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What is an Automatic Call Distribution (ACD)? A Complete Guide to Clever Telephony

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Arun Upadhyay
Arun Upadhyay

Meet Arun Upadhyay, the digital marketing wizard specializing in unified communications and cloud telephony. Arun's passion for technology and business communication is evident in his...Read more

Arun Upadhyay
Arun Upadhyay

Meet Arun Upadhyay, the digital marketing wizard specializing in unified communications and cloud telephony. Arun's passion for technology and business communication is evident in his...Read more

Imagine calling a company to resolve an issue, only to be put on hold for what feels like an eternity. And when you finally do speak to someone, they cannot help you, so you get transferred to another agent. Frustrating, right? Well, your customers feel the same way. That’s why investing in an automatic call distribution (ACD) system is crucial.
With ACD, your agents can efficiently handle each call that comes in, resulting in happier customers and a better reputation for your business. This guide will explain how automatic call distribution systems help you prioritize customer calls when no calling agents are available. Also, know how you can improve your customer engagement and benefit your business as a whole.

What Is Automatic Call Distribution (ACD)?

An automatic call distribution (ACD) is a clever telephony system that helps businesses automatically manage high volumes of incoming calls and distribute calls to available agents. It does this by answering the calls and then directing them to the appropriate group of agents or terminals within the company.
This ensures that customers are connected with the right person as quickly and efficiently as possible. Essentially, an automatic call distribution system streamlines the call-handling process and helps businesses provide top-notch customer service.
Automatic call distributors (ACDs) use various parameters to guide incoming calls to the right destination. These parameters may include the caller’s phone number, the dialed number, the time of day, or even their response to an automated voice prompt.
By considering these factors, automatic call distribution systems can efficiently direct calls to the appropriate agents or terminals, which helps businesses manage high call volumes and improve customer service. In brief, automatic call distribution meaning relates to the management and distribution of calls to available agents using different parameters.

How Does Automatic Call Distribution Software Work?

Call distribution system works well by identifying the caller’s identity and purpose for calling. It also determines the agent best suited to assist. Finally, it routes the caller to the right agent. Simply, ACD is a three-step process.

First Step: Identify Callers And Their Needs

It is essential to identify the needs of inbound callers to provide exceptional customer service. Fortunately, most virtual phone system providers, contact center (CCaaS) platforms, and unified communications systems offer a range of features and systems to help with this task. Here are some common methods used to identify callers:
Caller ID: This feature displays the caller’s phone number, name, and location, which can help determine the caller’s language and proximity to specific products or services.
Phone Number Dialed: The number dialed by the caller can provide valuable information about their location and the department or user they wish to reach.
Caller Profile and History: Information about the caller’s company, role, location, VIP status, and communication channel preferences can be helpful in understanding their needs.
CRM Information: Customer Relationship Management (CRM) systems provide detailed customer profiles, including recent purchases, interaction history, agents that assisted them, and sentiment scores.
IVR Menu Selections: Interactive Voice Response (IVR) or Intelligent Virtual Assistant (IVA) menu selections, such as “Billing” or “Customer Service,” can provide insight into the caller’s needs and the department or user they wish to speak to.
Time of Day: Here, the time of day can affect which call center locations are active or have the most available agents, impacting the caller’s experience.

Second Step: Determination Of The Best-Suited Agent, Department, Or Queue

Once the inbound caller’s information has been identified, the next step is determining the most appropriate agent, queue, or department to route the call. This decision is unique to each business phone system, as it has its own set of departments, locations, agents, ring groups, and queues. Cloud-based phone system providers offer various agent-categorization tools and methods, including:
Departments: Agents can be sorted into virtual departments based on their function, such as Billing, Customer Support, Technical Support, or Sales. Each department is assigned a unique phone number or extension.
Ring Groups: Agents can be bundled into ring groups to receive calls as a group, simultaneously or one at a time.
Queues: When a busy group of agents receives an inbound call, the call gets placed in a virtual waiting list or queue based on the order in which they called. Agents can view their queue, and callers get notified about the expected wait time. A queue “threshold” or limit can be set, at which point inbound callers get redirected to a more available queue.
Availability Status and Location: Agents can set their availability hours and mark themselves as available or unavailable. The phone system will only route calls to available agents.
Agent Skills and Specialities: Administrators can evaluate and rank agents based on custom skills and proficiencies. Agents can be ranked according to their spoken languages, best communication channels, personality, and other custom options.

