What is Automatic Call Distribution (ACD)?

Man sitting at his desk smiling with a headset on his computer

Automatic Call Distribution (ACD) is an old term. It refers to the mechanism of transferring calls to agents. These days, ACD is called ‘call forwarding’. This mechanism has been improved over time and is now an essential aspect of the customer experience. Instead of just transferring a call to an agent, it’s now about transferring your call to the right agent.

ACD software enables the routing of specific requests to an agent, or customer support representative, that is best equipped to handle that request.

If your call centre takes a large number of calls, or you have a significant workforce, or you operate in multiple locations, Automatic Call Distribution functionality is essential. 

How Does ACD Work?

ACD typically operates via a combination of Interactive Voice Response (IVR) and Computer Telephony Integration (CTI). The caller accesses the correct agent either through a voice command or by pressing a number on their phone.

ACD works via a rule-based system, which means the software is programmed to respond to a set number of inputs. This can include location or even the phone number dialled. So, if the call comes from Singapore, it will be transferred to a Singaporean agent, or if the customer has telephoned technical support, it will be transferred to the technical support team rather than sales. 

Applications and Benefits of ACD

ACD has a number of applications and benefits for businesses, including:

  • Instantaneous transfer of calls to the right agent based on pre-defined criteria. This can even extend to transferring callers to agents that speak specific languages.
  • Automatic caller prioritisation. For instance, a VIP call can be sent to the best agent or placed at the front of the queue if no agents are available. The caller can be identified by pre-defined information in the form of assigned tags or information taken from databases.
  • The ability to take usage data from incoming calls including call volumes, average time spent on the phone, the total number of calls, as well as average wait times and other beneficial data.
  • The ability to monitor calls, which means ACD is essential in building a team of well-performing agents. Managers can listen in on calls, offer whisper coaching and engage in other techniques to enhance the customer experience.
  • A much more personalised service to callers thanks to CTI-integrations. Before answering the call, the agent can have information loaded from the helpdesk, live chat and CRM to show a history of all previous interactions with the caller.
  • Companies located worldwide can function as one coherent call centre, as ACD can route calls to agents, sites and even mobile phones located all around the world.
  • Automatic call back. If a caller is placed in a queue, they can request an automatic call back and have the agent call them back when they are free.
  • The ability for your company to run multiple call queues for each department, a team of agents or even run them based on the number the caller dialled.

The Next Evolution: Contact Centre Technology

ACD is an older form of technology that is useful but has mostly been subsumed by newer types. The Cloud call centre, in particular, has taken this technology to a new level.

This technology takes the traditional elements of the call centre and places it within the Cloud. This offers considerable advantages, for business owners, in the form of cost savings thanks to reduced overheads and the lessening of the need for other investment.

The key advantages of this technology are:

  • Ability to quickly scale up and down based on business requirements.
  • Customers and agents can converse via a range of mediums, including email, real-time chat, social media and voice communication, all via one unified system.
  • The ability to collect data is further optimised as it is automatically collected and safely stored within a Cloud that can be securely accessed from anywhere in the world.
  • It can be deployed immediately as a means to replace old communications and employment structures.

The incorporation of machine learning and artificial intelligence, in the form of chatbot capability, also completely changes the way in which you can interact with customers. Clients can now engage in self-service across multiple channels, not just through old forms of IVR, CTI and ACD.

You can now offer 24/7 customer service without having to sacrifice the human aspect that your customers want. In fact, according to ZDNet, over 54% of people would rather communicate with a chatbot if they could save 10 minutes. So, by providing this technology, you’re giving your customers what they want – a customer experience option that they can access at their convenience, and one that saves them time while still giving them the exact services they seek.