Call Routing

Learn all about call routing, its business benefits, methods of call routing, and the role it plays in improving case assignment and resolution times.

Surbhi Sharma
May 18, 2022
7 min read

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What is call routing?

Call routing — sometimes known as automatic call distribution (ACD) — is a call center technology that distributes incoming calls to specific agents or teams based on pre-established routing rules such as the reason for the call, time of day, business hours, language preferences of the caller, and agent skills.

With intelligent call routing, you can direct calls to the right agent or department right away — without asking customers to dial a specific department phone number, or having them wait on hold for a long time. This helps reduce wait times and unnecessary callbacks while improving your first call resolution rate, customer satisfaction (CSAT), and customer experience.

How does call routing work?

The call routing process for contact centers typically operates in three phases — call qualifying, call queueing, and call distribution.

Phase 1 - Call qualifying

The first step of the call routing process is for the business to send the inbound caller to an interactive voice response (IVR) system. This will present them with a set of pre-configured questions and menus in order to determine their reason for calling and gather their details. The caller interacts with these menu options by pressing buttons on their phone, and their input is recorded for the benefit of customer service agents down the line.

Phase 2 - Call queueing

Next, the IVR system transfers the caller to a call queue based on their input via automatic call distribution (ACD). The queue may be a common one, where any agent can pick up the phone call, or it can be an agent-specific one, where calls are queued for specific agent groups based on specific parameters you have configured (like team, department, or priority).

Phase 3 - Call distribution

Once the inbound calls are queued, an automatic call distributor routes the calls to the right agent according to your pre-established routing rules — such as agent skills, availability, call queue length, caller’s language preference, and case severity.

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What are the benefits of call routing?

Call routing offers many benefits to contact centers and businesses that include:

Improved customer experience and CSAT

When phone calls are routed right away to agents who have the relevant skills and experience to solve the issue quickly, the caller has a better experience. Fewer hold minutes, redirects, or call-backs make for a more pleasant user experience. Quick responses and improved interaction quality can elevate your customer satisfaction score and first call resolution rate, as well as trust in your brand.

Learn more: Customer service tips: how to improve your strategies with technology

Reduced waiting time

With call routing, inbound calls are automatically transferred to an agent who is available at that time, who has the requisite skill(s), or who has taken the fewest number of calls. This reduces your call waiting time significantly.

Efficient workforce management

An intelligent call routing strategy prevents agents from receiving a large volume of inbound calls at once by balancing the workload between agents — enabling them to focus more on customer support quality rather than on call volume.

Learn more: How AI can make your contact center’s routing strategy more efficient

Reduced cost-per-call (or cost-per-case)

Most contact centers struggle to handle overwhelming inbound calls while keeping their workflow operational cost in check. Call routing techniques such as skill-based routing reduce unnecessary call transfers and help ensure that calls are resolved in the first few contacts — substantially reducing operational costs and average handle time (AHT).

Reduced call abandonment rate

A caller tends to drop off when their queries are not resolved at the right time. They also may drop off if the agent is not able to comprehend the caller’s problem, or if there are too many redirects. With intelligent and effective call routing strategies, you can cut down your call abandonment rate and reduce customer churn.

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What are the types of call routing?

Call routing rules can be classified as follows:

Skill-based routing

With skill-based call routing, incoming calls are automatically transferred to agents who have the skills and experience (and any other criteria configured by the supervisor or admin) to resolve the issue.

Time-based routing

Time-based routing is done to accommodate agents operating from different time zones and business hours. It’s prevalent in global and geographically diverse call centers and ensures that agents don’t receive customer calls when not scheduled to work.

Round-robin routing

With the round-robin call routing technique, inbound support or sales calls are evenly distributed among all agents in a queue. For example, if there are five agents on your team and the last call was assigned to the third agent, round-robin tries to assign the next call directly to the fourth agent instead of starting over with the first.

Uniform routing

In uniform routing, calls are automatically routed to the agent who has been unengaged for the longest time. The idle time counter starts as soon as the agent ends the call. The agent who has the higher idle time count receives the next call.

Regular routing

Regular call routing is a technique where calls are automatically transferred to specific agents in a pre-defined order. For example, whenever agent A is idle, they receive the next call, even if agents C or D have not yet received a call.

Predicted behavioral routing

This kind of routing uses historical call center and customer relationship (CRM) data to connect a caller to an agent. It uses artificial intelligence (AI) technology to evaluate factors like the caller’s preferred communication channel, purchase and customer service history, and behavioral profile in order to match them with the most qualified agent.

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What is needed for a call routing system?

A call routing system for a business can operate with five essential elements seamlessly:

Phone system

A voice over internet protocol (VoIP) phone system routes incoming calls to the relevant agents or departments in various ways. When a person makes an outbound call to the business, the cloud-based phone system accepts the call, provides an auto-attendant menu, and transfers the call to your team.

Inbound call center software

An inbound call center solution enables businesses to manage all incoming calls efficiently and helps callers seek customer services such as tech support, product assistance, or help to place an order.

Automatic call distribution system

Automatic call distribution automates inbound call routing and assignment to specific agents within or across your customer support teams based on pre-configured assignment rules and algorithms.

Customer relationship management integrations

Customer relationship management (CRM) software connects a business’s CRM system with third-party systems so that data can flow smoothly to, from, or between them. It provides accurate data and a complete picture of your business and customers.

Interactive voice response software

IVR technology automates your inbound calls and helps businesses interact with customers through pre-recorded voice messages without speaking to an agent. Callers interact with IVR systems using their voice or their phone's touch-tone pad. An IVR system gathers some essential information, and routes calls to the appropriate agents, only when the caller requires further assistance.

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How do you build a robust call routing strategy?

A call-routing strategy is a success if calls are routed to the best-suited agents at the right time and customer queries are resolved quickly. Below are some steps to build an effective call-routing strategy for your contact center:

  • Conduct thorough research on common customer issues so that you can better train your agents and craft solution-led resources so your teams can resolve these issues efficiently.
    Learn more: How to Turn Your Agents Into Advocates

  • Choose an appropriate inbound call routing method to achieve a near-zero call abandonment rate. You can choose the right call routing technique based on the call volume, nature of customer queries, skills, average waiting time, and agent availability.
    Learn more: Press none for great customer experience

  • Integrate your call routing system with your CRM software, so your agents have all the relevant customer details handy, even while they are on call with the customer.

  • Notify callers of estimated wait times and queue position while on hold. It helps improve customer experience and prevent premature drop-offs.

  • Create standalone business phone numbers for busy departments to reduce call drop-offs and help callers opt for alternate methods and get their queries answered quickly.

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Turbo-charge your inbound call center solution with Sprinklr Service

To provide callers with a good experience and keep them loyal to your business, it’s critical that you leverage call routing for smart call assignments. Sprinklr Service enables speedy and accurate resolutions, leading to better customer experience and improved CSAT. Powered by a world-class AI engine, Sprinklr’s customer service experience platform relies on fail-safe algorithms to ensure that your cases always go to the right agent at the right time, with features and functionalities such as:

  • Automated routing to deliver first-contact resolutions and optimize call routing and distribution.

  • Sprinklr Voice to help deliver personalized, real-time customer support that helps establish a human connection with callers.

  • Automatic call distribution (ACD) to distribute incoming calls and messages efficiently to your call center agents, without any manual intervention.

  • Conversational IVR to assist with routing and enable self-service to callers.

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