What is an ACD: Driving Seamless Customer Experiences Efficiently

Great customer experiences rely in part on a company’s availability. Yet, every business knows that when customers reach out to their customer service department, they expect more than simple contact—they want to be connected to the right person at the right time. So, what can your business do to ensure that your customers are getting the assistance they need with the greatest efficiency? That’s where an ACD steps in.

What is an ACD?

An ACD, or automatic call distributor, is a telephony software system that uses preset distribution rules set by a company to route inbound and outbound contacts to the right agent. With this system, contact centers are able to route customers more efficiently—even on non-voice channels. When companies use an ACD, they are able to streamline contact center practices, reduce overall costs, and ultimately offer greater customer experiences which lead to long-term loyalty.


Key Features of an ACD

Intelligent skills-based routing

Agents have different skills sets and abilities and customers have different needs. Using preset distribution rules, inbound contacts are routed to the most qualified agent available based on the agent’s skill set: language skills, IT skills, product knowledge…

 Skills-based routing improves customer service by automatically routing customer requests to the agent who has the skills necessary to do the work.

Customer identification

Through an IVR, customers are prompted to provide information about the assistance they need before the ACD directs them to the right agent. When a contact center solution is integrated with a CRM, customers are identified quickly, and agents have access to the customer’s information and history in order to provide more personalized interactions.

Omnichannel routing

An ACD solution can go beyond the voice channel and route customers inquiries from digital channels to a single agent interface. In addition to phone calls, inbound contacts from email, chat, instant messaging, SMS, web, or social media can all be routed to the most qualified agent available for optimal customer service management.

Outbound call routing

When programming outbound call campaigns with progressive or predictive dialing, the ACD may dispatch calls to the most qualified agent based on the rules defined in the ACD. For example, preset rules might include language or customer profile.

Queue and overflow management

Wait queues for every department can be personalized according to their specific contexts. For example, greetings, messages, hours of operation, and overflow options can be configured to match the current situation for every department. Through the ACD, companies can also monitor and dispatch their flows between internal teams and a service provider to ensure the best levels of customer service.

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Advantages of an ACD

Real-time reactivity

Immediate customer identification and skills-based routing enable the most qualified agents to assist customers quickly and efficiently. In addition, agents and contact center supervisors may analyze KPIs in real time and make adjustments quickly based on hold and resolution times, the number of customers in a queue, and other important metrics. With a few clicks, an ACD can be adjusted to improve flow distribution, agent routing, hold queues, and overflow strategies with no need for additional IT support.

Personalized customer experiences

Using IVR and ACD features as well as a contact center solution integrated with CRM software, agents are provided with in-depth customer knowledge and can offer richer, more personalized, and faster customer service. In addition, VIP or high-risk customers may be identified quickly and routed immediately to the right agent or department.

Greater agent productivity

Agents can access an ACD’s features while working both on-site or remotely, facilitating their work processes. Since agents are connected to customers based on a specific skill set, they only manage cases for which they are truly qualified. Their specific skills—language, technical expertise, etc.—become assets for every customer interaction. Agents therefore become highly productive and more confident in their work.

Improved customer service KPIs

An ACD improves routing and overflow strategies, leading to reduced call handling times and queue wait times. In addition, customers may be offered automatic callbacks, further reducing wait times. This efficiency ultimately leads to increased FCR (first contact resolution) rates and greater customer satisfaction.

Greater contact center management

An ACD also empowers agents and supervisors to better manage contact center operations. Statistics and reports enable optimal contact routing as they provide valuable insights such as queue occupancy rates and wait times. Supervisors can use voice recordings, listening, whispering, and chat features to offer real-time support and offer agent training.

Reduced costs

An ACD reduces operational costs significantly. Efficient call routing ensures that the right agent resources are defined to handle the expected call volumes, and that time is not wasted when connecting customers to agents. Increased FCR rates and reduced handling times further reduce costs. With no need for extra IT support and minimal setup costs, an ACD is highly cost-efficient. 

Greater customer satisfaction

Ultimately, customer satisfaction increases when all contact center processes are streamlined. An ACD enables customers to get the answers they need in a timely and personalized manner—leading to greater long-term customer loyalty.

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