How Much Do Predictive Dialers Cost?

Dollar symbol in hands

Most call centers rely on predictive dialers to manage their outbound calls. Predictive dialers are computer-based systems that automatically call a list of phone numbers. They can be used to make live phone calls or send recorded messages.

When a predictive dialer is used to make live phone calls, the computer routes the call to an agent when someone picks up. With automated messages, the technology is most often used for surveys, appointment confirmations and collections efforts. If no one answers the phone, the predictive dialer can be set up to leave a message, either live or recorded.

Predictive dialing software varies in format and function depending on the vendor, but most dialers allow call center leaders to upload lists of names and numbers, as well as scripts for live agents or recordings. Many have features that allow the call center agent to access information about the person who picks up and/or schedule a new time to talk if the person who answers is busy.

Why invest in a predictive dialer when agents can simply dial the number? As we’ll discuss later, predictive dialers help cut call center costs by increasing efficiency.

Predictive Dialer Pricing

As with all software, predictive dialers can be on-premise or hosted. Because hosted, or cloud-based, software continues to eclipse premise-based software in terms of new technology purchases, we’ll focus mostly on the cost of cloud-based software.

Most vendors charge a monthly per-agent fee for cloud-based predictive dialers. In some cases, the dialers are sold a la carte, and in other cases they’re sold as part of a complete call center software package.

    • A la carte, basic predictive dialers start at about $50 per agent per month. Typically, there’s a cap on the number of minutes per month each agent can use. In this price range, it might be about 1,000. Dialers in this price range may not include features such as live monitoring and call recording.
    • More robust dialers with more features and a greater allowance of minutes per month start at about $100-$200 per month. Depending on price, expect 2,000 to 6,000-plus minutes per agent per month. These packages usually include advanced features and a variety of options for tech support.

Comprehensive call center software packages that include predictive dialers are usually a better deal – lowering your overall call center costs. They typically cost $100 to $300 per agent per month. Pricing varies by the vendor, and it often depends on the features included.

At Kunnect, our complete call center software package, which includes a predictive dialer, costs $125 per agent per month. There are no hidden fees, keeping your monthly call center costs predictable.

Benefits of Predictive Dialers – Reducing Call Center Costs

The beauty of predictive dialers is their efficiency, and we all know that efficiency reduces call center costs. You might not think dialing takes a lot of time, but think about how many calls your agents make each day. Five seconds times 100 or 200 calls adds up quickly. More importantly, dialers eliminate wasted time when phone numbers are busy, incorrect or connect to fax lines. They only route live calls to agents.

Predictive dialers also reduce call center costs by allowing you to automate some calls that otherwise would take a considerable amount of agent time, including surveys and collections. These types of calls don’t always require a live agent to be effective. Using a predictive dialer instead can keep staffing reasonable and reduce call center costs.

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How To Lower Call Center Turnover Rates

Call centers are tough work environments – to say the least. No matter how hard you try to make the workplace comfortable and rewarding, your call center agents are constantly dealing with the stress of long hours, tight quarters and angry customers.

A turnover rate of 20 percent per year is considered low in the call center industry, according to Kate Leggett, an analyst with Forrester Research. And some call centers have turnover rates of more than 100 percent per year.

As business leaders well know, call center turnover is a major drain on the bottom line. As we’ve mentioned before, the Center for American Progress estimates that for each $30,000 employee lost, most companies spend more than $5,000 in recruiting, hiring and training costs. And when you lose seasoned employees, you’re likely hurting the overall customer experience, which comes at a cost that is difficult to measure.

Offer Rewards and Incentives

Every employee wants to feel like their hard work is appreciated. Recognize standout employees with rewards such as bonus and raises, scheduling flexibility, increased authority, extra vacation time and/or gifts such as restaurant certificates. The money you invest in these key employees will be far less than the cost of call center turnover.

Some companies make the mistake of tying rewards and incentives to the length of calls, recognizing employees who keep them short. This is a mistake because you’re incentivizing employees to get off the phone quickly, whether the customer is happy with the resolution or not. Instead, reward employees for customer satisfaction. Consider using short customer surveys to find out which employees are excelling.

Reduce Workplace Stress

A significant percentage of call center turnover is related to employee stress. While you can’t eliminate all stress in the workplace, there are steps you can take to create the best possible environment for your staff members.

