Autodialers are commonly used by call centers in their outbound calling campaigns. Auto dialers are pieces of call center software that allow automated dialing of numbers from a list of phone numbers. An autodialer can dial a number from a list once a call center agent is available to handle the call.
How autodialers work
Auto dialers are typically part of a call center software suite. Auto dialers can be hosted on premise or they can be hosted in the cloud. Hosted autodialers are increasingly common.
Autodialers require a few pieces of information to work. They need a list of phone numbers to dial, and they need to know when a call center agent is available to handle a call. Unlike a predictive dialer, auto dialers dial in a one to one ratio — one call for each agent. If no agent is available, the autodialer will not dial the next number on the dialing list.
Some autodialers also require some agent interaction to trigger the next call. For example, some autodialers work as preview dialers. These types of autodialers present the call center agent with a screen showing the agent what number will be dialed next (as well as any relevant information known about the number, such as the contact name, etc.). The agent can allow the dialer to make the call by clicking a button (or by not declining the number).
An auto dialer typically operates faster than a manual dialer. A call center that uses an autodialer can dial many more leads each day than a call center that uses manual dialing.
An autodialer is generally not a predictive dialing system (although sometimes the terms are used interchangeably). You can read more about the difference between an autodialer and a predictive dialer.
Are auto dialers legal?
Autodialers are generally legal to use. However, there are some laws in the U.S. that you should be aware of if you use an autodialer.
The Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) sets out rules governing how automated dialing systems (such as predictive dialers) can be used. In general, the TCPA prohibits using an (1) “automated telephone dialing system” (ATDS) or (2) prerecorded message to contact cell phones, and (3) prerecorded telemarketing messages to contact residential phones, unless the recipient has provided and not revoked “consent” to receive the call/text.
in April 2021 the US Supreme Court decided the Facebook vs. Duguid case and provided a narrow definition of what an ATDS is. The Supreme Court decided that for a predictive dialer or other dialing device to be considered an ATDS, it must utilize a random or sequential number generator to produce or store telephone numbers and then dial phone them. Most autodialers do not use random number or sequential number generators and arguably may not be considered ATDS’ per the TCPA.
However, if you use an autodialer to leave prerecorded messages on cell phones or residential phones, you may still run afoul of the TCPA (and such use of an autodialer is illegal) if you have not received express consent from the person who you are calling.