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What Is Call Routing?

Call routing is a call management feature used to place incoming calls in a queue. Learn about call routing and how it can optimize customer contact.

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I’m okay repeating my problem multiple times as the customer support executive connects me to someone more qualified to help me troubleshoot,” said no customer ever. 

Customers don’t like to wait—or repeat themselves. They expect efficient communication and support on demand. 

Luckily, call routing can provide top-notch customer assistance without any extra effort from you.

Call routing, also known as automatic call distribution (ACD), is the process of auto-answering incoming business calls and directing them to specific extensions and groups based on predetermined criteria. It’s the easiest way to connect callers with qualified, available agents to help your customer.

How Does Call Routing Work?

Despite the growing popularity of texting, some customers still prefer communicating over the phone to resolve complicated or technical support issues. Call routing streamlines and enhances their experience when they reach out to your support team for help.

If you’ve ever called a customer support line, you’ve probably heard something like, “For our hours of operation, press 1. To speak to a customer support representative, press 0.” That’s call routing in action.

Phone call routing works using data provided by customers when they call your business. Based on the collected data, callers are then connected to the department most suitable to provide them with the information and help they need.

The entire process can be broken down into three phases:

Phase 1: Call Qualifying 

The caller uses their dial pad or voice to respond to a series of pre-recorded questions or call menu options. 

An interactive voice response (IVR) system then processes their responses to determine the caller’s purpose and the type of help they need.

Phase 2: Call Queuing

The IVR forwards the responses to the ACD, which then queues incoming calls based on specific criteria like the type of query, agent skills, and waiting time.

Phase 3: Call Distribution

All calls wait in a queue until the appropriate agent is free to take their call. 

Similar to the queuing phase, call distribution runs according to your rules to ensure every caller is handled by the right individual or department. For example, skill-based routing will route callers requiring technical assistance to technical agents.

What is an IVR system? 

Interactive voice response, or IVR, is an automated phone system technology that uses text-to-speech or pre-recorded messages to let callers respond to questions or access information without a live agent. 

It’s an efficient self-service tool that helps you make a great first impression on callers by seamlessly transferring information and directing them to the best agents to handle their queries.

An IVR system also includes various intelligent call routing features, such as directing calls to a consultant that speaks a particular language and prioritizing VIP callers, to help lower abandon rates and reduce queue times for calls.

Helpful Criteria Used in Call Routing

Call routing is a popular feature of Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP), which lets you make and receive voice calls over the internet instead of the regular phone line. VoIP uses certain criteria to determine how to route the call that includes:

  • Caller ID: The incoming call’s phone number lets you know the caller’s location.
  • Time of day: Matches the caller with customer success executives based on their time zone.
  • Auto-attendant selections: Collects caller input in response to an auto-attendant menu of preset choices.
  • Agent skills: Directs the caller to the right customer support executive for their problem based on intelligent call routing logic.
  • Interactive voice response (IVR): If the caller gives a voice response, the call routing system can use artificial intelligence and machine learning to route the call.

The Benefits of Call Routing

Call routing isn’t just “call center technology” anymore. Businesses of all sizes and industries are using it to deliver immediate customer satisfaction and increase revenue.

Here’s same call routing benefits for call centers and businesses:

Reduced Waiting Time

The main purpose of calling is to start immediate 24/7 conversations. 

Phone call routing supports this by auto-transferring inbound calls to available agents with the right skills to help the caller, which also significantly cuts down waiting time.

Faster Problem Resolution

Call routing accelerates customer assistance and issue resolution. When used with the kind of routing that directs calls to agents with the right skills for the caller’s concern, the chances of first-call resolution are even higher.

Improved Performance and Productivity

Automated phone call routing lets your agents focus on their most important job: delivering the best possible customer service. They can focus their energy on assisting customers, resulting in higher productivity levels. 

Reduced Call Abandonment Rate

Callers often drop off calls when their issues aren’t fixed efficiently and promptly. The agent may not understand their concerns or they may get redirected too many times. 

When you implement effective call routing strategies, you can lower call abandonment rates by ensuring top-notch, efficient service every time.

Balanced Workload

Talk-time distribution routing directs calls to agents who have the smallest workload, keeping idle time to a minimum. 

