Category Archives: Skill Based Routing

Technical Support and Tiered Support Levels

In Customer Service and Technical Support it is all about getting that client issue to the right person (based on skills and language) as quickly as possible and ensuring that you meet or exceed your SLA. Now this can be accomplished through a variety of different methods and depending upon the size of your contact center, you should ensure that you explore some or all of them.


Probably the most important criteria is training. You need to ensure that you have explored the requirements and needs of your customers fully and that based on these needs, the majority of your agents have the requisite skills to resolve their issues and assist them. Determining Their Needs 

If you do not know what your clients need then this is absolutely the first area of concern. You need to conduct surveys and do analysis of your past and historical incidents and contacts and determine from that what they are going to be asking. You will find that there is a significant amount of repetition with regards to client inquiries and if you are in a business with a growing customer base you will see this repetition play out most frequently with new accounts. Once you know what they are going to be asking, then you can put a training plan into place to ensure that you plug those holes. The quicker and sooner you are able to do this, the more satisfied your customers will be. 

Tiered Support Model 

As important as training is, you are not going to be able to have all of your staff at the same level. This is actually not a bad thing as the questions and queries that you will be receiving will also be at differing levels of complexity. By putting in place a plan that allows you to tier your teams based on their skills not only are you being more efficient with your resources, but you are also building an escalation model and a promotion path into your support organization. 

Erlang ‘C’ & Scheduling for Call Centres 

Tiered Support ensures that your training dollars are best spent where they are most useful and also allows you to offer your customers an increased level of service in various different fashions. 

Tier’ing Your Customers 

As you might recall from my previous posts on the 80/20 rule (here and here), you are best served by distributing your clients based on their “value” to your business. As much as you might like to treat all clients the same, the unfortunate fact is that they are not! You will often find that 20% of your customers are responsible for 80% of your issues and also (and perhaps more importantly!) 20% of your clients are responsible for 80% of your revenue. Unfortunately also, these two different “circles” do not always overlap and it is absolutely key that you determine which of your clients fit into which circle. 
Once you have made that determination however, things become much clearer and easier to handle. By putting your customers into tiers, you are able to offer the ones with higher value to your business a different path to the support that they need in contrast to your other customers.

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 is 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!