Automatic Call Distributors are software systems that answer incoming calls and route them to the appropriate department. The software typically operates within a company’s CTI systems and uses Interactive Voice Response (IVR) to intelligently route callers to the best agent for their needs. ACD software is essentially the backbone of any modern call center. Without it, the communication process would be far more tedious for all involved, and the customer journey would be much longer than it needs to be. Advancements in call center technology are greatly improving on the traditional ACD system to offer even greater benefits to customers and agents.
Advantages of ACD
When a customer first contacts an acd call center, they will typically receive a series of questions to determine the purpose of their call. They will then be routed based on predefined conditions. For example, most call centers today immediately include the option to hear the introductory message in Spanish. If the caller chooses to do this, they will be routed to a Spanish-speaking agent once their needs are determined.
ACD software can also use the dialed number to make decisions. For example, if the software sees that a caller has already dialed the extension for a specific department, they will immediately be routed to an appropriate agent. Certain numbers can even be set as VIP callers so that these callers will always be routed to an available agent immediately or placed in the front of the line if none are currently available.
ACD software also makes it easier for managers to study usage data and guide agents. Data regarding the average number of incoming calls, call length, average amount of time before a call is answered, and how long specific agents spend talking with customers are all useful for quality management. Managers can also use this software to monitor ongoing calls and coach agents in the field, making it extremely useful in the training process.
Limitations of ACD
The biggest drawback of a traditional ACD system is that each element of service, or routing configuration, must be programmed individually. This can make implementation a time-consuming process, especially when trying to configure the software with multiple other systems. For example, call center overflow (voicemail) services will have to be configured separately from all other systems to account for business hours, the IVR system will have to be configured to account for each possible decision involved in call handling, and each caller lookup option will need to be programmed separately. Luckily, modern ACD platforms are starting to eliminate these issues.
While legacy ACD systems are limited to routing phone calls, modern solutions are focusing on omnichannel routing, meaning that all modes of communication are compatible with the software including online chats, text messages, bot chats on the company’s mobile app, and even social media conversations. This gives customers full control over their experience, because they can start a conversation on the company website and transition into a phone conversation without losing any progress.
Agents are able to monitor all channels of communication simultaneously, meaning they’ll have full context of each customer’s situation when they enter a conversation. Customers can even stay in contact with the same agent through different forms of communication ensuring that they’ll never have to repeat information. This allows for a much more convenient and personalized customer experience than traditional means.
Skills-based routing can even assign agents more experienced with a customer’s initial contact method to that customer so that the process is always expedited. As technology continues to advance, there is no doubt that ACD platforms will continue to offer new ways to improve customer experiences and boost call center productivity.