What is True Predictive Dialing?

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1 What is True Predictive Dialing?

2 Section 1: True Predictive Dialing: Learn What It Is And What It Isn t In debt collection, efficiency is key. Collection agencies must maintain a balance between maximizing agent talk time and minimizing costly debtor hold time or hang ups. Fortunately, advances in dialing technology have made it easier to maintain this balance and increase efficiency. Among these advances, none has been more important to the industry than predictive dialing. Unfortunately, definitions of predictive dialing vary across the industry not all technology labeled predictive dialing is created equal. This paper addresses the key differences between true predictive dialers and more generic predictive dialers, referred to here as static dialers. A true predictive dialer combines data calculations into formulas and algorithms which it then uses to determine outbound dialing rates and required resources. Call pacing in true predictive dialers automatically slows down or speeds up based on list performance, agent behavior, and inbound transfers. This capability has very tangible benefits for collections agencies. Specifically, true predictive dialing helps keep agent ready times to a minimum by preparing a steady stream of live contacts and adjusting for inbound calls as they occur. By dynamically adjusting to changing circumstances, true predictive dialers save agencies significant amounts of management time and keep agent productivity steady. More importantly, they increase the amount of money that can be collected and, therefore, drastically improve return on investment for the dialing technology. 1 Varied definitions for predictive dialers have led to some confusion among industry professionals because not all technologies with that label will provide the benefits listed for a true predictive dialer. For instance, some predictive dialers utilize static resource allocation, which requires the manager to set the number of dialing lines per agent for each list or campaign. This manual pacing approach is inherently inferior to the automatic pacing described for true predictive dialers. If the allotted number of dialing lines is not doing its job correctly, the manager must guess how many dialing lines are needed to correct the problem and then manually make the change. To do this, the manager will need to estimate the current hit rate for the list and the impact of the time of day. These factors are constantly changing, which makes it even more difficult for managers to accurately track them. /// Continued on next page...

3 Section 1: /// Continued from previous page... Many collection agencies are now coping with mismatched dialer technologies because their dialer vendor s primary focus is most likely telemarketing. Most dialer vendors market their product for use across several industries, including collections, education, telemarketing, and government, making only minor technology adjustments for each segment. In other words, many collection agencies are using a dialer built for an industry other than collections. While generic dialers certainly serve their purpose, they have not done a good job meeting the unique predictive dialing needs of collection agencies. In the world of telemarketing, one call is as good as the next. If telemarketers miss a call, there remains an endless stream of equally qualified prospects. If a collection agency misses a call, on the other hand, it s possibly a debt not collected. Despite the dissimilar audiences and purposes, dialer companies apply the same labels to these very different technologies. As a result, it can be difficult to determine what your predictive dialer is actually designed to do and whether or not it s a true predictive dialer. Fortunately, there is a simple checklist of features which all true predictive dialers include: dynamic resource allocation, individual pacing, inbound blending, and skillsbased routing. The following is a detailed discussion of each of these important features and why they are necessary for achieving true predictive dialing. True predictive dialing will include dynamic resource allocation, individual pacing, inbound blending, and skills-based routing. 2

4 Section 2: Dynamic Resource Allocation As mentioned previously, true predictive dialers slow down or speed up, adapting to the current calling environment. This technology, known as dynamic resource allocation, is the foundation of predictive dialing. Dynamic resource allocation automatically balances agent wait time with inbound call volume and the number of live contacts being found (known as the hit rate). Additional features, including skills-based routing and inbound blending (to be discussed later) are contingent upon the dialer s ability to allocate resources dynamically. For instance, if a dialer vendor claims to offer inbound blending, but lacks dynamic resource allocation, true blending cannot be achieved because the dialer won t be able to make real-time pacing adjustments. Because not all technologies labeled as predictive dialers include dynamic resource allocation, this is a key point to consider when selecting a vendor. Dynamic resource allocation allows for the performance of numerous important processes which simply aren t possible with dialers limited by static allocation. For instance, with static allocation if the manager chooses a very small number of dialing lines for a given list and hit rate is low, agents will sit idle for long periods. On the other hand, if the manager selects a larger number of dialing lines and the hit rate for a list is high, debtors will be placed on hold and they aren t likely to wait long for an agent. The number of dialing lines can only be adjusted manually. Thus, when using a static (rather than true) predictive dialer, managers are constantly adjusting the dialer s speed to adapt for hit rate and other factors. Unfortunately, they usually cannot observe trends or adjust as accurately and quickly as true predictive dialers. The result is inefficiency and lost collecting opportunities. 3

