Tampa Bay, Florida, has an amazing aquarium, the thrilling Busch Gardens theme park, and top tier sports teams. And, like many other cities in America, it’s home to a department of corrections (DOC) facility.
You might be wondering what this has to do with live answer rates and why you should care. I get it, I felt the same way when I heard this anecdote. Trust me though, it’s got a relevant punchline you need to hear.
This DOC facility is special. They have a work release program that employs 24 inmates in telemarketing jobs. Do you see where we might be going now?
The inmates placed anywhere from 200 to 300 calls each day on behalf of a company not based in the U.S. Further, the vast majority of these calls went to California residents.
Over time, the call recipients in California became so annoyed that they filed complaints with the Better Business Bureau. They were sick of being bothered all day, every day, with spam calls.
We’re not assigning blame to the inmates. They were just seeking employment through options that were available. The blame instead rests solely on the shoulders of the entities—these “bad actors”—who devised the spam scheme in the first place.
This is relevant because this is what you’re competing against. When your legitimate, and often important, business calls get mislabeled as “Spam” or “Scam Likely,” it’s because of these bad actors.
You’re the ones who suffer the consequences and see decreases in your live answer rates. However, the telephony industry has begun to smartly and aggressively fight back, as has our team at PhoneBurner.
That’s why we’re here today with 8 specific countermeasures you can start implementing today that can help turn the tide, distinguish you from bad actors, and improve your live answer rates. Here they are at a glance:
- Register Your Numbers on Free Caller Registry
- Be Rigorous with Your Lead Providers
- Use Dialing Best Practices
- Call at the Best Time of Day
- Remediate False Spam Flags
- Monitor Your Numbers
- Don't Rotate/Get Rid of Numbers
- Brand Your Calls
Before we dive into the specifics of each tactic though, there’s some important context surrounding this situation that you need to understand first. So, let’s get after it!
Understanding the Root of Spam Calls
First, unwanted calls aren’t a problem that’s specific to the U.S. They happen in every country, every day, to people from all walks of life.
That’s because the phone network is the largest communications network in the world. The internet is a close second, contrary to what you may hear or believe.
The phone network is also the most open network in the world which is ultimately a good thing. It means lower costs to use, lower barriers to entry, and easier access for end-users. It also connects people 24/7/365.
Most importantly, a phone call takes priority over everything else. Think about the times on your smartphone when you check your bank balance, browse social media, or write emails. When a call comes in, it displays over everything else and begs for you to answer.
This is one of the reasons why the phone is the preferred communication channel for selling legitimate products and services. In fact, it’s second only to face-to-face interactions.
Prospects want to talk with other human beings, especially when it’s about a high-value transaction or there’s important information that needs to be conveyed. That's a trend in B2B sales that's become even more prevalent now that permanent, remote work is here to stay.
Unfortunately, all this is also why bad actors work so hard to compromise the phone network and leverage its many positives against us. What separates the bad actors from legitimate businesses is the reason for a call. They want to scam people. You don’t.
What the Bad Actors Do
Let’s start with a look at what tactics and strategies the bad actors of the world use when making their calls. Think of this section as a quick list of things you should never do when making calls.
Mass Autodialing and Auto Messaging Campaigns
You’ve likely seen one of these campaigns before. Most recently, it’s come in the form of an auto warranty scam.
The bad actors call and explain how much money you can save if you buy their auto warranty. In reality, they have no idea if you own a car or not.
They’re just hoping to get one half of 1% to bite on the scam. And they’re using mass auto messaging campaigns and auto dialer software to reach as many people as possible during their shift.
Constant Number Swapping
The bad actors know that if they use the same number over and over, they’re going to eventually get caught and flagged as “Spam” or “Scam Likely.” So, they briefly use numbers, and regularly replace them with others.
However, the only thing this tactic accomplishes is to guarantee the phone number doesn’t have consistent call volume or call patterns associated with it. The carriers have caught on to this poor tactic and now routinely penalize numbers like this with flags.
Deceptive Caller ID Spoofing
Have you ever gotten a phone call from a number that looks just like your own number, but it’s different by one or two digits? That’s deceptive caller ID spoofing. Bad actors use this tactic to trick you into answering your phone as you wonder if someone stole your number.
