How Skills-Based Routing Can Improve Customer And Agent Experience

Imagine you went into a store to find out more about their products. You wait for a while for an employee to be free, and then ask them your question. They don’t know the answer, so they ask you to wait again while they find someone else available. They find someone available, but it turns out your question is actually another department’s area, so they ask you to wait again.

By now, you would be frustrated, and you might even throw your hands up and leave the store because it’s taking too much time out of your day. You might even make a complaint to the store manager about it.

If you wouldn’t stand for this in a store, then why should your customers deal with it when they contact your company’s call centers? Passing their call around leaves them just as stuck, just as frustrated, and just as likely to give up as you would in that store. Luckily, there’s a way to streamline that with skills-based routing.

What is Skills-based Routing?

Skills-based routing (SBR) uses call management software to direct calls to the appropriate agents with automatic call distribution (ACD). ACD works with other call management technology and routes calls to the most appropriate representative to discuss the query being made while reducing wait time.

With self-service interactive voice response (IVR) software, inbound calls are directed to a menu where they can verbally communicate their reason for calling.

If you have a customer relationship management (CRM) system in place, your ACD can access the data your company has on the caller and use that information for even more intelligent routing, or sending it to the person they need to talk to. Plus, you can have your ACD software perform other functions, such as working with your team’s schedule or playing a recorded message for customer calls outside of business hours or on holiday.

How Does Skills-Based Routing Work?

When you set up your SBR system, you’ll put all your employees’ skills into the program. This could be languages spoken (such as Spanish) or product knowledge.

The SBR system logs all of these skills, then uses the data we mentioned earlier to send it to the right person. Administrators can then set a priority value for each skill, which helps the ACD system know which skills to prioritize in a call that has multiple queries.

The skills you choose to include and prioritize are up to you, but here are some major ones to consider adding:

  • Spoken languages (Spanish, French, Hindi, etc.)
  • Technical skills (programming, software troubleshooting)
  • Product knowledge
  • Channel experience
  • Problem-solving skills
  • Communication skills and de-escalation


With this information, ACD software can register the needs of the caller, check agent availability, and route the call to the best agent for the job.

The Benefits of Skills-Based Routing

Customer Satisfaction

Think back to the scenario at the start. Wouldn’t you have been happier if, once you were in the store, you were directed to someone who could not only answer your question, but who was an expert on the product you were asking about?

When you use SBR, you’re cutting down the call passing and giving your customers a clear, easy process to have their questions answered and needs met. Even if there’s a bit of a hold, they’ll be much happier talking to one person who specializes in the one area they want to know about. And, of course, a happy customer means repeat business and referrals for your business.

Agent Satisfaction

SBR doesn’t just improve the customer support experience–it improves the employee experience, too. With this setup, agents get to work with their strongest skill sets, and employees generally tend to be happier when they’re doing something they have expertise in.

And, because their customers are sent right to the agents they need, they deal with fewer frustrated callers and fewer dropped calls–both of which can be hugely demotivating. With more successful interactions, your agent productivity will skyrocket along with their confidence, which means even better service for your customers.

More Efficiency Across The Board

When your contact center operates on “The first open representative gets the call,” you often have to find a way for every agent to have at least some idea of every potential skill needed. This is both stressful and inefficient–no person will have mastery over every topic, and expecting them to do so is both unrealistic and unfair.

When you use SBR, you don’t need every agent to know everything. Instead, the calls get routed to the experts. This means more efficient calls and more efficient training. When a new employee starts, they can build their skill level in an area they are comfortable and knowledgeable in, rather than trying to cram in every bit of information at the start.

Additionally, using SBR greatly reduces the amount of dropped calls due to the reduced chance of a caller speaking to an agent who is unqualified to help with their issue. If a query is answered on the first try, that means less time spent with the customer repeating their issues–or trying to keep them from hanging up.

What to Keep In Mind With SBR

When you do make the switch to SBR, there are still a few things you should keep in mind as you get things set up. After all, any software program is only as good as the people using it.

What Skills To Prioritize

When deciding what skills you should prioritize the most, it’s important to look at your customer data. See what queries the majority of your callers are asking about. Do they need their language requirements met? Are many of them asking the same product or troubleshooting question?

If you know what areas commonly need addressing, it’s a great way to prioritize what skills should be front and center. For example, if someone who only speaks Spanish calls to ask about billing, the ACD software would prioritize the Spanish requirement and send her to a Spanish-speaking agent rather than an English-only billing agent.

Match Your Staffing With Skill Demand

By using a skills-based routing system, you can focus on hiring people with expertise in an applicable area. However, you should be mindful of your customer’s needs in regards to your staff when looking at agent skill levels.

Be sure that the people you hire have skills in line with what your clients need the most of, whether that’s fluency in another language or experience with a particular type of technology. Having too many people skilled in a non-prioritized area can lead to miscommunication or very little opportunities for the representative to engage with customers.

Skills-based routing is a great way to lessen call transferring, hold times, and customer frustration. By focusing on your agents’ skills and specialties, you can make their jobs easier and give them work that aligns with their expertise and talents.

If you’re ready to jump in with call management software or just want to learn more about skills-based routing systems, then Xima is the program for you. Make long hold times and awkward call passing a thing of the past. With easy set-up and efficient call flows, Xima’s skills-based routing is just the thing to make your customers–and your agents–happy with their call center experience.

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