Archive for October, 2017

Dialers – the core of productivity

Posted on: October 24th, 2017 by viktorvarga No Comments

Manual dialer, power dialer, predictive dialer – does it matter which type of dialing system you use in your call center? Well, if you want to optimize the amount of time you actually speak with customers, then yes, it does.

A reliable dialer is to an outbound call center what an engine is to a car – it’s what keeps it running. The efficiency of call and contact centers is measured by their productivity and ability to communicate effectively with customers. A few weeks ago we published an article on Measuring call center efficiency, sharing details of actual data and measurements as experienced by some of our most successful clients. One of the key measurements related to efficiency is Talk Time per hour, or how much actual time per work hour agents spend speaking with customers. Time spent on other activities, such as manually dialing numbers and waiting for a ringing tone, can decrease the efficiency of any outbound contact center. This is why our article this week concentrates on the core driver of outbound communication – dialers.

 

Manual dialers

Manual dialers, as the name suggests, are dialers which require agents, once they are ready to make a call, to manually choose and dial phone numbers. This type of dialer gives agents time to prepare for a conversation, and allows them to get acquainted with the customer’s case and details. It’s perfect for complex issues, when agents need to go through scripts and make sure they are fully prepared for a conversation. At the same time, however, it is the most time-consuming dialing method. Apart from having to wait for customers to pick up the phone, manual dialing is also inefficient because of needing to:

  •   dial phone numbers by hand or clicking on a computer screen
  •   listen to voice mail messages or encountering a busy line
  •   register the disposition of the call before moving to the next one

Waiting for customers to pick up a phone can often take around 40 seconds per call, and sometimes even up to a minute. Any calls that end with an unsuccessful disposition mean that the time spent waiting for customers to pick up is unproductive. Furthermore, depending on the contact center’s system, it is often hard to extract reports, and measure agents’ efficiency and Average Handling Time.

Manual dialers can be divided in two types:

 

Hand dialing

Of all the dialing methods available to a call center, manually dialing digits on a phone dial pad is the least efficient and most time-consuming. The reason this dialing mode is so inefficient is simply that it takes a comparatively long time for an agent to process individual calls. Agents need to dial the digits on their dial pad by hand, then wait for the phone to ring and for someone to pick up or for the call to go to voicemail. And repeat this process again and again.

 

List dialing

List dialing means that, rather than dialing the digits on their dial pad by hand, operators simply click or choose the number they want to call from a list in their system. This dialing mode saves some time as there is no need for a dial pad, but agents still spend a lot of time clicking on contacts, as well as waiting for the phone to ring and for the customer to pick up.

 

Automatic dialers

Automatic dialers, as opposed to manual dialers, independently dial numbers from a customer contact database. Using automatic dialers, agents save time spent dialing and can concentrate on speaking with more customers. Automatic dialers are also the preferred option for handling customer contact databases. Customer databases are dialed several times in order to reach the maximum number of customers. During the first round, entries in the database are marked with different dispositions by agents (successful, unreached, and so forth). During the second and subsequent rounds, agents try to contact any valid, but previously-unreached contacts. Automatic dialers allow operators to quickly work their way through a large number of contacts, minimizing the time wasted with unsuccessful calls. If a certain phone number is not reached, then the system, based on its settings, redials it or automatically dials the next one, while remembering to redial the first one later.

 

Power dialer

Power dialers automatically start as many calls as there are free agents on the line. Once an agent finishes a call and becomes available again, the power dialer dials a new contact for them. It uses the same list as a manual list dialer, and is very useful in cases when customers have been promised a call back. The negative aspect is that, as with manual dialing, agents still need to wait for the ringing period and for customers to pick up. To summarize, power dialers help decrease dialing time between two calls, but do not save much time when it comes to database handling.

