Automated dialers connect the telephone, cell phone and pager networks and individual entities contained within them by way of computer telephone integration (CTI). Computers equipped with auto-dialing software, a phone line, a telephony board or modem and list of phone numbers are capable of being programmed to work as automatic dialers. Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) can be used in place of a modem or telephone line to reduce operational costs.
Automated dialing has acquired a negative reputation because of its association with telemarketers, sales representatives and debt collectors. While greatly used at call centers, automatic dialers also have less-publicized uses. Doctor's offices, school systems, airlines, politicians, restaurants, law enforcement, hotels, non-profit organizations and businesses that have pre-established relationships with the called person often use automated dialers to impart important messages. When used by these entities, they can alert citizens of notifications, serve as reminders or give confirmations.
What occurs when someone answers a call placed by an automatic dialer is determined by the dialer's programming. Called people may be connected to a live operator, can listen to a prerecorded message, be prompted to respond in a voice mail or be provided a phone tree with miscellaneous routes to take. Dialers are equipped to perform these foreground functions but can also accomplish background tasks like updating the status of the call for watching operators or solving algorithms to predict an operator's next availability.
The technology of automatic dialers makes person-specific programming of information possible. For example, text-to-speech technology lets computers look up a person's name and other personal information before combining it into a voice template and translating it into a spoken message. This is what makes prerecorded messages that contain a person's name, a time and the general notification possible.
Businesses save money, time and resources by using automatic dialers. Instead of paying employees to call every phone number on a provided list and solicit a response, automatic dialers call on employees' behalf and ensure that an actual person answers before switching them to a live operator. Businesses that use voice broadcast to power automatic dialers can simply play a message when someone answers the phone or can choose to use interactive voice response (IVR), an application that gives the called person instructions and designated keys to push depending on their decision to proceed with the call.
Automatic dialers aren't a one-size-fits-all technology; they can be customized to mirror the needs of the business or organization using them. Preview, progressive, predictive and "smart" dialing all provide streamlining options. These features give waiting live operators the opportunity to review information and select scripts and guarantee that they're only connected to people with a genuine interest in the information that they're presenting. If automatic dialers detect an answering machine on the other end of the line, connection to a live operator can be bypassed and a prerecorded message left. However, despite their advanced technology and useful applications, no automatic dialer is capable of differentiating a live person from an answering machine message with complete accuracy.