Back in the ‘80s and into the ‘90s, traditional predictive dialing helped boost productivity for the outbound call center. Today it is hard to fathom that before predictive dialing came on the scene, agents talked to customers just 10 to 15 minutes per hour. Predictive dialing ushered in an explosion of productivity. Practically overnight, agents were talking to customers 40 minutes or more per hour.
Soon after the advent of predictive dialing, call latency issues began to develop. Predictive dialing technology takes time to listen and detect a customer on the line before connecting to an agent. Customers learned to recognize these pauses and answering machines only exasperated latency problems.
Today, many consumers recognize and hang up on dead air or that telltale clicking sound. In fact, a recent study found that 49% of consumers surveyed hang up when they hear a delay or pause when answering a call from an unfamiliar phone number. Customers who do stay on the line are likely to ask to be removed from further communications, confront the caller or get impatient. And, let’s not forget the agents. They either hear silence on the other line due to hang-ups or must deal with unhappy customers at the start of each conversation. This certainly does not lead to optimum effectiveness. Finally, contact centers must pay surcharges for short call durations from hang-ups.
Customer Demands Are Changing
Customer demands continue to evolve, including:
- Consumers have sophisticated technology in their own hands and expect sophisticated service
- Products are becoming commoditized, excellent service is becoming the new differentiator
- Customers want personalized and flexible customer service experiences
- Customer loyalty is tenuous at best
- Poor service threatens profitable revenue streams
Because positive customer experiences are so vital to revenue growth and profitability, some companies have returned to preview dialing. These call center executives have chosen to provide consistent positive customer experiences even though they have to sacrifice efficiency. More than 30 years ago, predictive dialing was an important breakthrough.
Today it is simply outdated. But there is good news—there’s a new, better way for outbound.