Predictive Dialer Featured Article

Implementing Call Blending



Call Blending is certainly the most priceless innovation to call center technology since the appearance of the predictive dialer. Many call centers that were once dependent on ACDs have been able to eliminate or greatly reduce their need for it and with the call-blending feature, agents can respond to incoming calls while also balancing their workload with outbound calls.
 
An ACD is an older style device that handles heavy incoming call volume. It sends a call to the first available answering position or, if all positions are busy, plays a recorded message and puts calls in a queue until an answering position becomes available. With call blending, what was once an outbound only dialing group now has the ability to also take inbound calls.  Using SpitFire equipment, ACD’s become almost obsolete.
 
Here's how it works: let's say you have a SpitFire Predictive Dialer system with ninety-six stations; each one of those stations could be a blended station. This means that while you are waiting for the next outbound connect; you are also able to receive an inbound call. After your station completes the inbound call, you may return to the outbound mission as call flow dictates.
 
Based on independent needs, agents can also be assigned as outbound only. This can be helpful when training new employees, allowing them to master one task at a time. Likewise, agents can be set to inbound only or any combination, at anytime.
 
Example: Twenty agents on inbound only, twenty on outbound only and 49 blend agents.
 
As the Administrator of your SpitFire predictive, you are in control. You will have to ability to establish the level of inbound service you wish to provide by simply assigning agents to the various category tasks, all of which can be changed almost instantly—for flexibility that allows your team to be more efficient and productive.
 
As an administrator you will also no longer have to find busy work for your inbound staff at time periods when call volumes decrease since as they too can be set to make outbound calls. This will further team momentum between the agents who share managing ownership of both the inbound and outbound telemarketing process and allow them to enjoy more diversity while on the job. Also, as volumes differ each day, you will have the ability to fine-tune the ratio of calls accordingly.
 
Best of all,  ACD users can retain the functionality that they have become accustomed to such as wait queue and after hour messages.
 
What if you have additional groups of inbound communication lines coming into your call center either t-1 or analog lines? Not a problem.
 
SpitFire predictive dialer systems can handle multiple inbound line groups, independent messaging, and reporting, and you control how campaign the calls come in.
 
Example: Let's say your two inbound line groups are made up of one set for collections and the other set for customer service.
 
You would link the customer service group to your telemarketing campaign while the inbound collection group would be linked to the collections campaign.
 
You also have the ability, say during staff shortages, to link both inbound groups to any one outbound campaign or create one large inbound group.
 
Another important aspect of call blending is the ability to update your outbound calling campaign with inbound call information. This feature allows the agent to update the dialer, instructing it to remove the customer from that day's calling campaigns.
 
While call blending can abolish the need for ACD equipment, in particular for call centers with inbound call numbers under thirty-five thousand calls per month, you don't have to discard your old equipment to get the payback from call blending.
 
You can use call blending as a means to control overflow traffic from your ACD.
 
This option gives you the ability to reduce the staffing levels of your inbound agents so they can remain productive regardless of call volume and service levels are still maintained as extra calls are routed to your dialer.
 
Call blending also works well with most IVR and VRU systems.
 
Here again, centers running VRUs and ACDs can use blending as overflow for either or both systems. A VRU is defined as a voice response unit (VRU) that can handle easy tasks with pre-recorded messages or message components.
 
Now, CRM (Customer Relationship Management) and e-business initiatives are pushing proactive customer contact to the forefront and demand for call blending applications is increasing. Any lull in a call center's volume means idle time for inbound agents. With call blending, this lull can be translated into opportunities for proactive customer contact.
 
The implementation of call blending is a fairly simple process, but, once again, requires your input. To start, your dialer vendor will need to know your monthly calling volumes as a whole and also the volume broken down by the hour of the day
 
Download our free [Call Volume Tracking Sheet]. The blank Campaign Tracking Sheet is in Adobe PDF format and will print in landscape mode to any black and white or color Laser or Inkjet printer. It will also open in Photoshop in case you would like to put your own logo in place of OPC’s logo. It shows a shift from 08:00 to 08:00 12 possible hours on one page. You will also need to use a program like WinZip to open the archive.
 
