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Telephone System Call Routing

There are many features in a business telephone system that are important to the daily functions of an office. Some features are so simple that they come as standard in any type of system. There are other features, however, that were once deemed to be useless that are now considered a must-have. One of those features is Call Routing.

What is Call Routing?

The simplest definition of call routing is it is a feature that allows a client (or calling party) to call one number and be connected to any phone within the business telephone system. The most basic type of call routing is simply forwarding the call to the next available user should the number dialled be busy.

Today, Intelligent Call Routing is the norm. These are higher call routing capabilities that are more advanced than standard routing features offered in basic telephone systems. ICR forwards the call based on a specific set of instructions. These instructions define how the call should be handled so that the call is routed to the right person at the right time.

Importance of Intelligent Call Routing

A contact center handles a variety of call types daily and each of them needs a special skill. Before ICR, agents with multiple skills were manually assigned to different call queues at different times of the day to make the best use of their skills. This system is inefficient. ICR changed that and solved the problem of inefficiency by automatically routing calls to the right agents at the right time wherever the agents are. This improves customer service by directing the calls to the agents who can best answer the client’s questions at the right time. It can also improve cost performance by improving productivity and agent utilization.

Types of ICR

  • Time-based Routing – route calls by time of day, day of the week or day of year
  • Rules-Based – by percent allocation, caller or called number, destination priority, caller phone type
  • Area-Based – by area code, area and exchange codes, zip code
  • Skills-Based – by call type and agent skills
  • Menu or Database-Driven – by IVR menu selection or caller entered data

Users can combine these instruction types to form a customized routing instruction that will define how calls are to be handled. This will result to the best customer service the center can give. This will also enable the agent to operate at optimum efficiency.


Direct Routing 

This is the standard model of organisations that need a basic approach to customer service. This strategy just connects customer calls to the right department. If the department’s number is busy, the customer waits. For service, the client can call a different number and the call will always be connected to the first person on the list. If it is busy, then the call goes to the next person.

Least Idle

This is a slightly more sophisticated strategy than the above. Calls are placed with the person or staff who has been waiting for a call the longest.

Least Occupied Routing

With this strategy, the call is sent to the person who has been least utilised throughout the day.


This type prevents long wait times for service calls. You can match the highest skilled agent to the caller. For multi-skilled agents, they can be assigned different skill with their corresponding levels. This system makes sure that all your resources are utilised efficiently and you improve your customers’ experience.

Business Rules

You need to have your routing engines and ACD in place before you can configure your call routing strategy to support a specific business objective. Your callers can have the option of speaking to the last agent they spoke to the last time they called. VIP customers can be routed to a special premier group. Customers who are closing their accounts can also be routed to another group.


This strategy uses a combination of customer ID and other information to determine where to send the call. This introduces a revenue-based element into the system. This kind recognizes potential problems or lost sales from a calling client. To avoid potential revenue lost, the call is immediately transferred to a team that will ensure that the customer stays with them. Another way of utilising this strategy is for upselling.

Data-Directed Routing

This is another intelligent type of routing. The call is forwarded according to the caller’s current status. If he is a delinquent client with an overdue bill, his call will be flagged and be routed to the collections department first before sending him to his original destination.

This is a powerful business solution that opens up a lot of opportunities.


With this kind of setup, employees can connect to their clients immediately to update them the status of their accounts. This is very useful in finance institutions. Agents can send their clients a text message as soon as their loan is approved.


With today’s technology, it is now possible to send calls to a number of different devices. Calls and messages should be able to reach clients whether they are calling or e-mailing from a specific device (i.e. smartphone). On top of a great voice service, Web, SMS, IVR, speech and email channels are also important. Clients contact vendors through different channels so companies must be able to adapt quickly. They must be able to support these channels so that they won’t lose customers.

End Notes

Call centers usually require these call routing features and strategies. If you are a business owner, you should study how call routing can affect and improve your performance as a company. Growing businesses are sure to need this feature so when shopping for a business telephone system, inquire about its call routing features. Ask the vendor if it comes standard in the package or if you need to pay extra. You should also ask if this feature can be added in the future when you need it or if you need to get a whole new system. Upgrading is always cheaper than changing your whole infrastructure. You should also inquire about support in case something goes wrong. Training is also another area of concern. Will they train your staff for free or do you need to pay for that service? These are just some of the points you need to consider when talking to a supplier.

Author: Yazz

Yazz is a trained telecommunications engineer with a diploma in telecommunications. He has spent the last 15 years working for Telefonica, one of the largest telephone operators and mobile network providers in the world.