Predictive dialers have been deemed the holy grail of dialers, and in a lot of cases they are. They promise to increase your contact rates, which equates to a more active, revenue-producing, outbound sales department. They will serve up calls with lightning speed, giving your sales team plenty of potential customers to talk to. But even with all of their benefits, predictive dialers aren’t always right for you and can cost you a lot of money if used incorrectly.

The thing about predictive dialers is that they are effective, so long as you are equipped to use them. At a minimum you want to have 5 agents available for them to work correctly. In an ideal situation you’re going to have at least 10 people for a predictive dialer to be truly effective. It’s also important to note that, depending on what type of people you’re trying to reach, predictive dialers can be disastrous.

Here is why.

What is a predictive dialer?

A predictive dialer is a software application that is either hosted in the cloud or on a piece of hardware at a location. It analyzes the amount of time it takes for a call to connect, the average time a call takes to complete, and how long the agent takes to wrap up the call. It also looks at the number of available agents that are waiting for a call and predicts how many calls to make. It’s all about call pacing. AireContact has a predictive dialer, and it can dial out to 5 people per agent, but in some cases (in smaller sales organizations) this is not the best use of its technology.

If you want to use a predictive dialer, ask yourself these questions:

  1. Do I have less than 5 agents?
  2. Am I calling businesses?
  3. Do my agents need time to prepare for their conversations?
  4. Do my agents struggle under high volume call traffic?

If you answered ‘yes’ to any of these questions, you may want to consider a different kind of dialer. I’ll explain a bit further.

I have less than 5 agents: Like I said before, having less than an optimal number of agents seriously hampers your call efforts. The predictive dialer is going to have a hard time figuring out the pace of its operations because it won’t have a large enough sample size from which it produces its algorithm. On top of that if its serving up 20 calls per 15 seconds, what happens if you get a high connection rate and then end up with 50% drop calls? That could mean a big fine since the FCC is not impressed with call center statistics like these. In short? You may want to use a power dialer for this size of a team (AireContact has a Power Dialer, give it a try).

I’m calling businesses: This is purely a technological limitation. If you’re calling businesses, you’re going to run into automated attendant systems. Predictive dialers don’t know what to do with this. So your agents are going to either get tons of dropped calls in this situation, or get connected to IVR menus. On the other hand, if you are calling businesses and have access to direct line numbers (not extensions), then you can probably use it pretty effectively. Still, the rule of thumb remains: don’t use a predictive dialer on businesses.

My agents need time to prepare:  Agent preparedness makes the difference between a successful conversation and a disastrous one. Depending on the reason for the call an agent may need to have information regarding an account or the prospect with whom they are talking. Most inside sales organizations will want to know some background on the account before they call and speak with the contact. Other sales organizations may need to know the amount of debt the person has, the value of their home, or what kind of insurance they currently have. When a predictive dialer makes a connection the agent has less than 3 seconds to say hello. That means your agent only has 3 seconds to collect all of this data and initiate the conversation. You have a few seconds to turn the unexpected call into a sales opportunity, and you don’t want your first words to be “Hello, hold on a second please.” If this sounds like you, then you may want to look at using a preview dialer.

My agents can’t effectively handle a large volume of calls: Everyone can get burned out. Most sales people and customer service reps need a break after about 50 minutes of high volume interactions. But predictive dialers can be pretty merciless when it comes to non-stop dialing. Good predictive dialers look at the number of available agents vs the agents on break, but if you don’t have a large number of agents to keep the flow consistent you’re going to end up with a lot of burned out employees. Many successful sales organizations circumvent this by performing call blitzes. They call heavily for an hour or 50 minutes and take a 10-minute break, and go back to it. If you have a small number of agents and can’t handle the potential for a large amount of calls, then you may want to shy away from this dialing method.

On the other hand. If you don’t fall into any of the situations above, you should give a predictive dialer a shot. It could be the automated contact system you’ve been looking for.