Contemporary Report


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Contemporary Report

  1. 1. . . . . TeleDirect International, Inc. 17255 North 82nd Street . . Scottsdale, AZ 85255 . . . . (480) 585-6464 White Paper ConsumerCare Performance without Annoyance TeleDirect’s Liberation® 6000 Will Minimize Annoyance and Help Call Centers to Comply with the New FTC / FCC Telemarketing Regulations - Without Sacrificing Outbound Dialing Performance . . . . . . . . . . A White Paper from TeleDirect International, Inc.
  2. 2. . . . . . . . . . . White Paper ConsumerCare: Performance without Annoyance TeleDirect’s Liberation® 6000 Will Minimize Annoyance and Help Call Centers to Comply with the New FTC / FCC Telemarketing Regulations - Without Sacrificing Outbound Dialing Performance Table of Contents Executive Summary..........................................................................3 FTC/FCC Rules Summary ...............................................................4 Introduction to ConsumerCare ....................................................5 National Do Not Call Registry.......................................................6 Call Abandonment .............................................................................7 2 Seconds to Connect ......................................................................8 Announce Before Disconnect......................................................10 Minimum 15 Seconds to Disconnect........................................10 Automatic Number Identification (ANI)/Caller ID...........11 Tracking and Reporting.................................................................11 The Impact of Scripting on Compliance.................................11 Call Recording & Compliance......................................................13 Conclusion ..........................................................................................13 About TeleDirect ..............................................................................14 © TeleDirect International – 2003 2
  3. 3. . . . . . . . . . . White Paper ConsumerCare: Performance without Annoyance TeleDirect’s Liberation® 6000 Will Minimize Annoyance and Help Call Centers to Comply with the New FTC / FCC Telemarketing Regulations - Without Sacrificing Outbound Dialing Performance Executive Summary A recent study entitled “Economic Impact, U.S. Direct Marketing Today” by the Direct Marketing Association reported that telephone marketing is the number one direct marketing sales medium, ahead of direct mail, newspapers, television, magazines, and the web. In fact, outbound telephone sales generated over $660 billion in revenue in 2001, accounting for 6% of the U.S. Gross Domestic Product. Unfortunately, as is the case with most effective direct marketing mediums, telemarketing has been misused. In some cases, this misuse has resulted in the annoyance of consumers who have complained of being called too often, at inappropriate times, with long periods of “dead air” and hang-ups. In other cases, the results are much more damaging. The FTC estimates that losses specifically caused by fraudulent telemarketers range from at least $3 billion to as much as $40 billion annually. In order to reduce these annoying and sometimes unscrupulous activities, President George W. Bush, Federal Trade Commission (FTC) Chairman Timothy J. Muris, and Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Michael K. Powell announced the opening of the National Do Not Call Registry (NDNCR) on June 27, 2003. By implementing this new registry, along with other proposed changes to their respective Telemarketing Sales Rule (TSR) and Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA), the FTC and FCC are forcing outbound call center operators to rethink the way they do business and utilize technology. Organizations that use telemarketing to solicit new business are discovering that compliance is now more challenging than ever, and the penalties for not following the new regulations are severe. In fact, within a month of the opening of the National Do Not Call Registry, over 25 million numbers were registered. And each one of these numbers represents a potential $11,000 fine (per incident) if contacted by a telemarketer after October 1 of 2003. To make matters worse, there is a great deal of confusion over what is required in order to comply. Certain suppliers in the market are claiming that the only way to comply with the new regulations, and thus reduce culpability, is to simply set the predictive dialer to pass all calls through to an agent. While this approach ensures compliance with certain aspects of the new rules, it dramatically reduces the 3
