What is your interpretation when you hear the term “ACD in the telephony industry?”. Not sure?
Then, let’s try to figure out what ACD means?
Well, ACD stands for “Automatic Call Distributor”. To understand this in greater detail, an Automatic Call Distributor is a system that is used for distribution of incoming calls within the team to a particular group of agents based on certain rules specified for the call routing purposes.
An ACD system is always integrated with CTI (Computer Telephony Integration) and IVR (Interactive Voice Response) technologies to allow interaction between Computer-Telephone and Computer-Human respectively.
Since now, we have got a slight idea about what ACD is, lets us look into its importance in today’s call center environment.
ACD plays a significant role in a call center for an efficient and uninterrupted calling process.
If you have a call center with the primary motive as customer delight and it requires you to handle high call volume on daily basis then need of implementing the emerging trends in the software is a mandate for your business growth.
One of the most important aspects of a call center management software in recent times is ACD.
To have a better perspective about the features of an ACD, some of them are listed below:
1. Call Routing:
ACD’s primary task is routing the calls coming in the queue to the agents based on a set of rules defined. It uses an internal algorithm to determine the best agent for assisting the customer.
Like for instance, a call center that provides sales and after sales service can use ACD. When a customer calls for an after sales query the call is routed to the after-sales service team.
An incoming call from a high-profile customer can be routed directly to the most suitable agent. If all the agents are busy their call is re-routed to waiting queue giving them the top priority.
Callers can be defined as high-profile based on their Service Level Agreement (SLA) and previous information in companies database.
3. Multiple Queues:
Using ACD, the organization gets an option of having more than one queue based on the area of specialization of the agents and mapping of agents to correct queue accordingly for the purpose of smooth call handling.
4. Managing Call Overflow:
It can happen sometimes that all the agents are busy and there is no availability in the queue, and, in such cases, calls can be automatically redirected to voicemail using ACD. Due to the presence of this feature, it becomes extremely easy to handle high call flow and contact customers based on agent’s availability.
5. Diverse Location Support:
ACD enables the option to route calls to the agents working from a different geographical location. Thus, allowing agents to operate as a single unit.
For Example, an agent working from Mumbai needs to route a call to another agent working from Delhi in the case of an emergency or otherwise.
6. Fast Response:
Quick response to an incoming call is possible through ACD as the call is transferred to the most suitable agent automatically based on a specified set of rules, thereby minimizing the call wait time which in turn helps in effortless call handling and improved resolution time.
7. Callback Provision:
ACD provides the caller with an option for a callback for those users that do not wish to wait in the queue and could request the agent for a callback.
This feature simplifies the troubleshooting process for the agent as well as for the end customer, wherein a customer can request for a callback in advance so the agent can contact the customer at mentioned time resulting in customer satisfaction.
8.Monitoring and Reporting:
ACD is also beneficial in gathering information for the purpose of quality monitoring and reporting based on the data such as total number of calls (incoming and outgoing), time spent by an agent on each call, number of calls waiting in the queue, time in the queue before the call is answered.
Based on this, the information Managers can get a clear picture of the area of improvement for individual agents as well as for the whole team and working on those points will boost overall development of the business.
9. Integration with CTI:
Incorporating CTI with ACD and skill based routing enables the call center agent to gain comprehensive knowledge about the customer before answering the call. This ensures that the agent is aware of the issue in detail and it also helps the agent in assisting the caller in a more constructive manner.
Incorporating CTI with ACD also enhances the performance of the call center by providing control over calling features like call forwarding, Do not Disturb(DND), conference calls, automatic dialing etc.
10. Direct Calling:
In a certain case, where a caller wants to work with a specific agent as the agent has worked with the caller previously and is aware of the end customer working environment, so with ACD implemented caller has an alternative of directly reaching that agent if aware of agents extension and avoiding waiting time in the queue.
In any call center, proper distribution of incoming calls is one of the major aspects that needs to be taken care of, so that it does not put the load on few agents but also results in reduced performance of other agents.
Therefore, proper call distribution is a very important characteristic. For achieving this, ACD can be used with a call center software which will route the incoming calls to the agents in several different ways.
There are 5 different types of call distribution as mentioned below:
1. Linear distribution – All the calls are managed in linear order between the available agents (depending on a pre-defined format) starting from the beginning of the queue every time.
2. Circular or Rotatory distribution – The calls are managed in circular order among the available agents (depending on a pre-defined format), starting with the agent that is next to the agent who has received the last call.
This process works in a constant loop and once the end of the list is reached the process re-starts itself.
3. Uniform call distribution – All calls are managed between the available agents in a uniform manner, starting with the agent who has been sitting idle for the maximum amount of time.
4. Simultaneous call distribution –All the available agents get the call alert at once. The agent to answer the call first handles the client.