Third Step: Ensure Your Customers Connect With the Right Agent or Queue

An effective automatic call distribution system ensures that incoming customer calls are directed to the right agent or queue, making it easier for agents to assist them.
With integration into a CRM system, Computer Telephony Integration (CTI) screen pops are triggered when the agent receives an inbound call. The CTI screen displays crucial customer information, such as interaction and order history, empowering agents with the necessary context before they even pick up the phone.
This feature allows agents to review the customer’s order information before speaking with them, helping them approach the caller with a fuller context of their needs. This, in turn, facilitates better customer service and boosts customer satisfaction.

How ACD Routes Interactions?

The ACD (Automatic Call Distribution) system in the Customer Interaction Center is responsible for intelligently routing customer interactions, such as phone calls, chats, emails, and social media messages, based on agent availability, skill levels, priority, and cost.
There is no limit to the number or size of ACD queues that can be configured to receive these interactions. Some elements of the interaction and agent score formulas include:

  • Agent cost
  • Agent Skills
  • Interaction Priority Level
  • Interaction Skill Requirement
  • Time an Agent Has Been Available
  • Time an Interaction Has Been in an Acd Queue or Cic

To configure the ACD system, administrators can use the Interaction Administrator settings and handlers to assign attributes for each agent, such as skills, proficiencies, and cost. Handlers also assign each interaction the skill, priority, and cost requirements.
When an interaction comes in, the system generates a list of available qualified agents and selects the most appropriate one based on their skills, cost, or availability.
The ACD system is designed to work in two scenarios: when many agents are available to take an interaction and when many interactions are waiting, and an agent becomes available. The system selects the best match to optimize the customer experience in both cases.

Common Types of Call Distribution

To determine the best ACD routing option for your business, you need to consider three factors: the capabilities of your call center software provider, which customer experience is most important to your business, the number of available agents, and, potentially, the time of day.
There are various ACD call distribution methods, each with advantages and disadvantages. Depending on your changing business needs, you can choose a routing strategy that addresses your issues.

Fixed Order Call Distribution

It is suitable for experienced agents who can resolve matters quickly. Calls are initially circulated to the first agent on the list and only sent to the next one if the previous one is busy.

Rotary Call Distribution

It is commonly used in centers where agents should have equal workload volumes. Agents take turns in answering calls, and the cycle repeats once everyone has had a turn.

Simultaneous Call Distribution

It is ideal for reducing customer waiting time. The ACD alerts all agents of an incoming call simultaneously, and the first agent to pick up will handle the customer.

Skills-based Routing or Weighted Call Distribution

It prioritizes an agent based on a given score, such as language proficiency, efficiency, expertise, comprehension, or response time. Callers are routed directly to the agent with the most relevant skills.

Talk Time Call Distribution

It balances the workload among agents by selecting the one with the least talk time and giving them the next ticket in the queue.

Time Based Call Distribution

It considers your agents’ availability and only alerts those who are available. If no agents are open to handling the call, it goes directly to voicemail. This is a good choice if your call center is closed during off-hours.

Comparison Between IVR and ACD

An ACD system is often confused with an IVR, which refers to the menu choices or prompts provided to an incoming call to reach a specific department, like “Press 1 for sales” or “Press 2 for customer support.”
The IVR prompts callers to press a key on their phone that resembles to the department they want to reach or the purpose of their call. Once the customer willingly presses a key, ACD routing mechanically connects the call to the appropriate agent.
To clarify the difference between IVR and ACD, the IVR determines the intent of the incoming call, while ACD connects customers to the right agent who have the best skill set to handle it.
IVR uses customer data like location, local time, and caller ID, while ACD uses employee data like department, skillset, and available agents. IVR often includes self-service options to reduce call volumes, while ACD doesn’t typically offer self-service options and is used for directing incoming calls to available agents.

