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Saturday, January 5, 2008

Erlang 'C' & Scheduling for Call Centres - III

Skill-Based Routing

Simpler to say than actually execute, SBR is a way of ensuring that your contact reaches the agent best suited to deal with and address their issue.  This assists in first call resolution but is also key when it comes to things like languages and specific technologies.  An easy example is ensuring that a French-speaking customer with a data problem reaches your agent in your call center in Montreal (or France for that matter) vs your agent in an English speaking call center.  

Skill-based routing allows for significant granularity and focus, but it is only as good as the information you know or are supplied with by the customer.  This can either be from an existing customer database or from your initial ACD (Automatic Call Distribution) system where the customer is responsible for determining what problem they have.

Scheduling Tools

There are a multitude of free & paid for scheduling tools available and obviously, you get what you pay for with the ones requiring a monthly/yearly fee offering significantly more tools and services than the free ones.  However, depending on the size of your center and your budget, some of these free tools (reviewed) are extremely effective and useful.  I have provided links to some of the better subscription-based tools also, but have not included a review of them as their websites are fairly descriptive in and of itself.

  • Excel (or other) Spreadsheet - hopefully your budget includes at least one copy of Microsoft Excel, but if not, you can still get access to free spreadsheet applications either through Open Office or even Google Docs or Zoho Docs. Depending on your chosen product/solution, the formula's and look of the product will be slightly different, however for simple call/support centers any of these will suffice. Your main measurement would be determined by your total required staffing level. You can also build a schedule based on specified Tiers of customers or skillsets. Don't get too complicated with Excel as it would pay you to get a specialized tool to do this right. A sample Tiered schedule is provided below.

The key things to note here are that, there are less Tier2 staff than Tier1 (think about it as a Pyramid shape ... the higher up the Pyramid you get, the more skilled your staff are). And also, the GAP ... this is where you can expect to receive more calls/emails/contacts than your Staff is able to handle. Expect complaints, bad service and abandon calls as well as ... you should expect to start losing Customers! ... unless you can get this to be '0'

One other thing to note is that this is a daily schedule ... see what I mean about specialized tools?  Don't worry I'll be getting to them soon I hope!