There are phone numbers that exist in the phone network ecosystem which aren’t used. The bad actors know this and make use of sophisticated bots and tools that can locate potential numbers to fill their anonymous dialing coffers. Then, they perform anonymous dialing against these numbers that aren’t assigned.
Erratic Call Patterns
Bad actors use erratic call patterns in the hope that it makes them more difficult to detect by the agencies, companies, and technologies fighting them. They’ll make sure that there’s no rhyme or reason to their dialing.
8 Tactics to Improve Live Answer Rates
It may feel like this is all out of your control, but it’s not. Stay optimistic because there are many tactics and strategies you can use to improve your live answer rates, have longer conversations with prospects, and close more deals.
In one way or another, these tactics involve taking actions that bad actors are unwilling or unable to do. Here’s the full list for you.
1. Register Your Numbers on Free Caller Registry
For now, what you need to know is that they’ve come together to provide an interface called Free Caller Registry (FCR). You can go to this site and tell them which phone numbers belong to you and will be used for legitimate business purposes.
Your first and most immediate step to improving live answer rates is to register all your numbers on FCR. It doesn’t guarantee that you’ll never be flagged “Spam” or “Scam Likely,” but it will help get your numbers back in the game if you get incorrectly flagged.
The PhoneBurner Advantage: When you buy a number from us, we’ll register it on FCR for you. All you have to do is complete a business profile in the back end of PhoneBurner. Once you do, any numbers you purchase in the future will also be enrolled by our team.
2. Be Rigorous with Your Lead Providers
When you work with a lead vendor, you have to be rigorous in your assessment of the lead quality they’re supplying you with. And you also have to put them to the test to ensure that you’re getting the right party contact information.
You also need to ensure that these leads are the freshest leads possible. That way you can be confident that you’re calling people who want to receive a call from you.
If your leads are out of date and in poor health, people won’t pick up your calls. Worse, they might hang up quickly and report you as “Spam” through their own phone. All of these negatively impact the reputation of your numbers and can increase the likelihood you’ll be flagged as spam.
Think of it like coffee: if you buy high quality coffee beans, you’re going to get delicious coffee. If you have old, stale coffee beans, your coffee is going to be awful.
3. Use Dialing Best Practices
Adhering to strict dialing best practices is one of the best ways you can fight back against the scammers. We already know what they do and why it’s wrong, and we combat them by doing the opposite.
Use Other Channels
Instead of calling someone three times, call them once. If they don’t answer, leave a voicemail, send them an email, or fire off a SMS text message.
The PhoneBurner Advantage: Your team can easily send pre-recorded voicemails, pre-written emails, or pre-written SMS text messages with the click of a button inside our PhoneBurner power dialer software.
Maintain Call Consistency
The algorithms and technologies that monitor the phone network for scammers will immediately target erratic call volume. If you have a number with 15 dials today, 150 tomorrow, 12 the next day, and then 125, you’re likely to get flagged.
Instead, maintain consistency. If you have a number with 100 dials today, keep it at 100 dials every day. Even if you have the best of intentions, inconsistent call volume on numbers is a huge red flag.
Ramp Up Call Volume Slowly
If you’re introducing a new number, or you want to make more dials on an existing number, ramp up slowly. Whether you’re dialing zero or 100 times a day on a number, you can increase that by two or three dials per day until you’re at a higher volume. Then, when you’re at the desired level, maintain consistent call volume.
4. Call at the Best Time of Day
It can be difficult to pin down a specific time of day, across all industries and sectors, when prospects tend to answer the phone more. That’s why it’s so important you monitor and analyze your calling windows to determine what times your answer rates are highest.
Still, we analyzed data from over 134 million phone calls made through PhoneBurner in 2021 to provide a starting foothold from which you can work off of. Our Sales Calls Statistics Report shows that, generally speaking, 10:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. CST is the best time to call, followed closely by 1:00 p.m. to 2:00 p.m. CST.
5. Remediate False Spam Flags
If your numbers are being flagged as “Spam” or “Scam Likely,” don’t panic. First, pause the number—resist the urge to delete it and buy a new one. This is what bad actors do.
