All 7 Types of IVR Routing and When to Use Each One


Interactive Voice Response (IVR) routing is a way to guide your callers to the best-fit agent, department, or service center to answer their questions, solve their queries, and meet their specific needs.

It’s a strategic tool that benefits your callers by reducing their wait times and improving service accuracy. With a well-optimized routing system, they can easily find the department they’re looking for without being transferred from one agent to another.

The end result? Higher customer satisfaction, plus streamlined call management for your business.

There’s only one catch: there are many different types of IVR routing strategies to choose from, and it’s not really a one-size-fits-all thing. 

Each routing type serves a unique purpose and has specific scenarios or businesses that it’s best suited for. And sometimes, you may actually want to use more than one.

We’ll explain the different types of IVR routing and when you should use each below.

1. Time-Based Routing

Time-based routing is exactly what it sounds like. This IVR system directs calls based on the current time of day. 

Does your business need to handle calls during non-business hours or when different shifts are in operation? Time- based routing is particularly effective for these use cases. It allows you to set up predefined rules that automatically forward calls to the right destination depending on what time they’re received.

This routing method also really comes in handy if your business operates across multiple time zones. For example, if your business gets a customer service call after hours in one time zone, it could be routed to an office in a different location where agents are still working.

Similarly, during weekends or holidays, calls can be forwarded to mobile numbers or voicemail. This way, customer inquiries aren’t left unattended.

Time-based routing is a great way to enhance the customer experience by reducing wait times and ensuring concerns are addressed promptly, no matter what time customers call.

2. Skill-Based Routing

Skill-based routing is a fundamental IVR best practice that benefits most types of call centers. It’s all about connecting your callers with the most qualified agent possible. This is especially helpful if a customer has a more technical issue or needs extra guidance that requires the assistance of one of your more experienced agents.

This IVR routing type analyzes a caller’s input or profile, then directs the call to an agent or department with the requisite expertise. 

This method is particularly effective for tech or software businesses, or any company whose calls tend to require specialized knowledge or handling. 

Your tech company might use skill-based routing to direct technical support queries directly to your IT specialists. Meanwhile, you could also route billing-related calls directly to the finance department. 

Since this routing method quickly connects callers to someone with the necessary expertise to help them, it can help resolve their issues more efficiently—meaning higher customer satisfaction levels for your call center.

Skill-based routing can also be programmed with a language component or preference. For example, a caller with a preference for Spanish could be routed to a Spanish-speaking agent, which makes the service more accessible and personalized.

3. Location-Based Routing

In location-based routing, the IVR system utilizes a caller’s geographical location to direct their call to the nearest or most appropriate service center or representative. 

This method is most helpful if your business has multiple regional offices or service areas, as it ensures your callers get localized support tailored to their specific region.

Let’s say you run a retail chain with stores across the country. You can use location-based routing to ensure that your callers are connected to the store that’s closest to them geographically. 

This approach also allows for region-specific information, like local promotions or inventory, to be conveyed accurately. Similarly, if you have a service-based business that’s region-specific, like a utility company, your callers can be automatically connected to local offices for more relevant assistance.

Overall, location-based routing gives callers a more personalized experience while also helping your business manage call volumes more efficiently across different locations.

4. Data-Directed Routing

Data-directed routing leverages your customer’s previous interactions to create a more tailored experience. By accessing customer data like purchase history, account information, or previous service requests, this IVR routing type intelligently directs the call to the most suitable agent or department.

For example, a customer for a SaaS business might frequently contact support for software-related issues. In this case, data-directed routing could help automatically connect them to the tech support team, bypassing general inquiry channels. 

Obviously, this saves time for the caller. It also ensures they’re speaking with an agent who is already familiar with their specific requirements.

This type of routing also comes in handy for prioritizing calls based on customer value or urgency. High-value customers or urgent service requests can be routed to specialized agents or added to priority queues. 

Callers will appreciate data-directed routing, because it personalizes service and reduces the need for them to repeatedly provide the same information over and over again. Like the other types of routing on this list, if you use it right, you’ll see higher satisfaction rates and ultimately greater customer loyalty.

5. Caller ID Routing

Caller ID routing uses a caller’s phone number to determine the best course for the call. This method is best if you need to create a personalized experience for frequent callers or prioritize important clients.

If that’s the case, you might configure your business’ IVR system to recognize phone numbers of VIP customers. When these customers call, the system will route them directly to a dedicated account manager or a priority support team. 

This ensures high-value clients receive immediate and personalized attention, which should keep them happy. 

Beyond that, you could also use caller ID routing to identify and redirect frequent callers to specific departments they regularly interact with, similar to data-directed routing. This will streamline the caller’s journey by reducing the need for repeated navigation through the IVR menu and also help your business manage call traffic more effectively.

In short, this is a good IVR system if you need to offer tailored experience to high value customers and reinforce customer loyalty.

6. Menu Options Routing

This is one of the more familiar types of IVR routing. As the name implies, callers are given a variety of menu options to choose from. Based on their selections, their call is directed to the most appropriate agent or department. 

The nice thing about this method is that it’s highly versatile and can be customized to suit a wide range of service needs. For example, a utility company could use menu options routing to categorize calls into billing, outage reporting, or general inquiries. 

By pressing a corresponding number on their keypad, callers can quickly navigate to the appropriate department without having to speak to an intermediary. This not only speeds up the call handling process but also ensures your callers are connected to the agents best equipped to resolve their specific issues.

Menu options can also be great for improving efficiency. It can be designed to handle high call volumes during peak hours by distributing calls based on the type of inquiry. During a promotional period, for example, a retail business might have a dedicated menu option just for promotional queries, which helps if you’re expecting an increase in these types of calls.

7. Least-Occupied Agent Routing

Struggling with burnout or uneven workload among your agents? Least-occupied agent routing could be the unsung hero you’re looking for. 

With this IVR approach, the system is designed to distribute the call load among available agents evenly. It works by identifying agents who have been idle for the longest time and then directs incoming calls to them, ensuring a more balanced workload and reducing customer wait times.

Most customer service contact centers have multiple agents. With least-occupied agent routing, your system would automatically route new calls to those agents who’ve had the least amount of recent call activity. 

This approach is particularly effective during busy periods, because it ensures all agents are utilized efficiently and reduces the likelihood of any single agent being overwhelmed with calls. Since agent burnout is a major bottleneck for service centers, anything you can do to reduce overwhelm is a major boon to your staffing efficiency over the long haul. 

Least-occupied agent routing can also be combined with other routing strategies, like skill-based routing, to ensure that calls are not only distributed evenly but also directed to the most qualified available agent. This combination will give you the best of both worlds: enhanced operational efficiency and a high level of customer service.

Overall, this is a great option if your business needs to maintain a consistent level of service quality even during peak times. But the benefits don’t stop there: it will also contribute to higher levels of agent satisfaction and lower turnover rates.

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