Starting Your Pay Per Call Business Quality Assurance


Staff member
The quality assurance and compliance process is one of the most important aspects behind managing a pay per call business. Learn how to identify fraudulent calls and non-compliant partners.

Lesson Transcript

Hey Pay Per Callers, let's talk about Quality Assurance.

Quality Assurance Explained

Before we dive in, I just want you to know that we're gonna look at quality assurance from a broker or a network's perspective but this applies to every single company, or person, or affiliate, or whoever that's participating in the value chain.

So, quality assurance is extremely important to any call business. Because there are all sorts of things that can happen that can affect your profitability and so just because you don't think anything malicious is maybe happening that doesn't mean that you shouldn't do quality assurance okay?

Affiliates, networks, buyers, brokers, everyone should be doing quality assurance on their phone calls without question. The reason for that is first and foremost it keeps everyone honest. If you know what's happening on all of your phone calls, you're probably not going to get defrauded, and if you're on top of your quality assurance you can really help your partners excel at what they're doing. And so if you're doing a great job with quality assurance you can get your call value up, your conversion rates up, and then get your buyers to pay you more money widen your profit margins, make sure you're not losing any money due to fraud, all this type of stuff.

So, done correctly quality assurance should be a profit center for you because in calls it's messy and there's a lot of humans involved so there's gonna be problems and there's no way around those problems except by making sure that you do your quality assurance. Now, realize that in larger scale operations you will always find issues. So, if you're running a network or you plan to run a network, or you want to start brokering, as you grow into hundreds and then thousands of calls across one, five, ten, 100 campaigns there's gonna be a lot of opportunities for not only fraud but issues.

So you want to make sure that you understand what those issues are, how to do the quality assurance for those issues and then stay on top of your call flows. And I understand that that's a lot of work. And so as your organization grows, regardless of which part of this you're involved in, you're gonna have to start hiring quality assurance people. They're really easy to hire and outsource. It's not very expensive to do. And you want to make sure that you're listening to a good amount of your phone calls so that you can help everyone you're working with improve their processes.

Now, if you're an affiliate and you do really good QA, you're gonna impress networks and when you go and want to work with other networks you're gonna be able to say to those networks "Hey, I actually have a quality assurance process, we listen to a lot of the phone calls, we make sure that all of the traffic is good." And then you can share with them your quality assurance grid which your outsource people do for you or your team does. And then you look like you are really on top of your game. And so it makes the process of finding new partners even easier. Okay?

Now, you're gonna want to always work with your partners to train and resolve issues. So if you find an issue, don't jump to conclusions that it's malicious, okay? Because most of the time when people jump to conclusions that something is malicious, it's really due to stupidity. Okay? And since there are a lot of humans involved in Pay Per Call, especially with call centers, there can be a lot of stupidity.

Call centers are not hiring rocket scientists and neurosurgeons to answer the phones, they're hiring the cheapest labor that they can effectively find and train to get the job done at a slightly better than average level.

And so understanding that makes it very easy to understand why quality assurance is so important okay? And so when you work with a partner and there is an issue if you find that there is an issue with your network, or a buyer, or an affiliate somewhere, and you got talk to them about it train them about why it's an issue, how to identify it, and work with them and not freak out but solve the problem together in a collaborative way. It creates a really strong relationships and growth. And so if one of your buyers doesn't know something bad is happening and you bring it to their attention, give them the benefit of the doubt and the chance to work with you to solve the problem. And if they do a really nice job of communicating and solving a problem with you you get a really great relationship out of it. And that's gonna help your business grow.

This also will give you competitive advantage because in my opinion the vast majority of people involved in Pay Per Call do not do quality assurance well enough simply due to lack of understanding and resources on how to build a quality assurance program. Most affiliates are not using their own call tracking which is a major mistake.

They can't even do QA if they want to. Networks are usually under resourced and have to do QA on both sides of the equation and so typically they're not doing as much QA as they should. Okay? So by doing QA yourself and getting really good at it, you can generate a competitive advantage and then as you grow your business you'll know exactly how to tackle all of these issues as they come up. Okay?

It's also a profit center for you because in most call flows there's gonna be issues either with the network, or with the buyer, or with the affiliates, somewhere at some time and so if you're on top of it, you just make more money. Okay? And most importantly it drives payouts up. If you're doing quality assurance and you know the quality of your calls and you know there aren't any issues in them and you know all your partners are super happy with them and you have proof of that compared to how other people are interacting because do keep in mind that if you get a direct buyer chances are they're gonna be working with other networks or other affiliates too. So if you can actually prove that you are better and your calls are higher quality, it drives your payouts up which then creates more competitive advantage so you can generate more phone calls and really high quality calls, a really great QA system, then again creates even better relationships.

So this is a really important circle that you have to understand. Now, before you start working with any company it's super important that you understand how quality assurance processes work and we're gonna cover that in this lesson so that you can build these things into your IOs which are insertion orders or contracts, alright? And you're gonna want to make sure that your IO and contract addresses quality assurance issues in it. And you're gonna want to get IOs and contracts signed with QA clauses in them with all your partners whenever you work with them okay? And you want to transparently disclose at the top of those contracts and IOs what you will not pay for. Okay? And then, you want to have a conversation with the partner and review that top section that says "Listen, I want you to understand what our QA guidelines are and that we do have a really good QA system. We will be checking the quality of your calls and these types of calls we will not pay for and if we catch them, we're gonna deduct them or we're gonna penalize," or whatever depending on the side of the operation you're on.

