A woman receptionist sitting at her computer wears a phone headset and talks to a customer while checking her computer.
When choosing an automatic call distribution system, there are multiple strategies to choose from based on your business's needs. — Getty Images/Hill Street Studios

For businesses that receive a lot of inquiries in a given day, promptly managing a queue of calls and messages is crucial to customer satisfaction, employee productivity, and a business’s success. To efficiently handle incoming calls — regardless if your office has 10 people or 1,000 — businesses should consider enlisting the help of call routing.

What is call routing?

Call routing is a call management system, or an automatic call distribution (ACD) system, implemented by many telephony businesses to automatically direct calls to the appropriate party. What once was a person’s entire job now allows businesses to quickly and seamlessly route incoming calls in their queue — without requiring human intervention or additional staff — using algorithms and set criteria.

Calls can be directed to a specific person/department automatically based on caller ID or a phone number, or sent to the next available agent. By employing an ACD system, call routing can increase customer satisfaction and reduce wait times while simultaneously boosting productivity among your employees, as they spend less time transferring calls and more time resolving customers’ issues.

[Read More: Choosing the Best Business Phone System for Your Business]

With skills-based routing, customer calls are directed to specialized agents who are trained to address specific concerns.

The best call-routing strategies

Call routing can shorten the time it takes for a customer to speak with a representative to resolve their problem, thereby improving your business's reputation and streamlining operations. However, it's important to choose the right call-routing strategy for your business’s needs.

Here are five call-routing strategies for your business to try.

Direct routing

The simplest option in terms of call routing is direct routing, which connects a caller with the proper department or contact using a virtual directory. With direct routing, a caller listens to an automated message, which provides the numerical numbers associated with each contact/department. Once the caller knows the number of the party they are trying to reach, they type that number into their phone’s keypad or say it out loud and are automatically routed.

Skills-based routing

With skills-based routing, customer calls are directed to specialized agents who are trained to address specific concerns. This option, which may use a consumer’s history and previous interactions to guide the call, is helpful for customers with high-difficulty problems who require technical help from a qualified and knowledgeable representative. For example, if you call a bank's help center to report fraudulent activity on your account, you need a fraud specialist rather than an agent who handles broader questions.

Least occupied routing

Least occupied routing directs calls based on an agent’s workload to ensure that all employees are taking a similar amount of calls. This strategy is a great way to guarantee all employees are pulling their weight and are productive, as it uses an agent’s occupancy rate — the rate at which an employee has spent occupied on phone calls in a given day — to determine who has taken on the least amount of calls and who will receive the next routed call.

Data-directed routing

A more complex option, data-directed routing, uses artificial intelligence and analytics to route the call to the correct department automatically based on the customer's anticipated needs. This strategy uses the customer’s phone number or another form of identification to access their account, predict their needs, and transfer their call to the appropriate agent. Data-directed routing can reduce wait times for customers, as it provides a direct line to the department or contact they need, and it takes the responsibility off the caller to determine the right person to talk to.

Multimedia routing

In the digital age, companies have more lines of communication for their customers than just the telephone, including channels such as text messaging, web forms, social media inquiries, and emails. However, businesses still need to have resources to answer these methods of communication, and that’s where multimedia routing comes in. By using customer information and looking at their account history, multimedia inquiries can be routed to the right contact to get a customer the help they need.

[Read More: How to Choose CRM Software: 5 Factors to Consider]

How to implement call routing into your business

Observe your market and business closely to determine which strategy best solves your customers’ needs. Consider your company’s size, the average number of daily calls you get, and your customer demographics — along with their preferred contact methods and typical concerns/issues.

This information can guide you in choosing the right strategy to suit your audience. The process for implementing a call-routing system varies depending on the desired routing strategy — some are simple to set up, while others are more complex and require setting up various rules and criteria.

[Read More: Everything You Should Know About Choosing a Business Phone System]

CO— aims to bring you inspiration from leading respected experts. However, before making any business decision, you should consult a professional who can advise you based on your individual situation.

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