Adhearsion: Confirming Appointments

At PowerHRG, appointments initially made with a live person. This could be at an event, some retailer where we have an area set up, or an employee who knocks on doors. An appointment will get scheduled for a remodeling consultant to visit the homeowner. At the same time, we’ll also get any written permission we need in order to contact the homeowner. A confirmation email is sent as an appointment reminder. Remember, it’s not legal to call a cell phone without prior written consent. Since many people only have cell phones, we wouldn’t be able to call them otherwise. You can review more about the rules for automating phone calls in my previous post.

Why we confirm all appointments

Life happens. We prefer to find out if the homeowner can’t make the appointment before we send somone out to see them. In our experience, calling to confirm as close to the appointment time as we can is the most accurate way to ensure the appointment can be met.

Automating the call

Talkbox, our Adhearsion server, is constantly looking for upcoming appointments during business hours. When it detects any unconfirmed appointments coming up within the next few hours, it will make sure we have agents signed in to take calls and then initiate calls to those homeowners. Confirmation agents are signed in and waiting in a their own private audio conference room setup by Talkbox. This way the agent is instantly ready to talk. Otherwise, we waste time with Talkbox attempting to negotiate the call. When the homeowner answers the phone, Talkbox bridges the call with an available agent’s conference room. The homeowner’s name and number appears on the agent’s desk phone. The agent can see instantly who they are talking with. At the same time as the call is connected, Talkbox sends a message to Nitro to refresh the agent’s application window with the homeowner’s appointment info. This could take a few seconds so the desk phone display is useful because it’s quicker and offers confirmation that the information on the screen is the for the correct homeowner.

What happens when we can’t reach the homeowner

We obviously can’t reach the homeowner directly one hundred percent of the time.
  • No answer: If the call isn’t answered at all, Talkbox will re-queue the appointment to call back in another twenty minutes before calling them back. We do this until about thirty minutes past the originally scheduled appointment time.
  • Voicemail: Talkbox will leave an automated message asking the homeowner to call someone back to confirm their appointment. Alternate numbers will be called as with a no answer.
If we simply can’t reach the homeowner at all to confirm the appointment, we schedule a call for the next day to reschedule for another time.

How does Talkbox know it reached a person or a machine?

There are a few behaviors that can be key in an application detecting whether a live person or an answering machine is answering a call. Nothing is one hundred percent accurate.
  • People typically answer the phone by saying something right away. So if there’s a delay in hearing any audio at all there’s a good chance it’s an answering machine.
  • Most people answer the phone by saying “Hello”. Answering machines tend to respond with a sentence or two at least. So the length of the initial greeting is another indicator.
Adhearsion has answering machine detection with configurable settings to adjust for the specific needs of a business.

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