5 Section 3: Individual Pacing Experienced collection managers understand that each group of agents is unique. They have different types of accounts and therefore varying talk time needs. For this reason, nearly all dialers feature group pacing, which is the ability to adjust when the dialer will start making the next contact attempt based on the collective talk time of the group. Unfortunately, averages taken across groups of agents lead to noticeable inefficiencies in productivity. While group pacing does an adequate job at adjusting to broadly measured group averages, it does nothing to account for the idiosyncrasies of individual agents. All agents have different styles and work at different paces. Even an agency s top performers will likely have very different habits and collection approaches. Unlike group pacing, individual pacing accommodates and adjusts the calling rate to each agent, based on a sophisticated aggregation of that agent s work history. By definition, this type of realtime adjustment is an essential part of true predictive dialing. Group pacing relies on averages taken across a group of agents. Averages inherently lead to inefficiencies for individuals. 4

6 Section 4: Inbound Blending A good collections manager understands that inbound calls are the most important and productive they are likely debtors ready to pay. Unfortunately, static dialers have no way to adjust their activity in order to factor in these higher-value calls. Because static dialers can t make real-time adjustments, inbound calls are an inefficiently handled complication. The inbound call will be received, but the dialer will not pause outbound calling for the agent fielding the call. The result is outbound calls needlessly placed on hold. In addition, if inbound call volume spikes, there will be both inbound and outbound calls placed on hold because the static dialer will continue to make outbound calls without adjusting for the increased inbound volume. True predictive dialers, on the other hand, adjust their activity so extra outbound calls aren t attempted while agents field inbound calls. This process, known as inbound blending, represents a more efficient method for inserting inbound calls into an agent s workflow. Significantly, the dialer will only adjust calling for the agent receiving the specific call. Again, real-time adjustment to the speed of dialing a hallmark of true predictive dialing is necessary for inbound blending to occur. True predictive dialers prevent calls from being needlessly placed on hold while agents field inbound calls. 5

7 Section 5: Skills-Based Routing Skills-based routing goes hand-in-hand with inbound blending. While inbound blending allows for the dialer to generally adjust pacing to squeeze in the call, skills-based routing transfers the call to the agent or group of agents best equipped to handle it. Skills-based routing becomes particularly important as agencies work lists containing debtors with specific needs. This feature makes intelligent decisions regarding where to direct calls based on information provided or already known about the account. Language, account balance and client are all examples of criterion which may require a particular agent or group. A true predictive dialer matches calls with an available qualified agent. Real-time adjustments to the dialer s pacing are only possible when true predictive dialing is in place. The features made available with true predictive dialing are essential to increasing the efficiency of agencies. Literally, these features can mean the difference between revenue collected and revenue lost. Skills-based routing requires real-time adjustments that can only be done by a true predictive dialer. 6

8 Section 6: Introducing IAT Smartdial Dynamic resource allocation, individual pacing, inbound blending, and skills-based routing make up the foundation of true predictive dialing. More importantly, they empower collections managers to increase collections through efficient operations. Unfortunately, not all vendors claiming to provide predictive dialing solutions offer these vital features. When selecting a dialer vendor, therefore, it is essential to ask about these features in conjunction with any predictive dialing claims made. IAT SmartDial has been working to perfect the process of predictive dialing for decades. In fact, IAT s predictive dialing algorithm is the result of more than a quartercentury of tweaking. This algorithm is proprietary to IAT; it can t be found in the dialing products of any other company. Best of all, IAT s predictive dialing model is proven. Employed by collections agencies across the United States, the SmartDial algorithm has been shown to reduce average agent wait times to as few as 10 seconds. Perhaps even more importantly, all IAT products are custom built for the collections industry. While other vendors offer telemarketing products, slightly modified for a collections environment, all IAT products are built specifically for collections agencies. If you feel like your dialer isn t providing the benefits of a true predictive dialer, contact IAT SmartDial and request a complimentary technology consultation. (800) IATSmartDial.com/contact-us 7

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