Too many calls, too often…

If your station has an increasing success, you may find yourself confronted with a rapidly rising volume of incoming phone calls which will require some attention.

From our experience, a 12 lines system both merging incoming and outgoing calls reaches its limit when there are really a great number of concurrent calls on an almost constant basis, as with any system. If your telephony systems has constantly 12 lines active, then please read what follows:

Two limits are reached:

  • a single call screener operator does reach its own human limit and necessarily increases the level of operator errors, because he handles numerous cases (dial out, dial in, storing topics etc.)
  • it puts a high load on the system that becomes a single point of failure, as every call is tied to the unit.

Comments & considerations:

  • The operator does not really need to “see” 10 lines ringing while he has 2 lines already screened and probably on air, because he would likely not do anything else than pick the lines which are not in red (suspicious numbers).
  • Compared to a setup where he is presented with the next ringing-in call on a single-line telephone set, the only advantage of seeing the 12 lines altogether is limited to showing who is recognized and who is not in parallel, instead of in series.
  • Also a normal, trained call screener can handle about 50 calls per hour. So if your shows generate a higher level of calls than that, you may want to consider increasing the number of call screeners to process this flow of incoming inputs.
  • A call screener’s job is to prepare and select callers and topics that are appropriate for the current show, in order to present a “finished product” to the Talents, while the show is running. It is not only a matter of dialing numbers and answering lines.
  • Topic is also to be limited to a few words so that it is concise for the Talents who are in the middle of a show “storm”, and cannot spend time to read 256 characters of text while they are talking to another caller, and watching news, etc.

One solution:

SEPARATE SYSTEMS FOR INCOMING AND OUTGOING CALLS, using the NeoScreener database in between.

NeoScreener has been designed in 2007 to also talk to TAPI (Windows Telephony API) and we currently have installs that do talk to standard PABX/IPBX such as Avaya or Matra/Lucent Technologies.

So for example at France Inter (Ch#1 in France), we have a call screeners room fitted with 4 positions, each tied to a single-line telephone set from their business-grade PABX, each member of a group that answers the queue behind the on air general number of the station. Each position has a NeoScreener that talks to its telephone set and this room is used EXCLUSIVELY to RECEIVE phone calls, identify callers and create call cards within the NeoScreener database.

Hence those units do not talk to the Telos device and the only link with the studio is made by the database.

Callers are systematically called back from the studio installations which are the standard Producer/Talent setup of NeoScreener. The producer browses the list of calls, and dials them back in a single touch, and another touch to show that to the Talents. Studio is ONLY FOR CALLBACK.

Hence the load on the 12 lines system is reduced, as it handles only dialed out, ready-to-be-used, or on air calls.

Call screening is done elsewhere, on a separate telephony system that can be scaled up or down (sometimes only 1 position is used in call screening, sometimes 4 positions join the group that is answering the incoming queue). We mean from the incoming queue, 1 to 4 positions can be set concurrently to answer the next incoming call on the station’s number. NeoScreener talks to the PABX via TAPI.

This whole setup is meant to be when you start receiving a lot of calls on a regular basis and you do not want to discard / unprocess the calls that are past the processing ability of a single call screener. Indeed if you are handling talk shows and generate a lot of input, your on air team will want to select calls from a larger base of processed incoming calls than just 50 per hour.

Conclusion:

More calls = More call screeners needed = Off-load of the hybrids system needed.