Contact centre technologies – Issue seven

Hello, from Aculab call central.

In this post, the seventh of some more, I’ll continue delving into the scourge of abandoned calls in more detail, looking at reasons for call abandonment. You’re welcome to post any questions in the comments section below.

In the previous post, I took a look at the second of three important factors, which impact on the effectiveness or success of outbound dialling campaigns. Those factors are: i) accuracy in detecting tones; ii) live speaker detection accuracy; and iii) call connection time.

In this post, I’ll look at the third and final factor and why it’s important.

Time critical

The overall time taken to place a call and connect it to an agent is critical. The time between the phone going ‘off-hook’ or someone saying “Hello?” and a connection being made to an agent is a critical metric. That’s because a lengthy delay, with silence on the line, will determine whether or not the called party hangs up the phone.

So for diallers, there is a critical balance to be achieved between the use of call progress analysis (CPA) software and the value or benefit to be gained from its use.

Three factors

Without CPA, the dialler is faced with connecting every call that is answered, regardless of by whom or what. With CPA, if the dialler application takes too long to connect the call to an agent, there is a high risk of call abandonment.

A third complicating factor is the dialler itself. As diallers are designed to drive calls for maximum agent utilisation, call presentation can sometimes get ahead of agent availability. So the balance must be three-way. That’s almost an oxymoron.

Anathema

The anathema for any self-respecting outbound contact centre is to have customers hanging up, because of what they perceive as silent calls. That’s when they ‘hear’ the infamous ‘dead air’ i.e., there’s no-one on the line. Customers don’t often tolerate that kind of nuisance.

Whether the customer hangs up or the dialler fails to make a timely connection, the call is classed as abandoned, which is never good. Too much of that and the contact centre operator may face stiff penalties for non-compliance to strict regulations.

Rules

The United States’ Federal Trade Commission’s Telemarketing Sales Rule states that an outbound call is abandoned if a person answers it and the telemarketer fails to connect to an agent within two seconds of the person’s completed greeting. It’s the same in most countries.

Tighter rules

In the United Kingdom, the rule is tighter. The Persistent Misuse Statement enforced by Ofcom, demands that, in the event of an abandoned or silent call, a recorded information message, containing at least stipulated information, is played no later than two seconds after the phone has been picked up. This applies to any call answered before an agent is available, so in that case, the connection timer starts as soon as the phone goes off-hook.

Get it right

The best defence against regulatory violations and fines is an effective compliance plan. Most good dialler systems include tools that help the contact centre maintain campaign compliance. Don’t forget to check back next week for more, when I’ll provide a summary of what’s been covered so far.  Ciao!

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  - Joeb Logger

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