Dialer Software: 10 Types of Dialing Technology Compared

Jeff Osness

7 min

Inside this article:

1. Auto-Dialer

2. Click-to-Call

3. Voice Broadcasting

4. Press 1 Dialer

5. Power Dialer

6. Preview Dialer

7. IVR Dialer

8. VOIP Dialer / Soft Phone

9. Predictive Dialer

10. Progressive Dialer

Dialer software has become indispensable for businesses who regularly use the phone to contact existing and potential customers. Designed to improve productivity by reducing time spent dialing and performing other communication and organizational workflows, dialers can help businesses and organizations reach contacts more efficiently and more effectively than ever before.

Thanks to computer and telephone integration, dialer technology can manage contact databases and automate the process of dialing and connecting to external phone numbers.

Dialers can be a physical device or a software application, but hardware devices are declining in popularity in favor of cloud-based and software-based dialers. This is partially because software has a smaller footprint and simpler maintenance requirements, and allows greater convenience and flexibility.

Phone dialing technology is a core tool in the sales industry, and many teams have various options to consider.

Below are descriptions of 10 kinds of dialer software, to help you understand their differences, limitations and strengths.

1. Auto-Dialer

The term "auto-dialer" is often loosely used to refer to any kind of dialing technology. In reality, it's actually a specific kind of dialer. An auto dialer calls phone numbers from a pre-selected list. When a call is answered, an auto dialer can play a pre-recorded message or transfer the call to a live agent.

Auto Dialer Software

One of the biggest advantages of auto dialer software is the dramatic increase in calling efficiency. By eliminating tasks such as dialing, listening to busy tones and leaving voicemails, businesses can multiply contacts rates.

On the other hand, auto dialers do have some serious limitations, especially from a sales perspective. People are becoming increasingly intolerant of automated recordings, which limits their effectiveness. An audible delay can also turn off contacts who realize they are being dialed by technology. This type of system also doesn’t have the ability to maneuver dial-by-name directories or gatekeeper systems, which might be a problem if your sales team wants to connect with other businesses.

Though this is one of the core types of dialers, especially among larger call centers, there are several viable options that are considered to be an iteration of the auto dialer. The commonality between these options is the function that eliminates the need for the user to dial a number. Beyond that, the features and functionality can vary quite a bit.

2. Click-to-Call

Click-to-call or click-to-dial systems are often considered a type of auto dialer, but this system requires the user to click on a phone number. The system will then dial the number and take care of the rest.

Click-to-call systems can be hosted on a modem or through a web application. This type of dialing technology is often included as a functionality in customer relationship management (CRM) systems. CRM systems gather and analyze customer data. As a part of the system, click-to-call systems can feed data directly into the company’s larger customer strategy.

This system’s biggest benefit is the elimination of dialing and the convenience of calling directly from the CRM, but the user will typically still speak to the person the system calls. If your company still wants your agents to talk directly to call targets, click-to-dial is a great option. Of course, it has limitations where efficiency is concerned.

3. Voice Broadcasting

Voice broadcasting, sometimes known as robo-calling, is another type of dialing technology. Sending a pre-recorded message to thousands of recipients at once is the key feature of this dialing technology. This option is ideal for campaigns that don’t require agents to speak to the intended recipients. Some ideal situations to use guided voicemail include:

  • Political campaigns
  • Reminders of an upcoming event
  • Alerts on a new product
Voice Broadcasting Technology

Like the basic auto dialer, voice broadcasting systems can’t navigate gatekeeper systems or dial-by-name systems. If you want people on the call list to have the option of speaking with a live person, you might want to consider a different dialing technology option, such as a press 1 dialer.

4. Press 1 Dialer

Press 1 dialers are an offshoot of voice broadcasting dialers in that the goal is reach a large number of contacts with a pre-recorded message. However, a contact can be given an option to “press 1” to be connected with a live agent. Unlike traditional voice broadcasting, call center agents must be available while this technology is in use.

5. Power Dialer

A power dialing system allows users to rapidly dial through custom lists of contacts at a rate of about 60-80 contacts per hour. The software dials leads, one after another, while automating repetitive and time-consuming tasks based on agent input.

Power Dialing System

Power dialers seek to maximize live conversations, while still maintaining a seamless contact experience. Because there is no delay or pause while using a power dialer — as is the case with predictive and auto dialers — contacts do not know that dialing technology is being used, allowing for more successful communications.

