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April 04, 2006

Do Not Call Compliance and Predictive Dialers

David Sims, TMCnet Contributing Editor

The national do-not-call list is part of the Federal Trade Commission's revised Telemarketing Sale Rule and of the Federal Communications Commission revised Telephone Consumer Protection Act.
They can make rules like that because the FCC (News - Alert) has jurisdiction over all telephone calls and the FTC has jurisdiction over most commerce, except for certain regulated industries. Working together The FTC and FCC passed nearly identical rules regarding a national do-not-call list, predictive dialers and abandoned calls, according to telecom consultants Lieber and Associates.
Right, it's the famous "Do Not Call" list people eating dinner love and telemarketers hate. And predictive dialers need their own special rules:
A predictive dialer is a computerized system that automatically dials batches of telephone numbers, "predicting" both the availability of agents and called party answers, adjusting the calling process to the number of agents it predicts will be available when the calls it places are expected to be answered.

It clears out all the unanswered calls and only connects calls answered by people to waiting sales representatives. Of course this can dramatically increase the time an agent spends on communication rather than waiting, in some cases nearly double it; as Juicee News explains "the system is most suitable for low quality lists and large numbers of agents; a high contact rate can overwhelm the system."

You can see the problem when it comes to the Do Not Call list, especially since, just to keep things interesting, there are state, federal, in-house, and third-party DNC lists within the network infrastructure of a participating telephone carrier.
And as companies usually outsource their contact center, it's up to the call center provider to be up on all the rules.
Products to address this need usually offer a process with no investment in additional hardware or software from the telemarketing center or the carrier. A telemarketing agent or computer generated dialing device simply accesses an outbound trunk which screens all dialed calls, and ferrets out restricted numbers.
It's a good thing, too, because the public's demanding the government get serious about infractions of the DNC list. Since the DNC Registry's launch in the summer of 2003 the FTC has brought "nine violation cases and four fraud cases related to the registry, including its first 'pure' do-not-call case last year against time-share telemarketers who made more than 300,000 sales calls to registered numbers, a breach that cost them $500,000 in civil penalties," according to MSM outlet The Washington Post.
The FCC has issued an additional 20 citations against companies for violating regulations, in some cases settling the $11,000 per illegal call penalty for hundreds of thousands of dollars.
So if you're using a predictive dialers to keep your agents talking in your outbound call center, first make sure your software complies with the FCC in United States and the CRTC in Canada's fairly strict guidelines governing dropped calls, dropping fewer than less than three percent of the total number of calls connected, excluding answering machines, and playing a recorded message announcing the dropped call with details in conformity with the regulation.
And make sure it has real-time call compliance for Do Not Call list enforcement, because things are getting serious out there.
David Sims is contributing editor for TMCnet. For more articles please visit David Sims' columnist page.

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