5. Weighted call distribution – Calls are distributed between agents according to a defined set of parameters (depending on pre-defined rules like skill, experience, service level etc).
Based on an organization’s requirement anyone of the above-mentioned call distribution techniques can be implemented with the calling software.
Working of ACD:
From the above points, we have got an idea about the importance and features of ACD in a call center. Given below, we will see an illustration to get a clear picture about ACD working principle.
Considering the above pictorial representation, we can make out the following about ACDs working:
1. Customer contacts the company and is greeted by an IVR: “Thank you for calling Company Name..”
2. After greetings, the customer is presented for choices to route the call to appropriate team based on customer’s response like (Press 1 for Sales, Press 2 for Support, Press 3 for marketing..).
3. Depending upon the response by the customer, ACD handles the routing of the call to the correct queue. Example: If customers press 1 ACD will route the call to sales queue.
4. In sales queue, the call will be directed to an agent based on the implemented call distribution technique specified and the availability of agents then any of the agents will take over the call.
5. In case, of no availability of the agent, the call waits in the queue for a specified amount of time and if the call goes unanswered, it is then redirected to voicemail for customers to record their message for an agent or request for a callback.
From the above scenario, we have understood, how the ACD works. Now we will determine how the routing strategy is decided in ACD.
The Routing Strategy is based on an algorithm which can be changed based on the organizations’ requirement and business goals. The algorithm is a set of rules which acts as a deciding factor for routing of incoming calls.
Some of these rules comprise of following frequently used components:
1. The option provided using IVR and customer response received.
For instance, if option 1 is for the sales team and option 2 is for the technical team based on the response received by IVR, the call will be routed.
2. Customer service level with the organization ( High valued customer calls are routed to senior agents or served first).
3. Agent skill set and domain of expertise.
4. Priority of the issue, a caller calling for high priority issue will have precedence over a low priority caller.
5. Agents availability in the queue.
6. Time of the day. This feature will come in the picture if agents are working from multiple locations and need to work around-the-clock.
7. Language based call routing.
From the above points, we can easily see that ACD is a most crucial technology for a company, whether small or large, dealing with high volume of incoming calls and it also supports features of geographical diversity for business expansion.
The idea of ACD will be more adaptable if we take a real-life example and see how ACD played a vital role for handling incoming call flow.
Today we will look at a Product based Company namely LMC Private limited dealing with sales and after sales service of Laptops, Computers and Mobile phones.The company was founded in 2005 and has offices in India as well as overseas countries like Germany, China, and Australia.
The Company was using a virtual call center software and was facing a challenge in handling the incoming call flow in an effective manner and needs to deal with the issues like:
1. Language barrier: Other than English all the agents were not trained in languages like German and Chinese.
2. 24 * 7 support: Due to clients in overseas as well, continuous support was needed
3. Load Sharing: Proper distribution of the calls between agents was needed, as most of the caller required assistance in the Chinese language, the agents with knowledge of this was having more workload compared to other agents.
As the issues faced by the company was creating major problems they immediately started their research for a solution for these problems and thought about implementing ACD in their call management software with an inline business process.
As soon as they implemented ACD in their software system following changes reflected improved business results:
1. They implemented separate queues for English, German and Chinese language support in addition to IVR requesting callers response about preferred language.
2. Based on the response received by IVR calls were routed to the corresponding queue and also added the option for callback in cases all agents are busy.
3. This also helped in identifying the unbalanced call distribution problem for which management decided to train agents in Chinese and hire new agents having knowledge of the same.
4. Along with this, the organization implemented “Circular call Distribution” method for equal distribution of workload.
5. As ACD also possess multi-location support, the team working from Germany, China, and Australia can share the load with each other and work as one single unit resulting in efficient and faster resolution of client problems.
ACD implementation helped the company in seamless and effective call management process. This also improved the overall performance and quality of service resulting in increased professional image of the company and achieving 20 percent boost in Customer Satisfaction Index.
From this, we can see the perks of including ACD in the call center. This also enables an organization to provide round the clock support to the client through remote location support.
In addition to that, the solution provides detailed caller information before an agent takes over the call so they are well aware of the situation that needs to be handled keeping the agent prepared.
The solution is not only beneficial for the agents but also has a lot to offer to the managers for productive results like reporting of calls missed from the queue, a total number of calls in waiting in each queue, time spent on each call per agent, call resolution rate, call recording and much more.
All these features act as crucial pointers for improving the performance and increased customer satisfaction.
A company can enhance the impact of ACD by pairing it with the best call center software available in the market.
This will act as a masterstroke in achieving consistent customer experience and will significantly increase agent performance from more effective call routing.
If all these elements seem to help you in achieving a well-organized call handling system, its time for you to introduce an ACD system and integrate it will your calling software to get the perfect results.