What is Call Routing? [How it Works & Why]

Do you know what call routing is? In this article, you learn what it is, how it works, and why your business needs it.

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Starting a business requires you to take many steps to become successful. For example, you'll create a business plan to be your road map or take out a loan to help get started.

However, one thing you may not think about until it's too late is how you'll ensure clients reach the correct department of your business. Initially, you may not believe this is a problem. Still, once your business is up and running, it becomes evident you will need a solution, especially if you have multiple departments.

The best way to fix this problem is to set up call routing for your business. But, what is call routing, and how can it ensure your business is successful? Keep reading to learn how call routing works and why you may need this as a business owner.

Related: Phone Systems Should Not Create a Negative Customer Experience

Call Routing: What Is It?

Call routing is an automatic system that answers inbound calls and directs them to someone's extension or whichever department you set it up to go to. Call routing, often referred to as automatic call distribution (ACD), can be used by itself or in conjunction with an interactive voice response (IVR) to efficiently direct calls for a business.

For example, you call your doctor’s office to set-up an appointment when you have an illness. But, before you speak to someone, you hear an automated system give you options to help you reach the person you need to talk to about your medical issue. 

The system will give you options such as press 1 to talk to a receptionist, press 2 to discuss a current prescription, or press 3 for an emergency. Once the phone system gives you the options, you may press 1 to talk to a receptionist. Depending on how bad your medical issue is, you may even decide to press 3 to let them know the urgency of the matter. By doing this, the caller can avoid waiting on hold and quickly reach the person with whom they need to speak. The fact that the caller can be assisted with their request by the person taking the call without having to transfer the call helps the medical practice as well.

Another call routing application can be:

Based on the time of day, a company can experience a spike in calls at 1pm. To guarantee that the more callers are answered without experiencing longer wait times, more extensions can be added to a ring group.  Secondly, based on the day of the week, for example on Tuesdays, someone in the sales department will be working from another office. So that the sales professional doesn't have to provide a customer a different number to call, calls can automatically adjust and include a second remote extension. Thirdly, based on the caller's phone number, when placing a marketing ad in a new magazine, you can use a specific phone number so you can track the number of calls the ad brought in. Additionally, you can direct calls to that number to ring to a specific extension or set of extensions.

Call routing allows customers (or patients) to quickly get to the correct department to help them solve their issues efficiently. This will prevent them from dialing separate numbers or struggling to reach the right department within your business. As a result, call routing helps your team be more effective and efficient by eliminating frustration, hold times, and call transfers because when their phone rings, it's a call that is for them. This way, patients, clients, customers, and callers are automatically directed to quickly get the resolution they need.

What Are the Benefits To Call Routing?

 call routing 

Call routing can benefit all businesses in every industry. It's not just for call centers or medical offices. Even plumbers can benefit from using call routing for their business. Below are some of the benefits call routing provides to business owners:

  • Allow agents to be more productive by allowing them to know what the caller's issues are.
  • Reduce a client, patient, and customer’s hold time.
  • Improve the customer's overall experience with a company.
  • Direct calls to an available team member who can address the caller's needs.

By routing calls, revenue-generation activities are increased, and customer satisfaction is improved. When the right people answer the phone at the right time, calls do not go unanswered. Sending a call to voicemail could be a useful call routing strategy for some applications. For instance, if a business has a billing phone number, calls to that number should go straight to voicemail so that the bookkeeper may focus on other responsibilities without being disturbed. It'll ensure customers can resolve their issues quickly and prevent them from becoming frustrated with the business, or having their call go unanswered so they call another company.

What Is the Process of Call Routing?

When someone calls your business, a cloud-based system will answer and send them to the department you set it as. However, for this to work efficiently, your system must meet specific criteria. Below are some of those criteria:

  • Agent skill: Direct incoming calls to the department team who can solve the customer's issues
  • Auto-attendant selections: Caller's response input at the selection menu
  • Caller ID: Calls can be directed automatically based on the caller id of the caller.
  • Interactive Voice Response (IVR): A caller can voice their concerns instead of pressing numbers, and the system can send them to the right department based on their input.
  • Time of day: Call routes can adjust based on time of day and day of the week. 

As designing and implementing a call routing system can be difficult to do on your own, you may need help from professionals. Discover how Callifi can help you with the call routing process.

Related: Faxing is Still an Effective Business Communication Tool

Are There Various Ways of Routing Calls?

call center

There are many different ways to set up call routing for your business. However, it will depend on your company's needs on how you start routing calls. 

To decide which call routing system is best for you, you should speak to your phone provider to help determine your options. Below are some options for a business to route calls effectively. 


For a regular call routing system, you will need to decide on the specific order a call is handled. For example, you have four agents working in the sales department of your business, and a call comes in. 

However, if the first agent is away for lunch, that call will go to the next agent. If both these agents are unavailable, the call will go to the third agent.


Round-robin call routing allows for calls to be given equally among the agents. For example, if you have four agents within your department, the first call will go to the first agent. 

After that, the next incoming call will go to the second agent. Once the fourth agent receives their call, the system will repeat the order once the first agent has completed their calls.


This option allows the department phones to ring simultaneously, and the first person to answer will take the call. By using this option, the call handling process is expedited, and customers can get their issues resolved quickly. While some business owners may prefer alternative methods, this option is particularly useful when speed is a top priority.


With a uniform call routing system, the call is directed to the most available agent. After accepting a call, the agent is placed at the end of the queue until they have the longest available idle time.

For example, if the department has three agents, and agent three had a phone call 15 minutes ago, but agent one's last call was forty minutes ago, then agent one will receive the call. If agent two is on a phone call at the time, then the next call will go to agent one. 


To enable weighted call routing, the call ratio for each agent must be set at 100%. However, for new employees, the ratio can be adjusted to be lower to help them adjust to the work environment, while agents with high customer satisfaction levels can be given a higher call ratio to ensure customer problems are effectively resolved.

Automated Attendant

An automated attendant is a VoIP feature that provides a virtual receptionist to answer and route incoming calls. It is an efficient and versatile feature that can enhance a business's communication capabilities and improve customer satisfaction. Some of the main features of an automated attendant include:

Interactive Voice Response (IVR) - The automated attendant will greet the caller and provide them with a series of menu options to route the call to the appropriate department or agent.

Customizable greetings - Businesses can record their own greeting message or choose from pre-recorded greetings to provide a more personalized touch to their automated attendant.

Call forwarding - The automated attendant can forward calls to a specific extension, a group of extensions, or to an external number.

Business hours settings - The automated attendant can be programmed to operate during specific business hours or after hours, with customizable options for handling calls outside of business hours.

Multi-language support - The automated attendant can be set up to provide menu options and greetings in multiple languages to accommodate customers who speak different languages.

Call screening - The automated attendant can ask callers to identify themselves or enter an extension number before connecting the call to the agent or department.

Voicemail - If the caller cannot be connected to an agent or chooses to leave a message, the automated attendant can direct the call to a voicemail box for later retrieval.

Related: Does Exceptional Customer Experience Matter to You?

Are You Ready To Set Up Call Routing for Your Business?

Call routing is a crucial tool for managing inbound and outbound calls for businesses of all sizes. By understanding how call routing works and why it's used, you can ensure that your company uses this tool to its full potential.

As designing and implementing a call routing system can be difficult to do on your own, you may need help from professionals. Discover how Callifi can help you with the call routing process.

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