Call Routing, Contact Center Sales-Support21st November 2020
Customer care departments take care of different functionalities, whether the task is servicing customers or providing information on some small subject matter. With so much of work available in hand, it becomes difficult to manage call traffic during peak hours. Assuring that each time the call lands at the right party is a way to manage difficult tasks and in order to reach the optimum level of customer satisfaction, it becomes mandatory for call centers to manage their call routing strategies.
Routing strategies have led to a lot of intriguing questions like, How do you transfer your customers’ call to the right person as quickly as possible? How do you take care of the long hold time, customer frustration or defection of your customers to competition? How do you ensure first call resolution?
Call routing is an important part of any efficient customer service strategy. By directing calls to the right department on the first go, the level of customer satisfaction increases with overall reduction in the operating cost. However, call routing is considered as a strategic tool in the business environment, if done properly and efficiently.
Call Routing Strategies to Improve Customer Experience
Routing By IVR: Call routing by IVR is among the most common and the most famous routing methods followed by organizations. IVR allows customers to interact with the organization through telephone keypad or speech interaction. The IVR systems can respond with prerecorded or dynamically generated audio to further direct users on how to proceed for their query. Routing through IVR is most demanded in lead generation businesses and contact centers. This strategy is especially good for lead generation businesses and call centers.
Direct Routing: Organizations looking towards building direct relationship with customers or having a basic approach to customer service are mostly involved in direct routing strategies. Customers are provided with the direct number of the particular department they intend to call. For example: If a customer wants to speak to the sales department, there is a direct number for the sales department. Likewise, there are different numbers for different departments. This ensures that the first connect is to the right department, thereby welcoming more sales closure and higher success rate. But usually the wait time in this strategy is longer if the agent or the rep is busy on another call.
Skill-Based Routing: Selecting this strategy for your organization may save customers from long wait time or frustration during service calls. The customer experience can be improved by matching the highest skilled agent available to handle each call. A successful skills-based routing strategy increases agents’ efficiency by allowing them to use personal knowledge and experience to answer customer’s query. This reduces the average call handling time per agent, leading to higher first call resolution with improved customer satisfaction rate.
Routing by Caller ID: This routing strategy allows you to put some intelligence in the routing system. The phone numbers of certain customers can be recorded as per the urgency of their subject matter. Each customer can be allotted a unique caller ID. Whenever the customer calls, the call gets automatically routed to the most appropriate agent depending on the last conversation or recorded information in the CRM. For instance, if the contract of a certain customer is expiring; the next time the customer rings the department, the call can will directly land to the agent who specializes in retention of existing customers.
Database Integration Routing: Service calls are very crucial when it comes to retaining customers. By integrating the call routing with the customer database, agents can easily look up at the history of the previous conversations and can accordingly take smart and useful decisions. For example: if the caller is an existing customer, route the call to the support department. If the caller is a new customer, route the call to the inquiry or sales department.
Business Rules Routing: Keeping specific business objectives in mind, organizations can align their routing strategies with their business goals. Once the ACD and other applications are in place, organizations can use their routing strategy to their specific business needs. For instance, customers with higher value can be routed to a premier agent. Accordingly, a frustrated or an angry customer attempting to discontinue the usage of a particular service can be transferred to the retention department. Obviously, the strategy being used overe here depends on the specific business goals.
Multimedia and multimodal routing: Being consumers, we interact through various channels with our different suppliers. Some suppliers respond perfectly at a particular channel and some do not. The critical routing challenge many organizations now face is how to route multimedia transactions across multiple customer contact channels. The situation gets worse when multimedia extends its capabilities to multi-modal routing, where a consumer might be calling or texting from a particular device or from a remote location. For eg: Suppose a customer is calling from his ABC phone, the solution has to be process oriented and at the same time the customer ID should be able to map the CRM history of the customer giving each and every detail about the ABC phone helping in the real time decision making. Here, for sure the technology plays an important role but an organization must keep their resources intact to support such new generation of multimedia and multi modal customer transactions taking place.
Percentage Based Routing: An efficient call center manager ensures that the workload is fairly distributed among all the agents. The manager can see on his dashboard the total percentage of calls received per agent and then can accordingly design the routing strategy to minimize the long wait times.
Service and Sales are two very diverse organizational functions. Traditionally, each function needs a different set of core competencies.
The new-age contact center breaks this convention. It has the unique ability to equip and empower a contact center agent with selling skills and techniques that enables him to cross- sell and up-sell products in addition to handling a service call efficiently.
This article underlines some key tips and techniques that can convert the contact center into a Sales Center of Excellence.
There is a rising need across businesses to convert the regular order-taking contact center to revenue-generating profit centers within the next few years. The customer contact center is thus, evolving from being a plain vanilla customer service center to the more advanced, more valuable revenue generating center. The service call, which is the lifeline of the customer contact center, provides immense potential to initiate a sales cycle. Companies are, therefore, making efforts to leverage this channel to provide a next level lift in revenue generation.
