How to import Do Not Call lists

This blog gives step-by-step instructions on how to import Do Not Call lists into Acarda Outbound. These instructions apply to both the Team and Solo Editions of Acarda Outbound. For Acarda Outbound Team: In Acarda Outbound Manager click on the Manage tab then in the Import group of icons, click on the Do Not Call icon. For Acarda Outbound Solo: Click on the Administration tab (rather than the Agent View tab) and then the Manage tab, then in the Import group of icons, click on the Do Not Call icon.

The import Do Not Call file must be a text file such as a csv file. If there is more than one column of data then only the first column will be imported. Formatting of the telephone numbers will be removed during import.

Take the following steps to import the Do Not Cal list:

  1. Select the Import File.
  2. Modify the defaulted “Comment” if you want to. Note the “Source Tag” cannot be changed. This is used to identify the import file source is useful for managing your Do Not Call lists.
  3. Click the Import button.

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Figure 1: The Import Do Not Call Tab.

Once you have imported a file, the Import and Cancel buttons will be disabled to prevent you accidently re-importing the same data. After selecting a new source file name, these buttons will be enabled again.

To view the imported Do Not Call list data you need to open the Do Not Call directory. For Acarda Outbound Team: In Acarda Outbound Manager click on the Manage tab then in the Directories group of icons, click on the Do Not Call icon. For Acarda Outbound Solo: Click on the Administration tab (rather than the Agent View tab) and then the Manage tab, then in the Directories group of icons, click on the Do Not Call icon.

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Figure 2: The Do Not Call directory.

In the grid list on the left side is a list of import sources, the date of import, comment and a count of the number of records imported. As these lists could have millions of numbers in them we do not show the actual list of numbers unless you use the Display All icon at top of the right side panel called Source List Numbers. Usually you would enter in a telephone number to check in the “Search Telephone” box at the top of the gird. You can also delete an individual telephone number from this source’s list by clicking on the Delete icon.

Take care above the left hand side list is a Delete Source icon. Only use that if you want to delete the entire list! If you upload Do Not Call numbers each month then use the Source to identify the imported list. It is helpful to include the Month and Year in the Source tag. e.g. 702 Jan 2016. Then when you come to import a more recent list you can delete the old list by using the Source Delete. If your Do Not Call lists have millions of numbers then you may need to delete the older list prior to importing the replacement list.

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How to dial out with 3CXPhone for Windows

The method for Acarda Outbound to dial out with a v14 3CX phone system requires that the softphone 3CXPhone for Windows is installed. If this is not installed please contact your 3CX integrator for instructions. These instructions apply to both the Team and Solo Editions of Acarda Outbound v7.2.0.2304 and above. To get Acarda Outbound to dial out with a v14 3CX phone system you can take the following steps:

Installing 3CX Plug-in Files

When Acarda Outbound Agent or Solo is installed a folder is created as “C:\Program Files\Acarda\Acarda Outbound\3CX Support Files” (or “C:\Program Files (x86)\…” on 64bit installs) which will contain the two plug-in files “Innovasoft.XDMessaging.dll” & “Innovasoft.S3CX.dll”. Copy the two files to the install folder of the 3CXPhone (3CXWin8Phone.exe) which by default is “C:\ProgramData\3CXPhone for Windows\PhoneApp”.

To activate the plug-in locate the file C:\ProgramData\3CXPhone for Windows\PhoneApp\

3CXWin8Phone.exe.user.config", open and edit adding the reference to "Innovasoft.S3CX" for the key="CRMPlugin", use a comma to separate multiple entries or add the key & value if required.

e.g.
<?xml version="1.0" encoding="utf-8"?>
<appSettings>
<add key="version" value="3.0.0" />
<add key="ClientSettingsProvider.ServiceUri" value="" />
<add key="CRMPlugin" value="CallTriggerCmdPlugin,Innovasoft.S3CX"/>
<add key="MakeCallTimeout" value="10000" />
<add key="MakeCallTimeoutCTIUnsupported" value="200000" />
<add key="EnableVCELogging" value="true" />
<add key="MaxLogFileSizeMb" value="5" />
<add key="RequestTimeout" value="60" />
<add key="MaxUploadSizeKb" value="2048" />
</appSettings>

When the 3CXPhone is started the plug-in will now automatically be loaded enabling the dial functionality to be activated from Acarda Outbound.

