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Power Dialer Vs. Predictive Dialer: What Is Best For Your Campaigns?

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Published: May 31, 2022

Predictive dialers can increase agent productivity by almost 300%

However, with predictive dialers, the chances of your calling campaigns not being compliant with telemarketing laws also increase (as we will see later). But that’s not the case with power dialers

Choosing the right dialer for your campaigns is critical to its success. All types of dialers have their pros and cons. The key here is to make a careful decision while choosing one whose benefits outweigh the disadvantages.  

If you are confused about choosing a power dialer or a predictive dialer for your calling campaigns, this post will help you clear that dilemma. 

What is a power dialer?

A Power Dialer is an outbound dialer that does the dialing for your agents. It automatically selects and dials the next number in the queue after a call. That way, agents don’t have to waste time dialing manually or switching between the software and the contact list. 

Once a call is over, the agent can take some time to enter details about the conversation, fill up surveys, etc. The software dials the next number only when the agent is ready and chooses the option for the same, as in the figure below.

Next call option - Power dialer

In CallHub, however, there is an extension to this feature that gives campaigners more flexibility and control. This is the autodialer that is available as a separate option under the types of dialers. 

Power dialer vs. predictive dialer vs. auto dialer

With the autodialer, you get a few additional advantages: 

  • Control over dialing ratio: In a power dialer, the ratio is 1:1 i.e., one call per free agent. In the autodialer, managers can adjust this ratio to X:1 to dial more than one contact per agent. This can be done to increase the speed of calling. 
  • Option to handle dropped calls efficiently: At a higher calling ratio, if multiple people pick up, the one who answered first is transferred while the others are dropped. However, it is not a good practice to leave a prospect waiting on the line. You can choose to either hang up the call or play a pre-recorded audio message. 
Power dialer extension - auto dialer
  • Save time: The autodialer skips through busy and invalid numbers and only connects the agent to live calls. It also has an answering machine detection feature that automatically drops a pre-recorded voicemail message. Moreover, agents don’t have to choose the “Next Call” option. Once they take down the notes click “Save”, the next contact in line is dialed automatically. 
Auto dialer - next call option after save

Note: The dialing ratio of an auto-dialer is the number of contacts dialed per single agent. For example, if you set the dialing ratio to 3:1, the dialer dials the next three phone numbers in the list for a single free agent. 

Read Next: 12 Essential Auto Dialer Features That Make Your Job Easy

What is a predictive dialer?

A predictive dialer is an automated outbound dialing system that is designed to increase the efficiency of agents. A predictive dialer calls a list of numbers and connects only live calls to the agents. This process ensures that no time is wasted waiting for dial tones or on invalid numbers.  

Predictive dialers are perfect for high-volume calling campaigns.

A predictive dialer algorithm analyzes the talk time, ring time, and database accuracy to determine the calling ratio. It also scales down the ratio if the abandoned call rates go up. 

Similar to power dialers, in predictive dialers, you can either hang up or play a recorded message for dropped calls too. Moreover, some smarter solutions even detect answering machines and automatically drop a voicemail message. However, these options are only available in some call center solutions (like CallHub).

Predictive dialer - dropped calls

Key differences: power dialer vs. predictive dialer

For more clarity on which dialer might be the best for you, here are the main differences between the two: 

Power dialer vs. predictive dialer - differences

You can also take our quiz Which dialer is the best for your campaign to make a decision about which dialer to choose.

Use cases: power dialer vs. predictive dialer

Let’s take a look at some real instances where organizations have used power or predictive dialers and how they benefitted.

An ideal use case for a power dialer

Let’s go over the example of Democrats Abroad using a power dialer for their calling campaign. 

Background

Democrats Abroad is the official Democratic Party arm catering to the millions of Americans living outside the United States. They work to inform and provide ex-pats the means to be a part of the American elections by mobilizing overseas votes. 

The organization ran a phone banking campaign to reach voters around the world. The objective of the campaign was to increase the voter turnout abroad for the 2018 US midterm elections. 

