If you've ever called a customer support team, there's a good chance that the call center used automatic call distribution (ACD) or an interactive voice response (IVR) system to make your call more efficient. These modern-day VoIP features route callers smoothly to the right extension, cutting down on wait times, transfers, and sometimes any human interaction at all.
Call center ACD and IVR systems aren't the same—but they work magically together.
TL;DR: ACD is a form of automatic call routing based on different factors, while IVR is an automated voice response menu that intelligently navigates callers through options.
Want more details? Below, we'll walk through call center ACD vs. IVR to discuss the details, nuances, and benefits of these systems. Then, we'll show you how these two features can work in tandem to create the optimal customer experience for inbound callers.
What Is Call Center ACD?
In a perfect world, your callers would know if you're busy and call back later when you're available. In the real world, it doesn't work like that—far from it. In fact, it seems like all of your customers prefer to call at precisely the same time, making it challenging to prioritize customers and make sure no one is left hanging.
That's where call center ACD systems come in handy.
Call center ACD (automatic call distribution) systems automatically receive inbound calls and route them to available agents. Sophisticated ACD software understands the caller's needs and distributes them to agents according to skills-based routing and task prioritization.
For example, a well-programed automatic call distribution system will send a caller with a support-related question to the right technician and a caller with a pricing question to sales. And if it's an emergency, a caller will get a priority place in the call queue or immediate assistance.
That's the power of an advanced call center ACD system.
What Is an IVR System?
An IVR (interactive voice response) system lets users interact with voice prompts or dial-pad input to navigate menus. An advanced IVR menu might ask for your name and account number and help you make payments or self-service. Fundamental IVR systems might tell you the business hours or route you to the appropriate department.
A well-configured IVR system can collect the appropriate data to inform your automatic call distribution software on how to help customers. For example, you can tell the IVR system all your concerns, and then it will process that data with ACD rules to route it to the right (available) contact center agent.
Call Center ACD vs. IVR—What're the Big Differences?
IVR systems help collect user data and empower callers to self-serve their problems. When additional help is required from a live agent, ACD technology routes phone calls to the appropriate department and available agent.
You can think of IVR as the front-end experience that customers interact with, and look at ACD as the back-end routing tool for connecting callers to agents more efficiently.
In just about every scenario, it's not about choosing an IVR system or a call center ACD—it's about using the two systems together.
How Twilio TaskRouter and Twilio Studio Do ACD and IVR
Twilio TaskRouter is an intelligent ACD system. It can dynamically assign tasks and connect callers to the right agents from the get-go—no unnecessary transferring or extra steps required.
Here's some of the magic that makes TaskRouter so powerful:
- Workflow Logic: Uses rules, categories, and logic to create intelligent workflows that work for each specific customer. You can set rules to prioritize certain tasks or escalate an issue if it's not resolved within a certain timeframe. Callers can even request to speak with a specific agent (maybe one they worked with previously), and TaskRouter can make it happen.
- CRM Integration: TaskRouter integrates with popular CRM platforms to assign support tickets, route calls to the appropriate agents, and update lead information. It understands caller information to know when a service call should go to a support agent and when a prioritized customer should be directed to a manager.
- Reporting: Get the nitty-gritty metrics and call monitoring you need to make better business decisions. Deep dive into customer experience, agent productivity, traffic forecasts, support trends, and the like to fine-tune your call center's performance.
- Intent Sentiment: TaskRouter uses bots to leverage artificial intelligence to better understand caller's emotions and needs. TaskRouter can recognize that an incoming caller has called multiple times in a week and detects rising frustration levels—thus, it can prioritize that caller or send them to the most experienced agents.
Once you’ve gotten the hang of TaskRouter, start designing your IVR tree menu with Twilio Studio. Twilio Studio is a visual workflow builder that lets you create flows for everything from chatbots to IVR to automated reminders.
Learn how to build the ultimate phone call customer experience by tying TaskRouter and Twilio Studio together.
Want to learn more about TaskRouter? Check out our comprehensive page to learn the ins and outs of how this technology can become the heart of your contact center.