What Is Skills-Based Routing?

In the context of a call center, skills-based routing (SBR) is a way to allow incoming calls from customers to reach agents inside the call center who can resolve a given issue on the first call. This is done by using an automated system to find out what a customer needs, and then finding an available agent who has the proper skill set to resolve the call. This avoids the need to transfer customers manually from queue to queue, reducing overall call time and keeping customers happy. It also allows a business to keep track of how many customers are calling and for what purpose.

The core of a skills-based routing system is the assignment of skills to the agents within the call center. Agents can have their skills set to different values indicating what types of calls the agent can and cannot handle. That skill setting can have multiple values, as well, indicating the worker’s proficiency in handling that type of call. The value also can indicate the priority with which the agent will receive that type of call, from never to first every time.

The software that keeps track of the skill settings also can maintain queues of calls for each individual skill. When calls pass through the automated system that captures the reason for the call, the customer is placed into the appropriate queue. Once an agent with matching skills is available, the call is routed to that person.

For a call center, this has the benefit of reducing the amount of time that a customer is on the phone, as well as reducing the number of transactions it takes to resolve a call. A transaction is how many times a call is handled by different agents. A customer who is transferred three times has taken three times the resources to handle. Through skills-based routing, many calls can be resolved through contact with only one agent, freeing up other agents to take more calls that could be waiting in the queue.

Customers have a more transparent experience. When first contacting a call center utilizing skills-based routing, a customer is presented with an interactive voice response (IVR) system. The IVR will ask the customer the reason for the call and accept the input. This is what determines to which queue the call will ultimately be transferred. For customers, this means only having to deal with one call center agent, who will probably be able to handle the problem, and avoiding the need for multiple transfers.