  4. 4. . . . . . . . . . . productivity of the call center, as agents spend more time dealing with answering machines and hang-ups than talking to prospective customers. With over 20 years of experience building advanced technical solutions for telemarketers, TeleDirect has come up with a different approach. Instead of simply passing every connection to an agent, we want our customers to maintain the value that led them to implement a predictive dialer in the first place – incredible dialing efficiency and higher call center productivity – by automating their dialing activities in order to eliminate the agents from wasting time dialing wrong numbers and dealing with answering machines. TeleDirect’s Liberation 6000 campaign management solution enables legitimate teleservices organizations to effectively continue their outbound dialing operations and to increase revenues while complying with the regulations and eliminating consumer annoyance. We call this ConsumerCare™ – Performance without Annoyance. You’ll call it a better way to do business. FTC/FCC Rules Summary The National Do Not Call Registry (NDNCR) database will be administered by the FTC, with coordinated enforcement by the FTC and FCC beginning October 1, 2003. Some calls, however, such as those from political organizations, solicitation calls on behalf of charities, and calls to conduct surveys, are not covered by the NDNCR regulations. Under FTC rules non-profits must comply with company-specific do-not- call lists, but under FCC rules non-profits have exemption from all rules. Also, telemarketers may call a consumer with whom they have an existing business relationship for up to 18 months after the consumer’s last purchase, delivery or payment. Telemarketer’s can also call a consumer for up to 3 months after the consumer makes an inquiry or submits an application to the company. Consumers also will continue to have the option of using current company-specific do-not-call registries if they wish to eliminate telemarketing calls from specific companies only. Consumers will be required to renew their registration every five years. Starting October 1, 2003, telemarketers will be required to access the registry every three months and to remove the numbers of all registered consumers from their calling lists. Violators of the FTC TSR and the FCC TCPA could be fined up to $11,000 per incident. Telemarketers will be able to purchase the list from the FTC, the first five area codes are provided at no charge, beyond that, there is an annual fee of $25 per area code of data, with a maximum annual fee of $7,375 for the entire U.S. database. The FTC and FCC have both adopted Call Abandonment rules for telemarketers who use automatic or predictive dialers. A telemarketing call is considered abandoned if the dialer fails to connect the call to a sales representative within two seconds of the consumer’s completed greeting. This definition is intended to cover “dead air” calls as well as “hang ups”. In order to satisfy the FTC/FCC regulations, the telemarketer must: © TeleDirect International – 2003 4
  5. 5. . . . . . . . . . . • Utilize a predictive dialer that ensures no more than 3% of the calls connected to a consumer are abandoned (measured per campaign over a 24 hour period for FTC compliance, and over a 30 day period for FCC compliance) • Allow each telemarketing call to ring for at least 15 seconds (4 complete rings) before disconnecting • Connect the call with a sales representative within 2 seconds of the consumer’s completed greeting • Play a pre-disconnect announcement to the consumer consisting of the company name and phone number, if for any reason the call cannot be connected to a sales representative within 2 seconds of the consumer’s completed greeting • Maintain records showing compliance with the requirements for abandonment rate, ring time and pre disconnect announcement. The new FTC/FCC regulations also require that telemarketers transmit their telephone number, and if possible, their company name, to consumers’ Caller ID service. This provision will take effect on January 1, 2004. Introduction to ConsumerCare TeleDirect delivers all of the features required for compliance under the umbrella name of “Consumer Care.” This program revolves around a comprehensive set of features that are built directly into the Liberation 6000 solution and minimize consumer annoyance while at the same time ensuring compliance with federal and state guidelines. Over its 20 year life, TeleDirect has become acutely aware of the importance of making a good impression on the consumer. In this business, the old adage that you never get a second chance to make a first impression really does hold true. Bob Bensmen, President and CEO of the Ver-a-fast Corporation, sums up the thoughts of many of our customers – ““We rely on TeleDirect solutions to help drive our success. Liberation 6000 allows us to optimize the effectiveness of our customer dialogs and campaigns. The open nature of the solution allows us to easily integrate with our clients’ data sources. And we rest easy knowing that we’re always in compliance with regulations.” We know that anything that annoys the consumer will ultimately hurt our customers. So when we engineer our software, using technology to eliminate these consumer frustrations it is the number one priority. For example, we were one of the first vendors to come up with a selectable abandonment rate, which enables clients, to select and set their abandonment rate based upon the type of calling campaign they are running. In order to exceed FTC/FCC and customer expectations, TeleDirect has invested a tremendous amount of time and money in research and development to eliminate annoyance elements like dead air, hang-ups, and errant calling. Liberation 6000 will enable customers to comply with all of the current FTC/FCC regulations for predictive dialer technology. 5
