Getting smart about call flagging and call blocking
For any call center making outbound calls, there’s one thing we know for certain: It’s getting harder to reach potential customers.
This growing challenge isn’t new to outbound call center managers in 2022, but it’s still the first thing on many call center managers’ minds. Agents are trying to reach leads dropped into a dialer. And it’s aggravating when these leads you paid good money for are not even reachable because your caller IDs have been flagged, or worse, blocked. No wonder contact rates are down!
So, what’s this 2022 “trend” about combatting call blocking and call flagging?
Simply put, sales and lead generations teams that want to stay competitive will be:
- Educating themselves about WHY outbound calls are flagged and blocked
- Avoiding dialing practices that will result in being flagged as a spam risk
- Getting smart about call center management strategies that improve contact rates
- Managing their caller ID reputation for outbound dialing
Looking for other ways to stay ahead of call blocking/flagging? Convoso’s caller ID management tool, ClearCaller ID™, enables users to quickly identify flagged and blocked numbers, determine their impact on business KPIs, and swap out ineffective DIDs.
Why are your legitimate calls being flagged or blocked?
Although they slowed down in 2020 during the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, robocalls spiked once again in 2021. According to one estimate, about half of these calls are illegal, fraudulent calls.
In response to this proliferation of spam calls, both consumers and carriers have taken action to fight back against unwanted communications—and these will continue to plague call centers in 2022. We’ve seen the introduction of legislation, including the TCPA and the TRACED Act, and a host of rules aimed at protecting the consumer (e.g., STIR/SHAKEN).
Many call centers make great efforts to work with compliant data and to use dialing practices in compliance with regulations. Unfortunately, despite these efforts, even legitimate calls may not reach the respective caller.
Stuart Discount, CEO of SMD Contact Center Consulting and former CEO of PACE, described the dilemma: “Outbound dialing has decreased almost every year since Do-Not-Call (DNC) back in 2003, but it’s really getting bad now because legitimate outbound callers are being dwarfed by robocallers – their calls aren’t getting through. In some cases, they’re getting blocked by the carriers because they’re being labeled as spam when they are not spam.”
In a video chat with Jesse Daniels, VP of Sales at One Health Direct, he mentioned how devastating it is to have calls flagged as a spam risk, especially for a legitimate nationwide business dependent on reaching consumers. “I read a statistic that said there’s about a 6% chance that [customers] are going to pick up the phone if they see “Spam Likely.” That’s it. So if that’s showing up on their cell phones, they are not picking up the phones. And if people are not picking up the phones, I can’t make money and I can’t keep my business afloat.”
Understanding factors that contribute to call blocking or flagging
This flagging of legitimate calls is a consequence, according to Convoso CEO Nima Hakimi, of carriers’ black-box algorithms that determine whether or not a call is spam. As carriers have increasingly taken matters into their own hands, it’s these algorithms that are having an outsized effect on call center performance.
“Unfortunately, [because algorithms are kept secret] nobody has the exact formula behind why your calls get flagged,” Hakimi says. However, there are various factors that can contribute to the likelihood of calls being flagged as a spam risk or blocked altogether:
- Telco carriers’ algorithms attempt to determine when calls appear to have been placed by an automated system rather than manually. “One of the things that gets you flagged is a bad call strategy,” says Josh Friend of Insellerate. “So if a single number makes 1,000 calls in a day, a telco carrier is going to start to go, ‘Who calls that many people in a day?’”
- Consumers can download third-party apps to block calls such as Robokiller, Nomorobo, Hiya: Spam Phone Call Blocker, Truecaller, YouMail Voicemail & Spam Block and more.
- Consumers can simply report specific numbers as spam or scam through their smartphones and block these numbers.
- STIR/SHAKEN standards aimed at eliminating spoofed caller IDs aren’t necessarily a way to block calls. However, ensuring that your calls receive a high attestation rating can help you avoid being blocked.
- Because of how widespread the issue of flagging has become, some call centers are receiving new caller IDs that are already flagged.
What can your call center do about blocked and flagged calls?
There is no single solution to avoiding flagged or blocked calls. But there are a few steps sales and lead gen teams can and should take to minimize the blow to contact rates. The trend for outbound call centers in 2022 is to employ the right strategies to reduce the risks that your calls will be blocked or flagged as spam.