The purpose of this “Call Volume” tracking sheet is to be able to provide your predictive dialer vendor with an accurate picture of your call center's calling goal in terms of amount of inbound and outbound calls. How much involvedness and volume requirements are needed. Just fill these out manually. You can use this “Call Volume” tracking sheet for the call centers without ACDs, use the following table to tally and determine your inbound volumes over the course of a month.
 
The next decision to be made, and one that is partially driven by the volume of the call center, is whether call blending will be replacing this type equipment or used as overflow. To figure out your specific needs, you need some type of data and will vary on date, times and periods of the year.
 
Finally, decide if ANI/DNIS function is desired.
 
ANI, Automatic Number Identification, is more commonly known as caller ID.
 
Dialed Number Identification Service (DNIS) is a telephone service that identifies for the receiver of a call the number that the caller dialed. It is a common feature of 800 and 900 lines. If you have multiple 800 or 900 numbers to the same destination, the DNIS tells which number was called. DNIS works by passing the touch-tone digits (dual tone multi frequency or MF digits) to the destination where a special facility can read and display them or make them available for call center programming.
 
DNIS in the consumer world is more commonly known as "caller ID." While caller DNIS will not impact call blending itself, for the smaller call center, it will require the use of t-1 lines for inbound calls.
 
A word of caution here: some call centers appear on the surface to be handling their inbound call volumes correctly------at least the calls that are getting through. However, in reality, your call center may not be receiving your true inbound call volumes.
 
Let's say you have twenty inbound lines. How often are all twenty or your lines in use at one time? How many of your lines have ever been audited? How many are correctly identified? Are there any that you just don’t know what they do? Or perhaps these line(s) were unmarked and installed in an earlier time. Now the carrier was bought out, or merged with someone else and no one ever came back from the phone company to help you lower your costs.
 
Normally referred to as line utilization, this is the measurement of the volume or load that determines the amount of lines used during a specified period.
 
Example: Of our twenty inbound lines, the peak usage yesterday was eighteen lines, or ninety percent utilization.
 
Some ACD systems may also provide information regarding the duration of time the peak occurred. In our example, perhaps it was less than minutes in duration. This would be acceptable but needs to be monitored.
 
The goal is to have enough lines so your customers are not getting a busy signal but few enough to ensure that your organization is not wasting resources on lines that are never going to be used.
 
If you don't have access to inbound traffic reports for your call center, contact your company's telecommunications representative or your 800-service provider. Ask them to provide you with a traffic study to determine the number of times all of your inbound circuits are busy. This information will help ensure that your call center is able to meet today's inbound needs. It is important to get all your lines audited at least twice a year.
 
If your carrier refuses, never has the time, or never shows up then, it’s time to find another source.
 
Call blending will help you become more productive, and "Time IS money."
 
 

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What Are Related Definitions You Should Know?

Related definitions that you should know as you increase your understanding of predictive dialers include:

Dialer: generic term for any computer-driven device that places outbound calls and connects the answered calls to an agent or operator.

Agent: telephone professional to whom a predictive dialer sends the ready call.

Predictive Dialer: Predictive dialing was introduced for the purpose of increasing efficiency within calling centers. They are computer based system that automatically dial groups of telephone numbers, and then passes live calls to available agents. The SpitFire Enterprise dialer utilizes sophisticated algorithms to speed up and slow down the call rate based on, number of available agents, number of available lines, the campaign’s average call time and other statistical information.

Quick Connect: Quick Connect allows your agents to log in one-to-one with a phone line. This option is great for B2B purposes, especially when your agent needs to be on the phone line through the entire call.

