Comparison of a PBX ACD and 1Call’s Intelligent Series ACD
(Part 1 of 3)
In telecommunication, the electronic equipment that is responsible for accepting, holding, and routing telephone calls is called a “switch.” Private Branch Exchange (PBX) and Automatic Call Distribution (ACD) are switches that have different capabilities.
PBX is a switch that is kept at a designated company location and uses a specific software to handle external and internal communications. PBX uses signaling we are all familiar with such as dial tones, ringing, etc. PBX systems can also provide additional functions such as call forwarding, conference calls and reporting.
ACD is both an application and a switch and serves as the backbone of call center telephony. ACD is also known as call routing and should be able to use more sophisticated, predefined strategies to intelligently route incoming calls to the most qualified, available agent or queue.
While some PBX features can be used to mimic the more advanced ACD system by creating an organized call tree that will queue calls, some organizations need a more robust ACD package. ACD systems are typically used by call centers that handle large volumes of incoming phone calls from callers who don’t need to speak to a specific person, but need to talk someone who is available. Sometimes PBX manufacturers will provide ACD software to use as an add-on application to their system.
Below we offer an analysis describing the high-level differences between using 1Call’s Intelligent Series (IS) ACD versus a PBX ACD with 1Call’s Soft Agent for intelligent console call centers.
1Call’s Soft Agent Operator Call Handling
1Call’s Soft Agent (and Web Agent) application provides the operator interface for the IS ACD. This provides a seamless integration for all operator functions. Operator audio can utilize the integrated SIP softphone of Soft Agent or can be a separate PBX phone-based audio connection. The Soft Agent application functions are very similar when used with the IS ACD or with a PBX ACD.
When using a PBX ACD, the Soft Agent application provides the operator interface for PBX ACDs such as Cisco UCCX, Cisco UCCE, and Avaya CM. Soft Agent interacts with the PBX CTI interface to control the operation of a PBX phone. This enables Soft Agent to facilitate logging the agent in to the ACD, changing agent states, and processing calls – all without needing to interact with the PBX phone.
1Call’s Web Agent
The Web Agent is a fully functioning call handling application that performs directory searches, answer and transfer of calls, scripted messaging, dispatching, and on-call handling all with the portability of being accessible on a web browser. Web Agent turns any computer into a professional contact center agent’s workstation.
Agent styles such as dark themes, light themes, and many other visual appearances can be applied to Web Agent. These affect color, font, sizes, and icons. There isn’t a Web Agent option for a PBX ACD.
A virtual keyboard is available on-demand for each agent. Keyboard layouts support styles including customized keys, fore colors, and back colors. Since there isn’t a Web Agent option for a PBX ACD, the virtual keyboard is also unavailable.
Agent Status Lights
The status light plugs into the agent’s USB port on their workstation used to display a color and an effect based on the agent status. This is unavailable on a PBX ACD.
The IS ACD offers full-fledged skilled based routing schemes with multiple levels of overflow, built-in ACD queuing messages, and all-inclusive reporting. The programming of the IS ACD is very easy and is part of the IS Supervisor application along with all of the other administrative functions related
to the call center.
Operators can be assigned to ACD groups such as an intelligent console group, patient information group, code call group, etc. Calls are directed to each ACD group. If an operator is not available in a group, the calls can be set to overflow to another group or wait for an operator to become available.
Callers that are waiting to be answered can hear call queuing greetings that can be recorded for each line to customize the greeting. The greetings can also give callers the option to press a button to request a callback.
All calls are tracked and are viewable in the IS Supervisor System Monitors. This allows supervisors to monitor the activity of all calls in the system whether they are on an operator screen or waiting in queue. A supervisor viewing the system monitors can select a call-in queue and can push it to a specific
operator on demand. Supervisors can change ACD group assignments on the fly to change how calls are directed at any time without requiring operators to log off the ACD and log back in.
All calls are tracked and reported on using the IS Reporting package that is provided as part of the system.
Alternatively, a PBX ACD relies on the PBX ACD and its features and capabilities which may vary from PBX to PBX and may require purchasing additional PBX-based modules such as voice IVR (Interactive Voice Response) servers for call queuing announcements and other ancillary PBX hardware and software.
Programming PBX-based ACD requires PBX administration and typically requires involvement of telecom engineers due to the complexity of this setup. This eliminates the ability for call center staff to make changes to call routing on their own.