Connecting Acarda Outbound to the 3CXPhone for Windows Softphone

To set the correct dialing device for Acarda Outbound Team: In Acarda Outbound Agent click on the Tools menu up the top right side of the screen and select the Dialing Device submenu. For Acarda Outbound Solo: Click on the Agent View tab and in the top right, click the Tools menu and select the Dialing Device submenu.

To dial out via the 3CXPhone, the softphone must be installed, running and logged in before continuing. In the Acarda Outbound Dialing Device select “3CXPhone for Windows” from the drop down. Click Save to select this option.

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Figure 1: The 3CXPhone for Windows dialing device selection.

When you select the 3CXPhone for the dialing device and you have Acarda Outbound administrator rights you have the option to test dial a number. Click the Test button in the lower left of the window. This will open the Test Dial Settings window.

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Figure 2: The Test Dial Settings window.

Enter a number to dial, click the Dial button to test the dialing via the 3CXPhone. A log will also be shown to indicate success or error in the dial attempt. Click the Hang Up button to end the call.

Once successful close the Test Dial Settings and Dialing Device windows to return to the Agent or Solo dialing screens. The 3CXPhone will now be set as your default dialing device and be used to dial and hang up calls from Acarda Outbound.

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How to setup campaigns based on post codes

In some situations you may wish to take a telephone list and assign those numbers with certain post codes to specific agents to work on. This blog will explain how to take a full dialing list and split it up into individual campaigns based on the post code.

In Acarda Outbound a campaign has an associated calling list and the agents are assigned to teams which work on the designated calling list. To split the lists based on post code first import the calling data into a campaign e.g. Master List. Then make up the other campaigns using the post code number for easy identification e.g. Code 10001, Code 10012, Code 10016. Campaigns are set up under menu Setup then Campaigns. Note, when you import you must import the post code to the DialList field called PostCode.

Postcode campaigns

Figure 1: Campaign Name Setup

Once the Master List has had the calling list imported then you can use the List Management tools to shift data from that campaign to another one using the post code as the criteria. To do this, take the following steps.

  1. Open the Modify Campaign List Management Tool.
    1. In Acarda Outbound Team: open Acarda Outbound Manager click on the Manage tab then in the List Management group of icons, click on the Modify Campaign icon.
    2. In Acarda Outbound Solo: click on the Administration tab (rather than the Agent View tab) and click on the Manage tab, then in the List Management group of icons, click on the Modify Campaign icon.
  2. On the left-side, click on the master list campaign you imported the calling list to.
  3. On the right-side, in the Filter Criteria panel, enter the Post Code for the calling list records you wish to move to a specific campaign. You can leave the original records in the master list if you want to and just copy the selected records into the new campaign. Do this by checking the “Retain original records” box.
  4. Now click the Modify button.

Modify campaign

Figure 2: Modify Campaign

You can view the records in the campaign the usual way by clicking View in the Campaign group of icons under Manage. For more information on how to import calling lists please contact us.

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How to dial out with 3CXPhone using 3CX CallTriggerCmd

Acarda Outbound can make use of the 3CX CallTriggerCmd application to dial out with the 3CXPhone for Windows. To begin with open the file:

“C:\ProgramData\3CXPhone for Windows\PhoneApp\3CXWin8Phone.user.config”

in a text editor such as Notepad and check that the “CallTriggerCmdPlugin” dll is referred to in the “CRMPlugin” key:

<add key=”CRMPlugin” value=”CallTriggerCmdPlugin “/>

If you already had the 3CXPhone open please Exit and start it again. Note that the 3CXPhone must remain open if you want to dial out with it. It will not open automatically on dial.

