What is Phone Banking?

May 29, 2018 - 13 minutes read

Quite clearly political campaigns whether big or small, presidential or for a school board, win by getting the most votes. A big part of this goes to the process of campaigning: reaching out to your voters and letting them know who you are, what you stand for and why they should vote for you.

In today’s world, there are many ways campaigns use to attract your attention; the traditional way is through broadcast media like radio, TV or simply newspapers. The more modern way, one that is gaining a lot of traction, is  through social media, email and online advertising.

what-is-phone-banking

Campaigning works most effectively when there is a personal touch associated with it. After all a voter might be more influenced to support a campaign when he/she is convinced agreeably by a volunteer, right?  This is why door to door canvassing is so useful for getting heard as well as learning more about your voter. Unfortunately, for larger campaigns or ones that have a time restriction, it just isn’t possible to visit every voter. Besides, without a large pool of volunteers scaling with door to door canvassing is almost impossible.

This is where phone banking comes in. You can now reach out to voters on their phone in a manner both personal as well as efficient.

How long does calling a single voter take? Just 3 minutes, sometimes even less.

Just imagine- if you have four or five volunteers calling voters, you can reach a large number of voters in a very short amount of time. And if canvassing is combined with phone banking then the two can be extremely effective in improving voter turnout as well as increasing supporters. Talk about killing two birds with one stone! Read more about how you can club canvassing and phone banking.

HOW EFFECTIVE IS PHONE BANKING

If you are running a political or advocacy campaign, here are 6 reasons why you NEED to phone bank.

How does it work?

Now that we know what phone banking is, the next question is…how exactly does it work?

Well, phone banking basically involves volunteers calling lists of voters and talking to them about their campaign. These campaigns can be of different sorts; some might be for getting out the vote (GOTV),  some could be for recruiting volunteers, while other could be for raising funds, or for identifying voters.

Case Study: How Organizing for Change ran a successful GOTV campaign with phone banks

Some campaigns use traditional phone lines to call voters. Each volunteer has to manually dial a number, wait for the caller to pick up and then talk to them. They have to record information about the call on paper and the manager is then stuck with a pile of survey information that needs to be manually entered in the CRM. Boring and tedious much? You bet! When you have over thousands of voters to reach out to, the traditional phone banking method gets monotonous, is inefficient and expensive in terms of time and money.

Advanced phone banking tools are software based. Here, volunteers can simply log into the system through their computers and make calls through a browser if need be. The system handles assigning voters to agents, displaying accurate information about the voter and storing all the feedback from the call.

So how does it help save time? Simply put: by calling the number for you and skipping bad numbers, answering machines and busy numbers.

Each call made by a volunteer now takes 50% lesser time than the traditional method.

How to setup a phone bank

Phone banking is extremely easy to setup if you have a phone banking tool like CallHub. However, there are are a few things you’d need planned for your campaign, such as:

  • List of voters to be called
  • Script that volunteers need to follow when talking to voters
  • Recruit a list of volunteers who can phone bank for you
  • Survey questions to be answered, if any.

Your volunteers need to be trained on what to talk about and what feedback to store. Read more about how to get ready for a political phone bank.

10 TIPS ON HOW TO RUN A SUCCESSFUL PHONE BANK

Phone Bank party

Phone banking can be super boring at times with the repetitive tasks involved. But it can be a lot of fun when done in a group, for which a party or a get together of sorts can improve moods. Also, most volunteers aren’t used to calling and talking to strangers. They need to be motivated and in a group setting, volunteers working towards the same goal can encourage each other to do better. It also gives them a chance to bond and feel closer to the campaign. By throwing a party where all attendees can mix, mingle, interact and call voters, the quality of the calls are better and the number of calls made are higher too.

7 Tips on Organizing a Phone Banking party

Different kinds of Phone banking

There are two types of phone banking that can be used, automated and manual. Let’s understand how the two of them work, shall we?

1. Automated Phone Banking

Here an automated dialer dials through a contact list and when a call is answered, connects it to a live agent. This type of system is called a virtual outbound call center.

Relax, it’s not as complicated as it sounds! Just click here to understand it and see how simple it actually is.

So the next question is…how to do agents connect to this software offered by CallHub? Well, there are two ways for this to happen:

  • Using a browser

The agent merely requires a computer and a headset and he/she is good to go. As simple as that! The agent would have to use the CallHub browser interface to read through the given script and answer surveys.

The advantages of using a browser is that it is affordable, only a single device is required, and well, it’s hands-free!

  • Using a phone

Here the agent uses a phone to connect to the campaign. Using another device, say a computer, the CallHub application is opened on the browser to read the script, answer surveys, etc.

There are two modes that can be used: Either the agent dials-in to the campaign, or the agent receives a call to be connected. How are the modes chosen? They are based on the phone plans in your country and the respective pricing.

The advantage of using a phone is that it is more convenient for older volunteers, and you do not require a high-speed internet connection to make your calls. On the flip side, it is a tad more expensive and requires more than one device.

In automated phone banking, there are three types of dialers that users can employ according to their needs:

1. Predictive Dialer

A predictive dialer is extremely useful if you want to reach out to as many people as possible. This is necessary in the case of large campaigns such as voter identification, etc. The dialer calls a contact list and only connects those calls which are answered to the agents.

This helps save a massive amount of time as dial tones, unanswered calls, answering machines etc get weeded out. So agents are focussed only on talking to supporters instead of listening to the entirely blah sound of an unending dial tone or a robotic answering machine.

How Predictive dialing works

2. Power Dialer

This type of dialer dials the numbers automatically while the caller focuses on the live call at hand. It is a less rushed form of calling where the agent has time to fill up the survey, enter notes, and then begin the next call.

You can also set a dial rate which helps speed up the campaign while giving volunteers adequate time to fill up survey questions.

3. Preview Dialer

It is a flexible type of dialer where an agent requires time to research the contact. The conversations are generally of a more in-depth manner and could be follow-ups to previous conversations.

The manager still has control over the people being called and gets a detailed recording of each call.

How Preview Dialing Works

2. Manual Phone Banking

Or Collective Calling, has the same interface as the automated dialer. So what’s the difference? Well, the calls in this case are not made by CallHub; the agent would have to manually dial in the number on a phone, then use CallHub to go through the script and answer survey questions.

So why use collective calling over dialing a number yourself, or with a group of volunteers?

This might work if all the agents are in the same place, but if everyone is spread geographically, coordinating with each other will be a major hassle.

What Collective Calling does is the make the calling process seamless and dynamic: based on the number of active agents at a particular time, contacts are assigned to them.

This ensures that all contacts get called and no one is missed out. Besides, using CallHub’s software it is possible to remove agents who aren’t doing too well. Ouch!

pricing

So who uses what?

You can use Automated Calling if

  • You are a political campaign looking to reach voters
  • An advocacy group
  • You are not bound by any TCPA regulations

And similarly, you can use Collective Calling if

  • You are restricted by TCPA regulations but still would like to optimise your campaign
  • Most of your contacts are mobile numbers (not landline numbers); you’d prefer dialling them rather than calling using an automated dialer…again due to TCPA regulations

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