And "We expect you to fix any issues that we find." And then you can say you know "We understand issues happen, we'll work with you on them. We're fair and reasonable but we want to agree upfront on what's not okay." And you just want to have an open conversation with your partners about this. Because even if you're working with a buyer and they maybe have weak affiliates, or weak networks that they're working with, they may and try to play games with that but they're partners. But if you have a really great system in place and they know it, there's a lot less likelihood that you're gonna have issues in the first place, okay? And you're gonna absolutely want to review these terms over voice, or chat maybe, with every new affiliate you bring on. You're just gonna want to tell them in advance that you have a QA system, this is what you look for and you will not pay for calls that violate this QA process. And you don't want to just leave that up to chance like burying it in your terms and conditions so that they don't understand okay? No one reads terms and conditions as affiliates, just like you don't read the iTunes terms and conditions.

No one does it so you should expect no one does it and you should review what is important to your QA process with every single new affiliate that you onboard even if it's just sending them a PDF and then chatting with them, make sure they understand, make sure they know, make sure there's a log of you sending it to them. Then if you ever have an issue, you can always come back and be like "Hey look, we sent you our terms." Even better if you have a one pager with QA issues in them. You have the affiliate sign it. They're gonna be in a better position to understand what your rules are and if there's ever an issue they know for sure what they're not gonna get paid for. And what that does, what the good communication and transparency up front and those conversations do is make sure that if you don't pay an affiliate because they did something bad, that they knew it and they don't run around smearing your name or complaining in public forums or groups that you didn't pay them or tell them what the QA guidelines are or anything like that.

And should someone actually go do that and complain publicly all you have to do is then paste that one page agreement into the forum and be like "Hey dude, you broke this guideline, you've signed that you wouldn't do it. We're really sorry but we don't pay people when they commit this type of fraud." Right? And then everyone's like "Oh." Fraudulent affiliates happen, we know it. They had them sign an agreement that shows this, great. And so it's a PR thing as well. And if an affiliate does something and they don't realize it's bad and they didn't think it's bad, they get really upset when you don't pay them and not paying an affiliate should be your absolute last resort. Okay? If you didn't communicate clearly, you should pay the affiliate.

Because if you don't, you're gonna run into issues publicly with reputation and that's the last thing you want. Okay? So non payment is your last resort and great communication and transparency in your contracts and agreements will solve these types of things, okay?

And then lastly, get your own call tracking. If you're an affiliate, use it because it gives you accountability for everyone involved. And it will be a profit center for you, okay? You need it. Alright? Otherwise you can't do quality assurance and then you have no control over your destiny and that's not a future I would want, maybe it's one you want but it puts you at a significant disadvantage if you don't have it.

Duration Billing / Callback Fraud

First, let's talk about duration billing and call back fraud. Okay? What is duration billing fraud and call back fraud? It's essentially the process of training your agents as a buyer to cherry pick and look for signs of a qualified customer and then tell them you're gonna call them back. Okay? And so if a call center agent says "Oh, I can't hear you sir, let me call you back real quick." And they dial the person back on their caller ID, that call is no longer going through the original call tracking platform and thus will not result in a conversion or a payout event. So the buyer essentially trains their agents to steal random phone calls from the people driving them calls because they have realized that the vast majority of people involved in Pay Per Call do a really poor job with quality assurance. And so they're able to get away with this on a regular basis, I mean we see it all the time. When I talk to our customers and their conversion rates have dropped and they're not sure what happened, I always tell them "Listen, let's listen to some call recordings together." And then hop in and guess what we find? We find call back fraud.

Okay? And so this exact scenario happened to me recently, I was talking to a great client of ours, they're really amazing and they've been growing very quickly and so what happened is because of their growth they haven't been able to invest a lot in quality assurance because most people don't think quality assurance is a profit center, they think it's just overhead and a waste of their time. And what happens with that is they end up running into these issues and it cost them a lot of money. So this client was actually willing to let us use this recording in the class. So let's listen to what call back fraud actually sounds like.

-- Callback Fraud Example Recording

Okay. So, this is real simple. It's not hard to execute and basically what happened there is the caller called some type of medical or dental insurance line and when the caller disclosed to the agent that he needed braces right away, that opens up a whole lot of high value conversion options for the call center and what he did is hang up the phone and call the guy back. Now, this was a 40 second phone call. It only started counting when the agent picked up the phone so maybe it was 35 seconds of talk time. And I know because the client told me that it didn't convert until a minute and 30 seconds. And so in a period of 35 seconds the call center agent was able to identify the caller was a high value target, hang up the phone, call the guy back, and get the phone call for free. So the call center wasn't on the hook for paying for that phone call but yet reaped all the value out of that phone call. What we found out is that this buyer was engaging in this activity all the time. And had been for quite some time.

But our client wasn't able to dedicate the resources to listening to these calls so they ran into this issue. Alright? And the thing is if your buyers don't know that you have a QA process in place, they're gonna try and figure out how to violate it. And what we see on average and this doesn't apply to every circumstance okay? But what we see on average is the smaller the call center, phone room, or buyer, the higher the likelihood that they will engage in duration based fraud and the logic behind this is simple. The small call center maybe has ten, 15, 20, 30 agents, okay? And if you have that many agents and small groups of them that work on small shifts it's really valuable for the call center to engage in this type of fraud and it's super easy to train their agents to do it. Since they're small, they only rely on a couple of partners to drive them calls and that means there's an abundance of people that they can burn over, and over, and over, and over again, alright, as they move through the ecosystem.

And so for them it's a profitable way to do this. And so you need to understand the size of your buyer and on the smaller ones definitely do quality assurance. Now, on the other side of that coin the bigger ones usually do not engage in this type of activity because they have significantly more money invested into their infrastructure, they're employees, growing their business and so for them risking losing quality partners over a little bit of extra profit is not really a good business plan for them because if they burn a bunch of quality partners they can't grow any further and they're focused on growth and scale. So it's not in their best interest to just smash partners, fraud them, and then have to go out and find more of them, okay?