  6. 6. . . . . . . . . . . National Do Not Call Registry The most highly publicized change to the FTC Telemarketing Sales Rule (TSR) and FCC Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) regulations has been the creation of a National Do Not Call Registry (NDNCR). Compliance with this rule will require telemarketers to keep up with NDNCR updates and ensure that they do not call any numbers that are on the list unless they have an existing business relationship, or are exempt from the rule. For profit Teleservices Providers have a unique compliance challenge due to the fact that they call on behalf of multiple clients, some with both existing business relationships and exemptions. Compliance will require highly specialized tools and procedures. TeleDirect Solution: Simple and Precise Do-Not-Call Management Liberation 6000 includes native support for both the National and individual State DNC registries. This enables our customers to set up rules to easily manage their Do Not Call lists directly within the Liberation 6000 platform, without experiencing the challenge and cost associated with the creation and ongoing management of a separate database. However, in order to provide maximum flexibility to our customers, Liberation 6000 also supports the importation of external lists that are already “scrubbed”, for clients that prefer to manage their DNC list outside of their system. Unlike many predictive dialers that rely upon external list “scrubbing” or on a single, system wide do not call (DNC) database, Liberation 6000 supports three distinct Do- Not-Call tables as part of the Liberation 6000 database; the Regulatory DNC table, a Master DNC table, and multiple Client DNC tables. Because Liberation 6000 supports multiple DNC tables, our clients are able to easily manage their DNC requirements on a campaign by campaign and client by client basis. The new Regulatory DNC table is designed to facilitate up-to-the-minute updates and changes to accommodate the national and state registry requirements. The Client DNC table allows teleservices provider customers to manage unique company specific DNC lists for their clients, and enterprise customers are also able to use the Client DNC table for special campaigns that do not need to meet regulatory requirements such as (current customers, collections, surveys, etc). For example, if a telemarketer is calling on an existing customer base they are allowed to call a number for up to 18 months from the last customer payment, even if it is registered on the National or State Do Not Call list. Finally, the Master DNC table allows customers to add numbers that they do not want to call under any circumstance, like hospitals, cell phones, etc. © TeleDirect International – 2003 6
  7. 7. . . . . . . . . . . Once the National/State DNC list has been updated with the appropriate records, Liberation 6000 import routines automatically propagate the numbers out to the individual Client lists and flag the appropriate records so that they will never be dialed. These records are tagged with the date they are modified and the source of the DNC number. Liberation 6000 also includes a list editor which allows the program supervisor to update DNC records on the fly. In addition, each number is checked against all appropriate tables, real time before dialing, thus providing an additional level of assurance that a restricted number on the NDNCR will not be dialed by the Liberation 6000 system. Call Abandonment The FTC/FCC considers the abandonment of any outbound telephone call made by a predictive dialer to be an abusive telemarketing practice and a violation of their telemarketing regulations. An outbound telephone call is considered abandoned if a consumer answers the phone and is not subsequently connected to a live agent within 2 seconds of their completed greeting. However, under the “Safe Harbor” provision of the TSR, the telemarketer will not be fined for violating this regulation if they employ technology that ensures that the abandonment rate does not exceed more than 3% of the calls answered by a consumer, measured per day per dialing campaign. This 3% abandonment regulation will go into effect along with the NDNCR on October 1 of 2003. Therefore, if a predictive dialer calls 500 homes on November 1, 2003 for example, and connects with 100 consumers (400 having been answered by voice mail, fax machines, or not answered, etc), the predictive dialer must connect at least 97 of those calls to a live agent in order to comply. 7
