Dropped/Silent Calls

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Dialler Manager

Collections Company

Dropped/Silent Calls
Hello all,

Just registered to the site as i've come across a few hurdles in regards to monitioring dropped/silent calls.

I am currently operating a dialer using a monitoring tool. The dropped call % is currently calculated from the number of attempts made. I am concerned that we should be measuring this against the actual number of attempts that result in a connect. I have scowered the web and cant find any definition to what OFCOM state a dropped call should be measured against.

Can anyone shed some light for me?

Thanks

Paul

WFM & Business Telephony Manager

Healthcare Insurance

Dropped/Silent Calls

Hi Paul and welcome to CCv.

As far as I'm aware a dropped call is.....

A call that is disconnected after ringing on the diallers
targeted phone, regardless of ring length.

Ie: Your definintion is closer that WHAT I believe
to be the definition. [1]

As usual with this I can't find the cite at the moment
and am doing it from memory, sorry.


HTH

DaveA




[1] Final tech description, on a landline
activated the +/-50v line to initiate the connection

Call Centre Manager

.

Dropped/Silent Calls
Paul

If it helps, we measure silent calls as combined Dropped (drop after hold) and Aborted (hung up on hold) as a % of Answered (Connect no hold and Connect after hold).

Just to muddy the water even more, another belief is that Aborted calls do not represent a silent call because it was the customer’s choice to hang up. We’re not quite ready to take that risk, but once again doesn’t it highlight the need for Ofcom to dictate their regulations in a bit more detail?

Regards

Floyd

Marketing Manager

Sytel Limited

Dropped/Silent Calls
Hi

I hope this helps. Clause 2.15 of the Misuse Statement issued by Ofcom in March 2006 states; "The 'abandoned call' rate shall be not more that three per cent of live calls on each individual campaign, over any 24 hour period." Calls dropped by called parties were not considered by Ofcom and we would not expect for them to be taken into account at any point in the future.

Calculating the abandoned call rate based on "all calls made" rather than live calls -i.e. those answered by a person - leads to a very high proportion of abandoned calls, when the live connect rate is low. Not only does this lead to undesirable database churn, it puts any company not following the rules in the firing line for possible penalities from Ofcom. Sounds like a genuine mistake here, but one you should consider rectifying since, given all the publicity, Ofcom and unlikely to treat lack of knowledge as an excuse!

Director

ProtoCall One

Dialer abandon rate
Stephanie is completely correct on this. Abandon rate for Ofcom regulations is the number of calls abandoned divided by the number of calls answered by a real person. Note that a call terminated after ring no answer is not consiedered an abandoned call.

It is also worth noting that another key part of the regulation is that if you don't have an agent to take a call and need to abandon, you must now play a message to the person before hanging up. There are regulations regarding the composition of the message.

Director

ProtoCall One

Silent Calls/Ofcom Webinar
If it's of interest to anyone, we are running a webinar on silent calls and the effect the change in Ofcom regulations has had (1 year on). We have a representative from Ofcom on the webinar, so it's an ideal opportunity to ask them questions and get clarifications on the regulations.

Link below for details and register.

http://www.pc-1.co.uk/webinar/

CS Team Leader

Homeyard

Short calls
Hello all,

I found here very interesting stuff about legislations in other countries and other things. I came with a new questions: how do you handle the 2-3 seconds calls hanged on by the caller for unknown reasons? Is this an abandoned call and is relevant for statistics or it is a ghost call and doesn't metter?

thanks!

WFM & Business Telephony Manager

Healthcare Insurance

Short Calls
I found here very interesting stuff about legislations in other countries and other things. I came with a new questions: how do you handle the 2-3 seconds calls hanged on by the caller for unknown reasons? Is this an abandoned call and is relevant for statistics or it is a ghost call and doesn't metter?

Humm...

If the call is termenated between the answering of a dialler initiated call
and an agent being available then yes it's a silent call.

The more interesting case is where the call is terminated after an agent has been connected but before an agent says anything.

You obviously have to have a message available should an agent not be available, you cannot transfer people out of a message should an agent become available so....

Personally speaking it is a silent call as there has been no contact.

The case you're citing is however a bit of a wooly area.

