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Jenny MacLean - Blog

Achieving excellent performance while dialing within FTC and Ofcom rules

In their recent Policy Statement, the UK Regulator Ofcom, have withdrawn the 3% safe harbour for abandoned calls.  To avoid running into trouble with Ofcom’s misuse test, we expect dialer users in the UK will elect to lower their abandoned call threshold to 1%.

Sytel is the only known dialler to deliver excellent performance under Ofcom ‘abandoned call’ rules and our customers can achieve substantial performance benefits, even at a 1% threshold.

Dialing below the 3% abandoned call threshold is already common amongst Sytel customers in the UK and USA. Operators want to dial responsibly, producing only low levels of abandoned calls, to avoid risking customer annoyance.  They can do this with Sytel whilst achieving excellent performance - even at a 1% abandoned rate.

The brutal fact is that many diallers struggle to deliver performance benefits under abandoned call rules. They were simply not designed to cope well with the tough dialing conditions found in the US and UK’s. Ofcom’s intention to ban all Silent Calls, which have been by far the biggest source of nuisance calls for many years, will make life increasingly difficult for many dialler vendors.

To read more about this visit the January press release on the Sytel website.

To understand the level of performance you can achieve with Sytel, whilst dialing responsibly and avoiding issues with regulations, please contact Sytel or message me for further information.

Publish Date: January 26, 2017 5:31 PM


5 Tips for Great Chat Reporting

We all know the familiar saying; if you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it – here are five tips to help with the Chat reporting to make measurement easier:

1.  Customer feedback

Take the opportunity at the end of a chat conversation to capture the customer’s view of their chat experience.  This is not a revolutionary idea; it’s what every contact center should be doing.  The trick is to make sure this information is used to not only provide quantifiable evidence of how agents are performing and highlight areas where improvements are needed but it can also be used to keep agents focussed.  If the customer feedback is part of the real time dashboard displayed to agents they will have a continuous awareness of what customers think of them.  Furthermore, if this rating forms part of the agent’s KPIs they will want to maintain focus.

2.  Capture all the chat details

As the chat session passes through the Automatic Session Distributor (ASD®) and the CRM it will already have several items of information associated with it; which web page it originated from, the IP address and region of where the customer is, the web browser being used etc.  All of this can be very useful to other parts of the business for highlighting improvements in web design etc.  Reporting on this additional information can bring wider benefits to the business, other than agent evaluation.

3.  Identify training opportunities

Chat conversations pass back and forth between customer and agent; however each pass handled by the agent is an added expense.  For commercial reasons the chat conversation should be completed quickly and concisely with as few passes as possible.  Reporting on the number of passes each chat conversation has encountered will quickly highlight areas where agents need training on how to improve the structure of responses and reduce the number of conversation passes, thereby reducing costs.

4.  View the larger picture

Having all the session details is great but combining it with other valuable information can expose oddities you might never have been aware of.  For example, are you aware that Agent A takes 20% longer than other agents handling voice calls from female customers but on average resolves chat sessions in fewer conversation passes than all other agents?

5.  Assess the agents’ effectiveness

When an agent sends a chat response to the customer, that agent effectively becomes idle as they wait for the customer’s next action; either another comment or termination of the chat.  The use of automated canned responses can also lead to the agent becoming temporarily idle.  Capturing all instances of idle periods enables the agents’ effectiveness to be measured.  Make sure the reporting can provide this effectiveness information, when agents handle multiple chat sessions simultaneously.

Publish Date: November 8, 2016 5:19 PM

I fought to keep my dialer - thank goodness I failed!

This month Sytel is pleased to host an outside contributor; Richard Dearing, an experienced telecoms manager in the UK who has worked with a number of different predictive dialers for more than 15 years.  Over to you Richard.

First, thanks to Sytel for giving me the chance to share my experiences.  My subject is simple – predictive dialer performance under compliance.

But some history first.  Since the UK regulations on dialers were introduced over a decade ago, I have worked with several enterprise dialers with the task of achieving maximum performance while maintaining compliance with Ofcom rules.  For those of you not familiar with these rules, among other things they set a limit of 3% for abandoned calls.  And Ofcom enforce their rules rigorously, any call center working outside them lays themselves open to hefty fines.

Naturally, I had to work with what I had; a predictive dialer and some manual control facilities.  Some products offered an automatic control so that the compliance was handled without human intervention.  However, in my experience, such systems never worked well and were always prone to overdialing, beyond 3%.

