J.C. Christensen & Associates: The Case for Predictive Dialers

A highly effective third-party debt collector since 1977, J.C. Christensen & Associates, Inc., gives clients the opportunity to determine how their portfolios are managed, and employs multiple strategies to give consumers as much flexibility as possible.

Predictive telephone dialers have revolutionized the direct marketing and collections industries, nearly eliminating unproductive time lost to dialing, waiting for an answer, and abandoning unanswered calls. Before predictive dialing, the traditional approach was to dial a single number when an agent was available, and then wait for an answer, dropping the call after a predetermined number of rings and dialing another number. With this approach, agents were typically kept active, talking on the phone, only about 30 minutes or less out of every hour. Predictive dialing has been shown to be capable of increasing this figure to 57 minutes out of every hour.

Predictive dialing works by using algorithms created from the data collected using the traditional model, and setting those algorithms to control the dialing through a central computer. For example, if the data suggest that out of every three calls dialed, only one will answer, then the algorithm places three calls at a time for every available agent, and drops unanswered calls after a certain number of rings. If more than one call is answered, it is routed to another available agent. Likewise, if the statistics show that on average, an agent’s phone conversation will take about 120 seconds, and it takes about ten seconds for a client to answer the phone, then the computer might be programmed to start dialing when an agent has been connected for 100 – 110 seconds.

The algorithms have improved over the years, and the chances of a client answering the call and not being met with a live agent have declined accordingly. Nevertheless, the law provides that if no agent is available within 2 seconds of a client answering the phone, the call is considered abandoned and the dialer must play a recorded message. Predictive dialers in the US may only abandon less than 3% of answered calls.

The automatic dialing and prerecorded messages provisions of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) regulate parties who use automatic dialers, predictive dialers or prerecorded messages. The TCPA provides additional restrictions regarding the use of autodialers and prerecorded messages to call a consumer’s cellular telephone. The TCPA prohibits a person from making “any call using any automatic telephone dialing system or an artificial or prerecorded voice” to any wireless telephone number unless the call is made for an emergency purpose or the call is made with the prior express consent of the called party. A 2008 Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Ruling clarified a consumer who gives prior express consent to the creditor, similarly gives such consent to the debt collector calling on behalf of the creditor. If the underlying application, contract or other form provides a creditor with consent to contact a consumer’s wireless number, this consent applies to the collector.

J.C. Christensen & Associates is responsible for keeping abreast of all changes to U.S. laws and regulations governing the collection of delinquent debt and for ensuring that any changes are reflected in its operations.

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