September 14, 2023
Technology Solution Delivery

Benefits and Best Practices for Call Routing

You’re at a grocery store and there are three cashiers to choose from. You only have a couple of items and want to get through as quickly as possible and must make your choice which line is best. You size up each cashier and see the below:

  • Line 1 has two customers with big carts each full of food items needing to be checked out
  • Line 2 has one customer with a bag of change that looks like it needs to be counted to pay
  • Line 3 has one customer with just a bag of bananas to check-out

You’ve deemed line 3 as the best choice and make your way there to be checked out. But wait, 15 minutes goes by and you’re still in the exact same spot and notice line 1 and 2 move faster and you could have been done by now! You did not anticipate line 3 had a customer with a multitude of coupon questions to the cashier and are forced to wait until this interaction is over.

This example can be thought of as an analogy to call routing. Putting customers in front of agents that are best able to assist them is the goal of call routing. The grocery store example above can be thought of as a bad call routing strategy! Putting a customer in line to an agent that has the least number of customers waiting may not always be an efficient strategy based on other factors (I.e., how many coupons does one customer have?). This poor strategic decision may cause customer dissatisfaction, which can have a direct monetary impact to your business. Frustrated customers are likely to take their business somewhere else, which has a high likelihood of impacting your bottom line. Developing a call routing strategy that is closely aligned to your business model is a critical component of customer satisfaction and retained business. As we saw above, determining what that strategy looks like may not always be easy. In this blog, we will cover the components that make a good call routing strategy and why this is critical to the success of your organization!

What is a Call Routing Strategy? 

First off you may be thinking, what is a call routing strategy and why should I care? Thinking of the grocery line example, the customer was in charge of selecting their chosen path. To give a customer the most efficient experience, a company should take ownership of the customer’s path to connect them to the best call center agent to service them. That is the core of an intelligent call routing strategy: understanding the unique business needs to determine how to get customers to the best-equipped agent for the customer’s specific needs.

This is important as accurate and fast call routing plays a significant role in customer acquisition and retention. One study reported that 90% of customers believe that customer service is important in the choice of brand, and 58% said they will sever a relationship with a business due to poor customer service (Market Study). Yet customer service satisfaction rates remain poor; 66% report experiencing long hold times, 51% say they are prompted to answer repetitive questions, 50% say they struggle to reach a live agent, and 40% say they have difficulty authenticating (CCW: 2023 June Market Study).

Considering that for many customers, calling customer service is the only experience they will have of interacting with a representative of the business they choose to buy from, it is crucial that contact centers route callers correctly and efficiently. This is achievable with a routing architecture and call routing strategy that is tailored to the unique needs of the business. To implement this call routing strategy, a company would need to create a set of rules which will assign a customer to an agent based off those rules. These rules can take many forms and only by understanding the nature of the business can you determine the best call strategy for your organization.

What are the types of call routing? 

What are these “rules” a company would make? Again, let’s take it back to the grocery store example. Line 1 had the longest line based on having two customers. If a company’s “rule” was to assign customers to an individual agent’s queue just based off the number of customers waiting, this would be inefficient. This is because there’s no way to predict how long a customer might take based on questions they have, quickness of their speech, etc. (Unless you have predictive AI and IVR which we will detail more below). This is why the rules are a bit more complex in nature. There are several types of call routing strategies, each with different strengths and weaknesses. Some of the most popular call routing strategies are:

Next Available Agent

This can be thought of as the simplest type of call routing. This points the call to the next agent who is sitting idle, regardless of why the customer called or who the customer is. Imagine the customer at the grocery store does NOT have to choose which line to go through, and instead waits in a singular line and is directed to either cashier 1, 2, 3 whenever the next one is ready.

This strategy is best for small organizations with a low number of customers and a simple business model. In this approach, all agents should be skilled to assist with any kind of customer complaint or question. The more complex a business model is, the less likely it will be to adequately train each agent on all potential customer questions or complaints.

Skill or Data-Based Routing

Now imagine the customer at the grocery store has a unique coupon to use. If the customer got to a cashier that did not know how to handle that particular coupon it could make for an unpleasant experience with the cashier needing to call another employee over to help figure it out. Sending this customer to the cashier with the most experience using coupons could make their experience quicker and more enjoyable.

