Automatic Call Distributor (ACD): Everything You Need to Know

If you’re at all involved in your business’s customer service department, there’s a high probability that you’ve heard of automatic call distributor (ACD) systems once or twice. Perhaps you’ve even considered incorporating one into your business but aren’t quite sure where to start. Luckily, while the technology behind an ACD system might be complex, the actual concepts it represents are much easier to grasp. Here’s what you need to know before you take the plunge on an automatic call distributor.


What is ACD technology?

At first glance, an automatic call distributor seems pretty self-explanatory, right? It distributes calls…automatically. However, these telephony systems rely on pre-defined criteria and business-defined parameters to perform their functions accurately and effectively. Typically, ACD systems work with computer telephony integration (CTI) as well as interactive voice response (IVR) technology to determine these parameters. This works in several ways. Say, for instance, you’re receiving a call from a customer based in Mexico. Based on their number, the ACD system can route them to a Spanish-speaking representative. On the other hand, if a customer calls a specific department number, the ACD would, naturally, route them to that department.


This has even further applications. Suppose that you have a handful of what you would consider “VIP customers.” Perhaps you have exclusive partnerships with these customers or they’re known for ordering frequently and in bulk. Products like Bright Pattern’s ACD could recognize their number and give them priority placement in a call queue or route them to a representative immediately. Be careful that you’re not playing favorites too much, though, as it’s bad business to alienate other customers.


Other uses of ACD


While the bread and butter of these systems is the call routing functionality, ACD also has numerous additional applications. While they’re handling some of the legwork of the call process, they’re also gathering valuable business data and insights. These include the amount of time on the call, the amount of calls both incoming and outgoing, how many calls are routed to specific agents, and even the wait time before the call was answered by a representative. All of this information can help you determine areas of improvement in your customer service department as well as help you identify your top performers in terms of call lengths and customer preferences.


Beyond that, ACD systems are excellent for geographically distributed companies. Since not every department of your business is necessarily housed in the same location, the ACD is able to seamlessly direct customers to the appropriate representative without lengthy hold times and repeated interdepartmental transfers. It’s a great way to both improve your overall customer satisfaction rates while reducing stress and confusion inside your business.

And speaking of holds, ACD can maintain multiple call queues and also automatically direct customers to voicemail in the event of call queue overflow. Paired with a callback feature that all but eliminates hold times and you’re looking at much less time on the phone with irate customers. Since grumpy customers tend to be one of the biggest morale crushers, this is important for your business health as well as the sanity of your employees.


ACD can have a major impact on your business by streamlining some of the more mundane tasks a representative tends to on a daily basis. It also speeds common customer service tasks up by collecting initial information and sending customers to the correct department on the first try. While it’s not the end-all, be-all of customer service (that would be a well-trained, happy team), it’s a great first step towards improving your efforts and building a better department.

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