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Automatic Call Distributor (ACD)  

Automatic Call Distributor (ACD)

In telephony, an Automatic Call Distributor (ACD), also known as Automated Call Distribution, is a device or system that distributes incoming calls to a specific group of terminals that agents use. It is often part of a computer telephony integration (CTI) system.

What Is An ACD System?

"ACD (Automatic Call Distribution) is a computer telephony integration technology that automatically distributes incoming calls to unique groups of phone answering agents.

ACD phone systems are usually found in organizations that process large volumes of phone calls. In most of these types of organizations (such as customer support or sales), the caller has no specific need to talk to a certain person. The caller simply wishes to speak with a person capable of providing the necessary support and information.

The ACD phone system's primary responsibility is to route these calls in the most effective manner. The ACD phone system consists of switching hardware, phone lines and routing software. ACD routing strategy is a set of instructions that tells the ACD how calls are handled within this system."

Routing incoming calls is the task of the ACD system. ACD systems are often found in offices that handle large volumes of incoming phone calls from callers who have no need to talk to a specific person but who require assistance from any of multiple persons (e.g., customer service representatives) at the earliest opportunity.

The system consists of hardware for the terminals and switches, phonelines, and software for the routing strategy. The routing strategy is a rule-based set of instructions that tells the ACD how calls are handled inside the system. Typically this is an algorithm that determines the best available employee or employees to respond to a given incoming call. To help make this match, additional data are solicited and reviewed to find out why the customer is calling. Sometimes the caller's caller ID or ANI is used; more often a simple Interactive voice response is used to ascertain the reason for the call.

Originally, the ACD function was internal to the Private Branch Exchange of the company. However, the closed nature of these systems limited their flexibility. A system was then designed to enable common computing devices, such as server PCs, to make routing decisions. For this, generally the PBX would issue information about incoming calls to this external system and receive a direction of the call in response.

An additional function for these external routing applications is to enable CTI. This allows improved efficiency for call centre agents by matching incoming phone calls with relevant data on their PC via screen pop.

A common protocol to achieve this is CSTA; however, almost every PBX vendor has its own flavor of CSTA, and CSTA is quite hard to program because of its complex nature. Various vendors have developed intermediate software that hides these complexities and expedites the work of programmers.

Also, these protocols enable call centres consisting of PBXs from multiple vendors to be treated as one virtual contact centre. All real-time and historical statistical information can then be shared amongst call centre sites.

Automated Call Distribution Phone Systems

A simple ACD system processes incoming telephone calls on a first come first serve basis or based upon your own business rules. When an agent becomes available, this representative serves the first caller in this queue. However, the phone system does far more than simply process calls in sequence. The PACER (digital) or WIZARD (analog) ACD phone system manages multiple call queues, keeps a log of call group activity, and monitors call activity such as call queues, agents, and on hold times. Depending upon user defined business rules, our automatic call distribution systems create different processing paths for different callers.

Automated Call Distribution usually features

    * Answering Service
    * Prioritized call routing
    * DNIS assignment of agent groups
    * IVR and skills based routing
    * GUI interface
    * Route calls to remote agents
    * Unlimited number of agent groups
    * Auto attendant features
    * Custom messages for each DNIS
    * Multimedia support (email, chat, inbound, outbound calls)
    * Alarms for callers in queue
    * Call-back message support
    * Customizable agent screens

* Skill set call distribution: Allows the system to send the call to the agent with the most expertise in the subject matter. If that agent is not available, it sends the call to another agent with that skill set.

*Overflow capability: You can set the parameters to offer the call to another group of agents should your agents not be able to answer the call promptly. Overflow can be triggered by either the number of calls or length of time in queue.

* Call accounting: The system counts the calls as they enter the queue. This provides detailed information to the supervisor as to how many calls are entering the agent group at each half hour increment of the day. Call accounting is extremely helpful in forecasting the number of calls that will be received, and planning your staffing needs.

* Lost call reporting: The system provides real-time and historical reporting on the number of callers that hang up before reaching an agent, and how long they waited before hanging up. This allows a supervisor to learn about the tolerance level of the caller, and make adjustments in staffing or call flow to meet the caller.

* Delayed call reporting: The system provides real-time and historical data on how long calls wait in queue before reaching an agent. This information is critical when trying to provide a consistent level of service expected by callers.

* Detailed reporting on group performance: The number of calls offered, the number of calls answered, the number of calls overflowed to another group, and the number of lost calls are all important pieces of data when trying to determine if the performance of a group of agents is adequate. This information helps the supervisor determine staffing and training needs.

* Quality assurance monitoring: Many ACDs are equipped with the ability to let a supervisor listen while a call is in progress or listen and tape a call in progress. Both methods are effective in helping agents improve their quality in telephone etiquette, and helping the supervisor identify training needs.

At UK's leader in Virtual Call Centres, we cover all aspects of the industry. Our office is a centralized and used for the purpose of ACD’s. We work as an advisor to companies to support and advise on any business solution.

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