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ACD or Not ACD?

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Discussing the Nature of ACD Systems

It is no secret that ACD systems have a long history in the telecom industry. These systems have evolved from being merely a task-oriented switch box, to become a complex, sophisticated, and highly intelligent call center application. With today’s ACD systems in place, most functions you traditionally maintained are becoming redundant. Like telecom companies no longer want to be switch vendors, so do ACD systems change to become a multi-tasking mechanism that is no longer limited to call routing.

Recent advances in technology and science have turned ACDs into a unique piece of managing call center operations. Today, it is rightly considered as an essential ingredient of any call center’s function and an instrument capable of managing all aspects of customer relationships/ interactions. A number of interesting examples show how ACDs have evolved to become what they are at present. For example, present day call centers can use the benefits of interactive intelligence, which exemplifies an updated version of the ACD. Very often, interactive intelligence is called an Interaction Center Platform, because it combines the most important and even unexpected call center features. Having Interactive Intelligence is the same as having all call center features in one box. With an Interaction Center Platform, call center administrators can serve the needs of customers and suit the needs of enterprises, as long as the platform has two separate components, one for enterprises and another one for customers.

With an enterprise interaction center, call center administrators and customers can have access to PBX, interactive voice response, auto attendant options, unified messaging, and speech recognition. Messaging options, including Lotus Notes and Microsoft Exchange, can be integrated into a single interactive solution. Automatic call distribution, IVR, text chatting and call recording are all available in modern ACD systems and can add value to the basic operations and functions provided by today’s call center systems and switch vendors.

Many call center administrators have questions regarding the use of ACD systems and their capabilities. They need to know that modern ACD systems usually include multimedia queuing for all types of communication, including phone calls, voice mails, emails, and even Web callback requests. Depending on the type of communication you use the most, you can define the percentage of utilization for each type of interaction. For example, if you see that with 100% of utilization assigned to phone calls and only 25% delivered through chatting, you can make sure that your call center agents process one phone call and four chat requests at a time. Also, you can decide how many agents process calls, how many agents chat with customers, and how many call center agents handle email requests. All this is possible with modern ACDs.

With modern ACDs, just a click is enough to notify other call center agents about possible problems. Modern ACDs can be used to help call center administrators solve the problems they commonly encounter while dealing with customers and when working with new technologies. On the one side of the call center system, call center agents can also see who is calling and choose how to handle the call. On the other side, customers can access software databases and company directories, as well as choose the best way to contact the company. With today’s ACD systems, even the smallest call centers can have everything they need to provide customers with a high-quality call center service.

Yet, even then, one of the main questions is whether there is any chance to turn standalone ACDs into a source of profits. The answer to this question is simple: the source of call centers’ competitive advantage is software. Call centers need to manage their clients effectively, through call prioritization and routing, and other options. Today, having an ACD is not enough to be effective. Today’s systems are not standalone ACD boxes but entirely new systems, which not only process customer contacts but analyze them against a number of criteria. These are the criteria you yourself can choose, depending on the nature of your business and call management priorities.

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