What is a Dialer?
Dialer is an application used in call centres to automate the process of dialing to external phone numbers so that the agents can attend to certain calls selectively. Well, since call centres want to increase the productivity per agent they have employed, they monitor the time which is spent by an agent to talk to a prospective customer. So, when the agents are provided with a data base and asked to call to various prospects, it is noticed that the effective time spent in talking to the customers is very low as many calls are not picked up, answered by fax machines, busy etc. So, the agents spend more time dialling numbers than actually talking. That is why many outbound call centres employ dialers that automatically dials the phone numbers on behalf of the agents, to increase their efficiency, which is sometimes measured in Talk Time per Hour (TTH).
Types of Dialer’s:
Manual Dialer: There is a phone, there is a phone line connected to it. So, the agents just pick up the phone and start dialing by themselves! It has been noticed that this is the least efficient way of conducting outbound call campaigns in larger call centres (based on Talk Time per Hour values). But we’ll tell you one thing: This is the most economical way for a very small call centre/ office!
Preview Dialing: This is first level of Dialer automation. There is a database in a PC and the agent selects which number to dial to, and perhaps clicks on the contact (or uses some other button) so that the call is automatically dialed by the system and the agent doesn’t have to dial through a keypad. Based on the response, the agent either talks to the person at the other end or manually disconnects the call if there is an answering machine, fax machine, busy signal or no response. The records need to be manually updated by the agent, after the call.
A predictive dialer consists of a dialing algorithm that “predicts” when an agent will be available and calls being made automatically by the predictive dialer based on the above prediction to have it ready to connect the agent’s workstations when there is an answer by a live contact.
The effectiveness of a predictive dialer depends on a lot of factors like the size of the call centres (number of agents), length of an average call, sophistication of prediction algorithm, time of the day, type of job etc.
If a call is ready (based on the prediction algorithm) and no agent is available, then the call is automatically terminated by the predictive dialer, which results in call abandonment.
A predictive dialer automatically identifies answering machines based on the length of the response immediately after the call is picked up: If it is a short “hello” then it probably is a live contact, if there is a longer response, then it is probably an answering machine. Some predictive dialer’s use frequency detection of the voice answering the call to identify if it is a live contact (person) or an answering machine, which is more effective.
Advantages and dis-advantages of Predictive dialing: Predictive dialer’s are found to be very effective for larger call centres and they may result (on an average) in a better Talk Time per Hour for the agents (More efficiency). The main dis-advantage would be the abandoned calls, which can be tracked with a caller ID and the delay that takes place during the transfer of the call to the agent (after the contact answers, which might prompt the contact to cut the call). This may not be effective for Business to Business Calling unless customized (as the calls may be picked up by an IVR, receptionist or a voice mail).
In this method, the agent indicates his/her availability and only after the indication by the agent, the progressive dialer starts dialing automatically from the database. There on, the progressive dialer determines if the call resulted in a busy signal, no-answer, fax machine, modem signal etc. and automatically terminates the call (In certain cases, marks the call/record to be called after ‘n’ minutes) and places the call to the next prospect. If any of the above cases is not true, then the agent gets to decide if it is a live call or the call is being answered by an answering machine. If it is a live call, then the agent starts talking to the contact right after the word “Hello” and if it is an answering machine, the agent manually updates (by clicking a button etc.) the database and after that the progressive dialer starts calling the next record automatically.
Advantages and dis-advantages of Progressive dialing: There are no abandoned calls by using a progressive dialer and there is also no delay meaning the agent can start talking to the contact immediately after the contact answers with a “Hello”. Agent might also get some time to preview the details about the contact while the progressive dialer is dialing the number (at least the pronunciation of the name). Progressive dialing is better suited for Business to Business dialing. The dis-advantages include lesser Talk Time per Hour (Lesser efficiency), longer duration taken for each call and the agent has to manually distinguish if the call is answered by an answering machine or a live contact to update the database.
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