Outbound Calling – Past, Present And Future – Part 1

July, 2013

This blog looks at the regulations for predictive dialers in the UK and US have achieved and what lessons other countries can draw from them.

Those of you familiar with Sytel will know that starting in the 1990s we waged war on bad outbound dialing practices, especially in the UK and the US. We played a key role in working with both Direct Marketing Associations and government regulators in both countries to bring in controls to try and create an orderly market.

The first regulations for predictive dialers have now been in place for about a decade and have become a standard that other countries around the world look to, albeit that none have yet legislated in such detail as the UK and the US.

In our travels around the world, we come across a variety of different market conditions for predictive dialing and this has prompted us to rethink what the regulations have achieved and what lessons other countries can draw from them.

We are going to look at UK and US experiences both pre and post regulation. And we are going to consider just live calls, not robo calls.

If you cast your mind back to the late 1990s, in both the UK and the US, consumers were being deluged by silent calls and abandoned calls. It was not uncommon to receive up to ten unsolicited calls a day, but with only 1 or 2 of them being live calls – i.e. an agent being available to talk

Eventually, in both countries, the regulators asked the local Direct Marketing Associations to put codes of practice in place for predictive dialers. This happened but with no visible impact on the volumes of nuisance calls. This should have surprised no one. With no effective monitoring or penalties in place, there was no discernible change in behaviour from either members or non-members of these associations

Then post 2000, regulators in both countries got fed up, and under overwhelming pressure from consumers brought in strict rules for predictive dialers. The dialing rules were extremely tough and, even today, are simply a step too far for virtually all predictive dialer vendors, whose productivity (predictive gain) under compliance is very limited. Few dialer vendors will admit to this, but it does mean that users of their products are obliged to be either non-compliant, or accept substantial drops in productivity, compared with pre-compliant days.

But there was more to come. The Direct Marketing Associations in both countries had successfully argued for outbound activities to be opt out rather than opt in. Unsurprisingly, in view of the dialer excesses, consumers also now demanded the ability to opt out on a national scale, hence the introduction of Do Not Call systems in both countries. If outbound telemarketeers have any faults, it’s their rampant optimism that everyone should be willing to talk to them! So to begin with, there was little concern about the Do Not Call lists, in the belief that in spite of the huge numbers of nuisance calls that consumers had been subjected to, most would not sign up. Well, history tells us how wrong this was. In both countries, consumers signed up in the millions, and there is now hardly an A, B, or C consumer who isn’t on their country’s list.

Next month we are going to look at the consequences of these developments for call center behaviour.

What We Offer

Sytel Limited develops and supplies Softdial Contact Center® (SCC) - multimedia, multichannel, fully blended cloud contact center solutions.

Available by subscription as CCaaS, fully managed and supported by Sytel, or for quick and easy deployment by partners and enterprise users.

All Sytel cloud components are secure, resilient and scale seamlessly from 10 agents to 10,000+, whether local, mobile or remote.

Flexible Contact Center Software

Softdial Contact Center™ - rich functionality, all-in-one, designed to deliver at scale
  • Contact Center as a Service (CCaaS)

    CCaaS for subscribers - global service​, with no upfront costs

  • Contact Center Platform – CCaaS Partners

    Build your own CCaaS business using the power and flexibility of Sytel software

  • Contact Center Platform – Enterprise

    High performance platform to drive contact center productivity – cloud, on-premise or hybrid

Blended Media Desktop

Fully customisable, multi-channel, multi-session workspace

Work Anywhere

Browser-based tools, no software installation required

Customise, Localise, White Label

Design all user interfaces to individual requirements

Integration via APIs

‘Swap out’ components and integrate with 3rd party apps

World Class Development

Continuous evolution pushing technical boundaries


Softdial Contact Center™ (SCC) is designed to be flexible, extensible and scalable, integrating with any legacy equipment, and meeting the most complex of requirements.

All Media Channels

Voice, chat, email, social, etc - fully integrated and blended

Agent Multi-Tasking

Work with multiple live contact sessions of any media channel

Dynamic Workforce Management

Automated, ‘best available’ decisions to manage agents and balance work load, across all media channels

Predictive Dialing

Best-of-breed performance under compliance

Optimised Inbound Routing

Smart rules and 'best-available' decisions to drive great customer service

Agent Scripts

Help agents achieve and maintain excellence

Voice and Screen Recording

See and hear exactly how agents are interacting

Analytics and Data Feeds

Measure and evaluate performance at every level

IVR, Bots & Conversational AI

Design effective automated flows or integrate with 3rd party providers

Customer Journey Tracking

Stored customer contact history, to aid routing and add context to conversations


Drive operational efficiency, increase customer satisfaction & improve agent performance

Softdial One™

Highly flexible unified web UI for agents, supervisors and administrators

Softdial Scripter™

Create complex process flow scripts for agents, IVR, chatbots and other applications

Sytel AI Dialer™

Maximum predictive dialing performance, under any compliance rules

Softdial Pathfinder™

Precise routing rules for ‘best available’ connection

Softdial Media Server™

Core telephony functions to manage all inbound/outbound SIP calls

Softdial Reporter™ 5

Fully customisable performance stats, charts and reports, across all channels

Softdial Publisher™

Comprehensive data output to build your own reports

Softdial Recording Monitor™

Audio and screen recording of agent activity to ensure the highest standards

Softdial Campaign Manager™

Automation to optimise any outreach strategy

Softdial Repository™

Central storage and configuration of common resources

Sytel Global Compliance™

Flexible ‘no contact’ rules to protect contact center and consumer


Performance and efficiency for a wide range of business applications

By Business Type


A full featured contact center software solution, designed for optimum performance at scale

Small/ Medium Business

Options for SMBs to subscribe to our full-featured cloud service managed and hosted by either one of our partners or by Sytel themselves

By Industry

Customer Service

Connect quickly to well equipped agents

Market Research

Best-of-breed predictive dialing with CATI integration

Debt Collection

Automated inbound/ outbound blending integrated with any debt management app

Sales & Telemarketing

Maximise agent productivity with best-of-breed predictive dialing


Secure, highly-configurable multichannel communications for excellence in patient care