And so how do you catch this type of fraud? Well guess what? You gotta listen to call recordings, alright? And it's something that most people don't typically want to invest their time into. I find it fascinating. I highly recommend you do it because you can learn more about this industry from listening to call recordings then you really can any other way. And once you know more than everyone else, well then you can build things that are higher value, have better return on investment all that good stuff. So, the process for catching call back fraud is simply sorting your calls by duration and reporting. And so you go into Ringba, and you sort your calls by the duration of the call after you select calls that did not convert. And so, we're looking at all the calls that did not convert and then we sort them by duration. Highest to lowest. And so if it's a minute 30, where the call converts, we're gonna be looking at calls that are a minute and 29 seconds or less.

And then, you just listen to all the calls below the pay out threshold typically you'll want to sort them by buyer so that you can see if there's a specific buyer that's doing this. And once you go through a bunch of those calls you just listen to see if they call the customer back. And so start longest to shortest, work your way done the list. You can probably ignore five second calls, eight second calls, whatever. But the longer ones are gonna have a higher probability of fraud because they're gonna talk to the customer and figure out within 35 seconds as the example had, or maybe a minute if they have a minute and a half or two, whether or not that call is gonna be a conversion and then they call the customer back in fraudulent. Okay? And so you want to find a pattern, and if you're going through a network they may have multiple buyers and so you don't know which buyer the issue is so you're gonna need to collaborate with the network give them the call recording, give them the caller ID, and then demand that they quality assure their buyer, and then anytime you find an issue like this, you need to give the evidence to the buyer or the network, and demand payment for it. And I would also bill them in my IO penalties, if you catch it.

Especially if you're working with the network and they're not on top of it, the first time you catch this, you tell them you want penalties in place. And the purpose of the penalties is to pay for the quality assurance the network should be doing on your behalf. And maybe they are but when they catch this they just don't pay you. Which is a practice that I have not personally seen in Pay Per Call but I've seen it at affiliate networks when they breakage they don't pay the affiliates. And so this would be considered breakage, if you find a buyer doing something wrong, and then you catch them, they pay the network, and then why pay the affiliate if the affiliate doesn't know. And so if you catch this with the networks, you just come back to them and say "Hey, I need you to sign a quality assurance addendum that says that if we catch your buyers doing something wrong, that you'll pay for it whether you go to the buyer or not to get your money is irrelevant to me, I'm the affiliate so that's your problem. And then if I catch you, I want a 50% penalty on every CPA, every call that was call back fraud, or whatever the fraud is to cover my quality assurance costs because you're not doing your job."

And so that's going to be an interesting conversation with the network but I highly encourage you to have it. Because you need to hold networks and buyers accountable for their behavior or their partner's behavior. So if a network's buyer's doing bad things, they can blame the buyer and say "The buyer whatever ..." But realistically speaking, your relationship is with the network and so it's your job to hold the network accountable if they're buyers aren't doing what they're supposed to. Okay? And you should do it in 100% of the cases and then escalate if it continues.

Mystery Shoppers

Next, let's talk about mystery shoppers. So, what is a mystery shopper? A mystery shopper is someone that's calling a Pay Per Call number and just talking on the phone. Just keeping them on the phone long enough that it converts, pretending like they are interested callers. And so it's that simple. A lot of affiliates are pretty stupid with this, they'll actually call themselves and then there's recordings of their own voices so that if the network calls them to talk to them about the issue the voice is the same. Which is pretty ridiculous but I actually had a network who pinged me about this yesterday about someone that was doing this to report them. So that maybe we'd remove them from the communities. And when there's evidence we do. When someone's committing fraud and we have evidence of it, we absolutely remove people from communities.

But I think this is an interesting way to go about defrauding because I mean the amount of effort and time it takes to call in and pretend that you're interested in something, you could actually spend generating legitimate phone calls but some people think it's easier to cheat. And so with mystery shoppers it's a little bit more difficult to catch them. You really need to know what you're looking for. And so, the mystery shopper is effectively getting away with this in the least amount of time that they can. And so if the call converts at two minutes, or a minute, they're not gonna spend an hour on the phone with the call center agent. They're gonna spend four minutes, five minutes, six minutes on the phone because anyone who's gonna cheat in this capacity is inherently lazy. And so they're not gonna spend 25 minutes on the phone with the call center agent, they're gonna spend a little bit above the conversion for them on the phone with the agent.

And so what you want to do is filter by publisher and sort call recordings by length descending, really long call recordings you can just play and then jump to the end, and they'll probably be in some kind of sale cycle and so you know it's legit. You'll want to skip to any of the long calls to find out if the sale actually happened. But realistically speaking what you want to do is look at the range of calls between the conversion duration, which again could be a minute, minute 30, minute 20, two minutes, whatever the affiliate gets paid, and then reasonable amount of time after that. So three minutes after, five minutes, ten minutes after, it all depends on the average handle time of the campaign. Alright? And then you want to review a bunch of these calls and see if the same voice shows up multiple times from different caller IDs and if it does and it seems fishy, check the phone number, if it's VOIP phone number, or a Skype phone number, or a Google Voice number, it's most likely gonna be fraud.

But effectively, what you want to know is does the conversion rate match with what the call centers general average is. So you're gonna need to figure out on a publisher level what the conversion rate of the calls are for the call center and then compare it to their average across all affiliates. And so this is a complicated process to figure out. The good news is the vast majority of affiliates that engage in this type of behavior its just all mystery shoppers. And so the call center doesn't have any real sales. And so it's very easy to determine if a publisher is sending you a bunch of qualified calls and none of them result in a sale. Well, you have a pretty good idea that there's a problem there. And so what you want to do is go to the call center or your buyer, find out what the average back end conversion rate is, you know maybe it's 20% of all calls result in a sale, or 10%, or even 30, 40, whatever. And then you listen to your publishers calls and see if any of them buy. So if you listen to ten calls and not a single one of them buys, you know there may be an issue. You listen to 20 and their conversion rate is 30% well, they should have six sales in there and if they have zero you already know it's a mystery shopper campaign.

