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How To Restore Trust in Outbound Calling

How To Restore Trust in Outbound Calling

How To Restore Trust in Outbound Calling

Why branded and verified calls are key.

While a heavy focus remains on customer experience (CX) solutions that address inbound contact center pain points, years of relentless robocall scams have drastically diminished consumer trust in the voice channel and increased outbound contact center challenges.

With billions of unwanted robocalls lighting up Americans’ phones over the past year, it’s no surprise, according to our eBook, “Exploring the Demand for Branded Caller ID”, that 68% of Americans refuse to answer calls from unknown numbers (SEE CHART 1).

Undeniable robocall mitigation progress has been made on many fronts:

  • Carriers have fully implemented the STIR/SHAKEN call authentication framework.
  • The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and Federal Trade Commission (FTC) have moved forward with aggressive enforcement efforts.
  • There have been innovative robocall mitigation technologies developed and deployed by telcos and industry partners.

Now, contact center businesses - particularly those in “high-touch” industries such as financial services, insurance, healthcare, retail, and hospitality - are jumping off the sidelines to assume a larger role in deploying outbound CX technologies that deliver brand security and protection.

Communications platform-as-a-service (CPaaS) and contact center-as-a-service (CCaaS) providers, for their part, are also increasingly evaluating outbound capabilities. These moves are part of their broader offerings to help contact center enterprises achieve tangible improvements in call outcomes and call agent efficiency by digitally transforming the voice channel.

...relentless robocall scams have drastically diminished consumer trust in the voice channel...

Brands and channel partners are responding to demand from customers to enhance voice channel engagement, protection, and transparency. Our eBook reports, for example, that 80% of customers ages 25-34 say that seeing brand names and logos increases their trust in the calls. This helps eliminate the concern of whether scammers might be on the other end (SEE CHART 2).

These efforts to increase outbound consumer engagement are coalescing in two core areas: call authentication and branded calling. They are designed to help enterprises address the robocall impact, provide customer-facing transparency, and drive gains in customer conversion rates.

Before communicating the benefits these strategies can deliver, however, we first must set the context for factors driving the need and how they align with a more holistic approach to providing a superior CX.

Bad Outbound Leads to Bad Inbound

Banks represent one of several high-touch industries under siege from scammers and spoofers launching increasingly sophisticated outbound robocall campaigns.

  • Chase Bank, reports CNBC.com, fell victim to a robocall bad actor’s impersonation, whereby a customer was contacted by a scammer posing as Chase Support and asked to confirm a fraudulent charge. More than $120,000 was wired from the customer’s Chase checking account.
  • In another incident, reported by KGO-TV/ABC7, a Wells Fargo customer received a text message seemingly from the bank about a suspicious transaction, followed by a call from someone claiming to be from the bank’s fraud department. Persuaded by the caller, the victim made multiple transfers totaling $3,500 through the Zelle app.

More broadly, according to new FBI data, Americans lost approximately $1.3 billion in 2023 to scammers pretending to be from the government or tech support. While banking, tech support, and government scams may be perceived as extreme examples, when enterprises cannot quality control how their brands are presented to customers via calls and texts, the risks skyrocket.

Artificial intelligence (AI) further complicates the CX picture. A Slalom survey finds that 70% of companies plan to increase resources, including budget, employee time, training, and technological infrastructure, for AI investments in 2024.

This survey’s findings underscore the current and future impact of AI on customer support. While contact center AI adoption is an area of significant activity and promise, bad actors also turn to AI to disrupt customer engagement and undermine brand credibility.

Scammers have swiftly added Generative AI to their arsenal. By leveraging it, bad actors are easily able to clone voices from anywhere the voice is recorded, including using the consumers’ voicemail greetings, television, and even social media. Once the victims’ voices are on file, bad actors can use cheap or free open-source software to make the cloned voices say anything they want.

A prime example of such cloning is scammers revamping the classic “imposter grandchild” scam by utilizing AI to mimic the voice of a grandchild or close family member, commonly seen in, as KGO-TV/ABC7 has reported, fake kidnapping scams.

But it’s not just consumers who are being fooled. Scammers are creating AI-generated voice clones of executives, business owners, etc. to trick banks into making account transfers or employees into wiring funds and putting business funds at risk. This has increased the number of robocall spoof attacks and can pose a significant risk to enterprises’ reputations and their customer relationships.

The Impact of Closing the “Lead Generator Loophole”

Over the past several years, the FCC has attacked unwanted robocalls and robotexts from several fronts. These range from moving carriers to implement the STIR/SHAKEN caller identification framework to leveraging record-breaking fines against egregious robocall bad actors to addressing the growing use of Generative AI by scammers.

