NewswireToday - /newswire/ -
St. Ives, Cambridgeshire, United Kingdom, 2010/07/27 - Netcall’s Chief Technical Officer, Richard Farrell, commented that Netcall, the leading provider of Automated Callback and Workforce Management solutions, welcomes the new Ofcom ruling to ban repeat silent calls.
Repeat silent calls are defined by Ofcom as two or more silent calls made to the same person by an organisation in a 24-hour period.
Call centres use predictive diallers that automatically dial batches of telephone numbers and connect these calls to call centre agents. A predictive dialler calls the customer first, before connecting to an agent. Answer Machine Detection (AMD) technology is used to determine the difference between a live caller and an answering machine. A silent call is produced as more calls are created than agents are available to answer.
Many companies believe the answer to be a predictive dialler used in conjunction with an AMD, as the AMD should detect the difference. However, as none of these technologies is 100% accurate, this leads to false positives - live callers being treated as answer machines and played a message or, worse, disconnected.
Ofcom is proposing to ban companies calling any number that has been identified as an answer phone more than once in a 24-hour period, unless an agent can be guaranteed to accept the call. They are taking this new rule very seriously, having increased the fine from £50,000 to a staggering £2 million pound penalty for persistent offenders making silent calls to consumers. Many large corporate companies have been caught out in the past and have been publicly named and shamed.
One of the largest outbound dialling outsourcers in the UK, LBM has recently tested AMD, and as a result has turned it off when making outbound calls. Their view was that the standard tests do not accurately measure the false positive rate and that it is not possible to remain within Ofcom guidelines.
Netcall (netcall.com) agrees with Ofcom’s ruling, and its flagship product QueueBuster® has been designed to always secure an agent before any callback is made, thus completely eliminating any risk of silent calls and ensuring full compliance with the requirements set by the regulator.
Some callback solutions designed for the US market use predictive diallers to make their outbound calls, believing that silent calls are an acceptable consequence of the proportion of outbound calls made.
QueueBuster works by making the requested call back automatically once it has reached the front of the queue, and only when an agent is available. The agent receives the requested callback as an incoming call and is whispered the customer’s information, giving the agent the opportunity to bring up any necessary details and personalise the callback before the call is returned to the customer. It never generates more calls than available agents can deal with, and as customers have to request the callback through QueueBuster, the calls cannot be classed as unsolicited.
An argument often used for predictive dialling for callbacks is that average handle time is reduced. Whilst there is no published evidence that this is the case, some companies still perceive that this is an important measure within a call centre. Typical thinking being “if I reduce the variable Average Handling Time (AHT), I reduce the need for agents and we, in turn, reduce costs.“ This idea is misguided; with any system or action you need to know the outcome, and not the measures it takes to get you there.
Jonty Pearce, Editor of Call Centre Helper, writes about improving customer service through measurements. In his latest interactive session he addresses the problems faced when call centres use Automatic Call Distributor (ACD) statistics to measure the quality of the call. “Just because it’s easy to collect does not make it a good measure” is just one quote from the session. Jonty’s thoughts are clear; “Average Handling Time tells you nothing about the outcome of a call. Smarter companies are measuring outcomes on customer satisfaction levels, new business sales, net promoter scores and, importantly, life-time value of customers.”