Call Routing

Call routing is a feature often found in business and call center phone systems that automatically directs customer calls to a specific agent or department based on a set of prearranged rules. It’s an alternative to manually putting callers on hold while finding someone qualified to resolve their concerns.
Call routing is also known as an automatic call distribution (ACD) system.

How Call Routing Works

There are three main steps in the call routing process.

1. Caller Input/Qualifying Phase

In the first step, customers reach a tool called the interactive voice response or IVR system. This provides a set of menu options or pre-recorded questions that callers may answer verbally or by pressing a certain number.

For instance, an internet service provider might instruct the customer to “Press 3 for technical support” or “Press 5 for subscription or billing concerns”.

2. Call QueuingCall center agent

The routing system places the calls into queues using the callers’ inputs and based on rules you’ve already set. For example, billing inquiries will go to the “Billing and Subscriptions” queue, while troubleshooting concerns go to the “Technical Support” queue.

3. Call Distribution

After placing calls into designated queues, the call routing system distributes them to your employees. Again, how these calls get distributed depends on the rules you’ve set, such as routing callers to agents that specialize in account inquiries or warranties.

Common Types of Call Routing Methods

There are several ways that you can have your inbound calls distributed to call agents. The following are some of the more common methods.


In skill-based call routing, the call distribution system hands the callers over to agents with the appropriate skills for resolving their concerns.

Suppose that a caller wants to request a quote for a product or service. They would likely get directed to an agent assigned to Sales, not Customer Complaints.


Round-robin call routing distributes inbound calls equally among call agents. To illustrate, let’s say four agents are ready to handle calls. Once Agent #1 receives a call, the next one goes to Agent #2, then to Agent #3, and so forth.

This balanced method stops one agent from constantly getting all the calls, which combats burnout.

Most Idle

Also referred to as least-occupied routing, idle call routing directs the inbound caller to the call agent with the fewest calls for the day. They may also get assigned to the agent that has spent the least time on each call.

Much like the round-robin method, idle routing also prevents agents from getting overworked.


Location-based or geo-routing distributes phone calls based on the caller’s location. Let’s say the customer is calling from California. The routing system will track their area code and bring them to the call agents assigned to their area.

Geo-routing is a viable method for businesses serving multiple locations throughout the country or even worldwide. It can help prevent customer support availability issues caused by time zone differences.

Advantages of Having a Call Routing System

Setting up a call routing system for your business brings several benefits.

Reduces Customer Wait TimeCustomer waiting for help

Call routing can reduce the amount of time customers have to wait for the team to cater to them. And as mentioned earlier, routing can also prevent instances where the caller gets put on hold by an agent to find someone more equipped to handle their issue. It reduces the number of abandoned calls caused by waiting too long.

Resolves Calls Faster

Depending on your routing method, you can direct callers to the best agents for handling their concerns. This reduces the time it takes to fix a problem and resolve it in just one call.

Improves Customer Experience

By handling calls efficiently, callers have a better customer service experience. This can boost loyalty and build your brand’s reputation.

Boosts Agent Productivity

Call routing improves call agents’ performance by:

  • Letting them resolve issues in areas they specialize in
  • Optimizing their time handling calls
  • Ensuring a balanced workload among team members

Allowing agents to be more effective without overworking improves the call center’s overall performance.

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