A hunt group is a feature in a phone system that allows you to distribute inbound phone calls to multiple recipients. For example, when someone rings your company, the phone system will route the call to a group of members, making multiple handsets ring either at the same time or one after another.
Typically, hunt groups are created based on job role or team, so you might have one for sales, one for customer services and another for management.
Different business VoIP phone systems will, of course, handle hunt groups differently, but for the purposes of this article, we're going to concentrate on our hosted VoIP platform Horizon, which is the solution we recommend to most of our customers.
As we've already explained, hunt groups are a method of call management and distribution which are typically used in businesses where a team of people share a common role. As an inbound call comes in, it is routed to the group for distribution.
Within our hosted VoIP platform Horizon, you can choose from a variety of ways to distribute calls to your hunt groups. Each of these options alters the order in which phones in the group ring:
This option sends calls to people based on their position in a list. The higher your position in the list, the earlier your phone will ring. In the event that the call isn't answered by the time it reaches the end of the list, it starts again from the top.
Regular sends calls to the next available person in the hunt group, which is great for busy teams in call centres for instance.
As the same suggests, "simultaneous" makes all of the phones in the hunt group ring at the same time. In our Horizon platform, using this option limits the number of people in the group to 15. While a useful option, ringing all phones with every call can be distracting, so it's not always the best choice.
This option sends the incoming call to the individual who has been idle for the longest. Once a user has answered a call they then move to the bottom of the queue. Uniform is a great option for busy call centre environments to ensure that calls are distributed evenly and fairly.
With the weighted option, you can send calls to users based on percentages that you assign within the administration console. So if for instance, you have a user who has multiple roles you might assign a lower percentage to them in comparison to a user that is full time in that position.
The best phone systems will allow you to create hunt groups that aren't reliant on a user's location, so for example, our Horizon hosted VoIP system will let you add users regardless of where they're based. You could have multiple offices spread around the UK or even a whole team working from their respective homes, it doesn't matter. Once you've added an individual to a hunt group, their phone will ring regardless of where they are.
Hunt group voicemail
Just like regular users, voicemail can be set up for a hunt group so that when a call is missed or can't be answered the caller has the ability to leave a message. Voicemail messages will then be emailed out to members of the group or they have the option to dial into the system to listen to them.
Hunt group schedules
Much the same as with an Auto Attendant in Horizon, you can configure schedules which will forward calls elsewhere while a hunt group isn't available, such as when the department is closed or during public holidays.
The process of creating hunt groups with our Horizon VoIP Platform is quick and easy, something that you can do yourself or have our UK based support team carry out on your behalf. If you would like to do it yourself, here is a brief guide explaining how you can.
Login to your Horizon administration portal using the details we provided when you signed up.
Click on the "Call Groups" option and then select "Hunt Groups". Once on the Hunt Group page click the "Add" button.
You'll now be in the wizard for creating hunt groups. On the first page of the wizard you'll set up the following:
- Site - the site that the hunt group will be used for
- Group details - enter the name, username and department you'd like the group the be assigned to
- Caller ID - this will be what's displayed on the handset when the hunt group is used
Now you get the ability to configure some of the options for the hunt group such as:
- Ring Order, choosing between; Circular, Regular, Simultaneous, Uniform or Weighted
- No Answer Action - how many rings before the system skips to the next user, or where calls should be forwarded to after a defined amount of time.
- Unreachable Action - Where calls should be forwarded to if the group is unavailable.
- Additional Options - such as distinctive ringing for external calls and whether you'd like to enable call waiting
Once you've chosen your options for the hunt group you can now select the users you wish to be in it. Simply select the users that you wish to include and click on "Add Selected"
Finally, choose an available number that you have on your Horizon Company and assign it to the group. You've now completed the basic setup of a hunt group and you can click "Finish and Show List".
Step 7 (Advanced options)
If you would like to configure more advanced options, click "Finish and Edit" to be presented with some additional configuration screens. Here you can set up things such as:
- Call Recording
- Call Forwarding
- Call Forwarding when Busy
As we mentioned earlier, our UK based support team are always on hand with configuring your Horizon system, so if you get stuck, please just let us know., as a business VoIP specialist we love hearing from new and existing customers.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is a circular hunt group?
Circular hunt group call distribution sends calls to people based on their position on a list. The higher on the list you are, the earlier your phone will ring.
What is a regular hunt group?
Regular hunt group call distribution sends calls to the next available person in the group.
What is a simultaneous hunt group?
Simultaneous hunt group call distribution makes all of the phones in the group ring simultaneously so that anyone can answer the call.
What is a uniform hunt group?
Uniform hunt group distribution sends calls to the group member who has been idle the longest, ensuring fair distribution of calls and workload.
What is a weighted hunt group?
Weighted hunt groups send calls to members based on the percentages you assign them within the admin portal. So, for example, if you have someone who is training, you could give them a lower rate of calls, so you don't overload them.
What are the benefits of hunt groups?
Many businesses have teams of people who have a shared role: sales, customer service, marketing, finance, for example. Using hunt groups ensures calls are answered quickly by an appropriate person, avoiding manually forward calls to each other. For both customers and the company, hunt groups save time.