Now what you can also take a look at is the average handle time of the calls by publisher. And if the average handle time of the call by publisher is significantly less than all your other good publishers but their pay out rate is significantly higher, you know it's probably mystery shopper fraud. And so what I mean by that is if you have a one minute, two minute duration and you have 100 calls come in what's the average conversion rate for the affiliate, out of the 100 calls how many does that affiliate get paid out? So let's say it's 50, right? So 50%. Well, if you have an affiliate come on with an average handle time that's half of what all your other affiliates average handle time is and their conversion rate for getting paid is like 100% of calls, or 80%, when the average is 50. Well, you're probably getting mystery shopped. And basically what you're looking for here is statistical anomalies so that you can filter this stuff very quickly. And so this is hard to do unless you have incredible reporting. Ringba's reporting is specifically designed for you to filter by this type of stuff and find these issues. And you can even create QA level accounts so you can have outsourcers logged in with no permissions that just see specific information so that they can do all your quality assurance for you, okay?

And so what do you do when you find mystery shopper calls, or this type of fraud. Well, first you want to know are they brokering calls and are they a trusted partner. So if they're a trusted partner and they're running a new campaign you want to talk to them and ask them "Hey are you brokering these calls?" And they'll tell you. And if the answer is yes. You've got to tell them "Hey, these are mystery shopper calls, I can't pay you, here's the statistics to back up what I just said." They key is to give them proof. Okay? If you're not gonna pay someone you have to give them proof. Because if you don't, you're gonna run into PR issues. Alright?

So you give them proof, if they're a trusted partner, this is easy they go "Ah, shit. Alright, let me remove the source, let me make sure these calls go away, whatever. Don't worry about paying me, I'm not gonna pay them." Et cetera. And if you know they're brokering and they're a trusted partner, give them the evidence so that they can give their partner the evidence so that they don't run into any PR issues either, okay? So transparency is really important any time you have an issue. You need to make sure that you have evidence of the issue and you properly communicate that evidence so that people can communicate it as well. So that this is a smooth process alright? Because no one likes to not got paid.

Now, if this is a new affiliate, and this happens a lot with new ones. Give them the evidence and then give them a written note of termination. Don't just terminate them and not talk to them. That's how you get a PR issue, or a negative review. Hit them up and say "Hey, these are mystery shopper calls. Here's our QA information. I'm really sorry, I wanted this to work but something's going on. We unfortunately have to terminate your account. Really appreciate you working with us. We wish you the best of luck." That's it. You don't have to be a jerk about it. Just terminate them. But be honest, and provide evidence. Okay? And how do you handle payments in this situation? Alright? Well if you can prove that a batch of calls were mystery shoppers statistically, I'll pay for them. But provide the proof. And if some of their calls were legitimate like let's say you have an affiliate that's driving a bunch of phone calls some were legit and some were fraud, you need to figure out which ones were legit, which ones were fraud, and then pay them for the legitimate phone calls. Because if you got legitimate phone calls from someone and some of them were a problem don't always assume malice but just because someone sent some crap, you can't screw them effectively on the calls that were legit.

And so provide them a QA report. "Hey, we QA'd your calls. Here are the legit ones, you're getting paid on those. Here are the ones that weren't, you're not. And also, I'm sorry we don't feel comfortable moving the relationship forward so we're gonna terminate your account. We wish you the best of luck. Your payment will be delivered on X date." And then pay them when you told them you're gonna pay them. When you terminate an affiliate, don't use that as an excuse for a profit center if they sent you some legitimate phone calls. And I know a lot of networks do this shit and they shouldn't because what it does is create bad blood on their reputation, all these people then go talk about it and then what happens is you get a bunch of bad reviews. People complaining in communities and it doesn't reflect well on your business. And so if you're gonna do that it's an incredibly short sited decision. You're not thinking about your long term brand reputation. So, if you want to do this correctly. If someone sent you blended calls and there are some fraud in there, pay them for the good, don't pay them for the bad, and move on with your day. Okay?

And if you do the QA you can go to the buyer as well and tell them, if the buyer didn't catch it you can say "Hey, you don't have to pay for these calls because we determined they were bad, thanks." And if they're like "Well, we don't want to pay for any calls from that publisher then you say "Well, here are the legitimate ones, you need to pay for those." And if you did your QA properly and you have your evidence no one can argue with you. So, make sure you do your quality assurance.

Incentivized Callers

Next, incentivized callers. These are usually pretty easy to identify. And what an incentivized caller is is someone that was promised something for calling. Maybe the advertisement says "Call and get a health insurance quote and we'll send you a free iPhone." It's a pretty good deal, it's not true obviously. It's probably not happening, okay? Right? And so they promise free items that don't apply to drive a hell of a lot more phone calls. And sometimes, people don't catch this stuff. Usually they do because people will call back and say "Hey, I got my health insurance quote, I want my free iPhone." And when that happens call centers starts flipping out. Okay? And so you need to watch for that stuff. You need to listen to the calls and do quality assurance. Especially on new affiliates to make sure that this isn't happening. Now, there's a few different ways that callers can be incentivized. Free items that don't apply like the iPhone scenario I gave you, points, so if they're showing ads inside of a mobile application for a game they're gonna be like "Hey, call and get a free health insurance quote and we'll give you a [bijillion 00:32:54] free points." And the customer calls they say whatever's necessary to go through the process.

Sometimes they'll say you have to stay on the phone a specific period of time and they're not actually policing that they just want to make sure these calls convert. And then the person does not get their points, and they call the number back and they're like "Hey where are my points?" And then the call center agent's like "Sir, we don't give out points." And then you have a shit storm. Alright? Same thing with cash. Cash is even worse. Alright? People may forgive the points but they're certainly not forgiving the cash. And so sometimes people will say like "Hey, call this number get a health insurance quote, we'll give you $50 dollars." Or $100 dollars. Or $500 dollars. Or whatever it is. Okay?