 

Predictive dialer

Predictive dialers use statistical data to help predict how many numbers need to be dialed so that all agents are always in an active call. Predictive dialers work by dialing numbers while agents are still in a call, often initiating more calls than the number of free agents on the line. By the time an agent finishes their previous call, the predictive dialer has already dialed the next number. Once the operator finishes their current call, the dialer already has the next call ringing and ready to handle. The Average Waiting Time agents spent between two calls is usually only a few seconds. The number of abandoned calls (a call initiated by the predictive dialer and answered by the customer while there are still no agents available to process it) is usually kept at under 3%. If it becomes higher than this, the predictive dialer automatically decreases the number of calls it initiates for agents. Predictive dialers can be divided into two sub-groups:

 

STATIC

A static predictive dialer means that a supervisor, referring to data such as the Ratio of Abandoned Calls and Average Available Time, calculates how many calls need to be initiated at any one moment in order to keep all operators busy. The supervisor can then feed this data to the dialer, for example setting the static predictive dialer to dial five phone numbers per agent. If the supervisor sees that the number of abandoned calls is growing, they can change the dialer’s settings accordingly. However, even though this is still considered a predictive dialer, in reality it is not. It doesn’t predict the needed number of calls itself, but rather operates based on the supervisor’s settings.

 

ADAPTIVE

An adaptive predictive dialer calculates and starts the needed number of calls automatically based on real-time statistics. It calculates the number of calls to be initiated by using many more parameters (and more frequently) than its static equivalent. It uses not only the number of abandoned calls, but also takes into consideration the average handling time, the time of day, and historical data.

 

Measuring dialer efficiency

There are many articles dealing with the pros and cons of manual and predictive dialers, such as this article shared on Callcenter Helper. But choosing the right type of dialer in itself is not enough. It is also highly important to accurately measure its efficiency.

Previously we shared a blog entry dealing with call center efficiency and KPI measurements. Now, let’s revisit this topic again, and share how some of our clients measure the efficiency of the dialer they use.

VCC Live Dialer Activities*waiting for customer to pick up

 

Activity Manual dialer Power dialer Predictive dialer
Dialing 5 min. 0 min. 0 min.
Ringing 30 min. 24 min. 12 min.
Talk time 15 min. 26 min. 38 min.
AUX 10 min. 10 min. 10 min.

Dialers play a key part in the efficiency of every contact center, helping agents contact customers and establish a connection with them. Using the right dialer is important, and not only because it saves time and reduces the amount of cumbersome tasks. If used well, a dialer can also help you reach more customers and grow your business. A dialer is more than just a tool helping you call customers, it’s an indispensable steering wheel in the complicated vehicle that is your contact center. It can drive you towards success.

Debt collection case study: UPC

Posted on: October 17th, 2017 by viktorvarga No Comments

“Ok, I’ll pay what I owe you online tonight”: an often-spoken but rarely-kept promise in the world of debt collection. But here is a debt collection case study showing how UPC Hungary put a stop to empty words such as these, and increased their number of kept promises.

Every service provider experiences situations in which, for one reason or another, customers fail to meet payment deadlines and accumulate debts. This is where professional teams of debt collectors come in, to remind customers of their overdue payments. However, regardless of the communication channel used to remind customers, debt collectors always agree on one thing:

they receive more promises than actual payments.

During any conversation, the most common thing customers say is that they will pay their debts the following day. But in reality, the number of actual processed payments is usually a lot less than the number of promises made. This is why UPC Hungary, a subsidiary of Liberty Global, decided in 2016 to work with VCC Live towards developing a new way of collecting debts – instantly, conveniently, and securely. Today, we share our debt collection case study based on their experiences.

The debt collection case study

Debt collection today consists of two phases:

  • a contact centre agent contacts a customer to remind them of their debt
  • afterwards the customer chooses a payment method to settle it.

However, if these two phases can be successfully merged then the process can be made faster and more efficient. This is the main topic of our latest debt collection case study, which you can find in our Case Study Library. Introducing VCC Live Pay into UPC’s debt-collecting processes has allowed UPC’s customers to experience a new way of making payments. Furthermore, it also has given them a taste of what the latest technology can do for them. And, seeing that this technology actually works, and provides a flexible and secure way to handle debts, it also helps build customer trust in the UPC brand.

Read our debt collection case study and learn more about the benefits of VCC Live Pay, including actual facts and figures!

