Overview of Dialer platform

Our partner, Sytel was asked to provide input and recommendations at a FTC Collections Workshop.

Click here to read what they said.


Ramping up Collection Rates

A case study on successful integration of dialer technoolgy and collection software.

Quantrax is uncompromising in its pursuit of knowledge with reference to the technology that it has chosen to create and support. Unfortunately, with regard to dialers, the potential user is often presented with almost as much misinformation as there are facts – This is not unexpected since dialer vendors are required to advertise products that are complex, often too technical to understand and always very difficult to describe. There may even be an “air of secrecy” that has created the perception that the technology is exclusive and costly.

The best dialer technology will be leading-edge, often spectacular and always challenging. It would be fair to say that the dialer industry has earned its place within an exclusive group of premium technology providers. In competitive environments, dialer vendors are often compelled to make inaccurate claims as a result of not having done enough to enhance their core products. It is for this reason that the information contained within this web-site was primarily intended to be educational. As with Quantrax’s knowledge-based collection system (The new version is RMEx – the prior system was INTELEC), you can expect futuristic vision and technical innovation should you decide to consider Quantrax’s dialer platform for your business. In combination with RMEx, it is a partnership that may not have a formidable competitor for many years!

A summary of benefits

I-Tel’s great strengths are derived from the sophisticated integration of RMEx with the finest technology in the dialer industry. Whatever your dialer vendor may say, it is your collection software that manages and drives the efficiency of your dialer. The results obtained from your dialer are related to the accounts that it has to work with, more than the abilities of your dialer. Of course, when you have found a way to work the right accounts at the right time, the quality of the dialer will be a factor. Briefly, the benefits of our integrated solution are as follows. More details will also be provided here and in other areas.

Feature
Benefit
The integrated dialer is a part of RMEx and always accesses current (up-to-the-minute) information. Actions and results are always in real-time. E.g. A person who called in and disputed an account will not be called 3 minutes later, on an outbound campaign.
No additional programming is required for the dialer’s full integration with RMEx. Full integration of a dialer platform with your collection system is usually a challenging, time-consuming and expensive option. With us, you have faster startup, less risk and lower one-time and recurring technical costs.
Outbound dialing, inbound call management, call recording, screen recording, call monitoring, IVR and reporting are offered in a single integrated product, on one hardware platform. The product is more robust and reliable, with a single point of contact for support. Unnecessary misunderstandings, finger-pointing and support nightmares are potentially eliminated.
We offer intelligent call monitoring. Pick a group of agents and select clients, paying accounts or balance ranges. We will take you there! Smarter management and auditing of your people. Does your dialer allow you to do that?
Dialer campaigns can be created automatically or on-demand. Set up complex selections to run daily or on specific days of the week. One of the keys to dialer management is flexibility in managing your inventory. In this area, no other dialer and collection system provides the flexibility and levels of automation offered by I-Tel and RMEx.
The dialer effectively uses the great power of PC-based technology, combined with the stability and security of IBM’s iSeries hardware platform on which RMEx and I-Tel are based. It does not significantly add to the processing requirements on your collection system or collection hardware platform. The result is savings in hardware expansion costs for your iSeries.
To dial effectively, work with different, related applications and obtain integrated services such as dialer and productivity analysis, you work in a single workspace within the standard RMEx platform. Clever reporting such as promised payment reporting, by type of payment (e.g. promises, credit cards, direct checks etc.) at the campaign level, is easily obtained. There is no duplication of input effort or data.
The predictive dialing engine is vastly different and superior to any other product by virtue of a design that does not rely on traditional mathematical modeling. I-Tel will make more contacts and abandon less calls, compared to any other dialer in the industry. In the collection industry, abandoned calls will always make it more difficult to establish future contact with a determined debtor.
Unlike other dialers, you can not adjust the pacing by changing parameters such as trunks per agent. You simply set the required abandoned rate (ratio of abandoned calls to completed calls) and go away! Make sure that your present dialer does not compute the abandoned rate based on the number of calls dialed. In a properly designed dialer, the dialing rate should never be a function of the number of trunks available. With I-Tel, there is no supervisory overhead – The system keeps dialing as fast as is possible while staying well within the acceptable limits for abandoned calls.
Abandoned calls are controlled without any manual adjustments to the dialer. There is less supervision and cost involved in “managing” the dialer. You make more calls and completely work though a calling list faster that you would in an environment with many abandoned calls. In an agentless messaging environment, since you abandon less calls you will be able to dial faster and play more messages.
Agentless campaigns (messaging campaigns) are dialed predictively, unlike some systems that make one call per available channel. You require less licenses and will make more calls.
What if wait times are too long because, as an example, there are too many “no answers” and we are also focused on controlling abandoned calls? We can increase the calling rate and reduce wait times by introducing virtual agents into a predictive campaign. This allows us to dial faster, playing messages when an agent is not available.
Our dialer will never ‘cancel’ a predictive call (stop a call in progress without allowing the phone to ring for at least 15 seconds). Most dialers will do this because they are often dialing too fast and there are no agents available. Canceled calls and completed calls that are dropped waste valuable opportunities because you are often not permitted to “contact” a debtor more than once per day regarding the same account! Because I-Tel can dial effectively at an abandoned rate of 3% or less, you will make more contacts per day compared to any other dialer.
The integrated dialer allows superior inbound and blended capabilities. Consider an agent who has been set up to handle both outbound and inbound calls. The agent Bob is already on a call and a debtor Mary calls in owing $2,500 and tries to speak to Bob. Based on the balance displayed when the call is offered to Bob, he could place the outbound call on hold and talk to Jane or promise to call her back.
True blending routes inbound calls to a collector while they are waiting for an outbound predictive call. Single line phones can be used to eliminate the need for collectors to “wait” or “fight for” for the important inbound calls.
Whether an account is on your outbound calling lists or not, an inbound call could be quickly matched to an existing account because of tight integration with the collection system and its data. Inbound calls are directed to specific groups of people who will be notified of the type of account (E.g. Bethesda Hospital E/R account) and the amount the debtor is calling about! All this would happen before the collector has picked up the call!
Predictive campaigns that combine outbound IVR messaging and live agents, can be set up in high volume environments or when a large number of agents are not available. You can achieve high contact rates for live agents with low wait times.
Powerful graphical tool for setting up IVR scripts and database interaction. Efficient work flows and scripts can be set up with no programming effort.
Quantrax understands collections and intelligent collection software better than any other company. Almost every other dialer vendor’s background and primary focus has been telemarketing. A Quantrax collection system and dialer can always offer better features, a better future and better integration than any other combination of products.
Software maintenance charges will give you meaningful enhancements, compared to other companies whose technology is mature and can only provide operational support without real benefits to your collection processes. More features, better functionality and greater value for money. Long-term cost of ownership is lower.
Some advanced options that may be almost impossible to consider on other platforms, are relatively easy to develop within the Quantrax dialer environment. We are offering an option where calls can be recorded, synchronized and played back with actual pictures of the screens and the collector’s keystrokes! This may be cost-prohibitive with other systems.
Quantrax supports the collection and dialer platform and is responsible for all development, deployment and software maintenance. The system is more reliable and robust. It costs less to maintain and any changes would be faster and less expensive to implement.

