Finding software can be overwhelming. Software Advice helps call centers choose the right automatic call distribution software so they can distribute calls and designate agent skill groups.

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CallTrackingMetrics

CallTrackingMetrics is a cloud-based call tracking and contact center solution for businesses and agencies that helps with tracking campaigns, reaching new audiences through integrated text marketing and online forms and using int... Read more

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Recent recommendations: 19 recommendations

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CloudAgent

CloudAgent is a cloud-based call center solution that enables businesses to engage and interact with customers via multiple channels including voice, chat, email, SMS messages and social media platforms. Professionals can utilize ... Read more

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Recent recommendations: 12 recommendations

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CallShaper

CallShaper is a cloud-based call center management solution suitable for small to midsize businesses. Key features include lead management, real-time reporting, agent monitoring and tablet support. CallShaper enables users to... Read more

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Recent recommendations: 12 recommendations

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Dialpad

For quickly growing businesses looking to efficiently scale their support teams, Dialpad provides a cloud-based call center with access to real-time customer insights. Dialpad allows users to onboard quickly and focus on deliverin... Read more

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Recent recommendations: 11 recommendations

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Five9

Five9 is an all-in-one cloud contact center solution for inbound, outbound, blended and omnichannel contact centers world-wide. Powered by Practical AI, Five9 enables agents to provide customer experiences across phone, emai... Read more

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Recent recommendations: 11 recommendations

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8x8 Contact Center

Virtual Contact Center by 8x8 is a cloud-based call center solution for small to midsized businesses. In addition to call center functionality, this solution also supports other interaction mediums such as voicemail, email, web ca... Read more

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Recent recommendations: 8 recommendations

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Nextiva Call Center

Nextiva offers a robust call center solution for business large and small. Nextiva Call Center allows companies to deploy a contact center in the cloud for inbound and outbound calling campaigns. Smaller organizations can now acce... Read more

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Recent recommendations: 7 recommendations

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RingCentral Engage Voice

RingCentral Engage Voice is a cloud-based contact center solution designed to help small to large enterprises automate and streamline outbound and blended communications between customers and call centers. It comes with a configur... Read more

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Recent recommendations: 7 recommendations

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Talkdesk

Talkdesk is a cloud-based call center solution that helps businesses improve customer satisfaction while simultaneously reducing customer support costs. It uses interactive voice response (IVR), automatic call distribution (ACD) a... Read more

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Recent recommendations: 5 recommendations

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XenCall

XenCALL is a cloud-based call center solution for companies of all sizes in a variety of industries. Key features include automatic call distribution, interactive voice response, auto dialing, scheduling, performance analytics and... Read more

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Recent recommendations: 5 recommendations

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NICE inContact

NICE inContact is cloud-based call center software that helps businesses to maximize the quality of leads and minimize the cost of client interaction. The solution comprises many features required to process inbound support reques... Read more

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Recent recommendations: 2 recommendations

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Sharpen

Sharpen’s cloud-native platform is a SaaS contact center solution for midsize to large enterprise businesses. As an all-in-one solution, the platform provides businesses the ability to communicate with customers by SMS, MMS, live ... Read more

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Recent recommendations: 2 recommendations

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Dixa

Dixa is a customer friendship platform that helps brands build stronger bonds with their customers through simple, unified and engaging conversations. Dixa allows your team to deliver instant and continuous service across pho... Read more

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Recent recommendations: 2 recommendations

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CenturionCARES

CARES (Communication and Relationship Engagement Solution) from Centurion is an integrated call center solution suitable for small and large enterprises looking for automatic call distribution (ACD), QA recording, outbound notific... Read more

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Recent recommendations: 2 recommendations

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Noble Suite

Noble Enterprise is a call center management solution suitable for businesses of all sizes. Key features include inbound, outbound and blended contact management, predictive dialing, skills-based call routing, digital recording an... Read more

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Recent recommendations: 1 recommendations

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Versature

net2phone Canada is a cloud-based business phone service provider, helping Canadian organizations drive business performance through powerful uCaaS tools. Trusted by clients and partners across the country, net2phone Canada has di... Read more

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Recent recommendations: 1 recommendations

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Zendesk

Zendesk is a cloud-based help desk management solution offering customizable tools to build customer service portal, knowledge base and online communities. The solution offers a customizable front-end portal, live chat features an... Read more

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CallHippo

CallHippo is a cloud-based call center solution that helps mid to large size businesses with workflow automation and virtual telephony. The platform enables users to give detailed analysis to customers through call recordings. Cal... Read more

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VICIdial

VICIdial is an open-source, cloud-based contact center solution suitable for small to large call centers in a variety of industries. Key features include inbound and outbound calls, call routing, email integration, online chat and... Read more

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MiCloud Connect

MiCloud Connect (formerly ShoreTel) is a cloud-based VoIP phone system that offers collaboration and conferencing tools to enable information flow within the organization. The solution enables system administrators to manage... Read more

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Buyers guide


Last Updated: April 7, 2021

Most callers don’t like being placed in a queue, but consider the alternative: to simply let them wait indefinitely on hold. Most of us can guess what the outcome of that strategy will be.

