Difference Between VDN & Split Skills

by Natalie Andrews

Vector directory numbers and split/skills have similar general functions; both involve routing and queuing incoming phone calls. However, a look at the specific tasks they perform shows how each offers distinctive characteristics in call center management and operations. The VDN is the extension a user dials on his phone when he wants to reach a call center, while the split/skill directs the caller to an agent capable of handling his issue.

Call Queuing and Assignment

A VDN routes and queues all customer calls to a large, unsorted pool of customer service representatives or telemarketers. Agents receive calls at random as they become available. This works well for low-priority customers whose issues don't require much technical skill. On the other hand, a split/skill works by directing a specific call to a queue handled by agents with a specific skill set, such as customer service or sales. Agents are designated certain types of calls as their primary or secondary skill. When a match is made between the type of call and an available agent with that exact skill, the call is put through. Not all calls made to a call center via VDN get queued to a split/skill.

Efficiency and Order

Split/skills match the customer’s needs to an agent’s particular expertise. This speeds up handling, though the matching and redirecting process slows down receiving. A VDN, on the other hand, displays efficiency primarily in the speed of accepting calls, as assignment is completely random. When it comes to the speed and order of data reporting, split/skill outshines VDN, as the call automatically gets sorted out according to skill.

Workforce Size

VDN takes the lead when it comes to the number of agents needed for smooth operation. Random call assignment means that available agents accept incoming calls quickly, and provided that the issues don’t exceed the agents’ capabilities, turnover time is just as fast. On the other hand, split/skills require a bigger workforce to make up for time lost to call sorting. For instance, where 200 agents would suffice for VDN, split/skill requires 220 agents to achieve equal efficiency. The time lost to call sorting would actually nudge it up to 230 agents if it weren’t for the time made up through the speed of handling the calls.

Customer Satisfaction

Customer satisfaction reports vary for both, depending on which factor the customer chooses to prioritize. If the customer puts having his call put through quickly over having the agent address his issue effectively, VDN wins over split/skill. Otherwise, it’s the exact opposite. The real issue here is answering versus handling, which is why call centers instruct split/skill agents to trim down talk time as much as possible to speed up turnover.

About the Author

Natalie Andrews has been writing since 2003. She has created content for print newsletters and blogs in the flower, transportation and entertainment industries. Her expertise lies in travel and home-decorating. Andrews graduated with a bachelor's degree in communications from the University of Houston in 2008.