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Automatic Call Distribution: The All You Need To Know Guide

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Published: Feb 21, 2023

Some call center metrics directly impact your team’s KPIs and goals:

  1. First call resolution: The industry average for first call resolution is 70%.
  2. Customer satisfaction: Any score above 75% is considered a good measure of customer satisfaction. 
  3. Average handle time: Although this depends on your industry, an average of 6 minutes is the standard for average handle time.

What if there was one tool that singularly impacted all these key metrics?

That’s Automatic Call Distribution or  Automatic Call Distributor (ACD) for you.

Automatic Call Distribution is a system that automatically receives incoming calls and distributes them to available agents based on a set of rules. With ACD, you can determine where inbound calls go based on set criteria. Its goal is to handle large call volumes and improve contact center performance.

Let’s learn more about the automatic call distribution (ACD) system to understand how it can impact your team.

How do automatic call distribution systems work?

automatic-call-distribution-how-it-works

How the ACD system works.

Whenever a customer needs to call back to resolve their initial inquiry, your customer satisfaction (CSAT) score falls by 15%. If a customer contacts you three times to resolve their issue, your CSAT score falls by 30% – that’s alarming!

Automatic call distribution systems use predetermined criteria to route calls to the most equipped agents— thus reducing customer wait and resolution times and maintaining your CSAT.

Automatic call distribution systems do that in three steps–

  1. Caller identification
  2. Call queueing
  3. Call routing
automatic-call-distribution-steps

Caller identification

The first step of the ACD process is identifying and categorizing callers based on predetermined criteria. These criteria are unique to your organization and could be determined based on–

  • Geographical location,
  • Time of day,
  • Time of week,
  • Agent availability,
  • Agent skills,
  • Automatic Number Identification (ANI), Dialed Number Identification Service (DNIS), or Caller ID.

For example, if you have callers requiring support in different languages, the ACD system will direct them to agents who can support them in their language.

Call Queueing

Once callers are identified and categorized, the automatic call distributor will add them to a waiting list. This queue is determined by the system based on–

  • Agent availability,
  • Waiting time to reach an agent,
  • Status,
  • Call Traffic.
Pro-tip: You can enter a database of VIP clients into the ACD system, and every time these clients call, they will be fast-tracked to the most experienced agents. Your most special clients deserve the best experience with your business.

Call routing

The last step of the automatic call distribution system is call routing. At this stage, you choose which agents receive calls and the order in which they receive them.

The type of call routing you select depends on–

  1. How do you want to distribute calls? For example, based on expertise, availability, etc.
  2. Your call center goals. If you want to impress big-ticket clients, routing them to your best agents will do the work for you.

Read Also: What Is Call Routing: 9 Ways You Can Handle Call Traffic 

Let’s explore the distribution routes in the next section.

Types of call distributions

Automatic call distribution offers multiple call routing options, depending on your business goals and priorities. Explore these options in detail to determine which best suit your call center campaign–

Linear Call Distribution

Under this type of call routing; calls are distributed in a pre-defined order, starting with the same agents every time. 

automatic-call-distribution-linear

Call centers often opt for this call distribution method to leverage agent skills. For example, call centers might want new agents at the frontline and more experienced agents as the second point of contact, depending on the complexity of customer issues. 

Circular/Rotary Call Distribution

This automatic call distribution method is known by many names – circular call distribution, rotary call distribution, or round-robin call distribution.

Calls are distributed in order, starting with the first agent, then the second, the third, and so on. Once an agent receives a call, the next call goes to the agent right after them. When the last agent in this order gets a call, the circle restarts again. 

automatic-call-distribution-circular

This method of call routing is especially popular with sales teams to ensure every agent has an equal opportunity to make a pitch. 

Uniform Call Distribution

Under uniform call distribution, calls are divided uniformly between agents. The system identifies agents who have received fewer calls or have been inactive for a long time and routes calls to them.

automatic-call-distribution-uniform-call-distribution

This automatic call distribution system ensures no agent takes more or fewer calls than other agents. It prevents overworking or underperforming agents. 

Simultaneous Call Distribution

With simultaneous call distribution, an incoming call is presented to all agents simultaneously. Whichever agent is available can answer and handle the call.

automatic-call-distribution-simultaneous-call-distribution

Simultaneous call distribution is best for call centers that emphasize reducing customer wait time, increasing speed, and customer delight. 

Weighted Call Distribution

Under weighted call distribution, agents are given a different weightage, and calls are distributed accordingly. For ease of understanding, there are three agents in a call center. One agent may get 25% of the calls, the other 45%, and the third 30% of the calls.

automatic-call-distribution-weighted-call-distribution

These weightages depend upon many factors, such as the different skill sets of agents, the experience level, etc. Call center managers might want to route many calls to more experienced agents while they focus on training newer agents.

