Making the Right Call… - Daktela

Making the Right Call…

Blog Banner outbound Dialling

With an Omnichannel Contact Centre you have the ability to answer your customer queries quickly and efficiently using all types of media. Telephone, SMS, Email, WebChat, Social Media are all channels that your customer might choose to use when asking you questions or requesting information, but why not pre-empt some of their contact?

By using your systems ability to outbound dial you could potentially call your client at a time better suited to your workload. In a lull, or time of the day when your inbound contact is a little less, why not make an call outbound and smooth out the workload during the day?

A proactive outbound dialling campaign may be quite simple and when using some of the technology that is now available you may not even need to involve any “real” people. If all you are doing is confirming a delivery date, for example, then why not use an automated “agentless” dialler campaign, to call your customers, confirm the delivery date, offer them the ability to change the date, if required, and thereby reduce the need or your customer to call you and ask the question?

That’s just one use for a dialler, there are many more.

There are a number of different modes your dialler can work in, Predictive, Progressive, Preview, & Robotic to name just a few. Each type of dialler mode is unique and it’s been designed to address particular business challenges. If you are trying to contact many people, during the day, when lots are not going to be available, then maybe a Predictive mode would work well for you. This has the ability to estimate, based on performance, how many people are likely to answer, how many of your agents will be available to take a call, and then it launches an appropriate amount of calls to keep your agents busy, and talking to customers, rather than listening to ringing, engaged or unobtainable numbers. Thousands of records can be dialled, and a list can be completed much quicker than just accessing a spreadsheet, picking up a phone and dialling manually all of the people you’d like to call. A word of caution though. Please ensure you adhere to Ofcom regulations. The alternative may be a heavy fine.

A good alternative to Predictive dialling is Progressive dialling. As a rule of thumb, Predictive is good for B2C (Business to Consumer), and Progressive is better for B2B (Business to Business). With B2B dialling you are probably talking to a Business during their working day. That means they are more likely to answer and therefore you wont “burn” through data, or annoy people with calls that you can’t field. If you are talking B2C but to your Customers and not Prospects/Suspects, then Progressive may be a much better option anyway.

When you use a dialler correctly it can be an extremely easy and professional way to promote your brand, provide information to customers, and increase sales revenue.

Below are some of the more common diallers available

Predictive Diallers

One agent to many telephone calls. Predictive dialling can be the most productive form of dialling. The dialler launches several calls, based on a number of different parameters, so that the solution connects answered calls, as soon as possible after an agent completes their previous call. This should equal huge productivity increases over manual dialling.

The dialling is controlled by a unique algorithm, which monitors a number of different parameters and activities, and then launches the next batch of calls. The dialling rate is automatically adjusted to maintain the most efficient dialling rate availability. Each supplier will have their own algorithms.

Predictive dialling is most effective in campaigns that are fairly straightforward or when you have lots of agents and lots of data to work through. It’s not so good if you have 15 or less agents as the algorithms are usually written with large numbers of agents and calls in mind. It’s typically used for B2C where you have ‘data to burn’.

A word of caution, it should be noted that predictive dialling is often perceived or given as the reason for, ‘silent’ or ‘abandoned calls’. This is when customers receive calls and no agents are actually available to talk.

Progressive

Progressive dialling offers similar productivity to predictive dialling whilst removing some of the risk of abandoned/silent calls. Unless the dialler is an Aggressive Progressive (Also known sometimes as ‘Power’ dialling) dialler, which tend to have little intelligence behind them. Aggressive Progressive (Power) diallers often just launch X amount of calls for Y amount of agents and will then drop any other calls that are answered, or leave/play a message to the far end. Aggressive Progressive (Power) diallers can cause all sorts of problems, and are the “beast” that Ofcom are trying to rid the UK of (in our opinion).

