SmartDial® Tech Tips | IAT SmartDial® Solutions

Tech Tips

Back up your IAT system
 Your CT Center system is constantly storing new information such as lists and custom programming. If your system goes down, it may lose the data stored on the hard drive. It is often impossible to restore the lost information, if you have not backed up your system. When it is possible to restore the information without a current backup, the process can be time-consuming and expensive for your agency. IAT customers without current backups will be liable for additional charges for restoration.

To avoid losing valuable information on your CT Center system, take the following precautions:

  • Always keep a verified, current backup of your CT Center system data.
  • Back up your system at least once a week.
  • Run a backup every time you change the setup options or create new lists.
  • Because old tapes may not accurately store data, replace them regularly. When tapes are rotated, they typically last up to two years.
  • Each time you perform a backup, rotate use among 3 or 4 tapes. DO NOT perform back-ups repeatedly on the same tape.
  • Once you have performed the backup, verify that it was completed. 
Decreasing Collector
If an agent signs on to CT Center PD in Predictive Mode and fails to use the Extend and Wrap-up features when appropriate, the affect is a decrease in performance for that agent. CT Center will dial for this agent as if he or she signed on using power mode. This increases ‘ready’ and ‘unavailable’ time while reducing the ‘on-call’ time. The remedy for ‘ready-unavailable’ vs ‘on-call’ performance degradation is training agents, managing lists, and managing accounts. The following factors can help increase dialer productivity:
  • Give Training - Agents who are new to the predictive dialing environment should be told to log off the dialer when they leave their stations or stop taking calls for any length of time. Tell all your agents that failure to log off the dialer results in poor performance results for them.
  • Change Procedures - Change or eliminate office procedures that cause agents to leave their stations regularly or take excessive time between calls (i.e., posting long notes). Encourage agents to remain at their stations and ready to take calls. Agents should not be expected to take inbound calls while on the dialer unless inbound / outbound call-blending software is being utilized and the agent has signed on to take both inbound and outbound calls.
  • Monitor Collectors - Some agents may intentionally make themselves busy in order to take inbound calls or attend to personal matters. Inform agents that doing this slows down the dialer.

In order to determine the amount of time collectors spend “busy,” print Collector Contact Reports or periodically watch the Manager Screen. This will help you determine which, if any, collectors are logging a large amount of unavailable time. 

Don't hesitate to order telephone lines
Planning to install or upgrade an IAT system? Call your telephone vendor NOW if you need to order additional telephone lines. Because telephone vendors are frequently backlogged with orders, you may have to wait several weeks before your order can be filled.
Keep area codes up to date
Area codes are changing more frequently these days. Ensure that phone numbers are not excluded unnecessarily by updating your area code table whenever a code is added or changes in your calling area. Area codes also affect when calls are made. Keeping them up-to-date helps to ensure calls that will be made during legal calling hours. It is the responsibility of the system user to keep area codes and prefixes updated. If you have questions on how to do this, call the IAT Customer Support department at (800) 646-5227 for assistance.

Note: Area code splits & overlays occur regularly throughout the nation. See www.nanpa.com.

Making changes? Notify IAT first!
Remember to notify IAT support at least THREE WEEKS before you make any changes to your host collection system, your telephone system or computer network. Such changes include software and hardware upgrades, moving the location of your system or changes made by telephone vendors. Failure to notify and involve IAT in advance may cause unnecessary problems and a loss of productivity with CT Center operation.

Note: Depending on the extent of the changes to your host collection system, your telephone system or computer network, there may be a “time-and-materials” charge for updating your interface. Use CT Center IC to “clean up” accounts.

Maximizing predictive dialing productivity

You’re in the Driver’s Seat!

Chart Your Course

One important advantage of your CT Center Predictive Dialing system is the flexibility it gives you to do business “your way.” Based on the type of accounts you’re working and your contacting objectives, you can “tune” the system and train your agents to give you just the results you want. Do you want to “speed” through your list for a maximum number of attempts, or is maximizing direct transfers while minimizing call loss a high priority? Do some of your clients expect different results than others? With just a little thought and time given to system setup and management, you can meet and often exceed their expectations.

Observe the “Speed Limit”

When the dialer is adjusted to run faster, more debtors could be put on hold and may hang up before an agent is available. When the dialer is slowed down, agents may have periods of time waiting for calls. CT Center Predictive Dialing allows you to manually adjust the pace at which it dials or to leave it in Automatic mode. Automatic mode considers average talk time, hit rate, allowable call loss and other factors and adjusts dialer speed accordingly.