These instructions apply to both the Team and Solo Editions of Acarda Outbound. For Acarda Outbound Team: In Acarda Outbound Agent click on the Tools menu up the top right side of the screen and select the Dialing Device submenu. For Acarda Outbound Solo: Click on the Agent View tab and in the top right, click the Tools menu and select the Dialing Device submenu.

Dialing Device Softphone App

Figure 1: The dialing device configuration.

Once you have selected the dialing device menu from the drop-down, you will be presented with the dialog above. You can then select the “Softphone Application” from the current dialing device drop-down to use this dialing method.

With the 3CXPhone using CallTriggerCmdPlugin only the Dial command can be used and not Hang Up. You need to use the 3CXPhone to hang up the call. Future integrations will allow this feature.

Dial Device Call Trigger

Figure 2: The Software Application configuration.

You can test your setup first using Cmd. Paste the MakeCall command and click enter with an appropriate extension:

“C:\ProgramData\3CXPhone for Windows\PhoneApp\CallTriggerCmd.exe” -cmd makecall:102

Once that works then go into the agent screen and add a test number e.g. click on the Action button then “Add Dial Card”, enter the test extension or number e.g. 102. Click the Next Dial button and it should dial out via the 3CXPhone which will start to ring the number.

To read up more on 3CX’s integration with CallTriggerCmdPlugin please refer to their blog at http://www.3cx.com/blog/docs/3cxphone-for-windows-api/

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How to setup database backup in Acarda Outbound

You should back up your outbound calling database with your calling lists and telemarketing results. This blog explains how to back up your Acarda Outbound calling data. In the team edition of Acarda Outbound the database backup settings are accessed through the Acarda Outbound Server Administrator. Once logged in click on the left sidebar tree item “Database Settings” then “Maintenance” and the screen shown in Figure 1 will be displayed.

The default location for the backup folder is “C:\ProgramData\Acarda\Acarda Outbound\Data\Backup” however you can select another folder for the location if you wish to. It is usually a good idea to have the backup saved on to another physical harddisk to the main one where the original database files are located.

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Figure 1: Database Maintenance Screen

To avoid filling your harddrive with backups you can set a maximum size, e.g. 30GB, for the backup folder and when this limit is reach Acarda Outbound will automatically delete the oldest backup files. You can also have the Acarda Outbound delete backups that are older than a certain number of days by ticking the “Automatically delete database backups” check box and setting the number of days.

In addition to these settings you also must have the Database Task set “Backup Databases (excl. DoNotCall)” and “Backup DoNotCall” if you want that one backed up.

A Database Task is set up by clicking on the “+” symbol to add a new task for the selected task name.

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Figure 2: Add Schedule Task

Next check the “Enable Task” and set up a schedule. For example, figure 3 shows a database back up scheduled for each Sunday at 3am. Be sure to select a time when the computer will be operating. Once set then click OK.

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Figure 3: Backup Task for Sunday 3am

Once a task is set you will see it in the right-hand Task Schedule list.

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Figure 4: Task Schedule List

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How are called records managed in Acarda Outbound?

Unlike paper-based manual dialing processes where you need to keep track of what leads have been called, and which ones need to be called back, Acarda Outbound looks after all this for you automatically. For example, if you had a small campaign of 1,000 leads for California and the first day ten of your sales people only contacted 400 of those leads, what happens the next day when they start calling; do they have to worry about getting some of the already called leads again? The called leads already have been attempted or dealt with yielding results that could be: not interested, sale made, already called, wrong number, call back again, etc.

The good news is that you do not need to worry about the 400 called leads from the day before. Acarda Outbound takes care of it for you. Each lead, or list record, has a Status. The status starts at “Not Called”, usually moves to “Call Back” and then on to “Called”. When a lead is out at an agent it is “In Progress”. When too many call back attempts are made then it changes to “Failed xxx” where xxx is the call back type whose limit was reached e.g. “Failed Busy” or “Failed No Answer”.

