Call center software is the engine that drives outbound sales and lead gen operations forward, unlocking efficiency, profitability, and scale. Or at least it can, so long as you choose the right solution for your business.
As industry veteran David Stodolak told us recently, “Dialer technology is often overlooked, but it shouldn’t be. If you don’t have the right technology, nothing else matters.”
However, with no shortage of options to pick from, knowing how to choose the best call center software can seem like a tall order.
That’s why we’ve created this guide to navigating the outbound dialing space. Make an informed decision about your software-driven future by reading up on:
- Qualities and capabilities to look for in the dialer itself
- Must-have features for modern contact center software
- Why price isn’t the same thing as value when it comes to today’s solutions
What to Look for in a Dialer
If you’re here, you’re likely at least loosely familiar with terms like autodialer and predictive dialing. (If you need a refresher though, fear not: you can brush up with our autodialer and predictive dialing guides.)
What you need to know, then, is how to distinguish between different dialers of these types.
Power, Speed, and Scale
Just like engines, not all dialers are capable of delivering the same power. But that doesn’t stop just about every dialer provider from claiming they offer a “powerful” system. How do you cut through the messaging and wind up with a truly powerful system? Start by zeroing in on three key aspects of dialer performance: throughput, speed to lead, and the ability to handle scale.
Throughput + Intelligence
“At the end of the day,” says Convoso CEO and Co-Founder Nima Hakimi, “a dialer helps sales and lead generation teams get through to their customers. You have a lot of leads, and you want to get them on the phone. How do you do that in the most efficient way possible?” One big part of the answer is throughput, which is a dialer’s ability to put through many calls at once.
However, even if a given dialer has a high throughput, it needs to match that with intelligence. Something that many dialers on the market, Hakimi says, aren’t prepared to deliver.
“A lot of dialers out there will help you make a lot of calls. They’ll give you 10 lines and say, ‘We’ll help you make all the calls you need,’” he says. However, the problem is they lack the ability to tailor call volume to your precise headcount and agent availability—and the results can be disastrous for performance. “You’ll end up burning through your leads, because you’ll be making too many calls and you won’t have enough agents. As a result, you’re going to be dropping calls.”
An intelligent dialer offers the right balance of power and efficiency, says Hakimi. “You want a dialer that makes the right number of calls while lowering the wait time between one call and the next, so that agents’ time is maximized, with them having as many live conversations as possible.”
Speed to Lead
The second trait that separates truly powerful dialers from the rest of the pack is speed to lead. Speed to lead is the amount of time it takes for a business to reach a lead after they’ve opted in to be contacted. This ability goes a step further, putting a dialer’s throughput to the test: the dialer needs to be able to reliably connect a high number of calls to your agents, and it also needs to be able to prioritize warm leads as soon as they’re in the hopper.
Ask dialer providers about their ability to deliver speed to lead—and most importantly to do so at scale, with a high calls-per-second metric. “One of the things that most call center operators don’t understand is speed to lead at scale,” says Hakimi. “When you have thousands or hundreds of thousands of leads, you want to get through to each and every one of them. And a lot of dialers don’t have the ability to scale in terms of the call attempts per second.”
Achieving scale goes beyond speed to lead, however. And this is why it’s important to put potential dialers to the test in real-life trials before making a decision. You need a dialer that performs now and down the line, after you’ve added more agents to your team. The last thing you can afford is a dialer that suddenly can’t handle your call volume and responds by dropping calls—or worse, powering down completely.
Before finding remarkable success with Convoso, Solar Direct Marketing’s CEO David Stodolak was, unfortunately, no stranger to this issue. In 6 years, he went through 6 dialers; none of them could reliably provide consistent uptime as his team steadily increased its headcount. Not only will this kind of downtime kill sales performance, but it’s also a huge time sink for managers.
“Your time is the most valuable asset you have,” says Stodolak. “And the less time you need to put toward putting out fires, the more time you have to put toward more productive items like hiring people, expanding, and moving forward with your initiative.”
Versatility: The Types of Outbound Dialers
While dialer power can take a business a long way, you can hardly afford to go with software that’s one-dimensional. As you evaluate your options, see how versatile each solution is, too. Do they offer all, some, or just one of these types of outbound dialing modes?
- Power dialing: The dialer automatically places a call when it detects an agent has become available, while sticking to a manually configured calls-to-agent ratio.
