need to improve routing?

Lizanne Kaiser: Certainly, the rise of customer experience, in particular, omnichannel customer experience, has created the need for better routing. It has become increasingly important to differentiate the service experience for certain segments of customers, and to create seamless customer journeys across conversations, channels, and time.  It’s no longer good enough to route everyone to a big queue, have them wait in line, and then when it’s not the right service, transfer them to a specialist. You’re better off gathering intelligence up front, through context and data generated from online activity, CRM records, and sales and marketing leads. You can then leverage this information to drive more differentiated routing to get customers efficiently to the right resource.

Q: Do you need automated routing to provide omnichannel customer experience?

Kaiser: Yes. Routing is a fundamental component to providing omnichannel customer experience. The majority of customers today are on one or more digital channels before being routed to an agent. The customer’s behavior on a website, mobile app, or social media site, for example, already provides insights into who they are and what they’re interested in. Leverage these insights by connecting this data as the customer switches channels. Or, even better, proactively engage them in the moment with a chat invitation or a web callback. All the knowledge about what the customer was doing on the previous channel can be used to drive the routing decision.

In contrast, queue-based routing with siloed channels doesn’t provide this visibility or data. You also can’t proactively engage customers via chat, then elevate the interaction to voice or video for a more personal conversation.

Q: Is there still a place for queue-based routing?

Kaiser: Queue-based routing does have its uses, as long as you aren’t locked into it as your only means of routing interactions in your contact center.  A traditional, inbound contact center managing a large volume of similar call types with a big pool of resources may find that a queue-based approach is “good enough” for the core of its business. This mass-market segment needs to be serviced efficiently, but typically isn’t where the true value and competitive differentiation lies for a company.

One of the things I emphasize with our customers is that Genesys can provide queue-based routing to replicate the legacy routing system. But, it would be a mistake not to also leverage all of the other intelligent routing capabilities our platform delivers. Often, customers realize that it’s not good enough just to route their customers into a large queue. We also delve deeper into specific areas—value-based customer service and omnichannel journeys—where the queue-based approach may not be meeting their needs now or in the future.

Q: Can a company use both queue-based and orchestrated routing?

Kaiser: Most companies have a model that requires a varied but unified approach to routing. Often, queue-based routing is sufficient for a majority of customers, but a significant number require differentiated treatment. It’s important to choose a platform that that can support all your routing needs, and not try to force your business and customers into using only a queue-based model.

Q: Can service levels be maintained with automated routing?

Kaiser: The short answer is yes.  If you have specific service level targets that you are required to meet, Genesys can definitely support that. Our routing algorithms have specific features for dynamically balancing routing across your resource pool based on your desired service level targets.

The longer answer is that conventional industry wisdom on service levels is shifting.  In traditional contact centers, there is typically a focus on meeting specific service level agreements, such as answering 80% of calls within 20 seconds or less. More recently, research has shown that customers are actually willing to wait longer for certain types of service inquiries, such as obtaining an extension on making a payment, or getting a fee waived. The amount of time a customer is willing to wait corresponds to the nature of the call. This is why it’s important to do correlation analysis to find out a customer’s patience threshold. Once you have this information, you can tune your routing logic to align with your customer’s willingness to wait per call type. This is typically much, much longer than historical 80/20 service levels.

Taking advantage of your customer’s willingness to wait isn’t bad customer service. It actually increases your ability to match that interaction with the best-fit resource, and ultimately results in higher issue resolution and increased customer satisfaction. Having routing flexibility that takes into account value and time enables you to use your resources better, and can open up new opportunities to generate revenue. In fact, our research shows that you can reduce resource requirements by 15% by adjusting wait times in a way that correlates with customer feedback, as opposed to trying to hit arbitrary service levels.

Learn more about making the shift from queue-based to orchestrated or automated routing.

View our on-demand webinar Moving Beyond Queue-Based Routing for Smart Customer Service where Charles Godfrey Sr. Principal Business Consultant of Genesys and I share how businesses are implementing an orchestrated, data-driven approach to improve their customer experience and generate measurable results.

Download the new white paper Is Queue-Based Routing Sabotaging Your Contact Center? Deliver Omnichannel Customer Experiences with Orchestrated Routing.

Chris Horne

Chris Horne

Chris Horne has been in the software industry for more than 20 years, building and marketing products for enterprise content management, business process automation, cloud management and enterprise customer engagement. Serving in various roles within startup ventures such as RightScale...