Speed dialers vs. auto dialers: What’s the difference?

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A RingCentral user taking advantage of the speed dialing feature

Dialing technology has become essential in businesses that frequently use the phone in contacting clients and prospects. It reduces the time and effort a person spends on dialing phone numbers and doing other communication-related tasks, which improves the productivity and efficiency of call centers.

Dialers can help call centers in improving the way they reach more contacts. With the rise in the need for dialing technology across different industries, several options have become available.

You’ve probably heard about speed dialers and auto dialers. Most people think that they are the same. However, they are different kinds of dialing technology that have quite distinct features and functionality.

One thing’s for sure, though: Whether you’re into real estate, retail, or hospitality, you’ll benefit significantly from a speed dialer (and an auto dialer system!) as long as you make outgoing calls.

Continue reading to know more about the following:

  • What speed dialers are
  • What auto dialers are
  • The difference between speed dialers and auto dialers
  • Why call centers use auto dialers

What is a speed dialer?

A speed dialer is a type of dialing technology that provides an easy way of calling phone numbers. It allows you to call different phone numbers quickly with minimal effort by using speed calling codes. It’s not like when you use basic landline phones or analog phones with which you have to dial the entire phone number you want to call manually.

What does speed dial do?

Speed dial lets you store frequently called numbers in the phone’s memory and dial them by pressing only a few buttons on the keypad.

The advantage of using this functionality is that you can make outgoing calls much easier and faster. You won’t have to memorize 10-digit telephone numbers nor check your telephone directory whenever you want to reach out to someone.

Aside from that, since the numbers are pre-programmed, there’s no risk of misdialing phone numbers. Misdialed calls usually occur when callers manually enter the digits one by one and press a different number by mistake. Keep in mind that misdialed outbound calls could be detrimental to your professional image.

By using speed dials, you can guarantee that you’ll get connected to the right person all the time. Now, the good news is if you want to use speed dialers, you’re no longer limited to analog phones or touch-tone telephones only. The speed dialer technology has been adapted to modern communication systems like your VoIP phone service.

It is also available on VoIP phones, so you’re free to use devices like IP desk phones in your office or your personal mobile phone to make speed dials anytime. This means that you can use your Android phone or iPhone to speed dial numbers.

How do I set up speed dial on my landline?

The steps to configure speed dial on landline phones is very simple. However, you have to determine whether your phone service supports a short list or a long list of contacts before you do anything else.

The first option allows you to store up to eight numbers and use a 1-digit code, while the second option allows you to store up to 30 numbers and use a 2-digit code. In general, you can program both local and long-distance numbers on landline phone speed dialers. Take note that toll and long-distance charges apply when you use this feature. (That’s why you may be better off with a VoIP phone line).

To start creating a list in your landline phone speed dialer, here’s what you need to do:

  1. Pick up the handset. Listen for the dial tone.
  2. For the shortlist, press *74 or 74#. For the long list, press *75 or 75#.
  3. Select a 1-digit code (choose from 2 to 9) or a 2-digit code (choose from 20-49).
  4. Dial the entire phone number that you wish to assign to your selected code.

    (Note: For long-distance numbers, make sure to dial 0 or 1 before the area code and the telephone number.)
  5. Wait for the confirmation that your speed calling number has been stored.

Once you’re done with this procedure, you can start making outgoing calls by simply entering the assigned speed dial code and pressing the (#) button. To add or change numbers in your call setting, repeat the steps mentioned above.

How do I set up speed dial on my mobile phone?

For mobile phones, the steps for setting up speed dialing are much easier because most of them have the Contact list feature. Thanks to this digital phone directory or address book, you can customize your call setting by creating profiles and adding contact details—including the contact’s name, phone number, e-mail address, etc. This saves you time by ensuring you won’t have to enter the contact’s name in the search bar every time you need to call somebody.

Depending on the phone’s operating system, you can either:

  1. Mark your selected phone number as “Favorites” or 
  2. Go to your phone’s Speed Dial option and assign contacts to different codes, just like you would in landline phone speed dialers.

There are also mobile applications available for speed dialing, which are compatible with Android phones and iPhones. Some are free to download, though others are paid apps.

What is a hotline dialer?

A hot dialer (also known as hotline dialer) is a small piece of equipment attached to an analog phone or a touch-tone phone, allowing it to automatically dial pre-programmed numbers as soon as you lift the handset. 

It's easy to set up because it only requires a phone line. Some hot dialers are also compatible with VoIP phones. Devices with off-hook auto dialing capabilities are mostly used as emergency phones and courtesy phones.

What is an auto dialer?

An auto dialer or automatic dialer is a device or software that automatically and sequentially dials phone numbers from a list of contacts or a database. Once a call has been answered, it either plays a recorded message or connects the call to an agent. 

It’s highly functional because it has many features, such as voice broadcasting and interactive voice response. Another notable feature is its ability to detect busy tones, voicemails, answering machines, disconnected calls, and unproductive numbers.

