Newsletter Fourteen

Dear Reader,

Welcome to Issue 14 of Outbound Focus, a free email publication of Sytel Limited.

We’re back this issue with long-awaited details of changes to the UK DMA code of practice for outbound dialing. So how does the Strictest Code anywhere affect you? Read on.

And from the US, we present some cornerstones for maintaining a successful outbound call center. Not all of you (or us, for that matter) will agree with point (iv) of Tip of the Month below, but that’s democracy for you! Why not send us an email telling us what you think. We are happy to publish well-argued points of view.

Jamie Stewart

In This Issue

    UK DMA Reviews Code/ US Reviews Do-Not-Call System
    Four Tips for Outbound Success
    Got A Ticket?


New DMA Code Of Practice For The UK

After a lengthy process of review, which included vendors as well as members, the UK Direct Marketing Association (DMA) has come up with a revamp to its code of practice for outbound dialing, which becomes effective this spring.

This updated code will rank as the toughest in the world for consumer protection, whilst preserving the advantages that responsible predictive dialing can bring. We expect it to be a model that other countries can and will follow.

Changes from the existing code are:

  1. Hangups on Ringing Calls –
    The loophole of hangups on calls that are ringing (done sometimes when no agent is free to take a live call) has now been blocked. A minimum ring time of 15 seconds has been set (c.f. the US DMA of 12 seconds).
  2. Live Hangups –
    The hangup time for ‘live calls’ is confirmed at 1 second. If no agent is available within one second of a consumer’s phone going offhook, then the call must be abandoned. This is an affirmation of what is in the existing code, but probably comes with much more intent behind it this time. Sticking with one second is an indication that the growing practice of ‘silent calls’, which is still so prevalent in the US, will not be tolerated. This can be expected to have some knock-on effects for those customers who want to do answering machine detection.
  3. Abandoned Calls –
    It is now confirmed that abandoned calls are to be measured as a percentage of ‘live calls’, not ‘all calls’.

The Direct Marketing Authority will have responsibility for policing the updated code.

National Do-Not-Call System in the US

The US takes a step towards a national Do-Not-Call system with the publication of a review document by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) on the Telemarketing Sales Rule.
For the full text, click here (PDF format, 489 Kb).

A move to a national Do-Not-Call system has attractions for both consumers and businesses, but raises interesting questions such as the future of systems run by individual states. One good reason for having a national system is to reduce compliance overheads for call centers. However, first indications are that there are no plans at the moment to try and usurp the States’ Do-Not-Call systems and roll theirs into the national one. We can expect some pretty exciting debate on this point.

The FTC has scheduled a public hearing for June, and we can look forward to a very detailed assessment of all sides of the arguments.

Predictive and other forms of outbound dialing will also be in the spotlight as the FTC looks for ways of reducing the extent of nuisance calls experienced by US consumers.

Some commentators are suggesting that the FTC may seek to ban predictive dialing altogether. We think this is an unlikely outcome, and will be giving our reasons in detail in a later issue.

Click here for a reaction from the American Teleservices Association (ATA).

Expect detailed comment also from the US DMA.


Our tip(s) this issue comes from Rich Madzel, Executive Vice President of Custom Telemarketing Services. His wife founded the business in 1987, and now shops while he runs the daily operation.

Four Tips for Outbound Success

There are many specific points in successfully managing any business; hire the right people, treat them well, etc. We go past that in reviewing our company, which is a small outbound business-to-business telemarketing service agency.

We find there are four items that keep coming up which may work for you:

  1. Assign Responsibility –
    Make your senior callers responsible for account/client management and retention. It’s called ‘ownership’. As we get a new client, we turn them over to a Senior Account Manager who is tasked with
    • implementing the program
    • dealing with the client every day
    • making sure we have properly trained the callers
    • making sure we have lists of companies to call
    • making sure we get the leads back to our client in a timely manner
    • carrying out whatever we agreed to do.
  2. Scrap The Script –
    Do not prepare a script, and your callers will be forced to hold a business-like conversation. Give them a key-word outline, and get out of the way. They will be fine, or you hired the wrong person, or the program is too complex. Keep in mind that telemarketers are tasked with having many conversations at a relatively basic level, which is just the opposite of what a trained sales representative does; few conversations at a more complex level. Script reading is bad for the caller, and the person on the other end of the line really feels bad because they do not know their lines.
  3. Get The Right Person On The Phone –
    This can be the hardest part of telemarketing. The best way we know is for our caller to say”I hope you can help me. I’m trying to reach the person responsible for… “.Use a polite, professional tone of voice, and give them a chance to help you. Doesn’t work every time, but it sure does increase the probability better than any tricky approach like using someone’s first name.
  4. Get Paid In Advance For Your Service –
    Period. No exceptions. Even if you have to turn away the business. [Ed – Disagree? Send us an email.] It is actually better for the client to pay in advance, and you can explain it in business terms they understand. A service business is heavily weighted toward payroll expense (50%-70%), and you cannot afford to carry someone else’s payroll. If a client delays payment later, you spend time and energy chasing them rather than trying to successfully work the next program. You would have to charge a higher fee to account for those few clients who refuse to pay and take the “sue me” approach to business. Be in the service business, not the collections business.

Our thanks (and some Champagne!) go to Rich for sharing these insights.

Rich Madzel can be reached at or, (a fortunate web site address).

If you are a leading outbound specialist, why not enter the Champagne Challenge? Write for Outbound Focus, win a crate of Champagne! Just send us an email.


Got A Ticket?

We received this input from a call center manager, who understandably doesn’t want to be named.

Three inbound and three outbound agents are traveling by train to a conference. At the station, the three inbound agents each buy tickets and watch as the three outbound agents buy only a single ticket.

“How are three people going to travel on only one ticket?” asks an inbound agent.

“Watch and you’ll see,” answers an outbound agent.

They all board the train. The inbound agents take their respective seats but all three outbound agents cram into a rest room and close the door behind them.

Shortly after the train has departed, the conductor comes around collecting tickets. He knocks on the rest room door and says,

“Ticket, please.”

The door opens just a crack and a single arm emerges with a ticket in hand. The conductor takes it and moves on. The inbound agents saw this and agreed it was quite a clever idea.

So after the conference, the inbound agents decide to copy the outbound agents on the return trip and save some money. When they get to the station, they buy a single ticket for the return trip. To their astonishment, the outbound agents don’t buy a ticket at all.

“How are you going to travel without a ticket?” asks one perplexed inbound agent.

“Watch and you’ll see,” answers an outbound agent.

When they board the train the three inbound agents cram into a rest room and the three outbound agents cram into another one nearby. The train departs. Shortly afterward, one of the outbound agents leaves his rest room and walks over to the rest room where the inbound agents are hiding.

He knocks on the door and says,

“Ticket, please.”

Know any outbound anecdotes? Send us an email.

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