Skills-based routing enables admins to set up skills‐attributes associated with individual agents and sets of ticket conditions. A view can be configured to show different matching tickets depending on who’s looking at it.
The following recommendations can help you get started:
- Work out your skills in advance. It’ll be easier to make revisions.
- Check your skills coverage. Do you have enough agents for common skills and combinations?
- Organize skills into categories. You’ll bundle similar skills together when you set them up in Zendesk.
- Define your ticket conditions based on information present at creation. But don’t save them until they’re ready to run.
- Start with a small end-to-end test. This release gives you the tools you need. With a handful of trusted agents, figure out the best setup and work out any problems.
- Have agents work from one broadly-defined view. Let the skills matching logic do the differentiating work.
Work out your skills in advance
A lot of setting up skills-based routing is going to be investigating, strategizing, and planning. Figuring out what skills you need, who has them, and how they can replace existing rules. We recommend you do a lot of that work offline, before you start setting things up in Zendesk. The Zendesk skills interface is pretty straightforward, but it’s always going to be easier to rearrange things in a spreadsheet or other document.
A skill can be any attribute that determines an agent’s suitability to work on a given ticket. You’re probably already thinking about these on some level, as reflected in your workflow and organizational structure.
Look at your existing configuration:
- Review your triggers, groups, and views. Which ones exist to segregate tickets to certain agents? Many of those can be replaced with skills-based routing.
- If you’re using Zendesk’s localization feature, it’ll be easy to set up Language skills. The same language detection condition used for other rules can be used for routing, too.
Look at your organization:
- Figure out what sets your agents apart from each other. Seniority? Training? Consider if you’d like to set up skills and route tickets based on those variables.
- Figure out what sets your tickets apart from each other. Is there a lot of variation?
- Talk to your team or team lead. Are there generally understood to be “go-to” or “no-go” people for certain topics?
Check your skills coverage
If there’s only one agent who has a certain popular skill or combination of skills, that agent could get overloaded pretty quick.
Work with your team lead or talk to your agents. Of the skills you determined you need, who can do what?
Did you use groups to identify skills previously? Who was in those groups? Was their workload well balanced?
Identify common skill combinations, and how many agents would have all of them. You might discover that you need to train or even hire agents to get the coverage you need.
Organize skills into categories
When you set up skills in Zendesk, you’ll be creating “skill types” first, then the specific skills. For example, “Language” is a skill type. “Spanish” is a skill.
Working this out ahead of time will make setting up skills in Zendesk a breeze. Thinking about skills at a category level could also help you identify ones that you hadn’t thought of.
Define your ticket conditions based on information present at creation
For each skill, how will Zendesk know that a ticket requires it?
In the skill setup screen, you’ll see a drop-down listing all the conditions you can use. You can choose from conditions that are typically available at ticket creation.
What is your customer declaring when they fill out a request? How do they map to skills? Custom fields and forms can be used, and are really useful for routing.
You can set up skills as placeholders, but we don’t recommend setting up conditions until you’re sure they’re right. Otherwise you risk having the wrong skills applied to tickets, and you’ll have to update them by hand.
Start with one skill type and a couple of skills that you’ve had the chance to think
Start with a small end-to-end test
Once you have a couple of skills configured and running, add yourself to them. Set up a view for yourself with a skill match column. Are you seeing checkmarks where you expect them to be? Add a skills match filter to that view. You shouldn’t see any tickets without a checkmark.
Look at the tickets. Once you’ve set up at least one skill, you’ll see a Skills box on each ticket. (Only admins can see this in the current version.) Are you seeing the right skills in it? If not, you can fix it right in the ticket, and then tweak your conditions to get a better result next time.
Consider asking one or two agents to do a pilot using the skills match column. Pick a view they use often, and clone it so other agents aren’t distracted by the checkmarks. (Note that the column isn’t compatible with the Play button or Guided Mode.) How does it go?
Expand the pilot by using the skills match filter instead of the column. Now the agents can use play or Guided Mode. Is this easier for your agents?
In some cases, the filter might work better because it allows an agent to focus on matching tickets and move through them quickly. In other cases, the column might work better because the agent can still see tickets that aren’t exact skill matches (perhaps you want them to learn, or make sure that tickets matching nobody’s skills are still addressed). Also, note that not all views can have the skills filter applied, in which case you would use the column.
Have agents work from one broadly defined view
Skills-based routing offers greater efficiency because where you might have needed multiple views to reflect different combinations of skills, you can now have one view dynamically represent that for you. Once you’re ready to operationalize skills-based routing, set up a view that’s broad enough for many agents to work out of it. No more switching between lots of different views!
Depending on the outcome of your pilot, you may choose to use a filtered view, or the skills match column. If you use the filtered view, it will be flagged prominently so agents are aware they’re not seeing all the tickets in the view. As an admin, you’ll also see the view filtered against your own skills.
In order to keep an eye on all tickets in a filtered view, make a cloned version if you haven’t already. The clone won’t have the filter, so you can see if any tickets risk getting missed because they don’t match anyone’s skills. Use the skill match column and set up your own skills to represent the skills of all your agents, so you can spot those orphaned tickets by their lack of a checkmark.