06 Oct Defining CCaaS Solutions: IVR vs ACD
The modern contact centre environment is full of new and evolving terms for business leaders to understand, from CCaaS and deep learning, to real-time analytics.
Two of the most common terms people hear when shopping for contact centre solutions “ACD” are and “IVR”. The ACD, or automatic call distribution system, is a popular product in the contact centre landscape, and something that appears frequently throughout most product portfolios. The IVR, or Interactive Voice Response system is similarly compelling as a tool to help companies improve their customer service strategy.
Today, we’re going to explain the difference between IVR and ACD technology, and how you can use the two tools in your CCaaS system for the best effects.
What is a Call Centre ACD?
The call or contact centre ACD (Automatic Call Distribution) system, is the technology responsible for routing incoming calls to the appropriate agent. The technology works by using various factors to determine which calls should go to which professionals.
ACD technology works well with modern contact centres in a range of industries. You can use this technology to improve the organisation of an in-house agents, remote employees, or a combination of both. ACD solutions also come connected with a range of other contact centre features to improve the customer experience as they wait for an issue to be resolved.
For instance, when callers are being directed to the right person, they can’t always connect with an agent straight away. An ACD system can be set up to play holding music or messages while customers are in the queue – reducing the risk of an abandoned call.
Depending on the nature of your contact centre ACD, you might be able to use a range of routing options to connect customers and professionals, such as:
- Skills-based routing: When you connect customers to agents based on their skills. For instance, if a customer has a problem with logging into their account, you might route them to a technical account professional.
- Availability routing: When all of your agents have the same skills, you can use availability-focused routing to make sure a customer’s call is delivered to the next available agent.
- Request-based routing: With an intelligent assistant or IVR system, you can use your ACD to find out what a customer needs, then route them based on their requests. For instance, you may need to route someone to a specific agent if they need service in a specific language.
As AI and voice assistants are becoming more intelligent, IVR solutions are growing increasingly effective. For instance, today’s IVR solutions can be equipped with Natural Language Processing and Understanding technology. This means that the service can listen to your customer’s voice, and start automated actions based on what someone says.
IVR systems can sometimes complete tasks for customers and take them out of the call queue before they ever need to interact with an agent. For instance, you might have used an IVR system before to renew a subscription or pay for a bill.
Aside from offering a more convenient service experience, IVR systems can also collect useful information, and deliver real-time statistics in the contact centre. Managers can see how quickly calls are being processed, and how frequently people are getting to the right agent when calling the customer service team.
How Do IVR and ACD Solutions Work Together?
Although IVR and ACD technology are two very different components of a contact centre environment, they often work in tandem with each other. When a customer contacts a company by phone, it’s the IVR technology which intercepts the call and determines what needs to happen next. Sometimes, the IVR solution can solve the problem before it gets to an agent.
In a case where the IVR isn’t enough to deal with the request on its own, the conversation can then be passed through to the ACD system. That ACD system is the technology responsible for leading callers to the right person to solve their issue or answer their questions. While the IVR filters calls, the ACD decides where those filtered interactions should go.
In most cloud contact centre environments, companies are creating increasingly intelligent IVR and ACD systems, capable of making significant improvements to customer experience. For instance, an intelligent IVR which can understand customer requests and language can offer much better opportunities for self-service in the contact centre. At the same time, because the IVR will be able to assess the needs of the customer better with intelligence, it can pass the call over to the ACD with more contextual information.
When the ACD routes the call to the agent, the technology here can also contribute to a better customer experience. For instance, the ACD solution can not only choose the most intelligent routing method to ensure customer satisfaction, but also leverage information about the customer in question from a service desk, previous conversation, or CRM for the agent. This means when the call is delivered to the staff member, the right information to handle that call is offered too.