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How Not to Purchase a Predictive Dialer

TMCnews Featured Article


April 21, 2006

How Not to Purchase a Predictive Dialer

By Special Guest
C. Sorensn, Marketing Manager, OPC-Marketing


As you'd most likely guess, not all predictive dialers are alike. The low-end dialer or the used one on eBay that looks like a bargain, will be prone to queue incoming calls by squeezing them on top of one another.
 
This means that after the system has found a live customer interested in your offer, the customer will wait in line for the next free agent.
 
Few of these connects will decide to wait in the queue. Bye, Bye, Sale! Don’t call me again!
 
It also leads to agents having inconsistent call flows. Some will be given back-to-back calls while others may receive only a call every few minutes.
 
In general, experienced telecom software engineers who know how to build on call flow algorithms, build good predictive dialers.
 
When mathematical formulas are engineered accurately, predictive dialers have the intelligence to efficiently route calls more reliably to your agents. The goal is to delegate calls to agents in a logical, even manner.
 
Cheap predictive dialers are typically written in obsolete operating systems for antiquated DOS-based systems. Despite the fact that this makes programming painless and quicker, the results for your goals will be less than satisfactory. Low end dialers can also take anywhere from two, up to seven seconds or more to connect a person to a live agent.
 
This is sufficient time to discourage the customer and likely lose them. Discounted predictive dialers also lack many features included in higher-end dialers.
 
If your need to track customer information, or if your campaigns would benefit from a silent monitoring feature and real-time reporting, then you’d better think twice before investing in the dialer that looks like more of a bargain than it actually is. "Cheap can be expensive" in the long run and expensive on many levels (installation, training, time lost, dialer logic and how it works - not intuitive) because you’re stuck with a device that won’t grow when you grow (ROI). Also known as a “Boat Anchor”.
 
As you consider upgrading your current predictive dialer or making an initial purchase, consider the following before deciding:
 
- Cost(s) of the system (total cost in the long run?) might not be apparent looking at the numbers – be sure you get a complete demo!
- Ease of Installation of the system (total cost in the long run?) might not be apparent looking at the numbers – be sure you get a complete breakdown!
- The number of agents in your call center
- Typical call volumes
- The computer hardware in your center system (total Cost in the long run?) might not be apparent looking at the numbers – be sure you find out all factors involved in integrating a predictive dialer into your environment! Seen and unforeseen.
- The degree to which you might want to expand the reach of your calling campaigns in the future. (total cost in the long run?) might not be apparent looking at the numbers – be sure you get a database that grows with you, one that won’t screw you later when more licenses are needed or when you go to more powerful—multiple-- CPU’s!
 
We use MySQL, on our PRO Dialers, more and more large corporations are going to open source. You won’t outgrow MySQL and it has the fastest engine when scrubbing your Do Not Call List (National DNC).
 
-And last but the probably the most important… Technical Support. (total cost in the long run?) might not be apparent looking at the numbers – be sure you get a company that has an on-site department, many of the glitches when starting out will be handled in a one-on-one fashion.
 
Choosing a good predictive dialer was easier years ago when they were less sophisticated than they are today. Years ago you'd base your decision on what dialing features the dialer offered and/or which dialer offered you the most talk time per hour.
 
Michael Henochowicz President of OPC-Marketing.com says, "at present it is more important that you base your decision on whether or not a predictive dialer will integrate with every other piece of hardware, operating system and software packages that you are currently using in your call center." "Many of these items enhance the value of your Predictive Dialer."
 
Michael continues that "The phenomenon in the call center now is the union of voice and data. Sales and call centers can use dialing platforms either Predictive or AutoDialers to upgrade other niche technologies in your contact center. It's a powerful combination taking the benefits of predictive dialers even further." He says that integration is vital to call centers “largely because of the improved control call center “directors” have over their technology”.
 
Crucial call center tools like Automatic Call Distribution (ACDs), PBXs (local automatic switch or Switchboard Phone System) and predictive dialers now work together, allowing for greater effectiveness and yield. Companies are determined to improve on use of their resources and capital spending.
 
So as you begin comparing vendors, think integration.
 
Predictive Dialers can now be used in place of more expensive PBXs.
 
As you consider purchasing a predictive dialer, you might want to look for the following features:
1. Integration with your ACD: If you want to execute call blending*, the system will need to tightly integrate with your inbound switch. You should also talk to your IVR manufacturer as automated CT systems often front-end and work closely with a call center's switch. Many vendors offer a single platform that allows you to run a variety of call center functions such as call monitoring, IVR, ACD, and predictive dialing.
 
Considering the intense integration, there are advantages to these platforms over piece-meal vendors (also known as "point solutions").
 
2. Real-time Reporting and statistics: You should be able to get real-time statistics about your campaign in progress. You will also want to be able to access reports that help you track data for particular accounts and campaign results.
 
3. Flexible agent control: You will want the ability to specify when you want some agents to switch to a different campaign. Some dialers allow you to set rules which automatically switch agents once a campaign has reached its target. What happens when an agent needs a break?
 
4. No-call zones: Your dialer should be able to accommodate your "do not call" lists. These lists, available through the American Telemarketing Association, provide you with the names of people who do not wish to be called and are protected from getting telemarketing calls by federal legislation. See how much time it really takes to scrub the data? Compare the list to your list, and then eliminate the do not calls.
 
5. Fine tuning: You should be able to control timing issues including how long your agents have to wrap up after calls, the maximum time between when a connect is made and an agent switched through, how long the system should wait before redialing numbers that didn't result in a connect, and all timing parameters surrounding call blending.
 
6. Client/server flexibility: While you can purchase used systems for fairly cheap, many won't be able to adapt to the new multimedia and increasingly packet-based call center environment. Unless your needs are very basic, choose new equipment over, used.
 
SpitFire Predictive Dialers are the easiest to learn and set-up and they work with your existing Intel (News - Alert)/PC Based Windows operating systems and software, no need to re-learn Windows with some other proprietary operating systems.
 
*Call Blending is defined as an assignment of certain agents and telephone lines in incoming call campaigns or outgoing, according to the level of the incoming traffic, which makes it possible to optimize productivity by reducing periods of under activity. By balancing the number of incoming and outgoing lines simultaneously, call flow is productive, campaigns produce stable traffic and calls are being distributed to your agents. The right number of lines for both inbound and outbound provides 100 percent agent time productivity.







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