October 12, 2022

The Power of Consumers: Call Blocking and Labeling

The Power of Consumers Call Blocking and Labeling

Consumer rage against malicious robocalls has been building for years. These intrusive spam and/or scam calls are a relentless intrusion into consumers’ daily schedules. As a result, many people simply refuse to answer calls from unknown numbers.

This refusal protects them from unwanted calls, but some unknown numbers are attached to legitimate businesses. So often, consumers do not receive essential communications from companies, healthcare providers, etc. Robocalls have done severe damage to consumer trust in the communications industry.  

How Consumer Frustration Led to STIR/SHAKEN

Consumers were at the mercy of unwanted robocalls before STIR/SHAKEN legislation and call-blocking apps emerged. Consumers had no resources that allowed them to block unwanted robocalls. They could and did complain, however. In fact, robocalls soon became the #1 consumer complaint to the FCC. 

Consumers were demanding action, but protective legislation was slow in coming. That’s when third-party companies stepped in to help by developing call-blocking apps for consumers. Initially, many of these were paid apps, although a number of free options now exist. 

As the robocall problem grew, the FCC began developing legislation for carriers that would safeguard their consumers. Thus, the concept of STIR/SHAKEN was born. It allows carriers to digitally validate that the call is from the number that appears on the Caller ID. Since the implementation of STIR/SHAKEN, the number of robocalls has diminished, so the effort has been partially successful.

The Evolution of Call Labeling

As with any innovation, there have been unforeseen issues caused by the fight against robocalls. Once consumers had call-blocking apps in their hands, they began blocking most unknown, unrecognized numbers. Sadly, that meant many legit businesses had their calls blocked, which kept them from delivering information consumers wanted. 

Fortunately, carriers recognized this problem and began developing call labels to help consumers sort their calls more discriminately. These intent labels were meant to inform call recipients of the intent of the call, which allowed consumers to decide whether they wanted to take a call or not based on the known analytics of the number. The call labeling process allowed them to reject robocalls and other unwanted calls with confidence. 

Conflicts of Interest In Call Labeling

Call labeling has been helpful to consumers, but it has some flaws. Small businesses, in particular, have suffered from incorrectly labeled numbers. Recently, TransNexus published a study of newly purchased numbers that showed as “Spam” in many carrier apps.

These numbers, purchased directly from DID providers, should be label-free initially and only gain a label if misused. The cause of these unearned labels is not certain, although some DIDS admitted to using “spam” as a default setting on new numbers, a truly concerning practice. After all, some call blocking and labeling service companies also sell branded calling services that aim to improve call completion and prevent numbers from being marked as “spam.” Some in the industry wonder if this conflict of interest affects their phone number labels. 

Importance of Being a Consumer First Company

Consumer trust is essential in outbound dialing, so you must focus on what your customers need to feel safe. While the FCC, carriers, analytics engines, and call blocking apps work to mitigate robocalls, your business can also take steps to help the dialing ecosystem.

Ethical Dialing Practices

Your organization needs to establish ethical dialing practices such as: 

  • Using legitimate lead lists – Use lists that have been scrubbed against the DNC list and that don’t contain numbers with a negative label.
  • Registering with a CNAM Directory – This move establishes your numbers as legitimate.
  • Call agent training – You can earn consumer trust by training your agents to follow regulations and maintain a professional manner. 
  • Dialing software – Choosing the right dialer for your outbound calling campaigns is key to maintaining consumer trust and your company’s reputation.

Working With Trusted Partners

Your company is only as trustworthy as its business partners. For instance, you need to work with industry members who are fully STIR/SHAKEN compliant. You should also work with an authorized RespOrg, a responsible organization that manages toll-free databases and assigns numbers to consumers. Both of these steps will help enhance your company’s reputation and lead to increased consumer trust. 

Improve the Dialing Ecosystem

Legislation and technology are working to mitigate robocalls with good effect. But individual businesses must also strive to regain consumer trust. You cannot afford to take a “wait and see” attitude about the changes in the communications industry. Your company needs to be proactive when addressing labeling issues.

Seek immediate redress if you believe you have been wrongly labeled and/or blocked. Also, your company must fully comply with government and industry legal and ethical standards. Doing so will help consumers feel that answering their phones is a safe thing to do.