A quarter of new releases and features

Posted on: October 10th, 2017 by viktorvarga No Comments

At VCC Live, we are dedicated to offering innovative products to our clients. Developing state-of-the-art cloud-based contact centre solutions that meet our clients’ needs and expectations is at the heart of everything we do. This is why we continuously work on bringing our clients new releases and features.

As we are sure you will already know, our solution is the product of our own in-house team of expert developers. With extensive experience in the call and contact centre industry, they regularly develop new releases and features to help make our software even more valuable to our clients. New features are constantly being released, and announcements about these new releases are always shared on our software platform. But just in case you have ever wondered how much work we actually invest in the continuous development of our product, an overview of our Q3 2017 new releases should give you a good idea.

Q3 2017 was as busy a quarter as ever, with 264 new releases bringing you and your agents even greater convenience and a perfect quality of service. As well as enhancing already-existing functions, we also introduced a number of new innovations. These included creating timestamps in the Robinson list, indicating incoming emails, and introducing a captcha option when deleting timesheets. And don’t forget we are finalising our very own Chat feature! Some of our major new releases during this quarter included the following:

VCC Live detailed features - new releases

Even though we are proud of the number of new releases which took place in Q3 2017, we never forget about the importance of quality. Developing technology that really works has always been a priority for us. For us, every new release that makes our clients’ work more efficient means a job well done. After a quarter filled with important releases, we are ready for further advancements in Q4. Don’t forget to follow the news we regularly share on our software platform!

Measuring call centre efficiency

Posted on: October 3rd, 2017 by viktorvarga No Comments

Have you ever wondered whether your contact centre is being as efficient as it should be? Here are the results of our analysis of some actual call centre efficiency statistics from our most successful clients.

There are many methods for measuring call centre efficiency and improving it. As a service provider of innovative contact centre solutions, it is extremely important to us that our customers have access to as much information as possible to help them become successful. This is why we have developed our software in a way that allows you to monitor a variety of statistics with just a few clicks. With its detailed reports and indicators you can check exactly how efficient your agents and projects are at any given moment.

However, many companies find it hard to choose the best indicators for measuring call centre efficiency. This is why we decided to analyse statistics from thousands of calls our most successful clients handle. Based on the results, we have concluded that successful outbound contact centres all use the following measurements as a basis for improving their efficiency.

Measuring outbound call centre efficiency

Outbound contact centres usually deal with the sales and promotion of services and products. The effectiveness of their work directly affecting the success of the company they are supporting. Here are the three outbound contact centre measurements which, based on our analysis, are the most important to consider. For a detailed description on how to examine them using VCC Live, please visit the Global Call Statistics section in our User Guide for Supervisors.

1. How many customers have been reached

The law of numbers proves that the more customers you reach, the more successful deals you can potentially sign. Detailed reports and statistics in VCC Live’s software allow you to check how many customers are being reached at any given moment. If the report shows that within a particular period of time of the day your operators are failing to reach an acceptable amount of customers, it may be better for them to concentrate on other tasks during this time.

Measuring call centre efficiency in VCC Live’s software: this measurement is shown in the Reached column in the Global Call Statistics menu.

2. How many calls end with a successful deal

This statistic can be monitored via daily and hourly breakdowns with average results, helping you measure the efficiency of the whole campaign or team. If the team’s average results do not meet expectations, you may need to review your processes or script. If only a few operators fail to meet results, then you need to take an individual approach with them.

Measuring call centre efficiency in VCC Live’s software: this measurement is shown in the Success and Success/hour column in the Global Call Statistics menu.

3. How much time agents spend speaking

Using a predictive dialler helps operators reach more customers and maximise the amount of time spent speaking with them. VCC Live’s predictive dialler can help agents to increase their Average Talk Time with customers to an average between 40 and 49 minutes per every hour. Taking into consideration the mandatory breaks specified by local labour laws, of course. For example: your local laws specify that agents need to take a 10 minute break per hour of work. Even then, out of the remaining 50 minutes, our predictive dialler can help you achieve between 40 and 49 minutes of active talk time. The remaining time is called Average Available Time – the time agents spend between two calls. In addition to Average Talk Time and Average Available Time, it is also important to measure the Average Handle Time and identify the most optimal average amount of time spent with a customer on the phone.