The campaign

Democrats Abroad set up a distributed campaign on CallHub for voter outreach. The centralized platform allowed them to manage and mobilize volunteers spread across the world. 

They realized that the reasons for low voter turnout abroad are-

  1. A complicated voting process.
  2. Issues with shifting addresses.
  3. Lack of awareness about voting rights.  

Democrats Abroad aimed to overcome these barriers by providing voters overseas with all the help they needed.

To achieve this, volunteers called people to understand precisely the kind of problems they were facing. For example, were they having trouble registering, or didn’t know what to do if they had changed their address, etc.? After noting them down, they followed up with voters giving them the exact solutions. 

By having personalized conversations with each voter, the organization was able to increase overseas turnout by 300%. 

Why was the power dialer suitable for the campaign? 

The power dialer was perfect for the campaign because: 

  • Volunteers needed time to take notes: After each call, volunteers had to note what issue the voter was facing. They also needed time to update the contact details (if any) to keep the database up to date. 
  • Each conversation was highly personalized: Before volunteers followed up, they had to be prepared. For instance, if the voter was having difficulties with registration, volunteers had to be ready to give them a step-by-step breakdown of the process. 

Takeaway

Power dialers are great for teams working on campaigns that require highly personalized conversations. Since there are no one-script fits all options for it, agents need time to prepare themselves for the next call. They also need some room to make notes of the conversation for the follow-up (like in the use case above). Plus, you can never estimate the call duration of such a call which is why power dialers are perfect (we’ll cover why in the section below).

Ideal use cases for power dialers are:

  • Voter outreach for GOTV 
  • Product/service sales
  • Fundraising campaigns

An ideal use case for predictive dialer

Now let’s go over the example of Organizing for Change using a predictive dialer for their calling campaign. 

Background

Organizing for Change (OFC) is a non-partisan strategic initiative of environmental groups based out of British Columbia. The organization works towards advancing policies beneficial for both the environment and the locals. 

A while back, OFC, along with others, got together to run a distributed phone banking campaign using CallHub. The objective was to run a survey to accumulate voter data and then use it for GOTV. 

Read Also: Your Handy Guide On Setting Up Survey Phone Call Campaigns

The campaign

OFC, along with 24 other groups like Dogwood Initiative and STAND, came together to make calls. They used CallHub’s volunteer management setup to make it easy for different groups to collaborate on one platform. 

Before they could figure out the best strategies for GOTV, they had to cumulate voter data. In Canada, organizations don’t have access to voter lists and hence have no data on who voted in the past. 

To accomplish this, each organization began calling its members to fill out a survey. While the survey questions were common for all, each group followed a unique script catering to its members. 

After collating voter data, they were able to plan their GOTV efforts better. The OFC and its partner groups were able to increase voter turnout by 7%.

Why was the predictive dialer suitable for the campaign? 

The predictive dialer was best for the campaign because: 

  • Not a lot of personalization was required: Volunteers didn’t have to read up on the prospects’ background (since most of it was not available). They only had to follow the script and get them to answer the survey questions. 
  • The prospect database was massive: Volunteers had to reach out to millions of people from the province in a limited period. Campaigners could not afford to waste the caller’s time waiting for the dial tone, invalid numbers, etc.

Takeaway

Predictive dialers are perfect for teams working on campaigns prioritizing volume over personalization. This is especially true when you don’t have a lot of background on the prospect or have a straightforward call center script

Ideal use cases for predictive dialers are:

  • Political canvassing/surveying 
  • Spreading product/cause awareness
  • Debt collection/reminders

Power dialer vs. predictive dialer: things to consider when choosing the right dialer

Although the use cases might give you a good understanding of what dialer would be best for you, there are a few more things you need to consider. Since there is no definitive rule for the use cases of power and predictive dialers, taking these factors into account will help you make a better decision.

Metrics

Call Ring time

The call ring time is the period from when a call starts ringing to when it is either answered or dropped. The ring time before a call is cut (due to no answer) is 30-45 seconds for mobile phones and 60 seconds for landlines. 