Understanding a customer’s need ahead of time to determine the best agent to take the customer’s call is what call routing strategies can help with. This can be done by analyzing a customer’s profile and/or their reason for contacting the business.

This strategy can take many forms, but at its core revolves around segmenting customers based on their unique account data or call intent. Examples of data-based routing strategies include:

  • Regional: Callers are routed to an agent group staffed to handle the region of the US the caller resides in
  • Propensity Routing: Callers are routed to an agent based on their propensity to repeat an action (I.e., cancelling their service)
  • Sales Opportunity Routing: Callers are routed to an agent based on their ability to add or upgrade their service

This strategy is effective for complex businesses with multiple business units. This allows organizations with many customers or product lines to be segmented to specific agents based on their unique attributes and reason for calling. If the business receives many calls a day that are segmented into different reasons for call (I.e., payments, tech support, cancelling service), it would be beneficial for the organization to train different agent groups on each call type to ensure customers get their questions answered effectively. This allows each agent to learn more about their specific business unit, rather than needing to know a little about each specific issue. As a result, callers relate to agents who have a deep knowledge of their issue, increasing the likelihood of customer satisfaction.

Time of Day

Directing customers to agent groups based on the time of their call. In this scenario, the customer is at the grocery store but has arrived right before closing time. This customer only needs one item tonight; everything else is not essential. Imagine if, rather than sending this customer home, we allowed them to purchase essentials only 24 hours a day.

This strategy is one that can be leveraged as a supplement to other call routing strategies. Once the standard strategy has been implemented, time of day routing could be explored if the business finds patterns across call types at different times of the day or week. Time of day routing allows the business to build routing unique to the date and time of the call. This is helpful if certain patterns appear based on call time. For example, if the business finds 90% of after business hours calls are for technical issues, time of day routing could be set up to only direct calls to tech support agents once business closes. This allows customers to be supported, without requiring the business to staff all their agents 24 hours a day.

Priority Routing

Routing high-value or important customers to the best agents possible. The customer at the grocery store is a celebrity! This is a high-visibility customer who tends to spend more on each purchase and would be a great marketing tool if the customer chose to promote their local grocery store. Instead of letting this high-profile individual land with whatever cashier is ready next, Priority routing would take this customer out of the line and send them directly to a manager for assistance. This ensures this customer is given the absolute best treatment the first time, hopefully contributing to future business.

This strategy is beneficial for organizations whose portfolio is built up of high value, repeat consumers. If the organization relies heavily on repeat business and knows certain individuals are big contributors to their revenue, it is within the best interest of the business to isolate these customers to specialized groups to ensure the most critical customers are retained.

AI Predictive Routing

Routing customers by predictive models that anticipate the customer’s next move. Instead of bagging the customers groceries as they come down the conveyor belt, the cashier starts separating frozen food from non-perishable food because they know 4 out of 5 times the customer has visited the store, the customer has requested this separation be done.

This strategy is best for callers who interact with the contact center on a repeatable basis. AI based routing analyzes historical data on a particular customer to understand their most likely next move. As an example, if the customer calls the contact center every month on the 1st to pay their bill, predictive AI based routing would send them directly to an agent who can support their payment the next time they call in on the 1st of the month, rather than making the customer explain their needs in detail. This helps customers achieve their desired goals in a more efficient way.

Now that we understand what routing strategy may be most appropriate for your type of organization, what’s next?

Why is call routing architecture relevant? 

When you build a grocery store checkout system for customers, you need the cash registers, conveyor belts, food scanners, etc. This is all the same theme for building a call routing system. You’ll need to choose a call routing system platform that can meet your company’s needs, build skills to agents based on your strategy, and build out routing logic that allows customers to reach the correct agent. Once a call strategy has been determined, it is critical to ensure the technical infrastructure is built to support the strategy. If the grocery store has decided to implement a “next available agent” strategy but is forcing customers to move into multiple check-out lines, the strategy would not be effectively implemented. Rather than customers going to the next available agent, they would be forced to wait for the cashier attached to the line they chose.