When they don't get their cash, they're gonna call back and they're gonna demand their cash and then you have a problem. And so that's what happens with incentivized callers because the incentives don't exist. And even if they did exist unless you pre approved this with the buyers, it's gonna be problematic because whenever someone has an issue, or they didn't get their free whatever, they're gonna call the call center back and start demanding it and that takes up agent time, it's a problem. It's not good, it's not good for anybody. And so what do you do? What do you do? So, are they a trusted partner? So if you're working with someone and they usually are good, you don't want to assume that they're burning you, you want to talk to them about it. "Hey, we've got incentivized callers." And they're like "Oh man, well I have a couple of people running your offer, what number did it come through let me check." Maybe they're brokering. Right? And so if they're brokering and they're a trusted partner you get them to remove it. And then you again do quality assurance on the process. Check for the calls that are no good, and just not pay them. Alright?

If they come back and they're like "Yeah, that's a crappy partner, all those calls are bad." And they're a trusted source, they're gonna tell you because they want to keep the relationship open. And then you don't pay. It's that simple but you make sure everyone's on the same page. Now, if it's a specific affiliate and they're new, you just remove the affiliate or you remove the affiliate traffic source, or whatever, and then you terminate the affiliate in a professional way.

Alright? So how do you handle payments. Again, well if it's an affiliate then you know all the calls are incentivized, you give them proof, you give them some recordings and you say "Sorry, we can't pay for these." The key here is giving them the proof. Because when you give them proof, they'll just go away typically. If you don't give them proof, they're gonna say "Well you're screwing me. Prove it." And as juvenile as that may seem, a lot of affiliates think if they cheat the network, or they cheat their partner and get away with it they should be paid. Especially outside of the United States.

And so, you need to give them proof. And then clearly communicate that this isn't allowed and this is why you have it in your IO. You have it in your terms. You make them sign it, you make them review it with your team member so there are no questions. So, when this happens you're like "Hey, you signed the form that says no incentivized calls. Here are the incentivized calls, here's a couple call recordings. I'm sorry we can't pay you for this. You knew the rules." And they're like "Alright, whatever." Alright? Now if some of the calls were legit, if they have multiple traffic sources and some of the calls were legit, again, pay for the legitimate phone calls. Do not be short sighted and seize people's payments because part of their traffic was an issue. It's not about the profit, I can see how making a couple extra $100 bucks or this guy screwed me so I'm gonna screw him back, or I'm gonna keep their money because I can, is a good idea or may feel good. But we're not talking about feel good here, we're not talking about punishing the affiliate. What we're talking about is making sure that your brand is honorable. And building a brand for the long term so you can build a sustainable business. And so do not burn people whenever possible, alright?

If people screw you, don't pay them. But if they screw you but some of their stuff was okay, as much as it is you eating shit just pay them what you owe them, they'll go away and you won't have any negative reviews or any issues. Alright? This is how problems start if you don't pay people it's the worst case scenario, it should always be your absolute last resort.

Automated IVR Selection

Next, automated IVR selection. So, a lot of campaigns require that callers enter in their zip code or enter in some selections on an IVR, and what's some affiliates do is use technology to automatically dial IVR prompts. Now, this can be used in a legitimate way. Let me describe the legitimate way for you. Let's assume for a minute that you're working with a buyer and that they have an IVR. And their IDR is text to speech and it's really crappy and it just doesn't sound good. And you think it's affecting your conversion rate. So you want to create your own IVR. You go out you hire a professional voice actor, they do a really nice job producing it, it's got a little music in the background. And it converts a lot better. Well, your worst case scenario is gonna be if you have to put your IVR in there, which converts really well and then drive it to the crappy IVR and then the user has to answer the questions or enter their info twice. That will murder your conversion rate. So what you would do in that circumstance is use automated tones like we have in Ringba to dial whatever the user entered into the first IVR into the second IVR. Then you're not violating any terms and conditions. Then you can improve your conversion rate on the campaign. And you probably already know what I'm going to tell you next.

And that is, show the IVR to your buyer, make sure they're okay with it. Let them know what's going on. And then sometimes the buyer will be like "Well can we just use that?" And the answer as the affiliate or the network should be absolutely not. We created it, this is exclusive to us. If you want to create your own that's fine but this is exclusive to us. Alright? So you just want to make sure you clear it with everybody involved. Usually that's not a complicated process. And then your conversion rate goes up, everybody wins. And the wrong way to use it is to have a caller call in, give them no IVR, and then automatically select the winning IVR combination so that you get paid.

If you do that the network, or whoever's going to figure it out and you may even have some callers that converted that were good but you're probably not getting paid. Okay? Now again, I always suggest pay people for what's legitimate, don't pay them for whats not. But if you're putting a network in a situation where you're doing something that's unacceptable and you didn't clear it with them first, you shouldn't be that surprised when they don't pay you anything. Okay? You shouldn't be surprised. So you need to communicate. This can be a legitimate one or non legitimate one. But you need to communicate properly.

So how do you catch this if you're looking for it. Well, you need to review the percentage of IVR selections on a publisher basis. So if you have a publisher and 40% of the time they hit number one, which generates a conversion, or number two which then results in a conversion, and that's your average all of your publishers should be somewhere within statistical reasonability around that percentage. So if it's 40% and some pubs are at 30 or less than average, that's probably not an issue. If they're above average, if they're at 50 or 60%, probably not an issue. You can listen to the calls it's probably all good. Maybe they do a better job of pre qualifying the customer before they send them to the IVR. Alright?

