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The Future of Skills-Based Routing – Fasten Your Seatbelts

March 18, 2010 - 2 Comments

by John Hernandez, vice president and general manager, Cisco Customer Contact Business Unit

Call center agents have complex layers of skills that help them address specific customer questions and needs in order to deliver first contact resolution. Suppose, for example, that a customer requires a Spanish-speaking sales expert who knows Rhode Island auto insurance laws and code.

To make it more complicated, agents are constantly increasing their skill levels and adding new ones.  Suppose, for example, that the same agent has recently added new knowledge of Rhode Island boat insurance code, has added basic expertise in a service skill, and has increased his or her level of Spanish fluency.  Now multiply this by the thousands of agents that sizeable call centers employ.


Now think about extending calls beyond the contact center to knowledge workers or other experts, perhaps leveraging unified communications.  How can a company possibly organize and keep track of the skills of the entire company?  The problem moves from one of managing skills of thousands of agents to the skills of tens or hundreds of thousands of employees.

Can the network help with this? What if the network could keep track of the work that people in the company were doing, in real-time, based on the types of documents, emails, or other work items were flowing across the network?  It makes sense that the skills an individual has would be pretty easy to identify based on the type of work that they are doing.  That’s just what Cisco Pulse was designed to do.  Cisco Pulse identifies and tags hidden knowledge and data employees can share.  Post something on a wiki?  Pulse finds the files and identifies the author as an expert in that subject.

Now imagine if a company could take that knowledge from Cisco Pulse, and map it to Cisco Unified Expert Advisor, which automatically assigns calls to experts based on their self-identified availability.  What would you have?  A company-wide skills-based routing solution.  Finally, suppose we combine these capabilities with the network recording of calls (see my earlier blog on Discover the True Power of Recorded Calls).  Based on what the agents are discussing during their calls, Pulse could further identify employee skills based on their actual conversations with customers.  

While we’re not delivering all of this together today, it clearly represents the future of skills management—both in the contact center and throughout the enterprise.

We’ll be discussing what this future looks like in our sessions and booth at VoiceCon the week of March 22nd.  I hope to speak with you there, or to have you comment on this post.

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  1. Very interesting article John.Thank you.

  2. Very interesting John. A couple of additions I'm wondering if you've thought through: (1) Could be expertise not on the network which would be missed if that was the sole data point - is there an initial inventory you're starting with? (2) If streamlined to a specialist type call which is not the highest priority, how we ensure people on the most important work - is there an admin function in the system to help? (3) If streamlined in a certain type of call, most of my data will be on that type of call - what if I'm developing new skills I would rather utilize?