All the leads in the campaign start as “Not Called” but once they go to the agent they will usually come back as either “Called” (if they are finished with and you have a final disposition/response) or “Call Back” (if they were busy, no answer or a requested call back was set). If the person reached told the agent not to call them again then the agent clicks the “Do Not Call” button (Figure 1) and the status of “Do Not Call” is set and the number is added to the Do Not call list.

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Figure 1: Toolbar with Response options.

The following day you just carry on with the campaign and Acarda Outbound will first send the agents requested call backs that are due to be called, then reattempts for busy or no answer, and then, if there are no call backs due, it will send a new lead. Once the agent gets hold of someone then they select a disposition (also referred to as a Response), via the Response button (Figure 1) e.g. you could have a response for “Interested”, “Not Interested”, “Appointment Made”, “Send Information”, “Sold To Previously”, “Called Already”, “Incorrect Number”, “Invalid Number”, “Try Next Year” etc. If the agent does not reach anyone they would select a call back type via the Call Back button (See Figure 2 and Figure 3).

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Figure 2: Toolbar with Response and Call Back buttons.

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Figure 3: The Call Back Type.

The dispositions, also referred to as Responses, are set up under Support Tables as follows:

  1. Go to the Setup screen:
    • In Acarda Outbound Team: open Acarda Outbound Manager and click on the Setup tab.
    • In Acarda Outbound Solo: click on the Administration tab (rather than the Agent View tab) and then the Setup tab.
  2. Click on the Support Tables icon in the Setup group of icons.
  3. The Support Tables panel should open up with the Responses table selected in the top row of the list on the left side (Figure 4). On the right side is where you add a new response or edit an existing one.

When you add a disposition to the Response table you can select a Layout and a List Order. If you are not using any specific layout for your agent screens then you are using the [Default] layout and that should also be selected as the Layout that the response belongs to. The List Order determines the order the Reponses will be listed in when you click on the Response button in Acarda Outbound Agent, also the order the response is listed in in the Dial Card drop down list. Note you do not need to have a disposition for the call backs as call backs must be set via the Call Back button, not the Response button. Also do not have a disposition for “Do Not Call” as you must use the Do Not Call button instead.

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Figure 4: The Support Tables screen.

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How does Acarda Outbound stand up to the 2015 FCC Order on Autodialers (Part 3)?

This third and final blog on the subject of how well Acarda Outbound stands up to the 2015 FCC Order on Autodialers. The June 18, 2015, FCC Declaratory Rule and Order, GCC-15-72A1, can be read here. In particular this blog will look at paragraph 17 and 18. You should seek your own legal counsel for an interpretation of this ruling however the following questions and answers may be helpful. For other questions please see the first blog here and or the second blog here.

Q6. Can Acarda Outbound “dial numbers without human intervention”?

A6. Paragraph 17 reads that “the Commission has also long held that the basic functions of an autodialer are to ‘dial numbers without human intervention’ and this further strengthens the case that Acarda Outbound is not an autodialer. Acarda Outbound’s primary design purpose is to help live agents make more productive calls. Acarda Outbound cannot function as an autodialer and must have a real person to initiate each and every call that is made.

Q7. Does Acarda Outbound have the “capacity” to become an autodialer?

A7. Unless an agent presses a button in the Acarda Outbound toolbar the agent will never place a dial out. The Acarda Outbound Server cannot push out a lead to an agent unless the agent first clicks a button to seek the next record. This process is fundamental to the design of the software. Even with requested call backs, they do not just appear in the agent screen unless the agent clicks a button for the next call. When they do so the server looks for pre-scheduled call backs and if there is one for that agent it will be sent to the agent otherwise it will send a new record to call. It is not technically feasible to modify the agent software to become an autodialer without re-designing the entire lead management system to function as an autodialer and then you would have an entirely different product. Further, the dialing interfaces, usually 3rd-party softphones or hardware modems, are not sophisticated enough to return the call progress analysis that would be required for autodialer functionality, the dialing interfaces do not have the capacity to be autodialers.

