This article is part of the iA Think Differently series. Written by members of the iA Innovation Council, the series showcases thought leadership in analytics, communications, payments, and compliance technology for the accounts receivable management industry.
As the leading expert in the impact of call blocking and labeling to call center operations, Numeracle has seen it all when it comes to the trials and tribulations of trying to connect in today’s changing call environment. Spoiler alert – there is still no silver bullet solution and there is not yet perfection to be obtained within this imperfect environment. That said, we’ve made many positive discoveries in this space and would like to share what we’ve learned that may help your outbound strategies for 2020.
It’s not just you
First, there are so many different types of call center operations that are impacted by improper call blocking and labeling outside of the financial services and collections industries. From personal safety and security to pharmaceutical and medical to resort and travel, all of these industries have very different needs when it comes to communications strategies.
This is also true when you look at the various groups within your own organization. What has worked very well for your collections department for years may be completely ineffective for your sales department, your customer service teams, and so on. Outbound calling is not as black and white as it used to be, which is causing organizations at every level to rethink and overhaul their communications strategies.
Revisiting the “one phone number” strategy
Every day we interact with organizations that use one single phone number for all of their communications needs, and this is the way they’ve been doing it for decades. This strategy has been viewed as a simple, clean way for both you and your consumers to remember that phone number, to know when you are calling, and to know how to call you back. And although this is useful for branding purposes and ease of number management, it may not be helpful from a contact perspective.
In today’s shifting environment, this strategy can work against you when and if consumers are complaining about your one number. It is very easy for a consumer to file a complaint to the FCC or FTC about you and your calls. Complaints are then ingested by a number of crowdsourced and 3rd party call blocking and labeling apps, and it’s not always easy for you to remove these negative consumer complaints. So, although one phone number is easy to remember for branding and call-back purposes, it’s also easy to remember for consumer complaint purposes.
The name game
Many organizations have favored the use of out-pulsing local caller ID numbers in lieu of identifying the company name in the caller ID field of an outbound call. As more and more consumers now demand call transparency, new caller ID naming requirements have emerged for organizations that wish to register their phone numbers across the analytics, carrier and app ecosystem.
The whole purpose of these requirements is to give consumers more information about who is calling them and why. Although you can still originate calls without identifying your name, and recognizing that some debt collectors' names may introduce the risk of 3rd party disclosure, now is a good time to step back and evaluate the options.
Inconsistent call volume, the number of attempts to reach a single consumer, and the number of times a phone number has been blocked all feed back into most call blocking and labeling algorithms. If you have an aggressive contact strategy, this alone may impact your ability to connect.
“As it becomes more difficult to establish contact, some organizations have been turning up the heat by increasing dialing attempts and frequency,” said Joe Galvin, VP, Client Engagement at Numeracle. “It’s worth noting that the more you dial to counteract declining contact rates, the more likely it is that you will receive complaints, have your number blocked by consumers, and find your calls have become labeled as Spam or Scam.”
Breaking the cycle
Since call blocking and labeling technologies emerged in early 2017, many organizations have looked for ways to “beat the algorithm.” Some have tried the practice of phone number rotation. As soon as a number picks up a Spam label, the organization will simply rotate it out for a new number. This strategy, though it sounds straightforward, can perpetuate a never-ending cycle of negative labels returning again and again without ever addressing the root cause of the labeling. Also, although a number may be new to you, it’s likely that it has been used by someone else before you for any number of purposes.
Understanding the metrics
Call centers rise or fall on the strength of their contact rates, and call labeling is only one piece of the puzzle when evaluating what’s driving your ability to connect. “In today’s world it’s almost impossible to maintain pristine phone numbers for all time,” added Galvin. “As long as there are consumer forums to complain about phone numbers, there will be negative number reputation. Still, after going through a defined path to identify and register phone numbers with the mainstream analytics/carrier/app providers, less than 5% of numbers remain labeled as Spam on average.”
As you enter the new year focused on improving contact rates, we’d like to leave you with one final thought. Some percentage of negative labels associated with calls can be a direct result of your dialing practices (contact rate, number of attempts, high volume traffic, etc.), while others are purely in error. For a complete understanding of the call blocking and labeling problem, look beyond the negative labels that have been associated with your numbers to consider whether changes to your dialing and phone number usage strategies might be a more impactful long-term solution.
Rebekah Johnson is CEO of Numeracle, a member of the iA Innovation Council. Numeracle is the pioneer of call blocking and labeling visibility and control for call originators experiencing challenges connecting via the voice channel. To learn more about its call delivery solutions, visit www.numeracle.com.
About the iA Innovation Council
The iA Innovation Council is a collaborative working group of product, tech, strategy, and operations thought leaders at the forefront of analytics, communications, payments, and compliance technology. Group members meet in person several times each year to engage in substantive dialogue and whiteboard sessions with the creative thinkers behind the latest innovations for the industry, the regulators who audit and establish guardrails for new technology, and educators, entrepreneurs and innovators from outside the industry who inspire different thinking.
Learn more at www.iainnovationcouncil.com
2020 members include:
Absolute Resolutions Corp.
AllianceOne Receivables Management
Crown Asset Management
Enhanced Recovery Company
Healthcare Revenue Recovery Group
NCB Management Services
Phillips & Cohen
Professional Finance Company
Radius Global Solutions
Spring Oaks Capital
State Collection Service
The CMI Group