Here is more background and detail on the above.

The dialing platform is a critical component of any high-volume receivables or collection management system. It is widely accepted that a machine that can independently dial phone numbers is more productive and cost-effective than individual agents placing calls. A predictive dialer is able to identify answering machines and automatically bypass bad numbers, no answers or busy numbers. Every traditional predictive dialing model will start dialing prior to an agent becoming available to take a call – the result is that an agent can receive a new call a short time after the previous call has been completed (the time is referred to as the wait time). At this time we would like to clearly state that our dialer distances itself from all other products based on the fact that it does not dial when no agents are available. Why? If you dial ahead, you have to make assumptions. Agents becoming available in the future depends on statistical items (e.g. wrap time) and call outcomes (e.g. bad numbers, answered calls). Both of these are extremely difficult to predict and they can and will change very rapidly even under normal conditions. Under these circumstances, a dialer may be forced to “abandon” calls because there will be no agents to handle an answered call in the time that is stipulated by existing legislation. This important aspect of a dialer is discussed in more detail within the section on predictive dialing.

A predictive dialer is also able to “blend” inbound calls with an outbound campaign, offering the best utilization of resources. As you increase your outbound volumes, the number of inbound calls will also increase – Organization of the inbound operations takes on a new importance, becoming a key part of a dialer solution.

