Most organizations today have to deal with a considerable amount of phone calls. Since several calls might be coming in simultaneously, a business needs to ensure its agents are not overwhelmed.

If you’re looking for a smart and cost-effective solution to manage your call traffic then you need to learn about call routing.

According to a study, 72% of customers say that explaining their problems to multiple people is poor customer service. Therefore, first call resolution should be a goal for every business dealing with phone calls.

With smart call routing, companies can match a caller’s issue with the best person to offer a solution, thus  significantly increasing your chances of first call resolution.

What is Call Routing?

Call routing is a call management process used in businesses that receive a very high traffic of incoming calls. 

It queues inbound calls and then routes each of them to a specific person or group of people, for example, a department, according to some predetermined criteria and rules.

Call routing happens before the recipient picks the call since the system sends the incoming calls based on the pre-established criteria, also known as an Automatic Call Distributor (ACD).

How Does Call Routing Work?

There’s not a one-size-fits-all call routing method. Different entities adopt various strategies that align to their business model and call requirements. However, all these different adoptions subscribe to a standard process:

  • Directing the call to IVR system – Most call centers have the initial step of taking the call to an interactive voice response (IVR) tool. The IVR helps to determine the purpose of the call using a series of automated queries and answers.
  • Forwarding the call to the ACD The system delivers the callers’ responses from the IVR to the ACD for queueing, based on the waiting time, priority skills, query or other pre-defined criteria.
  • Routing the calls to the agents – agent routing occurs after call queueing. Still, as is the case with call queuing, the distribution method depends on the rules you have predefined.

Types of Call Routing

Each specific setting needs a different type of call routing, which makes it necessary to have several routing methods.

Below are some types of call routing you can consider:

Time-based Routing

Also known as time-of-day routing. It routes calls depending on the time the callers call your business. It can help your business offer service around the clock.

With time-based routing, you can forward communications that come during certain times or days to any phone number, device, or line. In addition, you can also route calls that come to an office after business hours to another office that is still operating.

Assume you have two or more offices in different regions, like the east coast and west coast. You could consider routing calls to the east coast when the west coast office is closed and vice-versa.

When the two offices are closed, you could have the callers routed to a call center that operates 24/7. This way, your company can ensure it offers optimal customer service at all times.

Round Robin Routing

Most call centers or businesses face the challenge of not having calls equally distributed among the agents. You may have some of your staff members overwhelmed while others are underutilised.

Round robin routing uses algorithms to distribute calls evenly among your team members. The algorithms are usually part of automatic call distributors (ACD). The routing seeks to maintain a fair and equitable working environment for your agents.

For example, in a case where you have five agents, the first call goes to the first agent. The second call will go to the next agent after the first one successfully takes the first call, and then the pattern repeats.

Skill-Based Routing

Skill-based routing allows you to direct calls to the agent with the most relevant skills to answer a given query. This type of routing emphasizes call resolution and ensures the caller’s need is met satisfactorily.

To determine the best-suited agent to answer a call, you can use factors like the department to which they belong or even previous solved calls.

Also, you can use skill-based routing to send high-profile clients to your best closers that way, you’ll increase sales.

Priority Routing

Priority routing is one of the call routing types in many Voice over IP solutions like ULTATEL. The system routes calls based on some assigned priority.

Because the system or administrator assigns weight to calls to be distributed or routed accordingly, priority routing is called weight call routing.

An excellent example of priority call routing is where a business customer categories like premium, VIP or any classification.

For example, premium customers might include customers who spend massive amounts on your business, long-term customers, and referrals that might be a new business opportunity.

Least Occupied Routing

The least dynamic routing ensures the next call is sent to the agent who has been the least busy up to a given time of day.

The advantage of this routing method is that it helps to deal with agents trying to avoid taking calls successfully. As such, the workload is kept fair.

However, the least occupancy routing doesn’t consider whether the agent is well-equipped to handle the caller’s concern or not.

Predictive Behavioral Routing

Besides matching the customer with the most specialized agent to answer their questions, predictive behavioral routing further enhances Customer Experience (CX). It routes calls to the employee with the right skills to give your customers first-class service.

This type of routing uses artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning to match the customer’s personality and your representatives’ traits to attend to them.