Start by meeting with the team and identifying the leading causes of stress in the call center. Are they having issues with the call center software that can be fixed? Are they required to seek supervisor approval for any sort of discount or credit? Are they working too many hours without a break? Working to solve the problems that are the leading causes of stress can have a huge impact on call center turnover.

Create a Strong Support System

Call center turnover rates tend to be lower in environments where agents feel like they have the support of management and supervisors. Are your supervisors regularly checking in with employees to find out how the job is going and what tools they need to make it better? Are they mentoring and coaching employees? If not, consider freeing more supervisor time for one-on-one interactions. Employees who feel like their boss is truly on their team are likely to be more invested. The more invested the employees, the lower the rates of call center turnover.

Set Career Goals 

For some people, working in a call center can feel like a dead-end job. They show up every day, work the phones for eight or more hours, and go home exhausted. They might not recognize opportunities to move up, which can lead to call center turnover.

Create a program that offers key employees a path to better their careers. Promote successful employees from junior agent to senior agent or from senior agent to supervisor. Making it clear to your staff that they have opportunities for advancement – and increased pay – keeps them motivated and reduces call center turnover.

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Four Ways to Reduce Your Call Center Costs

Customer ServiceIn an ideal world, call center executives and managers would only have to worry about keeping customers and employees happy. In reality, cost plays a huge role in every decision, whether it’s how to staff your call center or which technology to buy.

This presents an interesting dichotomy. How do you reduce call center costs and run a more efficient operation without hurting customer experience or employee morale? It’s not always easy, but it’s possible. We’ll give you a head start in four steps.

1. Reduce Turnover 

High turnover is a major money drain, and we all know that call centers are notorious for high turnover rates.

The average turnover rate for U.S. call centers is anywhere from 25 to 45 percent, depending on which survey you consult, and rates are even higher in some industries. For each $30,000 employee lost, most companies incur north of $5,000 in recruiting, hiring and training costs, according to the Center for American Progress.

So how do you reduce turnover without handing out $10,000 raises?

  • Give employees authority – Job satisfaction increases when your agents feel empowered to make decisions. Don’t require supervisor approval for every small discount or credit – allow your employees to make some of those decisions. 
  • Build in rewards – When they’re used properly, incentives go a long way toward increasing employee satisfaction. Consider implementing a pay-for-performance policy that’s based on customer satisfaction. Reward employee longevity with higher pay, increased vacation time and greater responsibilities. Employees tend to be more productive when they earn rewards.
  • Offer flexible work schedules – Consider allowing reliable and/or long-term employees to work from home. Studies have shown that home-based workers have lower turnover rates.
  • Analyze your own practices – If your turnover is especially high, it might be time to look inward. Is your training process thorough? Are candidates properly screened? Are you setting proper expectations by clearly defining the job responsibilities?

2. Take It To the Cloud

Cloud-based call center software is rapidly growing in popularity. In 2008, only 2.2 percent of call centers used cloud-based software, according to DMG Consulting. By September 2013, some 62 percent operated at least partially in the cloud.

One of the main drivers of growth? The impact on call center costs.

Unlike traditional on-premise systems, cloud-based software requires very little upfront capital. Most cloud providers charge a per-agent fee, so you’re only paying for the what you use. If you add agents or downsize, the software can be scaled up or down. There’s no hardware to buy, and far less is spent on call center costs like maintenance and IT.

3. Make the Most of Self Service 

Some customer interactions require a live agent. Others don’t. If you’re not taking full advantage of self-service options, you’re wasting valuable – and expensive – employee time. Self-service features, when used appropriately, can cut call center costs and actually improve customer service.

Most companies use one type of self service: traditional IVRs. But some fail to take advantage of newer technologies such as virtual agents and speech-enabled IVR. Offering several methods of self-service interaction allows the customer to choose how they prefer to interact – and it increases the likelihood that they’ll use self service. The capital expenditure for the technology can be recouped in reduced call center costs.

Call center experts agree that self-service features work best for simple transactions such as updating an address, checking a bank balance or changing a password. These transactions don’t require a human being, and in many cases the customer would rather not chat with a human being. They’d rather complete the task quickly and move on.

4. Think Like A Customer

From a customer’s perspective, there’s nothing worse than having to make several phone calls to get an answer to a simple question. Equally frustrating: getting bounced around from one department to the next, having to repeat information that was punched into an IVR when an agent finally picks up, and talking to an agent who is clueless about the customer’s past interactions with the company.

