Manual Dialer: Why not use a touch tone phone / click-to-dial software?

Click-to-dial is just one of the features provided by a manual dialer. To help evaluate the worth of a manual dialer, listed below are its features, resultant benefits and alternative solutions.

Features / benefits of a manual dialer: 

Click to dial: Click-to-dial shaves about 5 seconds from the process of calling a number and eliminates dialling errors. Click-to-dial functionality is also available from services like Skype and desktop softphones such as Zoiper and Bria. 

Shared dialing lists: In a dialer, a single dialing list or prospect database can be uploaded for all callers. The dialer automatically splits it into portions for each caller. In its absence, the list can be manually split amongst callers at the start of the dialing session. This works reasonably well for small teams. 

Display of callee information: The dialer shows information just pertaining to the called person. In its absence, the list would be kept in a spreadsheet, with a row for each person to be called. This can lead to errors, such as referring to the wrong row in a call. 

Dispositioning: This is the ability to classify a call when it ends. Examples of dispositions would be “answering machine”, “busy”, invalid number”, “not interested” or “sale”. One obvious need for dispositioning is to decide which calls need to be repeated and when. A “busy” or “answering machine” may be retried after a while. A “sale” or “not interested” would usually not be. It is also needed for statistical analysis of calls and callers. A high incidence of “sale” disposition may indicate both an efficient caller and high quality leads. Too many “invalid numbers” may indicate poor leads. Dispositions can be partly handled by the dialer. It can usually detect busy signals or answering machines and disposition those calls without caller intervention. Calls that lead to conversations would be dispositioned by the caller at the end of the call as “sale”, “not interested” etc., usually with a single key press. In the absence of a dialer, dispositions can be tracked manually by the caller in a spreadsheet, by way of a drop down column. 

CRM integration: A dialer can be programmed to insert an entry into CRM software after each call, or on certain conditions. In its absence, one must compile the information to be uploaded at the end of a dialing session and use the CRM software's bulk import option if available. 

Call back: Many calls end with a request to call back at a certain day and time. A dialer can be set to automatically insert that number back into the list at exactly the time requested. It can also be set to insert the number into the list the caller that made the first call, or any other caller. Alternatively, one can create a future event in a shared calendar program to give a popup on the caller's desktop reminding her to call that number again. 

Supervisor Listening/Whispering/Barging: A dialer lets a supervisor listen into phone conversations, an essential training tool. She can also speak to the caller without the called person hearing her (called whispering) as well as barge into and make it a 3 way conversation. Some high end office phone systems also have this functionality. 

Time zone handling: There are penalties for calling at the wrong time. Dialers can be easily set to block callers from calling at the wrong time, and will also handle time zones by recognising the area code of the called number or the state if listed in the database. In its absence, the list should be organised by area code or state, and distributed to callers by time zone. 

Customised speaking script: A dialer can present a dialing script for the caller to speak out, and customise it for each call based on information on the caller available in the database. This lets the caller handle complex assignments. 

Internal DNC Handling: Apart from state and federal do-not-call (DNC) lists, organisations must maintain internal lists too. A dialer will maintain one or multiple internal DNC lists and block callers from dialing those numbers. 

Recordings: A dialer will record conversations if needed and organise it for easy retrieval / storage. Some office phone systems and desktop softphones have this feature, but may not be able to organise them conveniently. 

Leave voicemail: About 50% of numbers end in a telephone answering machine. Manual dialers can leave pre-recorded messages while allowing the caller to proceed to the next call, a big time saver. 

Caller productivity reports: A dialer maintains statistics for each caller and presents it in a way that enables a supervisor to gauge caller productivity. 

Leads quality reports: Calling databases are often purchased at high cost. Dialers provide reports that help gauge quality of leads. 

Multi campaign capability: A dialer lets you divide your calling into “campaigns”, with separate lists, configurations and reports. This is important for a call center that handles more than one service or product. 

Call Transfer with screen transfer: A dialer can transfer a call to another person and display the called person's information on her screen. This lets you have a 2 stage calling process, with the second stage handled by a “closer” or “verifier”. Transferring can also be accomplished by an office phone system, but screen transfer is a rare feature 

Summary: It is clear from the above that a manual dialer consolidates features required for high performance calling. You can get by with alternatives, but that would require configuring and maintaining disparate pieces of software.

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