Functionality of Automatic call distributor

What is the functionality of an ACD system?

Sweta Chakraborty

22 May 2024

Automatic call distribution (ACD) is an essential feature of a call center setup. It is responsible for queue management and responsibly distributing all incoming calls to relevant employees/agents. If you are in the customer support industry, then you already might have heard about ACD. In fact, the most common question that our sales team keep getting asked is how does an ACD work. So, we decided to put together a blog on it.


How does an automatic call distribution work?

What are the various types of call distribution?

Automatic Call Distributor is a type of call routing, that is based on preset factors. When a customer calls, the IVR first collects the customer’s information and intent. Then it routes the customer based on the gathered information, to the relevantly skilled agent. For example, if I am calling Uber in regards to a payment refund, the ACD will route me to agent who deals with these issues every day. Let’s discuss these in more technical terms.

How does an automatic call distribution work?

The automatic call distribution is setup in three steps. Each step contributes to routing the customer to the correct agents, separating this feature from a standard PBX setup. The three steps involved are:

- Gathering Caller Intent

- Call Queuing

- Call Routing

As the name suggests, first the customer’s information is gathered, then the customer is pushed to the queue and finally the call is routed to the available agent.

Gathering Caller Intent:

As a customer of any brand, we have heard these words “Please press 1 for product related issues. Please press 2 for billing related issue.” This is the IVR collecting relevant information about the customer. Smart IVRs can recognize the phone number and run it across the database to identify the customer and their preferred language. In other cases, customers are asked to verify their information either by typing in their number or account id.

Once this is done, the IVR will ask what is the customer’s request and which internal department does it concern. With this data, the ACD will come into play to route the call to the most capable agent.

Call Queuing:

In a hyped contact center, call volume is obviously going to be high. In such cases, the callers are added to a queue. It is possible that two or more customers need help with refunds at the same time. In this case, based on the number of agents available, the ACD will create a queue.

This means the queue is based on a few factors:

- Waiting time

- Customer query

- Agent status

- Agent performance

Many other factors can be added into it by the supervisor when creating the campaign. Sometimes ACDs are configured to prioritize VIP customers as well. All these micro-adjustments of the campaign are possible to create the ideal queue for your contact center.

There is additional functionality that can always be added for call centers with high call volume, or for peak hours.

Call Routing:

The most important step of the ACD’s structure is the call routing. This is where the magic happens. The automatic call distribution function can now be used to route the calls to your agents based on preference. At the routing end, you can assign agents as per your internal parameters. For example, if a supervisor wants to reduce incoming calls for a fresher, then most calls will be routed to experienced employees only. Or more calls can be routed to agents who have less average handling time and so on..

What are the various types of call distribution?


The calls can be distributed as per the supervisor’s preference. In fact, there are some popular types of distribution modules which are used. These types of call distribution are often focused on enhancing agent productivity, or to support any specific campaign.

Round-Robin Distribution:

We are pretty familiar with the round-robin format. Similarly, the agents are put in a numerical order and the calls are distributed accordingly. The calls keep getting assigned one by one. Once the last agent has received the call, the next caller is again routed to the first agent. This goes in a cycle and is also called Rotary Call Distribution.

Simultaneous Call Distribution:

This is  a ring-all method, where the agenda is to reduce customers’ waiting time. The ACD will ring all the agents’ phones simultaneously until one of them responds. When an agent responds, immediately the second call on queue is sent to the remaining available agents.

Talk-time based Call Distribution:

This model is aimed at a fair distribution of workload amongst agents, while also boosting their productivity. The agent with the lowest amount of talk time, will be given the next call. This is done to ensure that every agent is equally productive.

Skill-Based Routing:

If you remember the IVR asking your language preference, then you have been in the queue of skill-based routing. Based on your inputs, the ACD will determine your needs and route you to the most suitable agent.

The agents are preemptively scored in regards to several factors such as language choice, language proficiency, response time, expertise and average call handling time. The ACD, before routing, will prioritize agents whose scores will match the needs of the customer.

Every contact center manager can do an internal study and figure out which skills are important for the brand. Based on those, prioritize the relevant factors and score your agents accordingly. This allows the customer to reach the most capable agent that can help them.

ACD manages all the important reports of the call center right from call detail reports, login logout reports to queue reports and many more. Truly, it is the heart of the call center solution platform.


ACDs are essential for a jam-packed contact center environment. Routing customers to the relevant department, saves on talk-time credits and other resources. Hence, it is advised to learn in-depth about how ACDs work. How they can be integrated with multiple contact center tools like voicemails, call back features, CTI or CRMs. For more information on ACDs, schedule a call-back with our experts.


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