Despite an influx of digital technologies — email, social media, live chat, you name it — customers are 2.5 times more likely to prefer using the phone for issue resolution than other channels. For outbound call centers, telemarketing lets agents develop relationships with customers, receive immediate responses, and move prospects through sales pipelines. Sometimes, a phone call is just more effective than an email. For many customers, there’s nothing better than having a conversation with another human being.
The issue is, customers are wary of answering the phone to strangers. It’s not hard to see why. Americans received 58.5 billion robocalls in 2019 — 22 percent more than the year before. Spam calls have become an epidemic. It’s a problem that’s getting worse.
The government is (finally) trying to do something about it. STIR/SHAKEN requires phone carriers like AT&T Mobility, T-Mobile, and Verizon Wireless to implement call authentication technologies to verify unknown callers. Attestation ratings are an important part of this process.
To improve customer trust (and subsequently improve call outcomes), your business should route outgoing calls through carriers that have high attestation ratings. Otherwise, customers might not receive your communications at all…
What is an Attestation Rating?
Attestation ratings are a fundamental part of the call authentication process carriers undertake when verifying unknown callers. This is how it works:
- You make an outbound call to a customer
- The originating carrier or originating service provider (OSP) — the carrier that sends your number to the customer — authenticates your number with something called a “SIP invite.”
- (A SIP invite is a request the originating carrier sends to the customer’s carrier. Basically, the SIP invite tells the customer’s carrier you want to make a call.)
- The originating carrier assigns an attestation rating to the SIP invite.
- The customer’s carrier uses the attestation rating to authenticate your number.
This whole process takes mere seconds.
Attestation ratings are a relatively new concept, in the context of STIR/SHAKEN, and they aren’t 100 percent foolproof. However, they help the customer’s carrier decide whether a caller is using a spoofed number. As you can see, this is an excellent way to prevent robocallers from contacting customers and restore consumer confidence.
As this technology develops, attestation ratings will tell carriers whether the caller:
- Has a relationship with the customer
- Has assigned the phone number to the customer
- Originated the phone call
What is a Good Attestation Rating?
Think of attestation ratings like school grades. There are three attestation grades — A, B, and C.
A-Attestation (Full attestation)
This means your call passes all authorization checks. The carrier has authenticated that you (and not a scammer) are using the phone number and have originated the call.
B-Attestation (Partial attestation)
This means the carrier has authenticated your identity but cannot authenticate your phone number completely. This might happen when PBX systems route calls from numbers purchased elsewhere.
C-Attestation (Gateway attestation)
This is the lowest of the three ratings. This means the carrier cannot authenticate that you are using the phone number and have originated the call. The carrier also cannot authenticate your caller ID. Sometimes this happens when calls come from legacy systems or international gateways.
Why is an Attestation Rating So Important for Your Business?
If the carrier cannot authenticate your call because you have a low attestation rating, one (or both) of the following can happen:
- The carrier blocks your call
- The carrier alerts the customer to a potential scam call
In the second scenario, the customer might receive a message on their Caller ID saying something like “Scam likely” or “Spam likely.” The customer might decide to block the call and report the number to an online database.
Both scenarios are disastrous for your business. If you rely on outbound calls to facilitate sales, blocked and flagged numbers will ruin your reputation.
How to Avoid a Low Attestation Rating
There are a number of steps you can take to avoid a low attestation rating.
The following can influence your attestation rating:
- Purchasing blocks of phone numbers from different carriers
- Using old, outdated technologies and telecom infrastructure
- Calling customers from toll-free/vanity numbers
- Engaging in “legitimate” call spoofing
- Using least-cost routing (LCR) techniques, where you look for the most inexpensive methods to route calls (see below)
Is Your Dialing Architecture Prepared?
“Enterprises that have simple implementations, typically purchase services from a single provider and use that numbers from that carrier will likely get an ‘A’ attestation,” says technology company Neustar. “However, those businesses with more complex architectures that use multiple carriers may have issues getting Full attestation.”
Why Do Numbers Go Down Different Routes?
Some companies use LCR to minimize the costs of call routing. This might involve routing calls through different networks. Companies often search for the cheapest call routes manually or using computer software. The problem is, calls pass through various service providers during the LCR process, and this can impact your attestation rating.
This poses a problem for many companies who save money via LCR but need to maintain high attestation ratings to avoid carriers and customers blocking their numbers.
Few people had heard of attestation ratings this time last year. However, businesses that rely on outbound call technologies need to maintain a high attestation rating or risk having numbers blocked and flagged by carriers and customers.
As more carriers implement call authentication technologies, as per STIR/SHAKEN, attestation ratings are more important than ever. Realize the impact of these ratings on your business and make the necessary changes to your dialing architecture as soon as possible.