An automatic call distributor (ACD) is a telephony system that answers incoming calls and routes them to the appropriate departments or agents. They are often paired with interactive voice response (IVR) systems for maximum efficiency. Modern ACD systems will generally be software packages capable of handling contacts from across multiple contact channels (text, SMS, web chat, etc.) instead of being limited to routing voice calls like legacy systems. Whether you’ll be using a multichannel or omnichannel system will depend on your business and your goals, but it’s important to keep in mind that you’ll only get one chance to make a great first impression with your callers. The following are a few ways you can use your ACD system to optimize your customer service.
Integrate with CRM
The latest ACD solutions can be easily integrated with customer relationship management (CRM) software to more quickly handle consumer contacts and provide more personalized service. In addition to being able to handle requests across any channel, you’ll also be able to quickly identify customers and look up their previous interactions and concerns. This allows your agents to be more productive and reduces the chances of making errors. If you’re using an omnichannel system, you’ll even be able to seamlessly switch customers between channels if the need arises, all while updating the system with new information. This way, if another agent has to step in, they’ll enter the conversation with full context of the situation.
Prioritize high value customers
You can take advantage of your ACD system’s ability to route calls by setting specific behaviors for certain numbers. Most businesses will have so-called “golden customers” who either sign big deals regularly or who are otherwise too important for the company to lose. It’s possible to automatically route these numbers to the top of the waitlist to dramatically cut down their hold time. Alternatively, these numbers can automatically be transferred to an agent who is especially qualified to serve these customers. This way, priority customer concerns are expedited, encouraging their continued loyalty.
Diversify call locations
ACD systems are great during emergencies, since you can potentially route calls to other facilities if you’re unable to take calls due to technical or other issues. Even if you’re running a smaller business with a single location, you may still be able to route calls to agents working from home. There are many benefits to hiring freelance agents, but one of the most practical is having multi-location redundancies that protect against location-based issues like storms or technical difficulties.
Manage options under pressure
It’s important to ensure that you have callback systems enabled for instances where your center gets an overwhelming number of inbound calls. You won’t be able to take them all in a timely fashion, so you’ll need to offer customers the ability to drop a call and have an agent call them back when they’re available. It’s best to take advantage of your call-tracking options for this so the most qualified agents can contact the appropriate customers, or you could have a customer called back by an agent who has helped them previously.
With that said, avoid overwhelming your customers with options when they call your contact center. Customers may already be frustrated when calling in, and bombarding them with too much information too quickly can easily add to that. They may immediately insist on waiting for an agent in the queue rather than listening to all the potentially useful self-help tools that are available. Keeping things simple is generally best.
Try giving your own center a call once in a while to see how smoothly things go for you. If you have any frustrations or experience an abnormally long wait time yourself, you can bet your customers are thinking the same. Use this to find ways to improve.