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Why it’s getting tougher and tougher to connect with your consumers

Call blocking and labeling and its impact on your contact rates

October 16, 2019

Robocall identification technologies, in the form of apps and 3rd party analytics companies, were introduced into the telecom industry to help block and label the truly illegal and fraudulent calls. These technologies were deployed in early 2017, which is when many enterprises and call centers started to see their contact rates begin to slowly decline.

Photo credit: Samsung

These illegal robocall identification solutions, along the way, were discovered to be improperly blocking and labeling legal calls through the same technologies used to identify and block the illegal calls. This situation occurs due to false positives generated within the call labeling analytics, which are then pushed out across the carrier and app ecosystem affecting the way your calls are presented to consumers. This is how a legal calling entity might find their legitimate business calls erroneously labeled as a “Scam,” “Fraud,” or “Nuisance” call.

This affects a wide range of types of calls. Anywhere from prescription reminders to delivery alerts, to financial, security or safety notifications, to calls from your hotel, resort or airline, and the list goes on. No one industry is specifically targeted or immune to experiencing some type of improper call blocking and labeling in today’s evolving calling ecosystem.

Consumer & Industry Response

As consumers continue to struggle with robocalls and file complaints to the FTC and FCC, the industry continues to move toward more aggressive solutions to combat both “illegal” and “unwanted” calls. Unfortunately, the resounding focus, in all of this, is still primarily on the identification of illegal call traffic and the prosecution of bad actors. This leaves much more work to be done to more proactively and effectively identify and protect legal call traffic across the carrier, analytics, and app network. And that, of course, is Numeracle’s mission!

For enterprise callers impacted by call blocking and labeling, the best thing you can do is to drive awareness within your organization around some of the key changes within the call delivery ecosystem today:

Understanding STIR/SHAKEN

The first point we’ll highlight about STIR/SHAKEN, especially from the enterprise caller perspective, is that STIR/SHAKEN deployment is the responsibility of your service provider or carrier.

Numeracle STIR/SHAKEN call delivery
Photo credit: Numeracle, Inc.

The second point to note is that STIR/SHAKEN’s primary purpose is to identify illegally spoofed call traffic in order to provide better traceability to the bad actors hiding behind the illegal scam calls. Illegal phone number spoofing, where a bad actor displays fake phone numbers or illegally displays someone else’s phone number, is one of the most widely used tactics of illegal scammers. As such, better tactics to identify and stop illegally spoofed calls will provide some much-needed relief from the volume of incoming illegal call traffic for all of us.

So, what STIR/SHAKEN does do is verify that the entity originating a call is entitled to use the phone number they’re calling you on. It also validates that the phone number is a real phone number that you can call back. However, at its most basic level, STIR/SHAKEN does not have the ability to weigh in on whether or not you can trust the person calling you on this real phone number that they own and haven’t stolen from anyone else.

This additional level of entity trust will come down the line through STIR/SHAKEN attestation. This is where Numeracle is working on the back end to prepare legal callers for the future of STIR/SHAKEN by establishing and linking trust to your identity through our existing entity verification and Certification platform. But again, STIR/SHAKEN is a work in progress and full development and deployment are still down the road.

Robocall Legislation of Note

A major event occurring this June was the FCC’s passing of the Declaratory Ruling which afforded carriers the new ability to block calls by default should they choose to do so. AT&T and Verizon have both released free call blocking and labeling technologies to eligible subscribers on their networks. T-Mobile and Sprint may be soon to follow.

Additional legislation has also seen growing support both in the House and in the Senate; and at the end of August, fifty-one State Attorneys General and twelve major voice service providers united on 8 anti-robocalling principles. Many of the 8 principles tie back to common themes such as the carriers continuing to offer call blocking and labeling technologies to their subscribers, the implementation of STIR/SHAKEN on a wider scale, and additional cooperation between telco and government to investigate and prosecute fraudulent phone activity.

Missed Calls at the Device Level

Photo credit: Apple

Apple has taken another approach to call blocking and labeling by building “Unknown Call Silencing” into its latest iOS 13 software update. With this new feature turned on, when an incoming call is placed, Apple’s Siri assistant will now scan your Contact list, Mail, text messages, and recently dialed outbound phone numbers to see if you’ve previously been in contact with the caller. If you haven’t, the call will go straight to voicemail; if you have, you are given the option to answer the call.

Although this issue is different than overcoming calls blocked at the network level, what this does point to is the increasing need for more transparency around ‘who the entity is’ behind a call and ‘why’ they are calling.

Working through the iOS 13 update and similar features from other device manufacturers is going to mean more steps toward proactively identifying the number you’re going to be calling them on to maintain uninterrupted contact with your consumers. For some strategies to consider in how to maintain positive communications with your consumers in spite of the Silence Unknown Callers feature, check out this article with some helpful tips.

How to stay connected to your consumers and maintain trust in your calls

Much is changing within the call delivery space, but by staying educated on what’s coming down the pipeline and by taking some proactive steps now, you can achieve improvements in your continued use of the voice channel. One of the simplest first steps you can take is to identify yourself and your phone numbers across the carrier, analytics and call blocking and labeling app ecosystem.

Numeracle’s Certification and Registration solution extends to the top U.S. analytics, carriers, and app partners to give you visibility and control to improve the accuracy of your number labeling and drive more successful call completion. By certifying your entity as a Trusted Caller and registering your phone numbers, any erroneous “Scam” or “Fraud” labels associated with your organization’s phone numbers will be removed and also prevented from future return. This is a great step in the right direction, especially when considering the possibility of default carrier-level blocking of calls classified as “Scam” or “Fraud.”

Our Certification and Registration solution also allows an organization to identify your preferred Caller ID name to further improve the presentation of your brand once improper “Scam” and “Fraud” labels have been removed.

If you’d like to engage with us on some of the key learnings Numeracle has uncovered when it comes to taking a proactive approach to call blocking and labeling, understanding the impact of labeling unique to each organization, and developing long-term contact rate improvement strategies as the result, get in touch today!

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