For your campaigns, this means productive time lost for your agents. There is nothing that you can do about this when using power dialers. Predictive dialers, however, eliminate this by setting the calling ratio to keep more active calls ready for agents. 

Average call duration

The average duration that each of your calls lasts. This duration could be higher for sales calls that require long conversations to convince prospects. On the other hand, it may be shorter for quick survey calls.

In case your average call duration is high or unpredictable, it’s best to use power dialers with a 1:1 dialing ratio. With higher rates, there is a risk of multiple prospects picking up and being dropped which is not a good practice. Also, hanging up may reduce the chances of the prospect picking up the call again. 

Predictive dialer algorithms use this metric and adjust the calling ratio accordingly.  

Call-to-conversation conversion rate

The call to conversation conversion rate dictates the average number of calls you need to make until you connect with someone. Contact number validity, number of people picking up calls, and network issues are a few factors that affect this ratio.

The conversion rate usually helps you determine your calling ratio. It is a metric you will need to consider when using power dialers (to set up an appropriate calling ratio). In predictive dialers, however, it happens automatically.

General Considerations

Team size

The number of volunteers or callers you have impacts the kind of dialer you want to choose too.  

For larger teams with more agents online at a time, a predictive dialer is a good fit. With more callers, there are better chances that most of the connected calls will be transferred to someone immediately.   

Smaller and mid-sized teams will see more benefit from power dialers, especially if the callers are distributed. Power dialers can help ensure lower abandoned calls (which will talk about later) and maintain compliance. 

Purpose of calling

The purpose of your calls dictates a lot of factors that affect your decision. 

For example, if the purpose of your call is to conduct a small survey, you know your call duration will be short, and callers will not have to prepare (or plan) for the conversation. Hence, a predictive dialer would be perfect for this scenario. 

On the other hand, if your objective is sales, conversations may be longer (due to improvisation). Also, dropping too many calls might result in a loss of good leads. Therefore, a power dialer would be the ideal choice for this. 

Database quality

Typically, a good quality database is one that comprises few to no invalid numbers or wrong contact details, or prospect information. A good database usually has a higher call-to-conversation rate.

Predictive dialers are perfect for low-quality databases. By connecting agents with only live calls, they help reduce the time they waste sitting through invalid numbers. However, if your database is from a trusted source and you know that invalid numbers won’t be an issue, you can use a power dialer.

Note: Database quality is often a problem for most campaigns. Using a tool like CallHub that has automated phone number verification is the perfect way to clean up your database before your start calling. 

Regulations

Abandoned calls

If a prospect picks up a call and no agent is available within 2 seconds, the FCC regulations tag it as an abandoned call. The FCC specifies that the abandoned calls shouldn’t exceed 3% of all answered calls. 

In a power dialer, it’s easy to stay compliant in your calling outreach because it dials a number only when the agent is free and selects the option to make the next call.  

In predictive dialers, this could be an issue. While most software may reduce the calling ratio to avoid this, it’s not always the best solution. It’s better to choose more advanced platforms, like CallHub, that also gives you the option to play a pre-recorded message on these calls, apart from scaling down the calling ratio. 

To summarise, here is what you’ll need:

Power dialer vs. predictive dialer - considerations

To conclude

There is no doubt that both power and predictive dialers can boost your campaign’s productivity and efficiency. However, both have their pros and cons in different scenarios, and choosing one can get tricky. 

When caught at the crossroads, you can start by asking yourself the following questions:

  • How personalized are my conversations going to be?
  • How massive is my database and how many callers do you have?
  • What kind of campaign will I be running?

The answers to these questions will give you a basic understanding of what dialer would be most suitable for your campaign. Once you have that mapped out, you can start diving into the technicalities and analyze past data to make a more calculated decision.

If you’re planning to use an advanced predictive or power dialer solution for your campaigns, you can sign up for CallHub here

Featured Image Source: Alex Andrews

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