Contact Rate vs Connection Rate. What’s the difference, and why does it matter for your outbound call center?
Whether you’re a call center manager, owner, admin, or analyst, you may be using the terms “contact rate” and “connection rate” interchangeably. Many people do. However, they are different metrics impacting ROI.
So, what is contact rate and what is connection rate? We’ll look at how they differ, how to calculate contact rate and connection rate, and why it matters.
In this article, we’ll talk about 4 key ways to improve connection and contact rates:
- Dial Time-out Adjustment
- Dial Level Scheduling
- Carrier Quality Monitoring and Management
- Tools to Boost Contact Rates
Defining Connection Rate vs Contact Rate (and the formulas to calculate both)
Connection rate and contact rate have distinct purposes, and are among numerous metrics KPIs for outbound call center profitability. A connection is when a call is answered, and a contact is when you reach an actual person. So a connection could mean you reached a voicemail or someone hit the green button and immediately hung up, but if you reach a live person who is talking to you, you have a contact. Of course, both are major factors impacting lead conversion rate. And when it comes down to it, conversion rate is what matters.
What is Contact Rate?
Contact rate for an outbound call center is a list level metric, and is the key to understanding the quality of the lead list. To determine the rate, we divide the number of live person contacts by the total leads on the list. For example, using this contact rate formula: 20 people pick up the call / 200 leads = a contact rate of 10%.
What is Connection Rate?
Connection rate for an outbound call center gives a daily snapshot of the number of calls placed on a given day to leads. To determine the rate, we divide the calls answered [including voicemails] by the total calls placed. For example, 25 calls answered / 100 calls dialed = a connection rate of 25%.
In a nutshell, connection rate tells us the efficiency of the leads, and is short term. Contact rate tells us about the quality of the leads. Over time, connection rate contributes to contact rate.
Strategies for Improving Connection and Contact Rates
1. Dial Time-Out Adjustment
What is the ideal number of rings to allow before moving on to the next call? As any call center admin or manager knows, finding this sweet spot is the trick of trial and error. The FCC requires a minimum of 4 rings or 15 seconds. From this threshold, if you set the time-out too high, you get too many voicemails (money wasted on telco minutes!). Of course, if you set the dial time-out too low, you may lose the call, because you haven’t given the recipient enough time to answer.
Tweaking the number of rings in smaller increments is often the key. If your dialer doesn’t let you adjust the dial time-out by a half ring, you are at a disadvantage.
“Sometimes half a ring makes all the difference. Our customers control the dial time-out with one simple setting. They sometimes go back and forth until they land on the ultimate number, say 5.5 rings, and that turns out to completely change the Connection Rate.”
— Jen Knight, Convoso Senior Customer Success Manager
2. Dial Level Scheduling
The most effective scheduling tools positively impact both Connection and Contact Rate. They should automatically adapt hour-by-hour throughout the day, raising and lowering dial levels tailored to contacts’ schedules. Dial level scheduling sets a specific number of dial levels (aka lines) based on a pre-defined schedule. So, for example, at 10am it will use 3 dial levels, or at 5pm it will use 4 dial levels.
An additional scheduling tool is a follow-the-sun dialing tool that selects each lead at the time of day when they’ll be most responsive. The result will be more successful connections and a lower dropped call rate.
3. Carrier Quality Monitoring and Management
Call centers that don’t continuously monitor their Connection Rate are at risk of trying to run their business with broken dialers… without even knowing it.
“The fastest way to tell if your dialer is broken is to check the Connection Rate. If you see a sudden dip, you can tell within an hour or less that there’s a problem with the dialer. That’s why we’re proactive, and have a team monitoring each carrier’s connection rates, so if it goes down, we immediately take them out of the route until the issues are resolved. This way everything continues to function as normal, and the impact on our customers is minimized. We also only use solid, top quality telecom carriers.”
— Nima Hakimi, Convoso CEO & Co-Founder
If a call center has downtime due to a carrier issue, that’s costly. You’re not converting leads if no one is connecting.
4. Tools to Boost Contact Rates
With intuitive management tools, call centers can immediately improve dialing efficiency. Convoso predictive dialers incorporate proprietary algorithms that respond in real time during the calling process, and help to strategize, implement, and adapt a calling plan for your campaign. Together, they maximize connectivity, lower unanswered calls, and boost contact rates.
- Caller ID Reputation Management – Track and replace numbers are being blocked by carriers or flagged as a spam risk. This is an essential best practice to improve contact rates in today’s outbound dialing environment. Using local caller IDs may also encourage more customers to pick up your calls. Convoso registers your numbers with the major carriers which significantly reduces the likelihood of your numbers being flagged, and allows us to remove flags without having to replace numbers in most cases.
- Accurate Answering Machine Detection – This single tool can make a substantial difference to an outbound dialing campaign if it is fast and accurate. Detecting voicemails and adjusting for false positives or false negatives can make a huge impact on contact rates.
- Workflow Dialing – Define rules for how you want to call back, or recycle, your data. Build a custom cadence that schedules delays between calls by staggering intervals. The result is increased list penetration that boosts contact rates.
- Lead Follow-up Automations and Omnichannel Outreach – Use strategic methods of reaching leads in an automated cadence through multiple channels via well-timed text messages, emails, calls, and smart voicemail drops to communicate with prospects and advance the customer journey.
List Conversion Reports – Beyond Connection and Contact Rates
Improving connection rate and contact rate are essential for call center agents to convert more leads. However, we need to drill deeper if we want a true picture of ROI and profitability. The next step in this process is to analyze list conversion for efficiency.
A call center’s biggest expenses are payroll and data. Managing opportunity costs poses a perpetual challenge. You may have a great contact rate. However, if your agents have a high talk time on a list but they aren’t selling, then the profitability of those leads just took a nosedive.
Integrating data in real time with a List Conversion Report gives you the ability to determine what lists are creating true revenue. Convoso customers tell us these reports have been a game changer in maximizing lead efficiency. They note increased profitability, better resource management with a decreased need for staff, increased productivity, and cost savings.
Convoso provides the right technologies to help call center owners, managers, and admins meet and exceed their goals for lead conversion. Just ask our customers.
Learn more in a demo about how Convoso’s omnichannel contact center software can dramatically improve your Connection Rate and Contact Rate.