Often, the first interaction that customers have with your company is with your phone system, and a good first impression is critical to the relationship with these customers. This requires great, well-designed call flows. There are many articles, videos, and classes devoted to this subject.
They cover topics such as the following:
- How many items should be in each menu
- How many levels deep the menus should be
- The best wording for scripts to call the customer to action
- The best voice for each type of customer group
These are great topics and there are many resources available to assist in this information gathering process. However, don’t forget the needs of the engineer who will actually build the newly designed call flow. Too often, a call flow focuses on the high level routing of the call to the appropriate group while neglecting the technical details required to actually implement it.
Here is an example of a diagram that is not too far distant from what I have sometimes received from a customer when designing a new call flow (don’t worry, ACME didn’t actually do quite this badly – I made this one up):
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While this diagram does provide the basic outline of the required structure, it is missing many critical details. I might respond by asking some of the following questions:
- At each point in the call flow, what should the caller hear (the actual script)?
- For each menu, what options should the caller have?
- What should happen if the caller doesn’t select anything?
- Where do I need to lookup any information required by the call (database, etc.)?
- What should happen for a failure at each decision point in the logic of the call flow?
- What calls should be handled by this flow (telephone numbers, etc.)?
- What agents or groups of agents should be routed which types of calls (lists)?
- How would different schedules change the flow (business hours vs. afterhours or holiday)?
- How should calls be handled that are transferred to a queue (hold audio, timeout, skills, after call work, etc. etc.)?
A better version of the call flow above might look something more like this:
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Notice that this call flow only applies to calls to a specific number during regular business hours and doesn’t show the details of what should happen when a call is transferred to a queue. Additional pages would be needed to detail the differences for other schedules, queue handling, and other special situations.