The Goal Of The FTC
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is the U.S. federal agency charged with protecting consumers. It also ensures fair competition in large sectors of state, federal, and international economies. Primarily, it works to protect consumers from deceptive, fraudulent and unfair business practices.
The telemarketing industry and contact centers fall under the purview of the FTC. Everything changed for the industry with the introduction of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act in 1991 (TCPA). The goal of any business is to maintain a high level of efficiency and productivity. Doing so in telemarketing means every call needs to count. In other words, every call needs to meet the regulations outlined in the TCPA.
The 3 Percent Rule
The TCPA creates an ever-changing landscape where telemarketing and call center industries operate. For example, recent amendments to "Telemarketing Sales Rules" by the FTC, state that no more than 3 percent calls meet “abandoned call” criteria. A call is “abandoned” when no agent is available within two seconds of a person answering the call. When this happens, regulations require the automatic dialer to play a recorded message. This rule was put in place to combat spam auto-dialers but it affects anyone doing outbound dialing.
Meeting these regulation specifics on a long-term basis with automated dialing solutions simplifies things. Many types of dialer software and systems get the primary job done. However, the two that top the list for efficiency and compliance are preview dialing and predictive dialing.
What Are Preview Dialers?
Simply put, a preview dialer most often complies with each requirement in the TCPA. Meaning this type of dialer keeps the FTC happiest, and trust us, is best for your business.
Preview dialers do basically what the name says: they provide a preview of the potential call recipient before placing the call. Agents get previous call dispositions, sales records, and other customer account information. Depending on the campaign, this information could include a credit score, the value of their home, or demographic information. This insight gives the agent context to use when engaging the call.
Automatic dialers are popular in B2B and B2C selling. A preview dialer gives you more of a selective approach to your calling contacts. B2C markets use these systems because they are conducive to more complex sales. Some business models require extra research and preparation to land a big sale. In this case, a preview dialer system is going to best suit your needs.
When adequately prepared, agents' downtime remains at a minimum. These systems are especially useful for businesses dealing with collections, healthcare industries, and technical support. Virtually any business where the correct context of the call is imperative can utilize a preview dialer.
If your business makes low volume calls to high detail clients, a preview dialer is going to be your best bet to keep the FTC happy with you.
What Are Predictive Dialers?
A predictive dialing system places the maximum number of calls it can in a given time. Unlike auto-dialers, these systems use statistical algorithms to crunch information, with intent to reduce agent downtime. These systems collect and analyze many data points before placing a call. They also compare the average length of a call, the number of available agents, and the average contact rate to dial rates.
These computerized predictive systems try to automatically weed out busy signals, answering machines, and abandoned or dropped calls. Their goal is to maintain a seamless stream of calls to your agents.
Predictive dialers are primarily outbound dialers. They are best suited for high volume call centers that reach out to customers, potential leads and established clients. Also, depending on the system, the cost may become prohibitive for a smaller team or call center. Lastly, predictive dialers work best when there is a large pool of agents from which to pull.
Remaining Compliant In The Call Center
In the end, you want to make sure you follow all TCPA rules and regulations. If you look like a spammer, you’ll eventually draw the attention of the FTC and it doesn't take much to rack up hefty fines.
Maintain compliance with the rules and regulations, and it’s all good. When the FTC is happy, so is your call center.