Predictive Dialers Get a Bad Rap

When I used to explain what I do for work, I would include something about "an automated dialing product… you know, when you get that call around dinner time with a guy trying to sell you new windows?"  I decided that I needed to come up with a more positive (and fair) explanation of an automated or predictive dialer.  If Predictive Dialers were a people group, they would probably claim to be misunderstood or to have gotten a bad rap [side note: I wasn’t sure how to spell ‘bad rap’, so I looked it up – interesting article for those like me who enjoy words.]

Have you ever called a list of 50 or more people for some reason?  I have.  I started at the top of my list of people and numbers, typed in the first number (hopefully not messing it up), listened to the phone ring rehearsing in my head what I was going to say only to get an answering machine… or a wrong number… or a busy signal… or their 12 year old son.  I then made note of the result and moved on to the next number.  Assuming I didn’t talk too long to any of the people I got on the phone, calling 50 people in this fashion is easily a 2 hour effort.

Now, extend that effort to calling all of the people who have registered on your web site today looking for more information… or contacting all households in the state of Ohio… or following up with all the students who are expecting a call re: financial aid… and on and on.  Can you imagine manually dialing a list of 10,000 names?  And that’s a small list.

Automated dialers are used for many things besides telemarketing:

  • Blood bank requests – we need a fresh and steady supply of blood, especially the rarer types – and a dialer calling past donors fits the bill (it’s in use at many blood banks with good success).
  • Web site request follow-up – people get on your web site, read about your products or services, and request a call back to talk.  At 20 requests a day, you can follow up manually pretty easily.  What happens when you hit 500 or 2,000 a day (not uncommon)?  How do you keep track of who you have tried to contact, if you reached them, etc?  What about trying the people from yesterday and the day before that you didn’t reach?
  • Managing on-going business relationships – you have 150 inside sales reps each with 200 accounts that they are supposed to call every other week.
  • Getting the vote out for your candidate – let’s call the people who have registered with your party in the congressional district – 1000s of names.
  • And there are many more examples.

And then there is debt collections.  Sending a letter through the mail can be effective when debt is newly past due.  However, the phone is still the best method for contacting debtors, especially as the debt gets longer past due.  How much time would be wasted by individuals manually dialing 100,000 numbers trying to get debtors on the phone?  Paying these agents’ wages would balloon the already high cost of debt.  Automated, predictive dialing is the most efficient way to contact these debtors – routing only live speakers to agents.

Ok, maybe automated dialers aren’t all bad, you’re thinking.  So tell me more, Matt! :-)

10s of millions of calls are placed every day in the US by automated dialers… and they aren’t all trying to sell something or collect money.  They are, however, making the agents who would be manually dialing those calls much more efficient.

Is your company manually dialing long lists of numbers as a common business practice?  Is it time that you looked into an automated dialer?

Matt Taylor