Automatic Call Distributor

An automatic call distributor (ACD) is a telephony system typically used by contact centers to receive incoming calls and automatically direct them to available contact agents or a department with a specific skill set to handle the call.

The ACD system allows contact centers to deal with high volumes of inbound calls more efficiently. It helps keep the contact center agents from getting overwhelmed by the call volume, which could undermine the center’s performance.

Furthermore, by distributing calls to the right agent, the contact center’s customers also have a better call experience as they will be directed to someone who can help them much faster. This reduces the time they have to spend on the phone while still resolving their concerns.

How Does the Automatic Call Distributor Work?

There are three main stages in the ACD’s distribution process:

  1. Phone on a deskIn many cases, a caller will first engage with the interactive voice response or IVR. The IVR will ask for their purpose (for example, pressing “1” for Billing, “2” for Technical Support, and so on). This lets the ACD system direct the caller to an agent in the proper department. The ACD may also use caller IDs to distribute calls based on location or language.
  2. The ACD then places callers on waiting lists where they are queued according to query type and waiting time factors.
  3. Afterward, the automatic call distribution system will start routing the inbound calls to available contact agents. How the calls get distributed depends on the method you’ve set beforehand.

What Are the Different Automatic Call Distribution Methods?

Here are some common distribution methods used by contact centers with automatic call distributor systems.

  • Simultaneous Call: In this method, the inbound call is distributed to all the contact agents. The first agent to accept the call will handle the customer. Businesses that want to reduce their customer’s call waiting time often prefer this practice.
  • Fixed/Linear Order: Some companies use linear order distribution, which means that the agents are in a fixed order. All calls will be routed to the first agent unless the agent is already on the line. In this case, the call will be routed to the next agent, and so on.
  • Time-Based: In this distribution system, the calls are routed to the agents with the least talk time. This helps ensure that all agents can have equal workloads.
  • Skill-Based: A company will use skill-based distribution if they want to direct calls to agents based on their skill. For instance, a Spanish-speaking caller would be directed to an agent that can also speak Spanish. Meanwhile, an agent with more experience in troubleshooting would likely receive more technical support calls.
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