Here's what you need to know about outbound dialer options for your call center. There are four or five different types of dialers. We will discuss the most common types and explain when you may want to use them for your outbound dialing campaigns.
Why dialers are used for outbound calling
If you run an outbound call center, or if you are seeking to hire an outbound call center to handle your outbound dialing needs, this guide will walk you through the different types of outbound phone dialer configurations available.
Running an outbound call center is difficult. You need to navigate regulatory issues (with do not call regulations, time of day and other restrictions) as well as practical issues (like how do you actually reach your contact at a time when they are available to answer the phone). You also need to deal with the fact that most people today use cell phones, and that most phones have applications that flag unknown callers as potential spam — these tools make it very difficult for an outbound call center to actually connect with a contact.
A large part of the success of an outbound call center campaign is in how the call center manages the dialing of customers. Typically, an outbound call center has lists of customers to call. Agents work through these lists by dialing customers using dialer software (which is usually a part of the phone system the call center uses). The dialing software can range from manual or preview dialing, to auto dialing software (sometimes known as progressive dialing software), to predictive dialing software.
Outbound call centers have several choices of outbound dialing software to use. Each has its benefits. Used properly, the right outbound dialing configuration will help you increase the success of your outbound campaigns.
We review the four most common outbound dialer configurations below to help you choose the right approach for your campaigns.
The first, and simplest type of outbound dialers is a preview dialer.
What is a preview dialer?
A preview dialer is an outbound phone dialer that requires the call center agent to review a number to be dialed, and then press a dial button to cause the dialer to actually dial the number. Preview dialers are often used in situations where a call center needs to work through a list of contacts in a careful and customer friendly way. Preview dialers allow agents to prepare for a call before actually talking to the customer. Often, a preview dial screen shows the agent details of who they are calling and reasons why the agent is making the call.
When should I use a preview dialer?
Preview dialing should be used in situations where customer care is paramount. Preview dialers should also be used when dialing customer cell phones in situations where the customer has not given express written consent to be contacted using an automated dialer.
A power dialer is the next step up in dialing efficiency from a preview dialer. Making outbound calls can be expensive, and it is often important to gain some dialing efficiencies. A human agent can only make so many preview dials each hour. The use of a power dialer can bump up the efficiency a notch.
What is a power dialer?
A power dialer is software that causes outbound calls to be automatically made. For example, a power dialer can be configured to dial a phone number on behalf of an agent so the agent doesn't need to waste time doing a preview of the number. If an agent is available to handle a call, and if there is a phone number in an outbound list that is dialable, then the power dialer may automatically assign the outbound call to the agent and initiate the call. Many power dialers include messaging informing the agent that they have been assigned an outbound call that is being initiated. A benefit of power dialers is that the agent is on the call when the call is initiated — unlike predictive dialers (as will be discussed below).
When should I use a power dialer?
Power dialers should be used in situations where preview dialing is too inefficient and where predictive dialing is not allowed.
Power dialer vs. Preview dialer comparison
Both power dialers and preview dialers are generally compliant with telemarketing laws. Power dialers have the advantage of speed and efficiency, but preview dialers are better for customers in that the agent can prepare in advance for each call.
|Feature||Power Dialer||Preview Dialer|
A progressive dialer is similar to a power dialer in that the system automatically makes a call on behalf of an agent. However, progressive dialers may be slightly more aggressive than power dialers. Progressive dialing is a form of auto dialing software and these dialers are sometimes referred to as auto dialers.
What is a progressive dialer?
In a progressive dialing mode the telephony system places an outbound call when it determines that an agent will become available to handle the call. Some progressive dialers (unlike power dialers) initiate the outbound call based on a prediction that an agent will become available to handle the call. For example, if the system predicts that an agent will wrap up a current call in the next few seconds, the progressive dialer may initiate an outbound call for that agent. Progressive dialers significantly reduce downtime or agent inefficiencies between calls.
