What is Call Routing?

Providing exceptional customer service is necessary in order to succeed and maintain a competitive edge.

As customer expectations continue to rise, companies are constantly seeking ways to enhance their customer interactions and deliver prompt, personalized, and efficient support.

This is where call routing plays a crucial role, acting as the backbone of modern customer service operations.

What is Call Routing?

What is Call Routing?

Call routing is the process of directing incoming telephone calls to the most appropriate destination or resource within an organization.

It leverages advanced technologies and predefined rules to ensure that each call is routed to the agent or department best equipped to handle the specific inquiry or issue.

At its core, call routing aims to streamline the customer experience by minimizing frustration, reducing wait times, and increasing the likelihood of resolving inquiries or issues on the first call.

By seamlessly connecting callers with the most suitable agents or resources, call routing optimizes agent utilization, improves operational efficiency, and fosters customer satisfaction.

By implementing an intelligent and customized call routing strategy, organizations can unlock numerous benefits, including improved customer satisfaction, increased first-call resolution rates, better resource utilization, enhanced agent productivity, and a competitive advantage in their respective markets.

In the following sections, we will delve deeper into the working of call routing, different types of call routing strategies, their benefits, and best practices for implementing an effective call routing system that aligns with an organisation’s specific needs and goals.

How Does Call Routing Work?

Step 1: Incoming Call

A customer or caller dials a phone number, and the call is received by the company’s PBX system or cloud-based call routing platform.

Step 2: Automatic Call Distribution (ACD)

The incoming call is processed by the Automatic Call Distribution (ACD) system, which acts as the control center for call routing.

Step 3: Call Routing Rules

The ACD system applies predefined call routing rules to determine how the call should be handled. Rules can be based on factors such as called number, caller ID, time of day, language preferences, skill-based routing, priority routing, and load balancing.

Step 4: Interactive Voice Response (IVR)

Many call routing systems incorporate an Interactive Voice Response (IVR) system. The IVR greets callers and prompts them to select options or provide information. The IVR can collect information from the caller to route the call more accurately.

Step 5: Queue Management

If all available agents are busy, the call is placed in one or more queues. Queues are managed based on priority rules. Callers may be provided with estimated wait times, periodic updates, or the option to leave a voicemail or request a callback.

Step 6: Agent Selection

When an agent becomes available, the ACD selects the next call from the appropriate queue based on the routing rules. The call is assigned to the available agent, and their phone or computer rings or displays the call information.

Step 7: Call Transfer or Conference

During the call, the agent may need to transfer the call to another agent or department, or conference with additional parties. The call routing system facilitates these actions seamlessly, allowing calls to be redirected or merged as needed.

Step 8: Reporting and Analytics

Call routing systems provide detailed reporting and analytics capabilities. Organizations can monitor call volumes, wait times, agent performance, and other metrics. This data can be used to optimize call routing strategies, staffing levels, and overall customer service operations.

Step 9: Intelligent Call Routing

Advanced call routing systems leverage technologies like artificial intelligence, machine learning, and natural language processing.

These systems aim to improve the accuracy and efficiency of call routing, ensuring each call is routed to the most appropriate resource in a timely manner.

Different Types of Call Routing

Here are some common types of call routing in paragraph form:

1. Skill-Based Routing

Skill-based routing is a technique where calls are routed to agents based on their specific skills, expertise, or training.

This approach ensures that callers are connected with the most qualified agents to handle their inquiries or issues.

By matching calls with agents who have the relevant knowledge and experience, organizations can provide more efficient and effective support, leading to improved customer satisfaction.

2. Priority Routing

Priority routing involves prioritizing and routing calls based on predefined criteria, such as customer value, account type, or the urgency of the call.

High-priority calls are routed to available agents first, while lower-priority calls may be placed in separate queues.

This approach allows organizations to allocate resources more effectively and ensure that critical or high-value calls receive prompt attention, enhancing the overall customer experience.

3. Language-Based Routing

Language-based routing is a strategy where calls are routed to agents based on the caller’s preferred language or the language detected from the caller’s phone number or location.

This approach ensures that callers can communicate effectively with agents who speak their language, eliminating language barriers and fostering better understanding between the caller and the agent.

4. Time-Based Routing

Time-based routing involves routing calls based on the time of day, day of the week, or specific holidays or events.

This strategy allows organizations to allocate resources more effectively during peak or off-peak hours, ensuring that callers receive prompt attention during high-volume periods and optimizing agent utilization during slower times.

5. Geographic Routing

Geographic routing is a technique where calls are routed to agents or contact centers based on the caller’s geographic location or area code.

This approach can be useful for organizations with multiple locations or for providing localized support or services.

By routing calls to agents or contact centers in close proximity to the caller’s location, organizations can offer more personalized and relevant assistance.

6. Interactive Voice Response (IVR) Routing

IVR routing involves prompting callers through an Interactive Voice Response (IVR) system to provide information or select options that determine the appropriate routing destination.

The IVR can collect account numbers, reasons for the call, or other relevant information to route the call more accurately to the most suitable agent or department.

7. Last Agent Routing

Last agent routing is a strategy where the call routing system attempts to route a caller’s call back to the same agent they previously spoke with, if that agent is available.

This approach provides continuity and familiarity for the caller, as the agent has prior knowledge of the caller’s situation or history, leading to more efficient and personalized service.

8. Round-Robin Routing

Round-robin routing is a technique where incoming calls are evenly distributed among available agents in a circular order, ensuring a balanced workload.

This type of routing is often used when agents have similar skill sets and call volumes are relatively consistent, promoting fairness and efficient resource utilization.

