For years, large companies have used auto-dialing systems for sales calls and customer satisfaction surveys. The systems, which integrate your computer system and office telephone network, are programmed with a list of numbers and generate calls continually. When a customer answers the phone, he or she is automatically routed to a live sales agent, who then handles the transaction.
In the past, such systems have cost upwards of $300,000 for larger call centers. But as with other electronic technologies, prices are coming down--good news for entrepreneurs. Companies like Genesys Telecommunications Laboratories Inc. (http://www.telemkt.com/genesys) and Call Center Solutions (http://www.callcenters.com) sell telemarketing solutions with automated dialing technology that cost about $3,000 per work station. As with high-end systems, a list of numbers is entered into the system so the calls can be automatically dialed; when someone answers the phone, the salesperson is immediately alerted.
In addition to being more reasonably priced, these telemarketing "assistants" are much more sophisticated than they were in the past. For example, when customers call in on your toll-free line, they can be routed to sales agents with whom they've done business before. That's a nice, human touch this type of technology wasn't able to provide before.
Gene Koprowski has covered the tech industry for 10 years and writes a monthly computing column for The Wall Street Journal Interactive Edition. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org