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February 5th, 2018

Are Customers Getting Your Calls? Here’s What Businesses Need to Know about Call Blocking

For modern brands, especially those in finance, health care, retail and education, delivering exemplary customer service is a key differentiator. In fact, according to RightNow, 86% of consumers are willing to pay up to 25% more for a better customer experience. This means whether to confirm an appointment, answer an inquiry or relay an urgent notification, businesses still need to rely on phone calls to establish and maintain a trusted connection with their customers.

Consumers also have the same sentiment. In a recent Forbes article, we outlined that even during a time where all eyes are on providing a digital customer experience, voice calls still reign supreme. According to a 2017 survey by American Express, when it comes to resolving a complex issue, 40% of consumers want to speak to a real person over the phone. And a survey by New Voice Media found that 77% of respondents believe a phone call is the most effective way to get an answer quickly.

However, the rise of robocalls is threatening to derail the phone call as a communication channel. With nearly 3 billion robocalls to U.S. consumers every month, it’s become difficult to sort malicious calls from legitimate ones. To protect themselves, consumers don’t answer the call if they’re not sure. In fact, it’s been found that 97% of business calls go right to voicemail for this very reason.

Not only are consumers missing important calls, but businesses are also losing out. The business costs of unanswered calls come from increased truck rolls, repeat call outs and increased traffic to customer-service centers. SQM Group estimates a 1% improvement in first-call response equals $276,000 in annual operational savings for an average call center. The cost impact is also long term, as customers have a poor experience – such as a credit card being suspended after a bank was unable to follow up on a missed payment – they damage the brand’s reputation and customer loyalty leading to lost business.

As part of its fight against illegal robocalls, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) announced new rules in November 2017 that allow voice service providers to block certain types of calls before they reach the intended recipient. The calls can be blocked if they appear to be fraudulent based on the calling number, including numbers that are invalid (not a standard NA format), unallocated (not assigned to a telecom operator), unassigned (not in use with a customer) and/or Do-Not-Originate (subscriber has confirmed the number is not used for outgoing phone calls).

What this means for businesses is that there are now rules in place to reduce their business phone numbers from being spoofed or used for spamming by illegitimate actors pursuing fraudulent activities. However, if a business does not have a structured caller ID program for the outbound calls to customers, the caller ID can potentially be displayed as unidentified or with incorrect information.

As service providers implement call blocking for their subscribers, there is potential for legitimate phone calls to be inadvertently blocked or marked as spam. And there currently is no way for customers or businesses to know if a call they’ve made has been blocked or simply wasn’t answered. So, what can businesses do to prevent legitimate calls from getting blocked?

An important step to preventing inadvertent call blocking and spam-tagging is to add the phone numbers used for outbound calling to an authoritative whitelist. In addition, as a verified business, you can add phone numbers not used for inbound calling only — Do-Not-Originate (DNO) — numbers to authoritative blacklists. This will help stop scammers and spoofers from being able to use these numbers.

As the authoritative source for real-time information, Neustar is the market leader for neutral, trusted caller ID services for the U.S. market. We have been working to protect consumers and businesses by providing input to the FCC and working with technology and industry partners to develop caller ID authentication standards to certify calls and improve the customer call experience.

 

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