What Is an ACD in a Call Center?
Automatic Call Distributor (ACD) is a telephone system that routes inbound calls to the most appropriate agent based on different parameters (like business hours, IVR selection, the longest available agent, etc.) and puts callee in the queue if no agent is available. As a rule, automatic call distribution software “cooperates” with the Interactive Voice Response system in routing inbound calls to the most appropriate agent. In this case, the IVR menu serves to identify the reason for a customer’s query, using voice prompts (“press one for support, two for sales” and so on).
When an ACD can be useful in your call center? It may help you in such situations:
- when you need to handle call peaks
- in case of call overflow (when all agents are busy and queues are full)
- when you want to handle incoming calls outside your business hours.
As you can see, the Automatic Call Distributor is a great helper in tough times, especially when your customers lose their temper. Let us figure out how it works.
What Is a Call Queue?
Call queuing is used in inbound and blended contact centers. When a customer contacts your company and all agents are busy, an ACD system puts them in a call queue until some of the employees become available. As a rule, a caller listens to waiting music and estimated waiting time announcements.Then, they may wait for the connection with the agent, schedule a callback, or try again later.
What are the benefits of call queuing? Firstly, callers have easier access to telephony services. Being put in the call queue, they can understand how long they have to wait for an available agent and decide on what to do further. Announcements about estimated waiting time show them that your company values their time that increases customer satisfaction. Secondly, call queuing is beneficial for call centers as well. It makes their call flow more organized and smoother. They can add new agents to the group if necessary, thus decreasing the workload of those whose phones are constantly connected to this queue. This feature is especially useful during peak times - for example when you are launching a new inbound marketing campaign.
Why Is Call Queue Management Important
Proper call queue management can give your call center the following benefits:
- Increased customer satisfaction. Nobody likes to wait in the queue for ages. Customers want quick responses to their queries. The longer they wait, the less satisfied they are. That’s why average time in the queue is one of the most important call center KPIs. If you don’t track it, a low customer satisfaction score is around the corner.
- Reduced abandon call rate. The longer your customers wait in the call queue, the more likely they are to hang up or...fall asleep while waiting. And there’s always a chance that they’ll simply go to your competitors after waking up. Professional call queue management will help you to avoid high abandon call rates and handle more calls per shift.
- Improved first call resolution. Call centers strive for resolving as many queries as possible during the first conversation. Low FCR is one of the signs of top-notch customer service. If your customers are routed to the appropriate agents from the start they are more likely to fix their issue first-time.
- Reduced costs. It is you who pays for inbound calls to your toll-free number so poor call queuing may quickly drain your budget. On the other hand, such features as callbacks from the queue can reduce the total number of minutes you consume and save costs. Your agents will call customers back that will cost your company less than the inbound toll-free rate.
The Most Common Types of Incoming Call Distribution
Calls can be distributed in several ways, depending on your call center specifics. The most common of them are:
Fixed order. Calls are routed to a specific group of agents in a predetermined order, starting with the same agent every time. If this agent is busy, a call goes to the next agent in the list until one of them answers. Therefore, agent B can answer the call only if agent A is busy. This type of call distribution allows you to prioritize some agents over others.
Round-robin. Call routing is a continuous loop. For example, we have 4 agents in the group. When agent 4 has taken a call, the next call goes to agent 1, thus restarting the cycle. In such a way, calls are more evenly distributed so no agent is burdened with them.
Simultaneous distribution (ring groups). A call is routed to all available agents at the same time. The first person who has picked up handles the call. This method is considered as the worst possible. It may seem to you that it results in quicker response time and creates a competitive atmosphere but it’s not true. In reality, your agents will have a different workload because some of them will inevitably pick up more calls than others. Furthermore, it is hard to endure this constant ringing in the office. Such an atmosphere may easily make your employees hit the ceiling.
Longest available. In this case, the Automatic Call Distributor detects the longest available agent (who remains idle for the longest time) and routes calls to them. This method ensures that every agent receives their fair share of calls. By using it, you will be able to prevent your employees from overload and optimize their working hours.