With the high value that has to be placed on productivity and the recent and potential changes in regulations pertaining to the use of predictive dialers, your choice of a dialer may be as important as your choice of collection software. Quantrax’s dialer platform is fully integrated with RMEx. Within a single system, I-Tel is an architecture that provides support for :

  • outbound dialing
  • inbound call management
  • call recording
  • message playback
  • call monitoring
  • management reporting and
  • Interactive Voice Response (IVR)

One of the key benefits of an integrated dialer is that collection agents will use the same workplace and screens for automated dialing as for manually placing calls. While the “dialer” will be located at your office, all you need to set up an agent is a computer and a telephone. That could even be outside your office! As for design, I-Tel is a radically new approach to dialing technology compared to all the traditional dialing platforms. It will allow you to obtain “superb performance even under the toughest dialing conditions, while working within the strictest rules pertaining to automated dialing”. I-Tel is designed around Softdial Plugin® which is a soft predictive dialer whose design centers around a highly sophisticated simulator called the Virtual Event Machine (VEM)®. This is a software engine developed by Sytel that can simulate in excess of 10 million calls a second, constantly reproducing the exact dialing conditions of a campaign. Softdial Plugin® does not utilize traditional mathematical modeling techniques that are restrictive and can never hope to balance

  • the dynamics and variety of each campaign,
  • the need to maintain very low percentages for abandoned calls and
  • superior predictive performance.

I-Tel’s dialer will constantly adjust its dialing pace to match extremely rapid changes in campaign conditions, allowing the dialer to reach the perfect balance between wait times and abandoned calls. The pacing is automatic and can not be adjusted by the user – you are only required to define the abandoned call rate that is acceptable. We will easily cope with all extreme dialing conditions e.g. 80-90% no answers and/or answering machines. Its performance can not be beaten, and we welcome any benchmarking test that users or other market participants may wish to run.

While the value of an automated dialer can not be disputed, it is the manner in which it is integrated with your collection system the determines its effectiveness. With I-Tel, there is a “real-time” link between the dialer (PC-based) and the “host application”, which in this case is RMEx. With RMEx’s Intelligent Scripting module, dialer scripting is taken to new levels. We give you the ability to display simple client or campaign-driven scripts allowing inexperienced agents to talk to debtors. In addition, you also have the ability to have the system intelligently analyze each account and create a customized script at the time that the account is presented to the agent. Our dialer’s ability to meet the strict guidelines for abandoned calls has an unusual benefit in the collection industry. Collection companies have rapidly moved into the area of early-out receivables management. It is usually stated and expected that all activity in an early-out environment is classified as “soft collections”. Irresponsible dialing is a clear contradiction of those goals and must be a key consideration in a company’s choice of technology.

RMExwas designed with the sophisticated dialer in mind. Throughout the system you will find references to the dialer and the management of accounts based on the existence or lack of telephone numbers. Some of the key objectives of this dialing platform were as follows:

  • To seamlessly integrate with RMEx, allowing collectors to fully utilize the potential of the dialer from their workstations, without the need for downloading information to a personal computer or uploading the results of call activity to the collection system (e.g. the busy’s and no answers).
  • With a host-based integrated system, we wanted to take full advantage of the inbound capabilities of a dialer. With RMEx, the inbound call is instantly researched and if it can be matched to an account based on the calling number, it is transferred to the agent who can display the account prior to beginning a conversation with the debtor.
  • Finally (and most importantly), we set out to create an integrated dialer that would virtually eliminate the need for valuable resources to be allocated to managing collector queues, scheduling dialer activity and meeting collection strategies and goals.

Quantrax believes that it is very unlikely that the collection industry will be immune to the increasing demand for sensible dialing rules for all users of automated dialing systems. The FCC, FTC and Congress have been extremely proactive in protecting the consumer from the effects of poorly managed predictive dialers. Their goal is to minimize nuisance calls by addressing the “dead-air” and abandoned calls created by predictive dialers. These were some of the reasons for Quantrax’s strategic partnership with Sytel and its decision to select the only dialer with a proven track record in providing effective performance under strict compliance rules.

This is specially applicable to the area of abandoned call rates. Since 1999, Softdial users have been getting the ultimate predictive performance at an abandoned call rate that is within 3%, as laid down in the US Direct Marketing Association guidelines. Even if the collection industry was required to meet a rate of 3% as is now required in the telemarketing industry, it will have little or no impact on the performance of our advanced dialing platform. This is the only technology that is capable of complying with stricter dialer controls without compromising on performance. Many people are unaware that the abandoned call rate is the ratio of abandoned calls to completed calls (as opposed to attempted calls). Take the example of a predictive campaign with 5000 numbers that can be called. Let us assume for this campaign that 30% of the calls are completed (connected to an agent or live calls). Of the 5000 calls placed, this means that 1500 will be completed. In this example, if the dialer is to stay within a 3% abandoned rate, it must not abandon more than 45 calls for the entire campaign! That is extremely difficult to accomplish and is the reason that most products can not meet today’s requirements. Provided they are willing to accept their predicament, many dialer vendors will be compelled to redesign and rewrite their products.