The important distinction for power dialers is that the agent is in control of the dial session. The agent can intelligently filter and choose leads to dial, drop pre-recorded voicemails in a click without having to listen to the contacts’ outgoing voicemail messages, send one-touch personalized emails to contacts based on the outcome of calls, set appointments, take notes, disposition calls and more.

Some power dialer software can alert agents when contacts have opened the emails and attachments sent by the system. This feature can help agents maintain better follow-up and build relationships with contacts to advance a relationship or sale.

This type of system often easily integrates into CRM systems, which can make the power dialer an indispensable part of a company's overall marketing and sales strategy. Power dialers combine the benefits of automated dialing, with email follow-up, and live, delay-free communication.

6. Preview Dialer

A preview dialer allows the agent to see who they are calling prior to initiating the call. Often this includes a contact’s information, call history and other data that may aid the agent during the conversation. The software will pull up the next contact’s information as soon as one call is complete, allowing callers to move from one contact to the next.

Preview Dialing System

Preview dialers are used in an average of 19% of call centers:

  • 19% of small call centers use preview dialing
  • 17% of medium-sized call centers use preview dialing
  • 20% of large call centers use preview dialing

7. IVR Dialer

This type of dialer software uses Interactive Voice Response (IVR) technology, which features automated responses that can prompt professional interactions with a contact. Most systems allow a live person on the line to respond vocally or with the phone keypad. Some even allow email or fax responses.

This type of system will play pre-recorded options for the person on the line to choose from, as might be the case for conducting automated surveys.

If call centers want to combine this technology with live agents, it can allow customers to select an IVR option to connect with a call representative.

8. VOIP Dialer / Soft Phone

No longer is a telephone and telephone line required to make calls. Today, callers can connect to phone lines using an internet or VOIP dialer. Known also as a soft phone, callers can use just a headset and a computer with an internet connection to do dials.

While sometimes offered as a standalone product, a VOIP dialer or soft phone is often just a component of a more robust dialing technology. For example, an inside sales team can connect to a power dialer platform, but use a soft phone rather than a traditional telephone.

Despite the convenience of a soft phone, this dialing technology is not without its drawbacks. Because the call depends on internet connectivity, call quality can suffer if connection speed is low. Even when connection speed is high, quality can be reduced when other applications on the user’s computer are open and using available internet resources.

9. Predictive Dialer

Predictive dialers are multi-line dialers that place a high volume of calls with the goal of routing live answers to available agents. This technology uses an algorithm to determine the likelihood of an answered call in an attempt to balance efficiency with available agents. Factors that go into creating this algorithm include:

  • Call center size
  • Average length of calls
  • Time of day
  • Type of calls being made
  • Industry

The benefit of predictive dialers is productivity, promoting a high volume of call activity and a more hands-off process for agents.

There are several important drawbacks that should be considered with this dialing technology. Predictive dialers must make a determination that a human has answered the phone before routing the call to an available agent. That process can only begin after someone has picked up and spoken. This results in a telltale delay or pause that people have increasingly begun to associate with unwanted calls. Therefore, when live answers do take place, the quality or result of the outreach can suffer.

The other drawback is that because an algorithm is used, sometimes people answer the phone when no agent is actually available. When this happens, the system drops the call. This is known as an abandoned call. Federal compliance standards limit how often this can occur, and can impose heavy penalties for violations.

On average, 17% of call centers use a predictive dialer. This figure changes when you consider the size of the call center:

  • 2% of small call centers use a predictive dialer
  • 21% of medium-sized call centers use a predictive dialer
  • 26% of large call centers use a predictive dialer

10. Progressive Dialer

Progressive dialers pull from a pool of leads, and move one-by-one as agents indicate they are available. Unlike predictive dialers which use an algorithm to modulate call volume, the progressive dialing software only places a call when an agent indicates they are ready. At that time, they are attached to a specific dial and they can see the contact’s information as the call is being placed. Agents can use the software to disposition contacts, drop voicemails and perform other tasks.

On average, 22% of call centers use a progressive dialing system, varying based on call center size:

  • 19% of small call centers use a progressive dialing system
  • 26% of medium-sized call centers use a progressive dialing system
  • 20% of large call centers use a progressive dialing system

One of the biggest advantages of a progressive dialer is that there is no risk of call abandonment since an agent is assigned prior to dialing. There is also no delay following a live answer which allows for a better experience for agents and contacts alike. However, this type of system can be a bit less efficient due to the manual input required.


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