What is the Difference between a Queue and a Hunt Group?

Are you wondering how to distinguish between a queue and a hunt group? It might help to start with the basics behind how both work.


A queue is a term more generally associated with a call center environment. In a call center, incoming calls from the company’s toll free or local numbers are routed through an auto attendant. The auto attendant then directs the call to the appropriate queue.

A queue is a fancy way to say that callers enter a holding pattern until an agent becomes available to take the call. The auto attendant directs the caller to the appropriate queue depending on what option was selected by the caller (for example, 1 for Sales, or 2 for Returns).

The queue may be bypassed entirely, and the caller may not wait at all, if the appropriate agent is available to take the call. In the case of an open agent, the call is delivered immediately after selecting an option from the auto attendant.

However, if there are no agents logged in or available, the system will route the call to another extension or voicemail box, as configured in the queue settings. If the call is in the queue, as soon as the next agent becomes available, the call will be directed to that agent. While this is happening, the caller will think that he or she is on hold and won’t know that the transfer is taking place.

Calls will be routed to the first available customer service agent.

Calls will be routed to the first available customer service agent.

Hunt Groups

A hunt group allows a caller to automatically find an available agent from among a group of extensions. Each extension will be tried in order until a “free” extension is reached. Extensions will be skipped if the person is currently on the phone or has marked their extension as “blocked” from this process.

There are two primary routing sequences for hunt groups – sequential and round robin. With a sequential hunt, the routing always starts with the first extension on this list, and works down. Round robin routing distributes the calls evenly among the members of the group by rotating the group member whose extension is tried first, then searching down the list in sequential order.

Hunt group sequences are set up and directed through the auto attendant. If no users are available, the caller will reach voicemail.

The Queue and Hunt Group Nuances

While both a hunt group and a queue serve essentially the same function – directing calls to an available representative, there are a few key differences. Queues are associated with small to medium size call centers and help desks as part of Halloo’s Ultimate FlexCall Center solution. This complete package has numerous additional features built in such as allowances for call wrap-up, call monitoring by supervisors, customizable delay announcements, and analytics regarding call history and agent performance.

In contrast, a hunt group is designed to try everyone until they either reach an available person or the call is directed to voicemail. Hunt group features are part of the Auto Attendant options available in Halloo’s Biz account holders menu. Hunt groups can be invaluable to small businesses that operate with only a few employees or teams working together from various locations.

For more on this topic, check out our comprehensive hunt group overview.

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