Calculating Average Handle Time:
(Total Talk Time + Total Hold Time + Total After-work) / Total number of handled calls* = AHT
(* unanswered calls initiated by a dialler are not included)

Measuring call centre efficiency in VCC Live’s software: this measurement is shown in the AVG call and AVG handle-time column in the Global Call Statistics menu.

Example measurements for outbound sales of products

Reached: 57%
Success: 9% (Success/hour: 1.1 deals per hour)
Average Talk Time: 38 minutes 4 seconds per hour
Average Handle Time: 2 minutes 7 seconds
Average After-call Work: 33 seconds
Average Call Time: 1 minute 34 seconds
Average Available Time (between two calls): 15 seconds

Example measurements for outbound sales of services

Reached: 31%
Success: 47% (Success/hour: 1.4 deals per hour)
Average Talk Time: 37 minutes 12 seconds per hour
Average Handle Time: 4 minutes 3 seconds
Average After-call Work: 1 minute 7 seconds
Average Call Time: 2 minutes 56 seconds
Average Available Time: 18 seconds

For further KPIs relevant in measuring your call centre efficiency, please visit our Key Performance Indicator page.

Measuring inbound call centre efficiency

Inbound call centres typically deal with technical and service support, business support, or TV and catalogue-related sales activities. Based on our investigations it appears that the most successful inbound call centres measure their efficiency with the criteria described below. For further information on how to the examine them, please visit the Global Inbound Call Statistics page in our User Guide for Supervisors.

Customer wait time

While the Target SLA shows the percent of calls accepted within a set timeframe, Average Customer Wait Time shows you the actual time customers have spent waiting for an agent within the IVR. This allows you to check how much time your customers spend waiting, which can be especially helpful if sales targets are not being met.

Measuring call centre efficiency in VCC Live’s software: this measurement is shown in the Time in queue column in the Global Inbound Call Statistics menu.

SLA

All Service Level Agreements normally have a clause that deals with the timeframe within which inbound calls are required to be accepted by an agent (Customer Wait Time) – this is called Target SLA. The achieved SLA is indicated as a percentage, showing what percentage of inbound calls have to be answered within the maximum Customer Wait Time. Based on our analysis, the maximum Customer Wait Time should not be set to more than 1 minute.

Measuring call centre efficiency in VCC Live’s software: this measurement is shown in the SLA column in the Global Inbound Call Statistics menu.

Average Handle Time

As with outbound call centres, the Average Handle Time (AHT) allows you to identify the optimal time your agents spend speaking with customers. AHT shows the average time an operator spends with call-related activities, be it actual speaking, hold time, and any after-call activities and administration. It is calculated by using the following formula:

(Talk Time + Hold Time + After-work) / Total number of handled calls* = AHT
(* unanswered calls initiated by a dialler are not included)

Measuring call centre efficiency in VCC Live’s software: VCC Live’s software automatically shows these results as AVG call and AVG handle-time in the Global Inbound Call Statistics.

Example measurements for inbound B2B support

SLA: 95%
Average Handle Time: 3 minutes 39 seconds
Average Talk Time: 3 minutes 15 seconds
Average After-call Work: 24 seconds
Average Customer Wait Time: 8 seconds

Example measurements for inbound purchase orders

SLA: 80% (missed calls are handled with callback)
Average Handle Time: 6 minutes 11 seconds
Average Talk Time: 5 minutes 3 seconds
Average After-call Work: 1 minute 8 seconds
Average Customer Wait Time: 18 seconds

Example measurements for inbound tech support

SLA: 94%
Average Handle Time: 3 minutes 32 seconds
Average Talk Time: 3 minutes 12 seconds
Average After-call Work: 20 seconds
Average Customer Wait Time: 12 seconds

Call centres are dynamic areas of business which are often closely related to other activities within a company or organisation. Their efficiency can strongly affect results such as sales and customer retention. As such, is of the utmost importance to regularly measure your call centre efficiency and the impact it has on your business. As a service provider it is important for us to help enable your call centre to become more efficient. This is why we aim to make all your operation’s statistics and results easy to access. We hope that the examples mentioned above will help you in the quest to measure your call centre’s efficiency more accurately.