- Predictive dialing: An outbound automated dialing method that helps increase contact rates by allowing you to customize an increase or decrease the number of simultaneous outbound calls placed while also automatically adjusting the call volume based on changes in the dropped call percentage. Modern predictive dialers should be able to detect busy signals, voicemails, and numbers that have been disconnected.
- Preview dialing: A way for agents to initiate calls manually, while the dialer still serves them with the next number in the list. This mode will allow the agent to pull up a customer’s record on their screen and requires the agent to click a button to place the call. This method is used mostly to call businesses because the agent wants to do a certain amount of research before they place the call.
- Progressive dialing: An intuitive dialing method that gives your sales rep the ability to pull up customer records before placing a call. Unlike the Preview Dialing mode, this mode will automatically make the call after a predefined number of seconds/minutes. This method gives your sales reps time to review the lead/prospect contact record before the system automatically places a call after a predefined amount of time set by the sales manager.
Outbound Dialer Features to Look For
At the most basic level, call center software is designed to connect you with customers. But modern dialers are—or at least should—be expected to accomplish much more than that for the teams that use them. Here are the outbound and predictive dialer features that you should be sure to include on any call center software wishlist.
The days of the telephone being the only sales channel are long gone. Today’s lead gen and outbound teams need a dialer that can facilitate connections in any channel that customers prefer—whether that’s text, email, chat, or traditional voice. More than that, these channels need to all work in tandem, with the help of workflow automation and easily programmable outreach cadences.
Omnichannel call center solutions give agents more chances to connect—and studies show this adds up to more revenue. The bottom line isn’t the only thing that omnichannel betters, though. It’s also important—some might say necessary—for delivering a winning customer experience. After all, today’s leads expect omnichannel experiences. Your business should expect nothing less from their dialer software.
Caller ID Reputation Management Tools
In the wake of STIR/SHAKEN regulations, telco carriers have taken the enforcement of call blocking and flagging into their own hands. While no one outside of these companies may ever know the exact contents of their black-box algorithms that determine which numbers get flagged, marketers can enlist the help of caller ID reputation management solutions to help avoid getting caught in carriers’ web—and keep contact rates high.
First and foremost, you need a partner, a company that understands what STIR/SHAKEN does, and understands how to get something not marked spam likely. If you’re interviewing a lot of different phone systems, I would start by asking what their plan is for handling STIR/SHAKEN and spam likely. If you say this terminology and they don’t know what you’re talking about, you’re at the wrong place.
– Heather Griffin, Co-CEO and President, Colossus
Of course, not all dialers are on equal footing when it comes to DID reputation management. Some dialers will offer to swap out caller IDs that aren’t performing. This is a start, but many don’t do so nearly quickly enough. Plus, this approach alone doesn’t nearly stand up to the severity of call flagging issues and their harmful effects on lead costs, agent morale, and more.
Beating “Spam Likely” labels that immediately tank contact rates, conversions, and ultimately revenue takes maximum transparency along with intelligence. Look for a caller ID management suite like Convoso’s ClearCallerID™, which tracks the caller ID health across major carriers within a convenient dashboard and alerts users when a phone number has been flagged or blocked. It also uses predictive analytics to help decision-makers understand the impact of DID health on critical KPIs, as well as quickly swap up marked numbers for new or rested DIDs.
Advanced Reporting and Predictive Analytics
Caller ID health is far from the only place dialers should deliver transparency, though. They should also offer robust, granular reporting that helps dialer managers and business leaders understand virtually every aspect of their call center’s performance.
Outbound call center reporting and analytics capabilities are long past being big buzzwords. They’re now a must-have for businesses looking to drive growth. Look for reporting solutions that:
- Provide customizable dashboards and easy-to-navigate UI. Reporting should be easy to understand and critical KPIs should be simple to monitor.
- Deliver accurate metrics in real-time. Without the ability to see results as they unfold, basic reporting tools can end up costing call centers big with missed opportunities and delayed decision-making.
- Automate historical reports. Find a dialer that takes the grunt work out of mining data for insights. As you evaluate potential solutions, check to see whether regular and historical reports can be scheduled to be shared with stakeholders automatically. It’s one more way to save time and increase efficiency.
Choosing the best outbound dialer software is critical. But in today’s digital age, it’s never going to be the only software sales teams rely on. Far from it. That’s why, when you choose a contact center software, you should select an option that integrates seamlessly with the rest of your technology stack.
Rather than creating unnecessary silos in your sales or lead gen workflow, your dialer software of choice should instead unlock new efficiencies, by connecting your preferred CRM, lead management, MarTech, TCPA compliance, and other solutions.
