Improving your call centre Net Promoter Score

Jun 4
Call routing

Improving your call centre Net Promoter Score

The latest acronym to do the rounds of the Contact Centre industry is NPS or Net Promoter Score.

In English, it’s simply a measure of how likely one of your customers is to recommend your business to a friend or colleague.

Whilst I’m not entirely convinced that its the holy grail of contact centre metrics, it is a useful measure. But lets face it, its really just another term for ‘customer satisfaction’ and that’s nothing new. Of course, it’s pretty hard to get a book published unless you first invent the latest wonder term 🙂


Whatever you call it, there are lots of factors that go into improving your call centre Net Promoter Score

Some of these factors are within your control and some not. One factor that is within your control is how calls are ‘routed’ when they hit your contact centre.

Routing is the Google Maps of telephony. Routing lets you control how a new call entering your phone system is delivered and to whom it is delivered.

The industry refer to routing as Automated Call Distribution (ACD) or even Intelligent Call Distribution (ICD), but I prefer ‘routing’ as I find routing a more evocative description of what’s actually happening to the call (and it’s one less acronym).


A typical route might be as follows:

  • Potential client dials our business phone number. (We call the phone number a ‘direct in dial’ or DID).
  • They hear ringing for a moment.
  • The call is answered and our business’s greeting is played to the caller. This lets them know that they have run the correct number.
  • Next they are played a message asking them to select what type of interaction they would like to have with our company. e.g. dial 1. for sales, 2 for support. This is called an Interactive Voice Response (IVR) system, but I prefer to call it a ‘voice menu’.
  • The caller presses 2 for support.
  • Because the customer is looking for support, the chances are that we have done business with this customer before. In this case we can use the number. they are calling from (their caller ID or CLID) to look for their details in our support database.
  • If we don’t find them in our support database we can prompt them to tell us if they are a new or existing customer.
  • If they are an existing customer we could ask them to enter their customer number which we then use to look up their details in our support database.
  • If we find them in our support database we can also see the last interaction they had with our company and even which support engineer took their last call.
  • So let’s see if that support engineer is available and direct the call to them.
  • If the engineer isn’t available we might see what other engineers the caller has spoken to before, that are currently available. If none of them are available then we should find the support engineer who is likely to have the best skill set match for the customer.
  • Whilst we search for an engineer we can be playing the customer some soothing music. Oddly enough research has shown that crappy old muzak (elevator music) actually keeps customers calmer than other types of music. My theory is that as soon as we hear muzak, we expect to be kept waiting. Because we expect to be kept waiting, when we are actually kept waiting it doesn’t make us so angry.
  • Once we find a support engineer, we ring their phone and connect the customer.
  • As we already know who the customer is, we can simultaneously pop open the customer details for the support engineer so he knows who he is talking to.


As you can see routing a call from a customer to the right person can be quite an involved process.

Being able to deliver the call to the best person is going to increase customer satisfaction whilst reducing the handling time and increasing the chances of resolving the customer’s issue at the first point of contact.

To be frank, most contact centres are NOT doing a great job routing calls. Which is rather odd given the potential savings (e.g. reduced handling times) and increased revenue via an improved call centre Net Promoter Score.

The key to great routing is really being able to use the knowledge your company’s database already holds about each customer. If you can unlock that knowledge through integrating your phone system with your business’s IT systems, then you can transform the customer experience and perhaps become the next Google.



Image via Flicr CC/Ben