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Call Center Queues Part 3 – Skills Based Routing

>>>>>>Call Center Queues Part 3 – Skills Based Routing

Call Center Queues Part 3 – Skills Based Routing

Time for Skills Based Routing.  This post is going to take some, uh, skill.

Since it’s been a while between posts on this topic, I’d suggest you reread Part 1 and Part 2 first. I’ll wait…

I intentionally avoided the word “skill” up to now, because vendors toss this word around recklessly when discussing their skills based routing feature, and that’s where the plot can get lost. One vendor’s user guide describes skills as “a customer-definable label assigned to agents”. Huh?  And even though the word skill implies a human attribute, I’ve often heard statements like “we need to add an agent to the skill”.

But, in general, when vendors say “skill” they mean those agent classifications I described in Part 2, such as:

  • The agent’s department or workgroup
  • Training, certifications or licensing the agent has
  • The amount of experience the agent has
  • Languages the agent speaks

Skills Based Routing

With Skills Based Routing, your queues are defined by the skills the agent must have to handle the call. You have a queue for Spanish speaking callers that want to buy from you? You define “Spanish” and “Sales” as required skills when the queue is set up. Agents must have both Spanish and Sales skills assigned to them to get calls from that queue.

Any agent that has the combination of skills that matches the defined skills for the queue WILL get calls from that queue.  This means that agents with multiple skills can be assigned to multiple queues at the same time.

Our Spanish Sales queue has no way to prevent English Accounting calls from getting on it. That’s the responsibility of the IVR and configuration that happens before the queue.

What’s the Skills Based Routing Engine Doing?

In theory, skills based routing is matching the call to the best available agent. How does it know what the best match is? Truth is, it doesn’t, really.

What it does is use:

  • Your definitions of the call classifications
  • Your definitions of queues and skills
  • Your assignment of skills to your agents
  • Your agent’s skill rating1
  • Your choice of queue algorithm2
  • Your choice of “match call to free agent” algorithm3
  • A bunch of queue configuration settings

to match a call to the available agent.

It’s In Your Hands

Notice the repeated use of “your”. YOU have the control and YOU have the responsibility.

Yes, (ominous finger pointing…) YOU.

And this is WAY too complicated for the average person to wrap their head around. In fact, it’s way too complicated for the experts you hired to set you up. They know how to make configuration settings, but they don’t know your business or your customers.

Once you are operational, you are given levers to adjust that have a profound effect – for better or worse – on queue performance. And, if you are getting slammed, you’ll use those levers. Because you’ve got to do SOMETHING.

That’s enough background and fear mongering on my part. Time to help.


1 Native Spanish speaker? Rate them a 10. Got a 65% in Spanish 101? Rate them a 2. You can set up the queue to give the call to the highest rated agent if they’re available, and to a lower rated one if not. Some vendors have this built into their standard skills based routing, some sell it as an advanced feature (e.g. Precision Routing), some don’t have it.

2 In most cases, the first call into the queue will be the first call out of the queue.  But, some queues will allow you to put higher priority calls ahead of earlier calls, some will allow you to put a new call into more than one queue, etc.

3 If two agents with the same skills assigned (and same rating) are both available, which one gets the call? It could be the one that’s been idle the longest, it could be the next agent in a sequence (round robin), or something else. Most vendors give you a choice.

By | 2018-06-01T19:03:02+00:00 April 17th, 2017|Call Center, Customer Care|Comments Off on Call Center Queues Part 3 – Skills Based Routing