If you work in any customer-facing department, you’re likely used to picking up the phone, dialing a random string of numbers, and hopefully having your desired conversation. It has to be second nature at this point, right?
While you probably don’t think twice about those actions of placing an outbound call to a customer, have you ever stopped to question how much time you would save if a machine did the work for you? If you haven’t, put the phone down. Because a machine like that already exists – it’s called an auto dialer.
What is an auto dialer?
An auto dialer is a software tool that will automatically dial telephone numbers from a list. Once the call is answered, the auto dialer will either connect the caller to a person or a prerecorded message.
Auto dialers are used in work settings that include a lot of repetitive phone conversations, including sales, call centers, healthcare, hospitality, and even education.
The purpose of using software like an auto dialer is to eliminate the need for users to spend pointless time manually dialing each and every phone number they need to call. This way, they can focus more on the content and successful delivery of their message.
To properly benefit from an auto dialer, users need a computer, a voice modem, and an active telephone line. However, depending on the tool you select to implement, there are also cloud-based auto dialer options.
Types of auto dialers
There are three different types of auto dialers: preview, power or progressive, and predictive. The one you select should depend on your business function and how you will be using the auto dialer to support it.
Here are some descriptions so you can make an informed buying decision.
A preview dialer offers users the option to place an outbound call or skip it. The alternative to this would be a dialer that automatically calls the next number on the list without giving the user an option.
Preview dialers are used in situations where the user wants to preview some information regarding the individual they are about to speak with before they begin auto dialing. This allows for more personalization and preparation for customer interaction, whether it be a discovery call or a follow up message.
Preview dialers are a great option for conversations that are going to require unique customer information. If your outbound calling strategy is being run on a smaller scale, requires handling complex customer situations, and focuses more on quality than quantity, a preview dialer is your best bet.
Power or progressive dialers
Progressive (or power) dialers differ from preview dialers in that they don’t allow the user to decide whether or not the next call is placed. Instead, the dialer immediately places the next call once the previous one is over.
They are a bit more quantity-focused than the preview dialers. So if you want to connect with as many customers as possible, one after another, a power dialer is the option for you.
A predictive dialer takes efficiency to a whole new level by dialing multiple phone numbers at once. But don’t worry, you aren’t expected to talk with multiple customers at the same time.
Using a pacing algorithm, predictive dialers will determine when the user will be done with their current call and will then place the next one before the user finishes the entire sales call script.
Predictive dialers are the most efficient way to connect with as many people on the other end as possible and at a large scale, too. But if you’re looking to have more detailed conversations that require a little research beforehand, it’s likely not ideal for your business.
Auto dialer features
Auto dialers are stocked full of features that will help you have as many meaningful customer conversations as possible. When selecting a product, make sure it has the following features for the most optimal experience.
Unproductive number detection
Auto dialer technology can tell when a phone number on your list isn’t worth calling at the moment, whether it sends numbers to voicemail, an answering machine, or just a busy line.
Unproductive number detection is a huge time saver. You don’t have to remove the number from your list entirely, but this way you know that your time would be best spent calling someone else for the time being.
Plenty of people will be asked to be put on your do not call (DNC) list. As a business that doesn’t want to spoil its relationships, you must respect those wishes. Luckily, auto dialers can filter your lists so people on your DNC list won’t be contacted from that point forward.
Auto dialers can integrate with other software surrounding customer contact information. The most important one arguably being your customer relationship management (CRM) solution. CRMs are tools used by businesses to track customer data, including their past interactions with your business, preferences, and place in the buyer’s journey.
Valuable information is shared during customer phone calls. When integrated with a CRM, auto dialers can update customer data based on the conversation.
Contact list management
Auto dialers also have the ability to manage your contact list, including segmentations. If you are using a cloud based system, you can upload customer contact information from other databases. Having the most up-to-date way to reach a customer is important for efficiency, and auto dialers can take care of that for you.
Time zone management
There are already so many debates about the best time to call a prospective customer, and factoring in time zones is just another headache inducer. However, if you’re using an auto dialer, they can simplify this by adjusting the time zone so you are only calling customers when it’s appropriate for them.
Call transfer options
Workforces are currently scattered, and you might not have access to your office phone. Or perhaps your job is to qualify a customer before they start a conversation with another person within your business. Either way, if you need to transfer a call to another device or person, auto dialers can do that for you.