The longer it takes to resolve a customer’s issue or answer a question, the greater the impact on your call center costs. To streamline the process, think from the customer’s perspective. Build your processes in a way that promotes the best, most efficient customer experience. You’ll make customers happy and cut call center costs.

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Hosted vs. On-Premise Call Center Software: A Look at Pros and Cons

cloud computing

Before the advent of cloud computing, all software was on premise. On-premise software  is installed on site and locally managed by a company’s IT staff, while hosted or cloud-based software is located and managed offsite by a third-party vendor.

Each type has its pros and cons, although hosted call center software is eclipsing premise-based systems in terms of popularity. Nearly two-thirds of call centers operate at least partially in the cloud, and experts predict almost no call center will be cloudless by 2015. Here, we’ll compare the two to help you make the best buying decision.

Cost of Premise vs. Hosted Call Center Software

Cost is one of the biggest drivers of the rise in popularity of hosted call center software. Cloud-based software requires little – if any – upfront investment. The software is typically pay-as-you-go, billed on a monthly, per-agent rate.

Premise-based call center software requires a heavy upfront investment for hardware, software licensing and more. However, for some companies, the total cost is actually lower in the long run. The only way to find out for sure is to price both options and do a side-by-side comparison of the long-term costs.

Flexibility and Customization

With hosted call center software, the system can be scaled up or down to meet your needs. Pay for only the number of agents you have. Premise-based software is more difficult to scale up – you have to contact the vendor for additional software licenses and the phone company for additional lines – and almost impossible to scale down.

However, premise-based software does allow for greater customization. Some vendors will customize the software to meet your specific needs. With hosted call center software, customization options are fewer.


Many companies that opt for on-premise software do so because of security concerns. They feel more comfortable with the data stored in-house, rather than with a third party over the internet. These days, cloud-based software is widely considered secure and safe, but companies with extremely sensitive data might still prefer an on-premise system.

If you’re opting for hosted call center software, make sure to ask the right questions about security before selecting a vendor. Is the data encrypted? Is it transferred over a secure channel? What access controls are in place?

Maintenance and Control

With premise-based call center software, the responsibility for maintenance and updates relies in-house with your IT staff. With hosted call center software, all of that is taken care of for you by the vendor. Each of these can be a positive or negative, depending on your viewpoint. Some companies prefer to handle their own maintenance, while others would rather not deal with the hassle and/or don’t have adequate IT staffing.

Small vs. Large Call Centers

Hosted call center software was once considered primarily a small business solution, but attitudes have changed. Granted, the cloud offers small businesses access to software they might not otherwise be able to afford. But 80 percent of large companies in North America surveyed in 2012 by McKinsey & Company, a global management consulting firm, said they already used or were looking at cloud-based software.

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The Top Five Call Center Trends for 2014: The Cloud and More

cloud computing

Advancements in technology are constantly changing the way call centers operate. Once upon a time, all customer interactions took place over the phone. Now we connect with customers over web chat, email, social media and more.

Shifting attitudes about best practices have also impacted call center trends. Companies are warming to the idea of work-from-home agents (more on this in a bit), realizing that they can lower overhead expenses and better retain key employees.

These are our picks for some of the hottest call center trends of 2014. We’ll tell you how they’re working to improve customer service and lower costs.

1. Cloud-Based Call Center Software

In 2008, only 2.2 percent of call centers used cloud-based software, according to DMG Consulting. By September 2013, some 62 percent operated at least partially in the cloud and about 20 percent of those who didn’t were planning to make the move.

That pattern of growth is expected to continue. DMG expects the cloud-based market to grow another 27 percent in 2014 and 25 percent in 2015. By the end of 2015, almost no contact center will be completely cloudless, DMG predicts.

Cloud-based software took a long time to make its way onto the list of top call center trends, but companies are recognizing the benefits en masse. Simply put, cloud-based software costs less and requires very little cash upfront. It is flexible, scaleable and low-maintenance. There’s also little or no hardware to buy and maintain.

2. Work-From-Home Agents

Not so long ago, many companies would have scoffed at the idea of virtual call centers or work-from-home agents. How do you monitor agents when they’re out of sight? But, in an increasingly mobile world, attitudes have changed.

