Where is my money, man !? or "No answer" - pay

On a hub there are few articles devoted to setup of equipment from Avaya, one of the most popular telephony vendors in the corporate sector. My colleague Viktor Golubev vagolubev decided to correct this injustice. In the absence of an invite from him, I publish an article from myself.

Recently, automatic outbound dialing systems have become an integral part of the banking business. With proper operation of the system, its advantages are obvious - operators work only with “good” calls in non stop mode, and the lion's share of “bad” calls “NO ANSWER” remains behind the scenes ... but not when paying bills!
Let's figure out what we pay for and how to optimize company costs.

So, “NO ANSWER” ...
We pick up the phone, dial the number, then listen to the long beeps or a piece of fashionable music that our correspondent’s mobile operator helpsfully broadcast to us, desperately taking care that we don’t get bored even in these inevitable technological seconds ...
... we listen, we listen ... and we make a decision that, most likely, no one will answer us, and put the phone down - “NO ANSWER”.
The usual story. And we are calm, because we know that for such an unanswered call no one will charge us.

Speaking in the language of the telephone network, payment is supposed to be taken only if the called subscriber has picked up the phone (CONNECT message has passed through the network alarm).
With regular calls, this happens. But we are now talking about automatic outgoing call systems, in particular, AVAYA PROACTIVE CONTACT (we often call it PDS in the old way). I must admit, this version of the name says more about what functions such a system performs: Predictive Dialing System - “calling system with forecasting”).

Actually, the key question for which this article was launched:
Will calls with a NO ANSWER event always be free for us when calling from PDS?
And the answer to it:
No! Not always!

Let's take a look at this process as an example of a normally completed conversation between two subscribers, one of which will be our PDS (calling party), the other is the client (called party).

With thin black arrows I show messages flying through the signaling channel, but not all, but only those that indicate some fundamental events in a telephone conversation (we omit any technological messages such as “confirmation of receipt”, etc.). But the wide color arrows show what is happening in the voice channel. We look at this chain of events:
Event One:PDS sends the message “SETUP” to the signaling channel, that is, a request to connect to our client number. In response, several confirming and clarifying messages come, we will not consider them. But after this from the called party comes one more.
Event Two: The called party sends an ALERTING message. This message means that the call has been delivered to the client and that his mobile or landline telephone is ringing. We know this because when our correspondent rings the phone, we hear long beeps in our handset (in English - RINGBACK, in Russian - KPV), which are transmitted via the voice channel.
Event Three:Customer picks up the phone. The called party sends us a “CONNECT” message, which for all network nodes means that it is time to open a conversational channel at both ends and that billing starts from that moment. Then the subscribers talk, then one of them ends the call, and the final event occurs.
The fourth event: the alarm sends the message "DISCONNECT" ("hang up"), voice resources are freed, and billing is stopped.

Bottom line - the client and the agent talked, at the end of the conversation, the agent selects the result code in the system. Usually this is a code from 100 and above, the codes are configured in the system in advance according to the layout of the expected results. If the conversation did not happen due to “NO ANSWER”, the system itself, without human intervention, would automatically put a result code in the range 1–99 (for “NO ANSWER” it is code 15).

Consider a situation where instead of a client, his home answering machine answers.

Everything is as usual: a call, a RINGBACK, a pick-up, but only instead of a human voice we hear a greeting from an answering machine.
PDS can distinguish the voice of a living person from the greeting of an answering machine, from a fax machine and a modem. We can even make it so that if an answering machine is recognized, PDS will automatically say a specially prepared audio message to it.

And finally, the saddest situation for PDS is that our call hits the client’s voicemail!

Each of us has heard cellular network messages such as:
“At present, the subscriber cannot answer your call. Leave a message after the beep ”
“ The called party is not available or is out of range of the network. Leave a message after the beep »
This is the very VOICEMAIL, a popular cellular network service. From the point of view of a normal person, it all looks exactly like a regular answering machine, but from the point of view of a telephone alarm, everything is a little different there. The fact is that in the case of VOICEMAIL, the invitation “GREETING” sounds in the voice channel before the event “CONNECT”, i.e. before picking up the handset. Then the receiver is picked up and the caller is able to send the message to the answering machine. This service is popular because the caller has the opportunity to listen to the invitation and refuse further actions before the handset is picked up, that is, before the money starts to be charged. It is correct.