Now, if it's 100%, then you know you're getting banked. Or if it's really close to 100% it's probably not okay. They're probably using a process like this. So what you want to do is then QA anyone that's higher than average on the selections and see whether their calls are good quality or bad quality. Now if one of your publishers is at 20% and one is at 70%, and both are legitimate, by learning what happened on those phone calls, you can usually figure out why the better affiliate is generating more qualified calls and then go coach the other affiliate on how to improve the quality of their calls. So, this right here in general should be done on QA on an affiliate/publisher basis so that you can go coach the affiliates on how to improve their quality in general. I think IVR selection percentages are a great way to understand who has higher quality traffic, or who's doing a better job pre qualifying the customer.

Maybe if you shared this information with your affiliates, and I don't believe that any network does this, I haven't seen a single one do, if one's listening and they do this I apologize. But I have yet to see a network that looks at IVR selection percentages to coach affiliates on how to improve their campaigns. But you absolutely should do that. Because a lot of the times affiliates and publishers just don't necessarily know the quality of their own calls so they don't know when to improve, when not to improve. Maybe you tell them and they're like "Oh. Well I can change the text on my ads and my landing pages. Let's run some tests." And then you run some tests and your affiliate gets a better conversion rate and they're like "Holy cow. I'm making a whole lot more money, you're making a whole lot more money." And all it took was looking at some statistics, right? And so, regardless of QA, this is something you should take a look at no matter what. Because the conversion rate at the IVR means a lot to your bottom line. And you should also split test IVRs frankly. We'll cover that in another lesson.

Dead Air / Confusing Messages

Next, we have dead air time and confusing messages. So, what does that mean? It means that an affiliate is driving calls to a Pay Per Call offer with a prerecorded message. Maybe it's really weird sounds or something interesting, or confusing. So the call center agent just listens and the call center agent is unaware that after a minute they pay for that phone call. Maybe the affiliate does this on a few calls and not all of them. Once they figure out that the buyer or the network isn't doing quality assurance. Right? Maybe, they just send dead air time, and when the agent hangs up they don't hang up the phone call. And so if they do that and their technology can do that then the tracking platform, some of them out there, aren't able to figure this out that the call is disconnected and then we'll trigger a conversion and a payout and if a network or buyers aren't doing their quality assurance well, they get banked.

Okay? And so, how do you resolve this? This one's really easy. Listen to the recordings. Spot check your recordings for all new publishers, all publishers frankly, and listen regularly to short duration calls that convert. And so, the sweet spot is within a minute of calls that have converted. So, if it converts at a minute, all calls between one minute one second, and two minutes or three minutes in duration, you need to check out those phone calls because those are high risk calls essentially. They resulted in a pay out, but there was absolutely no way that call center agent was gonna sell on that call, and that's what you're looking for.

Non-Compliant Warm Transfer Scripting

Non compliant warm transfer scripting. Okay? This one's fun. This is when affiliates use non compliant warm transfer scripts before they transfer the phone call into the end buyer.

And so if a network is accepting transfers it's up to the affiliate to qualify that call with a call center agent, outsourced agent, partner call center, whatever, to see if it's legitimate before they transfer it over. And so affiliates using non compliant warm transfer scripts are just trying to talk to the consumer really quickly about whatever, and then transfer them as soon as possible so they can get credit for it without investing in following the actual compliant process.

And so, how do you know that? How do you know this is happening? The callers don't know what they call for, they have no idea why. They're like "Why did you just transfer me? This makes no sense." They think that they're calling about something else, right? The callers don't actually qualify for the product or service so maybe the warm transfer center, the qualifying call center isn't asking all of the questions. Or, they're transferring people regardless of what they answer anyways. So they're transferring non compliant callers.

Or, they're incentivizing callers using free stuff, points, cash, whatever to transfer and then stay on the line for a specific period of time so that they get paid for the call. Now, this is a really short sighted approach to business in general because sooner or later you're gonna get caught. Maybe you work with networks for a while, maybe get a campaign, you make a little bit of money but if you went through all the effort to set up the warm transfers and generate the phone calls and do all of the nonsense, then realistically speaking just a little bit more effort will get you there compliantly and then you can build a real business for yourself. So I think this is absolutely ridiculous but it happens. And this is what happens when people get lazy and stupid because they're gonna do all this set up and then just try and make a little bit of extra cash until they get caught and their business falls over one afternoon. Maybe they don't even get paid that last payment because it's calls. The feedback loop is pretty short. It's just not smart to do this stuff.

It's easy enough to make money in this space without defrauding people. Yet, it still happens okay? So how do you catch this, you get a test number from your affiliate, you call it using different caller IDs every single time so they can't catch you. And you listen to the scripting you go through the process. Okay? You also review recordings after the transfer happens. You're looking for confused callers that don't know why they called or what happened. You're looking for non qualified callers where they're like "Oh no, I'm not 65 years old." Well you obviously don't qualify, they transferred you anyways then right?

Or listen for really long hand offs to rack up duration on non qualified callers. So the transferring agent will call in and be like "Oh hey Jenny, how are you today? Oh great. So nice, this is Tyler over at Debt Busters, it's beautiful here in Pittsburgh today, and I have a really wonderful lady on the phone, her name's Greta. And Greta is located in Salt Lake City, and she's got a dog named Billy, and she's really excited about this phone call today because she needs our help and that's why I'm transferring her to you." You can see here they're like just dragging out the conversation so that I know I could reach the duration conversion amount. And then I'm like "Alright Greta, have a good one." And then hang up the phone and then Greta's like "Is this the Social Security office?" "No." And so she wasn't qualified at all but the call center, the affiliates still gets paid for it. And if no one's doing quality assurance this nonsense happens.