Moreover, if the call is placed to one of your business’s main numbers rather than an employee’s dedicated number, how will you ensure that the call on hold is answered by one of your available employees?

Automatic call distribution is a capability both of integrated call center suites and standard business phone systems that solves these problems by enabling call queueing and rules for routing calls from the queue to your employees.

We’ll answer the following questions you might have about automatic call distribution:

What is an Automatic Call Distribution System?
Which Kinds of Systems Offer ACD?
Common Functionality of Automatic Call Distribution Software
What Type of Buyer Are You?

What is an Automatic Call Distribution System?

Essentially, a phone system or call center system with ACD capabilities parks incoming calls in a "call queue" and then routes them to call center agents or employees as they become available.

This ensures that calls get answered in the order that they come in, minimizing the time that callers wait on hold.

Moreover, because calls are routed to available personnel instead of being blindly routed to a line regardless of whether someone is there to answer, ACD ensures that your business answers far more calls.

Which Kinds of Systems Offer ACD?

Without ACD, you don’t have the option of call queueing—all callers will have to wait on hold. Because of this, ACD is used in nearly any business with a main company number or a toll-free number answered by multiple employees.

ACD is included in nearly all business phone systems, except for the most basic and stripped-down small business offerings on the market.

Call centers, in which large groups of agents spend long shifts answering inbound calls, have specialized ACD requirements. Thus, call center suites offer far more advanced ACD capabilities than most business phone systems, particularly when it comes to call routing.

Let’s take a look now at some of the specific features of advanced ACD systems.

Common Functionality of Automatic Call Distribution Software

A queue dashboard in 8x8 tracks metrics for calls in various queues (highlighted in red)

The core functionality of an advanced ACD system is to route calls based on pre-defined rules, whereas simpler ACD systems merely route the caller who’s waited the longest to the first available employee.

One common form of ACD used in call centers. With skills-based routing in place, call center agents are first assigned to groups based on skills (e.g., a sales team, a billing support team, a technical support team etc.). When a caller selects that they need “sales” or “support” in the system’s menu, the call is then routed to the right team, instead of just being sent to the first available agent in any team.

How ACD Directs Incoming Calls

Even more advanced systems are capable of routing calls based on algorithms that factor in historical data collected by the call center system. For instance, calls can be routed to the best-performing agents (as determined by historical metrics), or to the agent who’s been waiting the longest between calls if multiple agents are available.

Factors used to route calls can include:

  • The number the caller dialed
  • Caller selections within the company’s interactive voice response (IVR) system
  • Caller profile data stored in the company’s CRM or call center system
  • Agent skills
  • Agent idle time
  • Agent performance metrics
  • Caller ID data
  • Geographical information
  • Time of day or day of week

Call center ACD systems also offer advanced options when it comes to reporting and queueing, such as:

Usage data capture Allows users to gather data such as the number of incoming and outgoing calls, average time on call, average wait time and more. This information can be analyzed for reporting and used to populate agent scorecards.
Virtual queueing Allows callers to avoid waiting on hold by entering their numbers to receive a callback when it’s their turn. This reduces customer frustration and wait times.
Differentiated call queues ACD software users can create multiple call queues and have the ability to transfer callers between them. For example, a company may create one queue for support and one for sales, then transfer callers based on the purpose of their calls.

Virtual queueing, also known as callback, offers a dramatically improved waiting experience for callers, as we explain in our report on the subject. However, it’s still far from being a universally included feature in ACD modules, so make sure to mention it in your Request for Information (RFI).

What Type of Buyer Are You?

At the very least, most businesses are going to need basic ACD. Thankfully, the ability to create call queues is a nearly universal feature in business phone systems.

The need for an advanced ACD system depends on a company’s volume of calls and whether those calls need to be routed in a specific way. Almost all buyers of advanced ACD solutions are call centers.

Here are some specific recommendations about the kinds of ACD capabilities that different businesses will need:

Small businesses with fewer than 10 employees needing to place calls in queues can simply use a small business phone system. Small business systems generally offer ACD or at least “hunt groups,” i.e. the capability to group lines together so that multiple lines ring at once for a single inbound call.

Very small call centers can get by with basic hunt groups rather than advanced ACD by using a “round-robin” approach. In this routing scheme, calls are delivered sequentially to different employees. For instance, once employee A’s line rings, the next call is sent to employee B, then C etc.

Alternatively, some small call centers send calls to all agents at once, on the assumption that competition over who gets to answer is a motivating factor.

Call centers fielding a high volume of calls should implement an ACD system to manage a queue and distribute calls based on time-on-hold, caller data, agent skills and more.

Outbound and inbound call centers with an IVR should use an ACD to route calls. Outbound campaigns utilizing IVR menus require that you have ACD in place in order to properly route calls based on recipients’ IVR selections.

Complex sales and support teams that need calls to be routed to various departments should use an ACD’s skills-based routing capabilities.

Virtually all of the call center systems listed on Software Advice offer an ACD system, in addition to the standard business phone systems we list. Explore our product profiles to find the solution that works best for your needs.