Correct assignment is a cornerstone of quality customer service. IVR trees, ticketing systems, and dedicated email inboxes all work to ensure that enquiries are matched to the team (or person) best-placed to help.
But skills-based routing is often overlooked when it comes to live chat deployments. In the desire to connect customers to an agent in real-time – and thus live up to the ‘live’ chat promise – companies often forget to implement pre-chat routing rules.
And this is a costly error. For large contact centres in particular, neglecting the appropriate routing of chat sessions can lead to damaging repercussions.
So, let’s dig a little deeper into skills-based live chat routing.
What is skills-based routing?
Skills-based routing is a strategy for assigning incoming chats requests to the best agents for the query.
Not every agent is suitable for every customer query. And in big companies and contact centres, you’ll have multiple teams with a plethora of talent in each.
For example, those on the payments team likely won’t have the relevant knowledge needed to answer a technical support question. Skilled tech support agents aren’t ideally placed to handle sales enquiries. Your first-line customer support agents shouldn’t be dealing with second-line support needs.
Then, within those groups, you might have some agents that have distinct skills. In technical support, you may have some agents that specialise in a specific product, for instance. Or you might have some agents that can speak a certain language, or deal with regional sales, or handle escalations.
The point is: diverse support requests necessitate a diverse team. And this is where skills-based routing comes in. With it, you can assign skills to your agents based on what they know and can do for your customers.
Benefits for customers
Skills-based routing sets you off on the right foot with your customers. In turn, this makes for better customer experiences and higher satisfaction.
For a start, correct routing ensures that customers consistently get effective, knowledgeable service when they connect to chat. This creates a far better experience than chatting with someone that doesn’t have the expertise to solve their specific problem.
This instant competence also reflects well on you and your team. The agent knows how to help the customer, and can do so smoothly. The customer is assured you know what you’re doing and can help them with whatever they need. And this establishes a key foundation of trust.
Plus, skills-based routing means a more streamlined journey. Customers don’t have to endure the frustration of connecting to the wrong team and being passed from agent to agent. They’re also less likely to wait in a long chat queue. After all, the agent best-suited to help them isn’t occupied with transferring other customers around the contact centre.
And when customers aren’t delayed, it means they spend less time dwelling on the problem, and more time enjoying your product or service.
Benefits for agents
It isn’t just customers that benefit from skills-based routing, either. It also boosts your customer-facing teams.
With routing in place, agents aren’t out of their depth. They know that when they take a chat, they have the skillset and needed tools to answer the customers. Plus, they get to use their expertise. (Rather than always fielding FAQs or playing pass the parcel with enquiries.)
This translates to increased job satisfaction. Your team can focus on what they’re good at and provide value to the customers they chat to, every time.
How to use skills-based routing
You might think that skills-based routing is laborious to implement, due to how often it’s neglected. This, fortunately, is not the case.
We’ll use WhosOn as an example. (Though the process should be relatively uniform across enterprise chat solutions.)
You start by creating skill groups, which can contain any number of sub-skills. In other words, set up a list of the different skills your agents may or may not need, and the groups those skills apply to. Once you have your skills set up, you assign those skills to the relevant agents.
So, for example, you could have a department-based skill group — i.e. technical support. And from there, you can add extra skills each agent within that team has, i.e. product X, remote training, etc. Then, it’s a matter of adding those skills to agent profiles.
From there, your chat channel does the rest. When a visitor connects and requests a chat, WhosOn attributes a list of skills to them. This could come from pre-chat survey fields, or based on their data profile and site activity. (For example, if the visitor is browsing a French-translated version of your website, they likely need a French-speaking agent.)
It then sends the chat request only to the operator(s) within the requested team that can cover those skills.
If no skills appear needed — or you haven’t created any for WhosOn to use — then requests get routed to all operators.
Don’t forget skills-based routing
If you’ve got a small business with only one or two live chat agents, forgetting to define routing rules is understandable. But for contact centres – and businesses using chat across several teams – you can’t afford to neglect skills-based routing.
Simply, skills-based routing brings efficiency to your customer support efforts. It benefits your customers, your agents, and your bottom line. Without it, you’re shooting your chat deployment (and your chat team) in the foot.