December 18th, 2018 - Telecom, Identity and Protection
It wasn’t that long ago when spam threatened to completely undermine the viability of email as a communications tool – particularly for business. Email spam has not been eradicated and remains a pain point for users, but enough progress has been made to preserve it as an invaluable communications tool. Bill Versen, Chief Product Officer at TNS, considers how carriers are recognizing their subscribers are at a similar breaking point with robocalls, which is why they have been working diligently over the past few years towards short- and long-term solutions.
Robocalls aren’t simply a nuisance; they threaten the very nature of how subscribers view the value of calling and perception of the telco brand.
While progress has been made, there is still a ways to go. Forward-looking telcos are employing or evaluating several strategies to address the robocall challenge. Here are three worth considering:
Subscribers seek a better solution than simply hanging up quickly or not bothering to answer the phone at all. Ringless robocalls that go straight to voicemail, as well as the ability to generate call revenue even if you don’t answer the phone, are just some of the evolving tactics that spammers are adopting. Effective scammers take into account seasonal factors, geography, demographics, really anything that will make the robocall seem more legitimate.
Telcos can strengthen brand trust among consumers by taking an active role as an information source for subscribers on emerging scams or those that are seasonal in nature such as IRS-related robocalls.
Consumers now have numerous robocall blocking apps available to them – many which are free and provide limited relief. Without the type of access, data and network coverage that telcos have at their disposal, however, these apps are at a disadvantage in trying to keep up with rapidly shifting scammer tactics and phone number banks. As a result, imprecise and ineffective robocall blocking and identification still allow unwanted robocalls to ring through or get dumped directly into voicemail.
Education thus becomes critical; operators must clearly and creatively communicate to customers why robocall volume is increasing and why operators – through their own infrastructure and that of key partners – are uniquely positioned to leverage call and number data to deliver accurate call analysis to subscribers – fast enough for them to make an informed decision before answering a call.
Unwanted robocalls have unintended consequences for legitimate businesses that use automated calls to communicate with customers and consumers. For example, a pharmacy needing to verify personal information when filling a prescription or any business using robocalls in an above-the-board way suffers if these calls are mislabeled as spam or simply ignored because consumers don’t answer the phone anymore. Telcos should embrace this challenge as an opportunity to deliver more trusted and branded calling. For example, displaying a branded call from, in this case, a pharmacy, can not only help verify its authenticity but also offers unique subscriber-business engagement opportunities.
The robocall scourge inundating mobile and landline callers is a challenge that requires coordination and innovation amongst carriers, regulators, legislators, and industry. Telcos, for their part, must continue to lead by example in bringing innovative and effective solutions to market.