Call center software includes essential business phone system features like real-time call metrics, dedicated phone numbers, and virtual voicemail.

Call routing is a particularly valuable feature, as it improves the overall customer experience by shortening call wait times and connecting callers to the agent who is best suited to help them.

But what is call routing, and what benefits does it offer your business?


What is Call Routing?



Call routing is the business telephony process of sending live calls to a certain employee, department, or team member, based on pre-established criteria.

Call screening, in contrast, provides you with the information your business needs to be able to direct the call to the right person, such as a caller’s name and phone number.

Call forwarding, while similar to a call routing system, is the process of automatically sending callers to another phone number if the first phone line isn’t available during standard business hours. (For example, forwarding calls from an agent’s business calls phone to their cell phone after 5:00 PM.)

With intelligent call routing, the system administrator instantly connects the caller to a specific line or customer support without putting them on hold.


Types of Call Routing


IVR call routing

Direct call routing connects customers to specific employees or departments without the use of an automatic call distributor. Instead, callers choose from multiple phone numbers that send them to the party they’re looking for.

However, it also means busy signals, poor call management, long customer wait times, and higher call center abandonment rates.

To avoid this, use these alternative automatic call distributor (ACD) routing strategies for your contact center.

ACD routing is a business telephone software system that connects incoming callers to the specific agent or department best suited to assist the caller based on predefined settings.

ACD software also connects with hosted IVR technology, which allows customers to choose from menu options or enter custom responses about the reason for their call.

It also:

  • Creates customer call waiting queues
  • Collects phone system usage data
  • Allows for call monitoring and coaching
  • Allows for social media and CRM VoIP integrations


Priority Routing

Priority routing options assign callers to agents based on either the urgency of the call or the overall value of a customer.

High-value clients can be sent to a VIP queue that will connect them only with top agents, while other phone calls are sent to a general queue.


Skills-Based Routing

Skills-based virtual phone system routing ensures that callers speak to the agent who has the knowledge and training required to assist a customer with their specific issue.

For example, it connects a customer with a question about an unfamiliar account charge to the billing department as opposed to an HR representative who is unable to access a customer’s account history.

Skills-based routing is also utilized is a sales environment.

It sends a potential customer who clicked on an ad prior to calling to the representative with the greatest knowledge of that specific product (or the highest sales closure rate.)


Least Occupied Routing

Least-occupied routing connects the inbound call to the agent that has had the least amount of activity or calls that day.

This is especially helpful for customer service and support departments, as it prevents individual representatives from getting overburdened with calls.


Round Robin Routing

Round robin routing is somewhat similar to least occupied routing, except that it is more focused on evenly distributing sales calls among agents.

System administrators create a business VoIP algorithm for managing incoming calls to the sales department, creating a more equitable sales department.


Call Routing Best Practices


call routing tips

The number-one mistake that companies make when setting up their virtual phone system?

Including far too many automated interactive voice response menu options before connecting the caller with a live representative.

Keep IVR menu options concise to prevent callers from hanging up, and consider when creating a separate phone number for a department would be more beneficial to the customer.

The same goes for call queues, especially during a busy time of day or season when one department can become overburdened by a sudden surge in calls. In addition to increasing the number of available agents at times when departments see a higher call volume than normal, implement a call-back option.

A call-back option prevents customers from having to wait on hold when all live agents are busy, and instead calls them back when a representative is available.

Finally, ensure your company invests in software that allows users to keep track of previous customer interactions, notes, and files.

The last thing customers want to have to do is explain the same problem to three different representatives every time they call.


The Benefits of Call Routing


call routing benefits

Call routing rules offer numerous benefits to both callers and employees, including:

  • Reduced wait time
  • Decreased call abandonment rate
  • Fewer voicemails and missed calls
  • 24/7 communication
  • Improved customer service
  • Faster resolution
  • Potential for increased sales revenue
  • Specific call availability times on a per-agent basis
  • Ability to transfer/forward calls
  • More balanced employee workload
  • Custom greetings and menu options
  • Better customer self-service
  • Prioritizing VIP clients


Cons of Call Routing


Routing calls is likely not ideal for smaller businesses and teams that place a high level of importance on personalized communication.

For example, if a customer calls a local retailer they know has only four employees, they may be put off by the idea of having to go through a call menu to connect with the person they’re looking for. Consider a standard small business phone service instead.

Additionally, advanced business telephony systems are not a wise choice for companies that cannot yet afford a dedicated IT department or an employee managing the software’s programming and updates.


Top IVR Systems


IVR systems drastically improve the call routing process by collecting information regarding caller intent and sending it to the agent, ensuring they’ll be better prepared to assist the customer.

But what features should you look for in an IVR system to route calls, and which providers should you consider?

Our interactive comparison table on IVR systems includes information about IVR systems from Five9, Plum Voice, Genesys, and other top providers.