Fixed Dialing: Fixed Dialing gives your call center manager the power to manually set the volume of calls. The software will then automatically dial a predetermined number of lines per agent. Fixed dialing is ideal for political campaigns, charity campaigns, and other situations drop call ratios are not a factor.

Auto dialer: makes thousands of calls screening for busy signals, no answers, fax machines while detecting answering machines/voicemail and delivers pre-recorded messages. SpitFireX Auto Dialer is a low cost solution for voice broadcasting.

How Do Predictive Dialers Work?

Predictive dialers use complex mathematical algorithms that calculate, in real time:

  1. the number of available agents
  2. the number of phone lines available
  3. the probability of reaching a human being at a specific number
  4. the time between calls required for optimum agent efficiency
  5. the length of typical agent/customer or
    debtor conversations
  6. the average length of time agents require to wrap up after a call

SpitFire Enterprise Predictive SEP is a fully blended call center solution that supports unlimited lines, agents, and campaigns. Its greatest strength is in its flexibility: multiple campaigns can be set up, viewed, and changed with the click of a button. With easy options for customization, data and dispositions can be catered to each campaign. In addition to our user-friendly interface, SEPhighlights full customer data and combines multiple campaigns on one screen. All the information your agents need is accessible at a glance, freeing their energy to focus on what matters: the calls.

Keep It Simple with SpitFire Fully Integrated Call Center Software

Our greatest priority is making your call center run smoothly, and we do that by developing software that is intuitive and easily integrated with your current systems. SEP works seamlessly with most CRM applications and long distance carriers, making it the simplest and most cost-effective solution for your call center.

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Benefits of Using a Predictive Dialer

  1. Manages the process of dialing tens of thousands of calls or tens of millions of calls in its lifetime.
  2. Detects the result of the call, as an example: no answer, busy, fax, bad number, answering machine without any presence of human expertise. Consequently saving time by only transferring calls which are voice connects to the agents locally or remotely.
  3. Using predictive dialer increases the productivity of the company by drastically increasing the time agents spend on the phone talking to actual customers or prospective clients.
  4. Predictive dialer users get the ability to organize and better manage the client information, no lost notes scribbled on pieces of paper. The database used by the dialer organizes the calling structure.
  5. The most significant task done by the predictive dialer is to predict, which means always making an effort to get a live call to the available agent with the shortest amount of wait time. This is achieved by self learning algorithms within the predictive dialer to increase or decrease the dial ratio per agent, logged into the system.
  6. Inbound call can be better dealt with by allowing the customers to wait on hold in an IVR system, or a way to leave a message they'd like a callback while the agent is busy talking with other customers.
  7. Most important benefit of a predictive dialer is it reduces expenses for your company over a period of time since you do not need to buy and deploy a complex and sometimes extremely expensive PBX system. Your company will experience return of investment (ROI) in a period of six to twelve months.
  8. A predictive dialing system can effortlessly fit into your companies existing infrastructure since it is software controlled.
  9. The call routing logic and the contact management is all included in one software package. Your call routing logic implemented as per your specifications. Since it is a software package it can easily be upgraded even if you are located remotely with the help of internet.
  10. Provides an added cost effective method of managing the client database by giving the user of the predictive system ability to rework your database on previous call results.

    Example:
    1. only redial records which were busy, no answers and answering machines
    2. Delete records which are bad numbers, disconnected numbers or operator intercepts
  11. Do a real time look up against the do not call database saving the predictive dialer user from accidentally calling people who have enrolled in the do National not call registry. This saves the company from lawsuits and others risks conforming to all legal statutes and FCC complaints.
  12. Provides progressive dialing capabilities like call blending which means handling inbound and outbound call at the same time.
  13. Provides ability to integrate call recording devices and call monitoring interfaces which helps call center supervisors to train agents and users and improve their customer support skills.
  14. Easy to setup and learn the predictive dialer logic and software tools.

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