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How intelligent routing can improve the contact center experience

Author: Lauren McMenemy

The contact center experience is paramount to how your customers view your business. A good experience can create loyalty; a bad one can cause angry customers, lost sales and even a social media storm.

Your customers keep your business's lights on. In this era of omnichannel presence and customer empowerment, you need to ensure that their experience is smooth, efficient and informative.

Intelligent routing can help your network identify callers, predict their needs and guide them to the right resource to solve their problems, turning frustrated customers on hold into delighted customers with a quickly handled challenge.

What is intelligent call routing?

Used by contact centers to streamline operations and improve the customer experience, intelligent call routing technology identifies the caller using myriad processes (customer relationship management data, location, time of day, etc.) and the reason for their call to assign them to the right agent or direct them to the best resource that can satisfy their request. It can help businesses reduce costs, improve efficiency and increase agility and agent mobility.

Intelligent call routing makes the simple queue-based automatic call distributor technology that's been around for almost 50 years smarter, and the customer reaps the benefits. Intelligent call routing shortens hold times by handling call traffic more efficiently. It connects the customer to the right agent or resource the first time—not after several false starts. And it reduces the likelihood of touchpoint amnesia—that uniquely frustrating customer experience of constantly repeating your request because it's been forgotten in the transfer.

Supporting modern businesses in uncertain times

Though contact centers were already moving toward using AI, chatbots and flexible call routing to increase efficiency and customer satisfaction, the COVID-19 pandemic added a sense of urgency to those investments.

With many agents forced to work from home, the traditional office-bound operator bank was no longer an option—all at a time when call volumes were increasing exponentially. Business continuity demanded flexibility. It needed cloud-based contact center platforms that let agents log in from anywhere.

"Contact centers have been historically struggling to find a balance between optimizing costs and driving personalization," according to CIO. "Customers today expect interactions with enterprises that are highly personalized, conducted across devices and platforms. They also expect quick responses."

Intelligent call routing can support businesses in uncertain times—not just in response to a pandemic, but also to natural disasters or any other local and global issue that drives a need for mobility and flexibility.

By leveraging intelligent routing, you put control in the hands of the customer. The customer decides the best way to engage with your business, whether that's by requesting a voice call-back when hold times are long or navigating an interactive voice response (IVR) system to find the right resource.

Getting started with intelligent call routing

A routing algorithm with predefined business rules pulls information from a variety of sources to determine the best destination for the call. The goal is to improve the experience of each customer through personalized engagement.

Intelligent call routing uses data to understand how to handle the call before the caller even speaks to a human:

  • Automatic number identification tells you whether a customer has called before and where they're calling from.
  • IVR systems ask the caller to identify their intent by pressing buttons or speaking commands so that their call can be routed correctly.

Once the caller is identified, the system uses customer data to ensure customer intent is understood and route the customer to the right agent.

If your contact center is plagued by excessive hold times, multiple department transfers or difficulty identifying the right agent for the issue, intelligent routing could help you address those issues. By using a network-based IVR system, for example, you would move spending from operational expenses to capital expenses, all while requiring fewer resources. Agents can access the system from wherever they're working, improving mobility and agility.

You'll need:

  • High-quality and dynamic customer data to ensure the routing is efficient
  • Skilled agents matched to customer needs
  • Experts to design the system logic to drive routing decisions

Migrating from a legacy system will not be a like-for-like replacement. You might want to consider a phased implementation to run alongside your current center or to create a new environment. Many organizations will have the in-house expertise to implement Session Initiation Protocol trunking and create routing plans that align with technical, operational and financial requirements, but help is always at hand if you need it.

Learn how Verizon Transport & Intelligent Routing can help you improve your customers' contact center experience.