Give Directions

If an agent is not available to take a call, CT Center Predictive Dialing automatically speaks a “Hello” hold message. You can determine the number of additional hold messages to play before the system delivers a “Max Hold” message and terminates the call. You will probably find that very few debtors stay on the line through more than one additional message. We recommend no additional hold messages. Then rerecord the “Max Hold” message and include a directive to call your office. This will increase callbacks and reduce the number of debtors on hold.

Keep Them on the Line

Call centers that purchase both the CT Center Predictive Dialing (PD) and Interactive Communication (IC) modules have the ability to replace hold messages with an interactive payment dialogue or another automated message. Doing so dramatically increases the percentage of contacts who stay on the line and allows the called party to both give and receive information or select the option to be transferred to a live operator. Choose from one of the following prerecorded dialogues, or ask for custom programming:

  • Demand for Payment: With or without call transfer option during business hours
  • Demand for Payment with Payment Options
  • Demand for Payment for NSF Check Collections
  • Pay by Check or Credit Card: With or without multiple payment option

Dialogues with an active transfer option check to see if an agent has become available by the time the called party has verified a right party contact. If the right party is on the line and an agent is now available, the call will be transferred directly without intervention on the person’s part. CT Center pops the screen for the agent, who can seamlessly continue the call, as though it came straight from the dialer.

Farther into the dialogue, the called party is asked how they would like to pay the debt or if he or she would like to speak with someone about their account. If the transfer option is selected, CT Center transfers the call to an available agent, or if no agent is available, the call can be transferred to an available operator. If the transfer cannot be completed, the called party is told there is no one available to take the call and instructions, including phone number and business hours, are given to call the office.

Train Your “Pit Crew”

Train your agents to answer calls professionally and efficiently. Instruct them to remain available as consistently as possible while they are on. 

Pack and Ship your computer system correctly
If you must send a computer system or hardware component to IAT for servicing or replacement, it is crucial that you package it correctly. Improperly packed computer systems may be damaged during shipment.
  • Pack your computer system in its original box with the original packing materials.
  • If you did not save the original box, pack it in a box of similar strength that is slightly larger than the size of the system, allowing just enough room for padding. The better your system and packing fit the box, the more secure it will stay during transport. Cover your computer system in at least two layers of plastic bubble wrap. Large bubbles are best. Make sure that all sides and corners of the system are covered. If bubble wrap is not available, surround the system in Styrofoam packing peanuts.” Newspaper does not provide sufficient padding for your system.
  • Using sturdy packing tape (approximately 2 inches wide), seal the entire top and bottom of the box.
Performance enhancement tips

Reports, Downloads, Parameters, Pooled vs. Ownership

  1. Run reports on demand when other processes aren’t running, i.e., after calling hours, and before nightly maintenance or other regularly scheduled nightly processes. It’s one way to ensure that all resources are dedicated to peak performance when your system is dialing or performing other tasks.
  2. Don’t make your system do more work than necessary:
    • Only download enough records from your host system to keep CT Center busy until the next download period. To ensure that enough data is downloaded, records equal to one-and-a-half times your average calling attempts is a good “rule of thumb.”
    • Don’t make your calling lists so long that people near the end of the list never get called.
    • Improve your Hit Rate by setting parameters for call-back times that consider when a contact is likely to be made. For example, a “Busy” call result means that someone is home. A callback time of 10-15 minutes might catch them. A “No Answer” call result probably means that no one is home. Set your system to call back in 3-4 hours. Don’t tax your system with unproductive callbacks.
  3. Consider the enhanced performance possible with a Pooled vs. an Account Ownership environment:
    • Pooled: Because one list of accounts is shared by a group of agents or desks, the system can transfer an answered call to the first available agent. This approach makes possible the greatest number of contacts.
    • Ownership: Because the system must wait for the assigned agent or desk to be available, more debtors are kept on hold, and fewer contacts are possible. Allowing a limited number of calls to be transferred (crossover) to an alternative collector can help to improve the efficiency of this approach.
Think before you stop CT Center processes!
CT Center users, DO NOT use the Windows® Task Manager or End Task to terminate any CT Center processes! If a process is hung or not responding, call IAT Support. If you simply want to stop one of your daily processes, for example Interactive Communications, go to the Operations Screen on the server and follow the indicated Stop/Start procedure. Always check with Support before turning off, unplugging or moving your CT Center system. 
Tracking multiple call complaints
Issue: A client complains that an account was called multiple times in one day

Note: Any account may be on multiple lists, depending on the criteria used to build the list. If an account was called by PD, and the agent posts a result to call the account again, it will be called again on either PD or IC, if it is on an active list.