  8. 8. . . . . . . . . . . TeleDirect Solution: Campaign Selectable Abandonment Rate/Variable Liberation 6000 provides tremendous flexibility in the manner in which a telemarketer complies with this new call abandonment regulation. While almost all predictive dialers support abandonment rates, some only allow the rate to be set at the system level and not at a campaign level. Liberation 6000, on the other hand, supports campaign level abandonment rates. In addition, this campaign abandonment rate can be set as a percentage of either live consumer contacts, per the FTC/FCC regulations, or as a percentage of all calls. Therefore, if a telemarketer is calling on a campaign that is not covered by the new regulations (e.g. collections, surveys, etc), they could have the flexibility to set the abandonment rate to 4% of all calls versus live consumer contacts, in order to optimize performance for that campaign. Because of this flexibility Liberation 6000 can achieve optimal performance levels at all times system wide. The benefits represent a much greater rate of sale and ultimately a much greater return on investment. 2 Seconds to Connect The “dead air” issue is a huge source of annoyance for consumers and a very costly problem for telemarketers. “Dead air” is the long pause that consumers experience after they have answered their telephone and completed their greeting (“Hello”). This “pause’, or “dead air” is usually caused by inferior call progress and answer detection technology as well as record processing latency within the predictive dialer. Most telemarketers who use predictive dialers utilize call progress and answer detection technology to screen out answering devices, busy signals and fax machines so that agents only deal with consumers. This technology also helps to tag records with the appropriate call result so that answering machines and faxes will not be called again. For example, the dialer makes the call and then uses call progress detection to determine that the call is connected, and then attempts to discern whether a human or an answering device has answered the call. Once it has determined that a human has answered, it connects the call to an available agent and in some cases even pops a record up on the agent’s computer display so that the agent can appropriately greet the consumer by name. When done effectively this increases agent talk time and productivity and minimizes consumer frustration. Unfortunately, “dead air” has become very common due to the use of many low end predictive dialers. These dialers are unable to quickly detect that a human has answered and then process the call and screen pop so that the agent can respond appropriately after the consumer’s first “hello”. In many cases the consumer may say “hello” up to four times while the dialer tries to figure out if a human or a device has answered. This problem contributes to consumer annoyance resulting in hang-ups and lost opportunities for the telemarketers, and is one of the primary reasons for the new 2 second to connect rule. © TeleDirect International – 2003 8
  9. 9. . . . . . . . . . . TeleDirect Solution: Immediate Detect and Connect Liberation 6000 utilizes highly sophisticated, accurate, and fast call progress detection and record processing technology. This unique and patented technology ensures immediate detection and connection so that consumers never experience “dead air” and you never experience lost opportunity. Here’s how it works: When a call is placed to a contact, Liberation 6000 implements two unique stages of call detection; Pre-connect Analysis and Post-connect Analysis. In order to meet the FTC/FCC regulations, while at the same time sustaining high levels of contact center productivity, it is critical that both of these stages of answer detection occur: Pre-connect Analysis is the analysis that occurs after number is dialed, but before the call is answered. During this stage, the Liberation 6000 is searching for a signal that a phone has gone “off hook” this usually occurs within milliseconds. Post Connect Analysis is the analysis that occurs after a call has been answered. It is during this Post-connect Analysis stage that TeleDirect’s proprietary technology is used to discern whether the call is a consumer, an answering machine, a fax machine, a telezapper, or some other device. TeleDirect has invested significant resources over the years to eliminate “dead air”. We have continuously analyzed and tested the Liberation 6000 with the various answering devices emerging in the marketplace, in order to optimize the speed and accuracy of our call analysis and answer detection software. We have also developed and patented highly efficient record processing methods in order to remove latency. Liberation 6000 - Immediate Detect and Connect Complies With FTC/FCC 2 Second Rule 9