Q8. What about other outbound calling products?

A8. It has always been our intention to keep Acarda Outbound‘s strength on call management with the aim to have it speed-dial out with simple telephony hardware or software to avoid needing sophisticated and expensive dialing hardware. Most the competing products, that we are aware of, use sophisticated telephony hardware and software to make calls and the majority offer power or predictive dialing autodialer functionally. For our competitors it is not a question of having the capacity to become an autodialer as they are autodialer products already and their marketing material clearly states this. There are very few outbound calling products on the market that only provide a speed dialing capacity. Acarda Outbound is the safest option as it is in no way an autodialer and does not have an autodialer capacity.

Please note, this blog is provided for informational purposes only and is not legal advice, nor is it a substitute for obtaining legal advice from an attorney. For more details on Acarda Outbound please see http://www.acarda.com/telemarketing-software-team.html. You can download an Acarda Outbound trial via http://www.acarda.com/downloads.html

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How does Acarda Outbound stand up to the 2015 FCC Order on Autodialers (Part 2)?

This second of three blogs that look at how well Acarda Outbound stands up to the 2015 FCC Order on Autodialers. The June 18, 2015, FCC Declaratory Rule and Order, GCC-15-72A1, can be read here. In particular this blog will look at paragraph 17 and 18. You should seek your own legal counsel for an interpretation of this ruling however the following questions and answers may be helpful. For other questions please see the first blog posted at here.

Q3. What is a speed-dialer?

A3. Many telephones will have the ability to program in a telephone number for a numerical key on the telephone allowing the caller to speed dial by clicking the pre-assigned key to dial out. Also, many softphone products allow you to speed dial out a number from a contact directory by simply clicking one key. A speed dialer is equipment, hardware or software, which allows the user to quickly dial out a telephone number without needing to dial the individual digits of the telephone number directly.

Q4. Is speed-dialing permitted?

A4 Paragraph 17 refers to the 1992 TCPA Order, 7 FCC Rcd at 8776, paragraph 47 which reads “prohibitions of [section] 227(b)(1) clearly do not apply to functions like ‘speed dialing.’” This suggests that while autodialers are prohibited, speed-dialers that dial out one number at a time are permitted.

Q5. Is Acarda Outbound a speed-dailer?

A5. The dialing function in the Acarda Outbound Agent is a minor part of Acarda Outbound’s feature set. In the agent software a dial out is initiated when the agent clicks the appropriate button in their toolbar and then it only dials out a single telephone number. Once dialed, the agent must determine the call outcome and select to call it back if it is engaged or no answer or have a conversation and then make notes on the call.

Please note, this blog is provided for informational purposes only and is not legal advice, nor is it a substitute for obtaining legal advice from an attorney. For more details on Acarda Outbound please see http://www.acarda.com/telemarketing-software-team.html. You can download an Acarda Outbound trial via http://www.acarda.com/downloads.html

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How does Acarda Outbound stand up to the 2015 FCC Order on Autodialers (Part 1)?

This is the first of three blogs that look at how well Acarda Outbound stands up to the 2015 FCC Order on Autodialers. The June 18, 2015, FCC Declaratory Rule and Order, GCC-15-72A1, can be read here. In particular this blog will look at paragraph 17 and 18. You should seek your own legal counsel for an interpretation of this ruling however the following questions and answers may be helpful.

Q1. What is an autodialer?

A1. There are several types of autodialers. An autodialer that randomly or sequentially dials a list of numbers to deliver a pre-recorded message to the recipient is referred to as a voice broadcasting autodialer, or a robocalling autodialer. This is a fully automated process without human intervention unless the called person was given the option to be transferred to a live person.

