Gauteng Business News

Send  Share  RSS  Twitter  27 May 2010

CALL CENTRES: Still Dialling Manually - Time to Power Up


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Manual dialling is possibly one of the most inefficient processes in any industry. The only positive thing about it is that in contact centres where it is still the modus operandi it represents a significant opportunity for massive productivity gains. For those wary of change, half-measure 'preview dialling' solutions may provide a ramp to full 'power dialling' solutions, which deliver fast ROI but require some refinement.

Says Paul Fick of Spescom DataFusion: "There are numerous inefficiency 'traps' in the manual dialling process. To put it in perspective, consider that in using a manual dialling process more than 80% of the agent's time is spent on administrative tasks - dialling, redialling, accessing client data, making admin decisions - rather than spending their time on the core money-making process, namely speaking to the client.

"While a number of approaches are being taken to improve agent productivity
- and some of these are marginally successful - nothing beats power dialling, where all of the dialling is automated and approximately 90% of the agent's time is spent on core business.'

Preview dialling - 20% improvement

A compromise solution to negate some manual dialling challenges is preview dialling. "While preview dialling does little more than speed up a bad process, it does have some positive effects," says Fick.

The inefficiencies in manual dialling include time wasted on admin, error introduction and an inability to optimise contact centre efficiency.
Explains Fick: "In terms of wasted time, there is the typically 45-second decision delay while the agent picks a name off a contact list and decides which of the prospective customer's phone numbers to use; and then there is the manual dialling step. If the telephone numbers are valid, it takes an average 2.5 attempts (each taking approximately 15 seconds) to contact the targeted person.

"In addition, a balance needs to be struck in terms of time spent on a lead
- give up too soon and the lead is wasted. Call centres usually put a three-try per number policy in place - this comprises trying to contact a person three times per available number, making three dialling attempts on each occasion. The reality however is that only half the contacts on a list are generally contactable. This amounts to nine wasted dial attempts."

This is the process that preview dialling attempts to speed up. It does this by automatically choosing the next contact to dial, presenting the customer information and then automatically initiating the dial after a set amount of time has elapsed. The 'decide to dial' step is thus taken away from the agent. The time saving pushes up productivity in terms of the agent actually speaking to a live contact by approximately 20%

Says Fick: "While any improvement is welcome, transforming the process with power dialling will deliver a far more significant and sustainable improvement."

Power dialling - 90%+ overall improvement

Power dialling automates almost all administrative work. Explains Fick: "The dialler dials all the contacts. Where there is a failure to connect, the dialler classifies this as such and moves on. Where a contact is made, the live contact is transferred to an available agent. Agents now spend the majority of their time on the work they are trained for - speaking to the client to make a sale or collect on a debt. This results in higher productivity and profitability levels."

And with 90% rather than 20% improvements in productivity, the question becomes 'can the agents be supplied with sufficient work?'.

Says Fick: "Power dialling needs to be managed well. This approach represents a huge change in the agents' work modes and a change management process may well be necessary to ensure acceptance and understanding in the organisation. In addition, agent performance needs to be carefully monitored to ensure that they are not overburdened and become susceptible to 'burn-out'.

"The ideal is fewer high skilled agents working at peak times when the market is most contactable - and this is what power dialling enables. With these proven benefits, switching from a manual dialling system becomes imperative for contact centres that want to remain competitive."

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