This keeps the workload more balanced by distributing calls evenly between your agents–and prevents burnout. The result is a well-oiled phone system, leading to fewer voicemails and missed calls.

Call Routing Best Practices

Providing the right contact method is important for better customer service. But it’s also important to ensure every call is properly handled—and on time. 

Here are a few tips to enhance your call routing strategy: 

  • Do thorough customer research to plan for issues and set up your strategy accordingly
  • Pick the right inbound call routing method based on call volume, skills, nature of concerns, availability, and average waiting time to prevent call abandonment and drop-offs.
  • Make your pre-recorded IVR prompts clear and brief.
  • Let callers know about estimated wait times and queue position while they’re on hold.
  • Integrate your call routing system with your CRM software to create a central database of relevant customer information.
  • Offer callers language-based routing options and an automatic call-back option.
  • Set up periodical call center data reports.
  • Create standalone business phone numbers for busy departments to lower call drop-offs and provide callers with alternate methods to fix issues.
  • Record calls and review the recordings to monitor agent performance and identify and fix recurring problems.
  • Set up automated customer surveys to collect customer feedback.

Different Types of Phone Call Routing 

Direct call routing uses separate business phone numbers for departments, agencies, and unique offers. Medium- to large-sized businesses end up needing dozens of extensions, which may confuse customers. 

Implementing different call routing strategies is a better solution than presetting phone call routing rules and criteria to better distribute your calls. Customers can get help faster and there’s a lower potential for callbacks. It’s more efficient. Simpler.

But which type of call routing strategy would work best for your business? Let’s find out.

Skill-based Routing

Skill-based routing uses customer data to connect callers to qualified agents with the specific skill set to best assist them and quickly address concerns. 

This leads to an immediate decrease in call handling time and improves first-call resolution rates.

VIP Routing

VIP routing, also known as call ID routing, pushes your most important or valued customers to the front of the line, ensuring they get priority support whenever they reach out.

Round Robin Routing

This type of call routing uses an algorithm to evenly distribute inbound calls among the agents in a queue. 

For example, if the last call was taken by the fifth agent, the round robin will assign the next call directly to the sixth agent. This creates a fair work environment and gives each agent a chance to succeed. 

Time-based Routing

Time-based routing directs calls to agents based on their time zone or business hours. It’s a useful strategy to maximize operational efficiency across geographically distributed call centers.

Least Occupied Routing

Least occupied, or most idle routing, connects inbound calls to the agent with the lowest talk time that day or the fewest number of calls, keeping individual reps from getting overwhelmed with customer service calls.

Predictive Behavioral Routing

Predictive behavioral routing, or intelligent routing, is an AI-based strategy that uses live and historical call center data to connect callers to agents likely to provide the best assistance—and the agent the caller is likely to prefer. 

It takes into account factors like the caller’s preferred communication channel, behavioral profile, and past purchase/customer service history before making recommendations.

Sequential routing

Sequential or fixed-order routing follows a specific list, keeping a specific agent at the top of the line to receive custom calls during a set period. 

Suppose your customer support list has Agent X at the first spot and Agent Y and Agent Z at the second and third spots, respectively. In this case, Agent X will be the first respondent for all the calls, and Agent Y and Agent Z only take calls if Agent X is busy or directs a call to them.

Call Routing FAQs

1. What is custom call routing?

Custom call routing directs callers to a specific department or call center after welcoming them with a personalized voicemail greeting based on criteria like location, time zone, and skill sets.

2. What is the difference between call forwarding and call routing?

Call routing queues and distributes inbound calls based on preset calling rules. In contrast, call forwarding directs the call to the number or device the agent the caller wants to connect with is currently using.

3. How much does call routing software cost?

Call routing software is typically priced between $59-$119 per customer support agent, per month. You can also get a toll-free number to allow customers to contact your business.

How about taking a more affordable and effective approach to customer support? SimpleTexting‘s effortless text messaging platform provides customers with a direct route to seek help and opens a two-way dialogue, ensuring reliable customer support on demand. 

Sign up for a 14-day free trial to test drive the platform today. 

Rana Bano
Rana Bano

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