What is an ACD (Automatic Call Distributor)?

An automatic call distributor (ACD) is a tool commonly used in the telephony industry. ACD systems are commonly found in any office that handles a large volume of inbound calls. The primary purpose of an automatic call distributor is to route incoming calls to contact center agents or employees with specific skills.

The ACD system utilizes a rule-based routing strategy, based on a set of instructions that dictates how inbound calls are handled and directed. These rules are often simply based on guiding a caller to any agent as fast as possible, but multiple variables may be added, all with the end goal of connecting the customer with a qualified agent as quickly as possible. Matching and routing literally thousands of calls to the correct agent is a difficult task, and is often done in concert with an interactive voice response (IVR) system to better determine the customer needs.

While its original intent was to route incoming phone calls, today’s ACDs are increasingly sophisticated omnichannel routing engines, capable of routing customer inquiries that are received via email, messaging, web chat, social media and other digital channels.


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How does an ACD route interactions?

ACDs commonly rely on a skills-based routing engine that intelligently routes digital and voice interactions to the right agents. An intelligent routing engine matches customer requests to agents based on skills, customer data, real-time contact center performance, customer sentiment and artificial intelligence (AI)-powered behavioral profiles. It consolidates routing across inbound and outbound, digital and voice, agent-assisted and self-service channels. The ACD ensures every interaction is routed to the best available agent in the least amount of time.

What are common features of an ACD?

Today, most automatic call distribution (ACD) systems are capable of:

  • Routing incoming calls and digital interactions to specific agents based on pre-defined criteria
  • Interactions with CRM and other systems via computer telephony integration (CTI) to “pop” relevant information to the agent automatically
  • Multiple call queues
  • Identification and rapid response to VIP callers
  • Reporting on interaction volumes and agent activities
  • Call center overflow to voicemail
  • Integrated auto-attendants allowing callers to reach a specific agent

The benefits of using an automatic call distributor (ACD)

ACD (Automatic Call Distributor) call routing is a technology used in contact centers to distribute incoming calls to the most appropriate agent based on various criteria such as skill level, availability, and previous interactions. The benefits of using ACD call routing include:

  1. Increased Efficiency: ACD call routing can increase the efficiency of contact centers by automatically routing calls to the most appropriate agent based on skills and availability. This reduces wait times for customers and ensures that agents are able to handle calls within their areas of expertise, resulting in shorter call times and increased productivity.

  2. Improved Customer Experience: ACD call routing can improve the customer experience by ensuring that customers are quickly connected with the most appropriate agent. This helps to reduce frustration and improve customer satisfaction, leading to increased loyalty and repeat business.

  3. Enhanced Reporting: ACD call routing can provide detailed reports on call volumes, wait times, and agent performance. This allows contact center managers to identify areas for improvement and make data-driven decisions to optimize operations.

  4. Increased Flexibility: ACD call routing can be configured to handle calls during peak periods, after hours, and across multiple geographic locations. This provides greater flexibility and ensures that customers are able to receive support whenever they need it.

  5. Scalability: ACD call routing can be easily scaled to handle increased call volumes as contact centers grow. This ensures that contact centers are able to meet the needs of their customers without compromising on service quality.

In summary, ACD call routing provides numerous benefits to contact centers, including increased efficiency, improved customer experience, enhanced reporting, increased flexibility, and scalability. By leveraging these benefits, contact centers can optimize their operations and provide the highest level of service to their customers.

NICE CXone is a cloud-based contact center software that provides an ACD solution. Here is a general overview of how to set up an ACD using NICE CXone:

  1. Create a new contact center: Log in to your NICE CXone account and create a new contact center. This will serve as the foundation for your ACD configuration.

  2. Set up agents and teams: Add agents to your contact center and create teams based on your routing strategy. You can assign skills and other attributes to agents and teams to help with call routing.

  3. Create call flows: Use NICE CXone's drag-and-drop interface to create call flows that define how calls are routed through your ACD. This may involve setting up IVR menus, call queues, and routing rules based on agent availability, skill sets, or other criteria.

  4. Configure ACD settings: Configure your ACD settings based on your business needs. This includes defining the maximum number of calls that can be queued, setting up overflow and after-hours handling rules, and configuring call-back options for customers who prefer not to wait in the queue.

  5. Test your ACD: Once you have configured your ACD, test it to ensure that calls are being routed correctly and that agents are receiving calls as expected. You can use NICE CXone's monitoring tools to track call volumes, wait times, and other key metrics.

  6. Monitor and optimize your ACD: Monitor your ACD performance over time and make adjustments as needed. You can use NICE CXone's reporting tools to gain insights into call volumes, agent performance, and other key metrics. Use this information to optimize your call routing strategy and improve customer experience.

Overall, setting up an ACD using NICE CXone involves a combination of configuration, testing, and ongoing optimization. With NICE CXone's intuitive interface and powerful reporting tools, you can easily create an ACD solution that meets your business needs and provides excellent customer service.

How NICE is Redefining Customer Experience

NICE CXone is the industry’s only interaction-centric platform where channels, data, applications, and knowledge converge to improve customer experience at scale.

It is the leading, most complete and unified CX Platform on the market, used by thousands of organizations of all sizes around the world to help them consistently deliver exceptional customer experiences. CXone is a cloud native, unified suite of applications designed to help you holistically run your call (or contact) center operations.

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