Regards

DaveA

BDM

The Premium Rate Association

Overdial
Hello all

I know Ofcom's statements on "abandoned" and "silent call" rates are old news but having just watched informative webinar I was left with one question and I apologise if this is a dumb one, but why are outbound call centre systems set to overdial at all. Does a 3% overdial setting really equate to a massive difference in results?

What would happen if zero tolerance regulation was applied to silent calls, and what would be the repercussions in the industry?

If anyone has any thoughts I would love to hear them.

Business Support Manager

Collections Company

Needs to be tolerance
Hi Mark,

A tolerance level is needed for predictive diallers. A basic predictive dialler works using dialling algorithms based on campaign trends, it tries to predict how many calls the dialler needs to make in order to connect enough calls to keep agents busy and achieve low idle times.

The key word here is predict, it's not an exact science so on occasions it will get it wrong and more people will answer their phones than expected leading to dropped calls. Overdialling leads to higher abandonment rates but even a well paced dialler will still drop some calls in predictive mode.

I believe zero tolerance would have a crippling effect on many industries that currently use predictive diallers and would be a bad idea. I personally think Ofcom have taken the correct approach with 3% being a fair target and feel they have gone a long way to improving regulations with their latest proposed revision.

Cheers

John

BDM

The Premium Rate Association

Needs to be tolerance
Thanks John

For clarity, do you or others who share your opinion, believe that a zero tolerance approach by Ofcom would have a "crippling effect on industries that currently use predictive diallers" due to

1)a reduction in productivity (increased idle times)in efforts to comply leading to a relative decrease in ROI, or

2)through disproportionate and restrictive regulation and its associated costs/burdens?

From the collections industry point of view I am keen to know whether the requirement to identify the calling company on your abandoned call message has resulted in any privacy or confidentiality complaints, and also whether there have been many incidences of debtors attempting to unsubscribe from collection calls?

If you can shed any light here I would be grateful.

Thanks

Mark

Planning

Outsourcing

John

Why is it that the only concern of a Call Centre professional is the effect on the industry? What about the consumer?
The fact that guidelines and rules are in place means that someone is looking out for the recipient of likely unwanted calls even though ofcom are saying it's ok to p'off some people.

I always draw comparisons with the physical in these matters, how would you feel if it was someone knocking on your door and clearing off before you had time to answer, or worse still blocking your drive and not allowing any other visitors for a period of time?
The fact that diallers are faceless makes it less personal and therefore, apparantly, OK.

BDM

The Premium Rate Association

Both sides of the argument
Steve

I think you make a good point and I am really keen to gain opinion on both the industry and consumer protection issues. I take it from your post that you would have preferred a 0% permissable silent call level. Is this a feasible and acheivable target, if regulation was to be tightened?

How do you rate the effectiveness of regulation stipulating CLI presentation and compulsory messages giving calling company identification and information on unsubscribe mechanisms in an attempt to reduce consumer anxiety, and to remove the faceless tag that diallers had developed for themselves?

regards

Mark

Business Support Manager

Collections Company

Steve
Please before commenting that my only concerns are the effect on industry please read the question posted. The question Mark posed was in regard to the effect on the industry and this is why I directed my response in this way....

With regards to the consumer protecting them is always a major concern and of course in a perfect world everyone could be made happy. However Ofcom have the difficult task of balancing the needs of the consumers while not imposing disproportionate regulations that can damage the industry. I believe that the current regulations could lead to a dramatic decrease in abandoned calls within the UK if all call centres can be forced to tow the line. As well as this a lot of consumers concerns regarding the source of calls would be allayed. I think the key is ensuring call centres that disregard the regs are investigated and punished.

Please have an open mind Steve, diallers get a lot of bad press but if used correctly they provide a major benefit to UK business. At the end of the day they are a productivity tool that helps UK business talk to more customers, quicker and at reduced cost. If we went to zero tolerance costs would increase dramatically for large scale business that make outbound calls to consumers be it for debt collection, customer service or sales. This cost would then have to be passed back to the consumer as some stage down the line. So in my opinion it’s about finding the correct balance and I think Ofcom are on the correct path.

Planning

Outsourcing

John
John,
Please read my response again, any criticism implied or otherwise was not directed at you.
Regardless, my point still stands and I could not have put the point better for the prosecution than you did "At the end of the day they are a productivity tool".

Business Support Manager

Collections Company

Fair Enough
I have read your post again and with the header "John" it would be hard to read it as not implied at me. However if I have misinterpreted, apologies.

