A hunt group is a lesser-known aspect of telephony, but they can be very useful in ensuring that calls are answered rapidly. This feature is just one of the many available through modern VoIP systems, and many businesses will need a variety of setups for their staff, not just a hunt group.
What Is a Hunt Group?
A hunt group distributes a single inbound number to all the phone numbers in a group. This means that if you ring sales, for example, it will be answered by one of the sales team. With a great cloud-based system that offers advanced call routing such as Wildix, that sales team member can be anywhere.
Calls are distributed through one of several different prioritization methods:
- Call all
- Round robin
- Longest idle
- Fewest calls
- Skills based
Different companies have different names for many of these systems — and they may call a hunt group a call group, queue prioritization or a ring group. Many contact centers, including Wildix, have these features.
How Is a Hunt Group Possible?
Hunt groups are possible thanks to automated call distribution through VoIP. Essentially, the call routing software can decide how to distribute the call, and that requires some level of processing ability to calculate the variables involved. In many cases, the use of call routing requires a few lines of code, set up by the MSP installing the system.
One of the biggest benefits of modern phone systems is that call routing software is widely used, so if you have a cloud-based communications system, you should be able to create hunt groups in it, although you may need a slightly different license.
Types of Hunt Group
At its simplest, a hunt group can be a simple ring group (call all), where all the phones in a group ring when the call comes in. This has the effect of alerting all relevant parties that a call is inbound. For a company where it’s essential that a call is simply answered rapidly — especially those dealing with sales or catastrophic tech support — it’s an effective solution.
However, there’s no real prioritization here, and it can mean that some people answer far more calls than others. It reduces accountability and fairness — if you have a business that uses commission-based pay, there’s an incentive to answer as many calls as possible as quickly as possible. If you don’t, there’s no incentive to answer at all!
The next possibility is the round robin strategy. In this case, inbound calls will always be distributed evenly across agents. Let’s say you have six calls coming in and four agents:
This is ideal for a sales team where commission-based sales can have a significant impact on pay. In theory, it also means that the team should have an equal load, although this depends significantly on the nature of the business. Intelligent call routing in the Wildix dialplan makes this easy to set up, fortunately.
The longest idle strategy simply means that whoever has been waiting for a call the longest gets the call routed to them. It is designed to make the best use of resources, especially when call length can be highly variable. This form of automatic call routing relies on agents accurately stating when they’re available, though, typically through changing their status. Otherwise, a caller might go to voicemail when instead they could’ve been directed to an available agent.
This hunt group prioritizes those with the fewest calls that day. For a high-volume call center, this option may not be suitable, especially for those who routinely handle more complex queries. However, for moderate volume call centers that emphasize sales, it can be an effective way to distribute calls. This strategy has some drawbacks, particularly for call centers that have people starting at different times.
The fewest call feature may use a second method to prioritize those with the same number of calls. This is typically either a round robin or a longest idle strategy.
A linear call strategy is very simple: It calls the first listed phone first. If it doesn’t get through, it works its way down the list. This is ideal for phones where the most relevant person is contacted first, especially in an emergency.
Some modern systems can even handle skills-based routing, which is ideal when you know whether a caller wants help or information about a specific topic. The logic is that the caller builds up “points” through either their phone menu choices or through their IVR query, and the type of points in selected categories are matched up with the appropriate agent.
|My phone doesn’t work
|Vague, needs additional info
|Route to level one tech support
|L1 tech support
|I haven’t paid and my phone isn’t working
|Billing issue, likely needs escalating
|Offer automated billing section with payment supervisor as a second choice
|Automated bill payment system
|My phone is very hot to the touch and is making strange noises
|Tech issue, serious
|Route to level two tech support with crisis handling training
|L2 tech support
However, this can be complex to set up, and it’s not for everyone. For most systems, a standard hunt group is all that’s needed.
Choosing the Right Hunt Group For Your Needs
Any form of automatic call routing is going to require a lot of thought, and it depends on whether your current solution can handle it. Many older on-premise systems typically struggle to manage even basic call routing, making it difficult to program a hunt group that meets your needs.
If your phone system can handle it, you need to decide which option is most likely to be successful for your business model and what would incentivize your colleagues to perform at their best. For fairness, you might consider a round robin strategy to handle your sales team and a fewest calls one for your tech support.
In addition, you also need to consider other aspects of the phone system, such as reporting, recording, call forwarding and ease of voicemail use.
ACD stats are also crucial, as you’ll need to manage your teams carefully. These can give you live stats on a variety of features, including idle time, resolution time and so on. Again, if your phone system doesn’t have these stats and you’re running even a simple call center, you need them.
Future Trends and Innovations
Overall, future trends for hunt groups are going to involve much more intelligent call routing. As AI makes it easier to handle complex queries, it can start to be much more involved in the routing process, helping get customers to the right person more quickly. Skills-based call routing is therefore going to be the norm in the near future, especially as costs get even lower.
There will still be a market for simple hunt groups, fortunately. For many smaller businesses, there’s no need for a hunt group, and even for larger ones hunt groups are only needed for some units. A round robin strategy is often more than enough for many, resulting in efficient responses.
Where there will be change is in how call centers are managed. The use of AI will become much more ubiquitous, and it will help identify caller sentiment and help train staff members. As a result, they’ll be able to work much more efficiently and deliver more targeted responses. Even if AI isn’t used to route calls, it’ll be used extensively to manage sales, tech and customer service teams.
If you’re interested in learning more about call center features, check out our blog post on WebRTC call center solutions.
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