Fast forward a few years and I found myself working with the Sytel dialer.  Initially, I was pretty apprehensive since I knew that automatic control of dialing didn’t work.  And frankly I had enjoyed being part of a team that knew how to control the dialing process by constantly monitoring and changing overdial controls!

But my new employer was adamant; we had to use the Sytel dialer which had no manual controls.  So, all we could do was to start a campaign and then just leave it alone!  After my initial misgivings I realised that the Sytel approach was working, if you set a target for nuisance calls the dialer managed to stick to it. 

And even more to my surprise, performance in terms of talk time per hour was well above what I had been used to for equivalent campaigns with other dialers.

I hadn’t expected this, it had seemed to me that despite all the claims that dialer vendors make about their products, dialers are commodities with very little difference in performance between them.

Dialing was just a part of what I was doing but eventually I decided to talk to Sytel to try and understand how they did it.  They pointed me at a web article, titled "The Predictive Gain of Predictive Diallers" on the UK website of Call Centre Helper  - and the penny dropped!

I couldn’t wait to test the idea out on the Sytel dialer and was again amazed to see that despite the tough 3% limit, we were getting predictive gain in terms of talk time per hour that was well into double figures.

But let me tell you, it was a rude awakening as well.  I had never done this test with other dialers, but it made me realise that I had been oversold for many years on their performance under compliance. 

Giving up on ideas that are widely shared, no matter how bad, is never easy, but if you get the chance to improve your performance by embracing the way Sytel approaches things then my advice is do yourself a favour and try it out.  


Publish Date: October 12, 2016 3:09 PM

In Defense of IVR

Badly designed IVR call flows give IVR a bad rap. We all hate being passed through 7 layers of "press 3 to do this, press 4 to do that, press 5 if you are at your wits' end". This kind of system can taint our view of IVRs.

But there are some very positive, sensible uses of IVR that play to its strengths and are really appreciated - so we'd like to take a moment to speak in defense of IVR:

Here, at Sytel, we see outbound IVR being used by clients and resellers, and with good reason. If a message is a simple one, what quicker way to get through to a customer quickly than by ringing them up? If the respondent knows you may be calling they are more likely to answer, and if your message needs some kind of feedback from them it's easy to ask them to 'press 1 if you agree...' to ensure they have understood and responded to you. However, even if they don't answer your call they can listen to their voicemail and can call you back.
Consider how slow the response will be and how few respondents there would be if you tried to and ask the same question by email! Not only that, but by the time you have an answer the moment may be passed. IVR can get you answers - fast!

People friendly
The elderly may balk at having to go online to fill in a form. It may require looking at a tiny screen on a mobile phone or perhaps sitting down at a PC. However, a question asked by an IVR simply requires a digit to be pressed or perhaps speaking an answer. A phone is an interface that we are all familiar with; people don't see phone calls as high-tech. This translates to less work for the customer and is therefore more likely to be completed.

Sensitive matters
For many people talking to a machine is easier than talking to a real person. If you need to collect some information that is of a sensitive or very personal nature it may be difficult to ask over the phone with a human being. Sytel has examples of users producing both inbound and outbound IVR scripts that allow a respondent to provide an IVR with a response to a difficult question. IVR is discreet.

Time saving
We have also seen great examples that combine automated messages with real live agents. If there is simple information to collect why not let an IVR carry out this section of the task and allow your agents to focus on more complex task?. If necessary, transfer the IVR call back to the agent after the data capture has been carried out. It's a good way to use agent's time efficiently.

Are you concerned whether your employees always present the best possible face of your company? You don't need to worry about your IVR. Once it has been recorded it doesn't get tired or have a bad day or over-emphasise the wrong word in a phrase and cause some minor confusion. What is recorded stays recorded. IVR is consistent, both in the message and the tone of the message. And if IVR is being used to collect digits - maybe to look up an account number - you can be sure that it won't mishear or miss a digit. It won't make the kind of mistakes that humans make.

IVR Design
Want to design a custom form to feed data into a database? You might need to find a software developer to write some code for you to do this. IVR systems (and we're talking about the best ones here) often allow code-free design of data collection to feed straight into a database. This kind of code free design could allow you to lookup a caller's CLI, extract some information from a database and collect data from them as they press digits.

So, next time you are looking for a fast, consistent, simple, customer-friendly way of collecting a lot of data quickly, consider what IVR can do for you. It should be a useful tool to keep in contact with your clients, not a barrier to keep them away from you.


Publish Date: September 22, 2016 10:24 AM

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