The Ultimate Guide to Call Disposition Codes


A picture of a phone next to a question mark on a yellow background

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Charlie Mitchell introduces call disposition codes, before sharing how they are best used in the contact centre.

What Are Call Disposition Codes?

Call disposition codes are used by contact centres to label and classify calls as they come in, based on the reason why the customer is calling.

Many contact centres will use primary and secondary codes. The primary code, for example, could be “sales”, while the secondary may be the product/service that the customer is interested in purchasing.

Contact centre advisors are often presented with a list of predetermined call disposition codes in the CRM system, as part of After-Call Work (ACW). They then choose the code that was relevant to the call. This process can, however, be automated.

By attaching a code to each call, the contact centre gets more insight into what is driving their contact centre demand. But that is not the only reason…

What Are Disposition Codes Used For?

There are many benefits to using call disposition codes. These include:

  • Tracking contact reasons – Disposition codes enable contact centres to understand the nature of calls that they are receiving. In doing so, contact centres can classify, index and track what is happening.
  • Pinpointing key contact drivers – By highlighting key reasons that customers call, contact centres can prioritize which call journeys should be simplified and improved first. This enables contact centres to better impact customer satisfaction and reduce call volumes.
  • Identifying individual coaching needs – Using disposition reports, contact centres can see how long an advisor takes to handle various call reasons. If some take much longer than the contact centre average, target these in quality monitoring
  • Spotting broken processes – Have handling times for certain disposition codes jumped up in the past day/week/month? This highlights that something has gone wrong. Fixing it will reduce the negative impact on customer experience.
  • Analysing failure demand – One key primary disposition code should be “failure demand”. By delving into the secondary dispositions, the contact centre can spot trends and dig into those, in the hope of reducing complaint volumes.

Many of these benefits stem from call distribution reports, which present lots of interesting information regarding each disposition code.

Depending on what is included in their distribution reports, contact centres may be able to obtain even more actionable insights.

What Is Included in a Disposition Report?

Disposition reports can be found in the CRM system. For every call, they show:

  • The advisor who handled the call
  • The selected primary and secondary disposition outcome
  • When the call was made
  • How long the call lasted
  • A breakdown of talk time, hold time and wrap time

Depending on the sophistication of your solution, online reports may also store a recording next to each call. This allows for easy analysis of calls that don’t fit the norm.

Another function of a great reporting tool is to group calls based on their disposition. Contact centres can then see which call types are driving the majority of their call demand and analyse the difference in handling times. This is all great stuff for the WFM team.

The picture below demonstrates one such example of a call disposition report, which has been created using Akixi’s call management software. This report also shows how certain KPIs vary across each call reason, which is another great tool for identifying key improvement areas.

A picture of an example call disposition report

Example of a call disposition report, which has been created using Akixi’s call management software

Just remember that analysing these reports is important. Only by closely examining them can contact centres identify trends, coaching needs and key demand drivers.

Discover more about other call centre reports and how to best break them down in our article: A Quick Guide to Call Centre Reporting – With the Top Seven Reports, Examples and Tips

How Many Call Disposition Codes Should You Have?

It is best for a contact centre to keep its list of call disposition codes list as succinct as possible. Setting a maximum of ten codes for each is generally considered best practice.

Why? Because long lists overcomplicate things and can encourage negative advisor behaviours.

A headshot of Garry Gormley

Garry Gormley

“The danger with having a long list of call disposition codes is that advisors tend to default to picking either their favourite code or the code that sits at the top of the list,” says Garry Gormley, Founder of FAB Solutions.

“Even if you alphabetize a long list, what you’ll likely find is that an unexpectedly large number of contacts are given a code that begins with an “A”.”

If advisors are pressured to reduce handling times, this will also encourage them to rush through the call disposition process and resort to these poor practices.

For more on the danger of pressuring advisors on handle times, read our article: Is Reducing Average Handling Time (AHT) a Good Idea?

5 Best Practices for Call Disposition Codes

Shortening your list of call disposition codes is a great best practice, as we have already highlighted, but we share many more innovative ideas below.

1. Form a Working Group to Create Your Codes

Form a group that includes advisors and leaders from across the contact centre and ask: what are the most common contact reasons that you typically deal with?

Then, come up with your list and test these out with a small group of advisors. Consider:

  • Are we missing any key codes?
  • Are certain codes clashing?
  • Do advisors understand each code?

This final point is critical, which brings us to coaching and calibration…

2. Coach and Calibrate the Use of Call Disposition Codes

Train your team on what different disposition codes mean.

Train your team on what different disposition codes mean. This often starts with listening to calls in induction training and ensuring that people understand which code should be attached to the contact.

