What is an Automatic Call Distributor?

An automatic call distributor (ACD) system routes incoming calls in a voice over IP (VoIP) system according to specific rules. It is designed to direct phone traffic according to a variety of different functions and purposes. It can reside as a software system within a phone system that incoming calls are routed through. ACDs can also provide you with a variety of other types of phone system features that are useful for business phones.

These systems typically work in concert with interactive voice responder (IVR) systems. IVRs work to ask incoming callers questions and identify which agents should receive these calls.

ACDs are typically a form of advanced software you can use to enforce call rules. Some servers running ACDs can handle thousands of calls and may cost several thousand dollars and up.

You can set a variety of different types of rules, for different business purposes.

ACD Systems Can:

  • Route your incoming calls more efficiently
  • Help customers get the specific agents on the phone that they need
  • Customize your business telecommunications system to deliver the type of phone experience your incoming callers actually need

Here in this article, we will introduce what ACD systems are and help you understand how they function within your business phone system. We will also help you decide how ACDs can help your business and how they are deployed. If you are wondering how to get started using an ACD, we will help you know how to get your questions answered and start using a new system with your phones quickly and efficiently.

In This Article:

  1. How An Automatic Call Distributor Works
  2. Automatic Call Distributor Features
  3. Does My Business Need An Automatic Call Distributor?
  4. How Do I Get Started with Automatic Call Distributors?
  5. Automatic Call Distributor Tips and Tricks

1. How An Automatic Call Distributor Works

ACDs are software systems that can help your callers reach the best agent for their needs. Agents can be sorted within the ACD according to their experience, knowledge, niche areas, department or another characteristic. Incoming calls can be sorted and directed to different agents.

Examples of ACD Sorting:

  • Experience–Sort calls for more advanced issues to agents with more experience and knowledge.
  • Niche/Department–Send incoming calls toward agents working in specific departments so they can help callers with the right issues.
  • Questions–Based on specific questions or issues, your ACD can organize calls and route them onward through a queue to an agent that properly manage the problem.
  • Caller Location–The ACD determines where the caller is located, routing the call to the correct agent based on that location.
  • Language–Based on the caller’s language, the call is forwarded to the right agent.

Working with an IVR, incoming callers are sorted accordingly. Agents receive only the calls that are most appropriate to their expertise, specialty and position. Forming queues makes it easier to process these calls and give every caller the help they need.

For example, a typical call begins with the IVR playing a greeting and asking the caller to answer prompts by pressing specific keys. From there, answers to these questions allow the ACD to direct the calls to agents or into a queue to eventually reach the correct agent. In this way, the ACD manages calls using the input provided by the callers’ interaction with the IVR.

2. Automatic Call Distributor Features

With ACDs, you can access a variety of different features to help you manage your incoming calls. Calls can go through questions prompted by an IVR system, then reach the queues and agents that are most relevant to the needs of callers.

Typical Features:

  • Respond to VIPs Quickly–Identify high-priority callers early and place them in the front of the queue or send them to the best available agent.
  • Overflow Calls–Send overflow callers to voicemail if there are no agents available to take the incoming calls.
  • Monitor Calls–Collect data, monitor agent performance and get a better picture of typical call statistics.
  • Multiple Queues–Create more than one queue to operate simultaneously and segment and organize incoming calls.
  • Extension Dialing–Callers can dial the extensions of specific agents and reach them right away instead of waiting in the queue for any particular agent.
  • Auto Call Back–Callers can request a call back and leave the queue.
  • Geographically Distributed Teams–You can have multiple geographic locations for your agents, yet keep them all functioning together as a unit, department or team.
  • Software Integrations–You can integrate your ACD with various software programs, such as CRMs. This can provide your agents with additional information to use during calls. You can also conduct other functions, as needed.

With these features, your ACD can help you create a strong phone system. With access to useful information and data, you can make effective changes and manage your call queues more effectively.

3. Does My Business Need an Automatic Call Distributor?

With an ACD, you can manage and customize your business phone system. You can access advanced call features and keep incoming calls going to the correct agents. Some systems can be fairly expensive and are run on large servers, while others are more accessible. Some ACD features are available through cloud hosted private branch exchange (PBX) services, too.

ACD systems can help you accomplish more with your call centers and business phone systems. This software can integrate with other platforms you use, making it easier for your agents to have access to customer information, sales data and other features as they work.

4. How Do I Get Started with Automatic Call Distributors?

Call center software vendors may offer access to ACD platforms. You can have an ACD run on your call center server, routing and processing VoIP phone traffic. A variety of vendors are available, so it is important to do your own research to find the right one for your business. First, you should think about what features are important to your business phone system.

Make a list of features your business needs in an ACD. Think about your budget, typical customers and other needs you may have.

5. Automatic Call Distributor Tips and Tricks

  1. Keep your ACD regularly updated to reflect current skills, etc for your agents so that your system can continue providing the best service to incoming callers.
  2. Occasionally, agents are unable to come in and work on particular shifts. You may need backup agents already planned for different areas and needs. Planning ahead like this helps your organization deal with unexpected personnel changes, too.
  3. Watch for seasonal changes in call volume and adjust your planning and ACD programming accordingly to anticipate these changes. Certain times of the year may require additional agents or different agent specializations, so this is something to keep in mind as you use data analytics to look at trends.
  4. Find great software and platform integrations that can help provide your agents with more information at their fingertips during calls. Program your systems so that agents receive pop-up information and access to the platforms they need while on the phone. This can help them stay organized and quickly get up to speed on the incoming caller’s needs and previous conversations.
  5. If you are actively marketing, be prepared to start receiving traffic in response to your efforts. Have the necessary capacity to respond efficiently to inquiries.
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