Call Routing: What is it & How Does it Work?

When a customer call is routed effectively, it is a great day for everyone involved. It helps your customer get accurate and effective information or assistance quickly, it saves your team members time, and it creates a seamless communication experience.
Olivia Maier

Olivia Maier

12 min read

We’re here to give you an in depth guide on call routing, so that you can be better prepared when your team is receiving a high volume of calls. Here’s a peak at what we will be looking at today!

  1. What is call routing?
  2. An overview of the different types of call routing options available
  3. How does call routing work?
  4. Setting up call routing to best fit your needs
  5. The benefits of routing for your customers
  6. Why your team will love call routing
  7. Final thoughts

If that all sounds good to you, then we can’t wait to get started!

What is call routing?

Call routing is a call management feature that should be accessible in every business phone system. Each incoming call will be placed in a virtual “queue” and then directed to a specific person, or group of people, based on your team’s customizations and configurations.

Sometimes people conflate call forwarding and call routing, but these are two separate features that many business phone systems offer. Call forwarding is a call command feature that forwards a call to a different device. For example, if you start a call on a landline phone but need to leave the office, you can take the call to go with a “forward to mobile phone” feature.

As we said, call routing takes care of call management, which is simply a way to help your team better handle incoming calls.

Call routing will occur before anyone from your team even picks up the incoming call. There is some important technology that allows this to happen, so let’s make sure that we are all on the same page. So before we get into the different types of call routing options, let’s dive into the technology behind call routing: ACD.

What is ACD technology?

ACD technology, short for Automatic Call Distribution, is a computer telephony integration that can help your team route incoming calls. The system is able to direct inbound calls to the right team members, who can properly address your caller’s needs. With ACD, your phone system will take inbound calls and automatically route them to your agents. Your team can select from a wide range of ACD distribution options, depending on the capabilities of your business phone provider.

ACD works hand-in-hand with IVR technology. Not to throw another acronym at you, but an IVR system is an easy and affordable way to change the process in which you are managing your incoming calls.

An IVR system is the initial touchpoint of your business communication. Your IVR system will determine the PURPOSE of the incoming call, DISCOVERING caller intent.

From there, your ACD system will act as the DISTRIBUTION method to initiate the call routing.

IVR systems are able to be customized by using pre-recorded welcome messages and prompts, making them adaptable to your specific needs. We recommend that you take advantage of VOICE or INTELLIGENT IVR systems. These next-generation systems will route callers based on what they are saying in real-time, and can eliminate the need for “press 1 for sales, press 2 for billing” menu selections.

Just think of all the situations that could have led your callers to hanging up before they even reach your team, simply because you are using an outdated IVR system.

  • Have you ever been preoccupied with another task while on the phone, when you miss the menu option that is applicable to what you need? How likely are you to enter a potentially endless loop of menu options, or simply hang up and call another business?
  • Have you ever listened VERRYYY carefully to menu options, just to have none of them be applicable to your reason for calling? What do you do then, when the phone system won’t connect you to any team but you have an important reason for calling?
  • Have you ever selected a menu option, just to find out that you are talking to the wrong team? Let me guess, you were then bounced around with call transfers until you FINALLY got to speak to the right person for your problem.

Just to recap: So far we have learned what call routing is, and the technology that is able to enable it. Now, let’s discover how different styles of call routing will enable your team in different ways.

An overview of the different types of call routing options available

Calls that enter into your queue can be redirected in a variety of manners. Your ACD system, while working together with your IVR, should be able to send calls through to your team in the following ways:

  1. Fixed Order

    Team members are arranged in a customizable fixed order, and calls are routed based on the list order.

  2. Simultaneous Distribution

    Significantly reduce waiting time by notifying all team members at once about an inbound call. The first team member to respond will handle the call.

  3. Time Based

    Calls will only alert available team members, and if none are open the call will be sent directly to voicemail.

  4. Team Member Based

    This skills-based distribution system will prioritize team members based onpre-determined skill sets, such as expertise or efficiency.

  5. Call extensions

    Your team may have individual extension numbers, and if your caller is aware of the extension for the person they are trying to contact they can easily be routed by simply typing in the extension.

You might also want to take advantage of pre-set attributes that can be helpful. Some of these will send calls to voicemail if they call outside of what you have set your rules to be. For example, with a feature such as office hours your callers will be alerted if they are calling outside of your normal business hours. From there, they will be routed to voicemail. This is just another way you can use call routing capabilities, both while you are available and when you are not.

There are also simpler forms of call routing that can be based on location and time. If you have a global business, it only makes sense to have your call centers operate on their own local business hours. But, if a client from Europe calls past European business hours, they may still be routed to a different call center in North America that is still open and functioning at that time.

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How does call routing work?

So now that you have a picture of what different types of call routing configurations can look like, let’s make sure we understand how this experience will play out for both your callers and your team members.

Your caller’s experience:

  1. They will dial your company’s number, and be answered by your call routing functionalities.
  2. The IVR system will give instructions on how they can be routed. For some IVR systems this will be selected from a menu, while others will just allow your caller to speak conversationally.
  3. The phone system will take the information received from the IVR feature, to route callers using the configured ACD technology.
  4. Your caller will be connected to an appropriate team member.

