What is an Automatic Call Distributor?
If you are in the call centre business, ACD is a term you must have familiarized yourself with.It is ,after all, the backbone of any call centre and is one of the call centre terminologies that reigns supreme.
So what is ACD? ACD stands for Automatic Call Distributor and it’s job is to route calls to agents or departments.
Since the amount of calls received in a call centre is quite high, making sure that calls reach the most appropriate agent is of the utmost importance. An instrument which can facilitate this task is the ACD. ACD in conjunction with other tools such as IVR and CTI helps accomplish this task.
HOW DOES AN AUTOMATIC CALL DISTRIBUTOR WORK?
Automatic call distribution systems, otherwise known as call routing systems, direct incoming calls to the appropriate representatives based on your business’ preferences and needs. ACDs work to close the gap between customer expectations and business resources.
The basic idea behind good customer service is simple: when a customer needs help, answer the phone and resolve their issue. But it isn’t always this easy. Customers don’t often stick to normal business hours or have much sympathy for call centers flooded with a high volume of calls.
That’s why more and more call centers are relying on ACDs to enable a smooth, efficient process by connecting the right caller with the right agent, as quickly as possible.
So how exactly does the ACD route calls?
Calls are routed based on certain criterias.
-If the call is for a specific department for example, sales or tech.
-If the call is to be routed according to agents based on their skill, knowledge and expertise. With a skills-based routing system, a company could automatically route calls to the right product specialist.
– If the call is to be routed according to the time of the day. For example, companies with offices nationwide, might route callers to an office on the east coast during hours that west coast offices aren’t open.
-If the call is to be routed in a round robin fashion. Round robin algorithms work to give each rep an equal share of incoming leads. Round robin routing algorithms are often a function of automatic call distributors.
– If the customer has dialled a specific phone number
– If the customer has requested for a specific parameter on the IVR
So, what is ACD, and how does it turn a flood of incoming calls into an organized queue? An automatic call distributor system directs incoming calls to the most qualified agents. How that’s determined is based on the distribution method you choose.
ACD distribution methods are as follows –
Linear Call Distribution – Calls are distributed in order, starting at the beginning each time. This may be based on a list or a predefined configuration. In each order it starts with the same agent.
Circular Call Distribution – Calls are distributed in order, starting with the next in order . The agent who is after the last agent to receive a call is the one who’s the first in order.
Uniform Call Distribution – Calls are distributed uniformly, starting with the person who has handled the fewest calls. It starts with the agent who has been idle for the longest period.
Simultaneous Call Distribution – Calls are available to all agents to attend. The agent who picks the call first gets to attend it.
Weighted Call Distribution – calls are routed to available agents according to a configurable weighting, such as differing skill sets within customer service representatives.
As discussed in detail above the call routing algorithm for ACD can work in a few different ways. To direct calls appropriately, ACD systems can be configured to consider the incoming phone number, traffic volume, call queue wait times, time of day, and the skills or departments needed on the receiving end of a call. When callers indicate their issue, the ACD groups them according to the best department or agent to resolve the problem at hand. So ACD distribution and call routing go hand in hand.
ACD AND IVR
An automatic call distribution system has some advanced features that make it more advanced than an IVR. In fact, an IVR is usually part of an Automatic Call Distributor system.
An IVR is a keypress triggered response system that renders information to callers without the assistance of an operator, usually for instant information retrieval while an ACD is a programmed call routing system that routes incoming calls to skill-based agents, teams or menus based on rules like area code of telephone number, time of the day, etc.
ACD AND CTI
ACD’s are implemented along with CTI (Computer Telephony Integration). CTI or Computer Telephony Integration are quite crucial in a call centre. CTI helps one coordinate and manage phone calls on computer systems. Agents are able to use advanced phone controls from their computers. Such controls could include transferring calls or putting them on hold, muting, etc
CTI and ACD work together to help divert calls to appropriate agents /departments and allow them to handle their calls over computer systems.
ACD queue distributes calls to specific groups of terminals that the agents use. ACD queues offer additional functionality for businesses with high call volume or for those that regularly have multiple calls come in at the same time or within a few minutes of each other.This allows agents to handle calls one at a time. Callers are placed in a line or a queue. Calls are distributed in a first in, first out method. As and when the agents become available the callers are removed according to their position in the queue and their call is attended.
Benefits of Automatic Call Distributor for your business
What an ACD can essentially do for your business is make handling calls simpler and effective.It helps streamline your incoming calls. Apart from allowing for skill based routing and its valuable integration with CTI, ACD also has a number of other benefits.
IDENTIFYING AND RESPONDING TO VIP CALLERS – ACD’s have the feature of identifying VIP customers through pre determined information . These VIP callers are then assigned the most appropriate agent as quickly as possible. If the appropriate agents are occupied at that time then the VIP callers are placed at the front of the queue
CALLER USAGE DATA RECORDING – The information related to the customers call can be acquired. This data can include the number of incoming calls, amount of time an agent spends on the phone with a caller, total number of calls (incoming and outgoing), length of calls, waiting time before the call was answered, etc.
INTEGRATING PBX SYSTEMS – Companies that use PBX systems from different carriers can use an ACD to operate as one cohesive call center.
CALL MONITORING AND AGENT COACHING – ACD’S allow for call centre managers to to engage in call monitoring, call conferencing, call barging and whisper coaching.With this feature, managers can coach call center agents and improve future calls.
AUTOMATIC CALL BACK – Customers who do not wish to wait in queue can have the option of requesting a call back.
INTEGRATED AUTO ATTENDANTS – For callers who would like to speak to a specific agent, they can dial their extension to be immediately transferred
MULTIPLE CALL QUEUES – ACD allows for multiple queues according to different departments ,different teams of agents or different numbers that the caller dialed.This help streamline calls and increase efficiency.