Each agent’s role in predictive behavioral routing is measured after each interaction with a customer. Then, this data is used to enhance future interactions in terms of increased first call resolution, reduced call handle time, etc.

Benefits of Call Routing

Here are some of the benefits that call routing can bring to your business:

1. Improves Customer Experience

Businesses set up call centers to provide the best possible service to their customers and increase sales. 

However, if there is no proper call routing system in place, the callers may not be routed to the suitable agents; hence they might not get the help they need.

Fortunately, an intelligent call routing strategy can significantly improve CX by ensuring that customers’ calls are routed to the appropriate agents or departments. Plus, it simultaneously balances the workload between your available representatives.

Additionally, by using AI and machine learning the ACD can match the customers’ and representatives’ personalities for an enhanced experience, resulting in less call handle time and higher first call resolutions.

2. Reduces call waiting time

Customers feel more appreciated and are more likely to do business with your company if you attend to them promptly.

Call routing helps reduce waiting time because the system automatically routes calls to agents as soon as they are available.

Additionally, routing calls ensures customers are served even if they call outside working hours because time-based routing allows these calls to be routed to other lines.

Keep in mind that longer waiting times negatively affect customer loyalty, since they will always prefer a business that answers faster to their inquiries.

3. Limits outside working hours calls

Even though your phone agents are on duty for a specific timeframe and many call centers do not operate 24/7, it’s clear that customers may call at any time for any reason.

To attend to callers who get in touch outside working hours, you can set up virtual assistants and interactive voice response (IVR) systems to offer immediate help.

Not to mention that if a customer is calling an unavailable agent, call routing can direct them to someone else who is on duty. That way, you’ll be able to keep the communication flow going and avoid leaving a bad impression on your customer.

4. Ability to Transfer or Forward Calls

Solopreneurs and people running small businesses can get overwhelmed by customer calls. 

Luckily, time-based routing can help you choose when to handle calls actively and transfer or forward calls to outsourced agents or voicemail.

Additionally, entrepreneurs running their businesses as partnerships may use a call management system. The system can transfer or forward calls to an available partner at the office or a specialized agent who can handle the specific customer concern.

Partners may even hire an outsourced agent who handles calls during non-working hours. Therefore, the ACD can automatically route calls to such agents to ensure uninterrupted service.

5. Fewer Voicemails and Missed Calls

As mentioned before, customers may call at any time. Therefore, a company with several branches, offices, or an outsourced agent can ensure that the ACD routes calls to those that are available, in order to reduce missed calls and voicemails.

Proper call management is vital to improve CX and take advantage of leads that may come in during non-working hours. For example, customers in a different time zone.

Notice that having an excellent call routing system also reduces work overload because you’ll get a balanced call flow, and you won’t get drowned in a sea of missed calls and voicemails.

Cons of Call Routing

While call routing has all the benefits discussed so far, it also has some downsides. Firstly, you will need to get your team familiarized with the system. Due to the learning curve, your business must prepare to spend some time and money on training your staff to understand and use the technology.

Regarding provider costs, your company needs to ensure it has some budget allocation for call routing service because they may incur additional costs.

And lastly, if your business values personal contact with customers, automating call routing with an IVR system can work against that goal.

Can My Business Benefit the Most from Call Routing?

Now, you’re probably wondering, can my business benefit from call routing? To answer this question, you’ll need to do customer research and establish your callers’ behavior and their most common inquiries.

With this data, you can assess how your company can get optimal value from call routing. 

You’ll also determine the appropriate call routing type to adopt and what training you need to arrange for your agents.

Summary and Takeaways

Call routing is a significant call management process in the VoIP business phone system. It queues inbound calls and routes them to specific agents to address customer concerns appropriately for improved customer experience.

Some of the main advantages of call routing include:

  • Improved customer experience
  • Reduced caller waiting time
  • Better use of call center staff
  • Some effective call routing strategies you can consider for your business include:
  • Priority routing
  • Skill-based routing
  • Predictive behavioral routing

While considering to implement call routing in your business, you need to:

  • Set a budget for the call routing service provider and for training staff
  • Work with a reliable call routing provider and VoIP business phone provider