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Automatic Call Distribution Software
Automatic call distribution software not only makes it possible for a help desk to process a large number of incoming calls, but it is also effective in eliminating, or at least reducing, the number of abandoned calls. Customers are happier because they are more likely to reach the right person to field their question on the first try and call wait times are reduced. Help desk operators find that their jobs are facilitated by ACD since the workloads are more evenly distributed.

What automatic call distribution software does is it routes incoming phone calls. That can be done in one of three ways: sequential, load sharing, or priority. Sequential call routing is exactly what it sounds like - first come first serve. Calls are placed in a queue and answered by the first available operator. A load sharing system routes any new incoming call to the operator that has been free the longest, regardless of area of expertise. A priority-based system gives each operator a priority rating during setup. Calls route to the highest rated available operator, based on menu items that the caller has selected. Operators who have specific expertise are thus the designated recipients of particular types of calls.

ACD software also includes the ability to produce both real-time and historical reports on a variety of subjects including call flow and distribution patterns. The reports can be invaluable for managers in identifying problem areas and refining call routing features. Activities can be monitored, queues can be analyzed, hold times can be tracked, and call center functions can be logged and reported on. The metrics that are to be used and the call data to be tracked can both be configured as part of the software setup process. Companies that are considering a new purchase of ACD software, however, should check carefully to make certain that it not only contains the features that are most desirable to meet the needs of customers, but that it produces the reports that would be most beneficial for the company.

However, that ACD software is best used as part of an overall Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system, and that good employee training can be the key that makes or breaks both. Poorly trained agents are a source of irritation for customers, no matter how quickly calls are routed. Agents must have enough training to operate the system effectively and answer questions appropriately.

One of the biggest problems with many call centers is that they are designed from the technical teams perspective rather than the customer perspective. In addition to effective training programs for agents, it is essential that call center managers monitor calls on a regular basis in order to judge operator quality and knwledge.

A recently published survey of customers indicated agreement that ACM is one of the essential components of a good ERM system, but that neither are effective as tools unless a company has the right attitude toward using them. If good customer support is an attitude that is encouraged and fostered throughout the organization, call center operators will be well trained and well rewarded for their best efforts. In the final analysis, it is not the speed with which calls are answered, or the means by which they are routed that is most important. Customer service is the bottom line and the reason for using the best tools available.


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