February 10, 2020
Stay in the Know
An auto dialer is an electronic device or software that automatically dials telephone numbers. Once the call has been answered, the dialer either plays a recorded message or connects the call to a live person.
This tool may also be called an auto dialer, auto-dialer, or autodialer. Whichever name it goes by, the auto dialer removes the work of manually choosing and dialing a phone number from a larger list, allowing users to dial more numbers more quickly. For this reason, the auto-dialer is often a critical technology component found in call centers.
Not Necessarily One Size Fits All
Autodialers come in many shapes and sizes, and offer a range of dialing “modes”. When choosing an auto dialer, companies need to determine the types of campaigns the call center supports, so they can select a provider that offers the right mix of functionality.
- 1. Progressive Dialing – One of the most basic forms of auto-dialers, the progressive dialer works from a basic list of phone numbers. When an agent becomes available, the program only dials a number when an agent is available to take the call. This uses a 1:1 call to agent ratio, but does not account for the possibility that the call may not be answered by a person, which can take away productivity, as agents may have to wait to get a connected call.
- 2. Power Dialing – A power dialer one-ups a progressive dialer by letting users set a calls-to-agent ratio. This type of auto dialer goes through a list and dials a pre-set number of lines when an agent finishes the previous call. This increases the chances that one of the calls will be connected to a live person, but can also lead to more abandoned calls, if more than one dial attempt per agent reaches a live customer.
- 3. Preview Dialing – A preview dialer allows agents to view the customer’s information before the call is placed. For example, preview dialing is useful in debt collection campaigns to allow agents to view information about the customer and define a strategy before starting to talk to the customer. The system delivers preview calls to agents automatically, and may take into account the priority of the call and the skills of the agent to handle the call. The preview dialer may offer the option of a Delay Dial, where the system dials the record after a pre-set period of time, or it may use Demand Dial, in which the call is not placed until the agent requests the system to dial the number.
- 4. Predictive Dialing – The predictive dialer is a state-of-the-art tool used to call a large number of customers within a short period of time. A predictive dialer uses real-time analysis to determine the optimal time to dial more numbers, in order to optimize agent efficiency and reduce the idle times between connected calls. Predictive dialing gathers statistics concerning the duration of calls, how long it takes for calls to be answered, and how often are calls answered, to make an educated decision about when to dial and how many numbers to dial. The calls are launched in anticipation of the agent being available, rather than waiting until the agent has finished the previous call, so the agent can receive the next connected call immediately.
- 5. Manual Dialing – While it may seem to conflict with the purpose of automated dialing, an auto dialer software can also allow agents to place calls manually. For instance, if the customer has a secondary phone number, the agent can enter this new number and the dialer will launch the call. Manual dialing can also be helpful for compliance with regulations that restrict auto-dialed contacts – see below for more on compliance.
The Impact of Auto Dialing on Agent Productivity
Auto dialers can help improve agent productivity by working through lists of numbers more quickly than when agents have to choose a number and dial it themselves. In addition, automated dialers can offer an advantage in the ability to distinguish between live human pick-ups and non-connects. Systems that can “screen” out unsuccessful dial attempts – such as busy signals, no answers, disconnected numbers and even answering machines (which may first appear as a live customer) – rather than passing them through to agents will help further increase agent productivity, as well as reduce agent fatigue.
Regulatory Compliance and Auto Dialers
Compliance is also a critical element for autodialers. Anybody wishing to use an automated dialer to contact many people will need to maintain compliance with the relevant laws in their country. The ability to maintain records, demonstrate drop call percentages on campaigns and avoid calling numbers listed in any federal, state, or company ‘Do Not Call’ lists is essential for continued legal use of any autodialer. More strict regulations, such as the TCPA’s regulations for wireless dialing and consent, veto the use of an automated-capable system, even if a number is entered manually. For these cases, companies must have an alternate contact plan in place (such as Noble’s patented Compliance Appliance) – but that is a much more complex discussion for another day.