In most outbound call centers, efficiency is absolute key. Maintaining a high average of calls per hour through eliminating downtime for agents helps to ensure a high level of efficiency. Like all auto dialing systems, predictive dialer software aim to lower the idle time of your agents by providing a steady stream of answered calls.

What are Predictive Dialers?

Designed to place the maximum number of calls possible in a short period of time, predictive dialers are outbound dialing systems that automatically calculate and predict agent availability. Similar to other auto dialing systems, predictive dialers will automatically dial out calls so your agents do not have to. However, predictive dialers will also make the necessary number of calls to obtain an answer before transferring to an available agent as they finish their last call. Unlike older power dialers, which would simply make calls as soon as an agent was ready – predictive dialers use statistical algorithms to determine all the necessary information to reduce agent downtime as much as possible. The system deals with the hassles of placing calls – from answering machines to busy tones and simply just people not answering – so that your agents do not have to. If all goes right, with a predictive dialer in place, agents will always be connected to a call with a live person on the other end.

How do they work?

Predictive dialers are so good at what they do because of the different information the system gathers, and how the data analyzed to provide an accurate prediction window. Predictive systems will collect every bit of data such as average call length, the number of available agents, available lines, and even the average number of calls it takes to finally have someone pick up. Analysis of the collected information leads to a predicted time length each agent will be occupied, so the service knows when and how many numbers to dial to keep a seamless stream of calls for the agent. Time that agents would normally spend weeding out answering machines, busy signals, and abandoned or dropped calls before they eventually make contact with a live person is now mitigated by an automatic system.

If manually dialing a number takes thirty seconds, and only one of every three calls is then answered, the agent will be wasting time by dialing out, waiting for a busy signal, disconnecting, and repeating until someone finally answers. Predictive dialers streamline this entire process by calculating the average length of a call, the average number of calls it takes to get an answer (in this case, three) and then optimizes dialing so agents will always be connected with a live person after their previous call.

So, if the average call length is 15 seconds, and it takes three calls to get an answer, the predictive dialer software will start making calls when the agent reaches 12 seconds in their call. By the time the agent ends the current call, there will be another connected call waiting for them. The system predicts the best time to place the calls and how many calls will need to be made based on this collected information.

Benefits

Routinely used in telemarketing, market research, debt collection and customer service follow up; predictive dialers can prove incredibly beneficial. Centers that focus on outbound calls and have a priority on volume can see massive improvements when implementing a predictive dialer. Having an automated system in place to reduce the downtime of your agents simply translates to less wasted calls and time by agents, increased sales, and easier lead management. With a predictive dialer handling the most time consuming process of dialing until someone answers, agents are given more time to improve their customer interaction skills. With another call usually ready to go, agent idle rates will decrease and productivity will benefit.

Another less obvious benefit is the ability to manage and adhere to the National Do Not Call Registry. Agents are no longer responsible for dialing, as it’s handled by the automated system. Because of this, it is easy to import and maintain campaigns and lists, including the DNC registry, to ensure constant and updated compliance with any calling regulations. The burden no longer falls on your agents, and is just another step of automation to help improve calling efficiency while removing the chance for human error.

Drawbacks

Of course as with any tool or platform, there are some drawbacks to predictive dialing systems. As predictive dialers automate calling and make decisions such as which clients to call without agent approval or notice, agents then enter the calls blind without any prior information. While this might not be a large issue for telemarketing or volume sales, debt collection or customer service follow up calls might flow more smoothly if agents are prepped with background information. Furthermore, sales of high-ticket items might require background information of clients to properly tailor their service.

In similar fashion to the creation of the Do Not Call Registry, there has been more recent public backlash against the use of predictive dialers. On June 18, 2015 the FCC implemented changes to the Telephone Consumer Protection Act of 1991 to expand the definition of an Auto Dialer. According to the FCC, “The TCPA prohibits a person from making ‘any call’ to a mobile phone ‘using any automatic telephone dialing system,’ except in certain defined circumstances.” These circumstances are defined as prior written consent, which of course would be difficult to obtain.

Alternatives

Preview Dialers: Previously touched on in the above section, preview dialers display customer information to an agent prior to or while placing the call. If there is a match, based on the agent’s discretion the call can be answered or redirected to a more suitable agent or department. Preview dialers are best for outbound centers that focus mostly on high-ticket item sales, debt collection agencies that need information clients or customer-service follow up.

Power/Progressive Dialers: Not as intelligent or hardworking as predictive dialers, power dialers simply place calls only when there is an agent available. There is no prediction method to determine the amount of calls to be placed, or average call time to supply a steady stream of calls to agents.  Power dialers can be utilized by any outbound centers; they are just not as powerful or efficient as predictive dialers.

In terms of auto dialing software, predictive dialing proves to be the most efficient method of reducing your agent idle time. With the ability to maintain a high average call volume and cut down on time wasted dialing out missed calls, predictive dialer software is one of the easiest way to boost productivity. Thankfully, if you have determined this method of automated dialing could prove beneficial to your call center’s efficiency, most if not all call center providers offer the feature as standard. Check out our Call Center Software Solutions comparison to assist you in better understanding the providers and software available.