Both the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) have confirmed that their target for sales calls abandoned by predictive dialers will be set at 3% of answered calls, to be effective from 1 October 2003.
This not only changes forever how predictive dialers will be used in the US, but these rulings will send a shockwave into all other emerging outbound markets around the world.Followers of predictive dialing issues in the US may be wondering about the massive disconnect that exists between the 3% limit and the big fuss that US consumers have been making about nuisance calls.
If you read industry submissions to the FTC and the FCC over the past year you could be forgiven for thinking that the actual nuisance call rate is already running at only 3-5% of answered calls. If that is the case, then why all the complaints from consumers?
There are undoubtedly some call centers who have been working at this level, but they are quite unrepresentative of the market as a whole. Real levels of nuisance calls have been much higher than this, and a reduction to 3% brings huge challenges for both dialer vendors and users.
At the 3% level, many smaller users will gain little, if any, advantage from predictive dialing now, and will need a rethink on customer contact strategies. The scope for maintaining productivity in larger call centers is good with a well-engineered dialer, but many dialer vendors will find the challenge too much, and this will have real consequences for users.
So how is the dialer industry responding to the 3% requirement? Well, there is a lot of noise about compliance adherence, presumably meaning that dialers won't allow users to dial outside this and the other rules laid down. But adherence is pretty simple stuff, and, in any dialer, should take no more than a few code changes to effect this. The real issue is not adherence, but effective performance under compliance. Users, too often blinded by marketing hype in the past, will need to look lively to stay competitive. Here are some tips to help them.
Five Tips On Good Design Sense
Abandoned calls must now be seen as a scarce resource! If your dialer wastes them, then your predictive performance is in trouble.
Beware of any solution that predictively dials for a 'specific agent'. It was never a good idea and now that there are strict limits on 'dead air', to do so is to invite unwanted abandoned calls.
Look for a dialer that DOESN'T spend time 'seeking' the right dialing rate when a campaign is running. It can only do this by 'wasting' abandoned calls.
Agent movements are a fact of life on most campaigns. Look for a dialer that can instantly recalibrate itself to the right dialing rate, when agents enter or leave a campaign.
Look for a dialer whose settings can't be interfered with by your supervisors, because they know best or they are correcting its mistakes. This again is a sure sign of trouble.
And, for the wider picture..
Five Tips On Good Business Sense
Look for a dialing solution whose settings don't allow you to exceed legislative limits. Why allow the risk of bad practice that could land with heavy penalties?
Ask for a free trial. DO NOT pay for an expensive upgrade, or a new product, until you know it can deliver good predictive performance.
Beware consultant's reports on which dialer(s) will work well under compliance, unless you can SEE the performance for yourself.
Consider benchmarking between products, but make sure you are comparing like with like.
Above all take responsibility yourself for making sure you stay within the rules and stay competitive. Don't believe anyone's hype, including ours! Look for solid proof that the product you choose is genuinely effective under compliance. If you can't do that, keep your money in the bank.
About Michael McKinlay:
Michael McKinlay is the Managing Director of Sytel and has campaigned widely for many years for compliant dialing. He has helped to draft dialing codes for marketing associations and regulators in many countries, including the US and the UK.
About Sytel Limited:
Sytel Limited develops and supplies Softdial Contact Center™ (SCC) multimedia, multichannel, fully blended cloud contact center solutions, for quick and easy deployment. It brings the same innovation to the multimedia contact center that is used in developing its AI Dialer. All Sytel cloud components are secure, resilient and scale seamlessly from 50 agents to 10,000+, whether local, mobile or remote.
Published: Wednesday, August 13, 2003
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