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Typical Call Center

Anatomy of an ACD System

To better understand the terminology associated with the FlexCall system, lets take a look at a typical call center setup. Callers enter your system through one or more Toll-Free or Local telephone numbers. An Auto Attendant provides initial routing, to transfer callers to the appropriate Queue.

Typical Call Center

Callers wait in queue until an Agent becomes available to answer the call. Agents may specialize in one type of call, or may be cross-trained to take calls from multiple queues. A Supervisor is a special agent who has the ability silently monitor or actively join in to live calls in the system.

Life Cycle of an Inbound ACD Call

The life cycle of an inbound call consists of the following segments:

Life Cycle of an Inbound ACD Call

All calls are initially answered by an auto attendant, which directs callers to different queues or departments. For example a caller pressing “1” might be routed to the Sales Queue.

The second step is queuing. This is an optional step, as calls are delivered immediately if agents are logged in and available. If all agents are busy, the call will wait in queue until it can be delivered. The caller will hear the pre-programmed delay announcements consisting of company promotions, general instructions, or music. If there are no agents logged in to take the call, the system will route the call to another extension or voice mail box, as configured in the queue settings.

The third step is to deliver the call to the next available agent and alert her by ringing her phone. During this time, the caller perceives that he is still in the queue and continues to hear the delay music. If the agent fails to answer the call, it is placed back on queue for delivery to the next available agent.

If the agent answers the call, he will be connected with the caller and free to talk, put the caller on hold, transfer the call to another extension, etc. This entire time is counted as the Talk Time of the call.

Finally, once the call ends, a rest period known as the Wrap-Up Time begins. During this time the agent may take care of chores relating to the just completed call, such as updating a CRM database. During wrap-up, the system will not deliver new calls to that agent.

Work Flow

Thinking about your work flow ahead of time will allow you to design your IVR and ACD components so that they help you realize your business goals. Your basic objective is to match the needs of your callers with someone who can best serve those needs quickly and efficiently.

Questions that you may want to ask before you design your system include:

  • What types of situations do my agents need to handle, and what kind of training do they posses?
  • Do my callers have specialized requirements such as language needs that I need to match to agents with those skills?
  • What level of service is acceptable, and how important are abandoned calls to my business?

Using these points you can design your auto attendant and queue structures to organize both your callers and your agents into a work flow that meets your business needs.

Staffing and Service Level

One important measure of efficiency for any call center is its service level. This is the percentage of incoming calls that are answered within a specified time period. An acceptable service level for one business might be considered a failing grade for another. For example, an emergency 911 call center would strive to answer 100% of all calls immediately (0 second delay). A technical support line might answer 60% of calls within 5 minutes. It really depends on the criteria you require for your own business.

Using the built in FlexCall Center reports, you can gauge whether your own call center service level is adequate or not. If you are consistently running below your own target, then you may need to increase your staffing level, or arrange for overflow staffing during peak call periods. With FlexCall, you can easily add agents to your account, and route to them wherever they are physically located.