The Cost of "Spam/Scam Likely" Flags Rises with Live Voicemail

Chris Sorensen

May 6, 2024

5 min

Table of Contents


  • Businesses face challenges when their legitimate outbound calls are mislabeled as spam or scams. This mislabeling leads to decreased call answer rates and significant revenue loss.
  • Since the release of iOS 17, iPhones now have a Live Voicemail feature that transcribes voicemail messages in real-time on the lock screen, allowing users to screen calls. However, calls labeled as spam or scam won't receive live transcriptions.
  • Several methods can improve the likelihood of your calls being answered: managing phone number reputation, contesting incorrect spam labels, maintaining consistent and considerate calling practices, and crafting an effective Live Voicemail strategy.
  • PhoneBurner can provide phone number management services and includes features designed to improve call deliverability and engagement.

“Spam/Scam Likely” flags are an undeniable killer of call answer rates. Where bad actors are concerned, that’s a great thing. But it's another story for businesses whose legitimate calls are mislabeled—something we’re highly attuned to as a responsible provider of outbound calling services.

With the launch of Apple Live Voicemail, businesses face yet another change to the voice ecosystem that will impact call answer rates. Below, our team at PhoneBurner explains how this new update can impact call deliverability for sales teams, and how using the right tools and techniques can insulate yours from the potential consequences.

Live Voicemail feature on iOS17

Live Voicemail & Spam Calls

Apple iOS 17 and subsequent updates include a game-changing feature called Live Voicemail enabled by default.

How does it work? iPhones transcribe to text the voicemail message being left on the recipient's iPhone lock screen, along with the ability to answer the call and engage with the caller—live.

To put it another way, when you’re leaving a voicemail on an iPhone, they’ll effectively be able to screen your calls for context before deciding whether (or not) to answer.

Yes, call screening is back.

This is activated for most phone calls iPhone users receive. However, there’s a pretty significant difference when it comes to calls that are labeled as spam.

The Cost of Spam Flags Just Increased

A staggering 81% of businesses already believe their company has lost revenue due to having their outbound calls incorrectly flagged as spam or scams. The costs of that are already significant—here’s an infographic that breaks down some key numbers:

With Live Voicemail, the potential costs are even greater. That’s because, according to Apple, calls labeled by carriers as “Spam/Scam Likely” (or telemarketing, survey, etc.) will not receive live transcriptions. Rather, voicemails for any calls labeled as spam will go straight to the voicemail box.

Why is this so significant? We believe there are three reasons:

Misclassification of Wanted Calls

Many users understand that sometimes wanted calls show up as spam on their devices. That said, upon seeing the flag they’re still likely to conclude the call is unwanted and don’t take the time to listen to the voicemail. This translates to a lost opportunity for the business trying to connect with their customer or prospect.

Screening Becomes Mainstream

The ability to screen calls in real-time has the ability to fundamentally change how people determine who to talk to. If users opt to read a few lines of a message before taking the call, calls mislabeled as spam will never (or very rarely) get consideration to be answered. Valuable context around what the call is about and who it’s from will never make it to the user’s screen.

Information Overload

Overlapping technologies could come into play for a lot of users, and this could impact behavior. Some users could have two or more call detection/protection/identity solutions activated for a call. Consider:

  • The phone’s carrier has a solution for identifying spam/scam calls
  • There are widely-adopted 3rd party call-blocking and classification apps
  • There are on-device solutions like Live Voicemail

With potentially two to three technologies in play for each call, how can businesses ensure their outbound calls get through, stand out, and have a likelihood of being answered?

Your Path to Higher Live Answer Rates

As more call context and deflection technology becomes available, consumers are further empowered to choose who to interact with… and who to ignore, or block.

How you respond to this has a direct impact on your sales success.

It is critical to build your number reputation (as an aside, repeatedly tossing flagged numbers and getting new ones does more harm than good), reduce your risk of flags, and re-evaluate your strategy to maximize answer rates and call engagement. Your long-term success depends on it.

So how should you go about it? Here’s a 3-step formula:

1. Expertise in Phone Number Management

Whether you become an expert or partner with one, number reputation will make or break your outreach success in today’s evolving landscape. There are two primary ways to manage this:

  • Registration: Master the registration process for your originating numbers with carriers. This free and simple process is among the most effective ways to signal to the carriers that your calls are legitimate and should go through unflagged.
  • Remediation and Redress: Understand how to present your case and provide data to contest erroneous spam labels. The algorithms weigh a lot of factors when applying and removing flags, so errors are bound to happen. When undeserved flags show up, you or your partner need to know how to remediate them.

2. Consistent & Considerate Calling Practices

Most mistakenly believe that call volume is the metric that will bite them. The algorithms are smarter than that. What matters most is consistency, and reasonable call behavior. Here are some things to remember:

  • The carriers are clear that they want to see consistent, and non-intrusive calling behaviors. Calling recipients with aggressive retry logic and sporadic calling practices (10 calls one day, then 500 the next) increases the likelihood of your calls being labeled as spam.
  • Exercise discernment in timing your calls—respect the windows when prospects are more receptive.
  • Call engagement is vitally important. Too many hang-ups and short-duration calls will negatively impact your reputation.

3. Voicemail Strategy and 1-to-1 Calling

With Apple’s 57% US smartphone market share, Live Voicemail and call screening are bound to become mainstream. Be prepared to leverage this opportunity to earn live conversations. Here's how:

  • Craft an effective Live Voicemail strategy designed to encourage recipients to answer calls while you leave your message.
  • Leverage notes and call history information available in your dialer or CRM to personalize messages that will optimize your answer rates.
  • Consider avoiding multi and parallel dialing methods, as they are not conducive to the Live Voicemail experience. Agents using a multi-line dialer aren’t even live on the line to interact with Live Voicemail (calls aren’t transferred to them until someone answers). And when contacts do answer, they’re subject to an awkward pause or beep as the technology tries to transfer the call to an agent in real time.
  • 1-to-1 dialing is best as agents are always live on the line. This allows you to leave personalized Live Voicemails and to engage instantly when contacts answer.
Smiling sales rep using PhoneBurner to reach prospects

Over to You

The cost of Spam/Scam Likely flags is rising, and that’s good news for mobile users. But it’s also a wake-up call for honest businesses to fully embrace the changing landscape, and refine calling practices to maximize opportunities for engagement.

Apple’s introduction of the game-changing Live Voicemail feature gives businesses an opportunity to win back conversations that have eluded them—but you need a clean calling profile and the right outreach partner to capitalize on it.

PhoneBurner combines smart technology with human expertise to strengthen your number reputation and power your team to more high-quality conversations.

We’ve been a leader in efficient, scalable 1-to-1 communications for 15 years, and our dedicated Trust & Safety team has unmatched experience and relationships to help you optimize your strategy for long-term success.

Partner with us, and bring trust (and results) back to your call campaigns. Start your free trial of PhoneBurner today.

Frequently Asked Questions

How does PhoneBurner make voicemails easier?

PhoneBurner gives you the flexibility to leave live personalized voicemails,  leave one-click pre-recorded voicemails, or even do a hybrid of the two. This flexibility is increasingly important with call screening in the mainstream. 

Can PhoneBurner provide number registration for my business?

Yes—we can register your PhoneBurner numbers with carriers and their Analytics Engines to improve their reputation. This is an essential step for improving your live answer rates.

Can PhoneBurner tell me if my numbers are getting flagged as spam?

Yes! Our system monitors the numbers you use and alerts you if they become flagged so that you can reset them, remediate the issue, and adjust your practices to lower the risk of this problem recurring.

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