Before choosing between a predictive dialer and a progressive one for your outbound call strategy, you should decide your business’s priorities. Are you looking to increase productivity? Do you want to drive up customer satisfaction scores? This tradeoff is implicit in the design of each system.
The main difference between predictive and progressive dialers is how they start a call. A predictive dialer dials several numbers simultaneously, assigning each rep a number as soon as they end the previous call. A progressive dialer, on the other hand, only dials one number at a time, which gives the rep time to research the potential client who will pick up the phone.
In this post, we’ll cover the vital advantages and tradeoffs that come with using both dialers. Plus, we’ll give you some alternatives if neither a predictive or progressive dialer sounds like the right fit for your business.
Predictive Dialers Reach More People (With a Catch)
A predictive dialer stands out for its high productivity not only because it can reach more people, but also because it can reduce the amount of time agents spend waiting.
It keeps up with the latest tech advances by automatizing the calling process through algorithms and predictive analytics. These tools are designed for the systems to anticipate when a representative will be available for the next call.
- Call prediction: A predictive dialer anticipates calls by using historical data about each rep to estimate when they will finish a call. For instance, if there is an agent A, who usually completes calls in an average time of 30 seconds, and an agent B, who usually does it in 80 seconds, the system will assign the next call to agent A and the following to agent B.
- Call synchronization: By filtering out busy signals, voicemails, and unanswered calls, predictive dialers guarantee the reps a live answer on the other end. This way, they “clean up the field” for the agents.
- Adaptive call rate: Predictive dialers adjust the frequency of dialing based on various factors, like how many agents are available and how many calls are being answered. When agents work quickly, the adaptive call rate speeds up dialing but slows down if there are abandoned or unsuccessful calls.
So, what are the main contrasts with progressive dialers? Here are the major differences:
- Dialing method: A predictive dialer uses algorithms to anticipate agent availability and call abandonment rates. It simultaneously dials multiple numbers and connects agents to live calls as soon as they become available. A progressive dialer, in contrast, gives the reps a break as it waits for them to finish the previous call before dialing the upcoming number.
- Call rate: A predictive dialer has a higher call rate than a progressive dialer. Its dialing method allows predictive dialers to connect agents to live calls more frequently, increasing overall call volume.
- Agent control: As it is constantly assigning new calls to the reps, a predictive dialer leaves them with less control over the process. Even though a progressive dialer is an automatic process, the reps can still trigger the call to start when working with it.
While there are some notable differences between the two types of dialers, both share key features like skills-based routing, real-time monitoring, call recording, and playback.
So here’s the central question: How significant can the increase in call volume be achieved with the predictive dialing system versus other kinds of systems? What metrics help us confirm that predictive dialing has a more helpful outreach?
Some predictive dialer vendors claim their service can lead to a 300% increase in the number of calls agents can make compared to manual or progressive dialing. However, this is probably at the ultra high end of the statistics. Overall, though, industry experts agree that predictive dialers can significantly reach more people per hour compared to progressive dialers.
Keep in mind that how many people agents can reach in an hour depends on a few things beyond the type of dialer used, like how good the calling system is, the quality of the lists of people to call, and whether agents are ready to take calls.
The hidden cost behind predictive dialers
There are hidden costs behind predictive dialers, including:
- Potentially higher call abandonment rates
- Potential harm to your customer experience
- Potential costs associated with complying with regulations
Consider that this productivity improvement is not for free. There’s a catch—a tradeoff to consider. That price you’re secretly paying is a potentially higher call abandonment rate.
So, in a worst-case scenario, choosing predictive dialers could potentially decrease customer satisfaction rates. The long-established adage goes that it costs five times as much to acquire a new customer as it does to retain an existing one, so you should look closely at which base—prospects or existing customers whom you want to upsell to—you’re targeting with this tech.
On the other hand, productivity alone isn’t a measure of success. Is a rep really productive if handling so many calls actually leads to a lowering of your standards?
Keep in mind that monitoring and managing call abandonment is also a legal requirement.
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has regulations to protect consumers. To abide by its rules, your call abandonment rate must not exceed 3% of all calls made over 30 days.
Optimizing predictive dialer settings, improving call center processes, and providing adequate staffing to handle tilting call volumes are some strategies to avoid breaking this limit—and they’ll mean you’ll have to invest resources to get it right.
Since call abandonment will probably be higher than you expect with predictive dialers, and you’re compelled to measure it, it’s also a hidden cost.
Progressive Dialers Have Lower Call Abandonment (At a Cost)
Just like the predictive dialer, a progressive dialer automatically dials numbers from a preloaded list and connects them with available agents.
