Robocalling has become such a severe problem that it has eroded trust between consumers and incoming phone calls. When people don’t recognize a phone number, they often decline the calls with little consideration.
It’s hard to blame people for declining calls from unknown numbers. According to the Fall 2020 Robocall Investigation Report from Transaction Network Services (TNS), consumers received over 100 billion unwanted calls between mid-2019 and mid-2020. Many of those calls included scams trying to take advantage of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Carriers and app developers try to protect consumers by labeling incoming phone numbers. Companies have access to massive amounts of calling data, so they can label calls to help people decide whether they want to answer.
Depending on the strategies taken, call labeling could either help or prevent your business connect with customers. The following sections will teach you more about call labeling and how to avoid negative labels that could stand between you and success.
What Is Call Labeling?
Service providers (carriers) automatically apply labels to phone numbers with specific characteristics. For example, using the same phone number to call 100 consumers within an hour will make your outbound number look suspicious enough to earn a negative label.
Carriers and call-blocking apps have consumer protection in mind. Unfortunately, they can’t always distinguish between scams and legitimate businesses. Even though you want to contact a customer about an important matter, no one answers because a label discourages people from accepting the call.
What Are the Labels a Caller ID Can Get?
Call labeling seeks to inform consumers so they can decide whether to accept calls. Not all labels have negative consequences for businesses. It seems that carriers err on the side of caution, though. If they suspect a number of scamming people, they will almost certainly include a call label that prevents people from answering.
Carriers put consumer needs ahead of call center needs. They will almost always give consumers the benefit of the doubt to protect people from scammers. Ideally, labels can help your business reach customers. When you follow good dialing hygiene practices, you can stand out as a reliable business that doesn’t use robocalling and other dubious strategies.
Most carriers break call labels into two categories: warning labels and intent labels. While the specific labels vary depending on the carrier, some of the most common ones include:
- Scam Likely
- Fraud Risk
- Potential Fraud
- High Risk
- Potential Spam
- Nuisance Likely
- Account Services
How do carriers and apps decide how to label calls? Mostly by looking at caller data and reviewing feedback from customers. Call-blocking apps, for example, pay attention to how many people report a number. Subsequently, when the apps get enough adverse reports, they put a negative label on the phone number.
STIR/SHAKEN Role in Call Labeling
STIR/SHAKEN protocols promise to block robocalls and accurately identify the source of calls. At the current stage, STIR/SHAKEN has quite a way to go before it meets these goals. Meanwhile, carriers find themselves with a lot of calls that fall into a gray area. Unsure of how to respond, they often add a negative label. Unfortunately, this can have an adverse effect on legitimate businesses trying to reach customers.
Even after STIR/SHAKEN technology gets fully implemented, some call spoofing and robocalls will probably slip through the system. Residents of Canada and the U.S., however, should see a dramatic reduction in unwanted calls.
Carriers know they can make mistakes that hurt businesses, so they choose to label numbers instead of automatically block suspicious calls. That way, they can help customers make informed choices without directly harming companies. Plenty of companies, however, still feel the harmful effects of unwarranted labeling. At least their calls do not get completely blocked.
Disputing Erroneous Call Labeling
Since you, carriers, and the Federal Communication Commission (FCC) know that erroneous flags and blocked calls occur, there are processes that let you dispute inaccurate call labeling. Unfortunately, the FCC has not built a streamlined process that makes it easy for businesses to report erroneous flags.
The FCC does, however, provide a list of resources you can use to dispute erroneous call labeling. Removing a label may involve contacting multiple carriers and third-party resources. It’s a time-consuming task that will hopefully see notable improvements in the near future.
Mitigating Call Labeling Issues
Avoiding call labeling works much better than disputing erroneous labels. By avoiding negative labels, you save time and reach more customers.
You might find that you can identify potential labels by:
- Listening to customers when they tell you that your phone number has a bad label.
- Monitoring the reputations of your numbers to spot any flags.
- Analyzing your connection rates. A sudden drop in connections could indicate that your number has been flagged or labeled.
Call centers and other businesses should follow ongoing processes that help them avoid flags and negative call labels. Keeping your number free of labels and flags makes it easier for you to remain in contact with your customers at all times.
Some of the most effective mitigation strategies to follow include:
- Scanning purchased numbers for flags before you use them.
- Teaching your managers and agents how to follow ethical dialing practices.
- Training agents to empathize with consumers, which will hopefully lower the likeliness that contacts will report your number.
- Keeping a large pool of clean numbers that you can swap throughout the day to avoid overusing specific numbers.
Call labeling has changed a lot over recent years. It will probably continue to evolve as more companies adopt STIR/SHAKEN. Even then, you cannot assume that your numbers never receive inaccurate call labels. As the calling ecosystem changes, your business will need to grow with it to avoid damaging your brand’s reputation.
Related blog post: Auto-Swapping Bad Phone Numbers With Trilio and Nexmo.
Prevent Call Labeling Issues With Caller ID Reputation
Monitoring and managing your pool of outbound numbers gives you the best way to avoid call labeling that disrupts your business. Caller ID Reputation can help improve your contact rates by:
- Monitoring your phone numbers for flags on all major blocking apps.
- Tracking calls and contact rates to improve your call management practices.
- Protecting your business’s reputation by showing you which phone numbers to use and which to avoid.
Do you need a more effective way to avoid negative call labeling? Contact Caller ID Reputation to talk to a professional about how our software can protect your business’s phone numbers and reputation.