When should I use a progressive dialer?
If agent efficiency is important, and if the campaign is one where you are not concerned with telemarketing laws relating to automated dialing (such as the TCPA), you may want to consider using a progressive dialer. Be aware that some progressive dials may result in an agent not being available (in which case the called party may be presented with an automated message or some other undesirable situation).
Progressive dialer vs power dialer comparison
Progressive dialers start to have potential telemarketing law issues, depending how they are configured and used. Both have improved speed and efficiency over preview dialers, but progressives are definitely faster.
|Feature||Progressive Dialer||Power Dialer|
The final type of outbound dialing software is a predictive dialer. Predictive dialers are not suitable for all campaigns, so please consult a telecommunications lawyer before using one. They are, however, an excellent way to realize great efficiencies in dialing large lists of numbers. Predictive dialers are sometimes mistakenly also referred to as auto dialers, and predictive dialing software is also mistakenly known as auto dialer software. Check out our discussion of the difference between autodialers and predictive dialers to learn more.
What is a predictive dialer?
Not all call center software platforms provide a predictive dialer. Many avoid predictive dialers specifically because when these dialers are used improperly, they can cause customer complaints, or worse, telemarketing law violations. You can read more about telemarketing laws here.
A predictive dialer is an outbound dialing system that uses a few pieces of information to quickly dial through a list of phone numbers. In particular, the dialer uses information about the number of agents who are logged into the system and their status (are they on a call? Are they finishing a call?). The dialer also takes into account how many leads are left on the list to be dialed (as well as the status of those leads).
The dialer software uses this information to automatically dial more calls than there are available agents to handle the calls based on the assumption that some of those call attempts will not be successfully connected. Calls may not be connected because the called party may not answer, the line may be busy, etc. For example, if there are 10 agents in the system, but 5 of them are on calls, a predictive dialer may dial more than 5 concurrent outbound calls (on the assumption that not every call will need an agent). These outbound calls are made without an agent on the line — the system does the dialing automatically on behalf of the agents.
As the predictive dialer dials each telephone number, the dialer listens and, when a live “hello” is detected, automatically transfers the call to an available agent. The predictive dialer typically places numerous calls simultaneously, checking each number for a live “hello” or for another call disposition. If the called number is busy, not answered or not working, the predictive dialer either discards or reschedules the call, then proceeds to dial another number.
When should I use a predictive dialer?
Predictive dialers should be used in situations where a large volume of phone numbers need to be dialed and/or for outbound campaigns where agent efficiency is critical. For example, many political campaigns that are performing political surveys use predictive dialers as there are huge numbers of people to be contacted in a short amount of time.
You should not use a predictive dialer in campaigns where you will be dialing mobile phones of consumers who have not expressly given you consent to dial them using automated means.
Predictive dialer vs. power dialer comparison
Predictive dialers have a number of potential telemarketing law issues, depending how they are configured and used. Both predictive and power dialers have improved speed and efficiency over preview dialers.
|Feature||Predictive Dialer||Power Dialer|
Predictive dialer vs progressive dialer comparison
Predictive dialers and progressive dialers each have a number of potential telemarketing law issues, depending how they are configured and used. Both predictive and progressive dialers have improved speed and efficiency over preview and power dialers.
|Feature||Predictive Dialer||Progressive Dialer|
Yet another type of call center dialer is an “auto dialer”. Autodialers are often also referred to as “power dialers”. In general, an auto dialer is a dialer that can automatically dial through a list of phone numbers. Typically an autodialer only dials one call for each available agent. Auto dialers generally bridge the call to an agent once the call is connected. Answering machine detection can be used with auto dialers to prevent agents from being tied up with answering machines rather than humans. Learn more about what an autodialer is, and find how to buy cheap or free autodialer software.
Speed, efficiency, compliance and customer friendliness all need to be taken into account when deciding what type of a dialer or dialing mode to use for a given campaign.