BUSINESS PHONES | 5 MIN READ
Businesses currently using Automatic Call Distribution (ACD) Groups have taken a first step towards automating call center processes and making customer interactions more efficient. However, there comes a tipping point where a business may want to consider transitioning to Contact Center. Keep reading to learn what exactly Contact Center is, how it's different from ACD Group, and when a company should consider switching to it.
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What is Contact Center?
Contact Center is an addition to your business phone system that can automate and improve customer interactions from multiple angles.
Contact Center typically comes in a tiered pricing plan, with ACD Group tending to exist on the lower end of the plan and Contact Center existing towards the more expensive end of the plan.
While ACD Group provides basic automation and call routing services, Contact Center is unparalleled in the depth of customer insights, boosts it provides to workplace productivity, and the efficiency it provides to a business' call center, sales department, and overall employee phone usage.
Contact Center uses a combination of artificial intelligence, machine learning, and Interactive Voice Response (IVR) to automate customer interactions and deliver powerful insights into call performance that you cannot achieve with ACD Group.
What's the Difference Between ACD Group and Contact Center?
In general, as you move away from ACD Group and toward Contact Center, you get:
- Deeper levels of customer insights− Contact Center utilizes machine learning to give you deeper insights into calls performance, and can also allow you to add post-call surveys.
- Centralized management of more forms of customer interactions− Besides managing phone calls, Contact Center also allows one to manage emails, online chat bots, and even social media messages.
- Faster/more efficient customer call routing− Contact Center utilizes Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Interactive Voice Response (IVR), which allows customers to use short phrases to communicate their needs and be quickly and appropriately routed instead of pressing 1, 2, etc. to be forwarded along.
- Skills-based call routing− Skills-based call routing allows for sales teams to quickly be connected to calls that they are qualified to handle. For instance, if a sales rep is only qualified to handle phone calls about billing, IVR can gather information from the person calling in, and then either answer that person's billing question or forward it to that sales rep. IVR can also route chats in a similar fashion.
- Increased sales team call quotas− Contact Center can automatically begin dialing the next prospect on pre-loaded contact lists in a pre-determined amount of time.
- Contact campaigns sent with ease− For instance, doctor's offices can automatically send appointment reminders, or school principals can record phone messages that are automatically sent to all parents.
- Additional integrations− Contact Center allows integrations with software that allows third party integrations using API. Some versions even give you a wider range of available integrations, for instance with enterprise planning software and CRM's like Salesforce.
- Phone integration flexibility− Have the flexibility of using whatever phones you prefer for your call center, whether that's your current business phone provider or even just a collection of personal employee smartphones.
RELATED: How Much Does Contact Center Cost?
Compare ACD Group to Contact Center
ACD Group is a cheaper option for those with smaller budgets who wish to manage their phone interactions on a basic level.
Smaller companies without large dedicated call centers could find that ACD Group offers them beneficial options at an affordable price point.
Since ACD Group manages less forms of customer interactions and has less automation options and shallower customer insights, some businesses may find that they've outgrown ACD Group.
Contact Center offers businesses deeper levels of customer insights, which is beneficial for those struggling to improve the customer experience
With more automation opportunities, businesses using Contact Center can make call centers and sales departments more efficient by streamlining processes more than they could with ACD Group.
Businesses with specific needs for their call center and sales department can use Contact Center's many features to customize it to their liking.
- Tiered plans are usually available with Contact Center, which means that businesses can find the plan that suits them and their budget.
Contact Center is more expensive than ACD Group, which means that those with an extremely tight budget may not wish to pay for it.
When Should I Transition from ACD Group to Contact Center?
Your Business Has High Call Volume
If your employees are conducting so much business over the phone that it is becoming impossible to efficiently manage with ACD Group, your operations may benefit from a transition to Contact Center.
With Contact Center, a centralized dashboard can be used to quickly sift through call queues, route calls with an automated attendant, and more.
You're in These Industries
If your business is in the following industries, you may especially benefit from a transition to Contact Center:
- Education− School administration could use Contact Center to more efficiently communicate with parents in the event of an emergency or school closure by implementing automatic call/text blasts.
- Healthcare− Contact Center allows doctor's offices to automate the sending of appointment reminders and more efficiently streamline call routing, especially in places like hospitals where quick call flows are key
- Retail and Services− Since many retail/service companies' customer service departments deal with high call volumes from customers, this aspect of the business can be more efficiently handled with IVR call/chat routing. Additionally, IVR can be used to provide customers peace of mind with more secure phone payments.
- Finance and Insurance− Automatic call dialing streamlines collections calls, and advanced IVR capabilities allow for clients to be more efficiently routed.
- Hospitality− Call/text reminders can be automated to ensure that customers don't miss reservations, and individual locations can have their own IVR's to ensure that calls are quickly and effectively routed.
- Public Sector− Companies in the public sector can use Contact Center to meet cost reduction objectives and centralize business operations for full reporting visibility.
You Have/Want Omnichannel Customer Interactions
If your business only conducts business over the phone, you may be able to save money by getting away with just an ACD Group.
However, if your business also uses or wants to use online chatbots and email in addition to phone calls to interact with prospects and customers or fulfill orders, a Contact Center may be a better fit.
With Contact Center, you can centralize the management of your omnichannel customer interactions in one place. Interactive Voice Response (IVR) comes into play with Contact Center, and it can be used to quickly route calls.
Onmichannel interactions can also be managed through a centralized dashboard, where an employee can look through contact queues for multiple channels at one time.
Your Sales/Customer Service Team is Struggling
Are your sales team or customer service department struggling to meet call quotas? All the little breaks that may happen in between calls can quickly add up, causing your employees to get off track and struggle to meet daily call quota.
While ACD Group may allow your employees to build and load a call list that they can click-to-dial, with Contact Center, you can set it up to automatically begin dialing the next prospect on the list in a pre-determined amount of time.
Your Call Center Needs to Be More Efficient
Do you feel that your call center isn't as efficient as it could be? Perhaps employees are slow to pick up calls or respond to emails, or the routing process for calls is ineffective.
With Contact Center, you can boost efficiency within the workplace by adding skills-based call routing. Skills-based call routing ensures that when a customer contacts your company, information is gathered about their reason for contacting, and then they are automatically forwarded to the employee who is best qualified to address that reason.
Centralized management of contact queues, whether contacts are by phone, email, or online chat, ensures that customers waiting in those queues are quickly identified and responded to.
You Desire a Remote Office
If you want to transition your call center to a remote environment temporarily or permanently, Contact Center enables you to quickly make the transition with ease.
You can configure it so that employees who normally use a desk phone at the office can switch to managing and answering calls from their personal smartphone and work laptop.
And if you eventually transition back to the office, calls can be routed back to a business phone when employees return.
You Want Deeper Customer Insights
While ACD Group can give you basic call performance insights like call length, Contact Center can give you more in-depth insights.
For instance, you can set up surveys to automatically be deployed after a call. This can give you valuable information about the customer's perceived opinion of your employees and how well their problem was solved.
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While ACD Group can automate customer interactions on a basic level, there comes a point where businesses may be left needing more.
Whether you want additional automation options or deeper customer insights, Contact Center can do both. We hope that this article answered your questions!
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Posted by Jim Williams
Jim Williams is a Senior IT Consultant at Standard Office Systems of Atlanta and has been helping businesses with their network security needs for nearly three years.