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What is an Autodialer?

People working in a call center.
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  • Written By: Malcolm Tatum
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 21 July 2014
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    Conjecture Corporation
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Autodialers are communication devices that make it possible to simultaneously dial large quantities of telephone numbers. There are a number of different types of autodialer equipment, each providing a different set of ancillary tools that are appropriate for various situations. The autodialer is widely used by most telemarketing businesses today as well as in call centers operated by major businesses.

The creation of an autodialing system usually involves a combination of hardware and software in order to perform the function. The hardware includes a phone system, a battery of trunks or lines to be used for dialing purposes, and an autodialer that is able to perform tone and voice recognition functions. The software provides the platform for creating call lists, scheduling a specific number of redial attempts for each number that did not connect, and also establishing the protocol for what happens when a connection is made.

There are essentially three ways that an autodialer can be set up. The most basic set-up ties the autodialer system back to an operator. A basic autodialer usually requires a manual queuing of a predetermined call list in order to initiate the process. The autodialer then proceeds to dial the numbers on the list, with so many numbers dialed at one time. When a connection is made, the line is immediately transferred to the operator who then begins to interact with the individual at the other end of the connection. This approach is ideal for small businesses

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A slight variation on the basic autodialer process makes it possible to transfer the line to the next available operator. This is accomplished by using the software to create what is known as a hunt group. Essentially, when a connection is completed, the autodialer then begins to scan for the next available operator in the hunt group and automatically transfers the line to that operator. The process is often seamless to the called party and there is little to no time lag in transferring the connection. This approach usually allows larger blocks of numbers to be dialed simultaneously from a central call center and may not require a manual prompt to initiate the dialing.

A slightly more sophisticated autodialer set-up is used in many telemarketing situations. Here, the autodialer begins to play a prerecorded message once a connection is established. The message may invite the individual to press a key on the phone’s touch-tone pad in order to speak with a representative or allow the called party access to a menu that can be navigated using touch-tone prompts. One common application is to create a hold message that will prompt the called party to stay on the line while the connection is transferred to an operator. This approach is ideal for use with political campaigns, civic announcements or other applications where it is not desirable or feasible to maintain a large employee force for telemarketing projects.

Just about every type of autodialer includes technology that allows the system to recognize when a connection has been established at the point of termination. However, this recognition is normally limited to either interpreting the tones that occur when a connection is made or recognizing the sound of a human voice. This means that a basic autodialer cannot differentiate between a person answering the phone and an answering machine that picks up the connection and begins to play a prerecorded message.

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