By calibrating the use of codes like this, the contact centre can ensure that their disposition reports are as accurate as possible.

Garry adds: “To continuously keep tabs on the use of call disposition codes, look at the call time that is associated with the disposition. This can be a good ‘sense check’.”

“For example, if in an outbound contact centre I dispositioned a call as “No Answer”, yet the call lasted for two minutes, something has gone wrong there. You’ve uncovered either a poor practice or poor behaviour.”

Contact centres can also take a look at what advisors are entering into the CRM system as part of quality monitoring to ensure a good understanding of disposition codes.

3. Look Out for New Codes and Allow Free-Text Dispositions

Sometimes a contact centre may detect a gap in their call disposition list. For example, perhaps a new product or service has been launched or maybe the customer calls regarding something completely unexpected.

Such gaps can be problematic for advisors and may skew a contact centre’s results, which compromises the value of their call disposition research.

A thumbnail photo of Justin Robbins

Justin Robbins

“There are two key cons of call disposition codes. The first is that they are limited to what the contact centre has identified beforehand, and the second is that they are almost always left to human selection,” says Justin Robbins, Chief Evangelist at CX Effect.

Justin’s first point highlights the importance of analysing and updating your call disposition codes over time.

To do so, offer advisors a chance to type in a new free-text disposition, if they believe that no code fits the bill. Then, analyse what they type.

If the analyst believes that it could have been placed in another category, talk to and coach the advisor. If the analyst agrees, make a note. If this becomes a common free-text disposition, consider adding it to the list.

In regard to Justin’s second point…

4. Automate the Call Disposition Process

There are a few ways to do this. One common method is to build disposition codes into the front-end of the IVR, so by selecting their call reason, the customer selects the code for themselves. This is then pulled through by the CRM system.

If you have a great IVR structure, such a technique can be highly beneficial in increasing the accuracy of call dispositions, as well as reducing wrap time – and therefore AHT.

However, if customers are struggling to use the system or if there is an option to bypass the IVR, this method won’t work so well.

Another method is to use real-time speech analytics to detect the contact reason and robotic process automation (RPA) to then select the right code. This is based on the insight from the analytics system.

“In outbound contact centres, the dialler can also be used to automate a large chunk of the call disposition process,” adds Garry.

“For instance, say the advisor reaches the customer’s voicemail or calls a dead number, it can map that outcome to the correct disposition.”

5. Segment the Customer Base

Disposition codes enable organizations to segment customers into groups. These groups are based on the types of calls that customers have previously had with the contact centre, as well as the outcome of that call.

By doing so, a company can develop a more proactive and personalized experience.

By seeing the disposition codes of a customer’s old interactions, the advisor is given more context to the call, enabling them to offer better levels of customer service.

For instance, if a customer phones into the contact centre for a process that can be done online, these customers can afterwards be sent a proactive email. Within this email could be a “how-to” video, which takes the customer through how to complete the process online if they wish to do so in the future.

Another example to provide a more personalized experience is to share the customer’s call history with the advisor who takes that customer’s next call. This can be achieved through screen pop technology.

By seeing the disposition codes of a customer’s old interactions, the advisor is given more context to the call, enabling them to offer better levels of customer service.

4 Mistakes to Avoid

Call disposition codes have great value to an organization. Nevertheless, this value can be damaged if the contact centre falls into any of the following traps.

  1. Failing to Be Specific – By being too broad with their codes, contact centres can struggle to capture actionable insights from their disposition reports.
  2. Having Too Many Disposition Codes – This can cause advisors to choose random codes, regardless of the actual call reason, which removes the purpose of classifying calls in the first place.
  3. Opting for Only Free-Text Dispositions – Contact centres may ask advisors to type up the call reason, instead of using a pre-set list. This makes managing and categorizing contacts more difficult, while some people spell things differently and have alternative thoughts on what the outcome of a call is.
  4. Failing to Analyse and Update – Out-of-date disposition codes can provide inaccurate results. So, talk to the contact centre team to find gaps or sources of confusion. Then consider if your list needs updating.

Key Takeaways

“Keep it simple, train it out and consider what you can standardize and automate,” concludes Garry.

This is great advice, while it is also good to reconsider how the contact centre can draw more value from its call disposition reports and how many call codes are being used, as well as how they are coached and calibrated.

Of course, there are also pitfalls to avoid. This includes failing to analyse and update the codes.

However, overall, call disposition codes are a simple and powerful tool for improving a contact centre’s performance.

For lots more insights into improving the performance of a contact centre, read our articles:

Published On: 1st Sep 2021
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