Data SourceCustomer DataEmployee Data
Self ServiceYes, It is Used for Call Volume ReductionNo
Typical UseObtaining Caller Intent
Connecting Them to the Right Queue
Directing Incoming Calls to Available Agents

Advantages of Using Automatic Call Distribution

Automatic call distribution (ACD) primarily enhances agent efficiency, productivity, and competence. That is why it improves overall customer experience, ensures faster first-call resolution, and efficiently confirms agent time and effort. It can also help you generate B2B sales instantly. Here are six key benefits of using an ACD in your contact center:

Faster Call Response

ACDs answer calls immediately and transfer them to the most suitable human agent, optimizing waiting for queues and allowing customers the option to be called back during high call volume periods. VIP customers can be identified and immediately routed to assigned agents, expediting response time and the call-handling process.

Flawless Call Routing

ACDs use algorithms that consider a variety of factors such as phone numbers, caller information, and agent skills, to ensure that calls are routed to the appropriate agent. This reduces common errors such as dropped calls and transfers to the wrong agent, increasing the efficiency and professionalism of your team.

Increased Agent Productivity

ACDs dramatically increase agent competence, efficiency, and productivity. Agents handle only routed calls they are trained to handle, become more proficient at handling them faster, and waste less time trying to figure out issues beyond their expertise. ACDs and integrations give agents comprehensive information about callers before they take the call, increasing their productivity and efficiency.

Increased Efficiency

ACDs route calls to the most suitable agent or department, minimizing call transfers and increasing the specialization of agents. ACDs also integrate with business tools, allowing dispersed companies to work from one system and ensuring teams are always on the same page.
Additional ACD capabilities such as call monitoring, call conferencing, and whisper coaching support agents’ performance and teamwork and build a better CX.

Optimized Resources

ACDs optimize agent productivity and minimize downtime, allowing agents to spend more time doing what they do best. ACDs collect usage data that feed real-time and historical reporting, enabling managers to assess KPIs and optimize workflow and resources more effectively.
ACDs also allow for geographically dispersed companies to work together as one team. With an ACD, managers can easily monitor calls, regardless of where their agents work.

Streamlined Business Processes

ACDs integrate with CRM, helpdesks, social media, and live chat, giving agents a comprehensive understanding of customer needs. Agents can track all customer interactions in one interface and will never have to update multiple business tools with customer information. ACDs and integrations make teams more efficient and effective with streamlined processes.

Features of Automatic Call Distribution

The features offered by an automatic call distribution (ACD) system can vary depending on the specific tool you choose. While some ACDs may only have basic features suited for helpdesk functions, others are designed to handle more complex omnichannel communications in a contact center. However, there are several common features that most ACDs provide:
Call Queuing: ACDs offer a queue functionality that puts callers in a queue in order to connect with the appropriate agent, manages high call volumes, and offers a call back option to improve customer experience.
Call Routing: An ACD system uses a routing strategy and corresponding algorithm to route incoming calls based on factors such as agent skill sets, caller ID, automatic and dialed number identification, AI-powered behavioral profiles, and more. The routing algorithm determines how calls are assigned to agents based on the chosen strategy.
Caller Identification: ACDs can drop/block list phone numbers, identify priority calls from VIP callers, and save agents time by avoiding spam calls.
Premium Integration: To improve customer satisfaction, ACDs can integrate with other tools such as CTI, IVR, and CRM to automate tasks, help agents access customer data, and collect relevant information related to issues.
Voicemail Generation: When all agents are busy, ACDs can route incoming calls to voicemail and offer voicemail notifications, voicemail-to-text, and voicemail-to-email options to ensure messages are not lost.
By understanding the various types of ACD systems available, one can better understand how inbound calls are routed.
With mentioned above features you get with an ACD system, it is easy to improve the customer experience. Automatic Call Distribution (ACD) is a game-changer for call centers as it ensures that customers are directed to the most suitable agent right from their first call.
This leads to better customer experiences and helps evenly distribute workload among agents and improves call center performance metrics. ACD is a powerful tool that can elevate the functioning of any call center.

