Types of dialing - Sytel's dialer, Softdial Plugin®, offers preview, progressive and predictive dialing.  Depending on the requirement, these modes of dialing can be easily switched between.  There's nothing difficult about preview and progressive dialing, but predictive dialing is another story!

Call progress detection - A predictive dialer will try and screen out all calls other than live calls.  Sytel provides software and functions to allow this to happen.  But despite many industry claims, this is not an exact process. Some calls such as faxes, modems and many voicemail systems can be easily detected with minimal delay for the call.  Other calls, especially answering machine detection require some seconds to try and work out whether a call is a person or a machine.  This software is available with Softdial Plugin®, and its rated performance is as good as any in the industry.  But proceed with caution since the time taken on detection is the time that you are expecting a person to stay on the line, wondering who is trying to call them. If call quality really matters, then this kind of detection may be best turned off.

The pacing engine - this is the really difficult bit.  The real key to good predictive dialing lies in the quality of the dialing algorithms and excellence in dialer design requires huge effort.  Sytel has put many man-years of development into its dialing engine, known as the Virtual Event Machine (VEM)®.  It is a specialist simulator engine that was designed specifically for the outbound market.

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Figure 1— Instant pacing response to changing conditions

All the user does is to specify a maximum target for abandoned calls and leave the rest to VEM®.  It then achieves, continuously, the maximum dialing efficiency for that rate of abandoned calls. No calls left in hold queues, no other bad habits such as hanging up quickly on unanswered numbers.  The supervisor gets on with managing the campaign itself and just ignores the dialer which manages its own pacing, with no outside interference!

VEM® continuously monitors all events that are part of the dialing process.  It continuously reruns its calculations to update the dialing rate. Because of the power of VEM®, simulating at up to 40 million calls a second (yes, a second) this happens in milliseconds only.  See Figure 1 for an example of how it responds immediately to changes in campaign conditions.

Compliance - Sytel has led the world for many years on compliance.  It has worked with the regulators in many countries to help bring in responsible controls for dialers and even today is the only vendor to actually enforce compliance in its product.  This means for example, that if you are dialing under rules set by either the FTC in the USA or Ofcom in the UK, then Sytel enforces compliance and you don't have to worry about non-compliance.

Choosing the right dialer - there are two things to be aware of.  If you are paying good money for a predictive dialer, then remember that what you are really paying for is the extra talk time per hour that predictive can produce over progressive dialing.  It is entirely reasonable to ask any vendor to give you a free trial or take you to a site where you can measure this.  Any dialer worth its salt can easily switch between progressive and predictive modes so that you can measure the difference.  Until you can see this test carried our properly, there is a good chance that you don't really know what you are buying.

Take a look in Figure 2 at the kind of 'predictive gain' that the Sytel Dialer produces on a typical telemarketing campaign with 20 agents.  But the catch is that if the design is anything less than excellent, then only a small part of this gain will be achieved, because the dialer will quickly use up its small quota of allowed nuisance calls and then have to revert to dialing progressively.

Compliance conformance - as well as understanding the 'predictive gain', you need to be sure how it was achieved. Were compliance rules followed?

Make sure you know your local rules, or what best practice rules are and then ask some searching questions.  Look for clear evidence that rules are actually followed.  For example, are abandoned calls measured in the right way?  If you are not sure how to check compliance or what your rules are, then always feel free to ask Sytel.  Just remember that unless you can be quite sure that compliance rules are being adhered to, you will have no way of doing a proper evaluation.

Figure 2 - The 'predictive gain'