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  • Combining Interactive Voice Response (IVR)
    and Automatic Call
    Distribution (ACD) to
    meet customer needs

  • Author: Shane Schick

If you're not familiar with the acronyms IVR and ACD, just think of them as the tag team that's going to take your customer experience from frustrating to phenomenal.

When customers reach out to a contact center, they want two simple things. They want to quickly get to a person who can help them, and they want it to be the person with the best expertise to do so.

For businesses, this is a lot more difficult than it sounds to put into practice, partly because of the volume of calls and other inbound messages their contact centers receive. Technology plays an important role in helping to avoid keeping people on hold or routing them to someone who can't adequately address their questions or complaints.

How IVR and ACD work

Interactive voice response (IVR) tackles that first challenge by allowing customers to establish what they want or need without having to talk to an operator. Instead, they can use buttons on their phone as a menu that corresponds to the most common issues the business hears about.

A customer might call in and press "1" to correct a mistake in their billing address, for instance, or press "2" if they need to return a product.

Automatic call distribution (ACD) allows a business to organize their team and other resources by setting up rules that define where calls that come in through IVR get routed. Someone who pressed "2" in this case would immediately be transferred to an agent who knows all the ins and outs of making product returns fast and simple.

IVR and ACD offer an immediate efficiency gain because they act as a greeter when people reach out to a contact center and as a dispatcher to the appropriate people on your team.

Building the business case and staying ahead of challenges

You can build the business case for a technology like IVR by looking at data you might already be collecting. This could include the volume of customers you're currently serving, how long they typically have to wait and how long it takes an agent to help them, among other metrics like customer satisfaction scores.

Map those numbers against your goals to provide an outstanding customer experience. For most companies, this means being able to treat customers as unique individuals. Technologies like ACD help achieve that by sending customers to agents focused on their specific needs. Those agents can then personalize how they offer service when you arm them with data about that customer.

Technical considerations for IVR and ACD

While combining these tools may make intuitive sense, there are a few IT considerations to keep in mind. Customers reaching out to your contact center will be sharing personal information such as their name, address and even credit card number. That's why you must ensure that you implement strong security protocols, such as having them enter their data with a keypad rather than speaking it.

Strong authentication—using several pieces of specific information to access an application—is critical, as is encrypting data during exchange and at rest. Organizations should also double-check that they're complying with any laws or regulations that govern such information.

The good news is that when you work with cloud-based solutions, you get all the business benefits along with consistent application performance. You'll also save money by not having to install additional hardware and by being able to scale your use of the technology based on your business needs.

Most importantly, the one-two punch these technologies serve up means you're positioning your business to be faster and more responsive and to provide better value to your customers—whenever and however they come to you for help.

Discover the full potential of moving to a virtual contact center in the cloud today.