How Does Acd Improve Customer Experience?

ACD call center software enhances the customer experience by offering various features. Four such features are discussed below.

Capacity Planning

ACD call center software keeps track of call volumes over time and uses this data to forecast future call volumes. This helps call centers effectively staff them by planning the required number of agents for any given day, week, or month.

Queue Callback

This feature allows customers to select an option that lets them hang up and wait for an agent to return their call. This reduces pressure on agents to give half-hearted answers to take the next call and makes customers more comfortable waiting to be helped.

Self Service

The Interactive Voice Response (IVR) system provides pre-recorded options to customers for answering their queries. The IVR solution offers various choices to customers, such as paying bills, hearing operational hours, connecting with a live agent, or transferring to a specific department.
The IVR system helps customers with low-level concerns to quickly resolve them without tying up the resources of live agents. However, the call centers should avoid creating complex selections and ensure the IVR system is robust enough to handle a fair amount of inquiries.

Skill Based Routing

ACD call center software can determine which agent the caller should speak to based on the caller’s history, available information about the caller, their actions on the IVR, and the agents available at the time of the call. This ensures that customers are directed to agents who can best handle their needs.

How ACD Systems Help Businesses Scale Support?

A contact center software that operates in the cloud can assist businesses in managing customer interactions more efficiently. The cloud’s scalability feature allows companies to easily add or remove users without worrying about hardware and capacity limitations.
Moreover, a pay-as-you-go pricing model offered by cloud call center solutions can save businesses significant capital expenditures.
Apart from scalability and cost savings, this software offers numerous other advantages that can help improve business operations. Advanced features like auto-attendants, call recording, and virtual hold music are available with cloud call center solutions to enhance customer service.
Additionally, businesses can benefit from robust reporting and analytics tools, which aid in tracking key performance indicators and making data-driven decisions about their operations.

Why ACD Systems Matter for Call Centers and Other Businesses?

An automatic call distributor (ACD) is a system or tool commonly used in the telephony industry. Call centers and other business enterprises widely use ACD systems in their premises to conveniently handle a large volume of inbound calls. The primary purpose of ACD (automatic call distributor) is to route inward calls to contact center employees and agents with specific skills.
Although automatic call distributors (ACDs) were initially designed to route incoming calls, they have evolved into advanced omnichannel routing engines that can effectively manage, and direct customer inquiries received through various digital channels such as email, messaging, web chat, social media, and more.
The ACD system follows a set of instructions to route incoming calls to the appropriate agent. Typically, the rules prioritize connecting the customer to an agent as quickly as possible, but various factors may be considered to ensure that the customer is directed to a qualified agent.
With numerous calls coming in, the process of matching and routing them can be challenging. To improve customer experience, an IVR system is sometimes used in conjunction with ACD to understand the customer’s requirements better.

Where Can I Acquire an Automatic Call Distributor?

There is no dearth of automatic call distribution systems in the market. When it comes to picking the right one for solving call management issues, Fonada’s ACD software matters the most. It is one of the popular ACD softwares that are highly functional, advanced, and user-friendly. Compared to other ACDs, Fonada ACD is a ready-to-use call center solution.
In case you do not have a cloud phone system like Fonada, you might need to look for other options to obtain an automatic call distributor (ACD) software. If you are using an older PBX system, you may have to incur additional expenses to purchase compatible hardware, software, and hire experts to set up ACD functionality.
Alternatively, you can opt for a ready-to-use call center solution that includes call routing and doesn’t require desk phones for agents, with a launch time of weeks instead of months. Monthly or yearly pricing for such solutions is typically lower than on-premises systems. By implementing a seamless IVR and ACD system, you can satisfy your customers and agents, which is your contact centre’s ultimate goal.

