What is ACD article image

What Is ACD and How Does It Work? – Forbes

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The cost savings of voice-over-internet-protocol (VoIP) solutions are significant. But they are nothing compared to the impact that a VoIP solution can have on your bottom line. That’s because the best VoIP providers offer vital tools—like automatic call distribution (ACD) functionality—that you won’t find in traditional telephony solutions. ACD connects customers with the best-qualified agent available as quickly as possible.

Connecting callers quickly and getting it right the first time is very important. According to a recent survey conducted by Arise, nearly 66% of participants said they’d hang up after being put on hold for two minutes. And in a recent report from Zendesk, half of all customers said that one bad customer support experience is enough to switch to a competitor. Given how impatient and temperamental customers are, ACD can make the difference between satisfying and losing a customer.


ACD Defined

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ACD stands for automatic call distribution. It’s a feature in VoIP solutions that collects information from callers, places them in a queue, and then routes the call to the next available agent based on rules that you configure. ACD essentially eliminates the need for an operator to manually redirect calls to the proper agents.


How ACD Works

When a customer calls, they are greeted with a recording, then presented with an interactive voice response (IVR) menu. The IVR menu collects information about the purpose of the call by asking the caller to select an option using their voice or the phone’s touch-tone keypad. Callers are placed in a queue and prioritized before they are routed to an agent. This could entail skills-based routing where the customer reaches a representative who best suits their issue, or a time-based queue where callers are sent to the next available agent regardless of their reason for calling.


Noteworthy ACD Features

While the primary function of ACD is routing calls, there are several other features that you can leverage against ACD to improve productivity at all points of contact across your entire business. ACD comes with features that enhance the caller’s experience, improve agents’ productivity and provide managers with insightful data that can be used to optimize the contact center.

Low-Code/No-Code ACD Logic and Queue Management

You don’t need to be a coding wiz to set up and manage your own ACD logic, even if it’s elaborate and complicated. In RingCentral’s Contact Center management solution, for example, you can build IVR menus and configure workflows in a GUI environment by dragging and dropping nodes onto a canvas and programming their behavior.

Managing queues and configuring their priorities is as simple as filling out a form. Managers can select how calls should be routed (rotating, simultaneously or sequential) and define what time and day the queue is “open” for callers. RingCentral also enables managers to create skills, and to configure call distribution logic to match callers and agents based on skills, such as the ability to speak another language.

ACD Enables Data-Driven Decision Making

VoIP providers like Nextiva come with several analytics tools to collect and analyze call data. All calls are logged, and managers have access to a lot of useful data that can help them understand how their contact center is performing. Managers can see how many calls each agent takes, how long each call lasts, the number of dropped calls and so on.

This enables managers to evaluate employee performance—as well as the entire contact center—against key performance indicators. You can determine each agent’s strengths and weaknesses so you can deploy them in areas where they excel, and coach them in the areas where they need improvement. Data collection also enables businesses to implement sophisticated routing rules, such as skills-based routing.

ACD Enables Automated Callback Capabilities

In the survey from Zendesk, about one-quarter of respondents named automated callback capabilities as one of the most important aspects of a good customer service experience. It turns out, callers don’t mind waiting for help as much as they mind waiting on hold. With automated callback, callers don’t wait on hold—when their turn in the queue comes, an agent who is best suited to serve the customer will return the call and assist the customer.

ACD Integrates With Other Core Business Solutions

Most customers expect that the person on the other end of the phone knows about them. Over 40% of those surveyed by Zendesk said that one of the most frustrating aspects of bad customer service is having to repeat their information. Another 30% said that they’re frustrated when the agent doesn’t have sufficient information to help them.

ACD can integrate with other solutions that your phone-centric staff also use frequently in their day-to-day activities, such as a customer relationship management (CRM) solution. When a customer calls, the ACD can pull customer data from the CRM, such as their personal information, purchase history and any service problems they’ve had in the past.


Who Benefits From an ACD?

Busy contact centers and businesses that experience high call volumes would benefit the most from ACD solutions. But as the workforce decentralizes, businesses with smaller call volumes will benefit from their own ACD, too. If you have a support team of ten who are spread out across a continent, then you’re going to want to implement some automated logic about which person should take a given call.


How To Set Up an ACD

There is no shortage of VoIP providers that offer ACD functionality. In the past, deploying a VoIP solution—and by extension, ACD functionality—could be a significant undertaking, because you needed to set up and manage your own servers on top of managing the solution. But these days, cloud VoIP solutions are the norm, so getting your own up and running is relatively much easier (and much less expensive).

If you don’t want to manage the phone system yourself, there are also plenty of managed service providers who offer VoIP services. They handle everything from hosting and administrating the solution to providing you with the phone equipment you need to set up your contact center.

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Frequently Asked Questions

What’s the difference between ACD and IVR?

ACD and IVR work in tandem, but they are distinctly different VoIP features. ACD uses data collected from IVR and call metadata to place callers in a queue, prioritize their call and then route the call to the next available agent based on rules and conditions you define. IVR presents callers with menu options, allowing the caller to select options using their voice or their phone’s touch-tone.

Do I need to buy a VoIP solution to use ACD?

ACD is not a stand-alone solution, but rather a feature of telecommunications solutions. So in that regard, VoIP may be required to take advantage of ACD unless you have a physical PBX-style phone system in place.

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