The obvious benefit of work-from-home agents is decreased overhead costs. You’re not paying for the roof over their heads. According to IDC consulting, in-house call center agents cost an average of $31 per hour, while at-home agents cost $21.

To boot, experts agree that at-home agents are happier and more productive – leading to a better customer experience. According to a Gartner Group survey, at-home workers are a whopping 40 percent more productive than their office-based counterparts.

3. Choose Your Own Agent

One of the newest call center trends is allowing customers to choose their own agent. Customers can view agent profiles online, find the person whose skills best align to their particular needs and request to speak to that person directly. This increases efficiency and decreases call time by matching customers with the best person to solve the problem.

4. Callback Features

As we’ve said, the most popular call center trends gain steam because they lead to better efficiency and improved customer satisfaction. Callback features are no exception. Rather than waiting on hold, a customer can put their name in queue and have the next available agent return the call. No more suffering through elevator music.

5. Smarter Routing

The goal of smarter routing is identical to the choose-your-own agent approach: matching customers with agent who is best equipped to resolve the problem. But the means of doing so is different. Smart routing systems rely on information like the customer’s account history and language preference and the skills of a particular agent to find the best match – without the customer realizing what’s happening.

Some smart routing systems are even capable of detecting anger in a customer’s voice and immediately routing the call to a senior agent or supervisor who has greater authority to offer solutions and diffuse the situation. This anger-detection is one of the many call center trends we anticipate sticking around.

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Training Call Center Employees to Deal With Irate Customers

a Your call center employees are more than familiar with the sound of an irate customer. They pick up the phone and the yelling ensues. Or, in some cases, the customer starts off calm but gets worked up as the call progresses.

Dealing with irate customers is an unfortunate reality for call center employees, but the employee almost always has power to diffuse the situation. The difference between a customer who walks away happy and one who vows never to patronize your business again? Properly training call center employees to talk the person off the ledge.

Properly trained, call center employees can turn an irate customer into a loyal one in a matter of minutes. It’s amazing how quickly customers change their minds when they reach someone who is understanding, polite and offers a viable solution.

It All Starts With Hiring

Granted, this blog is about training call center employees, but we’d be remiss not to talking about best hiring practices. Hiring the right people is crucial to creating a call center that promotes the best possible customer experience.

Consider screening your candidates with a personality test such as the Predictive Index (PI). These tests are not meant to be pass-fail, per se, but they give hiring managers insight into a potential employee’s disposition. If a candidate scores high in the dominance category, for example, you probably want to question that person during the interview about what that means. Is the person simply assertive and self-confident, or does the candidate have a short fuse?

The Art of the Apology

Empathy goes a long way when it comes to dealing with irate customers. The first step in training call center employees to deal with angry customers is instructing them to use the right language – and to genuinely put themselves in the customer’s shoes.

ea0f105576766dcf1449b982755b0028Schedule a team meeting to do some role playing. Talk to call center employees about the types of complaints they hear most often and brainstorm the best possible responses. You don’t want employees to sound too scripted, but you do want them to have some general responses prepared to show irate customers that they’re sympathetic.

Responses that work well include:

  • “I understand why you’re frustrated. I would be upset if that happened, too.”
  • “I’m sorry you had a bad experience. How can I make it better?”
  • “Tell me what happened and we’ll find a solution.”

Encourage your employees not to take it personally when customers are irate. The customer is mad at the company, not them. Sometimes the customer just needs to vent, and they want to know the person on the other end of the phone genuinely cares. The key is training call center employees to stay calm and really listen.

Training Call Center Employees to Strike a Deal

Empathy is a great first step, but it doesn’t necessarily solve the problem. Angry customers want to see that the customer service representative is taking steps to resolve the problem. Start by training call center employees on all the available options for dispute resolution, including discounts, credits and/or expedited service.

One thing that’s important: empowering call center agents to offer some kind of reasonable concession or offer without seeking supervisor permission. The last thing an angry customer wants to do is wait on hold or be bounced around from one employee to the next. Focus on training call center employees to act quickly and appropriately. Can they offer a 10 percent discount on the purchase or free installation, if applicable?

It goes without saying that not every customer can be pleased, but investing time in training call center employees on best practices for dealing with irate customers goes a long way toward ensuring that an unhappy customer is not a lost customer.

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