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What is Call Routing? Types, Benefits, and More

what is call routing

Though chatbots have become an essential component of customer service, your agents may still receive occasional customer calls. If you run a fast-paced business, the last thing you want is to lead customers to a dead end. Fortunately, call routing is a viable solution that distributes calls evenly, allowing agents to reach customers as efficiently as possible.

If you’re new to call routing, this guide is for you. Learn what call routing is, how it works, the various types available, and how to utilize it for your business.

What is Call Routing? 

Call routing determines how incoming calls are directed or forwarded to the appropriate destination within a telecommunication network. It involves establishing a path for a call from its origin to its desired endpoint, such as a specific extension, department, or telephone number. 

Call routing systems are standard in traditional landline telephone networks, mobile networks, and Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) systems.

How Does Call Routing Work?

Call routing follows a predetermined set of rules or criteria to determine the appropriate destination for an incoming phone call. Here is a general overview of how it works:

A caller dials a phone number → the call goes through a telecommunications network, which extracts relevant information → the system determines the appropriate destination for the call → the system evaluates caller ID, dialed number, time of day, geographic location, and other factors → the system identifies a routing option, such as an extension, department, or agent → the system initiates the call transfer or forwarding process → the call is delivered to the destination → the call is answered by the recipient.

Types of Call Routing Methods

Implementing the most appropriate call routing method for your business can decrease hold times, increase first-call resolution rates, and adhere to your budget. Below are a few methods to consider, depending on your industry.


This routing configuration remains static and does not change dynamically based on specific conditions or criteria. In fixed call routing, calls travel to predetermined destinations or numbers without variations or adjustments based on time of day, caller location, or agent availability.

Fixed call routing is helpful when call routing requirements are straightforward and do not require frequent adjustments. For example, small businesses with a simple call flow may route directly to a receptionist or a specific extension without complex routing strategies.


Rotary or round-robin call routing distributes incoming calls evenly among a group of agents or destinations sequentially. This technique ensures a fair distribution of calls, preventing any single agent or destination from being overwhelmed or underutilized.

In rotary call routing, each agent or destination in the group is assigned a position or order in the routing sequence. Once the call reaches the last agent or destination in the sequence, the routing starts again from the beginning, creating a continuous loop.

Rotary call routing is ideal for call centers, support teams, and group extensions.

Skill-Based Routing

This technique routes calls to agents or departments based on their skills or expertise. Call routing systems can identify the caller’s needs through IVR interactions or other means and route the call to the most suitable person or team with the required knowledge or specialization.

Skills-based routing is standard in sales environments, wherein salespersons can share their knowledge with consumers regarding specific products.


When determining call routing decisions, talk-time call routing considers the historical talk-time or call duration of agents or destinations. It aims to optimize call handling by directing calls to agents or destinations with shorter talk times in the past, assuming that they are more efficient or effective in handling calls.

Talk-time call routing can be particularly useful in call center environments or customer support teams where call duration significantly affects service levels and customer experience. However, talk time alone may only sometimes reflect agent performance comprehensively.

Time-Based Routing

Calls can be routed differently based on the time of day or day of the week. For example, calls may be routed to a reception desk or a specific department during regular business hours. After-hours or weekend calls may be directed to a different destination, such as a voicemail system or an on-call team.

Time-based routing is popular among international call centers, preventing agents from receiving calls outside work hours. 

Percentage Routing

This method distributes incoming calls among different destinations based on predefined percentages. For example, if three call centers are assigned 40%, 30%, and 30%, respectively, the system routes calls accordingly to maintain the specified allocation.

When a call comes in, the routing system will route 40% of the calls to Call Center A, 30% to Call Center B and 30% to Call Center C.

Percentage-based call routing allows organizations to allocate calls based on their specific requirements or priorities—perfect for franchises or businesses with presences in multiple locations.

Least-Cost Routing

LCR aims to minimize call costs by selecting the most cost-effective carrier or route for outbound calls. The call routing system determines the best path for each call to optimize cost efficiency based on factors such as call rates, carrier agreements, and available network resources.

