Engage Voice | Intro to inbound routing

The Routing section of the platform deals with the calls that come into your contact center. When there’s an incoming call, the system will route it to a queue and agent based on a set of rules and priorities that you can configure to your needs via the admin interface. 
 
The system uses Automated Call Distribution (ACD) software to send all incoming calls to their destinations simultaneously. You can configure call flows that range from simple (like routing the next call to the next available agent) to complex (like routing calls to agents based on customer concerns and agent skills). 
 
There are several ways to configure your callers’ inbound call flow experience. In many cases, the first step is setting up your IVR(s), which will provide callers with a set of options they can use to provide or receive information, make purchases or decisions, and determine their next interaction. 
 
Once you’ve configured your IVRs, you can begin creating inbound queues. A queue is a virtual ‘line’ where your customers can wait for an agent to take their call. You can configure queues to provide custom waiting experiences for your customers. For example, you can set up custom hold music or recorded information to play for them just before they get routed to an agent. 
 
You can find inbound call routing settings under the Routing menu option in the left-hand navigation bar. Here, you can configure and manage your inbound queues, from routing priorities to queue events, weekly schedules, agent assignments, and more. 

About cloud routing

If you need to route inbound calls to multiple destinations (e.g., if you have several contact centers), you can set up cloud routing profiles that use cloud-based queues to transfer calls to the destination of your choice. Within cloud routing, you can decide call routing options, anything from determining the order in which you’d like calls to be routed to the number of calls each destination receives.
 
Contact your CSM to learn more about cloud routing.

Inbound routing components

Now that we’ve reviewed the basics, let’s talk about how the inbound routing system works and get some perspective on how the different parts fit together. One of the first things you’ll do when setting up the system to route inbound calls is to create an inbound queue group to house your queues.

About inbound queue groups

Inbound queue groups are groups used to organize all of your queues. These groups can be differentiated by group skills, the unique skills that can be used to dedicate specific queues and agents to take specific types of calls. Group skills are created at the queue group level and can be assigned to both a queue (via Queue Events) and to any agents assigned to that queue. 
 
Let’s say, for example, that you have Spanish-speaking customers calling into your contact center and you want to create a dedicated queue for those calls. 
 
You can start by creating a queue group and assigning it a skill: ‘Spanish Speakers.’ Then you can use the Queue Events feature to assign a ‘Spanish Speakers’ skill to the queue you wish to utilize for this purpose. After that, you can assign the ‘Spanish Speaker’ skill to any Spanish-speaking agents you assign to that queue.
 
Let’s review queues next.

About inbound queues

Inbound queues are grouped within queue groups and act as the location to which your incoming calls are routed. As discussed above, inbound queues can be configured to provide specific custom hold experiences for your customers. You can configure queue event settings to indicate the music you want customers to hear while they’re waiting, touch-tone entries they can use to make selections, and more.
 
Additionally, Special ANI numbers — that is, the phone numbers of incoming callers — can be added to a queue if you have customers you wish to give special routing priority to, like, say, your VIP customers. You can also use your queue settings to create schedules (open and close times) for each queue, set up agent dispositions to record call outcomes, and add a DNIS number to see which number a customer used to dial into your contact center. 

Routing and routing priorities

Let’s review how calls are routed to queues and how you can use routing priorities to determine inbound call destinations. 

Routing

The most straightforward way for callers to enter a queue is for them to call the DNIS you’ve assigned to a queue. This can be configured using the DNIS Assignment tab located in a queue’s configuration page.
 
However, in many cases, you may need information from callers to determine in which queue they should be placed. For example, you might need to find out what language they speak or why they are calling. In these cases, you can create an IVR via the IVR menu option in the left nav bar.
 
IVRs can help guide your customers through dynamic routing paths using touch-tone signaling and voice responses. The selections a customer makes while interacting with IVRs will direct the system to route that customer to the queue and agent best suited to their needs. 
 
You can configure your IVRs however you like, from simply directing your customers to press 1 for English or 2 for Spanish, to providing advanced routing options for each department in your company. You can also use IVRs to collect and share information, accept payments, and more.
 
To learn more about IVRs, please check out our Intro to IVR Designer article.
 
Let’s discuss routing priorities next.

Routing priorities

Routing priorities can help determine which queues dequeue calls and which agents receive calls.

Priority groups

You can create routing priority groups to establish an absolute priority ranking between queues. When you assign a higher rank to a queue in a priority group, calls for that queue will always be prioritized over calls from another queue in the same group with a lower rank. However, keep in mind the priority will only apply when the available agent is assigned to more than one queue in the same priority group. The ranking is absolute in the sense that the system will never dequeue calls from a lower-ranked queue as long as the only available agents are still receiving calls from a higher-ranked queue. 
 
Let’s say you own a company that rents storage units and have two queues, one for existing customers and one for prospective customers. If your queue for existing customers stays especially busy, you might be worried that your prospective customers will remain too long in queue and potentially hang up before their calls are answered. In this case, you could create a priority group for these two queues and give the queue for prospective customers a higher priority. 

Priority groups are created and configured via Routing > Priority groups. To learn more about priority groups, read Creating an inbound priority group.

Queue priority

You can also configure a queue priority at the individual queue configuration level. In contrast to absolute priority, queue priority is a weighted priority that only gives preference to a queue. This means that calls in a lower-ranked queue will continue to dequeue, even if there are still calls in the higher-ranked queue. The system will simply dequeue a higher percentage of calls from the higher-ranked queue.
 
Let’s say you run a call center that handles customer service calls based on different kinds of SLAs. You might have one queue that is low priority in terms of how long you can let customers wait but another queue with stringent SLA requirements. In this case, you might want to assign a higher queue priority to the queue with stringent SLA requirements. In doing this, you would ensure that the calls in the higher priority queue are answered more quickly while not completely halting the dequeueing of calls to agents in the lower priority queue.  
 
You can assign queue priority via the General tab in queue configuration. To learn more about configuring a queue priority, read Configuring inbound queue settings.

Skill-based routing

You can determine which agents to prioritize for receiving calls by assigning skills to agents and queues. This might be useful, for example, if you want certain agents to take calls based on a language or product knowledge. 
 
To configure skill-based routing, you first have to configure group skills via the Skills tab in queue group configuration. After doing that, you will then need to assign those skills to agents via the Skill Profiles tab in agent configuration. Lastly, you will need to assign the skills to a queue by creating a queue event via the Queue Events tab in queue configuration.  
 
To learn more about skill-based routing, read Creating an agent skill profile.

Agent rank

Lastly, you can prioritize which agents receive inbound calls by assigning ranks to agents. The platform offers two different ways you can rank agents. 
 
First, you can rank agents via the General tab in agent configuration. This rank applies to agents across all queues they are assigned.
 
Second, you can rank agents within a single queue they are assigned. This can be done via the Inbound Access tab in agent configuration or via the Agent Access tab in queue configuration. If you do not see these options for ranking agents within a queue, you can reach out to your product support team to enable this feature. 
 
Please note: Both ways of ranking establish an absolute priority, meaning that agents with a higher rank will always be prioritized over agents with lower rank.
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