Tips for Contact Center Automation: ACD vs. IVR vs. IVA

Today, contact center experience is a competitive and key differentiator between businesses. Companies seek contact center automation solutions that meet their customers' needs. In this blog, we outline and compare three response automation solutions: automatic call distribution, interactive voice response, and intelligent virtual assistants.

March 24, 2022

Evolving customer service expectations push companies to rethink historical approaches to customer service and experience. Now, the contact center experience you offer to your customers is a competitive differentiator in today's market.

Response automation, a type of contact center automation, is an effective strategy to optimize customer service experiences. These automation solutions increase a contact center's ability to handle higher call volumes. Further, contact center automation solutions provide the quality service experiences customers now expect. They also personalize service, which boosts customer experience and satisfaction.

There are several virtual solutions that companies can explore. In this blog, we'll highlight three response automation solutions for contact centers: automatic call distribution (ACD), interactive voice response (IVR), and intelligent virtual assistants (IVA). We will explain how businesses can utilize them to improve the contact center experience and increase success overall.

Benefits of Contact Center Automation Solutions

Before we dive into the three response automation solutions, let's refresh on the benefits of contact center automation for businesses and customers.

Benefits for Businesses

  • Greater Task Automation: Contact center automation solutions help contact centers answer basic inquiries, which reduce wait times for callers and free up human agents to manage more complex service needs. These solutions also reduce average call length by 15-40%, resulting in faster resolutions. 
  • Better Data Management: Sophisticated contact center automation solutions can track and report customer data during a call. If the call needs to be transferred to a human assistant, the response automation solution shares contextual information about the caller, streamlining service and bettering the customer's experience.
  • Lower Average Call Cost: Since automation tools can complete tasks that once required agents, on-call minutes become less expensive. These systems lower average call costs and allow agents to focus on other customer needs. 

Benefits for Customers

  • Personalized Customer Experience: Today’s customers demand customized services. Sophisticated response automation software can learn about customer behaviors and understand requests to provide customers with quick resolutions and humanlike experiences.
  • Opportunity for Self-Service: Self-service has grown in popularity, as customers prefer to solve problems themselves instead of requesting the support of an agent. Contact center automation tools manage common requests without a live agent, enabling self-service. 
  • 24/7 Availability: Building off demands for self-service, customers also expect 24/7 customer service. Automation solutions manage inquiries at all hours, which reduces the need for live agents to be on-call during irregular hours of the day, yet allows customers to get the help they need at absolutely any time.

The combination of these features and the resulting benefits create a better experience for customers and improve retention for businesses. It’s a win-win situation.

Response Automation Options 

Many of the overarching benefits surrounding ACD systems, IVR technology, and IVAs are similar, including enhancing customer experience, providing personalization, and saving money by decreasing hold times, increasing time resolutions, and streamlining communications.  

The differences lie in the features of each response automation tool and its capability to manage more complex inquiries. ACDs are solely responsible for routing calls appropriately, depending on data that is collected through IVRs.

IVRs offer a level-up with touch-tone key selections and voice commands that assist ACDs in initiating the next-best action. IVRs properly categorize where the customer will be directed based on their specific responses and needs.

IVAs are the most sophisticated, as they act on more complex inquiries and understand human nuances through the utilization of natural language processing (NLP), machine learning (ML), and voice recognition technologies. Without NLP, ML, and voice recognition, it may be difficult for AI to capture human intent and meaning or understand exactly what the customer needs.

Below are key features to understand surrounding ACD, IVR, and IVA contact center solutions. 

 

Key Features: Automatic Call Distribution (ACD), Interactive Voice Response (IVR), and Intelligent Virtual Assistants (IVA)

 

ACD

IVR

IVA

Automatic Call Routing

X

Self-Service

 

X

X

Touch-tone Key Selections and Voice Commands

 

X

Next Best Action

 

X

X

AI-Powered

   

X

Natural Language Processing

 

 

X

No Menu Required

   

X

 

ACD Contact Center Automation Capabilities  

ACD is a telephony feature that automatically routes calls according to a predetermined set of rules. These predetermined rules allow calls to be routed to a specific business department or individual human agent depending on a caller’s needs.

At its core, ACD for contact centers eradicates excessive transfers, decreases hold times, and increases first-call resolutions. Essentially, ACD connects callers to the most qualified agent for assistance in their specific inquiry the first time, eliminating any need for constant transfers and extended hold times.

ACD remains an included feature of both IVR and IVA, as this is what executes on the predetermined set of rules and does the connecting once an IVR or IVA determines the caller’s needs and where they need to go next.

Automation Capabilities of an IVR Contact Center 

IVR is a communication tool that automates interactions and increases first-time resolutions through touch-tone key selections and voice commands. An IVR is like a “virtual receptionist." It can interact with callers through a series of menus that help the technology gather customer information and confirm intent, assisting the customer in reaching the most appropriate help for their needs.

IVR for contact centers greets incoming callers and incites questions that help the software better understand the caller's needs. Like ACD contact centers, IVR tools eliminate constant transfers, decrease hold times, and increase first-time resolutions. Providing a quality self-service option through IVR and ACD makes for a satisfied customer, increased consumer experience, greater loyalty, and retention.

Key Features of IVAs for Response Automation

IVAs are an AI-powered contact center automation tool that generates personalized responses. IVAs offer more complex services and human-like interactions than IVRs or ACDs can provide.

IVAs are powered by AI, ML and voice-recognition technology. While IVRs can collect data on customer needs, and ACDs can connect callers to the appropriate help based on those needs, IVAs can actually complete tasks for and offer services to callers based on their unique inquiries.

IVAs use NLP to understand and respond to human nuance, including slang, tone, and potentially confusing language. IVAs have the capability to execute simple tasks such as funds transfers, appointment scheduling, answering common questions and more.

What Automation Solution Will Transform Contact Center Experience?

Before selecting a contact center automation solution, it is important to understand your contact center's and customers' core communication needs. The three response automation tools mentioned in this blog perform unique capabilities that help grow the contact center or fill in specific skills gaps. 

Intrado can help you determine what the best solution for your business is. Our Mosaic solution is an intelligent virtual response automation assistant that uses voice technology and digital messaging to provide exceptional customer support, elevate business success, and increase revenue. 

The technology boasts automatic common inquiries, which allow human agents more flexibility as Mosaic handles routine customer queries and simple transactions. Mosaic increases customer retention through personalization, lowers average call costs, and makes handoffs from the technology to an agent seamless as the technology transfers customer data and needs to the agent, eliminating any need for the customer to repeat themself.

Contact center automation solutions set businesses apart from each other in today’s competitive customer service market. ACD, IVR, and IVAs offer a myriad of benefits that help increase business efficiency, prevent burnout for call center agents and provide a customer service experience that meets today’s standards.

When seeking solutions to your response automation, choose a product that checks all your business’s boxes and provides services that increase your customer’s experience. This careful consideration leads to greater customer retention and loyalty and, in turn, increases business success overall, both now and in the future.

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