Why You Might Want an Outbound Dialer
- 24 May 2023
Outbound dialing? It’s more than a fancy way of saying making a phone call. Even though phones haven’t used a rotary dial in decades, we still dial in the word to refer to automation software for making calls: outbound dialers (OBD).
OBD software is commonly found in contact centers and sales engagement platforms, where it improves staff efficiency by reducing manual repetitive outbound calling, so that sales agents and customer service representatives can contact more customers within a given period of time.
In addition to serving as a tool for live representatives, outbound dialers can also be fully automated to deliver recorded telemarketing calls. An OBD can deliver a voice message — useful for things like product promotions; announcements, notifications, and alerts; and one-time passwords (OTP) used for two-factor authentication (2FA). A more sophisticated multilevel OBD can accept input from call recipients, like an interactive voice response (IVR) system, and so can be used for things like sending payment reminders with an option to make payments and gathering product or service feedback.
There’s also the hybrid approach, where an OBD makes an automated call, but the call recipient can press a key and be patched over to a live agent.
Why not use text messaging, which is many people’s preferred channel for communication nowadays, instead of dialing up a voice call? Voice messages can convey more information than a single character-limited text message. Depending on where you are and what number type you use, voice can be less expensive too — and making one voice call will almost always be less expensive than sending multiple SMS messages. Voice is also better for certain kinds of calls that demand a personal touch.
OBD use cases
Outbound dialers can save time in a number of use cases.
- Alerts and notifications
When companies need to tell a cohort of customers about a change that people might not be happy about, a voice call can provide more empathy than a text message. An airline might use OBD to send notice of flight delays; a salon might alert customers when a stylist calls in sick.
- Surveys and feedback
Most people don’t have the patience to provide feedback for you if you ask them via email or SMS, but a quick automated call where they can speak answers or press keypad keys is likely to get better engagement. (Quick is key.)
- Financial conversations
Discussions about things such as overdue bills are often better handled by a live agent than an impersonal text or email. OBDs can automatically dial phone numbers from a predefined list, eliminating the need for agents to manually dial.
Different use cases lend themselves to different OBD modes. Call center managers generally refer to three modes: predictive, preview, and progressive.
Predictive dialers can make many calls at one time. When someone answers, they’re connected with the next available agent. If no one answers, the software disconnects and moves to the next number in its calling queue. The goal is to maximize the productivity of call center agents by minimizing the time they spend waiting between calls and increasing the likelihood of reaching a live person on the other end of the line.
Predictive dialing is suitable for high-volume use cases with many available agents, in which agent efficiency is a priority, such as customer service follow-up, telemarketing, market research, and outbound sales prospecting.
A possible downside of predictive OBD is the risk of “dead air” for the called party. Predictive OBDs algorithmically determine when they should make a call based on metrics such as average call duration, abandonment rates, and agent skill levels. When they get the timing wrong, a call recipient can end up on the phone before an agent is available; most likely they’ll hang up.
With preview dialing, agents signal when they’re ready for a call. The dialer presents information about the contact being called, such as a customer name, account details, and previous call history. An agent can review the material before initiating a call.
Preview dialing can be advantageous in situations where a personalized approach is needed, such as in sales or collections calls, and when dealing with complex issues that require a full understanding of the contact situation. However, it results in lower call volume and lower efficiency than predictive OBD, as agents spend more time preparing for each call and manually initiating the dialing process.
Progressive dialing, also known as power dialing, is similar to preview dialing in that agents indicate when they’re ready for the next call. The difference is that the agents receive information about the customer while a call is being made, rather than beforehand. This speeds up the outgoing call process, but gives less time for the agents to prepare.
Progressive dialers help agents maximize their time spent on the phone. This mode strikes a balance between the efficiency of predictive outbound dialing and the control offered by preview outbound dialing. It minimizes the risk of dropped or abandoned calls while still offering a degree of personalization and control for the agents.
Sales teams often use progressive dialing when they’re looking to renew or upsell customers.
Whichever dialing mode you use, you’re likely to gain several benefits from OBD.
- Efficient call routing
OBDs can intelligently route calls to the appropriate agents based on factors such as skill level, availability, and language preferences. This ensures that customers are connected to the most suitable agent, improving the overall customer experience.
OBD software is designed to scale with a call center’s needs, making it suitable for growing organizations or those whose business cycle is seasonal. As the number of agents or call volume increases, the software can be adjusted to handle the growth.
- Real-time monitoring and reporting
Outbound dialers provide real-time monitoring and reporting tools to track agent performance, call outcomes, and other essential metrics. These insights enable call center managers to make data-driven decisions to optimize their operations.
- Compliance management
OBD software can include built-in compliance features to help call centers adhere to industry regulations and avoid potential legal issues. Compliance requirements may include call recording, call disposition tracking, and adherence to do not call (DNC) lists.
- CRM integration
Outbound dialers can be integrated with customer relationship management (CRM) systems, allowing agents to access customer information and history during calls. This integration helps agents deliver a personalized and efficient service, enhancing the customer experience.
However you use them, outbound dialers can help call centers automate and optimize their outbound calling processes, enabling them to enhance productivity, improve customer satisfaction, and elevate overall business performance.
Plivo’s Voice API is a great tool for writing OBD software — or if you prefer your outbound dialing pre-canned, we offer Contacto, a cloud call center application, and Sellular, a sales engagement platform for prospecting at scale.