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.