Priority-based distribution. This method is also referred to as skill-based or weighted distribution. Every agent receives a weighted score based on your criteria (experience, sales proficiency, etc). A system will route calls to the agents based on this assigned weight. The method allows you to identify the most suitable agent to handle a call and in such a way even improve the first call resolution.
Advantages of Using an ACD
How can your business benefit from using Automatic Call Distributor? Let us try to outline the top advantages of it.
Improved Customer Experience
Using an ACD system can significantly improve your customer experience. Intelligent call queuing reduces the waiting time and makes the situation when a caller waits in the queue for ages impossible. If a customer really can’t wait, they may request a callback and a system will call them later and connect with the agent. This feature shows them that phrases like “your call is important for us” aren’t just lip service.
ACD systems are especially effective during peak times. They are able to evenly distribute calls between your call center locations so the call center will meet SLA targets. In case of call overflow (when the call volume exceeds the call center capacities), Automatic Call Distributor routes a part of calls to another call center until the problem is resolved. Also, the system can route your incoming calls outside your business hours to an outsourcing call center or to voicemail.
An efficient Automatic Call Distributor can improve your agents’ performance. Your employees will be able to jump right into the problem-solving mode because a client’s problem is identified as early as they interact with the IVR. It doesn’t guarantee that they can fix all the customer issues during the first contact but the proper call distribution can significantly reduce the number of transferred calls and increase your first call resolution rate.
The ACD reports contain detailed information on your inbound lines. You can see all incoming calls that reached your call center (processed and missed calls), the time spent by a caller on the IVR and in the call queue before reaching the agent, and the call processing time by the agent. It is also possible to track if your agents meet SLA targets (the percentage of incoming calls that operators have answered within the time that does not exceed a preset target response time). Using these reports, you can get valuable insights on how to optimize your workflow.
Specific features of an ACD from Voiptime Cloud
Universal Queue for All Channels
Customers’ requests from different channels (call, email, web chat) are put in one queue. It allows processing them as quickly as possible. You can distribute tasks between agent teams and determine the processing priorities for each channel.
Intelligent Call Routing
Voiptime Cloud ACD software has an efficient call distribution algorithm that enables you to distribute incoming calls to agents who serve incoming lines and outgoing telemarketing campaigns. You can handle all the call volume by distributing the load between all available call center agents, thus increasing the efficiency of your call center.
The automatic call distribution system manages all incoming calls, queues, agent teams, and individual agents by redirecting the incoming call to the first available inbound agent.
For more efficient customer service, Voiptime Cloud software identifies the customer as early as they are on the IVR and routes them to the queue that is engaged in servicing exactly their subject matter. Furthermore, the automatic call distribution algorithm directs the call to the agent who is the most competent in solving the client's question, and if all agents in the appropriate team are busy, transfers the call to an available agent from the team that it considers as next in priority.
The Voiptime Cloud call center software allows using several algorithms for processing incoming calls:
- if you have a single incoming line and it serves a single project, it is possible to distribute calls to teams of agents or individual agents depending on their competence;
- if you have a single incoming line but it serves several projects, then it is possible:
- distribute calls to groups of projects without possibility to add agents from the neighboring team;
- distribute calls with the possibility to add agents from the neighboring team without taking into account the team’s priority, with or without taking into account the agents’ competence.
Fig. ACD monitoring in Voiptime Contact Center.
The ACD system from Voiptime Cloud supports efficient mixing of operators from different groups to service different inbound calls from several incoming lines and different queues and allows you to reach a service level of 90% of calls answered within 5 seconds.
If the number of incoming calls exceeds the call center’s capabilities it is possible to transfer part of the calls to another contact center, which will handle this part of call volume until it is normalized.
ACD systems can help you to optimize your call center workflow and avoid long queues of frustrated customers. If used efficiently, this automatic call distribution software is able to increase your agents’ productivity that, in turn, will have a positive impact on your bottom line.