Your team’s experience:

  1. Your team will already know that when their phone rings, it is because there is a call relevant to them specifically. They will see an incoming call, and simply accept it before starting to assist your caller.

As you can see, your caller is moving through a lot of different phases of the call but the majority of those phases are behind the scenes. Once your caller conveys the necessary information, they are just quickly and effectively routed to the right team member.

For your team members, they will be able to know that incoming calls won’t be a waste of time or a game of rerouting incoming callers. Instead, they can just simply pick up the phone and begin assisting your callers.

Setting up call routing to fit your needs

Taking it from the top, here are all of the things that you should be able to customize and configure to best fit your call routing needs.

  1. A customizable welcome greeting: This greeting will be read to your callers when they first connect to your business phone number. That message should be customized to convey important information such as your business hours.
  2. Create rules to go straight to voicemail: We mentioned above features like office hours that will direct callers straight to voicemail. Whether you want to schedule a lunch break where the phones aren’t available, holidays, or just your general business hours make sure that you have these rules configured.
  3. Determine your ACD preferences: As we shared before, there are a wide variety of ACD routing options available to choose from. Make sure that you are able to set up the ACD option that works best for your team. Not every ACD option is available with every provider, so definitely find out during a free trial or demo call!
  4. Configure your voicemail: As some calls will inevitably be routed to voicemail, make sure that you have this part of your business phone set up appropriately.

We recommend that you sit down with the members of your team who are most involved in your phone communication activities. After sharing with them the different ACD options available, these team members may be able to provide invaluable advice about what would work best for your specific use case.

The benefits of routing for your customers

You might be wondering if call routing is something that is worth it to set up, or even to switch phone providers for. We think it is, and it is something that your customers are going to notice and appreciate as well!

When you take advantage of effective call routing, your callers will be able to see the following benefits:

Why your customers will love call routing

  • Eliminates pain points of waiting on hold for long periods of time, and being transferred multiple times.
  • Customers can quickly take care of their business and then get on with the rest of their day.
  • Matches callers with agents who are the most likely person to be able to assist them, which helps ensure more effective phone calls.
  • Prevents missed calls as customers can get answers quickly.

These may seem like small benefits, but they really add up in the eyes of a customer. How many times have you as a consumer called a business only to be frustrated by long wait times, or being rerouted multiple times? Oftentimes the response will be to simply call a different business who appears to be better equipped to handle your call. Losing business due to poor call management should be a thing of the past when there is effective call routing technology available to teams of all sizes.

Why your team will love call routing

Your callers won’t be the only ones who benefit from a call routing system being in place. Your team members will really appreciate having more effective phone communication workflows put in place.

  • Better managing a high call volume will help your team avoid being overwhelmed with incoming calls.
  • Avoid productivity killers and unnecessary distractions by avoiding a phone alerting a team member who may not be the best person to handle it.
  • Improve team morale as they deal with happier callers, and aren’t stuck handling calls they are not trained to help.

In case you aren’t familiar with virtual phones…

Virtual phone systems are simply phone systems that take advantage of VoIP technology instead of traditional analog phone lines to deliver voice signals. Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) is a technology that allows users to make and receive calls over the internet. VoIP can help empower businesses of all types and sizes to have more effective phone communication.

You may have heard VoIP referred to as IP telephony, internet telephony, or another alternative name. Any terms used to describe internet based phone calls are referring to VoIP systems. To learn more about how VoIP works, check out our helpful post: What is VoIP?

When it comes to business phone solutions, a VoIP system just makes sense. Analog phone systems rely on outdated technology, and can limit your business in terms of how accessible you are to your callers, as well as your scalability and flexibility.

Access a robust phone system

In order to get the most out of your call routing system, you should look for complementary features that will assist you as you better manage incoming calls.

For example, look to features such as call monitoring to help your managers or supervisors monitor calls. They will be able to lend a hand through call whispering or call commenting, as they share information with your agents in real time, without your caller hearing.

You may also want to access a live activity feed, which can help you see in real time which of your agents is currently on a call. While your call routing system will make sure that one team member isn’t overwhelmed with calls, it can be beneficial for your entire team to see who is currently available.

You could also take advantage of features such as call recordings that allow you to better keep track of customer information. The best call recording systems will allow you to have an automatically generated transcript of the call, so that you can access the information even when audio isn’t convenient. PRO TIP: Look for voicemail features that allow you to general a voicemail transcript as well!

In the end…

We hope that you have been able to gain a deeper understanding of call routing functionalities. You should walk away from this article with the knowledge that call routing is a call management tool that is made possible by ACD and IVR technologies. You should also be aware that there are a variety of ACD styles made available, so you should check with any potential providers on what they are able to offer your team.

We hope that after reading about the amazing benefits of call routing, you are inclined to give it a try. After all, when your callers and your team can benefit, why wouldn’t you at least test it out?

Testing it out has never been easier than it is with Yodel is an intelligent business phone system that takes advantage of internet based calling. As a virtual phone system, Yodel is able to offer incredible features including call routing capabilities.

To help you get started today, Yodel is offering a free trial that comes with easy configuration, and the ability to connect with our team. Get your questions answered from our customer success manager, or hop on a live demo call. It’s that easy to start taking advantage of call routing that we know your team and customers will love!

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