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    Michelle Brusyo
    Not Your Parents’ Skills-Based Routing
    Topic posted September 22, 2015 by Michelle BrusyoApprentice 
    605 Views, 5 Comments
    Not Your Parents’ Skills-Based Routing

    Customers are increasingly visiting a company’s website first when looking for support, and companies are finding innovative ways to structure an optimal web self-service experience with easy ways to escalate into an assisted channel like live chat.  At first, it was sufficient to simply ask the agents to monitor the chat queues and select chats from the queues.  As chat adoption grew beyond the ad hoc stages, businesses implemented automatic queuing and routing to drive agent efficiency and improved customer response times.  This worked well for a while, but soon the websites were empowering customers to resolve most of their simple inquiries and transactions online, leaving increasingly complex transactions to be handled by the agents.  And because customers are investing more effort into finding an answer on their own, by the time they request an agent they want a knowledgeable agent who can offer them competent support.

    Facing this confluence of factors, contact centers are compelled to do a better job of providing prompt, expert support to their customers. Many contact centers start by implementing a skills-based routing solution using the limited technologies that they have.  The typical solution involves setting up more queues to represent more granular customer needs, as well as more profiles of agent expertise designed to map into the various queues. This model works pretty well initially, until companies attempt to scale up the solution to handle tens or even hundreds of unique product and language skill combinations, at which point the system becomes unmanageable.

    At this point, some contact centers are fortunate enough to have a trusty ACD vendor they can turn to for a true multi-channel skills-based routing solution.  However, many chat contact centers do not have that luxury for one reason or another (e.g. they may be a web-centric business and do not have a robust voice solution, their voice contact center may be in a different department and they cannot overcome the organizational barriers, etc.)  Their needs go unmet while the market forces above continue to intensify.  This is why we developed Oracle Service Cloud Experience Routing for our chat customers. With Experience Routing, queues and profiles no longer need to be combined in complex ways in order to get customers to the right place. Now skills are very naturally modeled as attributes of the agents themselves, leading to a simpler system to maintain and update. 

    As a CRM vendor, we had the opportunity to do some things differently.   We decided to define skills using the product and category structures utilized across the Oracle Service Cloud suite.   The product and category structures are routinely used to allow customers to query for knowledge articles.  Once the product and category are known, they are passed in with a chat request to facilitate chat routing as well as to auto-populate any incidents resulting from the chat session. By using product and category to define skills, not only do we make skill definition instantly familiar to Service Cloud administrators, we also facilitate a much more seamless customer experience.   If a customer was on your website querying for knowledge related to “iPhone activation”, (where “iPhone” is the product and “activation” is the category), and they later request to chat with an agent, wouldn’t it be great if you could use that product-category pair directly to look up a skill and then find an agent with that skill?  There would be no need to interrogate the customer again for his intent when he requests to chat.   That is exactly how Experience Routing works!

    When companies are able to simplify their queues and profiles, they can start to use them in new ways to represent what really matters to the business. In addition to an innovative skill model, Experience Routing also introduces advances in queue prioritization and automated overflow handling techniques. Here are three real world examples of how Experience Routing optimizes the way customers connect with a live contact center agent.

    1. An online gaming company has organized queues and agent groups based on hundreds of combinations of specific games and specific areas of expertise, like set-up, in-game purchases, and error messages. And every “skill” constructed this way is also organized by language, resulting in thousands of defined skills. The company is launching a new PC game next month and the contact center is ramping up to support it.

    The old way: the addition of the new game creates yet another set of queues and profiles and compounds the already unmanageable number of queues and agent profiles required to represent all game skill and language skill combinations. This is meticulous and error prone, and very disruptive to contact center reporting.

    The new way: the new game is added under “PC games” in the product tree.  Agents who are trained to support the new game’s specific features and errors are given those specific skills.  There is no disruption to queues, profiles, or reporting.  All the agents with generic PC games expertise (set-up, purchases, etc.) are automatically eligible to handle those generic issues with the new game without requiring any updates to their skills. 


    1. An electronics company is struggling to keep up with training new agents and efficiently phasing them into the chat queues as they ramp up. With such a high turnover rate in the contact center, it’s become a liability that they haven’t found a way to successfully utilize new agents during the training process.

    The old way: it is impractical to define lots of agent profiles representing granular stages of training and different skill combinations each agent may have. Therefore, new agents must go through a lengthy training period before they can be assigned to a profile and start answering chats. Since no profile completely matches their unique skill set, they may be offered chats that they are not completely prepared to handle.  As the agents learn new skills, they must be moved into new profiles.

    The new way: there is no need to move agents to new profiles.  New skills are simply added to an agent’s account as that agent becomes proficient at certain levels. New agents can become productive as soon as they master one skill, since they will only be offered chats requiring that skill.


    1. A financial organization is looking for ways to provide an enhanced service experience to their high net worth customers as a way to differentiate in the marketplace. They’ve trained an elite team of service agents to support this customer segment. They wanted to align certain queues and profiles to support routing of VIP customers, but as their product portfolio has grown over time, it’s become extremely time consuming to align hundreds of queues with the right profiles to support this.

    The old way: Queues and profiles could be set up to route VIPs to the right place, but without an automated “Plan B” in place there was risk that these high-value customers would have a less than ideal experience depending on the availability of the elite service team. And during slow times, utilization of those elite agents for other activities required managers to actively monitor and adjust routing rules manually.

    The new way: VIP queues are set up to route high net worth customers to the specially trained elite service team as their top priority. In the absence of an available elite agent, the customer would route to the next best agent group. And when elite agents are not engaged with VIP customers, they can act as overflow for other customers as their skill sets are needed.


    The Experience Routing skills model, based on products and categories, is easy to learn. Leveraging the tree structures, companies can set up and maintain coverage for the entire range of issues that the contact center supports using a manageable set of skills, even as new products and issue categories are added over time. While customers are on the site, information is being collected about who they are and what actions they’re taking, providing insights around their intent, what they need, and what they’re trying to do. Now with Experience Routing, companies can easily, consistently, and automatically get the right customers to the right agents at the right time.

    To learn more about Experience Routing, watch our recent Ask the Experts webcast on the Oracle Service Cloud Community.



    • Fred Raymond

      Great post

    • Vinothini Keerthy

      Hi Michelle,

      We had some questions around Experience Routing. Could you please help.

      1.How should we score the Agent who should not receive the chat for a particular product within the same profile?

      2. In our Advanced Routing setup with Profile and Account Level scoring, we found that the Incoming Chat was presented to non-scored Agent as well.

      Agent 1 scored as 5 for Database Product at Profile and Account Level

      Agent 2 scored as 0 for Database Product at Account Level [Profile Level score is 5].

      The Chat Toast was popped was for Agent 2 whereas the person is not qualified to receive the chat for Database Product.

      Any suggestions/Pointers would help.

    • Michelle Brusyo

      Hi Vinothini - I know the Experience Routing product team has already engaged to work with you on your deployment, but in general the first step to troubleshoot something like this would be to run the Accepted Interactions report under Public Reports -> Service -> Advanced Routing -> Queue Performance, and verify that there are interaction records being created for chats being routed to advanced routing queues.


    • Anban Rajeswaran

      hi michelle, the link above to the ask the experts webcast on this topic is broken.  Could you share this please if possible?

    • eleep

      Hi Anban,

      If you go to "Events" in the top nav, then choose "Webinars" from the dropdown and look for the specific Ask the Experts webinar in the recorded webinar section.