It is another busy Tuesday evening. You are pushing yourself to prepare meal for your screaming 3 year old and two teenagers. TV is blaring in the background, the pasta is about to boil over, your hands are occupied in making spaghetti, and just then, the phone rings. You clutch the receiver between your shoulder and your neck and gasp out “hello?”
After a second of silence you hear a recorded voice that tells about a new offer from a lawn care service company. Your obvious response is to tell where he can stick his new offer, but there is no use screaming at a machine. You just hang up and return to your chaotic Tuesday, while the same machine dials the next number, “hello, we are calling for a new offer from…!”
As the call connects, the live operator introduces the potential customer of that day’s new offer. Automatic dialers like this are often used by telemarketing companies.
Auto-dialers or automatic dialers are examples of computer telephone integration (CTI). It uses a modem and special software, plus a long list of phone numbers which is dialed automatically by a computer program. A sophisticated program can find out if a live person answered the phone or not and hand it over to a human operator when required. The computer can be used to leave a message on the answering machine, play a recorded message or provide a menu of options to the person.
Auto-dialers are not to be dismissed lightly. They have many other uses apart from annoying you through calling for telemarketing campaigns at an unwanted time. An auto-dialer can be used in school to alert students and parents of an unexpected closure. A doctor’s office can use this system to remind senior citizens of their medication schedule. A political candidate can reach thousands of residents to invite them to the town hall.
How does an automatic dialer system work? Is it expensive to set up this simple system?
Automatic Dialers’ Dialer Technology
A simple automatic dialer system is not very complicated or expensive to set up. It usually requires four things to create the setup.
- A computer system, usually a desktop model
- Auto-dialing software
- A voice modem
- An active telephone line
A voice modem enables a computer to record or play audio over the telephone. On a basic computer system, there is room for 2 to 4 internal modem cards. One phone line can only be connected to one internal modem, so the number of phone calls a computer can make in a given time depends on the number of modems.
If the auto-dialing system is going to be used by multiple live operators in a call center, then you need to have as many telephone lines as the number of operators. Auto-dialers can either work on voice over IP (VOIP) or regular public switched telephone network (PSTN). The most crucial component in the whole system is the software. It is the software that instructs the computer on how to respond in different situations and which number to dial.
Voice detection is the technology that enables the software to differentiate between a human voice and an answering machine. The working of voice detection is as follows:
- If the call is not answered in four rings or for 25 seconds, it is quite likely that a machine will answer the call.
- The software measures the length of the initial spoken words and for a pause. If it is a short burst of words followed by a pause, it is a human that answered the call.
- The software then plays a pre-recorded message or passes the call to a live operator.
- The pause that we usually hear from a telemarketing call is because the software detects the voice and route it to the available operator.
Automatic dialer software has come up with an interesting development in the form of predictive dialing. It is most productive in a call center setting, where numerous operators are making calls simultaneously. This technology anticipates when an operator can be free to take another call. There are several factors used by predictive dialing:
- Number of calls answered by live persons
- Number of calls answered by machines
- Number of calls which encounter busy signals or never answered
- The duration of a call when answered by a live person
Analyzing all these variables, the predictive dialing system determines exactly how often to start dialing a new number so as to utilize every possible second of a live operator. The system will dial the number when no operator is free, with a calculation that an operator will end the call just as the next one begins.