  1. Refer to HISTORY
    • By COMM log (phone number)
    • By ENTITY log (Account ID)
  2. While in HISTORY, check the call results of the account that was allegedly called multiple times – Example: NO ANSWER, DIRECT TRANSFER.
    • Check the CALLBACKS parameters for the results. Many debtors complain of multiple calls listed on their Caller ID, but if we do not talk to someone or leave a message, it is NOT a contact.
    • Be aware that agents can override system call-back functions by choosing a call result function from their agent screen under the RESULTS button!!!
  3. If CT Center called an account multiple times in the same day with a contact result of DIRECT TRANSFER and an agent did not request to call them back, contact IAT support.

Troubleshooting 1

Issue: The System Is Not Dialing

  1. Check the processes under OPERATIONS. Make sure these processes are running:
    • Process Scheduler – Must be running for any other processes to run.
    • Communication Server – Coaching, monitoring, and routing of calls.
    • Predictive Dialing Remote Server – Agent/Manager data connection.
    • Predictive Dialing Agent Audio – Agent controlled audio allowing to drop/release calls.
    • Predictive Dialing Outbound Calling – Dialing resources used to dial outbound calls for agents logged on to dialer.
    • Interactive Communications Outbound Calling – Dialing resources used to dial outbound calls for simple/interactive messaging.
  2. Check the Manager Screen to see if agents are signed on to the proper campaign. Make sure lists have accounts assigned to them.
  3. Check the system’s CALLING PERIODS under the OPERATIONS screen. Are there calling period restrictions that are preventing dialing?
  4. Check Calling Periods under LIST CONFIGURATIONS for individual lists. Do you have calling periods set up for some lists but not others? Have all the accounts been worked on a campaign?

Note: Be uniform when using calling periods. Assign calling periods by list campaign or by system parameters. This will cause less confusion and reduce the potential of incorrect configuration.

If you check all of the above and still cannot determine the cause of or correct the problem, call IAT Support and report your findings. 

Use CT Center Interactive Communications (IC) to 'clean up' accounts
CT Center IC is an effective tool for “weeding out” incorrect or disconnected numbers from your list of accounts and for generating right-party callbacks.
  • Use IC to dial a new list unattended during evening hours, or during the day when dialing lines are not being used by CT Center PD.
  • Once it has made the calls, CTC IC can produce a report identifying incorrect and disconnected numbers.
  • Early use of IC will generate callbacks and payments before accounts are turned over to collectors on the dialer.
  • When you turn over the “cleaned up” accounts to PD collectors, the result will be a higher hit rate and increased productivity. 
Use CT Center Interactive Communications (IC) more productively
To utilize CT Center IC more efficiently, create lists of residential telephone numbers and use CT Center IC to call those numbers during the evening. Before or after office hours, the IC module can be used to make contacts unassisted by agents. The transfer-to-agent option is non-functional and the dialogue speaks the callback message. At system setup, transfer hours and an operator extension number can be designated. Transfer options can vary by campaign. 
Contacting IAT Customer Support Department
Before you call the IAT Engineering Service department, take the following steps:
  • Consult online help.
  • Correctly stop and start your dialers.
  • Have examples of the problem ready.
  • Have your modem set up, in case the engineer needs to dial in.
  • Call Engineering Services from the computer where you’re having the problems so we can more easily and quickly identify the problem.
  • If you have a problem with your system, it will get fixed more quickly if you call the Engineering Services department first, not the Sales or Marketing departments.
  • Back up your system.
  • When you get an error message, write it down, and call Engineering Services before you do anything with the system. 
Regulate the temperature of your system
During the hot summer months, it is especially important to ensure that your collection system and other computer equipment are kept at a safe temperature.

Your system should be kept in a well-ventilated area with the room temperature between 60 and 75 degrees. As a general rule, the best temperature for storing computer equipment is a temperature in which you could also work comfortably. 

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