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Has Ofcom finally killed off AMD answer machine detect systems?

Ofcom has made some changes recently that discourage the use of answer machine detect (AMD) systems. They have narrowed the parameters in which they can be used and loosened other parameters to encourage the use of AMD-free automated diallers.

AMD systems work by making a decision on the agent's behalf as to whether the called party is a person or an answer machine system (typically voicemail). The benefit of this is saved agent time because the auto dialler dispositions voicemails in the background without having to waste any agent time. In theory this leads to increased talk time. One of the disadvantages of AMD is that they sometimes decide incorrectly that a human is a voicemail message, this is called a "false positive" which from the called party's side is a silent call. These silent calls are very tightly monitored by Ofcom and persistent offenders can find themselves having to pay large fines. Ofcom would like to eradicate AMD systems completely but has to consider the industry associated with call centres and related technology and service vendors. So it has recently decided to make a change after a brief consultation process. The changes are quite blatantly designed to make the use of AMDs less commercially viable.

The main changes, which are very much a "carrot and stick", are as follows:


If an answer phone or voicemail is detected by the AMD system it cannot be re-dialed within 24 hours unless a live agent is present. Most predictive diallers cannot be configured to comply with this automatically without recoding. Even if the automated dialler waits 24 hours to auto-dial the number the delay will significantly slow the progress of the outbound campaign.


Manually detected answer phone calls can earn a form of credit allowing a dialler to dial more aggressively above the 3% drop rate. If half of the answerphone calls are detected by a human then the automated dialer is allowed to be twice as aggressive in its dialling.

Our calculations, based on real client data, lead us to the conclusion that the carrot approach will lead to greater agent productivity. This is a good outcome, AMD systems lead to silent calls. Silent calls are a threat to outbound telemarketing.

If you add this new change to the other reasons not to use an AMD system (slient calls, lowered positive call outcome) the case for non-AMD automated dialer calling becomes quite compelling...Ofcom will be delighted!

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