What Is Auto-Dialer Software? (+ Signs You’re Ready For It)

December 19, 2023 10 min read

Dominic Kent

Dominic Kent

auto dialer software

Task switching, even within a routine, can be extremely time-consuming and, quite frankly, kind of boring. Your team spends a lot of time clicking between apps, finding the necessary information, and doing some preparation before every call. Now, you can automate a lot of those tasks.

Your team could be taking more calls and making more connections by speeding up the outbound calling process. Allowing your team to focus on the sale (and less on the admin and logistics) makes every call and team member more effective and efficient. 

There are many reasons you might be looking into auto-dialer software. The reasons normally fall into one of four main categories:

In this post, we’ll take you through the ins and outs of auto-dialer software to help you decide whether it’s the best next step for your business.

What Is Auto-Dialer Software?

Auto-dialer software is a specialized call center tool commonly used in outbound sales roles, market research companies, and collection agencies to automate the process of dialing phone numbers at scale from a pre-set list.

At the most basic level, you use software to pull from a database of contacts and make calls without anyone needing to press a button. This leads to benefits like time and cost savings, lead management productivity, and scalability, as there are no misdials or searching for the right contact to call. 

How an auto-dialer works
Example of an auto-dialer

When combined with outbound SMS campaigns, auto-dialers perform extremely well, as customers can be primed for your call before you start your outreach.

There are various models of auto-dialer software, including predictive, progressive, power, and preview dialing. Each mode has its own methods of auto-dialing. There are nuances to each, making some better suited for certain businesses. We dive into all these later.

At a technical level, auto-dialing is made possible by integration with customer databases, such as customer relationship management systems (CRMs), to access and manage call lists and customer information. Salesforce, for example, is an extremely popular integration.

Practical Benefits of Auto-dialers

When you use an auto-dialing system correctly, there are many benefits for your business. We can categorize them into four categories: simplicity, scalability, cost-effectiveness, and productivity.

1. Simplicity

Auto-dialers are simple to set up and use, making them a good choice for businesses that don’t have a lot of technical expertise or time to learn. There’s no benefit when introducing complex software, and if software is hard to use, team adoption is low. 

You don’t need to be an experienced call center agent or versed in sales technology to use an auto-dialer. Once set up, the software does everything behind the scenes, making your sales reps’ lives easier.

All they need to do is put on their headset and start talking to customers and prospects.

2. Scalability

Once you achieve early success with your auto-dialer, you can roll it out to all your agents. Scaling is easy, as most dialer software is now cloud-based. All you need is a license for each user. There’s no hardware involved, so it doesn’t use any real estate or cut into the budget.

If you’re a growing contact center, have a seasonal push, or are expanding into new geographies, you can use auto-dialer software to scale your operation without technical rollouts or extended training.

3. Cost-effectiveness

Not only does it cost relatively little to get started with auto-dialer software, but you can expect a significant return on investment from day one.

On average, an employee toggles between apps and windows 3,600 times per day, leading to manual errors and human mistakes. By automating the dialing process, your operational costs and time lost to manual inefficiencies plummet.

Workflow automation of the outbound calling process has a few additional benefits:

All with no operational time, cost, or effort used.

4. Productivity

Expect agent idle time to decrease dramatically. When you eliminate the admin time of looking for the next contact between calls, agents can spend more time doing what they’re skilled at: making successful calls and following high-converting call scripts.

By ensuring everyone can make calls as soon as they’re available, auto-dialers remove dead time, streamline operations, and boost agent productivity.

More time on the phone means more sales, more research, and better customer service.

Types of Auto-Dialers

There are four different dialing modes (or types) to choose from:

1. Predictive dialer

predictive dialer predicts live agent availability. Using smart algorithms to predict when an agent will be available to take a call, it auto-connects the next call when an agent is “ready.”

This involves factors such as average talk time, wrap-up time, and agent status. These all factor into the dialer algorithm to connect agents with callers in an automated fashion. 

preictive vs auto dialer

A predictive dialer feature has many upsides to keep in mind.

👉 You may also like How to Create a Predictive Dialer Campaign

2. Preview dialer

In a preview dialer, the software pops up information about the next contact before connecting the call (via CRM integration). This allows agents to personalize their approach and prepare for the conversation ahead. It’s like Call Pop for incoming calls, but in reverse.

Unlike predictive dialing, the power to start the call lies with the agent, allowing enough time to get ready to fully engage with the customer. 

A preview dialer has a few distinct advantages. 

3. Power dialer

A power dialer uses sequential dialing. This means it dials numbers sequentially from a contact list. This list might be pre-populated by hand or by computer or be bought from a third party.

When you load contacts into the software, it hunts for agents ready to take the next call.

4. Progressive dialer

A progressive dialer combines elements of preview and power dialers. Agents get access to information before a call, and then the dialer automatically connects the call.

Progressive dialers are popular, as they provide a hybrid of agent control and speed to connect.

Why You May Want To Avoid Predictive Dialers

Before you jump in with both feet, it’s important to understand when it’s not beneficial to use a predictive dialer.

The Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) restricts the use of automated dialers for cold-calling consumers without their consent. 