Routing architecture allows a business to build out their routing logic in a way that best achieves the defined strategy. Without a set of strongly architected agent routing rules, the strategy may not be realized. Let’s take another example: an electricity provider decides to use a skill-based routing strategy and wants to ensure all billing intents make it to a billing agent and all technical support intents make it to a technical support agent. The routing logic, however, never leverages a customer’s intent to determine the correct agent. This would cause calls to misroute to the incorrect agent groups and would increase customer dissatisfaction and transfers between departments. If the routing was architected in such a way that only certain intents could reach certain agents, the routing strategy would be realized and help prevent mis-directed calls.

It’s also important to really think about your company goals when choosing a vendor. Are you trying to have customers get their questions through an IVR system and not talk to an agent? (low touch). Or are you trying to have a customer connect to an agent every time to get a real human experience? (high touch).

How do I use call routing and reporting for decision-making? 

Once your routing strategy and architecture is implemented, you might ask yourself, how do I know my strategy is the right strategy? Are my decisions sound? That’s where call routing reporting can come in handy.

Let’s start with an example to showcase – imagine you are a retail store that has a several phone options for customers where they can connect to the following skilled agents:

  • Press 1 for Store hours
  • Press 2 for product availability
  • Press 3 to pay your bill

You pull the prior year’s report and discover there are 150% more customers being routed to agents that are skilled to answer the “pay your bill” questions (meaning the agent is set up to take payments over the phone) in Spring year over year. This increase is directly correlated to an increase in customer wait time, which is starting to upset your customers. You deduce this is due to tax return season and a lot of customers with extra cash in hand are making more telephone calls during this time frame to pay off their bill. You also deduce that your agents are super slammed during this time frame! You’re now able to decide to hire more agents to take payments over the phone during this busy season in order to create the most optimal customer experience.

Reporting is also useful to understand if the technical architecture behind your agent routing is working effectively. Using the same example above, you pull a report of routing metrics and discover one agent group has stopped taking traffic in its entirety on a particular date. You know this was not in the strategic plan and wonder why this occurred. Using your report, you can see specific examples where a technology failure happened in the back end. This allows you to quickly pull together a team to investigate. This team identifies an issue in the code itself that was unintentionally introduced. Without reporting, this issue could have persisted, but because it was quickly identifiable in your report, you are able to quickly implement a code fix to resolve the issue.

Without solid reporting procedures in place, it can be difficult to understand the impact of your call routing strategy and ensure its success in the long term. Reporting capabilities can also be leveraged to continually enhance your routing strategy as your organization changes and matures.

Having a bad customer experience when they dial your company’s phone number can make their first impression of your company a negative one in the long run. Knowing your customer base and implementing strategic call routing rules can make the customer experience better, therefore returning customers and an ROI for your company – hooray!

How Kenway Can Help with A Call Routing Strategy

Developing a call routing strategy is not always an easy task. There are many different routing tactics that can be explored to best suit your organization’s needs. Call routing is not a one size fits all approach. Kenway has more than 15 years of experience helping organizations architect, build, tailor, and enhance their call routing strategies for optimized performance.

Want to learn more about how Kenway and our Contact Center Solutions experts can help? Connect with us at


1. Why is call routing architecture relevant?

Accurate and quick call routing directly correlates with customer satisfaction and retention. A call routing architecture helps businesses effectively implement a call routing strategy that helps customers get to the best agent to assist them as quickly as possible.

2. What are call routing strategies?

A call routing strategy is a detailed plan for how customers should be segmented and routed to agents who can assist them. There are multiple kinds of call routing strategies, each with their own benefits. Organizations need to develop a good understanding of their customer base to determine what call routing strategy/strategies will work best for their needs.

3. How do I use call routing and reporting for decision-making?

In order to determine the success of a particular call routing strategy, it is critical to build reporting to track progress over time. This helps businesses determine where there are gaps or inefficiencies in their call routing that may be contributing to increased customer complaints or call transfers. Leveraging this reporting allows businesses to understand where their call routing strategy can be tailored or enhanced to provide customers with the best service possible.

4. What are the types of call routing?

Call routing can take many forms. A few popular call routing strategies are next available agent, priority routing, time of day routing, data driven routing, or AI predictive routing.

5. Why is call routing important?

Call routing ensures customers who contact your business can get to an agent who can assist them with their questions. Without effective call routing, customers are likely to become frustrated due to long wait times, transfers between agents, and ineffective issue resolution. Developing a strong call routing strategy can help improve customer satisfaction and increase future or retained business.

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