Essential features of automatic call distribution

Beyond routing customers to suitable agents, here are other features and capabilities of automatic call distribution systems:

  1. Identification and rapid response to VIP callers: You can prioritize your most important callers through automatic call distribution. VIP clients will be fast-tracked to your most experienced agents to ensure a winning experience.
  1. Acquiring usage data: Automatic call distributors make routing decisions based on specific pre-defined criteria. This information, collected from callers, can serve as a significant data point for your organization, especially your sales and marketing teams.
  1. Call monitoring, reporting, and coaching of agents: The automatic call distribution system records all data on call, including agent responses. This data makes it easier to monitor agent performance and key performance metrics and figure out skill gaps for training.
  1. Integrations with CTI and CRM: Automatic call distribution systems contain Computer-Telephony Integration, allowing the company’s telecom to connect with the distribution software. This enables agents to answer calls from their devices. 

Agents can also view caller information through CTI. On the other hand, Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software organizes caller data, calling history, etc., for easy access to future interactions. 

  1. The IVR menu: ACD systems use Interactive Voice Response (IVR) to route calls based on customer responses and queries efficiently. With IVR, users can click on digits on their keypad a indicate the kind of support they require or the department they want to connect with. 

It helps organizations manage call volume and allows customers to serve themselves before interacting with an agent.

Check out CallHub’s IVR offerings to understand the range of solutions an IVR menu can offer your call center.
  1. Automatic call back: In case of agent unavailability, or long wait times, the caller can request a callback from agents. This creates a positive experience for the customer since their queries are not ignored, and they can skip long waiting lines.
  1. Multiple call queues: Automatic call distribution enables the creation of multiple call queues for the caller. You can create call queues for different agents, departments, or phone numbers based on who the caller wants to reach or the query they want resolving. 

Benefits of automatic call distribution

With top call center tools offering automatic call distribution, it is undoubtedly a prevalent and effective tool. But what are the benefits of ACD that call centers are vying for? Let’s find out–

Better workforce management

Automatic call distribution ensures that calls are distributed between agents depending on–

  • Expertise
  • Availability
  • Pre-defined orders

These criteria ensure that no agent feels overwhelmed with calls or is underworked. It also ensures that customers are satisfied with the resolution and the management of queries.

Enhanced customer experience

Upto 64% of business owners reported that excellent customer service was vital to their company’s growth.

With automatic call distribution, you can-

  • Avoid long wait times.
  • Be directed to the best agent to resolve a particular query.
  • Schedule callbacks when they cannot reach an agent.
  • Get support based on their data.

These small but essential interventions at every step of customer service go a long way in ensuring customers are happy with your organization. 

Easy agent training

With easier agent monitoring, you will be able to identify gaps in agent skills, bottlenecks in your call center’s processes, and more. These insights can be used to tailor-make training modules for agents.

Manage call overflows and after-hour calls

ACD systems are particularly useful in managing call surges by identifying customer profiles and routing them in ways that are–

  • Helpful for easy query resolution – like offering an IVR menu, directing them to departments or agents expert in those particular queries, etc.
  • Efficient for call center queues– Splitting calls between available agents, allowing automatic call back and more.

ACD systems navigate call overflows with ease.

First call resolution and average handle time

ACD impact two primary call center metrics that define success – First Call Resolution (FCR)  and Average Handle Time (AHT).

90% of customers report needing any business concern resolved during the first call. With intelligent call routing, ACD ensures your FCR and AHT metrics always look good.

Automatic Call Distribution (ACD) vs. Interactive Voice Response (IVR)

Since the primary purpose behind an IVR and ACD system is to sort callers based on their concerns and direct them toward agents, it is easy to wonder how the two are different.

However, there is a vast difference between IVR and ACD. Here’s how:

Interactive Voice Response (IVR)Automatic Call Distribution (ACD)
UsecaseIVR asks users to choose from a selection of options on a dial pad.ACD uses information the IVR collects to understand user intent and distribute calls.
Customer service typeIVR works on self-service. Customers click on the dial pad or use voice assist to help solve their queries.Queries are resolved through conversations with an agent.
ResolutionCan provide resolution through in-built messages.Does not provide solutions but uses set paths and rules to direct callers to the right agent for answers.

How can I get started with a routing system for inbound calls?

If you are just beginning, we strongly recommend trying CallHub’s range of inbound calling tools.

To begin with, learn more about our Automated Voice Messaging Software or IVR menu that offers–

  • Text-to-speech features,
  • Multi-transfer options,
  • Voicemail transcription,
  • Detailed analytics,
  • Automated polling, and more.

Featured Image Source: Mikhail Nilov

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