Behind the lines: Automated call technology’s busy season

How Low Delivery Rate Carriers Work

Carrier equipment costs have declined rapidly for years because virtually all third tier carriers have few real subscribers in the traditional sense.  There are plenty of access ports – the ports that third tier carriers sell to their customers – to provide to automated call vendors.

Most third tier carriers focus on niche consumer markets. For example, many specialize in calling card services; the types of cards you see in kiosks and convenience stores advertising low rates to foreign countries.

The third tier carrier minimizes their connections through their switches to the long distance networks and into consumer homes. This way they don’t have to pay for these connections, and keep their costs to a minimum.  They need just enough ports to keep their niche customer, the individual using a calling card to place international calls, reasonably happy.

They buy access to the long distance networks knowing that if they are unable to complete a call for one of their calling-card customers, it's really not lost business to the carrier.  Their customer is using a calling card that generally only works with their service, and they know their customer will simply try the call again later.

How Low Delivery Rate Vendors Operate

A call vendor can request and receive 100-10,000 ports without issue.  They are seemingly unlimited, inexpensive and sitting idle on most third tier carrier switches.  It is a great deal until you begin to look at the penetration or return reports.

When an automated call provider loads the third tier carrier's switch with 30-second calls, the carrier returns the same busy signal for the same reason that they return to their calling card customer, but on a much larger scale.

The automated call vendor and their client don’t have the luxury of repeated call attempts; they are calling with a time-sensitive message that must be delivered within a tight time frame in order to be effective.  Repeated calling attempts alienates recipients, and can hurt the client’s integrity with the recipient as well.

Having greater calling capacity is particularly important when you are trying to make hundreds of thousands of calls at the time.

Without the top priority of a tier one provider, the client ends up with penetration rates of 30 or 40 percent, or worse yet, paying for calls that simply cannot be completed in the required time frame.

Solution To Low Delivery Rates

In my experience, political phone calls are the most unaudited components in any campaign.  Many of the vendors who sell these services don’t own equipment and are therefore hostage to others to provide call monitoring and accurate reporting.  Even then, few organizations actually ask for the results, or even seed the lists with phone numbers to see if the calls were made.  Many just assume that everyone on the calling list was reached which is rarely the case.

Too cheap to be true is a good rule of thumb to go by when purchasing automated calls.  That is why you need to find suppliers that provide you with the results for each number dialed so you can verify the message delivery and see which contacts were unable to be reached.

Tom Stock is president of Auto Call LLC and has more than 30 years of experience in the telecommunications services industry, including network engineering for long distance carriers.