With regards to the small section of my response you have quoted I would just like to say that my point can not be put across in those few words and any "prosecution" would do well to take on board the whole response. With the key point being we need to achieve a balance not zero tolerance.

Planning

Outsourcing

Both sides
Mark,

I don't really have a view on what is or isn't acceptable with regards to an allowance for dropped/silent calls, my point here was that the discussion was being positioned around productivity and cost rather than customer service (even if it is an unsolicited call).
I think the CLI delivery/messaging is good but realistically will this reduce the number of silent calls? Just because someone has the CLI of a company doesn't guarantee that Ofcom will act,these regulations are not widely published/if at all to the recipients of these nuisance calls but rather to the industry. How often does the regulator ask for the calling stats from individual diallers? I'm not sure, but the consumer will be even less sure and most people would not even know how to lodge a complaint. Call me a cyninc but I think this is more about another stealth tax that companies would be prepared to pay as the penalties are not proportionate to the amount of money being made from the calls, if they were then it could make a difference.

Test it, lodge a complaint with ofcom and you will get an immediate acknowledgement of your contact. If you should get a call from them just tell them it was a test or indeed a mistake but I would wager a follow up from them would be highly unlikely. They will investigate if it makes the national press but not really from one off complainants.





I think you make a good point and I am really keen to gain opinion on both the industry and consumer protection issues. I take it from your post that you would have preferred a 0% permissable silent call level. Is this a feasible and acheivable target, if regulation was to be tightened?

How do you rate the effectiveness of regulation stipulating CLI presentation and compulsory messages giving calling company identification and information on unsubscribe mechanisms in an attempt to reduce consumer anxiety, and to remove the faceless tag that diallers had developed for themselves?

Planning

Outsourcing

John
A balance of what? Statistics? For the people who receive the calls it is meaningless.The telephone preference society needs to be marketed more widely allowing people to opt out of cold calls, alternatively maybe people should have to opt in which would eradicate the issue all together . My one exception would be debt calls when the recepient deserves to be harrassed.




BDM

The Premium Rate Association

Targets
Steve,

your last point is primarily concerned with improving and ensuring the level of accuracy of reaching willing recipients of calls using diallers. Its an interesting point as I thought that the TPS was a resounding success with 14.5 million subscribers. Do you think that the service is too reactive? How would you suggest that it improves its visibility to the consumer? I read your previous comments as questioning Ofcom's speed of action to investigate and enforce if necessary as another major concern, am I correct in this assumption?

John,

I take it that your comments refer to Ofcom's responsibilities to maintain its bias against industry intervention and to ensure proportionate regulation on the industry balanced against providing a satisfactory level of consumer protection. Is this correct?

If so do you think that they could be doing more to having a better understanding of the industry's / consumer's point of view or would you say that perhaps as Steve noted, focussing on opt outs/in and consumer awareness of systems like the TPS should be the next target rather than making amendments to current regulation?

Planning

Outsourcing

Mark
Yes you are right with my assumption about the speed of OFCOM's response.

With regards to TPS visibility I think this could be done by forcing companies to print details of the TPS on to every document/leaflet/catalogue/bill etc they send to customers along with a tick box to opt out of receiving outbound calls.
If people agrree to being called then I think the rules could be relaxed as cold calls would be greatly reduced.Alternatively I'm sure it's not beyond invention that if a call is likely to be dropped an automated message could be played asking the recipient to hold the line, not great but a half way house.

Business Support Manager

Collections Company

Steve
The balance is not enforcing disproportionate regulations that can damage the UK call centre industry whilst ensuring consumer protection. The level of regulations currently imposed are proportionate to the silent call problem if they can be enforced.

Automated hold messages have been available for a long time although they can not be used in the UK as they break Ofcom regulations.

TPS is another issue, personally I don't feel it has been managed correctly to date and I feel the general public do not have a clear understanding of exactly what it is. In my experience many have signed up to it for the wrong reasons or through BT’s previous CLI promotion. I definitely don’t think that further promotion or opt in is the answer, although I do think the DMA should commission more research into alternatives.

Debtors do not deserved to be harassed. They of course should not be able to opt out of calls but should be offered the same protection from harassment as any other consumer.

