Imagine this: A prospective customer calls your business; the call gets routed directly to a skilled agent, and the prospect receives help immediately. That is perfect, right? Basically, call routing eliminates your client’s pain points of waiting on hold for relatively long periods and being transferred multiple times before they get assistance.

With effective call routing, your customers can quickly take care of their business and focus on other things. Furthermore, it creates a good call center experience that keeps your customers happy.

While high call volume is a good problem, it can easily overwhelm your call center agents if you don’t find a way to manage it effectively. The last thing you want is for your call center agents to feel under pressure while serving your customers.

Agents may feel inclined to rush through business calls and not serve your clients well. There is also the risk that high stress and undue pressure will affect their morale and attitude.

So, what is call routing, and how can it help you solve these issues? Read on to find out everything you need to know.

What Is Call Routing?

Call routing is the process of assigning inbound business calls to the most suitable call center agent. The system used to route calls is known as an automatic call distributor or ACD.

When a customer calls your business, the ACD receives the call and queues it. An available agent is then connected to the caller based on certain criteria such as availability, agent skill set, and the caller’s location.

How Does Call Routing Work?

Call routing basically works by using the data provided by individuals calling your business to assign the call to the most appropriate representative. The entire journey starts when the caller interacts with your IVR system.

There are three phases to the call routing process. The first phase is caller input, where callers use their voice or dial pad to respond to pre-recorded questions or select specific call menu options.

For instance, the IVR system may instruct the caller to dial 1 for sales, 2 for customer service or 3 for billing. The caller’s input is then used to route the call to the right department or individual.

call center agents

The second phase of call routing is call queuing. During this phase, your business phone system uses automatic call distributors to place incoming calls into the correct queues based on the IVR responses received.

These calls then wait in the queue until they are ready to enter the final call routing phase, which is call distribution. During call distribution, the call is connected to a particular agent based on criteria such as arrival order, skill set, etc.

For instance, if a caller uses the IVR system to dial 1 for sales, their call will be routed to the first available sales agent in the queue.

As you can see from this example, proper call routing requires accurate data and intelligent call distribution. That is why an ACD system is critical to the entire process.

What Is the Difference Between Call Routing Services and Call Routing Software?

While call routing services and call routing software may sound similar, they are actually two different things.

Generally, call routing services are part of your business phone system. These services are primarily available in SaaS programs, and most of them are cloud-based phone systems providing routing and robust voice calling features combined with a subscription-based software service.

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These services offer much more than what your traditional phone system provides.

In contrast, cloud-based phone service providers rely on call routing software to provide voice over internet protocol (VoIP) calls. In simple terms, calls are automatically transferred over the internet.

What Are the Different Types of Call Routing?

Call routing can occur in many different ways. Typically, different call routing strategies will suit different business needs. To know the best call routing strategy for your business, be sure to talk to your business phone system provider.

Here are some of the common types of call routing rules you should consider:

1. Skill-based Routing

Skill-based call routing uses the information the caller provides the IVR system with to connect them to call center agents with specific skill sets. This is an effective way of matching the caller’s needs with the available skills in your business.

For instance, if a caller has a question about an unfamiliar charge on their account, they will be connected to the billing department instead of the HR personnel.

Skill-based routing can also be utilized in a typical sales environment by sending a prospect who clicks on an ad before calling to an agent with the greatest knowledge of that particular service or product.

2. Geographic Routing

Geographic routing assigns customer calls to the nearest agent to improve geographically dispersed customers’ response times and service quality. Geographic routing can also be used to route calls based on different time zones or languages spoken.

geograpghic based call routing

For instance, if you have a customer in New York and an agent in Los Angeles, the geographic routing system will direct the call to the New York-based agent.

Similarly, if you want all calls from France to be routed to agents who speak French, geographic routing can also help with that.

3. Time-Based Routing

Time-based routing is closely related to geographic routing, but it mainly routes calls based on the call center agent’s time zone and business hours.

This type of call routing is popular with geographically diverse contact centers since it ensures that your agents won’t receive calls outside of their work hours.

4. Caller ID Routing

Caller ID routing is a type of call routing that uses the caller’s phone number to route calls. This information can be used to connect VIP callers to specific agents or route repeat callers to the same agent they spoke with before.

Caller ID routing

For instance, if you have a client that you have serviced in the past, Caller ID routing will direct their call to the same agent they spoke with before. You can also route calls from your most important clients to VIP agents or departments.

5. Static Routing

Static routing simply routes calls based on pre-set conditions. While this is less flexible than other forms of call routing, it can be an effective tool for businesses with a small number of call routing options.

For instance, if you only want calls to go to your sales department during working hours, static routing is the way to go.

6. Round-Robin Routing

The round-robin call routing strategy evenly distributes inbound calls among your call center agents.

It is often used in situations where you have an even number of agents, such as two or four, but can also be utilized with uneven groups by connecting the outliers to a group of their own.

round robin call routing

Let us assume agents B, C, and D are all available to answer customer calls. The first call that comes through will be routed to agent B, then the next call will be routed to agent C and then agent D.

This strategy prevents agent B from being the first in line to receive every customer call that comes through.

7. Least Occupied Routing Strategy

Least occupied routing is also referred to as idle routing. It automatically connects an incoming customer call to the contact center agent with the least number of calls in the queue.

For instance, if agent A has ten calls waiting and agents B, C and D have six, seven and nine calls, respectively, the least occupied routing system will connect the next customer call to agent C.

Calls may also be routed automatically to the call center with the lowest talk/call time that specific day.

What Are the Benefits of Call Routing?

There are many benefits of call routing for businesses, including:

  • Improved customer satisfaction
  • Reduced hold times and call abandonment rates
  • Improved response times
  • Fewer voicemails and missed calls
  • Faster resolution
  • More balanced employee workload
  • Better customer self-service
  • 24/7 communication
  • Custom greetings and menu options
  • Potential for increased sales revenue
  • Better customer self-service


Call routing is an essential part of any call center operation. By understanding what call routing is and how it works, you can ensure that your customers are always connected with the right agent.

In addition to providing a general overview of call routing, this article has also highlighted the different types of call routing and their benefits.

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