  10. 10. . . . . . . . . . . Liberation 6000 is able to detect an answer, recognize that it is a consumer versus an answering device, and simultaneously deliver the screen pop and the call to an agent within milliseconds. Announce Before Disconnect Another source of consumer annoyance has been the termination of calls without explanation. In order to combat this concern, the FTC/FCC has included a regulation that requires the telemarketer to play a recorded announcement in the event that a predictive dialer either abandons a call or does not connect to an agent within the 2 second of the consumer’s completed greeting. In all cases where an agent is not available to speak with the person answering the call, the telemarketer must promptly play a pre-recorded announcement that states the name and telephone number of the seller on whose behalf the call was placed. TeleDirect Solution: Pre-disconnect Announcement at the Campaign Level Liberation 6000 includes the capability to play a pre-recorded disconnect message that states the name, number, and purpose of the call. But unlike most dialers in the market, this is not a system wide parameter. Rather, Liberation 6000 allows for the message to be unique on a campaign by campaign basis. This allows our clients to customize the message according to the unique characteristics of each campaign. It also enables Teleservices Providers calling on campaigns for multiple clients to have specific messages tailored to each specific client. And since the Liberation 6000 answer detection takes less than a second, this announcement is activated only when a call is about to be abandoned. Minimum 15 Seconds to Disconnect A major cause of consumer annoyance is the termination of a call before the phone is answered by the consumer. In the past, predictive dialers would often disconnect a call after a few rings if there were no agents available to connect to the call. This resulted in a great deal of frustration as the consumer would answer the phone after a ring and find there was no one on the other end. The FTC /FCC received numerous complaints regarding this practice and now considers it an abusive telemarketing practice to disconnect an unanswered call before 15 seconds, or until the phone has rung 4 times. TeleDirect Solution: Wait to Disconnect Setting on Supervisor Interface In order to comply with the new regulations, the predictive dialer must support a setting that ensures that calls are not terminated until this minimum “wait to disconnect” period has expired. Liberation 6000 includes a “wait to disconnect” setting that ensures that no phone call will be terminated before a defined number of seconds. This setting, which can be set by the client from within the easy to use administrator interface, guarantees that each call lasts a minimum of 15 seconds, thus meeting the FTC / FCC regulations in this area. © TeleDirect International – 2003 10
  11. 11. . . . . . . . . . . Automatic Number Identification (ANI)/Caller ID The FTC/FCC considers it an abusive telemarketing practice, and thus a violation of their regulations, for telemarketers to fail to transmit their telephone number to any caller identification service used by the consumer. Therefore effective January 1, 2004, the telemarketer must transmit either their name, or the name of the seller they are calling for and their phone number to the consumer when making calls for solicitous campaigns. TeleDirect Solution: Campaign Configurable ANI/Caller ID Liberation 6000 supports campaign configurable ANI (automatic number identification), and caller ID. This allows for total compliance with the regulation. And like the pre-disconnect message feature described above, this identification is set at the campaign level, allowing TeleServices Providers calling on behalf of multiple clients the ability to send the name and number of the client company they are calling on behalf of for each campaign. Tracking and Reporting In order to comply with the record keeping requirements of the new regulations, the client must maintain records showing compliance with all of the regulations described in this paper. These records can be stored in any form and in the same manner, format, and place as they keep records used in the ordinary course of the business. The records must be kept for a period of 24 months from the date of the call, and must include all verifiable authorizations or records of express informed consent or express agreement. TeleDirect Solution: Liberation 6000 includes automatic tracking of all compliance metrics for each dialed call. These metrics are available in the form of standard compliance reports that are included with the Liberation 6000 solution. These reports can be run for specific Campaign and Date criteria, and can be used to show the FTC that the technology that was employed by the telemarketer is in compliance with all telemarketing regulations, including campaign abandonment setting, the minimum wait to disconnect setting, and the status of the pre-disconnect announcement and caller ID settings. In addition, the report provides a summary of all of the calls that were abandoned on that date for that particular campaign. If the FTC requires more detail on a particular abandoned call, that information can also be provided. The Impact of Scripting on Compliance The vast majority of the FTC TSR regulations (sections 310.3 and 310.4) address deceptive or abusive telemarketing practices, most of which are the result of misrepresentations by a calling agent. These misrepresentations, whether made 11