With this kind of dialer, it’s pretty much guaranteed that you will only deal with calls answered by actual people. You won’t have to waste resources on unsuccessful calls.

Agents in a contact center use auto dialers to make outgoing calls

What are the differences between an auto dialer and a speed dialer?

Auto dialers and speed dialers are often confused with each other because both simplify the dialing process—but there are differences. To set these two kinds of dialers apart, let’s take a look at the table below:

Auto Dialers

  • Primarily used by contact centers for outbound calling
  • Allow you to import various phone numbers from a database or spreadsheet
  • Need little to no human intervention when dialing out
  • Can dial many phone numbers at a time in succession
  • Can play a prerecorded message for the receiver of the call
  • Can detect busy tones, voicemails, answering machines, disconnected calls, and unproductive numbers
  • Allow you to adjust the dialing speed

Speed Dialers

  • Commonly used by the general public for personal or emergency purposes
  • Allow you to save phone numbers and assign them to a fewer number of keys
  • Always require manual dialing
  • Can only dial pre-programmed numbers
  • Can’t play a prerecorded message
  • Can’t filter negative call results
  • Don’t allow you to adjust the dialing speed

Why do call centers use auto dialers?

Call centers handle two types of calls: incoming calls and outgoing calls. Inbound call center agents receive incoming calls from customers. Meanwhile, outbound call center agents make outgoing calls to reach out to customers. Dialing out phone numbers one by one can be a very tedious task for agents, so more and more call center companies today have started using auto dialers to streamline the calling process.  

Since auto dialers have better functionality, they are more efficient for call centers than speed dialers. The best part is that there are different dialing modes that agents can use to auto dial phone numbers and make outgoing calls.  

These dialing patterns are primarily used by outbound call centers for lead generation, debt collection, market research, and other campaigns.

Types of outbound dialers

Predictive Dialer

Predictive dialers are beneficial when it comes to boosting agent productivity because they auto dial different phone numbers to place multiple outgoing calls at the same time per agent. With the use of an algorithm, it can predict agent availability and filter unsuccessful calls. This way, agents will only deal with live connections.

However, since it only makes predictions, there are instances when there are no agents to take the call when several live connections occur. When this happens, the system will abandon the call. 

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) impose penalties if the standard limit of call abandonment rate is violated. If you want to use a predictive dialer, you should have enough agents in your team for each dedicated phone line to reduce the risk of abandoned calls.

Progressive Dialer or power dialer

Progressive or power dialers offer more accuracy when making outgoing calls because they only auto dial one phone number per agent. Since they ensure that agents are available when an actual person picks up the phone, you can eliminate the risk of call abandonment.

Furthermore, while the call is being placed, they show the contact’s name and other information. This can help agents be more prepared when talking to customers or prospects. However, compared to predictive dialers, progressive dialers make fewer calls.

Preview Dialer

Preview dialers also make one outgoing call per agent, just like the progressive dialer. The difference is that agents have the authority to initiate the call or skip to the next contact on the list. They can review customer data such as personal profiles and call history before making the decision. 

Since agents already know the essential details about the customer, they can directly discuss the product details during the call. If the customer shows interest, they can provide further information like the product code, introduce other related products, and direct them to related articles. 

By using a preview dialer, they can personalize customer interactions. However, preview dialers are the slowest type of outbound dialer, so they can’t be used to reach out to a huge number of contacts, unlike predictive dialers. It’s recommended that they be used for complex or sensitive customer cases.

How to choose the right outbound dialer for your call center

Now that you are familiar with the different kinds of outbound dialers, it’s crucial that you select one that fits your business needs. Below are three things that you need to consider:

Maximum Amount of Leads
If your goal is to reach the maximum number of leads in a short amount of time, the best auto dialer to use is the predictive dialer. Since it uses an algorithm to filter calls answered by an actual person while making multiple outgoing calls per agent, it increases the number of live connections made with clients and prospects.
Call Personalization
If your goal is to make high-quality call experiences for clients and prospects, the best dialer to use is the preview dialer. With the useful data that it shows the agents even before making a call, they can effectively personalize the conversation depending on the contact’s key information.
Call Accuracy
If your goal is to make outgoing calls accurately and avoid abandoned calls, the best auto dialer to use is the progressive dialer. Although it has less agent productivity than the predictive dialer, it makes sure that calls answered by actual people are handled by agents and not dropped.

Benefits of outbound dialers

  • Reduce agent idle time 
  • Increase agent talk time 
  • Better campaign management 
  • Improve customer experience 
  • Boost conversion rates
  • Reduce operational costs

Why use RingCentral Engage Voice?

If you’re looking for effective dialing software for your company, you might want to check out RingCentral Engage Voice. It’s a cloud-based contact center platform designed to streamline outbound and blended communication between customers and businesses. 

Some of its key features include:

  • Predictive, progressive, and preview dialers
  • TCPA compliance tools 
  • Agent scripting
  • Call blending
  • Call recording
  • Call disposition
  • CRM integration
  • Campaign and list management

Want to learn more? Click on the “View Demo” button below to have one of our sales experts give you a product tour.