As mentioned before, certain types of auto dialers can enter a phone number before you’ve even finished your current phone call. It’s a great feature, but it can be a bit presumptuous regarding how much time the user needs in between each conversation.
Luckily, users can also customize their auto dialer’s speed based on the needs of their outbound calling campaign.
On top of streamlining the outbound calling process, auto dialers can deliver a variety of prerecorded messages once the receiver answers the call. Businesses can, and likely will, have more than one broadcasting message that they can implement depending on the nature of the call.
After that broadcasted message, the conversation might require action from the person receiving the call. Auto dialers give users the option to offer a menu to their customers depending on the action they want to take to move forward. For example, this might sound something like this:
“Press 1 to be connected with a sales representative.”
Auto dialers provide an overview of the progress of an outbound calling campaign using dashboards that update in real time. This way, both users and managers can see the overall performance of the efforts, activity levels, and statistics.
Call monitoring and recording
When calling a business, have you ever heard a robot-sounding voice say something about the message being recorded or monitored for quality assurance? That’s called the call monitoring feature, and it can be extremely helpful for optimizing your outbound calling efforts.
Managers might want to listen in on a conversation (giving both parties warning beforehand, of course) to gather insights into the interaction, assess the performance of the caller, and determine areas for improvement. They can either do this live with monitoring or later on with call recording.
You’re not going to reach everyone on the first attempt. Auto dialers recognize that and combat this issue by scheduling follow-ups or callbacks. If someone doesn’t answer your call, the auto dialer will just re-add them to the list, increasing the chances of connecting with and speaking to a customer.
Lastly, like many software solutions used within your organization, security is one of the most important features. It’s possible that your conversations include valuable private information, and a breach will most likely ruin your relationship with your customers, and potentially even your reputation.
Auto dialers implement security measures to keep customer information and data safe from all unauthorized users, making your customers feel safe and more willing to trust you.
How auto dialers work
That’s a heck of a lot of useful features for one software tool. Here’s how it works together as one cohesive unit.
For an auto dialer to run successfully, a user will need three things: a computer for the software, a voice modem, and an active telephone line. The voice modem is what allows the computer to play recorded messages over the phone. And of course, the people on the sending and receiving end of the phone call.
Auto dialer software will then integrate all of those components, along with the system that holds all of your customer contact information. Then, using the database of leads, the software will tell the computer which numbers to dial and how to pick up on dead ends, voicemails, and busy lines.
Using voice detection tools, the auto dialer will determine if it’s a voicemail or a person on the other end. With that information, they’ll take the designated action to connect the call recipient with a broadcasted message or a real person.
While the calls are being made, auto dialers will also collect data regarding pick up rate, the length of phone calls, and the number of calls that are sent to voicemail.
Advantages of using an auto dialer
Everybody’s job has a tediously mundane task that is always seen as a waste of time and energy. For people who spend their days cold calling customers, it’s dialing phone numbers, accidentally inputting the wrong one, or constantly being sent to voicemail.
Auto dialers, and all of their automation-related features, relieve those pain points for reps, giving them more time to focus on the interaction they are about to have with a customer.
First of all, the core feature of the tool, which is to dial phone numbers, saves loads of time for reps. Instead of rummaging through a database to find the best phone number at which to reach a prospect, reps can look at valuable information like their pain points, how the lead was captured, and their current business situation.
Secondly, auto dialers remove the uncertainty of calling every number on your list by segmenting prospects and filtering out potentially unproductive numbers and leads. Reallocating that wasted time will help increase the number of valuable connections your reps have with their prospective buyers.
Lastly, recording and monitoring capabilities offer insight into the overall performance of that particular outbound calling campaign. Which approaches are working? What is the best time of day to call prospects in this audience segment? Where are we seeing the most optimized results and response rates?
Auto dialers can contract that information and turn it into actionable insights regarding your calling efforts.
Limitations of using an auto dialer
Anyone who works on the phone most of the day is familiar with the rules and regulations regarding telemarketing created and governed by the Federal Trade Commission and the Do Not Call Registry. Auto dialers are no exception to these rules.
On top of that, it’s hard to count on auto dialers 100 percent of the time. Sometimes they aren’t completely accurate regarding a person or voicemail lying on the other end of a call.
5 best auto dialer solutions
The list below contains real-user reviews from the best auto dialers on the market.
