Click-based Dialing: Taking the Dialing Out of ‘Smiling and Dialing’

There can be no doubt in this day and age about the degree to which Voice Over IP, or VoIP, has affected the call center industry. Taking call center operations into the cloud has resulted in enormous gains in efficiency, call volume, and overall call center success while simultaneously reducing total cost of ownership and operation.

In any industry, those two things together mean big wins. Increased production on lower expenditures brings higher profits and the mobility provided by a Web-based PBX brings a level of flexibility unlike anything available to this point. Call center personnel can now be strategically located anywhere on the globe depending on organizational needs and the potential maximization of profits.

There are, however, still gains to be made; primarily in the outbound dialing function. As any sales professional knows, activity drives sales income and results more than any other factor. The higher the level of activity, the greater the opportunity for success and financial gain. Yet, far too many outbound call centers still rely on the employee’s ability (and drive) to dial numbers quickly and accurately.

So, how slowly does a call center really operate that relies solely on employee dialing? We recently decided to try to quantify this exact question at Innitel Telecom.

The results were interesting, but first, some science.

A groundbreaking piece of research conducted in 1956 established that humans, for the most part, are limited to having seven things in working memory at any given time, plus or minus two. These seven things can be tasks; they can be letters, names, dates and—you guessed it—they can be digits in a phone number.

What this means is that, right off the bat, a standard phone number is already pushing the boundaries of what the average call center employee can hold in his or her memory at any given time. Cross the threshold into international dialing and the deficit grows even greater.

This lack of recall ability takes a long task and makes it even longer. We found that a known phone number; one that involved an agent dialing a phone number they already knew, such as their own, took an average of 9.0 seconds to complete and connect. Given an unknown phone number, the time needed to complete the task more than doubled to almost 20 seconds! Why?

The phone number exceeded the agent’s available working memory. This led to the need to glance at the number while dialing; each glance adding valuable seconds to the overall dialing and connection time for that particular call.

Once ring times are factored into the equation, total elapsed time for each lead averages out to 34 seconds per call. That’s less than two calls per minute.

Some may read this and wonder why such effort would go into establishing call times that yield a difference of mere seconds. We would assume that anyone who would wonder such a thing has never been responsible for the sales numbers generated by a call center. When differences of seconds are extrapolated out across call center agents numbering in the tens or hundreds, those seconds very rapidly turn into hours and, eventually days.

Days of productivity lost simply to dialing keys on a keypad. There has to be a way to reclaim that time.

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In fact, there is. Integration of click-to-call technologies into outbound call center workflows can result in dramatic decreases in call connection times and time elapsed between calls. It also virtually eliminates time wasted on misdialed numbers and, when paired with a powerful CRM, can make lead information available to the agent before the call is connected, leading to a much more personalized call experience and an increased likelihood of a sale.

Assuming the same call connection time and an agent average of ten seconds’ worth of patience for ringing before hanging up and moving to the next call, we were able to cut the time per call in half using click-to-call technology. Thirty-four seconds and less than two calls per minute just turned into 16 seconds and nearly four calls per minute. That is an extraordinary gain.

But it doesn’t stop there.

Completely removing the need for call center agent interaction when initiating a call took the overall inactive time for that agent down to an incredible three seconds. While plenty of call center technologies exist to connect call center agents with call recipients, we used this opportunity to test our new Predictive Dial technology. Predictive Dial algorithmically analyzes a call center environment and then dynamically adjusts to maximize call efficiency in that environment. The software constantly monitors the number of available lines and the number of available agents and combines that with what it learns about average call times and what is happening in the call center at that moment.

Results are then sent to the software’s management console where call center administrators can make adjustments to a call campaign on the fly. Once accepted, those manual changes are brought into the algorithm and the system adjusts to meet the administrators’ new parameters.

All of this happens in the cloud; it is entirely software-based and there is no additional hardware required.

In this day of email overload, spam, and the ease with which a potential sales lead can delete a message from their inbox, the contacts in your CRM need to, quite literally, hear from you every so often. Of course, not every customer wants this level of contact and fewer still will actually be available at the very moment the phone rings. But, for those with whom your call center connects, the opportunities to sew brand loyalty and try for more sales are nearly endless.

But activity drives sales. Dialing by hand is a dead technology; call center agents dialing by hand might as well be using rotary telephones. Click to call is rapidly establishing itself as the only viable option; giving agents the ability to learn about the recipient of their next call and connect that call in less time than it would take to dial the number by hand.

The true power in call center VoIP technology, however, lies with integrated predictive dialing. We’re incredibly excited when our clients adapt this technology and report back on their positive key performance indicators. Automated dialing has had an incredible affect on the call center industry, producing enormous gains in efficiency and call volume

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