Dialer

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A dialer (American English) or dialler (British English) is an electronic device that is connected to a telephone line to monitor the dialed numbers and alter them to seamlessly provide services that otherwise require lengthy access codes to be dialed. A dialer automatically inserts and modifies the numbers depending on the time of day, country or area code dialed, allowing the user to subscribe to the service providers who offer the best rates. For example, a dialer could be programmed to use one service provider for international calls and another for cellular calls. This process is known as prefix insertion or least cost routing. A line powered dialer does not need any external power but instead takes the power it needs from the telephone line.

Another type of dialer is a computer program which creates a connection to the Internet or another computer network over the analog telephone or Integrated Services Digital Network (ISDN) network. Many operating systems already contain such a program for connections through the Point-to-Point Protocol (PPP).

Many internet service providers offer installation CDs to simplify the process of setting up a proper Internet connection. They either create an entry in the OS's dialer or install a separate dialer (as the AOL software does).

In recent years, the term "dialer" often refers specifically to dialers that connect without the user's full knowledge as to cost, with the creator of the dialer intending to commit fraud.

Dialing modes[edit]

In Call Centers there are several dialling modes depending on how the call is placed. 'Manual Dialing' refers to calls that are placed manually by an agent.

There are 4 different dialing modes depending on how software dialers selects the contacts that are going to be called and starts making the calls. Automated dialers such as GreenlightCRM, VOCALCOM Hermes, Voicent, Ultra Communications, Noble Systems, Altitude Software Dialer, Avaya, Aspect, Infomaster, ViciDial, EasyCall, InsideSales.com or the Mojo Dialer can place calls using *preview*, *power*, auto dialing, or predictive dialing. The dialing modes are defined according to the campaign and type of business.

Preview[edit]

Preview dialing enables agents to first view the available information about the customer and decide when to place the call. In addition to the information about the customer, agents may also view all the history of the customer with the contact center. After viewing the information about the customer, the agent requests the system to make the call.

For example, preview dialing is useful in debt collection campaigns to allow agents to view information about the customer and define a strategy before starting to talk to the customer. The system delivers preview calls to agents automatically, taking into account the priority of the call and the skills of the agent to handle the call. Preview dialing keeps agents from dialing calls manually.

Power[edit]

Power dialing places calls only when an agent is available to handle the call. Automated dialers consider the priority and the skills of the agent to automatically place a call to the agent. In power dialing, an agent is always available to talk to the customer.

Power dialing is suitable for all campaigns, from customer care follow-up calls to telemarketing. For example, power dialing is useful to call predictive dialing contacts that resulted in nuisance to ensure that an agent is available to talk to the customer. A 2012 research study conducted by The Bridge Group, Inc. discovered that while inside sales jobs and career demand is up 54 percent, most sales leverage comes with power dialer software.[1]

Predictive[edit]

Predictive dialing is a state-of-the-art pacing mode used to call a large number of customers within a short period of time. Predictive dialing optimizes the time of agents by reducing the idle times between connected calls and freeing agents from dialing calls. Predictive dialing gathers statistics concerning the duration of calls, how long it takes for calls to be answered, and how often are calls answered. When an agent is about to become idle, The system places several calls.

Predictive dialing campaigns can achieve agent productivity of 50 minutes per hour and nuisance ratios of 3% or less. The system is continually updating predictive dialing probabilities and monitoring nuisance ratios for performance and compliance with legislation. For example, predictive dialing is useful in sales campaigns to call a large number of contacts and maximizing the working time of agents.

The performance of predictive dialing takes into consideration the accuracy of the contact lists and the policies on nuisance calls. If the contact list is poor, the performance of the predictive dialing campaign is at risk as agents are not connected to live contacts and are not able to do business.

Power IVR[edit]

Power IVR is used to deliver a pre-recorded message to a large call list. When a call is answered, Power IVR will play the audio file, and then collect touch tone key responses or speech command at the end of the message, and then transfer the call to an agent or remove the caller from the call list.

Voice Drop[edit]

Voice drop is same as Power IVR, except it will not wait for the touch tone key responses or speech command at the end of the message, after playing the message, call is dropped, mostly this is used for payment reminders and similar.

Guidelines for choosing the dialing mode[edit]

The most suitable pacing mode for each campaign depends of a variety of factors, such as the business policies of the campaign, human resources, contact data, expected duration of calls, volume of calls, and so on. Altitude uCI allows contact center operations to change the pacing mode of the campaign as required. The contact center can run outbound campaigns in power dialing and change to predictive dialing at peak times. For example, run the campaign in power dialing in the morning with 4 agents and in predictive dialing in the evening with 15 agents. The table below displays the advantages and disadvantages of each dialing mode and in what campaigns should each one be used.