In some call centers a power dialer is used to dial ahead and find people for an agent to speak with. These autodialers wait until an agent is available and then dial out on multiple lines to find another person. More sophisticated autodialers, called predictive dialers, will start dialing even before an agent is ready and they use realtime analysis to determine when to start dialing and how many lines to dial out on in order to minimize the time an agent needs to wait for a new contact to speak with at the end of their current call.

Unfortunately the FCC order does not “address the exact contours of the ‘autodialer’ definition or seek to determine comprehensively each type of equipment that falls within that definition” (para. 17.); rather, they leave the question open ended to be determined on a case-by-case basis. You may like to read up further on what an autodialer is at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Auto_dialer

Q2. Is Acarda Outbound an autodialer?

A2. Acarda Outbound has no predictive dialer ability and should not be considered to be an autodialer. It functions as a Call Manager where agents can make notes on each call and record call outcomes. The Acarda Outbound Agent displays contact details like a Contact Management System and then when the agent clicks a button the telephone number is speed-dialed in a similar way to the speed-dialer capability of a memory dial desktop telephone.

Please note, this blog is provided for informational purposes only and is not legal advice, nor is it a substitute for obtaining legal advice from an attorney. For more details on Acarda Outbound please see http://www.acarda.com/telemarketing-software-team.html. You can download an Acarda Outbound trial via http://www.acarda.com/downloads.html

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Is Acarda Outbound an autodialer?

There is a lot of confusion over what an autodialer is, and particularly in the United States, with the FCC and TCPA definitions thrown in the mix; the term autodialer could include an even broader range of equipment and devices.

Traditionally, the function of an autodialer was to automatically phone through a list of numbers and play a recorded message to the recipient. No live agents or telemarketers were necessary with this sort of autodialer. In comparison, live agents in a call center making outbound calls may use a progressive dialer, also known as a power dialer, or a preview dialer. Here the next lead is not dialed until an agent is available and usually the contact details would also be displayed on the agent screen so the agent can preview the information while it is being called.

The most sophisticated type of dialer is the predictive dialer which statistically calculates when the next agent will want a call and then it dials out, ahead of time, on multiple lines in an effort to reach someone. When someone does answer the call they are then transferred to the next available agent. These devices are often combined with the ability to distinguish between a live person and a voice mail system and then on the occasions when they reach a voice mail system they can leave a pre-recorded message. In this way they have a semi-autodialer function built into them. Although this yields great productivity it has the negative aspect of potentially reaching people when there are no agents available, in which case the dialer usually drops the call, effectively hanging up on the called person. They are also the most complicated of dialers and need an operator who is technically skilled and has a good understanding of the rules and regulations that govern the use of this sort of technology.

We have been working with telephony equipment for some 15 years and over this time we have had many requests to develop a predictive dialer or to add this sort of functionality to Acarda Outbound, and its predecessor, TeamMax. In the current regulatory atmosphere, we are thankful we never went down this path. Now-a-days, predictive dialers are likely to land you in a lot of trouble if not strictly used within the regulations.

Acarda Outbound has no predictive dialer ability and is not an autodialer. Rather it functions as a call manager with the Acarda Outbound Agent software acting more precisely as speed-dialer in a similar way to the speed-dialer capability of your memory dial handset telephones.

Further, Acarda Outbound does not dial the telephone number itself but rather relies on another application or device to dial the number. For example, when using a softphone such as Zoiper or Skype, Acarda Outbound tells the softphone, “dial this telephone number”, then the softphone dials the number. Acarda Outbound cannot automatically work through a list without human interaction and call people any more than your deskphone can start dialing a list of numbers without you pressing buttons on the deskphone.

Acarda Outbound has a preview and a demand dialing mode however in both cases you must click a button to initial a dial out to the telephone number and that dial out functions like a speed-dialer (or click-to-dial) not an autodialer.

Please note, this blog is provided for informational purposes only and is not legal advice, nor is it a substitute for obtaining legal advice from an attorney. For more details on Acarda Outbound please see http://www.acarda.com/telemarketing-software-team.html. You can download an Acarda Outbound trial via http://www.acarda.com/downloads.html

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