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Choosing a hosted auto dialler service provider - top 10 questions to ask

The number of hosted auto dialler service providers around the world is growing to cater for an increasing demand. They provide a service on a subscription basis without the technical challenges associated with the design and installation challenges of a premises-based predictive dialler. If all of these service providers appear to offer the same features for the same price how can you tell the difference between them? This article provides you with the top ten questions to ask when selecting a supplier.

Where are the platform servers located?

This is important for a few reasons. The main reason is the proximity between the service user and the data centre. If the distance is greater than 1000 miles the caller and called party will start to notice a delay or latency in the phone call. This is caused by a limitation in the speed of signalling and media, the greater the distance the greater the delay. Long distance internet connections can be prone to disruption and congestion due to the limited number of international fibre lines available.

Is the service provided from a shared platform or Dedicated server?

Shared auto dialer servers effectively multi-tenant clients on the same platform. The server resource (CPU, RAM, HDD) is shared amongst the tenants and there is normally no way of setting allocations to each client on a shared platform. It is therefore possible for a single client to hog resource and leave the other clients suffering with performance problems relating to lack of CPU and RAM. A dedicated predictive dialler server means that the service provider can give the client access to the SQL database, this is not normally something that is possible with a shared server. Finally a dedicated server means that the client can have their own firewall settings put on the server, these settings may be very specific (eg IP based filtering) that would not be possible with a shared server.

What are the security features?

The 'must have' security features for a hosted telephone auto dialer can be summarised as follows:

  • Server firewall or external firewall.
  • IPSEC VPN
  • Intrusion detection
  • Tracking of access to auto dialer by IP address.
  • Strong passwords
  • Brute force attack blocking.

Is direct access to the database provided?

Access to the SQL or mySQL database is essential for advanced reporting. Most predictive dialers have built in reporting in some form. If you require more advanced reporting however you will need to access the database directly to pull statistics from the dialer. Reporting tools like Crystal Reports will need access to the dialer's database.

What is the length of contract?

The length of contract is an important issue because no one really likes to be locked into a contract for a long period. Shorter contracts put the onus on the service provider to continually provide good quality support at a competitive price. If they aren't the client has the option to leave without penalty. Longer term contracts can be provided in return for competitive pricing however. We recommend a 3-6 month contract.

Is telephone technical support provided?

Hosted predictive diallers are complicated and the users have a fairly long learning curve. During the first few weeks of use lots of assistance is required to get the users to a level where they can be self sufficient. So it is critical that the service provider can help the user at any time during business hours. A web based technical support service is not ideal because the users need an instant response in certain situations.

Is there any automatic carrier failover?

All carriers suffer outages at some point whether the service provider is transporting traffic with voip or ISDN. Hosted automated diallers need to terminate huge volumes calls during business hours and so run into big commercial losses if they are not able to make calls. The hosted dialer service provider therefore must be able to failover automatically in the event of a carrier outage. For this to happen the service provider needs to have a softswitch or gateway that can detect a carrier problem and use the back up without human intervention thus preventing an outage. This type of configuration requires a large monetary investment and vey few hosted dialer service providers make it.

Is the auto dialler service OFCOM compliant?

OFCOM regulates the use of automated phone diallers in the UK and there are many issues to consider such as the drop percentage, drop lockout time, maximum ring time and latest ring time. If you do not work within the guidelines you could find yourself annoying lots of people. If OFCOM receives enough compliaints about your call centre you could be liable for a large fine. It is therefore essential that your hosted dialer is able to automatically work within the guideline, with a set of configurable parameters.

Is everything included?

There are several important elements to a hosted dialer which really cannot be left out. The ideal service package must include the following items:

  • Call recording.
  • Wall board.
  • Reporting.
  • SIP trunks / Internet bandwidth.
  • Support and training.
  • IVR.
  • Software lilcenses.

Does the hosted dialler support voip?

The agents normally connect to the dialer via a telephone call which is either ISDN or VOIP. They connect for very long periods so it is best to have a VOIP connection which is free of any call charges. A hosted dialer also has an advantage with VOIP because it can connect to a SIP trunk which is the low cost alternative to ISDN.



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