  12. 12. . . . . . . . . . . directly or by implication, can result in a violation of the regulations and a fine of $11,000 per incident. TeleDirect Solution: DialogGuide Script Management Liberation 6000 includes an advanced script creation tool that allows supervisors to create very detailed scripts and highly organized call flows called DialogGuides. These guides help ensure that the language used by the agent, as well as the topics discussed during the call, cover all of the required information, without misrepresentation. For example, if a consumer requests that they be placed upon the telemarketers’ Do Not Call list, there is a very specific way that the call needs to be handled and documented. DialogGuide ensures that agents are able to immediately add that person’s number to a Do Not Call list and propagate that number out to all applicable campaigns so that the number is not dialed again. By essentially embedding compliance within the agent script, DialogGuide helps takes away the agent’s discretion, which limits the agent’s potential for violating a regulation. And these DialogGuides can be stored and reproduced at a later date to show the FTC/FCC that every attempt was made to stop the calling agents from behaving deceptively. © TeleDirect International – 2003 12
  13. 13. . . . . . . . . . . Call Recording & Compliance There are a number of requirements within the revised TSR and TCAP regulations that do not specifically pertain to predictive dialer technology, but are nevertheless supported by the Liberation 6000 solution. One example of this is the ability to record calls that involve either a commitment to pay or the actual exchange of payment information. The regulations state that this type of call must be recorded for verification purposes. All recordings are tagged by the call date, the call time, the agent ID, and a unique customer identifier that makes it easy to search and manage recordings after they are stored in the audio library. Unlike most recording solutions, Liberation 6000 is able to embed the recording functionality behind the scenes of the agents’ DialogGuide script interface. The recording can be automated to start and stop based upon particular events that occur with the flow of the script, thus reducing the potential for agent error. This is particularly important as failure to record certain calls could require you to contact the customer after the call, which provides an opportunity for them to back out of the sale. And by building the recording into the script the customer has the ability to selectively record only the piece of the transaction that they need to record by law. Conclusion Given the broad scope of the new predictive dialer regulations and the NDNCR, and the strict penalties for non-compliance telemarketers need advanced technology now more than ever in order to maximize campaign productivity and to help them guard against consumer annoyance and potential compliance liabilities. The good news is that TeleDirect has spent the past 20 years developing high performance solutions for leading teleservices companies in the business to consumer market sector. We understand consumers, what they expect and what it takes to convert contacts into sales. Liberation 6000 is the result of continuous innovation and the only solution available today that will deliver true performance without annoyance. TeleDirect’s Liberation 6000 - ConsumerCare™ solution includes the following features; 1. Simple & Precise Do-Not-Call Management 2. Campaign Selectable Abandonment Rates 3. Campaign Selectable Abandonment Variables 4. 15 Second Minimum Wait to Answer Setting 5. Immediate Detect and Connect 6. Announce Before Disconnect 7. Campaign Configurable ANI/Caller ID 8. Effective Scripting & Recording 9. Comprehensive Compliance Reporting Most of these features are available at no additional charge for TeleDirect Liberation 6000 customers who are under a customer support agreement. This is an example of our commitment to help protect our customer’s investment. 13
  14. 14. . . . . . . . . . . Although the FTC and FCC have changed the telemarketing ground rules, TeleDirect will continue to delivers the tools to enable customers to achieve optimum performance while taking care of consumers and complying with telemarketing rules. About TeleDirect Founded in 1983, TeleDirect International Inc. provides software and services for customer campaign management (CCM) and enterprise automated marketing. Leading companies in the communication services, travel and leisure, publishing and financial services industries have chosen TeleDirect’s technology to help improve their business-to-consumer relationships and increase revenues. TeleDirect is headquartered in Scottsdale, Arizona and is privately held. For more information, email, visit the website at, or call 1-800-531-6440. Liberation 6000, DialogGuide, and DialogWizard are trademarks of TeleDirect International, Inc. © TeleDirect International – 2003 14