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Managing multiple customer calls can be a challenge for contact centers – An Automatic Call Distributor (ACD) can help call centers manage multiple customer calls and prioritize them efficiently. Contact centers require an ACD as deciding who to prioritize, especially during a crisis situation where agents aren’t available is a huge task.
A competent ACD system can be a driving force in improving your Customer Experience and Customer Engagement levels.
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ACD can be described as a telephony system or protocol that efficiently distributes incoming calls to available agents. It is designed to help prevent inbound contact/call centers from being overwhelmed by calls.
Contact with the customer support team is an important touchpoint in a customer journey with an organization. Automatic Call Distribution helps improve the customer experience at these touchpoints by assigning customers to agents in the shortest time possible.
Interactive Voice Response or IVR is a technology that lets customers interface with an answering machine (usually automated). IVR systems help contact centers narrow down what the customer is contacting them about, and what sort of assistance they may require.
To interact with an IVR system customers are told by a recording what options they have, after which the person presses a corresponding button on their keypad.
Automatic Call Distributors take responses and put customers directly in touch with an agent instead of forcing them to navigate through a maze of menus. ACD takes in data for sorting and distributing calls, as opposed to IVR, which are designed for instant information retrieval and only connect to an agent when required.
Using these two tools alongside each other can help contact centers maximize productivity and improve customer satisfaction levels.
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Every business or call center would have its idea on the ideal ACD implementation for their organization. However, there are a few commonalities that all comprehensive ACD implementations would have.
ACD’s primary function is to programmatically distribute calls. The process by which calls are programmatically distributed is known as Automatic Call Distribution routing. The factors determining the routing can include overall call traffic, time of the day, agent skills required to solve the query, origin of the call, etc. The call distribution process can be
The automatic call distributor process begins with determining the callers’ purpose via an IVR software system. One can also determine caller attributes like language and location through a caller ID. This allows ACD to distribute the call effectively.
Here’s how Automatic Call Distributor systems implement call routing in a contact center
In this method, Calls are evenly distributed with all agents in the company in an organized manner. Essentially, a loop is created with the first agent which moves agent by agent till the last person in the team has been reached, where the loop starts again. This ensures no agent has too many calls on their plate.
In this technique, the order in which calls are distributed to agents has been previously determined by the call center. This can be based on factors like the agents’ previous experience, their proficiency with certain languages, etc.
Specific “weights” are assigned to every agent in the call center. This weightage is determined by their experience in handling calls or certain skills and attributes they may possess. Calls will be routed based on the weights attached to agent IDs.
This method checks the system to see which agent has been idle for the longest time and routes calls to them, ensuring optimum productivity.
Any business with a large customer base (existing or potential) will not be able to handle all their queries instantly. It is simply unfeasible for call centers to connect callers to an agent on the first try every time. Callers should not be presented with a call busy tone when dialing your contact center, as it can degrade their customer experience.
This is why call queuing is necessary. It is a type of virtual waiting room, where customers are put on hold till an agent is free to deal with them. ACD systems can have multiple mechanisms for call queuing, like waiting music, or dividing queues by which department they need assistance with. These can be finance, cancellations, sales, etc.
Automatic Call Distributor systems can rely on caller ID to perform smart routing of incoming calls. For example, they can be programmed to transfer all calls after 9 PM to IVR systems, or direct calls from certain regions (by checking their phone extension) to agents who can speak their language.
There can be cases where callers don’t have the time to wait in the call queue. To deal with such scenarios, ACD systems can allow callers to request a call back by raising an automatic call back request. These notifications are then sent to an Agents’ dashboard, allowing them to call back when their current task is completed.
Call routing and queuing can help Contact Centers maximize agent productivity, by assigning calls that are specific to their language, their area of expertise, their skillset, etc.
ACD allows for routing inbound calls to specific and specialized teams, queues, agents, and extensions. Rules can be set to route calls directly based on purpose and priority.
Some calls will require immediate attention. ACD along with IVR software allows callers to connect to agents directly who can help solve their issues without wasting time.
Combined with IVR Software, Automatic Call Distribution systems can ensure customers have the option of navigating to departments that are relevant to their requirements, instead of waiting in a queue indefinitely.
Contact centers are often located in a different country or location. ACD helps maintain uniformity across your organization and connect teams that are scattered across the globe.