Why should I-Tel be your dialer platform?

There are dialers and there are dialers. Every dialer vendor will probably claim to have the best product and it is often very difficult to separate the hype from the facts. Quantrax’s position is that every potential dialer purchaser must be given the knowledge to make an educated choice of their dialer platform. With this documentation, we have attempted to educate the reader as opposed to being salespeople for Quantrax. However, if we were questioned as to why we should be considered in favor of other available solutions, we would respond as follows :

“Things went very well. There is a lot to learn but that is expected!

A lot to remember but I must say, the documentation is very good. It is amazing to work through a predictive campaign without seeing 300 – 400 abandoned calls. We were astounded!

I am looking forward to the steady increase in productivity with less people! Thanks.”

Sharon F. Amann, President,

Armor Systems Corporation

  • Predictive dialing is the best use of dialer technology and offers the greatest potential for enhanced revenue recovery from an automated dialer. We believe that Sytel’s dialer engine is the best product, worldwide, in terms if its predictive capabilities. This is comprehensively supported by the results that we see with our dialer. There is an example of an actual predictive campaign within the “Predictive dialing” link on this page. The abandoned call rate of about 3% (abandoned calls as a percentage of completed calls) is highlighted in that analysis. This was accomplished with no manual tuning of the dialer – it was simply started and allowed to run.
  • Although several telemarketing rules are not applicable in collections, it is likely that some of the FTC and FCC guidelines will be applied to the collection industry in the future. Although enforcement has been slow, there are examples of heavy penalties being assessed in the telemarketing area. Marketing pressures will compel many dialer vendors to state that their products are “FTC compliant”. Unfortunately, it may a long time before the average person is able to understand how compliance can be evaluated or validated. In addition, it is not simply a matter of being compliant. Take the example of abandoned calls. Any vendor can meet the new rules by asking their clients to reduce their predictive dialing rates. This is not the solution. The dialer needs to run at maximum speed and maintain abandoned call rates at under 3%. Can they prove that they can do that? Unlike all other dialers, the Sytel dialer has been compliant with all applicable regulations for many years. The area of compliance is discussed on the Sytel web site. It would be fair to say that our partner Sytel has played a major role in designing many of the rules that have ever been issued with regard to dialers. For example, Sytel was invited to the FTC hearings in Washington as the dialer community representative to help frame the new rules for dialers in the US. At a time when many dialer vendors were forecasting the end of predictive dialing (as a result of past abuses), Sytel made a strong case to the Federal government that there was a sound case for this activity, but without the excesses that have characterized the predictive dialing industry in the past. We believe that Sytel played a crucial role in persuading the US government not to ban predictive dialing and we are proud to be associated with them.Consumer pressure and the results of legislation within the telemarketing industry will mean that compliance rules for collections will also change in the coming months and years. Compliance itself is not rocket science and any dialer vendor should be able to achieve this in some way or another. The real issue for users is whether their dialer solution offers effective performance under compliance. Unfortunately, there are no standard tests in the industry that allow users to easily verify effective performance, and in our view such tests will be a long time coming, if ever. So in making your dialer choice, consider the important area of compliance and look for clear evidence that you will get the performance that is promised and you will expect. We will be pleased to discuss how we achieve this, with our users and prospects.
  • Unlike most of the dialer vendors in the collection industry, Quantrax is a company that understands collections. I-Tel was designed to be a critical supporting component of the collection system. Contrary to what most dialer companies will say, it is only your collection software that can drive your dialer. A dialer can not manage collections. Quantrax has effectively integrated the collection and dialer technologies to produce a very advanced system, with levels of automation that are unique in the collection industry.
  • We have created an infrastructure that allows us to expand the application into areas that were traditionally not considered part of a dialer platform. Some examples are call recording and intelligent call monitoring.
  • The combination of the dialer and RMEx(the only true expert system for collections) offers you levels of productivity that can not be approached with any other collection system.
  • We offer you support with a single point of contact, for a product that includes outbound dialing, inbound call management and call recording.
  • Quantrax has been uncompromising in its design of the dialer hardware platform. A 3-year warranty on the server hardware with an on-site service plan is standard. Advanced fault tolerance has been a serious consideration in hardware configuration. The possibility of being “without a dialer” due to a hardware problem is greatly reduced with I-Tel.

Please review the other links for descriptions of the different areas of our dialer platform

FCC news on dialing regulations