But again, it's not a way to build a successful business, it's not even really a way to make some fast cash because soon as they do QA you're busted, you may not get paid and then it's even worse, you may sunk costs into advertising and setting up this third party call center and then you don't even get paid for it. You may actually lose money. So this is really stupid, yet again it happens. And so, how do you QA it further? You look at the conversion rate for the affiliate, you get them from your buyer. In best case scenarios, you're able to pass some information to your buyer so that they can give that information back to you with conversion rates on a publisher level. And you can do that with Ringba, you can do it with SIP transfers, you absolutely should do it not every tracking platform allows you to. So I know that networks are not all doing this. But they should be. Because if you can get a disposition report from your buyer on a publisher basis, you don't have to reveal to them who those publishers are. It can be a hashed publisher code like we use with Ringba. And then you know which affiliates are converting on the back end better or not. It gives you negotiating power, but it also helps you whether you're doing QA or not.

Poor Sales Agents

Okay? Next, I want to talk about something that is not fraud. And so this is not fraud but it is a major, major problem in Pay Per Call. So what we're looking for here is poor sales agent performance. And when you're working with a buyer that has 30 agents, or 15 agents, they're probably not going to be the best call center in the world. Because if they were the best sales call center in the world and had an amazing training program they would grow their business beyond 15 sales agents, they would have thousands. So, If you can do sales with 15 and the call volumes available and you're better than everyone else so you can pay more for the phone call, well you can scale that operation rather quickly, to hundreds or thousands of sales people in a call center.

And so your smaller call centers are gonna be more of a problem here. In my experience, not 100% of the time, some of them are great, okay? But, just statistically they are at a higher likelihood that they're gonna be problematic. Now, if you're talking about a small group of independent buyers, or your own self serve buyers, or an independent insurance agent and they're bad sales people or they're not well trained, well, they're just gonna disappear. They're just gonna stop buying calls from you and that's gonna be the end of it. So they're gonna weed themselves out. But if you're working with a call center this becomes a problem for you because if the call center agents are weak and they're not converting the calls, the likelihood you're gonna be able to negotiate for more payout from your buyer is low. And so you want your buyers to be really good. And have really good training programs because if you send them quality calls that convert really well, they can afford to pay you more money if they're really good at what they do. Okay? And if they're really bad at what they do, callers may hang up before the two minutes. So you might not get paid at all.

It's why it's really important that you have quality sales people on the phone because they'll be better at getting sales out of people that others aren't. And then your duration efforts goes up, there go your pay out average goes up, it's just better for everyone. So, when you're listening to call recordings this is a really easy process, okay? People like happy people they do not want to talk to people who are not happy, or not interested in talking to them. It's that simple, right? If I wasn't excited about leading this lecture right now, you probably wouldn't want to listen to it. And so I'm trying to be excited about what we're talking about. In fact, I am because I really like this stuff. So that you'll listen to me across this entire program. Well, a call center is exactly the same. If you have a piss poor attitude, you're gonna have a piss poor conversion rate and it's not gonna go well. And so you're listening to see if the agents are generally positive. And if they're not, or a specific agent is generally not positive, track it, save the call recordings and send them to the buyer and tell them that this is unacceptable, it's hurting your business, and my business and if your buyer's good, you know if they've got a 100 people they're gonna listen to the recording and they're gonna retrain that person, or terminate them.

So you're helping your partner out. Second, you need to listen to see if they're creating a relationship and a rapport with the actual caller. And that means not just "So you want health insurance? Fine give me your age." It's like "How are you? How are things going? Where you located? Oh that's great. I love it there." Relating with the person, finding out about them. Building a relationship on the phone. The most successful call center sales people are really good at creating a relationship quickly on the phone. Because people are more likely to buy from people they like. And if you create a relationship with someone and show general interest in their lives, typically, they like you. And then they trust you, and then they'll buy from you. Okay? And so you want to listen to see if agents are building a rapport. Now, if they're not, if they're not creating relationships, save the call recordings, send them over to the buyer and talk about it. "Hey, I want to give you some feedback. We don't think your agents are doing a great job in building a relationship, here are some call recording examples I want to share with you. And I think if we trained them a little better on this, maybe did some role playing or looked at your training process at the call center there, that we could improve your conversion rate. Which means you'll make more money."

Now if they're unwilling to entertain that, they're not a good partner. I would say that nine times out of ten if they're running a legit business and they're worried about growth they are not only going to entertain that they're gonna listen and collaborate with you. And then when the conversion rate goes up get that information from them and then demand more money. Okay?

Next, are they well trained in general? Do they understand what they're selling? Do they understand the process? Do they seem confident about what they're doing on the phone. If they're not maybe they're new. It happens, okay? But if in general these people don't seem confident on the phone after you listen to ten, 20 recordings, well then you need to raise that with the call center.

Next, are they following the script? Is the script good? That's a great question. So as you listen to a few calls you're gonna notice that some repeat agents, especially if you're listening to long calls, sell a lot more than the others. And those guys maybe on script or they may be off script. So what you need to find out is if they're on script or off script. And if the highest closing sales agent, the one you hear repeatedly closing over, and over, and over again in the recordings are on script then you need to work with the call center to get all the other agents on script. If they're off script you need to take those recordings, go talk to the call center and be like "Hey, your script sucks. This guy's amazing, let me help you rewrite it." And then help them. Help them rewrite that script so that they can go better train their agents. Okay?

You may have to ask the call center what's your process for training, what's your process for scripting, show me pictures, show me screen shots. Or better yet, if they're a big partner fly someone out to their call center and go yourself. Have a meeting with them, ask to sit through a training class. Talk to some agents, ask them how to improve. And then help your partners get better at what they're doing. That's how you're gonna get real wins. And that creates one hell of a relationship with your partners. So then you go back and you're like "Hey, I really helped you with your business. I really helped you grow. I can fill all your capacity, please give me agency of record on this." An agency of record is exclusive. So that means that anyone that wants to sell to the call center has to go through you. You own it basically for pay per call. And that's your ultimate goal if you're gonna build a network, an agency, or be a broker is to secure agency of record relationships with call centers and buyers so no one else can sell to them unless they go through you.