With Progressive dialling an agent is reserved, and a telephone call is automatically made. If the far end is Busy, Number Unobtainable, or Rings Out, then the call is dropped (cut off), dispositioned and another call is made. This continues until someone answers and at this point the call is presented to the agent and the screen is typically “popped” with the client information. In this manner the agent only sees, and hears, a call when someone has answered the outbound call.

Progressive dialling is most often used in campaigns addressed to current customers where the objective is to renew or up-sell a product or service. It is typically used for B2C where you have good quality data and do not want to waste any contacts, or in a B2B environment where the client is likely to answer during the “working day”.

Preview Dialling

An agent is presented with a screen of data to read and then, when ready, presses (clicks) the dial button. This ‘press’ can also be automated after a predetermined time, e.g. you give the agent 10-15 seconds to become ‘acquainted’ with the call you’re about to make. Again, typically used for B2C where you have good quality data and don’t want to waste any contacts, or in a B2B environment where the client is likely to answer during the “working day”.

Robotic Dialling

Also known as Agentless or Robo dialling as the calls are made by the system and it often ‘talks’ to the client, giving information, prior to possibly connecting to a real agent, if needed. This can be used in a number of different scenarios such as confirming that the person at the far end is the ‘correct’ person you are trying to contact, or by confirming a delivery date is still valid and allowing a new date to be selected if not. Please be aware of possible Ofcom compliance issues but in essence, this is using IVM (Interactive Voice Messaging) Technology.

All of the above methods of dialling are available and save you time and effort. Depending on the quality of data, the amount of agents, and which method you choose, you can increase productivity by between 20% – 75% per agent.

Other, more customised methods of dialling are available and, the better the system is, will mean you can provide you, your staff and your customers with a great experience. If you talk with your Omnichannel supplier, you will often find that they have ideas that may help you increase productivity whilst ensuring your customer don’t suffer.

Many suppliers have AMD available but the solution will often take up to 5 seconds to determine if an Answer Phone has fielded the call or it’s a real person. Ofcom rules state that calls must be placed with an agent two seconds after the far end has said the H in “Hello”. Therefore, many suppliers suggest turning AMD off, and allowing the agent to decide if an Answer Phone is involved. At this point the agent can click a button and send the call to a pre-recorded message that meets Ofcom requirements.

In certain circumstances it may be acceptable to use AMD, this is typically, but not always, when dealing with existing clients where you have agreed that this action may take place.

Important considerations in outbound campaigns …

The most important consideration when preparing an outbound campaign is ensuring you comply with your local Rules and Regulations. Ofcom – The Office of Communications is the independent regulator and competition authority for the UK communications industries. Or to put it another way, in charge when it comes to a set of rules and regulations that you must/should adhere to.

The risk is yours, but the fines can be very high. These fines can range from a few thousand pounds up to £2m or more! Any dialler you choose should be able to implement all of the Ofcom requirements around abandoned calls, silent calls, “False Positives”, AMDs (Answer Machine Detection) and many more. There is a huge amount of information to be aware of and your supplier should be able to help you and point you in the right direction. However, it is your (the user) responsibility to adhere to the Ofcom rules, and it will be you that is fined should you fall foul of these regulations, not the dialler supplier.

There may be other restrictions, such as the UK’s requirement that callers present a calling line identity (CLI) and not “Private Number”, make return, inbound contact details available, and limit silent and abandoned calls. Your suppliers should be able to guide you with any of these issues.

PCI DSS compliance is also very important, and when outbound agents are taking card payments, this is an area that you must address. We have addressed PCI DSS in other blogs which are available to read should you desire.

When using a dialler your data is very important. Please remember GDPR, after all, having lots of names and numbers doesn’t entitle you to use them, or even keep them. Please respect privacy.

What constitutes bad data? It could be that the data you have purchased is for the wrong sector, it could be old data and now “out of date”, it could be consumer data instead of business data. By far the biggest “mistake” is using data that you obtain “from a friend”. There is no comeback, you can’t complain, and, more often than not, its data that they got the same way! Again, please remember GDPR and respect people’s privacy.

