An answering service comes with an array of features, each with its own terminology. And unless you work in the industry, it’s not always clear what they mean. One of the most commonly asked questions at AnswerConnect is “What’s the difference between Call Forwarding, Call Routing, Call Diversion and Live Relay?”

In this article, we’ll cover exactly that. We’ll explore how each feature works, how to set them up and the best use cases for each.

Virtual receptionists providing 24/7 live answering service

Call Forwarding

What is Call Forwarding? 

Call Forwarding is one of our most popular services. It describes a set of rules implemented by your answering service to ensure calls are forwarded to a specific member of your team.

How does Call Forwarding work?

When a person calls your business, your virtual receptionist places the caller on hold. They then call out to a member of your team. If the team member answers, the receptionist then transfers the caller. If the receptionist can’t reach the designated team member, your receptionist can take a message.

Call Forwarding comes with two types of transfer:

  1. Warm – The caller is announced to the client before being transferred
  2. Cold – Your virtual receptionists make the transfer without any further interaction.

How do I set up Call Forwarding?

You can designate call-forwarding roles to specific members of your team during the set-up process. Your Client Account Manager (CAM) 

You can also change your Call Forwarding roles at any time by reaching out to your CAM. There are a few reasons you might want to update call-forwarding roles, including if a colleague leaves the company, goes on holiday or moves to a different department.

How can Call Forwarding help my business?

Call Forwarding can help your receptionists provide better customer service. With a designated person or department to forward calls to, your receptionists can explain to customers what’s going to happen next.

That kind of transparency, from explaining how long they’ll be on hold to who they’ll be transferred to, helps build trust and encourage patience in a caller.

Smiling receptionist answering calls as part of 24/7 live answering service

Call Routing

What is Call Routing?

Call Routing is a form of call forwarding, with multiple options to transfer calls to different departments or even specific members of your team.

How does Call Routing work? 

Call Routing allows you to designate different call forwarding rules to different numbers based on the call type. For instance, anyone calling about a purchase is directed to the sales department. 

How do I set up Call Routing?

You can set up your call routing rules during your initial setup. Your CAM will walk you through the different steps to ensure calls are always routed to the right person. This requires adding and assigning different telephone numbers to specific questions and scenarios.

How can Call Routing help my business?

Call Routing, much like Call Forwarding, helps ensure calls reach the right people in your company at the right time. However, with various routing options for different scenarios, call routing gives you greater freedom.

This is particularly useful for larger companies. Smaller businesses often don’t use different numbers for different departments.

Man smiling talking with customer for inbound call answering service

Call Diversion

What is Call Diversion? 

Call Diversion is an automated process in which calls are automatically redirected to a different number at specific times.

How does Call Diversion work?

Call Diversion diverts calls at the point of connection, cutting out the virtual receptionist’s task of forwarding the call to the relevant person. It’s often used on a scheduled basis.

So, if a caller reaches out to your in-house customer service team during business hours, they will reach that department. But come five o’clock when your in-house team clock out, the call is automatically diverted to your virtual receptionists.

How do I set up a Call Divert?

You can create a Call Divert rule during the setup process with your CAM. You can also update your Call Diversion rules through the AnswerConnect App. However, please contact your CAM before making any changes.

You can choose to direct calls based on the days of the week and even by specific times of the day. Or, you can add an IVR to your AnswerConnect account and build the schedule into that system.

To set up a more customised Call Diversion schedule, check with your phone carrier—most will be able to accommodate you.

How can Call Diversion help my business?

Call Diversions are often utilised by businesses looking to handle their own calls during business hours, then pass calls to their virtual receptionists after closing time. This enables your business to offer customers uninterrupted call support while using fewer minutes than a full 24/7 answering service.

Woman working as omnichannel support worker for small business answering service

Live relay

What is Live Relay?

Live Relay is a feature that allows your virtual receptionists can make up to five call-outs to different people in your team in an attempt to reach someone.

How does Live Relay work?

In a Live Relay, the customer calls and explains their request or the query. The virtual receptionist then raises a ticket based on the caller’s issue and ends the call and calls out as a separate interaction without keeping the caller on hold.

The receptionist then passes the ‘ticket’ to the primary maintenance contact and asks if the contact can respond. If they are unable to respond at that point, the receptionist tries the second contact in the call-list, and so on until they find someone able to speak with the caller.

Receptionists can continue trying to reach them (up to 5 attempts) without leaving the caller waiting on hold. The action of repeatedly calling the same number is called a repeat.

How do I set up Live Relay?

You can set up your Live Relay during the initial setup process. 

However, Live Relay as a feature comes at a fixed additional cost of £29.99 + VAT per month, regardless of the number of calls made. 

How can Live Relay help my business? 

It’s a useful feature for when a member of your team may not be available to answer a call but you need to ensure the caller receives some kind of response. For instance, if a caller gets in touch outside of work hours requesting to speak with someone in your maintenance department.

In doing so, they ensure the caller speaks with a qualified member of the maintenance department, even if the primary maintenance contact is unavailable.

And because your virtual receptionists hang up the call before relaying to someone in your team, you use fewer minutes than if they were on hold the entire time.

Smiling woman wearing a headset working at an Inbound Call Centre

Take your calls 24/7

With AnswerConnect, you can choose between call forwarding, live relay, call routing and call divert at no extra cost. We help you develop a custom service that responds to your unique business processes and ensure every caller gets the right answer.

Want to find out more? Get in touch and we’ll discuss the best features for your callers.