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Automatic Dialers

Updated on December 29, 2010

Auto Dialers

Automated dialers are loved by telemarketers and hated by anyone who's been interrupted during dinner by their annoying calls. People at call centers don't dial their own numbers when they call you they use a piece of hardware or software (or both) that automatically dials phone numbers for them. They don't really know they're calling you, a machine calls you for them. After you pick up the phone it transfers you to a call center agent. Then they try to sell their stuff to you or get you to donate to whatever charity they're working for. In some cases they will play an automated message. Now of course these automatic dialers can be used for good, I often get them from our local police station warning about predators moving into the area. My house was broken into years ago and the thieves were caught and prosecuted, I get automatic message dialers calling on their incarceration status. Still I'm tired of telemarketers using these auto dialers for evil instead of good. So, coldcallers, if you don't want to aggrevate your customers by using automatic dialers and robots to contact them, then learn to improve your customer service skills!

Automatic Telephone Dialer

A predictive dialer is like your run of the mill auto dialer on steriods. The average auto dialer just dials a number for workers that are waiting for a call. The predictive dialer uses a variety of algorithms to predict how many call center agents will be idle, and how many people will answer their phone as opposed to just getting an answering machine. That means is discards calls to fax machines, busy signals, answering machines, and calls that aren't picked up.

What's With the Mysterious Caller?


Because of the prediction algorithm, the predictive dialer "knows" how many agents are going to be idle and calls more or less numbers based on that information. I've seen statistics that say only about 25% of calls that are dialed actually are picked up by an actual person. The automatic dialer software isn't perfect though. Have you ever had a phone call and then picked it up only to hear the other end hang up? You've been called by an auto dialer. Sometimes the dialer software calls more numbers than it needs and so it drops a call because there's no agent to handle the call. Usually your number is queued for automatic redial, and you'll get another call within the hour.

These automatic phone dialers aren't cheap. They can cost $40,000 for a system that can handle 40 agents. They dramatically increase the productivity of the call center though. Agents can go from spending 20 minutes per hour on the phone to 50 minutes per hour.  These days you can use a hosted dialer though, the software is online and there's no need to buy any hardware, which makes the cost of entry lower.  Good for them, annoying for us. You can imagine that these automated phone calls aren't going away any time soon.

Automatic Telemarketing Dialer Video

How to Tell if You've Been Called by An Automated Dialer

Here's a little video about the subject, it's sort of silly but it does have a list of things telemarketers can and can't do by law. Anyway, it doens't really matter if you've been called by a person punching buttons or a machine, it's still annoying right? I just feel a little more like a number when the person calling has to confirm my name and address. That tells me they're just getting calls routed to them by automatic dialer system . Here's some signs to tell if you've been called by a machine.

  • You pick up the phone and say "hello" and nobody answers for about 3 seconds. The dialer software is determining if you're a person and routing you to an agent. A real person would talk right away. Those 3 seconds are your window of opportunity to hang up.
  • You get a phone call and the other part immediately hangs up. The predictive dialer software has called more people than it needs. If you get another call within the hour, (usually 30 min) you'll know who the first one if from.
  • You have an answering machine message that's just a dial tone. The auomated dialing software has realized it called another machine and hangs up.


Called by an Automatic Voice Dialer?

What do you do when you're called by a telemarketer?

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Avoid Auto Dialer Solicitation Calls

There are things you can do to prevent telemarketing calls. In the US you can go to the national do not call registry and enter your phone number. This only works in the US, and only for "for profit" commercial calls only, not for non-profit organizations. You might still be called by people looking for donations. It does work though I've only been called once or twice in the 7 or so years I've been on the registry. I still get donation calls at the rate of one per week.  You can also register your cell phone too.  The cellphone telemarketing calls are more insidious because you are using your minutes every time you get a sales call.  If you're using a pay as you go plan it can really burn through your money.  It may not be necessary because the FCC prohibits telemarketers using automated dialers to call cell phone numbers. Still, it's free to register and what can it hurt?

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