Hunt Groups vs. Ring Groups: A Rock and A Hard Place

    Not every company that needs to service customers over the phone has a traditional call center organization.  For many, this function, however vital, doesn't have a volume that requires the dedication of a full time staff of people who do nothing but answer the phones.  Instead, these companies have several employees who are able to assist customers as needed.  Traditionally, managers have had one of two imperfect choices for distributing these calls; the Hunt Group or the Ring Group.

    The Hunt Group

    When calls are sent to a hunt group, the phone system rings any number of phones in sequence until someone answers or the call is sent to voicemail.   For example, if Bill, Devon and Lori handle incoming calls, the system might ring Bill’s desk four times first.  If he doesn’t answer, Devon’s phone would ring and so on.  This is a fairly efficient solution for the company because only one employee’s phone rigs at a time, meaning that if Bill answers the phone, Devon and Lori can continue their other work uninterrupted.   It also gives the manager some control over the order in which the phones will ring.  However, this approach can be frustrating to customers.  Each desk rings a number of times in sequence, so the phone may ring for a long time before it gets to the desk of someone who is available to take the call.  Worse, it may ring everyone in the sequence, only to end up in voicemail, requiring a lot of patience on the part of the customer.

    The Ring Group

    A ring group is different because it rings the phones of everyone in the group at the same time.  If there were a ring group, Bill’s phone, Devon’s phone and Lori’s phone would ring simultaneously.   The first person to pick up the phone would handle the call.  This method of call distribution gets the customer’s call answered (or sent to voicemail) more quickly, but has productivity disadvantages for the company.  Now everyone in the group is interrupted each time the phone rings (or worse, everyone ignores the call thinking someone else will pick it up).  The manager also loses control over the order of calls.  There is no way to make Lori, for example, the support rep of last resort.

    The ACD Alternative

    There is a clearly better alternative, ACD (automated call distribution).  ACD solutions send calls to agents who are logged in and available.  It knows when agents are on the phone or otherwise not ready for a call, so it can ring only the phone of the agent who can assist the customer.  Further, it can be programmed to send calls to particular agents who have the skills to handle a specific customer need.  Is Bill your shipping expert?  A client who presses “1” for shipping questions would be routed to him first if he is available.  When Bill goes to lunch, Devon might be next in line.

    So why haven’t more companies adopted this superior approach?  Until recently this type of functionality has only been available as part of expensive call center hardware and software that is bolted on to a companies’ business phone system.  It simply has not been cost effective for organizations with small support or sales teams.

    M5 has changed that. Our Callfinity Contact Center solution is bundled in with our business phone system.  M5 Clients can involve any number of employees in the ACD queue with minimal additional monthly cost and no additional hardware, maintenance or IT headaches.  We want our clients to have the opportunity to implement the call routing solution that works best for their staff and customers.

    If you think that your support or sales organization is too small for traditional contact center solutions, you might be right, but there is no longer any reason not to consider a world-class solution that will cost effectively support your needs now and scale with you into the future.

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