What is Automatic Call Distribution (ACD)?
February 13, 2012
Call centers and other customer service organizations use a variety of modern telecommunications technologies to efficiently serve clients. Automatic call distribution (ACD) is one such technology, often deployed in combination with tools like interactive voice response (IVR) and predictive dialers.
An ACD system handles the task of routing incoming calls. Offices that receive a large volume and a large variety of incoming calls for example, can use ACD to make sure the caller gets routed quickly to the most appropriate person.
“If your department receives more phone calls throughout the day than one person can answer, then an ACD will help you handle those calls in a more efficient manner,” notes University of Virginia on its website, describing how an educational institution, like other customer-facing organizations, might use the technology. “During busy times when an agent is not immediately available, an ACD can queue calls, provide a recorded announcement, forward the call to someone designated to handle call overflow, offer a voice mail option, or give the caller a busy signal.”
Switches, terminals, phone lines and software are all typical components of the ACD’s routing strategy. That strategy is a set of instructions based on rules used to determine how each call should be handled. Often, a complex algorithm is included to determine who is the most appropriate person to take the call, depending on availability, time of day, topic, and other factors.
ACD systems typically are tied in with IVR; the caller is asked targeted questions, and the system analyzes the answers, along with data about the call (such as the number that was dialed, and the geographic location of the caller based on originating number), to determine the most efficient routing.
“The ACD can route the call to a recorded message or an IVR system, or to an available agent with a specific skill set,” explains HowTo.gov. “Or it can place the call on hold until an agent with a specific skill set is available to receive the call. These are just a few of the many available routing options.”
ACD systems interact with IVR, databases and voice messaging to route calls. They also track and report on call activities, giving organizations insight into valuable information like call volume fluctuations throughout the day and the types of topics customers call in for help with.
“By tracking statistics such as the number of incoming calls, calls in queue, call abandons, and talk time on a monitor display in real time, managers can recognize developing problems and quickly take corrective actions to maintain optimum operating efficiency,” University of Virginia notes on its website.
As technology continues to advance, so too does the sophistication of ACD.
“With the emergence of email and web chat services over the past few years, ACD systems have evolved to integrate the traditional phone-based ACD system with email distribution systems and websites,” HowTo.gov says on its website. “The latest ACD systems can distribute calls, email, and web chats to universal agents who are trained to handle inquiries through all three channels.”
Mae Kowalke is a TMCnet contributor. She is Manager of Stories at Neundorfer, Inc., a cleantech company in Northeast Ohio. She has more than 10 years experience in journalism, marketing and communications, and has a passion for new tech gadgets. To read more of her articles, please visit her columnist page.
Edited by Chris DiMarco
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