Predictive Dialer Featured Article

Auto Dialers, Including OPC's Spitfire, Make News as Election Nears



A money-saving technology that enables sometimes irritating – though for many companies, extremely useful – robocalls, has been making big headlines recently, as the presidential race in the United States nears its finish line and candidates scour swing states for pivotal votes.

 
Automated calls themselves are nothing new, although, according to Stephanie Condon of Cnet.com – a news Web site that’s operated by San Francisco-based CBS Interactive – technological advancements have led to more robocall vendors, reducing the technology’s price enough to make it an affordable way to reach voters and targets from other types of marketing targets.
 
The technology behind robocalls is “fairly straightforward,” Condon writes.
 
“It is essentially a Web-based interface, or software on a computer with a dialer capacity, connected to a high speed line or voice over IP,” Condon writes. “Some voter-calling firms develop their own software, while others use software like Spitfire, developed by OPC Marketing.”
 
Addison, Texas-based OPC Marketing offers both predictive and auto dialer software, and markets them under the Spitfire brand, whose trademark is shown on the right.
 
Here’s how the technology works.
 
Auto dialers do what their name implies: they dial numbers automatically from a database, then detect the difference between a live person, answering machine or voicemail at the other end, and deliver a pre-recorded message.
 
“Depending on the configuration and the capacity the amount of available telephone lines determines how many calls the auto dialer places or receives per hour,” OPC officials say on their Web site. “Auto dialer technology is also known as ‘Voice broadcasting.’ ”
 
OPC Spitfire also comes as a so-called “hosted auto-dialer,” sometimes referred to as an integrated voice response system, or predictive dialer.
 
The hosted dialer systems work much the same way as auto dialers – they can be used to answer all inbound calls on a specific number automatically, then play a pre-recorded message. With hosted dialers, a phonepad’s number keys also can be used to interact with a caller’s response.
 
“Hosted auto dialers are ‘Virtual’ or co-located, which means they are not in the next room at your place of work, it is hosted elsewhere,” OPC officials say. “The advantages may include lower long distance costs, hosted in a safe server environment. The auto dialer uses someone else’s electricity, physical space and security from tampering. Agents can connect to the auto dialer from anywhere.”
 
In elections, it isn’t clear how effective the technologies are, though research suggests that campaigners have enough faith in robocalls that they’re proliferating rapidly.
 
Here’s how the nonpartisan, Washington, D.C.-based Pew (News - Alert) Research Center broke down the rise of robocalls following a survey released in March:
 
 
Before the hotly contested midterm congressional elections of 2006, about two-thirds of voters received pre-recorded campaign calls, said  the Pew Research Center. 
 
Nearly two-thirds of voters received pre-recorded campaign calls ahead of the 2006 midterm elections, according to Pew.
 
A later Pew study showed that by March of this year, 39 percent of voters nationwide had already received a pre-recorded political phone call.
 
“It showed robocalls to be the top form of direct campaign outreach, over mailings or live phone calls,” Condon says.
 
Don’t forget to check out TMCnet’s White Paper Library, which provides a selection of in-depth information on relevant topics affecting the IP Communications industry. The library offers white papers, case studies and other documents which are free to registered users. Today’s featured white paper is The Compelling ROI Benefits of Contact Center Quality and Performance Management Technologies, brought to you by Voice Print International (News - Alert).

Michael Dinan is a contributing editor for TMCnet, covering news in the IP communications, call center and customer relationship management industries. To read more of Michael’s articles, please visit his columnist page.

Edited by Michael Dinan
 

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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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