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Caught in the Cross-Fire: Contact Rates Continue to Decline

By Dean Garfinkel, President, Quality Voice and Data

Contact Rates Continue to DeclineRecent initiatives spearheaded by the FCC, intended to combat robo-calls, are accidentally blocking legitimate calls from companies innocently trying to reach their customers.

“Clients have seen a 30% drop since the spring of 2017 on outbound campaigns.” – Dean Garfinkel, Quality Voice & Data, Inc., President
In this article we take a closer look at the FCC’s crusade against robo-calls, and how contact centers are being caught in the cross-fire. We’ll cover:
  • Why your answer rates continue to drop;
  • What you can do to protect yourself; and
  • How we’re working to establish a fair playing field for all.
Why your answer rates continue to drop
Robo-call Call Processing[1] (“RCP”) is a recent initiative, initially spearheaded by the FCC, that uses technology to combat illegal and spoofed robo-calls. Unfortunately, this technology is far from perfect.

In fact, contact centers have become the unintended targets of the RCP initiative, resulting in a serious decline in answer rates that will only get worse over time.

Robo-Call Processing: What You Should Know
  • It gives carriers the power to ‘block or label’ any call on their network that they believe* to be unwanted or a robo-call.
    • *Carriers rely on data, that is provided by unregulated, third-party analytic companies, to identify these types of calls on their network.
    • The practice of blocking or labeling is when a carrier opts to (i) block a call from ringing on their customer’s phone or (ii) replaces your Caller ID name display with an arbitrary label, like “Scam Likely” or “Robo-caller”, without your knowledge or input.
  • It does not require transparency from carriers; which means you’ll never know, or be notified, when your calls are blocked or potentially mislabeled.
    • In some cases, carriers are returning false busy signals, network congestion signals, and even routing your calls directly to a recipient’s voicemail.
  • It does not hold the carriers and analytic companies accountable; which means when a call is mislabeled or incorrectly blocked:
    • It is impossible to pinpoint the provider(s) responsible given most calls involve multiple carriers (i.e., the originating carrier, the transit carrier, the terminating carrier); and
    • It is impossible to get your Caller ID numbers correctly labeled or unblocked given there is no designated point of contact.
  • It gives carriers and analytic companies unwarranted discretion over ‘what constitutes an unwanted or robo-call’, without requiring:
    • Standardization; often resulting in mislabeling or blocking of important calls from companies trying to reach their customers; as well as significant inconsistencies across carriers.
    • The necessary oversight (from the FCC or otherwise) that is essential to constructing a universal definition and approach to robo-calls.
These unfair practices are costing contact centers significantly. Especially when you consider the time and resources spent by agents redialing numbers that get the same result, a continued busy.
What you can do to protect yourself?
 “Analytic companies monitor calling patterns [of Caller ID numbers] and look for any changes in behavior. It’s a critical data point that drives their block or label recommendations and directly influences your answer rates.” – Dean Garfinkel, Quality Voice & Data, Inc., President

In the new era of RCP, tired old tactics are even less effective, i.e., rotating or swapping out numbers in wholesale. They do not address the technology driving RCP and therefore, do not offer protection. That’s why I’ve championed a more tailored approach that does, personalized calling strategies.  In essence, these are program-specific strategies intentionally designed to mitigate the effects of RCP and maximize answer rates; and when implemented correctly, they offer the best protection I’ve seen.

How we’re helping to establish a fair playing field
The truth is, until we can agree upon a universal definition and approach to nuisance calls, RCP will continue to foster an environment where inconsistency across carriers and significant errors are inevitable, and sadly, acceptable.  As a proud member of PACE (The Professional Association for Customer Engagement), QVD’s Executive Team has been working alongside key members of the contact center industry to drive change and stay ahead of the curve. We strongly recommend that you join PACE and participate to keep ahead of what RCP brings next.

PACE has been the leading force behind the Communication Protection Coalition (CPC), which hosts quarterly meetings dedicated to combating robo-calls. CPC meeting attendees represent all industry stakeholders; including carriers, analytic companies, relevant associations and contact centers. And while the FCC also continues to attend these meetings, it is simply as an observer. Ultimately indicating that these guidelines should be created by the industry and not the FCC.

Therefore, until we can agree upon a solution that makes sense, QVD will continue to build on its Caller ID Management Solutions and work to establish a fair playing field for all.
For more on information industry efforts or what you can do to support CPC, check out https://www.paceassociation.org/coalition.
 
Dean Garfinkel is the President of Quality Voice & Data, an enhanced telecom solutions provider to the telemarketing and contact center industry. Dean’s passion for creating value-added solutions for his clients has resulted in many products becoming industry-standards and used by Fortune 500 call centers and their call center vendor partners. Dean can be reached at dean@qualityvoicedata.com or 516.656.5115. www.localCallerID.com.
 
[1]Source: Communication Protection Coalition. (2018). Best Practices for Mitigating Adverse Impacts of Robo-call Processing on Legal Communications. Retrieved November 9, 2018, from www.paceassociation.org/files/Communication%20Protection%20Coalition-Best%20Practices%20Documentv3.docx.


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