Crafting a modernized and scalable phone banking tool
How We Helped
Founded in 2018, Impactive is a mobile app that empowers grassroots campaigning through technology and community organizing. In 2021, Impactive turned to Gray Bike to build a new product after we helped them scale up their platform to successfully make it through the 2020 election.
Understanding the landscape
Impactive reached out to Gray Bike at the start of the year with an ambitious plan: Build a modern and sophisticated mobile-first phone banking tool. They wanted to launch it in time for the 2022 US midterm elections.
Phone banking is a crucial part of elections in the US and it can make a huge difference in voter turnout. When Gray Bike started working with Impactive, most phone banking software was cumbersome and outdated. Often, existing software requires users to sit in front of a desktop computer and wait for long periods of time before being connected to a voter. It’s estimated only 5% of outgoing phone calls are picked up when phone banking. Traditional tools are inefficient and result in a lot of wasted time with less-than-desired impact.
Gray Bike worked with Impactive to understand the complexities of automated and predictive phone banking tools and reimagined how it should work from the ground up.
Developing and implementing a sophisticated algorithm for scale
The undertaking was ambitious and spanned several months. At its core, it involved creating a very sophisticated algorithm that ensured the exact right number of outgoing phone calls were placed, and adjusted in real time, in response to the number of available volunteers at any given moment. Being a multi-tenant system, this also had to work across many campaigns simultaneously without overloading the systems or hitting Twilio’s API limits.
We needed to make sure the volunteers never waited too long before being connected to a voter, while also making sure we minimized the number of voter calls that were dropped. We also needed to implement systems for phone bankers to jump in and out with ease, receive updates, and for phone bank admins to easily start, stop and update phone banks in real time.
We then built it on top of Impactive’s existing platform (Ruby on Rails, React/React Native). We handled both front and back end, ensuring the application was ready for a massive scale.
Focusing on the user experience
Gray Bike and Impactive knew the user experience would be crucial and prioritized it from day one. The teams worked together to develop one of the most user-friendly mobile-first phone banking tools on the market. The design of the mobile app was the first of its kind, and no other dialer on the market had such sophisticated functionality nor intuitive UX. Gray Bike interviewed users, tested designs, and built out a dialer with an interactive script that made it dead simple for even the most technologically-challenged users to jump in and be productive.
At its peak usage during the 2022 midterms, tens of thousands of calls a day were made across the country with Impactive’s phone banking platform. In the end, we were able consistently to keep volunteer wait times below 1 minute, and were able to minimize the number of dropped voter calls throughout. We provided controls to Impactive so that they could tweak how the algorithm worked, making the dialer more aggressive or more conservative depending on the needs of each campaign. The predictive dialer was such a success that Impactive was able to use it to engage with many large clients, including the Democratic National Committee (DNC), Stacey Abrams for Governer campaign, Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC), Planned Parenthood and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).