Dialing mode Pros Cons Use in
Preview •Improved results because agents know all the available information about customers and history of the customer with the contact center.
•Automatic distribution of contacts.
•Toll on performance •Campaigns that require agents to prepare the conversation before talking to customers, such as debt-collection campaigns.
Power •Good performance
•An agent is always available to talk to a customer.
•More contacts per agent.
•Agents have some idle time between contacts. •In all types of campaigns from customer care follow-up calls to telemarketing.
Predictive •Excellent performance.
•The highest number of contacts per agent.
• Shorter agent idle times.
•Must observe compliance with legislation.
*Optimum results require a higher number of agents.
•Campaigns where performance is critical, such as first debt-collection attempts or telemarketing.
• Campaigns that have short calls.
•Campaigns that have small variations in talk time.
•Campaigns with short and simple scripts, such as short surveys.
Power IVR •Deliver large amount of calls automatically.
•Agent only talk to prospects who are interested.
•Some states do not allow auto dialing for sales activities •Political campaigns.
•Service reminders.
•Emergency notifications.

Fraudulent dialer[edit]

Dialers are necessary to connect to the internet (at least for non-broadband connections), but some dialers are designed to connect to premium-rate numbers. The providers of such dialers often search for security holes in the operating system installed on the user's computer and use them to set the computer up to dial up through their number, so as to make money from the calls. Alternatively, some dialers inform the user what it is that they are doing, with the promise of special content, accessible only via the special number. Examples of this content include software for download, (usually illegal) trojans posing as MP3s, trojans posing as pornography, or 'underground' programs such as cracks and keygens.

The cost of setting up such a service is relatively low, amounting to a few thousand dollars for telecommunications equipment, whereupon the unscrupulous operator will typically take 90% of the cost of a premium rate call, with very few overheads of their own.

Users with DSLs (or similar broadband connections) are usually not affected. A dialer can be downloaded and installed, but dialing in is not possible as there are no regular phone numbers in the DSL network and users will not typically have their dial-up modem, if any, connected to a phone line. However, if an ISDN adapter or additional analog modem is installed, the dialer might still be able to get a connection.

Malicious dialers can be identified by the following characteristics:[citation needed]

  • A download popup opens when opening a website.
  • On the website there is only a small hint, if any, about the price.
  • The download starts even if the cancel button has been clicked.
  • The dialer installs as default connection without any notice.
  • The dialer creates unwanted connections by itself and without user interaction.
  • The dialer does not show any notice about the price (only few do) before dialing in.
  • The high price of the connection is not being shown while connected
  • The dialer cannot be uninstalled, or only with serious effort.

Installation routes[edit]

Computers running Microsoft Windows without anti-virus software or proper updates could be vulnerable to Visual Basic-scripts which install a trojan horse which changes values in the Windows Registry and sets Internet Explorer security settings in a way that ActiveX controls can be downloaded from the Internet without warning. After this change is made, when a user accesses a malicious page or email message, it can start installing the dialer. The script also disables the modem speaker and messages that normally come up while dialing into a network. Users of Microsoft Office Outlook, Outlook Express and Internet Explorer are especially affected if running ActiveX controls and JavaScript is allowed and the latest security patches from Microsoft have not been installed. In March 2004, there were malicious dialers that could be installed through fake anti-virus software[citation needed]. E-mail spam from a so-called "AntiVirus Team" for example, contained download links to programs named "downloadtool.exe" or "antivirus.exe", which are malicious dialers. Other ways of transmission include electronic greeting cards that link to pages that tricks the user to install ActiveX controls, which in turn install dialers in the background.

Therefore links in spam emails should never be opened, automatically started downloads should be canceled as soon as discovered, and one should check on each dial-up to the Internet to see whether the displayed phone number is unchanged. Another way to protect oneself is to disable premium numbers through one's phone services, but of course this disables all such services.

One should never run foreign code in a privileged environment unless the source is trustworthy. It is also advisable to protect oneself with anti-malware programs.

German regulatory law[edit]

On 15 August 2003, a new law came into effect in Germany called "Gesetz zur Bekämpfung des Missbrauchs von (0)190er/(0)900er Mehrwertdiensterufnummern" ("Law for the combat of misuse of (0)190/(0)900 value added service numbers").

The law contains the following regulations:

  • Forced price notices for service providers.
  • Maximum price limits, legitimacy checks and automatic disconnects.
  • Registration of dialers.
  • Blocking of dialers.
  • Right of information for consumers from the RegTP.

On 4 March 2004 the German Federal Supreme Court in Karlsruhe decided that fees for the usage of dialers do not have to be paid if it was used without the user's knowledge.

See also[edit]

References[edit]