Comparisons5 min read

ACD vs IVR: What’s the Difference?

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Automatic Call Distribution (ACD) and Interactive Voice Response (IVR) are critical features for managing a high volume of calls in call centers. While ACD efficiently routes incoming calls to the appropriate agent based on predefined criteria, IVR provides automated responses, and routes calls through voice or keypad inputs.


Understanding the difference between ACD and IVR helps you choose the best feature for your business and optimize your call center operations.

What is ACD?

Automatic Call Distribution (ACD) is a telephony system that automatically routes incoming calls to the most appropriate agent or department within a call center. It uses predefined criteria such as agent availability, skill set, and customer need to ensure calls are handled efficiently and effectively. ACD systems reduce wait times for improved customer satisfaction. It ensures the caller receives prompt and appropriate assistance.

How Does ACD Work?

ACD systems operate using a set of rules and algorithms to manage incoming call traffic. When a call comes in, an IVA (Intelligent Virtual Agent) analyzes the call based on the caller’s input, call history, or caller ID. The system puts the caller in a queue if no suitable agents are available. It then matches the call to an agent based on skill set, availability, and priority. Finally, the system distributes the call to the correct agent.

What is IVR?

Interactive Voice Response (IVR) is an automated telephony system that interacts with callers, gathers information, and routes calls to the appropriate recipient. Using voice recognition and keypad input, IVR systems allow customers to navigate menus and access information without the need for a live agent.

How IVR Works?

IVR systems greet callers with a prerecorded message that offers a series of menu options. Callers respond using their phone’s keypad or voice commands, which the system processes to determine the caller’s needs. Based on the input received, the IVR system either provides the requested information or routes the call to the appropriate department or agent. Advanced IVR systems can integrate with databases and back-end systems to provide personalized responses and services.

ACD vs IVR: Key Differences

ACD primarily focuses on routing calls to the right agent based on predefined criteria while IVR interacts with callers using automated menus to gather information or provide self-service options. Unlike ACD, IVR typically doesn’t require an agent intervention.



ACD (Automatic Call Distribution)

IVR (Interactive Voice Response)

Primary Function

Routes call to the appropriate agent based on predefined criteria.Provides automated interaction with callers to gather information and route calls or deliver self-service options.


Uses algorithms to route calls based on agent availability, skills, and other rules.Uses prerecorded messages and menu options for callers to navigate via keypad or voice commands.


Connects callers to the best-suited agent quickly for efficient call handling.Automates routine inquiries and call routing, reducing the need for human intervention.

Key Components

Call routing algorithms, agent queues, skill-based routing.Voice recognition, touch-tone keypad input, prerecorded messages.

User Interaction

Primarily agent-facing, managing call distribution and workload.Primarily customer-facing, providing automated service options and information.

Combining ACD and IVR for Optimal Customer Satisfaction

Integrating ACD and IVR systems in call centers can significantly enhance customer satisfaction and operational efficiency.




IVR systems can handle routine inquiries and direct more complex calls to the appropriate agents using ACD. It reduces wait times and improves the overall customer experience.

  • IVR gathers initial information and directs calls to ACD, which then routes them to the best-suited agent.
  • IVR helps you handle routine inquiries, reducing the volume of calls that need agent intervention.
  • IVR collects data that ACD uses to improve call routing and personalize service.
  • ACD quickly routes calls to available agents, decreasing the time customers spend waiting.
  • ACD ensures agents are utilized based on their skills, while IVR manages simpler tasks, balancing the workload effectively.

Choosing the Right Phone System for Your Call Center

Choosing the right phone system for your call centre involves evaluating call volume, complexity, and customer experience. High call volumes benefit more from ACD as it efficiently routes calls to available agents. Meanwhile, IVR is ideal for handling routine inquiries through automated menus, allowing agents to focus on more complex issues.


E-commerce businesses with high call volumes can benefit from ACD systems, while healthcare providers can use IVR for appointment scheduling and routine inquiries. Financial services can use both ACD and IVR for secure and efficient customer interactions.


Calilio is a business phone system with integrated ACD and IVR features for efficient call handling and superior customer service. Sign up today and transform your call centre operations to be more productive.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the main difference between ACD and IVR?

ACD routes incoming calls to the most appropriate agent based on predefined criteria while IVR interacts with callers through automated menus to either provide self-service options or route the call to the appropriate department.

Can ACD and IVR be used together?

ACD and IVR can be used together effectively in call centers. IVR systems can handle routine inquiries and gather initial information from callers, which can then be used by the ACD system to route calls to the most suitable agent.

Which is better for small businesses, ACD or IVR?

ACD is beneficial for small businesses with high call volumes as it efficiently routes calls to available agents, reducing wait times. IVR is ideal for businesses that handle many routine inquiries, allowing automated menus to manage these tasks and freeing up agents for more complex issues.

Are there any disadvantages to using ACD or IVR?

ACD systems can be complex to set up and manage, requiring detailed configurations and regular updates to maintain efficiency. IVR systems, on the other hand, can sometimes frustrate callers who prefer speaking directly to a human agent rather than navigating automated menus.

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