How to Prioritize Flows in the Contact Center

In the contact center, inbound calls are typically prioritized over email. Generally speaking, synchronous channels such as voice, chat, and instant messaging (which can be synchronous when staffed with dedicated agents) are usually prioritized over asynchronous channels including email and SMS. This happens since customers who make contact on synchronous channels are looking for live, real-time support. However, in certain situations or even for certain businesses, prioritizing calls over email or other channels is not necessarily the best option.

Implementing a flow management strategy

Sometimes, companies need to implement a flow management strategy that allows them to prioritize certain channels at certain times as needed. Their contact centers may need to adopt a flow management strategy that allows them to prioritize channels by level, with each level corresponding to a specific set of rules. For example, one company may wish to prioritize email over phone and need to implement a flow management strategy that allows them to handle emails according to the nature of the request. This requires the implementation of an email campaign with emails assigned to two levels (or more if needed).

  • Level 1 could be described as requests that do not require much expertise for a response. It may be a simple request, such as a delivery update, which can be answered quickly and easily by most any agent.
  • A level 2 email, on the other hand, requires more expertise that cannot be managed by just any agent—only one who has the right skills. However, these level 2 emails must also be handled quickly and efficiently.

In this situation, the company must decide how to implement a flow management strategy that enables its call center to handle level 2 emails quickly. If too many level 1 emails come in, it may become impossible to handle the more critical level 2 emails.

So how can a company handle this situation?

Vocalcom would recommend the following: To avoid waiting for level 1 emails to be answered before moving on to level 2 emails, it is important to assign as many agents as possible to the first level while assigning a smaller number of specialized agents to level 2 email management. In this manner, agents with basic skills will handle simple level 1 requests, while agents with special expertise can dedicate their time and skills to more complex requests for harmonious flow management.

Prioritizing flows according to agent specialization

When prioritizing flows, it’s important to note that the level of expertise required for every agent varies according to the level of the flow. It is therefore necessary to highlight an essential customer/business rule: A customer wishes to speak to an agent with the most adapted skills in order to manage his or her request as quickly and efficiently as possible, and a company wishes to answer the requests of all its customers using agents with the most adapted qualifications in the most efficient manner.

Since level 1 emails do not require extra agent knowledge, they do not have to be routed toward agents with specific training. However, if a customer’s level 1 request eventually becomes more complex, the contact center may put distribution rules in place according to agent skills. For example, if a level 1 email is followed up by another email with a request for technical support, the new email may be classified as level 2 and distributed to another flow and another agent with the right technical knowledge. These customers with increasingly complex requests may also be routed to level 2 agents by phone, as it can be easier to communicate complex issues on this channel. When planned carefully, distribution rules can offer tremendous advantages for prioritizing flows. The key is to assign specialized agents to the subjects in which they are the most skilled and the most confident, while reducing the time they spend on other, less critical subjects. This strategy ensures that your agents will offer the best response when needed while reducing handling time and increasing agent efficiency.

Moreover, classifying customer requests by priority also allows your company to calculate the rate of a specific kind of request compared to the quality of service. QoS is the measurement of the overall performance of your service, particularly the performance seen by your customers. Comparing your clients’ need with your QoS helps you review the technologies your agents use and eventually adapt your strategy as needed.

Adapting your flow management strategy

So just how does your company adapt its strategy? There are several steps you can take.

  • For one, you can increase the number of agents assigned to a particular task.
  • During seasonal or temporary periods—such as a promotional sales event or holiday period—you may also wish to adjust priorities to handle increased contact volume. If, for example, such a time period brings your call center more level 1 emails that require more agents assigned to this level, you may choose to increase the wait time before distributing flows to level 2.
  • In addition, your contact center may implement overflow strategies for requests that need extra attention due to the risk of a lower quality of service level by being moved to a high priority line.
  • Outside call center hours, you may also offer more self-service options on your company website before suggesting to your customers that they send an email. In this manner, you can reduce the number of level 1 emails your call center must manage.

Indeed, using automation and artificial intelligence technologies helps you flatten call peaks and free up your agents to handle added-value interactions. Chatbots and Voicebots provide quick answers to simple and repetitive questions. Smart Pairing Solutions, based on machine learning, help you transforming the quality of agent-customer interactions and improve your first call resolution rates. When integrated into your Vocalcom contact center, Smart Pairing capabilities make it easy to select the agent with the right relational and behavioral skills based on the customer’s request and profile, through a self-refining machine learning process that improves over time.

With a clear strategy and an emphasis on assigning the right agents to the right tasks, you can prioritize your contact center flows, reach maximum efficiency, and satisfy your customers at any time.

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