9. Overflow Routing

Overflow routing is a strategy where calls are automatically routed to a backup queue or alternative group of agents when all agents in a specific queue or group are busy.

This approach helps to manage high call volumes and prevent callers from being placed on hold indefinitely, improving the overall customer experience and reducing the risk of abandoned calls.

10. Predictive Routing

Predictive routing is an advanced technique where call routing systems use predictive analytics and machine learning to analyze various data points, such as call history, customer information, and agent performance, to determine the best agent or routing path for each incoming call.

The goal of predictive routing is to optimize customer experience and operational efficiency by making intelligent routing decisions based on historical data and real-time insights.

Benefits of Call Routing

Implementing an effective call routing system offers numerous benefits to organizations, enhancing customer satisfaction, operational efficiency, and overall business performance. 

Improved Customer Experience: Call routing ensures that callers are connected with the most appropriate agent or department, reducing frustration and increasing the likelihood of resolving their inquiries or issues promptly. By providing a seamless and personalized experience, organizations can foster customer loyalty and satisfaction.

Increased Efficiency and Productivity: By directing calls to the right resources, call routing optimizes agent utilization and reduces the time spent on call transfers or misrouted calls. Agents can focus on handling calls within their expertise, leading to faster resolution times and improved productivity.

Better Resource Allocation: Call routing allows organizations to allocate their resources more effectively based on call volumes, priorities, and agent skills. This helps to balance workloads, prevent agent burnout, and ensure that staffing levels are aligned with demand.

Enhanced First-Call Resolution: When calls are routed to agents with the appropriate skills and knowledge, the chances of resolving issues on the first call increase significantly. This reduction in call transfers and repetition improves customer satisfaction and reduces operational costs.

Multilingual Support: Language-based routing enables organisations to provide support in multiple languages by connecting callers with agents who speak their preferred language. This capability enhances the customer experience for a diverse customer base and expands the organisation’s reach.

Prioritization and Segmentation: Priority routing allows organisations to prioritise high-value or urgent calls, ensuring that critical inquiries or issues receive prompt attention. This segmentation also enables tailored service levels based on customer value or account type.

Scalability and Flexibility: Call routing systems can be easily scaled up or down to accommodate fluctuations in call volumes or changes in business requirements. Rules and routing strategies can be adjusted dynamically, providing flexibility to adapt to evolving needs.

Best Practices for Call Routing

Implementing an effective call-routing strategy requires careful planning and consideration of various factors. Here are some best practices to ensure optimal call routing and enhanced customer experience:

Define Clear Goals and Objectives: Before implementing a call routing system, it’s essential to define clear goals and objectives. These may include improving customer satisfaction, increasing first-call resolution rates, optimizing agent utilization, or reducing operational costs. Clearly defined goals will guide the selection and configuration of the appropriate routing strategies.

Analyze Call Patterns and Volumes: Gain insights into call patterns, volumes, and peak times by analyzing historical data and trends. This information will help identify the resources required, optimal staffing levels, and the most suitable routing strategies based on call volumes and fluctuations.

Implement Skill-Based Routing: Skill-based routing is a highly effective strategy that ensures calls are routed to agents with the appropriate skills and expertise. Identify the required skill sets, train agents accordingly, and configure the routing system to match callers with the most qualified agents for their specific needs.

Leverage Interactive Voice Response (IVR) Systems: IVR systems can be powerful tools for gathering initial caller information and pre-routing calls based on the collected data. Ensure that IVR menus are intuitive, efficient, and provide clear options to callers, minimizing frustration and improving the overall experience.

Prioritise High-Value or Urgent Calls: Implement priority routing to ensure that high-value or urgent calls receive prompt attention. This can be based on factors such as customer value, account type, or the nature of the inquiry. Prioritizing critical calls can significantly improve customer satisfaction and loyalty.

Integrate with Customer Relationship Management (CRM) Systems: Integrating call routing systems with CRM systems can provide agents with valuable customer information, such as account details, purchase history, and previous interactions. This context can enhance the customer experience and enable more personalized and efficient service.

By following these best practices, organisations can optimize their call routing strategies, improve customer satisfaction, and gain a competitive advantage through efficient and effective call handling.

The Bottom Line

Call routing plays a crucial role in customer service operations by ensuring that incoming calls are seamlessly directed to the most suitable agents or resources.

By leveraging advanced technologies and customizable routing strategies, organizations can streamline customer interactions, minimize frustration, reduce wait times, and ultimately enhance customer satisfaction.

As customer expectations continue to evolve, implementing an effective call routing system empowers organizations to stay ahead of the curve, foster customer loyalty, and gain a competitive edge in their respective markets.


Ques 1. What is a call routing number?

Ans: A call routing number is a virtual telephone number used to route incoming calls to the desired destination.

Ques 2. What is a routed call on a cell phone?

Ans: A routed call on a cell phone is a call that is directed through the cellular network’s routing system.

Ques 3. What is the difference between call forwarding and routing?

Ans: Call forwarding simply redirects calls, while routing determines the path and destination for incoming calls based on predefined rules.

Ques 4. How are calls routed in VoIP?

Ans: In VoIP, calls are routed over the internet using IP addresses and routing protocols to establish a connection.

Ques 5. What is advanced call routing?

Ans: Advanced call routing uses complex rules and conditions to intelligently route calls based on factors like caller ID, time, location, etc.

Evelyn Brown
Evelyn Brown

Evelyn Brown is a knowledgeable and dedicated reviewer of business communication softwares. When she's not testing the latest platforms or providing in-depth analyses for his readers, you can find her playing guitar and hiking local trails.