Predictive Dialers

Written by Elisabeth Forsythe
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More and more companies today are finding it preferable to conduct business over the phone. For businesses offering goods and services, it's much cheaper to call their customers than print brochures or produce radio or television ads. For companies that specialize in customer service and support, it's faster and more practical to help someone over the phone than to schedule an appointment and travel to a customer's home. Predictive dialers have benefited all kinds of call centers, saving time and money while boosting productivity.

Telemarketing really found its footing toward the end of the 20th century, and continues to grow exponentially today. In 1999 alone, advertising and marketing companies in the United States spent 110.5 billion dollars on telemarketing. That's because there is a lot of money to be made in phone sales--by the end of the 1990s, the value of goods and service sold over the phone amounted to 750 billion dollars worldwide.

How can a predictive dialer help your company? It's common knowledge that manually dialing numbers is mind-numbing. Plus, it can take up a lot of time, especially since out of any lead list, there's going to be a percentage of numbers that are invalid. Phone lines can be disconnected, or used for fax machines or Internet dial-up. And these days, half the time you call any number, you'll reach an answering machine or busy signal.

"Predict" Increased Sales with Predictive Dialers

With these obstacles in place, the time a typical agent gets to actually speak to customers on the phone can be a measly 20 minutes per hour. That's more than half the day wasted just looking for an actual human to talk to. Predictive dialer software can raise this pitiful figure to an astonishing 50 minutes per hour--more than double the results of manual dialing.

That's because predictive dialers can do the dialing for your agents--quickly and accurately phoning every lead from your database. They sift through busy signals or modems and transfer only "live" leads to your agents. Even if every salesperson on your staff was dialing as quickly as possible, they still wouldn't be able to call as many prospects as a predictive dialer. These computerized dialers "predict" how many attempts will be unsuccessful, and when an agent will next be available, and they dial ahead. For example, if you have a staff of 100, the dialer will call 150 numbers.

A predictive dialer can make an administrator's job much easier. By checking their computer screen, they can get a "real time" overview of the call queue, and their agents' status. How many calls are being placed, and how many are connecting? How many prospects are agents speaking to per day? Sales rates, scheduled callbacks, and scripts are easy to access and update.

Improve Call Center Support

Predictive dialers also offer benefits for inbound call centers, such as catalogue companies or technical support departments. By organizing each incoming call into a single queue, agents can quickly prioritize to handle as many customers as possible. They can also record conversations for future reference, transfer voice and data to other agents, and keep a detailed history for each client.

The best part about many predictive dialers today is that you don't need to buy expensive telephony components to run them. Many software-only solutions are available for those with a small staff--or smaller budget. If you're the administrator of a call center, you might want to check it out--there's probably a predictive dialer system that's right for you.

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