That is how you really win in this game. But to get call centers to do that, trust you with their business, you are going to have to go over and way beyond what anyone else is willing to do to earn that trust. And so you're gonna have to work your ass off to do it. If you want to build a real business in any field, you've got to work your ass off to do it. You can work smart too, you should, but you've got to work really hard too because people will trust you if they see you're willing to work your ass off for something. And those agency of record deals are worth their weight in gold. Okay?

Next, are they generating yes responses? Are they asking people questions that get them to say yes which is a very simple sales tactic. If you don't hear any of that they can improve their scripting and process. And do they attempt to close, like what are the closing statements these agents are using? Do they wait for the customer to say "Okay, I'd like to buy." Or do they just start collecting the customer's information assuming the close and walking them through the process. And so you need to understand if these agents are trained well to close or not. If they're not, then it's an area you need to report to the call center so you can help them so that they can improve their quality. Because when quality goes up you can demand more payments or if you helped them grow this you can get an AOR, et cetera.

So, what to do. How specifically do you do this? Does your buyer have a QA grid they use on calls? Which leads you to my next question, does your buyer have a QA process at all? And if they don't, they probably don't even know where their weaknesses are and you need to help them with that. If they do have a QA process they have what's referred to as a QA grid, or a QA sheet, ask them for one. Ask them for a blank one to see how they do their quality assurance. Now, if things like closing statements or relationship and rapport are not on there or added to for instance, then you can help them by adjusting their QA grid to better improve their quality assurance process.

Then you need to understand what their process is. And then ask your contact or your rep with the call center to tell you, what's your review on training process look like? What do your agents do? How long is it? Do they sit in the classroom, is there roll playing? What's going on?

And then once you hear what their training process is, you'll know immediately whether it's weak or not and you can help them. And then like I said before, if you find some great recordings of exceptional agents, share those with the call center so that they can use those in their training process and show it to new agents coming through so those new agents can listen and understand how to be an effective sales agent. It's very powerful okay?

So if you come across poor sales agents, again, I want you to understand that it doesn't necessarily mean anything bad about the buyer just may mean they need some help. They need to improve. So, don't just assume it's malicious or they're not good at what they do. Just get more information and then figure out how to collaborate with these call centers so that you can help them improve their process.

Agent Cherry Picking

Next, we have agent cherry picking. Okay? And what that means is a call center agent will decide in their opinion which may be right may not be wrong, or maybe it is wrong, maybe it is right. I have no idea. Okay? And it's completely up to the agent's judgment and that is which caller is gonna convert. So what happens is they answer the phone and if in their experience men close better for them or they think they do, they hang up on women. Or if they think someone's young or from a certain ethnicity or whatever, they hang up the phone because another call with come in and they can be lazy and just talk to the person they think's gonna convert better and they burn the phone call. And if it's under the duration requirement you lose, and frankly the call center loses too because they lose the opportunity to sell that customer.

Now, on bigger call center floors agent cherry picking is a problem. And on smaller call center floors it's a problem. But, it may not be malicious on either. The call center may not know it's going on. And that's why you really need to communicate with the call center if you discover this.

So what to watch for, immediate hang ups, not completing the qualifying questions or the script, a bad attitude towards certain clients where the agent is like "Yeah, whatever." Click. They just end the call, they just terminate the call. Okay? And so, what do you do in this regard? You take down the agent's name, you look for patterns and repeat issues with that specific agent. You absolutely report it to the call center in all circumstances and in Ringba you look for phone calls that are constantly, you look for buyers that are constantly hanging up. And so, you can see which party hung up the call, whether it was the caller or the agent.

And if a specific buyer's percentages are out of wack, like their agents hang up 30% more than all the rest of them, you know there might be some cherry picking going on. Again, you want to make sure that it's in your contract that agent cherry picking is not acceptable. And with a buyer, if you're working directly with a buyer, you want to make sure there are penalties in place. Okay?

Maybe not on the first one, if you report an agent for cherry picking, maybe on the first report they pay for the calls but there's no penalty. Then the second time they pay for the calls and there's a $500 dollar penalty, or something. Okay? But they should pay full price for the cherry picked calls, without exception. You need to make sure that that's in your contract and your buyer understands this, and you review that contract information and the IO and all the requirements with your account rep, with your partner over there. Don't just send it to them and be like "Yeah, they agree." And not review it. Make sure they understand what's not acceptable so that you can come back to them in the future and be like "Bill, we discussed this, this is a problem, it's the third time. We're gonna impose the contractual penalty, okay?" And then nothing gets people motivated like losing money. Or potentially losing access to phone calls.

So that's why you need multiple buyers on every single campaign, whether it's a network or not. So that if you run into these issues, you can reroute the phone calls and play the take away so that they'll get their act together. So again, if you see this you report it to the buyer, you request training, or you request removal of that agent from your campaign. So you have the ability if you put it into your contract, or even not, you can always demand it, that that agent gets removed from your campaign. Now, if they say "Well, you're sending most of the calls to us. And well, we only run this one campaign." "Well, tough shit. We don't want that agent taking the calls anymore, they violated the rules. If you've got to terminate them, terminate them, we don't care. But we're gonna listen to all the calls and if we catch them on there again, we're gonna have issues." That's why you put these things in your contract like you have the right to remove an agent from the campaign and if you impose that right and the agent is not removed from the campaign, you are able to bill the call center $100 dollars per phone call that the agent that was supposed to be removed takes after you impose that right.

Okay? So you can get real creative with your contract so you need to think about it, but whatever you put in there you need to make sure it's transparent and discussed with the call center so that you can hold them accountable. Because really, what this whole lesson is about is just keeping people honest, and then holding them accountable.


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