Are You Missing Opportunities for Improved Skills-Based Routing?

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Filed under - Industry Insights,

Richard Correia of NICE shares his advice for improving the accuracy of your skills-based routing.

Mapping the relationship between customer demand, contact queues and workforce planning needs has never been more challenging. The number of variables and dependencies that workforce managers must account for is constantly increasing. Customer needs and agent skills grow ever more intricate and affect one another in ways that are difficult to predict.

So it’s understandable that pinpointing exactly how to get an appropriately skilled agent to each customer at the right time can sometimes leave workforce managers feeling like they’re just spinning their wheels.

To address rising complexity, contact centres are increasingly adopting skills-based routing: More than 56% of contact centres currently use the technology today. And if your contact centre is like most, it’s leveraging long-trusted mathematical formulas like Erlang C or multi-queue algorithms to inform skills-based routing.

But the reality is that these traditional formulas just don’t deliver  the accuracy workforce managers need. That’s because formulas can only recognize patterns in historical data. They can’t account for impacts that one variable may have on another, such as how prioritizing one customer group impacts the service levels in other queues.

With these formulas, it’s assumed that all interactions require the same skill level and that all calls are served in the order they arrive. If a change occurs, like a same-day schedule change, adding a new channel, or hiring agents with new or varying skill levels, the formula must be rewritten.

And that’s often difficult in the fast-paced contact centre environment, where continual change is the norm. Traditional formulas just can’t crack the code of interrelatedness.

The good news is that there’s a workforce planning solution many contact centres haven’t yet tapped into: simulation. It enables more accurate skills-based routing by modelling a contact centre’s employee schedules and profiles, queues and business rules and then testing how real-world situations would play out.

Simulation helps workforce managers slice through the complexity of interrelatedness to understand how variables impact one another. And it can make all of these calculations in milliseconds, without impacting calls in progress.

Simulation can help your contact centre unlock skills-based routing and more accurate workforce planning through:

Discrete-Event Simulation: The simulation randomizes contact arrival and handle time to imitate real-world queues and pinpoint how workflows are impacted. The result is a model that accounts for a much wider variety of variables — like employee skills, proficiencies, preferences, breaks, lunches, meetings and training sessions —  than traditional mathematical formulas.

Dynamic Adjustments: As skills, skill levels, prioritization needs, technology solutions and customer demand change, simulation dynamically adjusts to account for interconnectedness.

This eliminates the need for workforce managers to spend hours or days trying to understand the downstream effects of a single change.

Targeted Strategic Planning: Simulation analyses the efficiency gains of a potential change, empowering contact centres to create more effective forecasts and make smarter decisions about routing, prioritization and who to hire. It also analyses outcomes and makes recommendations based on organizational goals.

For example, if a priority customer group isn’t getting connected to agents fast enough, simulation automatically identifies potential solutions.

What-if Scenarios: Workforce managers can also use simulation to craft different scenarios around interaction distributions. By doing so, they can see how adjustments like new routing conditions or changes in skill levels affect service levels and hiring needs.

Ultimately, simulation unlocks more precise planning by empowering contact centre leaders to understand how increasingly intricate variables impact one another. It condenses the time needed for calculations and decision-making and transforms a highly complex process into one that workforce managers can complete with a few clicks.

Author: Robyn Coppell

Published On: 31st Mar 2020
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