Predictive Dialing on Demand with Impact Dialing

Impact Dialing is a pay-as-you-go on-demand auto dialer built on Twilio. Their software is used by call centers, pollsters, and political campaigns to improve the efficiency of their outbound calling operations and to send out pre-recorded messages.  Customers can pay-per-agent or pay-per-minute.

As reported by Venture Beat a few weeks ago, Impact Dialing recently raised funding to further the development of their service.  VentureBeat reports:

“As the winner of the Lean Startup Challenge run by AppSumo, the company has now received an undisclosed amount of angel funding from the Band of Angels group, and it has also been accepted as a member of incubator Pivotal Labs.”

How Impact Dialing Works

Impact Dialing offers two auto dialer products: a hosted predictive dialer for live calls, and voice broadcasting for recorded messages.

Hosted Predictive Dialer

The hosted predictive dialer dramatically increases callers’ productivity by reducing the time between answered calls. Callers log on to Impact Dialing, which then calls out to a list of phone numbers. By monitoring how many people actually pick up, the predictive dialer makes multiple dials to ensure that someone will answer almost every call. Additionally, the dialer tracks the length of each conversation, so it can deliver a new call shortly after a caller finishes the previous one.

Voice Broadcasting

Impact Dialing’s voice broadcasting software sends out a pre-recorded message to a list of numbers. Voice broadcasting comes with two options: robo calls, in which a message is simply played to people who answer the phone; and robo surveys, in which people who pick up the phone can respond to questions by pressing buttons on their phone keypad.

How Impact Dialing Got Started

I had a chance to ask Michael Kaiser-Nyman, founder of Impact Dialing, so questions about how the company got started and why these chose Twilio.  Here’s what he had to say:

What’s the back story of your project? What problem were you trying to solve?

I was working for Equality California, an advocacy group for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender Californians, and making a huge number of phone calls both myself and with a team of volunteers. I had used predictive dialing technology on previous political campaigns, but when I started shopping for a hosted predictive dialer for Equality California, I found that everything out was too expensive and inflexible.

Companies told me I needed to give them a 30 day lead time to add more users to the system, and they wanted me to pay huge up-front costs. Their systems were difficult to use and required specialized software. And some of them even tried to sell me on-premise dialers that I would have had to purchase up-front and maintain myself, not to mention negotiate a telco contract and install phone lines!

How did you get started with Twilio?

I knew there had to be a better way than what other hosted dialers were offering. Cloud computing and VoIP was the way to go, and I had heard about Twilio in the news from time to time. I’m not a developer, so I spent a lot of time learning about telephony and discovered how difficult it is to get a web application to make phone calls.

When I posted on Twilio’s forums asking if Twilio was the right tool for my auto dialer, I got responses from enthusiastic community members and even Twilio’s employees. I talked on the phone with some of the forum participants and was sold. I brought on a developer and we went from first line of code to first customer in less than five weeks. Other companies have taken years to build their dialers! It’s amazing what we can do with Twilio.

What are you working on now?

We’ve been mainly working with political campaigns so far, but we’ve started to move into the commercial space. Band of Angels, Silicon Valley’s oldest seed funding group, recently invested in us, and Pivotal Labs is giving us incubation to help us bring on more developers and market Impact Dialing more broadly. People are really excited about the idea of being able to build and expand their call centers on the fly, with no up-front costs and no lead time. It’s wonderful to let Twilio take care of our telephony and scaling so that we can focus on building our product.

We also recently won the Lean Startup Challenge run by Appsumo with a blog post we wrote about following the lean startup methodology in our business, so we’re busy continuously putting those principles in practice.  Read the winning blog post here.