Customer service

Four Ways Modern ACDs Are Powering Today’s Call Centers

Enreach 23/12/2020
Clock icon 6 min

Call centers need a powerful engine to drive their goal of delivering exceptional customer experiences (CX). That engine is the Automatic Call Distributor (ACD).

What Is An ACD?

An Automatic Call Distributor is call center software that organizes incoming contacts such as phone calls, emails, chats, and other digital interactions, queues them, and then routes them to the most qualified available agents. An ACD should be set up so that customers don’t have to wait long to be assigned the agent that best meets their needs. Matching criteria can include factors such as the reason and channel of the contact, language preferences, interaction history, agent skill, and more.

ACDs are frequently integrated with Interactive Voice Response (IVR) systems or their more advanced counterparts, called Voice Portals (VP), which differ from IVRs in that they use spoken language for interactions with more intelligent routing and to automate less complex interactions. IVRs or VPs are also used to collect additional information that allows the ACD to further refine its matchmaking routine to optimize work assignments and can help reduce the workload of active agents by automating all or part of the interactions.

What Are The Modern Capabilities Of ACDs?

The current features and capabilities of ACDs have transformed the call center and revolutionized customer service. Increasingly demanding customers and modern ACDs meet new demands with capabilities such as the first omnichannel and skills-based digital routing. At the same time, features that allow them to offer their best customer service enhance the agent experience.

1) Omnichannel Routing

Omnichannel customer service enables users and agents to move seamlessly across voice and digital channels within the same interaction. For example, a customer may start by sending a text message to a call center, but then switch to a phone call due to the nature of the problem.

An ACD that is capable of offering omnichannel routing is critical to successfully executing a customer service strategy across multiple digital channels. Todays call vending machines use a universal queue to organize, sort, and prioritize incoming contacts on all supported channels. Then, based on the configured rules, the ACD routes the contacts to the best-qualified agents. This allows contact centers, for example, to route real-time chat and voice interactions before asynchronous interactions that do not require an immediate response, such as emails or text messages. Additionally, omnichannel routing allows clients to match the same agent when they change channels.

Omnichannel routing also offers call centers more flexibility in the way they deploy their agent resources. Multi-channel savvy agents could find themselves answering a call, then answering an email, and then handling a chat session. In addition, agents manage their work in an interface that handles all channels, which streamlines the management of interactions and increases their productivity.

Today’s consumers expect omnichannel customer service. In fact, a comparative study revealed that 93% of users expect a perfect experience when they change channels, but 73% think that companies do not meet those expectations. To illustrate how common channel switching is: Half of all users who initiate a self-service transaction will switch to an agent-assisted method to complete it.

Thus, omnichannel routing solves the frustrating customer experience of having to start over, as people don’t have to repeat their query or problem to all the agents trying to help them.

2) Skill-Based Routing

Skills-based routing matches incoming contacts with agent expertise, that is, a customer who needs help with their invoice will connect with a billing expert. The system determines the nature of the call using several possible methods. For example, it can view the dialed number, perform a data search in a CRM system based on the caller’s phone number, and / or use the information collected in an initial IVR or voice portal. The ACD then compares that information to the agent’s skills and competencies to make the best match.

Skills-based routing is important for a number of reasons, most of which fall into the categories of customer experience (CX) and agent experience (AX). It’s easy to see how the help of the most qualified agent available will make customers more satisfied by increasing the likelihood that the problem will be more accurately resolved on the first try. In these days when more than 80% of users are likely to switch brands after a bad customer service experience, the best CX can make customers more loyal and positively impact bottom line results.

3) Personalization

When interaction with a customer is personalized, the agent or system uses the user’s data to immediately call the customer by name, ask about their latest purchase, make relevant product recommendations, and thank them for being a long-time customer. This is possible when the ACD is integrated with CRM software or other system of record. An integrated agent desktop contains the information that is passed to it from an IVR and / or queried in the routing flow. It may also have additional customer information such as interaction and order history collected from other systems.

Personalization has received a significant boost recently with the development of predictive behavioral routing. This technology, enabled by Artificial Intelligence (AI) takes personalization to the next level by matching the personality of the customer with that of the agent. Behavior routing influences things like a customer’s personality, communication style, and experience preferences, and compare them to agent profiles related to those characteristics.

Personalization creates an emotional connection with customers, who typically appreciate being recognized by the companies they do business with, enhancing customer experience and brand perception.

4) Customer Self-Service

A robust ACD has built-in IVR capabilities. This can include features such as presenting a menu to callers so they can specify the reason for their call, basic speech recognition to understand and respond to simple voice commands, and offering self-service for simple questions and transactions. Additionally, AI-powered voice bots that are integrated into an ACD flow can make self-service an intuitive experience. And if callers decide they need an agent’s help in the middle of the self-service attempt, the information collected by the system will be passed on to the agent for a smooth transition.

Self-service gives customers another support option. For quick transactions, like checking a bank balance, many people prefer to do it at any time of the day (or night) that is easier than talking to an agent. According to the study mentioned above, 90% of consumers are more willing to do business with a company that offers more forms of communication. Furthermore, the adoption of chatbots is increasing, which means that their future remains key for ACD-enabled self-service offering easy integration with, for example, the AI ​​solution that a company standardizes on.

Call centers also have a very powerful financial incentive to offer and promote self-service. It is much cheaper than agent-assisted options. Some estimate that a self-service transaction is ten times less expensive than an agent-assisted interaction. This combination of customer demand and cost savings is probably why 60% of companies already offer some form of self-service and another 22% plan to add self-service options in the near future.

In conclusion, contact centers using outdated ACDs are hurting themselves, their customers, and their agents. Instead, modern ACDs enable organizations to achieve optimal results and gain a competitive advantage.

Bell icon Subscribe Hearth icon Ask for a demo