In a customer contact center, every customer call is an opportunity which can be effectively leveraged to initiate a sale. The call center agent has the full attention of the customer when he calls in for resolving a problem or a query. It is, therefore, obvious that leveraging inbound calls is a far effective and efficient medium to initiate a sale rather than an outbound sales call.
Consider this: The largest generation today, Generation ‘Y’ with a population of 100 million represents an annual buying power of $1 trillion.
Buyers within this segment of buyers are tech-savvy, indulge in online research before buying and expect expert help when they are ready to buy.
One can thus imagine the potential buying traffic that for various reasons could get diverted to the contact center and generate sales opportunities. However, converting these opportunities into sources of real revenue is where the real challenge lies.
Transforming the regular contact center into a revenue generating Sales Center of Excellence (CoE) requires a methodical and a well-planned approach. The WNS approach to building a Sales Center of Excellence involves:
Understanding the customer life-cycle
Helping the client identify the sales maturity model of the contact center
Suggesting ways and means and charting out a well-defined roadmap to convert the contact center into a Sales Center of Excellence and reduce the Total Cost of Ownership considerably.
Here are 10 tips that can transform the regular contact center into a Sales Center of Excellence:
- Revamping Your Hiring Engine: Your employee recruitment process should be focused on identifying, selecting and hiring candidates who share a good number of behavioral traits with current strong performers within your contact center. Some of the traits could be:
Interpersonal skills: It is important that a sales person feels natural interacting with people with an ability to adapt to a variety of situations and different personalities
Resilience: The power to pursue objectives with self-motivation and patience
- Capacity to inspire trust
- Ability to quickly identify the critical issues during a conversation
- Ability to negotiate confidently
- Passion and enthusiasm
- Integrity and honesty
- An interest in learning new things
2. Training Contact Center Agents to Sell Effectively: Sales people are not born, they are trained. Training must become a priority to reinforce the sales culture in your contact center. Your contact center agents must be sensitized about being able to effectively use up-selling and cross-selling techniques, for example, offering a new product / service while providing support for an earlier version, or cross-selling an additional product or service. A great service call can become a good sales call, if the contact center agent can put forth a sales-closing question. Introduction of industry / domain interface in training is also an important facet to build a confident pool of resources who could sell better. Training should not be restricted to contact center agents only and must be extended to team managers too.
3.Power Scheduling and Prioritizing: The best agents in your contact center should be earmarked and deployed to attend calls during sales peak times to effectively handle customer queries and at the same time make a sale. Introduction of advanced workforce management solutions is a must to be able to forecast sales peak times and schedule call-handling by the best agents in the call center. In addition, contact centers must also deploy an intelligent call-routing technology with the ability to ‘power prioritize’ calls basis agent and customer profile. Planning and scheduling not only enhances the chances of cross-selling and up-selling, but also bolsters the ability of the contact center’s ability to take care of customer enquiries in a timely manner.
- Intelligent Incentivization: Sales incentive compensation management is increasingly becoming the key decisive and motivating factor in influencing the contact center sales force to sell and make an impact on business performance. WNS recommends an outcome-based incentive structure with incentives for sales on high margin products, cross-selling of bundled products and revenue generated per transaction.
- Valuing Feedback: Your contact center agent is your strongest link with your customer; and it pays to inculcate a practiced and sustained behavior of collecting, respecting and valuing the agent’s ideas and feedback.
- Monetizing Customer Wait Times: Customer wait times on IVR can be effectively utilized by running special promotion announcements when putting the customer on hold. This can be supplemented by fast-tracking customers for ‘deals of the day’ on Websites.
- Integrating Customer Contact Center with Your Website: Integrating the customer contact center with your website with proactive Web chat options is a great way to improve online customer acquisition and retention. With an advanced Web chat option, one can expect approximately 50 percent reduction in shopping cart abandonment rates.
8.Integrating Social Media with Contact Center: Monitoring your brand on social media and integrating yourcontact center to support customers over social channels and helping key buying decisions of your customers is emerging as a great strategy to ensure better ROI on your social media investments.
- Ensuring Better Insights with Analytics: There is a growing need to drill out actionable insights from data collected from contact centers. Analytics has the power to fuel sales by providing actionable insights for better customer recovery, loyalty management, product improvement, campaign management and so forth. Speech Analytics platforms are increasingly being seen as a ‘game changer’ for the contact center-sales center segment of business. New approaches in analyzing CSAT and NPS could also be deployed to improve quality of the feedback mechanism.
- Continuous Benchmarking & Improvement: While, continuous benchmarking should be a contact process to acquire / develop technology that complements and supplements sales within the contact center; use of Six Sigma methodology should be used effectively to improve quality of query handling and enhancing sales.