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March 16th, 2020

The Self-Service Dilemma: Why We Need to Restore Trust in Phone Calls

The last few years of customer service and support trends have been defined by one thing above all else: self-service. In theory, self-service channels offer a win-win scenario for customers and enterprises.

For customers, self-service channels offer more modern, convenient ways to solve their problems that don’t involve hold times or phone tree issues. And for enterprises, self-service channels should significantly improve cost efficiency. According to Gartner research, live chat and email cost an average of $8.01 per contact, whereas self-service channels cost $0.10 per contact.

This win-win theory has led your customers to invest heavily in self-service customer support. But for carriers, it’s time to take a closer look. Listen to your customers—traditional phone calls are still critical for service.


The Reality About Self-Service Channels

Despite widespread belief that self-service channels will streamline support and reduced costs, your customers are starting to experience the opposite effect. Even with so much money being invested in self-service channels, Gartner studies have found that just 9 percent of customers can fully resolve their issues with them.

“This approach of ‘more and better channels’ isn’t living up to the promise of reduced live call volume and is only leading to more complex and costly customer interactions to manage. That becomes a ‘lose-lose’ for customers and the companies that are trying to serve them.”—Rick DeLisi, VP of Gartner’s Customer Service & Support practice

Rather than completing support requests in self-service channels, customers are getting part-way through solving a problem only to interact through live channels anyway.

Given the operational benefits of self-service, enterprises (and financial institutions in particular) are doubling down on these channels. By investing more money in help centers, support content, and chatbots, these companies hope to make resolution a priority in self-service.

Building out self-service capabilities makes sense in the long term. However, it’s important to remember the roots of customer service and recognize preferred channels rather than trying to support any and all possible channels that emerge. While email, company websites, and search engines are still preferred channels, the top option for customers is still the phone, according to a Gartner survey of 8,398 customers.

This represents a key opportunity for enterprises and telecom carriers. To help your customers offset the challenges of self-service channels, you need to restore trust in the phone channel.


Restoring Trust in Phone Calls for Customer Service with Robocall Mitigation

In 2019, the FCC estimated that more than half of all voice calls would be spam. That’s tens of billions of unwanted robocalls bombarding consumers throughout the year.

This problem has been building for years now, which is a major contributing factor in the slow erosion of trust in voice calls. Consumers are now conditioned to avoid voice calls. And while this mainly applies to incoming calls, it also carries over into support scenarios as customers use ineffective self-service channels before turning to live calls.

But in 2019, the Pallone-Thune Telephone Robocall Abuse Criminal Enforcement and Deterrence (TRACED) Act passed the Senate and the House, giving you real power to restore trust in voice calls. Before the 2021 implementation deadline, carriers of all sizes are required to roll out call authentication services. Carriers will likely take a multifaceted approach to mitigate robocalls—implementing both STIR/SHAKEN and analytics-based filtering.

STIR/SHAKEN is a set of technical standards that ensures caller ID has not been spoofed.  Digital certificates are used to authenticate phone calls, similar to the way web transactions are validated. With STIR/SHAKEN in place, spoofed calls can be detected and stopped before they reach consumers or a warning is displayed on caller ID.

Robocall mitigation capabilities are a second critical measure in restoring trust in live call channels. These products and services help you combat illegal robocalls, telemarketing scams, and caller ID spoofing. This enables you to proactively identify major offenders, so you can protect your subscribers from unwanted robocalls.

By bringing advanced behavioral analytics to your network, carriers can:

  • Globally detect and notify. Identifying calls that are suspected to be fraudulent and delivering alerts that help consumers screen calls will improve customer experiences.

  • Leverage near real-time data. Customizing consumer alert policies by using a wide range of data sources and modeling will help you deliver experiences your subscribers will find valuable.

  • Visualize activity. By reviewing call activities, a carrier can identify suspicious behavior and compare it to industry.

The only way to restore trust for phone channels is to maximize the customer experience each time someone uses a live call for support. When you empower your business customers to mitigate robocalls, you give them a way to take steps toward trusting live calls as a valuable channel for support when self-service just isn’t an option.

As the market leader in caller identity solutions, providing 90 percent of the caller ID infrastructure in the U.S., Neustar is uniquely positioned to design, develop, and deliver call authentication solutions.

  • STIR/SHAKEN standards leadership: Neustar has an ongoing leadership role in defining industry standards as co-author on the IETF STIR standards and contributor to ATIS SHAKEN technical standard documents, as well as Canada’s Network Working Group (NTWG) on caller ID authentication. Neustar is the exclusive host of the ATIS Robocalling Testbed.

  • Full portfolio of trusted call solutions: Recognizing declining trust in calls and the impact on consumers and business, Neustar was first to market with a tested STIR/SHAKEN solution in July 2016. Neustar now offers a set of integrated, market-leading solutions for service providers and enterprises.

If you want to learn more about robocall mitigation and specifically the STIR/SHAKEN framework, check out our Resource Hub for more information that can help you restore trust in phone calls.


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