“It wasn’t that long ago that the phone call was a trusted mode of communication — that’s changed, and the data bears it out. Most people don’t pick up because it could be a robocaller, a scammer, or some other type of unwanted call. Therefore, establishing trust is a critical component of any outbound dialing campaign.”
— Matthew Mizenko, Senior Vice President of Enterprise at Teltech
Consumer Distrust in Call Authenticity
People don't answer their phones much these days. One of the reasons is that spoofing, the use of a legitimate phone number by an illegitimate person or entity, has become a tool for scammers. In fact, according to Pew Research, 80% of Americans admit they ignore a phone call on their mobile device if they don't know who's calling. Call spoofing became so rampant that the average consumer couldn't trust a call, even if the caller ID appeared valid.
While the FCC mandated STIR/SHAKEN to help remove this tool from a scammer's arsenal, they could not undo the damage already done. Consumers are still very wary of unknown calls. They are unlikely to answer the phone unless they know that the displayed person, business, or organization is the entity calling them. Today, only 19% of US consumers answer unknown numbers.
Unknown Calls Go Unanswered
Hesitancy to answer a call from an unknown number can have unintended consequences. For instance, during the height of the pandemic, local health departments implemented contact tracing to alert individuals to potential exposure to the coronavirus. Many departments stated that it was difficult or impossible to contact some individuals.
A key finding from Pew Research Center's study shows a correlation. They found that individuals who typically ignore an unknown number's call and subsequent voice mail are more likely to be uncomfortable with a contact tracing program and refuse to cooperate.
False Positives in Call Blocking Apps
The introduction of call blocking apps like Nomorobo, RoboKiller, and analytic engines helped reduce the onslaught of robocalls. However, many legitimate businesses have been caught in the crossfire because of consumers' power to block and report unwanted calls. Sometimes, legitimate companies become victims of overzealous consumer blocking, leading to flags attached to their business phone numbers.
Businesses conducting outreach campaigns often see their calls reported simply because consumers don't want to receive this type of call. While call reporting is a welcome tool for consumers, it results in data aggregation. Respective carriers then attach phone number flags to the numbers — even if those numbers belong to legitimate businesses. Carrier transparency into how the entire ecosystem works could go a long way toward easing the troubles for legitimate calls.
For example, someone may block a call from a political campaign opposing their view. Debt collection efforts can fall into this category as well. While many predatory businesses get reported, so do legitimate organizations conducting business as usual.
So, what can a business do to help mitigate the effects of call blocking apps?
Be Aware of Your Phone Numbers' Reputation
With the implementation of call labeling, consumers have the power to classify a call's intent. Businesses need to be aware of how their calls display to consumers. If a phone number receives multiple reports, a call label or warning label will be attached to the phone number. Therefore, scanning your numbers regularly should be a part of you campaign management strategy.
For a business, it is imperative to identify if your phone numbers receive a flag or label. If these are erroneous, a business should take steps to remediate these labels with carriers and analytics engines. Determine if dialing habits are leading to an increase in reports on your calls. Then contact carriers and analytics engines to redress these issues.
Challenges for Businesses in Outbound Dialing
While many consumers still prefer telephone communication with familiar businesses, the current environment is challenging for outbound dialing. Consumers will dial a business if they need a fast resolution — but a business dialing a consumer might not receive the same experience.
The public doesn't trust "unknown calls." This distrust is magnified when negative call labels get attached to phone numbers. In some cases, even legitimate organizations such as healthcare providers and educational institutions experience a hard time reaching their customers.
This habit can have the potential to damage a business' reputation as well. Imagine calling a business, then opting in for a callback option instead of waiting on hold. A customer would become frustrated if that callback does not occur. Or waiting for a reply from a healthcare agency, school or bank that does not come through. These scenarios are already occuring due to mislabeled call labels and flags.
Without proper carrier transparency, consumers will continue to distrust unknown calls, potentially putting your legitimate business's phone numbers at risk.
Remediation Through Carrier Transparency
Businesses should adopt ethical dialing practices to ensure that consumers don't report their legitimate calls. By adopting best practices for ethical dialing, businesses can help rebuild the trust among current customers and future leads.
At the same time, this isn't all on the shoulders of businesses. Carriers must strive for greater transparency by informing consumers of harmful or fraudulent calls, currently done through call labeling and flags. Adequate remediation measures for legitimate companies can reduce the number of erroneous flags on your business's phone numbers.
By working together, businesses and carriers can help improve the dialing ecosystem and restore consumer trust.