Predictive Dialing and Cell Phones – A Way Forward

March, 2023

In the US, predictive dialing (of a sort) has made a comeback for calling cell phones. But will the regulator, the Federal Trade Commission (FCC), go along with this?

As most of our readers will know, Sytel has played a major part over the years in helping to develop sensible legislation for the use of predictive dialers, especially in the US and the UK.

When we first got involved a couple of decades ago(!) calling conditions were kind to dialers, with around 1 in 3 calls resulting in a live call. An over-zealous use of dialers during this time has, unsurprisingly, frightened many consumers away. They just don’t pick up any more and live call rates can be below 1 in 10. And, guess what, this has intensified the use of predictive dialers in many markets, chasing the few who do answer the phone, and leading to high levels of nuisance calls.

Unfortunately, regulation has been too limited in scope and enforcement to prevent outbound markets in many countries shrinking in response to such abuse.

In the US, to stamp out abuse, the FCC decided to be draconian and brought in a blanket ban in the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) on using predictive dialers to dial cell phones without the agreement of the consumer. It did so by ruling out the use of dialing technology and replacing it with humans. The idea is that humans click on a single number and it gets dialed.

The only problem with this is that at low levels of live calls it’s pretty darned hard to run a profitable business. So, it’s hardly surprising that the folk who make a business out of running outbound campaigns, have found creative alternatives, such as:

  • agents dialing multiple numbers in an attempt to function as a predictive dialer, where the agent tries to limit abandoned calls
  • agents passing a bunch of numbers to an auto dialer for dialing, where the dialer tries to limit abandoned calls.

In a nutshell, predictive dialing now reigns again for dialing cell phones, as legal interpretations of the TCPA give dialers a new lease of life.

The big question is: will the FCC go along with this, or stick with their original intent which was to limit or stop all nuisance calls to cell phones?

Our own view is that unrestricted use of predictive dialers to dial cell phones in the US probably has a limited life, but there is no need to ban the use of predictive dialers.

We have charted a way ahead that we think could be a good compromise for all interested parties. To find out more, go to https://www.fcc.gov/ecfs/document/10224108907813/1

If you have any questions or would like to book in a demo of the Sytel Ai Dialer, just talk to us

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