Smarter Outreach Strategies
Gone are the old school ways of hammering away at leads till you reach a good prospect. “Dialing your leads to death, over and over and over, is no longer a working strategy,” says Nima Hakimi. This strategy, he says, will result in your calls being blocked or labeled as spam.
To understand the smarter strategies used by next gen call centers, begin by assessing the quality of the leads you’re dialing.
If you have low-intent leads, be cautious how aggressively you set up your agents to call them. Instead, plan your campaigns to rest the numbers that don’t reach anyone by scheduling a cadence spaced over time. Sophisticated predictive dialer software can support responsible dialing, with tools that automatically rest lists or leads based on their intent levels and prior dispositions, and employing a smart redial/recycle logic for optimal lead management.
For high intent leads, leverage an omnichannel approach that includes email and outbound SMS solutions, with strategic call cadences and features like smart voicemail drops to reach out to those consumers in the best way possible. According to Hakimi, “You want to have strategies in place that automate the outreach process and an omnichannel approach where you set up a sequence of events that uses texting, emailing, and calls.”
Identify blocked and flagged Caller IDs
Caller ID reputation management is key to avoiding the negative effects of call blocking and flagging. To help manage your DID health, look for your dialer’s capability to track flagged and blocked phone numbers and to take action before critical KPIs are impacted. “What’s even more important [than just knowing calls are flagged or blocked] is learning about flagging and blocking in as close to real time as possible,” says Nima Hakmi.
With this information, Hakimi says, you can quickly fix the issue. “You can rest DIDs or replace them with clean numbers. You can minimize the damage done.”
ClearCallerID™️ for Better DID tracking
ClearCallerID™️ is a tool that monitors the health of caller IDs used by outbound call centers to dial prospects, enabling them to track numbers that are blocked by carriers and consumers as well as numbers flagged as spam risk. By knowing their caller ID performance, dialer admins can take action by swapping out DIDs before flagging and blocking effect efficiency and profitability. Learn more about ClearCallerID.
Dial smarter, not harder
Another critical management strategy for outbound call centers is to monitor list performance in real time. Data analytics show you insights about what’s really going on with your lists – are they making money or not? If your agents are dialing a list that’s getting a low contact rate, and you can find that out as it’s happening, you can change course and stop using that list for a period.
Powerful reporting tools are one of your most important assets for managing productivity and driving profitability.
In the webinar The Next Generation Call Center, Nima Hakimi talked about analyzing the performance of your lists as part of your dialing strategy to handle call blocking.
“Calls are being blocked. If you don’t have a good sound strategy in place around your high intent versus low intent leads, your caller IDs are likely to get flagged. You’re going to get calls blocked without you even knowing about it. Which is why it’s really important to look at the performance of your list: How many times are you calling it, what is the revenue like by rep, by hour, by list – really going to that micro level, to see when there’s a dip. And be able to make those decisions in real time. I believe that’s one of the biggest problems that call centers have is that they don’t have the ability to look at information at a granular level…For example, if you’re dialing through a list and there’s no revenue being generated at a specific hour, then turn that list off.”
Managing caller IDs based on call volume and geography
In 2022, outbound sales and lead gen teams need to proactively manage the reputation of their Caller ID numbers (DIDs). Call centers that dial a lead in excess will wind up with their caller ID labeled as spam.
Your dialer should have the capability to analyze call patterns and call volume, and then use that data to recommend how many caller ID numbers you should use, specifically indicating how many to use in each area code to minimize the chances of your caller ID being flagged as a scam. Nima Hakimi recommends limiting yourself to 50 calls per caller ID each day as a rule of thumb.
Take proactive steps to show your identity is legitimate
A strong caller ID reputation goes a long way to identify you as a legitimate caller in the eyes of the major carriers. Legitimate callers are more likely to avoid becoming victim to blocked or flagged calls. Consider these additional tactics to establish your legitimacy:
- Register your DIDs through the analytics companies that report data to the major carriers.
- Incorporate tools like Verified Calls by Google which will show Android users the call is legitimate by displaying logo, brand name, and purpose of call.
- Register SMS campaigns with Campaign Registry to improve delivery.
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