Planning

Outsourcing

John
Nice to see you are now mentioning the consumer in your posts.
I still maintain that the TPS needs to be publicised on all literature produced by companies who have an outbound function. This may do the industry harm but would aimed at the beleagured consumer and besides the government were not slow to add health warnings to tobacco products to allow the consumer to make an informed decision. This would be easy in comparison.

Director

Inside Track Media Ltd

TPS in context
The TPS has its inbuilt check / balance, in that an existing commercial relationship overrides the opt out. But the scheme's being a sensible thing doesn't, in itself, mean it's useful to publicise it on "all literature". Presenting the choice on anything that's neither personalised nor an information gathering vehicle is presenting it detached from its relevant context. The result is some people making their choice for extraneous reasons and others simply ignoring the opportunity. Either way, it's more power to random effects on decisionmaking and less chance for proper consideration.

Beefing up the scheme for the purpose of reducing the number of silent calls also seems like taking a sledgehammer to crack a nut. It's not to say that silent calls aren't an issue for consumers. But maybe not equally. Where the issue becomes a problem is for vulnerable members of the public, I'm thinking of the elderly in particular and of others whose hearing is impaired. Such calls can be disorientating, even distressing. I'd advocate promoting the TPS specifically to such groups, making a reasoned case for both sides of the argument and making the opt-in a positive choice.

BDM

The Premium Rate Association

Two Questions
1) Is there a wider consensus that proactive promotion of the TPS to vulnerable groups would be a positive and worthwhile activity, if so who should be responsible for the costs of the promotion, Ofcom, industry or other?

2) The current Ofcom consultation that revisits persistent misuse and silent calls raises the issue of the AMD and its ability to increase the level of silent calls/adandoned calls. I have also found a lot of information on companies who have switched off AMD, and actually achieved greater successes / conversions on their calls. If this is the case, why don't outbound companies turn off the AMD at least until systems or technologies are in place to reduce the risk of creating more abandoned calls.

Once again I apologise if this is a dumb question!


Director

Inside Track Media Ltd

Q1
If the hypothesis concerning vulnerable groups is correct, then the other beneficiary of such an initiative is industry - from efficiency gains and a reduction in negative publicity. In corporate social responsibility terms, self regulation is best and bound to be picked up and publicised by those charities which already communicate with large elements within the target groups. Beyond these, the higher the required coverage within each target group, the higher the marginal cost, as with everything else.

Mark's Q2 on improved conversion rates demands a response.

Planning

Outsourcing

Max
I disagree on most of what you have posted relating to this topic in particular your comments around informed decision making and proper time for consideration.
My view is that, given the number of companies making outbound calls, the consumer understanding of such calls is of a high enough level to allow them to make an immediate opt out decision.

What TPS or Ofcom fail to govern is the number of calls an individual consumer can receive in a given period. From personal experience I once received 6 such calls on one afternoon trying to sell kitchens, windows, phones etc etc.
Most telemarketing companies dial at similar times on the same day, this is what needs to be regulated.

Please give the Great British consumer more credit for their ability to make a quick decision, particularly, regardless of the caller, if it is around not receiving unsolicited calls.

Director

Inside Track Media Ltd

P1, P2, P3 (and the rest)
Steve
My comments don't extend to "the consumer" generally - check the second paragraph of the earlier posting. Neither are they anything to do with outbound calls generally - the topic is "dropped / silent calls". I'm addressing the issue of vulnerable groups who aren't, by definition, representative of "the consumer" - two words whose meaning is entirely dependent on how they are qualified. Segmentation is practised in all four of the sectors that Vertex serves, and age and disability related initiatives are implemented, certainly in three of these, so I'm a little surprised by the response.

The regulatory initiative that you advocate is to govern the number of calls that individual consumers receive in a given period.

But, if what you write in P2 is actually correct, then the problem you refer to in P3 shouldn't arise, at least in principle.

Policing is a different matter. But, as any road user will tell you, there's even market segmentation in police work, these days.

Planning

Outsourcing

Max,
Yes the topic is silent/dropped calls you are correct, but please refer to the very first post in this thread in which the context is outbound dialling. Please forgive me for thinking that you were posting on the same topic.
With regards to the consumer and whether they are vulnerable or not they are still the consumer.

Furthermore your final comments are absolutely spot in your dissection of my post in so much that when people opt out they will receive no calls at all. However, some may not wish to opt out but do not want to be bombarded either.

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