How Does Call Routing Work?

Moving calls to the most appropriate part of your company might sound simple, but it can quickly become complicated as your business expands. Before you hit that hurdle, it's a good idea to understand how call routing works and why it will benefit your business in the long run.

Let's take a look at the definition of call routing, how it works, and why it might benefit your business.


What is Call Routing (and Why Do I Need It)?

At it's most basic, a call routing solution describes a system that moves phone calls to specific reps or team members within your organization.

Using criteria defined by the business owner or department manager, inbound calls can be routed to the right agent or service queue for their query.

These criteria may include:
  • Caller location
  • Time of day
  • Caller ID
  • Call history
  • Customer-defined inputs (service menus)
  • Other relevant data points in the company's CRM tool.

Call routing platforms started life as solutions to hardware issues. Over time, they have been developed to suit all manner of business use cases, from customer service lines to local branch routing for national brands.

As we discuss later in this article, there are several ways that call routing can benefit your business.

What is a Computer Telephony Integration System (CTI)?

In some cases nowadays, routing engines are based on CTIs. This set-up permits users to easily and efficiently alter call routing criteria with minimal technical knowledge.

How sophisticated a routing solution needs to be will depend on the organization applying it and the abilities of its users. CTI systems may not be required in companies with abundant IT resources and service teams who have little need to adjust the system.

However, some systems may need to be extremely intricate.

The most robust solutions are able to integrate with other systems such as call tracking software and online advertising platforms like Google's Adwords. These systems can automatically move calls according to granular data like the search term a user has entered, bridging the gap between online queries and real-world phone calls.

Next, we'll look at the various types of call routing available.

Different Forms of Call Routing

Companies can use various forms of call routing to direct inbound callers to the most appropriate representatives.. These are:
  • Time-based
  • Skills-based
  • Round Robin
Let's take a look at each of these routing types in order.

Time-Based Routing

Time-based routing moves callers to your team members according to the day or hour of the call. This criterion can help businesses with high call volume outside of regular business hours to offer phone-based service around the clock.

On a national level, this can be especially useful.

If your business has locations on both coasts and anywhere in-between, you might need to route calls from the east to your west coast location when the former has closed up for the day. Alternatively, you could route those out-of-office hours calls to a mobile device based on the time.

For larger operations, location-based calls that occur at times when each office is unstaffed can be routed to a 24/7 call center. In cases where this service is contracted out to a third-party or charged based on call volume, time-based routing can help minimize

Skills-Based Routing

Routing based on skillset pushes calls to the most appropriate service department or sales team member available when the call is placed. How that determination is made requires a number of questions in its own right, which may include:
  • What level of product knowledge will the rep need?
  • Did the customer use a specific keyword before clicking to call?
  • Does the caller already have an assigned sales rep?
  • Who is next in line to receive a sales lead?
  • Is the caller of a high value lead, potentially requiring a higher level rep?

A combination of these - and potentially several other factors - can then be taken together to route the call based on the most appropriate skills available.

One of the main benefits of a skills-based routing system is the ability to efficiently direct calls to the relevant product specialist without the customer first going through a receptionist or some other more general point of contact.

For smaller companies, limited resources may make a skills-based approach unsuitable. In this scenario, it probably makes more sense to focus on availability and making sure the phone call gets answered in the first place. Skills-focused routing can then be considered as the business grows and its team of experts expands.


Round Robin Routing

As the skills-based approach touches upon, some business owners may choose to allocate callers based on the most appropriate sales person for the call. When that distribution needs to be equitable so that every salesperson gets a shot, round-robin call routing is likely to be the appropriate option.

Left to their own devices, some reps will instinctively pick up more calls than others. Whether this is down to knowledge of peak call volume, offering their direct number to more prospects, or simply being quicker on the draw than the rest of the team, it can result in an unfair allocation of prospects.

The round robin approach uses algorithmic routing to ensure that every salesperson receives an equal allocation of inbound leads. Calls are evenly divided and the system only deviates from this algorithmic allocation if a rep is on vacation or

By creating this kind of egalitarian environment for a sales department, it maintains a reasonable opportunity for all reps to receive and nurture leads. There may be downsides to this in teams where certain individuals close at much higher rates than their colleagues, but for well-balanced sales teams, round-robin call routing is likely to be the fairest way to distribute inbound calls.

What Are the Advantages of Call Routing?

There are several ways that call routing can benefit your business.

First of all, routing can make the most of the team members you have available by getting the right calls to the right reps more quickly. This saves multiple transfers, limiting the time your employees spend on one call and, more importantly, minimizing frustration for the caller.

Call routing can also help to make sure that inbound phone calls are consistently moved to the next available agent, instead of being pushed through to voicemail or, worse still, losing them completely. Every owner has nightmares about potential customers who hang up before you ever get a chance to win their business. This concern can be alleviated by knowing the percentage of calls that get to the right rep or department first time, decreasing the potential for lost revenue and damage to your brand reputation.

Another benefit arises from the call data that goes hand-in-hand with effective call routing.

As studies consistently show, inbound calls provide the best source of lead generation around, so no business can afford to waste the opportunity presented by a phone call. Assembling accurate caller data and using it to get callers to the right place provides a better call experience and serves to maximize conversion rates, both directly on those specific sales calls and indirectly due to the positive brand impression and referrals that the improved experience generates.

Finally, call routing gives businesses the ability to ensure that customers speak to a live agent 24 hours a day 365 days a year.

In certain business sectors, selling or providing service around the clock can lead to substantial revenue growth. Using a call routing system helps to make sure that callers reach the right contact point, wherever and whenever they choose to call your business. For most owners and managers, that's not an option that can be ignored.

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