Remember that flags can happen on one network, but not the others. Also, the flags will sometimes be resolved if you’ve registered it on FCR and put it on pause.
However, there are processes you can use to remediate flags if necessary. We can’t guarantee that this method will work, but you should still pursue this avenue if you feel your numbers are incorrectly flagged.
Once the flag has been removed, gradually reintroduce the number into your outreach and slowly ramp it up.
The PhoneBurner Advantage: When you buy your numbers from us, we’ll remediate flags on your behalf. Simply alert us and say that you think the number is incorrectly labeled “Spam” or “Scam Likely,” and we’ll start the process with the carrier.
6. Monitor Your Numbers
How are you supposed to know if your numbers are being flagged “Spam” or “Scam Likely?” Often, you’ll have people tell you that they almost didn’t take your call because it was shown as such on their phone. You can also test dial to your own devices on a fairly regular basis.
However, flags come and go, and they can be carrier-specific. That makes it challenging to self-monitor multiple numbers and continually know where you stand. Monitoring services can be very helpful in this regard.
The PhoneBurner Advantage: The best way you can find out about flags on your numbers is through the Number Monitoring service PhoneBurner offers. If you’ve purchased your numbers through PhoneBurner, we can alert you as flags appear and are withdrawn so you can take necessary action and dispute as needed with the carriers.
7. Don't Rotate/Get-Rid of Numbers
The Carriers are clear that they are looking for consistent and considerate usage of numbers. This is what strong number reputation is built upon.
Scammers immediately get rid numbers when a flag appears, purchase new ones, and have a continually rotating flywheel of numbers. The analytics agencies and algorithms are trained to look for this.
As a legitimate business, your goal is consistency. You register your numbers, you use them to meet your business needs (a lot of volume on a number is ok if it's legitimate usage) you maintain consistent usage, and you exhibit considerate call patterns (avoid double/triple dialing, hangups, short duration calls, calling after hours, etc.). Doing so builds up a positive reputation for your numbers. If flags do appear, you can remediate/redress them with the carriers to further safeguard your reputation.
8. Brand Your Calls
If you have a certain smartphone, you may have noticed that some companies calling you have their logo and name inserted onto the caller ID screen. Further, some even have a reason why they’re calling listed on the screen as well. This is what’s known as Branded Caller ID.
The PhoneBurner Advantage: We support Branded Caller ID for all PhoneBurner customers, whether you purchase your numbers from us or not. If you choose to use this service, you can brand your calls and consumers know it’s actually you calling and have a higher chance of answering the call.
Check out all the details around our Branded Caller ID feature and start using it today.
Partnerships Are the Key to Your Success
Hiya, TNS, and First Orion have formed partnerships with the major carriers in response to the federal government’s implementation of the STIR/SHAKEN regulations.
The common misconception is that STIR/SHAKEN itself is what results in “Spam” or “Scam Likely” flags. However, it’s the reputational analytics algorithms that Hiya, TNS, and First Orion have implemented on their partner networks to detect the bad actors.
This world of “Spam” and “Scam Likely” flags, government regulations, and complex technologies is challenging to navigate. The companies and platforms that you choose to partner with are more important than ever.
That’s as true for you as it is for PhoneBurner, as it is for the major carriers. None of us should be doing anything in isolation here.
That’s why our team at PhoneBurner works hard to maintain relationships with Hiya, TNS, and First Orion. In turn, they maintain relationships with the major carriers. We’re establishing PhoneBurner in this industry and, by proxy, you.
We don’t want you to run around trying to get in touch with these companies and carriers, worrying about your numbers all day. We want you to focus on what’s most important—running your business.
Improve Your Live Answer Rates
We all have a collective challenge we’re trying to solve. You want to get more calls answered. Our team at PhoneBurner wants to build a platform that helps you get as many calls answered as possible. Together, we can improve your live answer rates.
We’re all also competing against the bad actors for a prospect or customer’s time and attention. But as long as you work hard to avoid the poor strategies and tactics they use, while prioritizing those that provide a positive experience for the call recipient, you can win.
PhoneBurner is here to help you in any way we can—sign up for a free trial, join our community, and show the world that you’re better than the bad actors.
Let today be the day that you start fighting back.