Always maintain the data, and update, when and where necessary. Constantly updating and correcting your data will pay dividends when the next round of calls is launched. Also, please remember that you have to offer an “opt out” or “do not dial” list to the customer which you must adhere to.

Segment your data before calling. Don’t load a call list of 100,000 records. Slice and dice your call lists into, for example, Post Code areas, Dialling Regions, or just the type of client you wish to contact. Men over 40, Ladies under 50 etc. Your success rate is bound to improve. If you create different campaigns with this pre-sorted information you will also see where you have the best success rates.

Data penetration is also especially important. If your recycle rules are too aggressive you may not reach the end of your call file and thereby miss dialling prospective clients who would have answered.

Last, but not least, remember those Ofcom rules again. You can’t just redial when you want to, there are certain rules that must be obeyed. Having said that, if your target client is engaged, they are probably on the phone. They are there, and if you redial 5 or 10 minutes later, are most likely going to answer. Use your dialler intelligently to ensure that you extract the best possible results from your data.

Once you have decided to use your dialler, how do you manage it?

This very much depends on how big you are. If you are below 20 seats you can probably manage the dialler via your Contact Centre Manager. A good dialler is intuitive and easy to use. Records should be easy to load or even automated. In smaller Contact Centres the emphasis is on keeping your agents busy and making sure your clients are dealt with appropriately.

With 20 – 100 seats it may be worth having a Dialler Manager. These are specialists who understand how diallers work and ensure that the data going into the dialler is formatted, segmented and “cleaned”. They may be responsible for sourcing the data too. Knowing where and who to go to, to get the right information can be a godsend. It’s a full time job but can easily pay for itself in productivity and results.

Above 100 seats and a Dialler Manager is almost certainly essential. In larger organisations you can often find a Dialler Team who take care of all aspects of the dialler from Data to Calling.

CRM systems (Customer Relationship Management) come in all shapes and sizes. Smaller companies may use a spreadsheet, in essence it’s still a CRM. Larger companies will use everything from small, free, CRM solutions (Freeware or Apps) up to the large multi-national CRM solutions. Nowadays Cloud based CRM solutions allow large scale CRM solutions to be available to the masses. But do you need these to be fully integrated? What do you really want from your dialler and CRM systems?

Some of the Dialler suppliers offer “Mini CRM” solutions built into their products. The most reputable dialler suppliers can integrate into almost any existing CRM solutions, and some can even integrate to older, bespoke solutions. It may be that integration at the desktop isn’t needed as the dialler can automatically update your CRM system.

Quite often we forget that if you’ve called someone, then you will probably receive a call back at some point. Always ensure that your dialler isn’t limited to just outbound calling. You may find that these limited solutions will suggest that inbound calls can be fielded via your PBX/Telephone system. This may be true but surely a Omnichannel solution with MIS and statistics all in one place, would be much easier to manage and, of course, the MIS is easier to obtain when it’s in one place. Plus what happens when I’m already on an outbound call, is the PBX “clever” enough to recognise this? An Omnichannel solution will, and it’ll also ensure that the right person, with the right skill, at the right time, answers your client. Many suppliers can now offer a complete Contact Centre solution incorporating Inbound ACD telephony and Outbound dialler capabilities. In addition, the solution is able to handle eMail, Social Media, Chat and web based contact from clients. IVR, and Voice recording, are also, often, included as standard. The world has changed and now your clients often demand different ways of contacting you, depending on what’s happening. When you talk to your supplier make sure they can offer you everything you need. If it’s “just” a dialler then spread your net a little wider and see what else is out there, you may be pleasantly surprised.

Sometimes an outbound call is the correct method of contact, but maybe an email, or Web Chat response, would be just as efficient and maybe even more cost effective. If customers don’t have a choice they often “vote with their feet” as someone else will offer them that choice. Don’t make it easy to lose customers, make it easy to keep them.

Roy Holmes DaktelaAuthor:               Roy Holmes | Operations Director
Published by:     Daktela UK ltd
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