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

By Dean Garfinkel, President

Local caller IDRecent initiatives launched 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 last summer 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

Robocall Call Processing (“RCP”) is a recent initiative launched 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 believe¹ to be unwanted or a robo-call.
    • ¹Carriers 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 (i.e., “Scam Likely” or “Robocaller”), 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

As an industry leader with over 30 years of experience in technology, telecom and maximizing answer rates, QVD is uniquely positioned among providers who offer block or label protection strategies.

“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.” – Dean Garfinkel, Quality Voice & Data, Inc., President

In the new era of RCP, rotating (or swapping out) wholesale numbers is no longer effective. That’s why we take a tailored approach.

Our product offerings include personalized calling strategies and a team of experts dedicated to maximizing your answering rates. In addition, our proprietary algorithm allows us to alert our customers when their Caller ID number(s) have been mislabeled or potentially blocked.

How we’re helping to establish a fair playing field

Today, the unfortunate reality is this; until the industry 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 proud members of PACE (The Professional Association of Customer Engagement), QVD’s Executive Team has been working alongside key members of the contact center industry to drive change.

PACE has been the leading force behind the Call 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 http://www.paceassociation.org/coalition.

Dean Garfinkel is the President of Quality Voice & Data, a leading enhanced telecom solutions provider to the telemarketing and call center industry. Dean’s passion for creating value-added solutions for his clients has resulted in numerous solutions which are industry-standard and used by most Fortune 500 call centers and their call center vendor partners. Dean can be reached at [email protected] or 516.656.5115.

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