Business phone lines and PBX systems are a bit of a double edged sword. On the bright side, these call management tools empower businesses to be more productive and available to clients, customers, and partners.
But “more” doesn’t necessarily mean “better”, and disorganized PBX systems can create more problems than they solve. Just ask anyone who has spent half an hour dialing different extensions for a customer support line, or waiting on hold for the “next available representative.”
What’s a business manager to do? Enter: hunt groups.
What is a Hunt Group?
A hunt group (a.k.a. line hunting) is a feature of phone networks that directs incoming calls to one phone or group of phones based on a custom set of rules. It’s one of the fundamental processes in effective call management for businesses and PBX phone systems.
Hunt groups consist of users, extensions, and devices that are "hunted down" to find an available agent.
Hunt groups can be implemented with or without hardware and equipment. For example, PBX systems can have direct hunt groups setup on site by a professional. Conversely,Telzio's cloud-based telephone services require no equipment, and include a fully-hosted PBX where hunt groups and other features can be managed online.
Hunt Groups Enable Efficient Call Management in PBX Systems
Businesses with five, ten, or dozens of employees benefit from effective call management systems. Often, businesses use PBX systems to manage calls and extensions between employees, whether remove or on-site.
Using hunt groups, wait times and routing issues can be nearly eliminated. All you need is a good phone solutions partner and a little bit of consideration put to how you’re going to set up your group.
How to Set Up a Hunt Group
The fastest way to set up a hunt group is with Telzio. Sign up for free and set up a hunt group in less than 20 minutes from your dashboard view.
Using call flows, you’ll set rules for routing calls to groups of phones or individual lines, based on how you want your hunt group to transfer incoming calls. Before you set your rules, consider the best type of hunt group for your business requirements.
What Are the Different Types of Hunt Groups?
Different types of hunt groups are better suited for different applications and different business types. There are 3 main ways phone calls can be coordinated in hunt groups:
“Linear” or Sequential Hunt Groups
With sequential ringing, the incoming call rings each agent in the hunt group one-by-one. If one line is busy, or misses the call, the call will proceed to the next number on the list until all available agents have been contacted. If no one answers, the call will move onto the next step in the call flow. Sequential hunt groups are useful in a situation where you want to prioritize the list of agents, so that the agent at the top of the list gets forwarded the call first.
Simultaneous Hunt Groups
Also called simultaneous ringing, the incoming call rings all agents in the group at the same time. The first available agent to pick up will get the call. When one agent answers, the call will stop ringing the other agents. This hunt group setup is commonly used in customer support settings and certain sales organizations.
Circular Hunt Groups
A circular routing pattern is similar to sequential but after reaching the last agent in a group, the call restarts at the first agent and goes down the list until someone answers the call. After the call attempts the first hunt group, the second hunt group can be customized to serve as a backup with different users.
Most Idle Hunt Groups
As the name implies, the incoming call to first ring the agent that has been waiting for a call the longest. This helps to ensure that there is an even distribution in workload between all agents in an assigned group.
In addition to scheduling hunt groups, Telzio allows individual agents to log in and out of an assigned call group during breaks. A quick toggle to enable do-not-disturb ensures that calls are routed to available agents.
Creating Hunt Groups with Telzio
Setting up a hunt group with Telzio is intuitive and only takes a few minutes to deploy. If you don't have a Telzio account yet, you can start with a 30-day free trial. From the dashboard, you can create groups, add users to it, and play with a variety of settings to customize the caller experience. Telzio includes unlimited users and hunt groups with your monthly service plan, so you can add and remove agents as needed without incurring additional costs.
With call flows, you can visually design which calls to route to your hunt group, and what to do with calls that are not answered. You can filter incoming calls with opening hours and phone menus, and customize the path for the caller to travel until they reach a person, voicemail, or announcement.
For larger companies, hunt groups can be given unique names that correspond to the hunt group’s function, and can also be assigned an extension. This enables users to transfer live calls directly to that extension to ring the entire group.
Some of the features that are available to customize within hunt groups include:
Call distribution pattern - choose between sequential, simultaneous, longest idle, or circular
Call recording - record all calls that come into the hunt group
Call screening - announce the name of the hunt group to the agent before the call connects
Time out period - set a maximum hold time before moving the caller onto the next step
Grace period - specify a cool down time for agents between calls
Callback request - give callers the option to request a callback
Caller ID - display the caller's number or the number the caller dialed
Hold music - select from a list of default music or upload your own audio files
Any updates that are made go live instantly, so it's easy to update your hunt group with different agents and settings as needed.
Schedule a 15-min personalized demo today to learn more about Telzio and hunt groups.
Is a hunt group the same as simultaneous or sequential ringing?
Simultaneous and sequential ringing are two different ways hunt groups can be configured. Simultaneous ringing dials all numbers in the group at once, and is great for high-priority calls that need quick answers, where all agents are equally equipped to handle calls. Sequential ringing dials phones in order, based on your own prioritization. If you want one person handling the majority of incoming customer support calls, for example, then setting them first, plus a few backups, might be a good option.
Are hunt groups the same as call management?
Call management is the broad term for all different strategies you can use to handle calls in a PBX system. Effective call management is critical for efficient business management. In addition to hunt groups, you can utilize phone menus and scheduling to automate inbound call routing. A phone menu enables callers to make their own selection and get routed to the corresponding hunt group or department. Our opening hours feature automatically usher inbound calls based on operating hours or employee schedules. With Telzio, changes are implemented through a web-based portal and go live instantly, allowing for easy and remote management.
Can I customize schedules for call routing?
With Telzio, you have complete control over your call routing based on time and day. You can plan ahead for holidays and special events, or set up custom flows to handle call routing differently based on working hours and internal schedules. Our team can help you set up the custom flow that fits best with your needs.