But what do poor PDS do? After all, he starts analyzing the voice only when he receives a “CONNECT” signal, and in the case of VOICEMAIL, the entire phrase that can be used to identify the answering machine skips to the “CONNECT” event, and after the “CONNECT” event there is simply dead silence in the voice channel - VOICEMAIL waits for they will begin to slander the message into it. The perplexed PDS listens for silence and a minute later it automatically puts code 15 - “NO ANSWER”. As you can see, this “NO ANSWER” is no longer free for us - the handset was off-hook and we had to pay for one minute of a conversation that wasn’t !!! So, we have a situation that is marked by the system as “NO ANSWER”, but we are forced to pay for these calls!

What are the losses? We made rough estimates on the systems of our bank.
Now the proportion of such calls reaches 10-12%, that is, a campaign served by about 30 agents and making just over 30,000 calls per 8-hour shift spends about 3,000 paid minutes on such silent VOICEMAIL calls. Apart from those cases when the client, having picked up the phone, is silent intentionally (this happens, and often). You can draw conclusions about your household yourself: the losses are small, but you can’t call them negligible either!

Now about whether it is possible to deal with it somehow. On the one hand, you can reconfigure the voice analysis system so that it begins to analyze the voice channel before the “CONNECT” signal arrives. But in this case, we stumble upon another wonderful service of the cellular network - “GOODOK”, that is, music instead of long beeps (Avaya uses the term “COLORED RINGTONES” for this).
The PDS analyzer will recognize such music as an answering machine, and again we will have unnecessary costs. The next question: why, in fact, PDS listens to silence for so long, one minute? Indeed, in many documents of the vendor it is written that this episode should take only 10 seconds, and in others - 30 seconds and so on. The interval of 60 seconds was determined empirically. There is an assumption that such a change was made to the settings of almost all Russian systems in 2008, when it was necessary to solve the problem with the GOODOK service.
“Is there anything you can do about this?” - we asked Harry Richardson, a well-known specialist and Avaya Proactive Contact trainer. We will talk about what he answered and how we took advantage of this a little later.

In the meantime, we describe the means of dealing with this problem that we have used in the bank so far. It turns out that a long time ago in PDS there is a silence recognition function: you just need to include the line SILENCE_DETECTION: YES in master.cfg, and then if the channel is silent for longer than 3.5 seconds, PDS transfers such a call to the agent. In our opinion, this is also not a very elegant solution - the agent will still have to spend 5-10 seconds to figure out what's what. I must say that distracting agents to such useless contacts also indirectly means lowering the quality of our system: this worsens the statistical parameters that the system uses in its predictive algorithm. But still, this is not a pointlessly paid minute on every third or even every second answered call.

Now about what Harry answered.
He sees no difficulty in rearranging the so-called Second Stage Timer for less than 60 seconds:
“... I see no problem with setting the second stage of the outpulse rule to 7 to 10 seconds. In my opinion, 60 seconds is way too long. If the called party hasn't said "Hello" within 7 to 10 seconds, they probably aren't going to "
... which we did. Using his information, we rearranged the corresponding timers, now episodes with silence take us only 6 seconds.

It is done like this:
Entering the PG230 management interface,

we go to the item “Database Administration Menu”;

Further in the "Outpulse Rules", we move to the page where RULE # 13 is configured

Let us explain:
In the case of outgoing lines with ISDN signaling, RULE # 13 rule is applied if the strategy settings have been assigned to wait for a response within 3 beeps (Number of Rings - 3)

If the subscriber does not answer, the system will wait for not 3 beeps, as follows from what was written, and 24 seconds, as written in the parameter in the second line of RULE # 13 - "TIMESUP 24". For the case of “Number of Rings - 4”, the rule RULE # 14 (30 seconds) applies, then, respectively:
... “Number of Rings - 5” - RULE # 15;
... "Number of Rings - 6" - RULE # 16;
... "Number of Rings - 7" - RULE # 17;
... "Number of Rings - 8" and further - always RULE # 17.

The parameter “TIMESUP 60” in the fourth line is the very “Second Stage Timer”, i.e. second stage timer - waiting for voice recognition, which starts after the message "CONNECT". As you can see, the timer is set to 60 seconds. We need to reconfigure it for 6 seconds. And you need to do this in RULE # 13, RULE # 14, RULE # 15, RULE # 16 and RULE # 17,
to get the following picture

Now for situations when they are silent on the line, we have a choice:
- or after 6 seconds (paid, unfortunately) automatically put the code “NO ANSWER”;
- or, as suggested above, use the SILENCE_DETECTION function. It seems that this option is worse: it seems like the same paid for 5-8 seconds, but at the same time we should involve our agent in the proceedings, that is, to incur additional costs. Agent replicas, on the other hand, can sometimes still prompt a silent client to enter into dialogue.

How likely it is, it is up to you, colleagues, to decide according to your business situation. In any case, we now have a choice!

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