In December 2023, the FCC undertook its most recent, significant move: adopting new rules to close the “lead generator” (lead gen) robocall and robotext loophole to better protect consumers from scam communications.

The new rules not only punish telemarketers, third-party lead generators, and brands that barrage consumers with unwanted robocalls and robotexts but are also designed to carve a path for legitimate brands to better engage with consumers and build trust in voice calling.

Closing the loophole enables blocking of “red-flagged” robotexting numbers, codifies do-not-call (DNC) rules for texting, and encourages an opt-in approach for delivering email-to-text messages.

But for “high-touch” brands across insurance, healthcare, financial services, retail, and other verticals, there are major implications to needing to obtain one-to-one consumer consent to receive robocalls and robotexts. As opposed to having single consent apply to multiple telemarketers at once, which is what consumers encounter frequently on comparison shopping sites.

There are several key steps brands and lead generators should take between now and when the rules go into effect.

1. Branded calling is vital to converting customer leads. 78% of consumers are more willing to answer a call if the Caller ID displays the logo and name of brands they recognize, according to our research (SEE CHART 1).

Closing the lead generation loophole and requiring one-to-one consent means that brands will have to work much harder for each lead. Branded calling ensures that consumers who have consented to be contacted can see the brand names on the incoming call screens and are more likely to answer the phones and engage.

2. Implementing stronger authentication methods to ensure trust. Call spoofing can undermine brand trust. Consumer trust in the voice channel is declining due to call spoofing and the flood of unwanted robocalls.

Unfortunately, businesses are often unaware their phone numbers have been spoofed until it is too late. This creates a need for enterprise authentication technology that ensures only legitimate, pre-registered branded calls are delivered to the end-recipients.

3. Calling practice insights will guide lead gen efforts. Brands and lead generators conducting campaigns on behalf of brands are flying blind without data-driven insights into calling practices and results.

Reporting tools provide brands with outbound call data metrics, including calls answered, declined, blocked, and missed, along with contact rate and duration analysis. As a result, enterprises - particularly those with heavy outbound contact center operations - gain critical intelligence to reach their customers more efficiently.

Branded and Verified Calls are Critical Outbound CX Pillars

While contact centers in high-touch verticals rely on voice calls to reach their customers, there are several significant challenges when engaging consumers via this channel.

1. Voice channel mistrust. Consumer confidence and trust in the voice channel are eroding due to spoofing and the constant deluge of unwanted (spam or fraud) robocalls. Businesses are often unaware their phone numbers have been spoofed until it is too late. At that point, the company’s reputation likely was damaged and customers were lost to competitors.

2. Unrecognized numbers. The overwhelming amount of robocalls has made consumers extremely reluctant to answer calls from unknown numbers.

3. Low answer success rates (ASRs). Unanswered calls often lead to poor performance from contact center call agents, which promotes low contact center occupancy and wastes expensive agent talent on ignored and unanswered calls.

This results in the call agents spending an excessive amount of time trying to reach individual consumers, prohibiting them from contacting the most people possible and converting fewer sales.

When paired together, branded calls and call authentication bolster the credibility of outgoing calls...

The most successful outbound customer engagement technologies mitigate the impact of robocalls, improve call agent efficiency, secure brand reputation, and deliver superior customer experiences.

Increasingly, contact center businesses, and the CPaaS/CCaaS providers that support them, include call authentication and branded calling as part of their comprehensive outbound CX strategy. These lead to increased call answer rates, more engaged customers, higher conversion rates, and ultimately, better business outcomes.

Branded calls enhance the call delivery system by harnessing the power of big data analytics, AI, and machine learning capabilities. Meanwhile, authenticated calls implement protocols that verify the caller’s phone number and identity, eliminating the possibility of branding appearing on spoofed calls.

When paired together, branded calls and call authentication bolster the credibility of outgoing calls, fostering trust in the voice channel and ensuring consumers have confidence in the legitimacy of the call and the integrity of the brands.

Cultivating successful outbound engagement strategies that drive great experiences and high customer loyalty is paramount for any thriving contact center. Despite the continued challenges posed by spoofing and robocalls, the voice channel remains a necessary outbound customer engagement tactic.

Jim Tyrrell

Jim Tyrrell

Jim Tyrrell is the Vice President of Global Product Strategy at TNS, where he is responsible for TNS’ Communications Market solutions. Jim’s focus is to drive the advancement of TNS’ go-to-market initiatives, refine the communication of its value proposition, generate thought leadership opportunities, and ensure all activities support the company vision.

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