Toll Free Numbers and Advanced Routing
By Steve Norris
Would you like to have a single phone number represent your entire organization? Whether your organization is regional, statewide, across several states, nationwide or world wide, advanced call routing with Toll Free numbers can give your organization the power and simplicity to operate on a single Toll Free number, even with thousands of locations.
Toll Free numbers have been around since 1967, and from about 1980 on, we’ve had the ability to use advanced routing. As time has passed, the routing has become more sophisticated and easier to manage. Companies now have the ability to choose from a variety of routing options.
- Time-of-Day (TOD) Routing. One of the simplest ways to influence the destination of the call is by using TOD or time-of-day routing. An example of using TOD routing would be a company with a call center on the east coast and a call center on the west coast. TOD routing would enable Follow the Sun routing. The east coast center opens first and calls are sent to that destination earlier in the day. As the time changes across the country, expanded coverage would be offered by the call center in the west. With proper international network connections, this feature can also be used for overseas call centers.
- Day of Year (DOY) Routing or Day of Week (DOW). Depending on the day of the week and business practices, not all call centers operate 24×7. Some centers may be closed for weekends or holidays. DOW routing allows alternate routing for calls that arrive on specific days. DOY routing allows for alternate routing on fixed holidays (example December 25th).
- Exchange or Area Code Routing. Toll-free traffic may also be routed depending upon the location of the calling party. For instance, when a company has call centers in the north and in the south, they may prefer to have their southern callers speak with people in a southern call center. Studies have shown call centers that can mirror their clients more closely have higher success rates as well as higher customer satisfaction. Companies may also wish to take advantage of the difference in interstate rates versus intrastate rates. For example, the cost of a telephone call across multiple states may be less expensive than a call within a state, and as a result, the ability to route a call originating in Michigan to a call center outside of Michigan can save a company substantial amounts of money. This can also be used for companies with several locations. The calls can be geographically routed to the nearest serving office to the originating caller, allowing a single number to serve thousands of locations!
- Percentage Allocation Routing. If a company has several call centers, the company can choose to route calls across a number of call centers on a percentage basis. For example, an online retailer with ten call centers may choose to allocate 10% of all incoming traffic to each center.
- All-Trunks-Busy Routing. If at a given time, a company’s trunk facilities can no longer handle the incoming traffic, an alternate destination may be chosen. This assists companies handling unexpected call volumes or during crisis times. This also protects the company from being over-trunked and wasting money on unneeded circuits.
- Ring No Answer Routing. Some carriers have the ability to pull a call back into the network if the call is not answered. This provides for contingency routing for calls that ring and are not answered at the final destination.
- Emergency or Disaster Routing. Companies usually have a disaster plan to deal with both natural (e.g. floods, fires and earthquakes) and man-made (e.g. bomb threats) emergencies. IXCs can provide alternate destinations should any of these situations occur. Many of these options can now be managed online.
- Take Back and Transfer / Transfer Connect / Agent Redirect. If a company uses an ACD to facilitate the transfer, the ACD will remain in the call as long as the parties are on the phone. The drawback is that this uses up trunk capacity on the ACD (or VRU). This is called by a number of names including tromboning or hair-pinning. IXCs have the capability to allow a company to answer a call, provide a level of service, and then transfer the call to another location. These IXC features provide a level of transferring that is different from what is available via the ACD. There is usually a feature charge associated with this offering, but it is more than worth it to the right company.
Whether it is only a single one of the above features, or a mix and match combination of several of the routing features, Toll Free routing can help consolidate and streamline operations on regional, national, and international levels. With a single contact number that can be promoted nationwide or worldwide, your organization can have a unified presence and highly utilized resources that have been properly allocated. Consult with your telecom professional to see if Toll Free call routing is a fit for your business.
Steve Norris is a Texas based Independent Telecom Agent for over 80 carriers nationwide and an energy efficient electrical contractor. He specializes in multi-location businesses with advanced infrastructure needs. In addition to representing carrier services with his company Telephone Guru, he also represents high end business telephone system solutions. Over 90% of his clients are able to implement new technology at little or no cost with his proprietary TeleTAP solution. Visit him on the web for Telecom Broker Services in Fort Worth , Business Phones , and Energy Efficient Lighting.