“ACD time” is a term commonly used in call centers that run ACD (automatic call distribution) software. The term can be used interchangeably with direct call processing time, customer time, or talk time.

But they all refer to the total time a customer spends (including hold times) from the moment an agent answers the call until the moment either the customer or the agent disconnects. We’ll go into more detail below.

ACD purpose

ACD software is operated within a company’s CTI systems, and is frequently used in customer service centers that receive a high volume of inbound calls. The system routes inbound calls to the appropriate departments and agents, and the creation of this system led to the modern call center as we know it. The software has many benefits for customers, agents, and supervisors.

Customer benefits

Even the most basic ACD systems should offer customers a series of options to determine the purpose of their call, and they will generally have the option to switch the voice to Spanish, at least in the US. They are then routed to their next destination based on predetermined conditions. Modern ACD systems can make things easier for customers by using the dialed number as the basis for decisions.

If the system notices a customer has already dialed an extension for a specific department, they skip the introduction and route them directly to the desired department. Specific numbers can be set as VIP callers so that these callers will always be routed to an appropriate agent immediately or placed at the front of the line if none are available.

Supervisor benefits

ACD software also makes things easier for managers, particularly when it comes to data collection and analysis. Data regarding the number of inbound calls, call length, average number of rings before a call is answered, and how long specific agents talk to specific customers is all collected automatically.

All of this data is useful for quality management and can give supervisors better ideas on how to guide their current agents and train new ones.  

ACD evolution

The original ACD systems were limited to routing voice calls, and many companies that are struggling with digital conversion still use these legacy systems. Such systems are quite out of date, however.

A modern omnichannel ACD system can route communications across all channels instead of being limited to voice. This means that all modes of communications including voice, text, in-app bot chats, social media conversations, and more are compatible with the software. This grants customers full control over their experience. They may start a conversation as an online chat on the company website, convert to text messaging, and escalate to a call without losing any of their progress.

This is made possible because agents equipped with omnichannel software can monitor communications across all channels simultaneously, ensuring that they have full context of the customer’s situation when entering a conversation. This means that even if the customer has to be transferred to a different agent, they won’t have to repeat themselves, resulting in a much more convenient and personalized experience than what’s possible through other means.

A skills-based routing system can even match agents most skilled with a customer’s preferred communication method to guarantee optimal efficiency from the start.

Installation

These modern systems even manage to avoid what was arguably the biggest drawback to traditional ACD setups. Each element of service, or routing configuration, in the traditional systems had to be programmed individually. This made implementation a time sink, especially when trying to pair the software with multiple other systems. Luckily, modern platforms pair easily with existing applications and can often be set up in a matter of hours.

As technology continues to advance, there is no doubt that ACD systems will continue finding ways to expedite the customer journey and offer more satisfying solutions.

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