DSC Tech Library
This section of our technical library presents information and documentation relating to Predictive Dialers and Auto Dialer software and products.
The PACER and Wizard phone systems are PC based call center phone systems that are recognized as premier inbound and outbound computer telephony systems. Features such as automatic call distribution (ACD), interactive voice response (IVR) and call recording have added a new dimension to the predictive dialer and auto dialer capabilities of these systems. These computer based dialing systems can perform various types of auto dialing campaigns simultaneously. These types include Predictive Dialing, Progressive Dialing, Preview Dialing and Dial on Demand.
Predictive Dialing: Benefits You May Never Have Predicted
BY KARIN ANDERSON
Predictive dialing can be described as a way to automate the handling of failed calls. A modest mission? Hardly. On average, for every one hundred calls manually dialed, only fourteen result in a connection to the correct person. What happens to the others?
As these figures make clear, dialing manually means that some action will have to be taken on all of the failed calls, even if only to make a note of the number so that another call can be made later. Tedious work, to be sure. The frustration for the person assigned this (unnecessary) task can be incredible. And while predictive dialing, by automating the handling of failed calls, relieves this frustration, it can do a great deal more. As we will see, predictive dialing can enhance an organizationís outbound and inbound operations.
- Twenty five will ring with no reply being obtained.
- Ten numbers will be busy.
- Thirty numbers will be connected to an answering machine.
- Five numbers will receive a recorded message from the telephone company.
- Fourteen numbers will be answered but not by the person being called.
- Two will be fax or modems.
For many organizations, a cost benefit analysis of just the potential productivity gains is quite often enough to convince them to adopt predictive dialing technology. This has been particularly true in collections and telemarketing where the math is obvious. Other benefits that are less easily quantifiable, but equally viable, include enhanced call quality (particularly important when considering customer service issues) and, because of greater job satisfaction and less stress and frustration, a reduction in staff turnover.
The strategy for dealing with each type of failure, and what the followup action should be, is set by a campaign supervisor and can be modified as the campaign progresses. Based on the above figures, productivity improvements of 300 to 400 percent (and above) are achievable with payback periods measured in months, not years.
HOW DOES IT WORK?
A host computer provides a predictive dialer with lists of telephone numbers to be called, together with basic information on the customer. The dialer will then place outgoing calls, striving to always have a call answered as an agent becomes available to take the call. As a call is answered, the dialer displays a screen of information to the agent and instantaneously connects the telephone call to the agent headset (this synchronization of voice and data is often referred to as screen popping). The information displayed can be simple or complex, ranging from a screen of data to scripts that enable an agent to structure the entire conversation.
As a result, quality is improved and agents are kept fully engaged with real person to person contact. This can lead to a happier working environment because agents can do what they are actually paid to do. During quieter periods of the work shift (when fewer phones are actually answered), the predictive dialer automatically speeds up and makes more calls to deliver a constant rate of contacts to the agent.
PACING AND NUISANCE CALLS
Advanced predictive dialers (Call Management Systems) employ easy-touse graphical user interfaces (GUIs) to monitor and control dialer operations. One of the more important of these dialing controls is the ability to manage the pace at which the predictive dialer will place calls. It is important to understand the relationship between aggressive pacing and nuisance calls; The higher the pacing (which translates to a shorter gap between any one agentís calls), the higher the probability of placing a call that cannot be serviced by an agent.
Avoiding the placement of nuisance calls is an issue that calls for a fine partnership between the predictive dialerís software and the skills of the call center staff. When dialing aggressively, it is important to ensure that the agentís talk times are consistent from call to call and consistent with other agents on the same campaign if nuisance calls are to be avoided. Typically, organizations do not like to generate nuisance calls, and will set the pacing of their dialer to give a sixteen to twenty-five second delay between the wrapping up of a call and having the next call delivered to an agent. A facility that can be called upon to help alleviate this issue of dialing beyond a call centerís ability to handle the call is to use outbound messaging. Here, the person being called is able to listen to a recorded message rather than a very quiet line.
BLENDING INBOUND AND OUTBOUND
It is extremely difficult to accurately predict inbound call volumes. But some attempt has to be made to decide how many agents are required to effectively service the inbound call traffic. This decision is primarily one of customer service versus productivity or utilization. The result is that often times too many calls are put on hold or too many agents are sitting idle. Mismanaging this balance is expensive in terms of unproductive labor, missed opportunities, or dissatisfied customers.
By enabling agents to handle both inbound and outbound calls, the goals of high productivity and good customer service can be met simultaneously. Those agents who handle both inbound and outbound calls are often referred to as Ďblendí agents. Blend agents, inbound only agents, and outbound only agents work together on predictive dialers. As the day progresses and the volume of inbound calls increase, the dialer recognizes the change and automatically shifts blend agents to inbound duty to accept calls as needed. When the volume of calls coming into the call center reduces, the blend agents transition back to the outbound campaign.
Even the casual observer can appreciate that predictive dialing is a productivity tool, but those who look at it in greater detail realize predictive dialing can enhance not just an organizationís outbound mission, but inbound as well. Predictive dialers deserve close examination and consideration by organizations that want to establish and build efficient and effective relationships with their customers while enhancing bottom-line results.
Karin Anderson is product marketing manager at Mosaix, Inc., a global provider of enterprise customer management solutions that automate and optimize an organizationís interactions with its customers. Mosaix differentiates itself by providing software that automates and integrates both the call flow of front office call centers and the business processes of back office operations. For more information, visit the companyís Web site at www.mosaix.com.