What makes it a competitive alternative to a predictive dialer is that, since it dials one number at a time and lets the rep decide when to begin with the following call, a progressive dialer offers some singular benefits:
- Lower call abandonment rate: The progressive dialer aims to create a more pleasant customer experience and reduce the likelihood of customers giving up on their calls by cutting down on wait times. Think about it: If you hear a voice when you pick up the phone, you will think twice before hanging up. Compare it to when you listen to the standby tone, which almost encourages you to hang up.
- Improved customer satisfaction: When customers are connected with agents quickly, customer satisfaction goes up.
- Better suited for certain types of customers and scenarios: Take, for instance, businesses that value personalized customer interactions or deal with intricate sales procedures. They may find progressive dialers a favorable choice. These dialers give reps greater call control, enabling them to deliver a more customized and attentive customer experience.
Because of their lower abandonment rate, progressive dialers are safer from a compliance standpoint and better for maintaining high levels of customer satisfaction.
This is because progressive dialers exclusively link agents to live callers, minimizing the chances of breaching telemarketing regulations. The Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) is the major legislation governing telemarketing in the United States. It establishes limits for telemarketing operations, including the use of automated calling systems, and progressive systems are more compliant by design. Compliance also considers things like prior consent, call time, and respecting Do Not Call lists.
In contrast, predictive dialers might connect agents to numbers that haven’t given consent to receive calls, potentially leading to fines or other consequences.
The hidden cost behind progressive dialers
Owing to the step-by-step approach to making calls, progressive dialers tend to exhibit lower total call volumes and productivity when contrasted with predictive dialers. The result is slower lead conversion rates and decreased operational efficiency for businesses that heavily depend on high call volumes.
So, predictive dialers may be a more efficient choice if you work in telemarketing or lead generation companies or any business that requires many outbound calls to be made in a short span.
Comparing Predictive Dialers vs. Progressive Dialers
Let’s compare these two systems side-by-side.
When will a predictive dialer work better, or why?
- High call volume needs: It is ideal for businesses with many outbound calls that should be made within a narrow timeframe.
- Automated call handling: It efficiently connects agents with live callers and maximizes how many calls can be made each day.
- Data-driven: It uses clever algorithms to predict call availability and optimize agent workloads.
- Best suited for telemarketing and lead generation: It is particularly suitable for industries where high call volumes are essential.
When will progressive dialer work better, or why?
- Personalized interactions: It is specially designed to deliver hand-hewn and attentive customer experiences. It’s almost a premium option.
- Complex sales processes: It is better suited for businesses with well-scripted sales procedures that require agent control.
- Telemarketing regulations: It reduces the risk of compliance issues by only connecting agents with opted-in callers.
- Lower call volumes: It is also better suited for businesses with lower call volume needs or those valuing quality over quantity.
Both systems aim to improve efficiency by automatizing the dialing process. But they bet on different mechanisms to achieve this goal. While progressive dialers emphasize maintaining high-quality interactions and providing agents with some control, predictive dialers focus on increasing the volume of calls handled per agent.
Besides picking a dialing system, consider also switching to VoIP. This technology helps businesses save money on traditional phone fees, especially for international and long-distance calls, and might match the same business objective that you’re trying to reach with the dialers. Plus, many VoIP providers offer different types of dialers and can help you choose the right one for your business.
Three Alternatives to Predictive and Progressive Dialers
Predictive and progressive dialers are often pitted against each other as if they were the only options. Still, there’s more to making calls than those two. In some scenarios, companies might even opt for different dialing paths.
1. Preview dialers
Preview dialers provide agents with information about the caller before they connect the call. This allows the agent to review the customer record and prepare for the conversation, which can lead to more successful calls.
Their process has four steps:
- The dialer selects a customer record from the call list.
- The dialer presents the rep with the customer record, including the contact information, call history, and other relevant information.
- The rep reviews the customer record and decides whether or not to place the call.
- If the rep decides to place the call, the dialer connects them to the customer.
They work similarly to progressive dialers but rely on this critical extra feature. Therefore, preview dialers tend to have progressive dialers’ pros and cons, but accentuated:
- Even higher customer satisfaction: With a moderately more customized approach, the customers are likely to feel better treated with a unique and personalized experience.
- Even lower call abandonment rate: Callers who are targeted are inclined to keep the conversation going.
- Increased compliance: The agents could notice that certain numbers are blocklisted.
- Lower call volume: The system requires pauses to get familiar with the profile and thus cuts the call volume down.
