By Abhijit Phadke
This article explains the advantages of predictive dialers using quantitative analysis, and shows how their efficient use can save costs, and lead to an increase in the productivity of your call center.
But before we do that, let's first begin by defining what predictive dialers are, and what they can do.
Predictive dialers are auto-dialers used in outbound call centers, that help a team of call center agents to make their calls faster. The set of numbers to which calls have to be made can be uploaded into the dialer software.
The software then automates the task of dialing all these numbers in sequence. When the calls are answered by a person, the dialer immediately connects that call with one of the free call center agents, who can then speak to the person.
The major advantage of predictive dialers over other simpler dialers is its ability to predict when the next call is likely to get connected, and when the next agent is likely to become free to take a new call. Because of this capability a predictive dialer can initiate calls to next numbers on the list, even while agents are still on their earlier calls.
The benefit that accrues from this is that the call center agents can spend their maximum time speaking to customers rather than trying to connect calls to the next number on the list. What this means is that more calls can be made by the agents in the same amount of time resulting in a overall boost in the call center productivity.
I did a little quantitative analysis using a hypothetical case study, to determine exactly how much benefit can be derived by using predictive dialers, and how the results vary based on the number of agents. Here are the results of that analysis.
For this case study we assume that:
'Avg. talk time required for making one call' is 4 minutes.
'Avg. time to dial and connect to the next person' is 2 minutes.
|total number of agents making the calls||10||20||50||100||200|
|avg. talk time in minutes for one call||4||4||4||4||4|
|avg. time required to connect||2||2||2||2||2|
|Without using Predictive Dialers|
|Time required for one call (Without predictive dialing)||6||6||6||6||6|
|no. of calls per agent per hour||10||10||10||10||10|
|total no. of calls made per hour||100||200||500||1000||2000|
|Using Predictive Dialing|
|Time required for one call||4||4||4||4||4|
|no. of calls per agent per hour||15||15||15||15||15|
|total no. of calls made per hour||150||300||750||1500||3000|
Next, let's plot a graph using these values.
This graph shows how the difference in the number of calls becomes more pronounced as the number of call center agents increases. What this means is that using a predictive dialer will be more beneficial for you, if you happen to run a call center that has a large number of agents. Even for smaller call centers, having 15 to 20 agents, predictive dialers will still give better results compared to other simpler auto-dialers.
While in the above example, I have chosen random values of 4 minutes per call as the talk-time and 2 minutes as time taken to connect, you can do your own calculations in a similar way using your actual call center data. Such a calculation will allow you to determine the amount of benefit that you can get by using a predictive dialer for your outbound calling campaigns.
Predictive Dialer systems vs. Power dialers and other dialers
When compared with Power dialers (as also Proative and Progressive dialers) you will realize that none of these other dialers offer the same kind of advantage.
For example, a power dialer also auto-dials numbers from a list, but it does so only when an agent becomes free to take the next call. So, while it does save some time by eliminating the need of manual dialing and automating that task, it cannot save on the dead time that the agent has to spent in-between calls waiting for the next call to get connected.
And the Preview and Progressive dialers do not really need to be compared with predictive dialers because their purpose is inherently different. Preview dialers allow an agent to preview details of the next number to be called, and on the agent's comparison, the dialer initiates the call. Progressive dialers directly call the next numbers on the list and hands over the connected calls to the agent. None of the other dialer softwares have any prediction capabilities.
So, considering the speed factor, predictive dialers outperform all the other dialers out there in the market.
If you buy a feature-rich predictive dialer, you can get additional benefits from it as well. e.g.
1. Can be integrated with your existing CRM software, such as ZoHo or SugarCRM
2. Has in-built reporting tools to extract performance reports
3. Allows agents to enter notes into the software itself as part of call wrap-up.
4. Agent productivity can be easily monitored.
5. Also allows for recording of the calls that can help to meet legal requirements and for quality checks.
So, what are the Disadvantages?
There are a couple of disadvantages of predictive dialers as well, which are listed below.
1. The dialer can make mistakes in AMD (Answering machine detection) as the technology is not 100% foolproof. This can either result in blank calls and higher abandon rates, or can result in false positives where a call connected to answering machine is handed over to an agent.
2.The dialer's prediction logic can go wrong sometimes (depends on how good or bad the dialer is). This can especially happen when the number of agents is too low, and can result in a dialed call getting picked up, but no agents available to take that call and speak to the person.
All things considered, predictive dialers are a proven technology based on mathematically sound fundamentals, and most call centers can definitely use these dialers to their advantage to become more profitable.