Call routing is a feature of voice-over-internet-protocol (VoIP) business phone services that automatically answer incoming calls, routing them to phones or extensions based on predetermined rules like “forward all calls to voicemail.” Smart call routing strategies can improve the customer experience, particularly for call centers and businesses with a high volume of inbound customer calls.
Call routing is a standard feature of RingCentral, which is also a highly rated, a VoIP business phone systems provider. It features custom call routing and answering rules, robust scheduling options, and multiple caller greetings. RingCentral offers four service plans from $29.99 per user, per month and a free 15-day trial. Visit RingCentral for more details.
How Call Routing Works
Call routing occurs when a company’s VoIP phone system answers a call from an external caller and uses caller input via voice or keypad prompts to direct the call within the organization. This call can be routed to a specific phone extension, the next available agent, or other pre-arranged rule. Advanced call routing systems can even answer calls with customized greetings and direct calls to phones outside the company.
Call routing, a feature of most VoIP business phone packages, works the same way as call forwarding does on personal phones, but VoIP call routing usually offers many more options than simply forwarding calls to a single phone number. For example, you can choose to route calls to specific individuals, groups of users, or based on caller attributes like time of day or location.
Answering rules for each of these methods are typically arranged via the admin dashboard. However, some of the best VoIP business phone system providers also allow individual users to set up call routing rules for their phone extensions.
Companies can employ a number of simple or complex call routing strategies, depending on the unique needs of the business. They also scale as call volume fluctuates, whether seasonally or throughout the course of the day, allowing admins to screen and block unwanted calls, forward overflow calls to a different department or rearrange how incoming calls are distributed to minimize wait times.
Who Call Routing Is Right For
Call routing is right for virtually any business that receives regular calls to ensure incoming inquiries are always answered and directed to the right extension or sales agent. Solopreneurs and small businesses benefit by having an “extra hand” with VoIP features like call forwarding so that calls don’t slip through the cracks. Larger companies benefit from rules like skills-based routing that matches callers to the most suitable agent to meet their needs.
Call routing is right for:
- Solo entrepreneurs: Features like call forwarding to an assistant and call screening of specific numbers give solopreneurs control over incoming calls while ensuring customer calls don’t go unanswered
- Small businesses: Small companies can use call routing to redirect inquiries to an answering service or voicemail box outside regular business hours, giving them the appearance of 24-hour service
- Companies that receive a large volume of inbound calls: Larger organizations may want routing rules in place around the clock to manage high call volume to minimize the number of times the phone rings and to make sure customers aren’t left on hold for too long
- Customer support teams: Features like skills-based routing ensures customers reach the right agent with the skills to help them address their needs and concerns, increasing customer satisfaction
- Sales teams: Call management tools like round-robin routing ensures sales leads are allocated fairly among agents
Call routing can help solopreneurs, small businesses, and sales teams route inbound calls quickly, even when call volume fluctuates seasonally or just throughout the day. RingCentral offers this feature with all its service plans. When combined with unlimited domestic calling, toll-free minutes, and voicemail, VoIP providers like RingCentral provide a comprehensive inbound and outbound phone system.
Call Routing Costs
Since call routing is part of a VoIP business phone system package, prices vary by provider. VoIP phone service pricing typically begins around $20 per user, per month and up depending on the types of features, calling plans, and service packages the provider offers.
Low-cost plans include basic features like a free local phone number, voicemail, and unlimited domestic calling that are right for small businesses and solopreneurs. Higher-priced plans offer features like customer relationship management (CRM) integration, analytics and reporting tools, and unlimited international calling zones that are a better fit for call centers and larger companies.
Call Routing Providers
There are a variety of call routing providers to choose from so it can be challenging to select one that matches the needs of your customers, employees, and company. We’ve done much of the research on VoIP phone systems for you and put together a guide to help you select the right phone system with call routing for your organization.
Here’s what you can find at three of the top-rated call routing providers.
RingCentral is a great option for companies wanting a call routing provider that offers VoIP phone service with unlimited domestic calling and a free phone number. Pricing ranges from $29.99 to $59.99 per user, per month and include unlimited short message service (SMS), video and audio meetings as well as call routing features like call forwarding and answering rules. The lowest tier supports up to 10 users, making it a good fit for very small teams and young companies.
Higher tiers add call features like integration with customer relationship management platforms Zendesk and Salesforce, automatic call recording, and multilevel auto attendant. Also included are automatic call recording and call quality reporting, making RingCentral’s higher service plans right for sales and support teams that want to monitor and improve call center performance.
