• January 15, 2003
  • By David Myron, Editorial Director, CRM and Speech Technology magazines and SmartCustomerService.com

Cracking Down On Abandoned Calls

When Timothy Muris talks, people listen. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) chairman addressed the House Committee on Energy and Commerce last week regarding the Telemarketing Sales Rule's (TSR) do-not-call amendments. Not surprisingly, contact center vendors are already coming out with compliance modules. Yesterday Data-Tel Info Solutions, a division of GSM Software Inc., based in Mesa, AZ, announced its compliance module for the TSR. One of the issues the TSR aims to change is predictive-dialer call-abandonment rates, or the percentage of calls for which no representative is available to answer the call after a connection is made. This happens when predictive dialers send out phone blasts to targeted individuals and an above-average percentage of live customers pick up the phone simultaneously. If there are not enough agents to grab the calls, they are abandoned. The experience for customers is not unlike an unnerving prank call where the phone rings and nothing is heard on the other end. Data-Tel, a provider of contact center software and technology, aims to solve this problem with the addition of its California Compliance/Overflow Agent module to its inbound, outbound, and Web-bound contact center management software, called xSELLerator 6.0. The Data-Tel module provides an option for calls to be rerouted to designated Overflow Agents, preventing calls from being abandoned, schedule the call for a follow up, and end the conversation. The module comes in response to call abandonment parameters set forth by California's Public Utilities Commission. Call-abandonment rates cannot exceed 3 percent in any one-month period. That percentage is expected to drop to 1 percent in April of this year. Data-Tel is not the only company gearing up for tougher abandonment regulations. "We were ahead of our time in the 1990s when we engineered our dialer specifically to cope with tough compliance rules," said Sytel Ltd. CEO, Michael McKinlay in a prepared statement. McKinlay adds that Sytel has complied with the Direct Marketing Associations' guidelines of 5 percent for abandoned calls, measured as a percentage of answered calls and not all calls. He maintains that users can plug in Sytel's Softdial Plugin dialing software and plug it into their existing solutions.
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