A hunt group (aka “hunting group”) is a collection of phone extensions connected to answer calls to the same number via a line hunting (aka “multi-line hunting”) system. Hunt groups automatically distribute calls across the group based on rules and are often used by sales or customer/tech support teams.
How do hunt groups work?
Hunt groups distribute phone calls between connected extensions based on administrator settings. Staff sitting at each phone don’t need to do anything to route calls, the system simply feeds them calls as they come in.
Hunt group functionality is typically provided by a company’s PBX system (what is a PBX?), although hosted hunt group functionality is also available. The number of extensions that can be in a hunt group ranges from 24-48 per group (with multiple groups capable of being supported on the same device/service).
Types of Hunt Groups
There are three common types of hunt group call models used, all considered “push” models because the system automatically decides which extension gets which call (as opposed to a “pull” model where agents select calls they want).
Most-Idle Hunt Groups
Most-idle hunting is the most sophisticated hunt group model and distributes the workload most evenly. When the system gets a call, it checks which agent has spent the least time on calls during a predefined time period. If that line is not currently busy, it gets the call.
Linear Hunt Groups
Linear hunting (aka “terminal” or “serial” hunting) starts at the top of the group list, and pings each extension in succession until it hits one that isn’t busy. Thus, the higher up on the list a phone is, the more likely it is to get each individual call.
Linear hunt groups can be useful if you have some primary employees on the team and also some backup employees (who are less experienced or have other duties) that you only want to step in if the primaries are busy.
Circular Hunt Groups
A circular hunting system remembers where it transferred the last call and starts its next transfer with the phone below that one on the list. It moves down the list from that point until it pings an extension that isn’t busy. That phone gets the call.
Circular hunting makes it less likely for people at the top of the list to be overloaded, but doesn’t distribute calls as evenly as a most-idle system. It’s a popular choice for extensions that aren’t actually phones, but instead answered by devices (like fax machines and servers) that don’t care how many calls they take in a day, but may need processing/printing time between calls.
Alternatives to Hunt Groups
Hunt groups are affordable, but offer limited functionality. There are several alternative options.
Call Center Software
Businesses with large support staff groups and lots of support calls often opt for expensive call center software.
Call center software features typically include:
- The capacity for huge teams
- More customizable call routing
- Greater supervisor oversight
- Call recording
- Data collection via automated attendants
- Screen popping – automatically bringing relevant account data and support guidelines up on an agent’s screen when they take a call, based on caller ID and information provided to automated attendants.
TeamQ Informal Call Center
Companies looking for many of the features of full call center software, but at a more affordable cost, should check out our informal call center solution: TeamQ.
TeamQ’s features include:
- Hunt group-style push models
- An agent pull mode, where agents select calls to take or reserve based on their expertise and collected data about the call.
- Screen popping based on CRM database integration
- Remote agent connection – members of a team can be located anywhere, in different offices, in a coffee shop down the street, etc.
If your support staff has other tasks beyond simply answering calls (as in the case of an IT help desk, for example) TeamQ allows them to control how many calls they take and when they take them. Agents with different areas of expertise can select calls that play to their strengths based on caller answers to up to three questions before entering hold.
Do you have questions about what method is right for your business? Reach out to us to speak to an expert about your options.