It's quite common these days to answer your phone and find that no one is there. These calls are referred to as 'Silent Calls'.
What are silent calls?
Silent calls are generated by diallers.
Companies load lots of telephone numbers into diallers and let these devices take care of the dialling.
Diallers try to intelligently guess when an operator will become free. It then places a call. It may have to place several calls before it gets a live person on the other end of the line. Once it has a live answer, it will pass that call through to an operator. If no operator is free, it drops the call. This is when you experience a 'silent call'.
The problem is simply that trying to intelligently estimate when an operator will become free and how long it is going to take to get a live person on the other end of the phone is a complex piece of guesswork and for all those receiving silent calls, clearly it doesn't work very well.
Ofcom is the regulator responsible for controlling silent calls
Why do companies use diallers if they don't work properly?
The answer is simple, by using diallers to make calls on behalf of the operators, the company effectively pushes calls to the operators thereby no longer relying on them to do the dialling and this increases productivity.
Can silent calls be stopped?
Technically yes they can. Diallers generally have two modes of operation.
This is the scenario described earlier whereby diallers try to intelligently balance the number for operators with the number of calls it is placing. This is the 'mode' that causes the most silent calls.
Unlike predictive dialling, progressive dialling only places a call once it actually knows an operator is free and ready to receive a call. Although technically it is still possible for progressive dialling to generate silent calls, this is rare and most commonly happens in the crossover between the dialler connecting with a live person and the operator logging off for a break.
Companies don't generally use progressive dialling because operators have to sit around waiting on a call to be given to them. The dialler only starts dialling when the operator is actually free and it may have to dial several numbers before connecting with someone on the other end of the call, at which point the call is transferred to an operator to take over.
Diallers are computer based solutions that are the main cause of silent calls in the UK
Should diallers be banned?
Many companies have spent tens, if not hundreds of thousands of pounds trying to improve the efficiency of their diallers. The truth is that their focus is pretty much on improving efficiency for the business rather than reducing the irritation to consumers i.e. silent calls.
However, there are rules on diallers and the affects they have on consumers and these are set by Ofcom.
It's unfortunate, but diallers are here to stay. The key is in improving their efficiency and Ofcom are hot on the case.