Language-Based Routing

Language-based call routing directs incoming calls to agents or destinations based on the caller’s preferred language. This method enhances customer experience and improves communication effectiveness.

This call-routing method is ideal for international franchises.

Benefits of Call Routing 

Call routing offers several benefits for organizations. Here are some key advantages:

  • Improved customer service: Call routing efficiently connects customers to the most appropriate agent or department capable of addressing their specific needs and reducing wait times.
  • Enhanced call-handling efficiency: By directing calls to the right resources, call routing optimizes resource utilization, prevents the overloading of specific agents, and distributes calls evenly, minimizing idle time and maximizing productivity.
  • Personalized customer experience: Call routing enables customization based on caller information such as account details, previous interactions, or language preferences, allowing for tailored interactions.
  • Cost savings: Techniques like least-cost routing can lead to significant cost savings and reduced long-distance charges.
  • Flexibility and scalability: Call routing systems adapt well to changing business needs and scalability to accommodate growth. Users can easily adjust routing configurations, allowing organizations to add or modify routing rules, agents, or destinations as required.
  • Improved agent performance: When agents receive calls aligned with their strengths, it leads to improved agent performance, job satisfaction, and reduced call handling times.
  • Better resource allocation: Organizations can allocate resources based on call volume, agent availability, or specific requirements, ensuring the right resources are available at the right time.
  • Real-time monitoring and analytics: Organizations can track call metrics, monitor call queues, and gain insights into call volumes, wait times, and agent performance. With this data, business owners can identify bottlenecks, make informed decisions, and continuously improve call-handling processes.

Call Routing Best Practices

To make the most of call routing and ensure optimal performance, here are some best practices to consider:

  • Understand customer needs: Gain a deep understanding of your customers and their preferences. Analyze their demographics, language preferences, and common reasons for calling to design effective routing strategies that align with customer expectations.
  • Define clear routing rules: Define your rules and criteria based on customer attributes, agent skills, time of day, and language preferences. 
  • Regularly review and update routing configurations: Regularly review and update your routing configurations to reflect changes in your organization, customer preferences, or business requirements. Stay agile and adapt your routing rules to optimize performance and address evolving needs.
  • Utilize IVR for self-service and routing: Interactive Voice Response (IVR) systems can gather customer information and provide self-service options to efficiently route calls based on customer inputs, reducing the need for agent intervention and expediting issue resolution.
  • Implement skills-based routing: Use skills-based routing to match callers with agents who possess the required expertise. Appropriately train agents, ensuring their skills and certifications are up to date to deliver effective support.
  • Monitor and analyze call data: Regularly monitor and analyze call data, including call volume, wait times, call durations, and agent performance metrics, to identify areas for improvement.
  • Prioritize customer experience: Design routing strategies with a customer-centric approach. Minimize wait times, reduce call transfers, and prioritize personalized service.
  • Test and refine: Continuously test and refine your call routing configurations. Conduct A/B testing to compare the performance of different routing strategies and make data-driven decisions for ongoing optimization.
  • Leverage reporting and analytics tools: Utilize reporting and analytics tools to gain insights into call metrics, agent performance, and customer feedback. Use these insights to make informed decisions, identify trends, and drive continuous improvement.

Call Routing FAQs

What’s the difference between call routing and call forwarding?

Call routing is a system-level process that directs calls based on predetermined rules. In contrast, call forwarding is a user-controlled feature that redirects calls to an alternative number or device. 

What type of companies benefit most from call routing?

Call routing is most helpful to call centers, customer support, multinational/multilingual companies, sales and lead generation teams, remote and distributed workforces, and emergency services.

How much is call routing software?

Call routing software costs between $75 and $200 per user per month, depending on the pricing tier and features.


Call routing is a powerful tool that improves business productivity and performance. By distributing calls evenly and to the appropriate service agents, customer questions will never go unanswered.

Learn more about call routing solutions with ULTATEL. We provide efficient, affordable, and accessible communications platforms that streamline business workflows and keep you connected all day.

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