Call routing most probably isn't the first thing that comes to mind when you're thinking about sales, marketing and customer service,  but it is undoubtedly something that should be given fair consideration for businesses that handle a significant volume of inbound calls. For many of us, a customer's experience of calling the business is a key part of their journey and if we get it wrong, it can lead to frustration, loss of sales and even complaints.

What is call routing?

Call routing often called automatic call distribution (ACD), is a feature of a business VoIP phone system that automatically answers incoming calls and directs them to individual extensions or hunt groups based on pre-configured rules.

By routing calls, you ensure that people reach the correct individual or team as quickly as possible, without needing to dial a unique telephone number or speak to an operator.

Call routing example

To illustrate how call routing works, let's look at a real-life example. Let's say you need to speak to the provider of your business insurance about renewing your policy. You'd find the number for your insurer on your policy paperwork or via Google and call them. Once connected you'd likely hear an auto-attendant which will present you with a number of options to choose from. You'd select the option most relevant to you and your call would be routed to the team that handles customer service and renewals.

Behind the scenes, a number of types of call routing have taken place to best handle your call. Firstly, because you've called in-office hours, your call has been routed to the company's auto-attendant, rather than a voicemail system, this is done using time of day routing. Next, by choosing the relevant options from the auto-attendant system, your call has then been routed directly to a hunt group or team of people that share a common role. Finally, depending on how the hunt group has been configured, their phones will have rung in a specific sequence to get you to the person both you and the business think you need to speak to.

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How does call routing work?

A cloud-based VoIP phone system such as our Horizon platform can route calls in a number of ways depending on how it's been configured. Common criteria that can be used to determine how the call is routed include:

  • Time of day - depending on the time of day the call will be routed to different destinations, so during office hours it might be to a team of people and outside of office hours, it might be routed to a mobile phone of someone on call.
  • Caller's phone number - The incoming call's phone number can be used to route the call, usually based on location. So if someone calls with a London dialling code, their call can be routed to a team based in England, rather than Scotland.
  • Auto-attendant selections - As we outlined in our example, many companies will route their calls using an automatic, menu-based system that allows the caller to choose where their call should be routed to.

All of these methods can be then be combined to create bespoke rules based on your specific requirements.

Benefits of call routing

Far from being a technology that's only useful to large call centres, call routing has significant benefits for businesses of all size. The primary benefit is that it improves the customer experience, ensuring that fewer calls are missed and that callers reach their required destination as quickly as possible.

Call routing benefits

  • Provides customers with the best experience by routing their calls directly to the best person regardless of the VoIP number they call.
  • Reduces the amount of time customers spend on hold because agents are more productive
  • Effectively manages calls outside of working hours
  • Forwards calls to a business partner or virtual assistance when you're unavailable

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Call distribution for hunt groups

When a team of people share a common role and therefore can all take inbound calls of a certain nature, we call that group a hunt group. Calls that are routed to hunt groups can be distributed to members of that team in a number of ways:

Round-robin (circular)

Round-robin or circular ensures that calls are fairly distributed among the team, so no one agent is overburdened with calls.

Example: If you have five people in a team, the first call will go to the first person and then after they accept that call, the next one will go to the second person in the team. After the fifth agent, the rotation will start again with the first person's phone ringing.

Regular

Great for busy offices and call centres, Regular sends calls to the next available person in the hunt group.

Example: In a team of five people, all five are either on a call or away from their desks. As soon as one of them becomes available it will be their phone that rings.

Uniform

Uniform call routing will distribute the call to the person that's been idle for the longest period of time. Once they take a call, they'll join the back of the line until they have the longest idle time again.

Example: If you have five people in your team and one took a call 10 minutes ago and another took a call 45 minutes ago, the next call would be routed to the second person.

Simultaneous

Probably the simplest method of routing calls to a hunt group, simultaneous rings all of the phones in the group at the same time. This is often the best option when the speed of answering calls is essential to your business.

Example: If you have five people in a group, all of their phones would ring and the first person to answer would take the call.

Weighted

This type of call routing allows you to set a ratio of calls to be routed to each person in the group. You might for example be training a new member of staff and you don't want their phone to be ringing continually. You could set them to 10% so that you can have a conversation about the call after each one has been handled.

Example: Again, using our example of a five-person team, you would allocate a percentage of the calls to each individual, so for example, one member of the team may perform dual roles and therefore they can't take as many calls as the other members. You'd therefore set their percentage lower than the rest of those in the group. Equally, if you have several high-performing salespeople, you may wish to funnel a larger proportion of calls to them to get the best performance out of the team.

Speak to your provider

As there are so many options when it comes to routing calls to hunt groups, we'd always recommend speaking to your phone system provider to make sure the system works as well as possible for you.

Upgrading your phone system

You may be here thinking that all of this sounds great but your phone system isn't capable of doing the things we've covered. Don't worry, it's actually inexpensive to upgrade and if anything you usually reduce costs by doing so.

Our Horizon cloud VoIP system is perfect for businesses of size, providing a feature-rich experience for a fraction of the cost of buying your own system. As the platform is provided as a service, it's updated and improved on a regular basis, with more features being added over time. Effectively you get access to the type of phone system that large corporates have, but while only paying on a per person per month basis.

T2k provide free on-boarding and UK based support, so switching is very straightforward.

FAQs

How does call routing work?

hosted VoIP PBX will route inbound phone calls to a particular internal destination using several methods; time of day routing, auto-attendant routing and routing based on the caller's number. Each of these has its function, but collectively they are used to make sure calls are always directed to the right person at the right time. 

Why is call routing important?

Regardless of the size of your business, call routing is important as it improves customer satisfaction and ensures that your team doesn't spend too much time handling calls that aren't for them. Even in the smallest of businesses, having the ability to direct calls to a voicemail outside of working hours (time of day routing) is hugely beneficial. As your company grows, and even if you only have a couple of employees, adding an auto-attendant helps customers speak to the right person the first time. 

Call routing saves time by connecting callers to the right person at the right time.

How do I route a VoIP call?

With our cloud-hosted platform Gamma Horizon, administrators can log into the management portal via a web browser to configure call routing. 

What is intelligent routing?

Intelligent routing is directing calls to the correct person/s based on the information you know about the caller. That could be their phone number, account number or more. Intelligent routing is often used by big businesses that use it alongside an IVR to collect information before routing the call.

How are calls routed in a call centre?

Call centres can route calls in many ways. But in their simplest form, when a call comes in, the caller will be given some options via an auto-attendant, and then they'll be routed to a hunt group (a group of people who share a role). This means that sales calls are sent to the sales team, and customer service calls are sent to the customer service team. 

You can go a lot further than this, though and do much more complicated call distribution. So in some call centres, they'll route a higher percentage of calls to their best-performing agents, or perhaps reduce the number of calls going to a trainee so as not to overload them.