Answering Machine Detection
Agents spending considerable time coding for answering machines instead of talking to customers should be a thing of the past. Look for a dialer software that includes not just any answering machine detection (AMD) software, but software that’s highly accurate and can be adjusted to prioritize false negatives or false positives, depending on the type of campaign.
Intelligence and Automation
Industries everywhere are being augmented by advances in artificial intelligence and automation, and outbound contact centers are no different. In fact, automation is essential for businesses looking to grow efficiently. As Nima Hakimi puts it, “Scale without automation doesn’t exist.”
From eliminating tedious and repetitive manual tasks to improving customer experiences, there are a range of ways AI is impacting call center operations. Check dialer software contenders for call center automation tools like:
- Intelligent Virtual Agent (IVA) solutions: Pre-qualify leads and filter out prospects that don’t fit using an AI-powered IVA solution that uses natural language processing to communicate with customers before routing them to an agent.
- Smart, Skills-Based Routing: What if every call could go to the agent best equipped to handle it? That’s what intelligent routing solutions effectively enable for today’s sales teams. Simply enter a series of rules, and the software will handle the rest.
- Chatbots: Mentioned above in our discussion of omnichannel, many customers now prefer having the ability to solve issues, schedule appointments, and find info by chatting with an AI-powered chatbot.
Compliance Management Tools and Support
While all of the above features are important for maximum performance, businesses also need a dialer that helps with protection. Anyone who’s experienced in the world of outbound dialing knows just how quickly—and drastically—regulations like the TCPA can change. Add to that the rapidly multiplying (and highly stringent) state-level mini-TCPA laws, and you can no longer afford not to choose a call center software that doesn’t provide proactive compliance support.
“You need a really good technology and a really good partnership, someone who’s on the forefront of changing laws.”
– Heather Griffin, Co-CEO and President, Colossus
Beyond even caller ID reputation management, and well before you land on a final choice of dialer, ask contenders what they’re doing to combat today’s evolving compliance challenges. They should offer compliance staples like Do Not Call (DNC) scrubbing, click-to-dial calling options, and call time restrictions. But they should also have a proven record of innovation—enhancements and updates designed to support compliance in response to regulatory changes.
When Choosing a Dialer, Price is Not the Same as Value
Combined with sound strategy and management, the advanced outbound dialer features listed above can help you create a true next-generation call center with a sustainable path to growth. And ultimately, your dialer should help deliver growth, given that it’s typically one of the largest call center costs.
In addition to important performance and compliance features, this is an important angle to bring to your software search: Consider the cost of software, but not the cost alone. Because the price of a call center software solution is not the same as its value. Price is a matter of dollars spent; value is a reflection of your ROI.
Call center software with a lower price tag might initially seem like the right call to make on paper. But Nima Hakimi says that this can often lead businesses astray:
“You have to ask yourself how much you’re spending on your leads, and how much you’re spending on your agents to understand what’s really happening and understand what it’s really going to cost by going with the most affordable solution.”
For all too many call centers that opt for the lowest priced dialer, rather than the one that provides the highest value, the opportunity costs can be huge: though they save on initial costs, they leave higher contact rates, conversions, profits, and growth on the table.
Choosing a Growth Partner Instead of Just Software
Plus, many lower-cost dialers offer just that: the dialer itself. Rather than getting a partner in growth, businesses get a tool that’s all theirs to figure out how to make the most of. This fact leads us to the final aspect of winning outbound call center software that can’t be overlooked: customer support.
When interviewing potential providers, be sure to dig deep into the level of support you will receive from your final choice. How invested in your success will the provider be? How available will their team be to offer support? Will the software remain the same after onboarding, or will the provider be able to adapt, customize, and innovate the product according to your particular needs?
In the end, these are some of the most important questions to ask of any software provider. Or at least that’s how we feel. Because our customers’ success is always our number one priority at Convoso.
“With Convoso,” says Hakimi, “you get an entire team behind you, helping you get up to speed and ensuring your continued success by helping you learn more about the product so you can take advantage of it.
“And we continue to innovate. We’re constantly releasing new features that will help you stay successful because in the performance marketing and lead generation space that we’re in, things are always changing. With us, you get to partner with a company that has your success at heart, and we make your goal our goal by really paying attention to what you need to be successful.”
Understand just how Convoso can help your organization grow, and get a preview of the results it can deliver for your business when you schedule a free demo today.