Predictive dialers can inadvertently violate the TCPA if they connect agents to live calls before they’re ready. This doesn’t just lead to dropped calls and a dip in your metrics but to potential legal consequences:

The amended TSR prohibits telemarketers from abandoning any outbound telephone call

When using predictive dialers, companies can accidentally incur a high number of abandoned calls. How does this occur?

Picture this…

You receive an inbound call while doing the laundry. Your phone rings; you say hello.

But nobody replies because, on the other end, the call was connected to an agent who wasn’t ready.

You hang up because it appears nobody is there.

All that matters to you is that the call wasted a few seconds of your time. You carry on with your day.

But for the business this keeps happening to, you can bet their abandoned call rate rapidly climbs above the stipulated 3%.

One way to get around this is to play pre-recorded messages automatically. However, this isn’t a nice customer experience and will likely result in a quick hang-up too.

Additional items to be aware of when running an auto-dial campaign include:

Another issue to note is that predictive dialers may accidentally call numbers on the Do Not Call Registry, which can result in fines and penalties. To avoid this, you must be diligent about scrubbing your contact lists against the DNC registry before using a predictive dialer.

👉 Read More FAQs: Frequently Asked Questions about Predictive Dialers

Choosing the Right Auto-Dialer for Your Business

If you’ve decided an auto-dialer is right for you, the next step is finding the right one. Review the points in this section to help narrow down your options.

✅ Assess your needs

Interview stakeholders and users to get a holistic view of your unique needs. Combine these with your technical and business requirements to form a shortlist.

Consider the following as a minimum:

Once you understand your needs, rank them in terms of priority. Assign a P1, P2, P3, etc., ranking or use the MoSCoW method:

Your final list will be very helpful when deciding between different types of auto-dialers and which vendor to select. 

Remember to consider all the use cases of your outbound call center when assessing your needs for an auto-dialer.

Functions of an outbound call center

🔍 Research dialer types

You can choose from the following auto-dialer types:

Matching the functionality and usability to your business and users will help you get the most out of your auto-dialer purchase. 

Be sure users will be comfortable without a preview, check whether you can upload your own data, and make sure you won’t run the risk of violating TCPA guidelines.

When you know which type of dialer you need, it’s time to weigh the different auto-dialer features and pricing packages.

Related: TCPA Compliance Checklist and Best Practices for Businesses

👈🏼 👉🏼 Compare features and pricing

You should look for a good deal. If you have clear budget constraints, make sure you uncover and document these early in your search. This can help you weed out providers that don’t cut.

Various providers may offer dialers as part of a wider call or contact center platform. If you’re a formal contact center operation, check whether your current vendor provides auto-dialer software under your current feature umbrella. If they don’t, check whether they support the integration of your business phone system and potential auto-dialer.

Aside from integration, be sure to look for any specific call center features that are unique to your small business or enterprise. For example, you may need call recording for compliance requirements or call monitoring for quality assurance.

It could also be the case that it’s time to review your entire call center solution. Maybe you’re thinking of moving to the cloud for the first time or omnichannel is on your radar? Use this time to review all the features you need as a department or business.

👁️‍🗨️ Read reviews and ask for references

Review sites exist to make your decision easier. If there’s one vendor with consistently bad reviews, it’s a red flag. You’ve just narrowed your shortlist even further.

Likewise, tons of good reviews are a great signal.

Nextiva reviews on review sites
Nextiva ratings on the three review sites

If you’re a member of an industry community or attend events with peers and competitors, ask their opinions on the type of auto-dialer they’re using.

Likewise, when talking to vendors about their dialer solutions, check for case studies of businesses like yours. If you can’t find one, ask for a reference client. In most scenarios, vendors will be happy to connect you with an existing customer so they can push the deal forward.

📊 Try free trials or demos

They say the proof is in the pudding. Trying an auto-dialer out for size is a must. Nearly every vendor will offer a proof of concept, or, at the very least, they should offer a transparent sales demo. If not, it’s not advisable to make a purchase.

The great thing here is that there’s not a lot to demo or test, so there’s no long waiting period to find out if one solution works well or not.

Unlike some SaaS technologies, it’s unlikely you’ll need to provide card details to get set up with a trial. You can fly through functionality testing and arrive at your final few vendors to pick from.

Nextiva product shot

✅ Choose a reputable vendor

Don’t just take the claim on the vendor’s website that they provide “the best auto-dialer software” or say, “Our customers love us.” Take the time to evaluate things that matter the most when selecting a business partner.

Some popular providers include Five9RingCentral, and Nextiva (that’s us).

Things to look for when choosing an auto-dialer vendor:

Use this as your basic checklist to work your way to your final decision.

Using an Auto-Dialer With Nextiva

Nextiva ticks all the boxes on the reputable vendor checklist and would love to invite you to try out our dialer options. 

As part of our full-featured contact center with optimal workflows for automatic dialing, disposition tracking, and robust business integrations in one platform, we’ve helped with countless rollouts and seen some great implementations.

Before you get started, there’s a little information you need to know.

All checks out?

Auto-dial with peace of mind.

Get a demo to see how Nextiva scales your contact center performance.

Dominic Kent


Dominic Kent

Dominic Kent is a content marketer specializing in unified communications and contact centers. After 10 years of managing installations, he founded UC Marketing to bridge the gap between service providers and customers. He spends half of his time building content marketing programs and the rest writing on the beach with his dogs.

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