Power dialer displayed on red background

Power Dialer vs Predictive Dialer: How to Compare and Contrast

Daniel WeissLast updated on December 6, 2023
6 min

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  • Business operations are increasingly quantifiable and automated

  • Power and predictive dialers enhance call efficiency

  • Power dialers prioritize personalized calls

  • Predictive dialers simultaneously dial multiple numbers

  • The choice between them depends on team size and goals

Business has changed. Advances in computing technology have made almost everything quantifiable, measurable, and therefore actionable.

And traditional communication tools, like the phone, are no exception. In a world driven by increased efficiency and calculated risk, even simple physical tasks are subject to automation.

This is why dialing tools were created. When productivity is the name of the game, cutting down manual dialing time can increase efficiency. Power and predictive dialers assist agents in deciding who to call and dialing the correct numbers.

At first glance, this small task takes 15–25 seconds per call. But in the course of making thousands of calls each week, what started as a quick and easy task can become a sluggish crawl. When added together, idle moments result in significant operational costs.

What is a predictive dialer?

A predictive dialer is an automated call center system feature that simultaneously dials multiple numbers and assigns agents to answered calls, aiming to boost efficiency by minimizing idle time and ensuring agents engage with live customers.

To determine which solution is most appropriate for your business, we'll review:

  • What Power Dialers and Predictive Dialers Share in Common

  • Power Dialer Features

  • Predictive Dialer Features

  • Use Cases for Each Type of Dialer

What Power Dialers and Predictive Dialers Share in Common

Predictive dialer technology is the closest thing call center management can get to a fully automated system. An industrial level of productivity is the end goal.

In fact, automated dialers rely on the principle that probability will win out over precision. In other words, success depends on agents dialing as many numbers as possible, with extra research and personalization taking a back-seat. 

The reason for not going full-iRobot is pretty clear: what do most people do when they realize they've just been called by a recorded message? They stop the call. Plus, in the event a caller picks up, a robot won't be able to respond appropriately to a complete range of scenarios.

So as a way of getting real, human call center agents on the phone with as many people as possible, advanced dialers are needed. This is accomplished through minimizing individual-agent-efforts.

power dialer and predictive dialer on yellow background

Power Dialer Features

All power dialers automatically dial telephone numbers from a predetermined list. Actions are sequential; new outbound calls begin only after the previous call has ended.

Additional features vary according to which software you use. For example, many power dialers can scrape information from web pages and compile lists of phone numbers. Others may let you skip numbers on command, create call-back reminders for no-answers, and pause the queue, so agents take accurate notes before moving on.

Phone systems that integrate with CRM tools will have the added benefit of storing lead information and displaying it before the intended recipient even answers the phone.

The power dialer involves a higher degree of agent interaction than other dialers. That is to say, the tool acts merely as the agent's dialing hand. All other aspects of the call are normal.

Agents dial and focus on one call at a time. They stay on the line while the phone rings, wait for an answer, and if nobody takes the call, they have the option to leave a voicemail or hang up.

This strategy stops short of absolute efficiency, but, ultimately, leads to more personal conversations.

Predictive Dialer Features

Predictive dialers are different from power dialers. These tools use algorithms and machine learning to ensure no time is wasted. They accomplish this feat by dialing multiple numbers simultaneously. Agents are only assigned to those calls which are answered by live individuals.

Predictive dialers know that most calls go unanswered. In fact, they'll attempt to learn exactly what percentage connects with the intended recipient.

For example, if your predictive dialer learns that only 25% of recipients pick up, it will know to dial four numbers at once. An agent will be assigned to a call as soon as one of the lines is answered.

This dialing process begins before any agent is available to take a call. The goal is to avoid “idle time” spent listening to phones ring, leaving voicemails, and hanging up unanswered calls. 

Efficiency Risks

However, robotic efficiency comes at a cost. The algorithm knows what percentage of calls are answered on average, but like most things in nature, averages are not always representative of what you can expect

Although rare, it's possible for no agents to be available when the recipient answers a call. If these “prediction failures” occur, recipients will probably hang up after saying “hello” a few times.

Additionally, predictive dialers depend on voicemail detection systems to appropriately handle calls. These systems study pauses, opening phrases, and other common conversation traits to either assign a call to a representative or leave a voicemail. However, these algorithmic assumptions will sometimes make an incorrect assignment as well.

Voicemail detection issues will improve as technology advances, but prediction failure is more likely to frustrate small outbound-calling teams. Most predictive dialing systems have a recommended minimum number of users to encourage faster learning and more accurate assignment.

Furthermore, predictive dialers continue to be a sensitive subject in legal debates. Some countries may consider predictive dialing technologies akin to automatic dialers and other illegal automated calling systems. You'll need to make sure that your business complies with applicable laws and regulations before making any automated calls.

Power Dialer vs Predictive Dialer: Which One Is Right For You?

Sales dialers can increase efficiency, but choosing the right tech for your team depends on a few factors.

Ideal use case for a power dialer

Power dialers are good for increasing the sales efficiency of small- and mid-sized teams. The deliberate calling pace means agents will have more time to gather context around each conversation, particularly if they have a CRM solution integrated.

Sales representatives for small but growing brands will benefit from these personalized conversations. Voicemail messages will sound less generic, and callback requests will be fulfilled by the agents who originally made the call.

Power dialers rely on manual efforts, saving your brand from “gaffes” of automation, such as prediction failure and voicemail detection issues.

This is important for brands looking to establish a reliable and personable reputation.

Ideal use case for a predictive dialer

The predictive dialer is a better solution for large teams aiming for volume over personalization.

Also, in order for the software to be maximally effective, your team should exceed the minimum required number of users. Otherwise, you're susceptible to occasional prediction failures and other issues.

Sales teams may find this feature valuable, but predictive dialer systems are mainly used for debt collection, fundraising, and political canvassing.

Whatever the use case, agents must be prepared to not know who they're calling prior to saying “hello.” This limits personalization capabilities and places a premium on improvisation skills once conversations go “off-script.”

Finding the best solution for you

The right solution for your team depends largely on how many agents you want actively dialing out at any given time. Larger teams (and brands) may opt for the efficiency of a predictive dialer, while smaller teams may appreciate the personalization and control offered by a power dialer.

Remember, large-scale calling operations aren't right for every team. If your sales force is contacting a curated list of leads—specific to your company's ideal customer profile—blasting through numbers like a woodchipper could be counterproductive. In this case, deliberation and preparation should take priority over sheer volume.

Aspects to consider include:

  • The size of your team

  • The nature of the calls you're making

  • The recognizability of your brand

  • The amount of personalization required

If calling efficiency is a concern, dialer technologies can lead to significant improvements when used at scale.

Aircall's power dialer greatly increases calling efficiency, especially for sales teams. Sales reps can dial faster and reduce manual entry into the CRM. With just one click, sales reps can quickly compile a list of numbers and call them all. First, the power dialer scans your prospect's website and adds them to your calling queue. Then, calling automation takes care of the rest. On average, this usually requires a couple of minutes or more per call. If you're interested, take a free trial of Aircall's power dialer.

Published on October 17, 2018.

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