Empowering ACD Systems With Contact Center Apis

If you’re looking to modernize your contact center’s ACD system, APIs can provide essential functionality and improve its capabilities. APIs, or Application Programming Interfaces, connect your ACD system to third-party applications, allowing customers to reach your agents through video, messaging, or social media channels.

Video APIs

Integrating video APIs into your ACD software enables customers to interact with agents via video calls, leading to real-time conversations and faster issue resolution. Video Calling API offers cross-platform integration with a live video recording feature.

Messages APIs

Messages APIs allow customers to chat with agents on the go, such as through WhatsApp or Facebook Messenger. Messages API supports multiple messaging channels and offers JWT authentication to secure the transfer of sensitive information.

Email APIs

Email APIs are vital for customer service, allowing agents to send timely updates or transactional emails. Email APIs provide customizable templates and an intuitive user interface, ensuring data protection and access permissions.

Co-Browsing APIs

Co-browsing APIs allow agents to see what customers view on their screens, helping with issue resolution such as booking flights or making payments. They offer features such as drawing patterns on the screen. They can also be integrated with video chats and CRM systems for improved co-browsing. Overall, APIs can transform your contact center’s services and make it more customer-friendly.

Best Automatic Call Distribution Software in 2023

Automatic Call Distribution (ACD) software is essential for modern call centers. It helps manage inbound customer calls by routing them to the most appropriate agent or team, based on various factors such as the caller’s phone number, the time of day, and the caller’s reason for calling.
Here Are the Top 10 ACD Software Used by Call Centers:
1. Fonada ACD: Fonada’s cloud-based phone system offers built-in automatic call distribution (ACD) functionality, making it one of the best ACD software options available in the market. With Fonada’s ACD, incoming calls are routed to the most appropriate agent based on a variety of criteria such as skills, availability, and call volume.
Additionally, Fonada’s ACD allows for advanced features such as call queuing, call prioritization, and real-time monitoring of call center performance. Overall, Fonada’s ACD provides an efficient and cost-effective solution for managing call centers of all sizes.
2. Amazon Connect: A cloud-based contact center solution that provides intelligent routing and omnichannel support for calls, chat, and messaging, along with integrations with various AWS services.
Aspect Unified IP: An on-premise or cloud-based ACD system provides omnichannel routing and workforce optimization tools. It also integrates with various CRM and business analytics tools.
3. Avaya Aura: An on-premise ACD system that provides advanced routing and queuing features and integration with various CRM and workforce management tools.
4. Cisco Unified Contact Center: An on-premise or cloud-based ACD system that provides intelligent routing, queuing, and reporting features, as well as integration with various CRM and workforce management tools.
5. Five9: A cloud-based ACD system that offers omnichannel routing, customer engagement tools, and workforce optimization feature such as quality monitoring and speech analytics.
6. Genesys Cloud: Is a cloud-oriented contact center solution that provides advanced routing and queue management features and integrations with various CRM and workforce management tools.
7. Mitel MiContact Center: It is an on-premise or cloud-based ACD system that provides intelligent routing and queuing features and integration with various CRM and workforce management tools.
8. NICE in Contact: A cloud-based ACD system that offers intelligent routing and workforce optimization tools and integrations with various CRM and business analytics tools.
9. RingCentral Contact Center: A cloud-based ACD system offers advanced routing and queuing features and integrations with various CRM and business analytics tools. It also offers a flexible pricing model based on usage, making it a cost-effective option for growing call centers.
10. Talkdesk: A cloud-based contact center software that provides intelligent routing and omnichannel support for calls, emails, chats, and social media interactions.

ACD Integrations for Workforce Optimization

ACD systems can be integrated with various features to improve workforce management and enhance customer satisfaction.

Call Center Overflow Tools

These tools can be employed when there aren’t enough agents to handle inbound calls. Voicemail allows customers to leave a message for the agents to address later, while automatic callback enables customers to request a call back once an agent is available.