- Increased agent workload: The people are not only calling, so it means they’re focused on more tasks than on other systems.
Preview dialers can increase the workload for agents because they have to review customer information before placing calls. Even if agents work harder with this system, the call volume will inevitably be lower since they’ll have to switch their focus from only dialing to the whole process.
Therefore, the key differences between a predictive and a preview dialer are the exact differences between a predictive and a progressive dialer, but intensified:
- A preview dialer allows agents to review customer information before placing calls, while predictive dialers do not.
- A preview dialer may have a lower call volume than predictive dialers, but can also lead to more focused and productive conversations.
- A preview dialer is safer from a compliance standpoint than predictive dialers because it is less likely to connect agents to numbers that have not opted in to receive calls.
Regarding progressive dialers, both are automated dialing systems that allow agents to review customer information before placing calls. However, there are some critical differences between the two types of dialers:
- A preview dialer will enable agents to decide whether or not to place the call. In contrast, progressive dialers automatically connect agents to the next customer on the list.
- A preview dialer may have an even lower call volume than progressive dialers.
So, when is a preview dialer an attractive alternative? It’s a good choice for companies that want to achieve high levels of customer satisfaction, prioritize unique customer interactions, and handle outbound calls to existing customers. It’s a leveled-up version of the progressive dialer.
2. Power dialers
Power dialers are a simplified version of a predictive dialer, lacking sophisticated algorithms that anticipate agent availability and call abandonment rates.
How do they work?
- The power dialer selects a phone number from the call list.
- It automatically dials the phone number.
- If the call is answered, it connects the agent to the caller.
- If the call is not answered, the power dialer moves on to the following phone number on the list.
The game of accentuations and differences also takes place when comparing power dialers and predictive dialers, but it works the other way around compared to the progressive–preview relation. While preview dialers intensify progressive dialers’ pros and cons, power dialers mitigate predictive dialers’ pros and cons:
- Higher call volume: But not as much as predictive dialers can achieve.
- Lower customer satisfaction: Because of its higher call abandonment rate. Although they still enable a better experience than predictive dialers.
- Higher compliance risk: Again, but not as high as predictive dialers.
- Reduced control for agents.
Power dialers are suitable for businesses that prioritize high call volume, value agent control, and are concerned about compliance, but prefer a simplified dialing system, or are wary of towering fees.
3. Blended dialers
A blended dialer combines the features of predictive and progressive dialers and involves both inbound and outbound calls. A blended dialer can automatically dial outbound calls and connect agents to live callers while simultaneously allowing agents to receive inbound calls. This blending of inbound and outbound calls aims to optimize agent utilization, improve overall call center efficiency, and keep the customer happy.
How does a blended dialer work?
- The blended dialer monitors both inbound and outbound call queues.
- When an outbound call is available, the dialer automatically connects it to an available rep.
- If an inbound call arrives while a rep handles an outbound call, the dialer places the call on hold until the rep becomes available.
- The dialer can also be configured to prioritize inbound calls over outbound calls, ensuring that reps are always available to answer incoming inquiries.
- Improved agent utilization: Blended dialers maximize the agent’s time on the phone by ensuring that they are constantly engaged in either inbound or outbound calls, minimizing idle time.
- Keeping tabs on the customers: By providing immediate attention to inbound calls and maintaining a consistent outbound calling cadence, blended dialers contribute to higher customer satisfaction.
- Increased sales and conversions: With optimized agent utilization and improved customer interactions, blended dialers could lead to increased sales and conversions.
- Complicated configuration and management: Blended dialers require careful design and ongoing management to work well and balance out calls coming in and going out. This explains why very sophisticated call centers end up evolving to be Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) partners.
- Potential for agent burnout: The constant switching between inbound and outbound calls may lead to increased workload and potential burnout for reps.
Thus, unlike predictive and progressive dialers, blended dialers can handle both inbound and outbound calls but can be more complex to configure and manage, and not just from a technical perspective.
Other differences are:
- They give agents more control over the calling process than predictive dialers, but not as much as progressive dialers.
- Blended dialers may have a lower call volume than predictive dialers, but can also lead to more personalized and focused conversations. Although, again, it is not as personalized as progressive dialers.
Blended dialers offer an adaptable solution for businesses that handle a significant volume of inbound and outbound calls. Outgoing and incoming calls are handled by separate teams in large contact centers.
Smaller businesses, on the other hand, typically have fewer employees and use the same agents for both operations. So it’s up to your business size and your business objective to understand if blending calls will work out for you.