To be included in this list, not only do you have to be a free application, but you also:
Automatically call phone numbers from a predesignated list
Present a prerecorded message or prompt once the call is answered or connect to a live agent
*Below are the five leading auto dialer solutions from G2's Fall 2020 Grid® Report. Some reviews may have been edited for clarity.
Talkdesk is an enterprise, cloud-based contact center tool designed to help companies offer a truly positive customer experience. This solution focuses on adapting your outbound calling campaigns to reflect and appeal to the changing needs of your customers, teams, and business overall to bring higher productivity and customer satisfaction.
What users like:
“The integration with our CRM was quick and helps us track phone activity with clients. It works with most modern browsers so I can use it almost anywhere. It’s quick to use so it is not bogging down your computer like some dedicated programs do. Holds a large database for all your clients. Clutter-free so it is not bogging you down in your mind with unnecessary steps and activities. Very customizable so you are not angry because it's not behaving how you want it.”
“The reporting is very difficult to manage. We have a hard time getting the information we need to filter how we want because every report needs to be downloaded to filter properly instead of being able to manipulate it within their system.”
NICE inContact is a cloud-based contact center software that is meant to shape the customer experience. Features of this software solution include omnichannel routing, analytics, workforce optimization, and artificial intelligence. NICE inContact’s goal is to help businesses provide excellent customer service by acting quickly and with skill.
What users like:
“The easy transfers and the no-lag switching. We can see when other users are available or what status they are in – it's very helpful. We are a large company with offices all over the country, and it's really nice to be able to connect so quickly with other agents that work for the same company, but live elsewhere. We are a team, and NICE inContact is helping us to stay connected.”
“I feel the inability to control some of the pop-ups at the user lever leaves a bit to be desired. When you are interacting with the softphone a pop-up will force you to start over and have to acknowledge that pop-up even though you had the phone as your active window.”
Five9 is a cloud-based contact center operations software that provides businesses with all of the capabilities they need to run a contact center at any scale. The focus of this tool is to help businesses transition from an on-premise auto dialer to a cloud-based solution.
What users like:
“As a global organization with agents working all around the globe, great support is a must. Five9 provides the required support around the clock. Additionally, we haven't experienced any downtime when Five9 does system maintenance/updates. Moving to a cloud based solution was one of the best decisions our organization made. The Five9 platform allows our agents to work remotely and the transition from office to home was seamless to our customers. The Five9 tool is easy to use and provides many features that we did not have access to in our former contact center solution.”
“They now offer WebRTC as an option for reps, so they can use the platform without having to download any additional components. This is a quality upgrade, however, you have to pay extra for these seats. I wish they were the norm.”
Genesys’ PureConnect solution is an omnichannel engagement software for businesses to upscale their outbound calling efforts. This option prides itself on being quick to implement, easy to administer, and effective in terms of cost and flexibility. PureConnect offers both an on-premise and cloud-based solution that works to empower employees and improve customer relationships.
What users like:
“We've been able to build custom applications for a number of different areas, such as outbound caller ID validation, specific whisper notifications for different inbound or dialer calls, text to speech integration with Google's TTS API, and other company-specific requirements.”
“There are some minor things I don't like, like the inability to change the names of most of the containers in the administrator. The application is very sensitive too, meaning that any network blip might cause the system to fail over to the secondary server.”
PhoneBurner is a power dialer and sales acceleration solution that is made to improve the outbound calling efforts of any sales team, no matter their size. This is a cloud-based solution that focuses on increasing the number of live conversations and callbacks. With streamlined processes and automated workflows, PhoneBurner can help with dialing, contact management, lead distribution, and reporting.
What users like:
“I love how user-friendly and seamless the system is. One of the hardest things is trying to train your employees on a new system. Found it only took 15-20 mins for my users to be ready to dial! One other thing I love is with one click you have two points of contact. It saves us so much time and makes our process way more efficient.”
There aren’t enough hours in the day, and taking advantage of time you can automate a process is a great practice in productivity. Auto dialers are a perfect example of eliminating a tedious task and creating more time for focusing on the fuel for your business: the customer.
Mary Clare Novak is a Content Marketing Specialist at G2 based in Burlington, Vermont, where she is currently exploring topics related to sales and customer relationship management. In her free time, you can find her doing a crossword puzzle, listening to cover bands, or eating fish tacos. (she/her/hers)
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