Does AI Mean the End of ACD?
Vonage says no, but AI will augment ACD for better customer experiences
I spoke with Darren Smith, SVP Solutions Engineering at Vonage. We discussed Automatic Call Distribution and if he thought the practice would run its course because of Artificial Intelligence. Automated Call Distribution is a tool used by contact centers that distributes inbound calls and digital interactions to the most relevant agent to handle customer requests.
Smith told me, he doesn’t believe ACD will meet its demise anytime soon, but it should evolve thanks to AI. He explained today’s ACD in its worst form consists of basic round-robin or group-based routing. ACD controls how a customer’s interaction is routed and answered, which generally provides a poor customer experience responsible for giving contact centers a ‘bad reputation,’ according to Smith. He also shared:
“Today more sophisticated ACD routing strategies are already being configured to use agent skills, IVR choices, and existing customer data to improve customer experiences”
“These basic improvements can enhance both the customer and employee experience significantly. However, I do anticipate AI will assist with the routing decisions by drawing on the ever-growing amount of available data.”
Accurate Data Are Important when it comes to AI and ACD
AI by itself, like other components of automation, relies on concise customer data to make informed decisions that don’t send customers down a black hole of options only to realize they’re in the wrong department.
Smith said, for many organizations, this is the greatest challenge, and without reliable data, AI is of no direct benefit to enterprises. Without forcing a customer to select where they want to be routed or sent down a certain path based on their chosen interaction channel, AI has the power to identify what customers need without administrators needing to configure and manage complex decision trees and call plans.
“AI will play an important role and augment ACD routing decisions by using customer data to determine journey intent. Routing strategies should not consider only the current customer interaction, but also previous interactions, plus any customer feedback, all in the context of their placement in the customer lifecycle.”
In considering all these factors, customers are likely to have more positive experiences when they try to reach specific departments within a call/contact center, decreasing their level of frustration.
Damage Control for Call & Contact Centers
According to the Harvard Business Review, increasing customer retention rates by five percent can raise profits between 25 and 95 percent, underscoring the importance of exceptional CX.
What directly contributes to a poor CX is elements such as bad call routing that sends customers to the wrong department. There are other issues ACD presents, like the frustration of the 72 percent of consumers who have to explain their problem to multiple agents, according to Dimensional Research.
As a result of years of limited functionalities, ACD has some improving to do. The good news is, AI is here to help call/contact centers bring CX into the 21st Century.