Nextiva, which ranks high as our best business phone system, as well as among the best VoIP providers, is a call routing solution with enough features to meet the needs of most businesses. Pricing runs from $19.95 to $27.95 per user, per month with unlimited domestic calling, a free phone number, and voicemail. It also has call routing tools like call queuing and interactive call greeting making its basic tier it a good choice for businesses wanting a turnkey routing solution.
Upper tiers add a conference bridge for calls with up to nine participants, call recording, Nextiva’s mobile app with team collaboration tools, and Nextiva Anywhere, a feature that allows users to make and receive calls from any device and any location using a single phone number. Nextiva’s higher tiers are right for business owners who work from the road and distributed teams who work remotely.
Grasshopper is a call routing and a virtual phone number provider and costs between $29 and $89 per month, depending on how many phone numbers and extensions are needed. It includes call forwarding, route to voicemail, custom greetings, and the ability to add multiple extensions to a single phone number. In addition, all Grasshopper service plans include unlimited domestic calling, an auto-attendant, inbound fax, voicemail, and voicemail transcription.
In addition to call routing, Grasshopper also offers vanity numbers and toll-free phone numbers as well as SMS texting. This makes it an excellent choice for solopreneurs and small business owners who want to stay competitive in larger markets by ensuring business communication always appears professional from any phone, including a personal landline or mobile device.
Types of Call Routing & How to Use It
The purpose of call routing is twofold: to provide an enhanced customer experience for callers and to manage your company’s inbound calls efficiently. There are a number of different strategies companies can use when setting up call routing parameters to get the most out of this important business phone system feature. However most can be grouped into one of three types: call routing to individuals, call routing to groups, or call routing by customer.
When deciding which call routing options to use, consider what pain points your hoping to address for your customers, such as long hold times or too many call transfers until they get the help they need. Keep in mind what will make inbound call management work most smoothly for your employees like minimizing the number of calls they answer and transfer to colleagues better equipped to handle the call.
VoIP phone service provider RingCentral provides users complete control over how inbound calls are routed. For instance, its call screening feature can answer or block calls from specific numbers and send others directly to voicemail. The company offers a free trial of its product and 30-day money back guarantee when you purchase an account. Visit RingCentral’s website today for details.
Here is more about call routing types and ways to use them.
Call Routing to Individuals
Routing calls directly to individual employees or sales agents benefits customers and workers alike. Callers reach the person they want to speak to with a minimum of fuss and transfers from desk to desk. Employees know most calls they answer are meant for them specifically, reducing workflow interruptions for unnecessary calls.
Specific Extension Routing
VoIP business phone systems like Nextiva and Grasshopper allow admins to assign unique extensions numbers to individual phones, desks, and offices. An auto-attendant greets the caller and prompts them to enter the desired extension on their keypad, routing the caller directly to the person they’re trying to reach.
Find Me/Follow Me
Find me/follow me is a call routing bundle that allows callers to reach individual employees no matter where they are geographically and on several phones using a single dial-in number. With find me, users program into the phone systems a list of locations (such as office, cell phone, home phone) where calls should be sequentially routed until the call is answered. Follow me rings all phones simultaneously until someone picks up.
Call forwarding has come a long way since its inception when it was limited to routing all calls to a single number. Modern VoIP phone systems allow users to forward calls to a set of phone numbers to ring simultaneously or sequentially. Workers can also decide how many times the phone should ring before forwarding as well as base forwarding rules on caller ID information, day of the week, or time of day.
When someone is unavailable to answer a phone personally, calls can be routed directly to voicemail so customers can leave a message. Many VoIP phone systems include visual voicemail that displays all messages in a single list so users can prioritize how to return calls. Some VoIP companies also offer voicemail-to-email or voicemail-to-text, which provides a written transcript of the call along with an MP3 attachment of the audio message.
Call Routing to Groups
Group call routing is critical for inbound call management in call centers, tech support departments, and businesses that receive high call traffic. In these instances, callers may not be calling to speak to a specific person, but it’s nevertheless important to route calls to the right agent the first time to maintain customer satisfaction and keep workflows operating smoothly.
Here are some ways to route calls to groups:
Cascading call routing allows admins to prioritize the order in which extensions, departments, or agents receive incoming calls. This can ensure that agents with the highest skills receive calls first or provide a failover that routes calls to the next-best department to catch overflow when specialized agents are busy on other calls.
