Manual Dialing vs. Predictive Dialing: What You Need to Know?

Source: Dilbert Comic Strip (18th Feb 2001). http://dilbert.com/strip/2001-02-18

Don’t worry!Call center agents do not do this usually (or maybe they do but we might not know😉).

Jokes apart, thanks to advancements in call center technology, some tools can now exponentially increase the calling-efficiency and reduce agent idle time. One of the examples of most advanced call center technology is a Predictive Dialer. But before understanding how a Predictive dialer is better than other outbound dialers, let’s start with what a dialer is and what is its significance in the call center industry.

Does Dialer Only Dial?

As you might have already guessed by now, a Dialer (Dial-er) is software that ‘dials’. It is the (first) medium to establish connections with prospective customers in an outbound call center. It can be used to make and receive calls.

Every call center manager, unequivocally, agrees that dialers lie at the core of call center operations. It is meant for communicating with the customers. Hence, the performance, efficiency, and ROI of a call center directly depend upon the dialer-type and its capabilities.

If you are unable to think of a way to reduce the time on call in real scenarios, and you are using manual dialing, then you will benefit from something called as Predictive Dialer. A predictive dialer can exponentially improve agents’ productivity by reducing their idle time. Let’s us study how predictive dialing is better than manual dialing and what are the other fundamental differences between them.

Manual Dialing

Definition

As the name suggests, Manual Dialing is a basic dialer where the agents dial the contact numbers from the list of the customers manually one after another. It is the traditional dialer with which most small to medium call centers start (their operations).

With a manual dialer, agents dial a number either from a pre-loaded list or by typing with a keypad. Agents then need to wait for the call to connect which can be either busy, wrong, or reach answering machine. Since manual dialing doesn’t have the scope of filtering these calls, hence it is the least efficient way of outbound calling.

Advantages

With manual dialer, the agent dials a number and enters specific information about a call like the caller name, call disposition status, notes, and reminders if any. These particulars along with the time of the call, call duration, and call recording can be saved in the database. When collated, this information can be used to assess the performance of the call center. Similarly, it can help in tracking agents’ performance graphs via their logging details, call records and idle time.

Disadvantages

While Manual dialing seems simple enough for a starting call center but at the same time, it is the least efficient process among the others. With manual dialing, agents spend most of their time in finding, dialing, and re-dialing in case of busy tones, wrong numbers, and answering machines, than actually talking on the call. Reaching customer becomes time-consuming, hence it gets a bit frustrating for agents. Eventually, the number of connections and revenue receive a hit.

Since manual dialers are agent-driven, hence, they are prone to inconsistent performance. There is vast room for errors and lags due to human involvement. Call centers need to depend upon the agents’ discretion to get efficient calling performance. Also, since it is human intensive, it leads to higher cost related to staffing and training. The data and information manually entered by agents are prone to duplicates and errors.

Applications

In spite of the above shortcomings, manual dialers are still the first choice for call centers which are starting their operations, have a limited budget and little knowledge about the industry. These dialers are mostly used by players who are already using it and do not have the spending capacity for further advanced dialers. It is also used in those call centers that have very low call volume.

Predictive Dialer

Definition

Predictive Dialer automatically dials numbers by intelligently predicting the availability of the agent to take a call. Based on the average call duration for an agent and a pre-set ratio of the campaign, a predictive dialer starts dialing multiple numbers at once even before the agent ends the previous call.

Advantages

This type of dialing reduces the waiting time of agent between dialing and connecting to a live customer ready to talk. Also, it intelligently filters busy tones, wrong numbers, call waitings, and even answering machines. The most significant advantage of a predictive dialer is that it always connects an available agent only to a live person.

A predictive dialer delivers better performance than a manual dialer in two ways. Firstly, it helps in significantly amplifying the number of live connections and time on call. Secondly, it reduces the waiting time of the agent by dialing the next number even before the previous call has ended and filtering out the non-connected calls. As against a manual dialer, a predictive dialer makes more calls and reduces the idle time of agents considerably. Call centers can utilize the benefits of time-zone calling too via predictive dialing.

Disadvantages

However, there are negative implications of predictive dialers too. In predictive dialing, customers hear silence for 2–3 seconds before an agent speaks up from the other end. This lag is the time taken by predictive dialer to identify human voice and forward the call to an available agent. However, this may create frustration among customers since they have to wait before they could hear from the other end. Besides, at times, more than one call gets connected to a live customer while no agent is available to take up those calls. Such calls are called Dropped calls or Abandoned calls.

Applications

Predictive dialers are smart dialers which filter calls before connecting to a live agent. Still, there are chances of dropped calls. In countries like the US, call drop is illegal, and there is a fine for dropped calls beyond 3%. Hence, predictive dialers are ideal for call centers with more agents. Predictive dialers definitely can churn out more calls than a manual dialer. More calls mean more sales. Hence predictive dialer is ideal for debt collection, market-research, and telemarketers who have an extensive set-up of more than five agents.

Feature-wise Comparison

*Source: Predictive dialer — Wikipedia https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Predictive_dialer

Conclusion

Predictive dialing helps companies to close more deals by making more calls with flexible call handling. It provides better dialing support in a cloud-hosted environment and offers easier integration with CRM applications, which improves lead management and reporting. Eventually, call centers can track performances and generate insights for greater profits. Predictive dialing increases agent productivity and is any day better than manual dialing to handle the heavy call volume.