Today we’re going to look at the differences between the two and discuss whether a predictive dialer is your best option.
Most importantly, we’re going to find out how you can guarantee peak performance from your outbound dialing.
What is a predictive dialer?
Predictive dialers aren’t new, but they still feel like next-generation tech. While more basic dialers just call your contacts, one after another, a predictive dialer goes a step further.
The clue is in the word ‘predictive’. This kind of dialer monitors call volume and agent availability, using that information to anticipate when an agent will be ready. It starts dialling before an agent is available, knowing (with reasonable accuracy) that someone will be free in time to handle the call.
Any auto dialer saves time by cutting out manual dialing. A predictive dialer saves even more time because agents don’t need to wait for calls to connect.
Predictive dialer – strengths and weaknesses
A lot of outbound calls
A decent predictive dialer is capable of connecting a huge number of calls. Basic analysis suggests that it can connect about 50% more calls than a standard auto dialer. As for manual dialing, there’s no contest.
A more meaningful ‘occupancy’ metric
The occupancy rate for agents is the amount of time they’re busy on call-related work – not available to take or make calls. But occupancy includes talk time and time spent waiting for calls to connect. Get rid of the wait, and you drastically increase the value of agent occupancy.
Scaling up means more efficiency
A standard auto dialer works the same for any number of agents. Not so for a predictive dialer; in fact, the more agents you add, the more predictable their calls patterns become. This is one thing that actually gets easier as your business grows.
Possible quality issues
A predictive dialer is making constant calculations with a huge number of variables, and it’s not always perfect. There can be delays in connecting, meaning the customer answers before an agent is ready. Not an ideal start.
Customers hate silent calls
Even worse than a slight delay is a totally silent call. Sometimes a predictive dialer places a call, only to find that there are no agents available. At that point, the call center can either provide a recorded message or… total silence.
Works best at scale
This is sort of a strength and a weakness. As I mentioned, predictive dialers scale with your business very well. The flip-side is that they don’t really work with smaller deployments – call centers with fewer than 15 agents may not see any benefit.
So is a predictive dialer what you need?
On to the million-dollar question – is a predictive dialer the one for you? We’ve seen how the biggest call centers can get the most benefit from this kind of dialer.
But that doesn’t have to lock out smaller, upstart call centers. In fact, the size of the business is less relevant than the kind of work they do.
In our previous post, we saw how the one-in/one-out approach of power dialers makes them perfect for high-quality service.
Predictive dialers are more about quantity. So in a sales setting – especially for cold calling on a big scale – they’re hard to beat.
Research from Ofcom in the UK shows that between 30-50% of calls go to an answering machine. That’s a lot of failed contact attempts for agents trying to make sales, especially when their offer is time-sensitive.
Predictive dialers often include answer machine detection, which helps agents to start as many real conversations as possible.
But, as with other benefits we’ve seen, there is a downside to answer machine detection. It generally introduces a delay and false positives, so you need to consider its use very carefull.
Sales are about speed
No dialer is perfect, and it’s probably fair to say that the speed of a predictive dialer is a trade-off against precision.
However, selling is largely about winning races. Up to half of sales go to the first vendor who responds to a lead.
So… how can you get more from a predictive dialer?
We started with a question: what do the best predictive dialers have that yours doesn’t?
The answer? Perspective.
Typically, predictive dialers plough through contacts without taking in much of the context that surrounds calls. But a few simple automations can help your dialer prioritize its workload far more intelligently.
Perspective = automated processes
Your dialer can get through leads at an incredible rate, moving right past any that don’t answer. But that doesn’t mean you should throw those leads out. Automatically recycling them is one of the most important automations to create.
You should also think about creating the call list automatically to begin with. This involves using APIs to link up data from web forms and other lead generation systems.
But call lists aren’t one and done
You want to get to new leads quickly. Even when you’re not competing against rivals, the odds of a lead entering the sales process are far higher if you offer a speedy response. In fact, respond within five minutes and you’re 21 times more likely to qualify a lead than if you take 30 minutes.
So you shouldn’t necessarily add new leads to the back of the queue. It might make more sense to prioritize them to maximise the chance for them entering your sales pipeline.