Operator Assisted Conferencing
The conference calling use has nearly doubled every four years over the last decade. Most businesses will rather use conferencing instead of expensive travel costs and improve the efficiency and quality of their operations. When conferencing first began to develop, operators manually dialed all of the parties on each conference call or answered all of the incoming lines and placed each participant into the conference call. Over the last decade, with the advent of reservationless conferencing, automation replaced the operators and conference calls could be initiated and held without the use of operators. However, the latest trends have shown a resurgence of the use of operator assisted conference calling. Who is using this old technique and what are the applications?
Some of the largest use of operators is in the investor relations area. More and more public companies are using operator assisted conferencing to hold their quarterly earnings reports. A typical call is composed of 300 stock and market analysts and the executives of the reporting company. Operators are used to screen the incoming participants, since only a select group is invited to be on the live call. Stockholders and interested others are usually invited to participate online via streaming. The operator often gathers any needed information from the participants, like name, company and email address. The operator can also perform a question and answer session for the company or perform any polling of the participants, if needed.
Another application of operator assisted conferencing is in tort litigation in the legal market. Many law firms have specialties in representing consumers, who have been harmed by a companies' products or services, like in the pharmaceutical industry. In some of these class action lawsuits, many law firms are representing different plaintiffs in the case. These cases need to be coordinated through large conference calls with many parties represented on the calls. Operater assisted conferencing is used to identify and screen the parties at the start of each call. Operators are also used for question and answer sessions and polling, if needed. Court conference calls are actually being used now to adjudicate court cases via the conference call. The operator dials all of the parties to the case and leads the proceedings. The call is recorded and archieved for future reference.
Associations are using more operator assisted conferencing in the continuing education area. Associations are continually trying to improve the quantity and quality of their member services. One of the areas or responsibility for an association is continuing to improve the education of the members in their respective fields. They typically hold audio conference calls or webinars to update the members on the lasted skills in their profession. Expert speakers lead the calls and the members even get continuing education credits for their participation. Operators are used to screen paying customers, take their credit card information, introduce the speakers and hold question and answer sessions. In these tough economic times, associations are going to more use of operators to lead these sessions instead of using up valuable and limited staff time.
Operators are also being used in the multi-level marketing, religious and training markets. In most cases, the operators are being used for their screening and information gathering capabilities and to hold question and answer and polling sessions.
The use of operator assisted conferencing is growing again. Many vertical business markets are using the service, especially where it can replace staff and gain valuable information on each conference call. With the price of high touch conferencing dropping, it is time to reexamine the use of operators in assisting you with your business conference calls.
Types of Operator Assisted Conference Calls
Large Event Calls with PIN - Guests join by entering a true PIN and their identifying information, i.e. name and company name. This information is sent to A+ at least 24 hours in advance. We assign each person a PIN and return that to the client to distribute. Callers enter automatically and the PIN populates the call with their identifying info allowing us to host much larger calls with zero hold time. Recommended for calls of 300 lines or more.
Direct Entry Event – Guests dial in and are placed directly into music on hold. Operators access each line one at a time to capture required information, name and company name, for example. Then each caller is placed back into the call. This allows A+ to host larger calls with no hold time. Guests are taken out of the call just long enough to get the required info and then placed right back into the call. This type of operator assisted call can be used for any call, but recommended for calls larger than 150 lines.
Direct Event, Limited Data Collection – In this type of call guests dial in and are placed directly into music on hold. Then we only access the lines of those persons who press *1 to enter the question queue. All other parties remain anonymous. This allows A+ to take much larger calls with limited operators and no hold times.