CRM and CTI Integration

Modern ACD systems usually come with CTI, which enables agents to view caller information on their computers. Integrating your system with other call center solutions like CRM can further enhance customer service. CRM software organizes customer information, including their call history, chat logs, social media accounts, and more, in a centralized location for easy access by agents.

Call Monitoring

Call monitoring is crucial for quality management and maintaining high standards. Supervisors can listen in on calls to provide support when necessary, and coaching can be given to agents based on real-time views of how they interact with customers during these monitoring sessions.

How Can Fonada Help You in ACD?

Fonada’s automatic call distributor (ACD) is known for its exceptional features, which include:
Empowering business users with a user-friendly and intuitive interface to create and maintain skills-based routing flows that align with the changing needs of the business.
Matching customers to the right agents as intelligent routing matches customer requests based on skills, natural language analytics, and AI-powered behavioral profiles.
Personalized customer experiences by making customer data available for data-driven routing and personalizing interactions for a better customer experience.
Fonada offers business enterprises of all sizes quality communication services and solutions for changing communication needs.


Automatic Call Distributors or Distribution (ACD) systems have become essential for contact centers to efficiently route incoming calls and ensure that customers are connected with the right agent. With the help of advanced features such as IVR, CTI, CRM integrations, and call monitoring, ACD systems can also enhance workforce optimization and customer satisfaction.
By selecting the right ACD solution that fits your business needs, you can improve your contact center’s efficiency, increase customer satisfaction, and, ultimately, drive business success. From voice broadcasting to cloud telephony to DID number , Fonada makes a big difference to the world of business communication.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the Full Form of ACD?

ACD stands for automatic call center distribution or distributor.

What is ACD Routing?

ACD routing is the process of distributing calls to the appropriate agent using a programmatic approach to minimize the time it takes to connect the caller to the right agent.

What is ACD in PBX?

In the past, PBX (Private Branch Exchange) systems were commonly utilized by businesses to handle internal phone calls, while ACD (Automatic Call Distribution) systems were used to manage and route customer calls. PBX systems were geared toward internal communication, while ACD systems were designed to manage customer inquiries.

Is an ACD System the Same as an IVR System?

ACD and IVR systems are not the same, but they complement each other and work seamlessly to improve call center efficiency. In summary, ACD uses various criteria to route calls automatically, while IVR provides an automated voice response menu to guide callers through options.

Does ACD Impact Customers Negatively?

No, it helps them improve their overall communication experience.

What Are the Advantages of Using ACD?

Using an ACD can lead to a significant improvement in agent competence, efficiency, and productivity. With the ability to route only the calls that an agent is trained to handle, they can become more skilled in handling those specific calls, resulting in faster handling times and increased confidence.

Which Are the Most Common Types of Incoming Call Distribution?

These are the most commonly used types of incoming call distribution:

  • Data Based
  • Fixed
  • Least Active
  • Round Robin
  • Simultaneous
  • Time Based
  • Value Based
  • Weighted

Do Many Companies Use ACD Technology?

Many companies use ACD (Automatic Call Distribution) technology in their call centers to efficiently manage and distribute incoming customer calls.

What Can the Fonada ACD Do For You?

Fonada provides an advanced automatic call distributor (ACD) with outstanding features. It can enable your business users to create and manage skills-based routing flows by adapting to the changing requirements of the business through a user-friendly and intuitive interface.

It can also match customers with the appropriate agents where intelligent routing uses skills, natural language analytics, and AI-powered behavioral profiles. Moreover, it lets you have a personalized customer experience by leveraging customer data to create data-driven routing and customised interactions that enhance the customer experience.

Arun Upadhyay

Meet Arun Upadhyay, the digital marketing wizard specializing in unified communications and cloud telephony. Arun's passion for technology and business communication is evident in his insightful writings about the latest trends in the digital world and cloud telephony. He strives to deliver the right content to users, ensuring they stay up-to-date with the latest advancements in the industry.

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