Skills-based call routing matches callers to the most suitable agent to meet their needs. Using interactive voice response, callers explain why they are calling, and the phone system routes them to the agent with the specialized knowledge to handle the call.
Round-robin call routing distributes inbound calls evenly among agents rather than merely sending the call to the first available agent. The first call goes to the first extension or desk, the second call to the second extension, and so on until all agents have taken a call. Then, the process begins again to ensure a fair and equitable allocation of calls to all agents.
Most-idle call routing monitors call traffic and sends calls to extensions receiving the least amount of calls or to the agents who haven’t taken a call in the longest amount of time. This type of call routing typically includes a failsafe feature that skips to the next agent or extension in the most-idle queue after a few rings in case the employee has stepped away from their desk without logging off the system.
Call Routing by Customer
Some call routing rules can be set up based on individual callers instead of system-wide. These are particularly useful for businesses with nationwide and international customers that call in from outside the company’s local area and outside regular U.S. business hours.
Here are some ways to route calls based on the customer:
Location-based call routing identifies the caller’s geographic location and routes the call to the most appropriate department or local office. This has practical applications for businesses like national insurance companies with local offices across the country where callers may require in-person service. It’s also useful for matching international calls with agents who speak the language of the country where the call originated.
Time-based call routing distributes inbound calls to agents based on what time the call is received. Businesses with a nationwide presence use this option to route calls from one region to another to staff phone lines for longer periods of time with a minimum of agents. Time-based call routing can also be used to distribute calls to specific agents or teams at designated times like scheduled meal breaks or departmental meetings.
Priority Customer Routing
Priority customer routing is used to process certain types of calls or callers ahead of the rest of the queue or to send callers to a live answering service outside of business hours. This type of call routing is often used to accommodate customers who pay extra for 24/7 or concierge customer support and property management companies who may receive emergency calls from tenants.
VIP/Direct Line Routing
VIP or direct line routing is used to provide certain customers with priority access to specific agents or managers. Business owners and solopreneurs can also use this call routing option so valued clients and partners can reach them without going through the usual dial-in channels available to the general public.
Pros & Cons of Call Routing
Call routing can enhance productivity in the office and improve the customer experience for inbound callers. However, call routing may not be right for every business environment. Keep these things in mind when deciding whether to employ call routing in your organization.
Pros of Call Routing
- Call routing may save you money: Answering calls meant for different workers or departments cuts into an employee’s productivity; wasted time can translate into wasted money if employees fall behind in their own work while taking unnecessary calls
- Automatically routing inbound calls improves the customer experience: Allowing callers to quickly access a department or employee without being transferred through multiple people or sitting on hold for a length of time greatly reduces customer frustration and creates a simplifies the calling experience
- Call routing helps call centers distribute calls for maximum effectiveness: Incoming calls can be distributed according to which agents are idle, top performing agents, and a host of other options to maximize the availability and talent of sales teams
- Call routing can replace a paid answering service: By using the call routing feature of an existing VoIP service, businesses can save money by managing incoming calls, routing them to voicemail or a designated phone number for live answering
Cons of Call Routing
- Call routing can present accessibility issues: Voice- and keypad-based routing prompts may present a barrier to callers with disabilities that prevent them from responding
- Some customers prefer a person answer their call: While routing calls via voice and keypad prompts streamlines the inbound calling process, some customers prefer a person answer their call instead of a pre-recorded greeting
- Automated call routing needs a manual backup plan: Once you set up call routing rules, it’s important to have a plan to answer and route calls manually in case of feature failure
- Call routing rules require maintenance and updating: Although call routing tools run quietly in the background of a VoIP business phone system, they require routine manual checks to make sure everything functioning smoothly and that phone numbers and extensions are up-to-date following staffing changes
Call routing, a feature of VoIP business phone service, is beneficial for both customers and employees. Options like time-based routing increase the likelihood that a customer’s call will be answered even if they’re in a different time zone than the agent taking the call, while round-robin routing ensures calls are equitably distributed among teams. Find me/follow me call routing means business owners and solopreneurs don’t have to worry about missed calls.
Business owners looking for a highly-ranked VoIP business phone service with call routing, interactive voice response, unlimited domestic calling, and unlimited video and voice conferencing should give RingCentral a try. The company offers an online demo and a 15-day, no-obligation trial. Try RingCentral free today.