As soon as a business starts having a significant number of customers getting in touch with them comes the question of how to prioritise those contacts. A perpetually engaged line will put off clients, as will having to wait an unreasonable amount of time for an agent to become available for your chat service or to answer emails. It becomes therefore essential to consider call routing quite early on.

How does call routing work?

There is a number of systems available, with various levels of functionality.

At its simplest, call routing will answer calls and play an automated message welcoming customers. If the call can’t be answered immediately, it will be kept in a queue until an agent is free. Calls may also be routed to a specific department.

After a specified amount of time, if the call hasn’t been answered, it will be diverted to voice mail. Gauging when they should indeed be diverted can be tricky: too long and you are bound to get very disgruntled customers who have waited a long time and still can’t talk to a person; too short and your agents won’t have the opportunity to answer.

More sophisticated systems will offer different strategies to manage calls:

1) Group-based: any agent within a determined group will be allocated calls depending on their availability. If there is a queue, the next individual to finish their previous conversation will be chosen. This solution ensures that the greatest number of calls is answered with the minimum waiting time but not necessarily that the best-suited agent is picked.

2) Line-based: This system allocates calls based on a cascading principle and is particularly well suited to businesses where agents also perform other duties. Let’s say that your contact centre has three groups of agents. Group 1 only answers phone calls; Group 2 answers some phone calls but also have other tasks; Group 3 mostly deals with other jobs and only answers the phones if nobody is available.

3) Fewest calls: Calls are allocated to the agent who has answered the smallest number of calls, allowing workload to be distributed fairly.

Call routing offers very important benefits. It allows you to have more calls answered; when the call is answered, your customers are likely to be happier than if they had to call multiple times to get through; and routing calls to appropriate department increases the rate of First-Call Resolution and customer satisfaction.