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

Chris Sorensen

5 minutes

Inside this article:

Live Voicemail and spam calls

The cost of spam flags just increased

Your path to higher live answer rates

Over to you

“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.

In fact, a staggering 81% of businesses believe their company has lost revenue due to having their outbound calls incorrectly flagged as spam or scam.

With the September 18th launch of Apple iOS 17, businesses face yet another change to the voice ecosystem that will impact call answer rates. 

So what exactly does iOS 17 have to do with call answer rates? 

Turns out, quite a bit.

Live Voicemail and spam calls

Apple’s iOS 17 comes with a new feature called Live Voicemail - and it’s enabled by default. 

iPhones now 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 for someone with iOS 17, 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 asterisk: *spam calls.

The cost of spam flags just increased

According to Apple, calls labeled by carriers as “Spam/Scam Likely” (or telemarketing, survey, etc.) will not receive this live transcription experience. 

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:

  1. 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.
  2. Screening becomes mainstream: It remains to be seen, but the ability to screen calls in real-time could 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.
  3. 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 well-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

Sale rep on a live call with contact

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.

This is hugely important.

It is critical to build your number reputation (note: 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.

  • 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.

2. Consistent and 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.

  • 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) increase the likelihood of your calls being labeled as spam. 
  • Exercise discernment in timing your calls, respecting windows when recipients are more receptive. Call engagement is vitally important, and therefore a lack of it, including hangups and short duration calls 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.

  • Craft an effective Live Voicemail strategy designed to encourage recipients to answer calls while you leave your message. Personalize messages with all of the information available to you to optimize your results. 
  • Consider avoiding multi and parallel dialing methods, as they are not conducive to the Live Voicemail experience. Consider: 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, both to leave personalized Live Voicemails and to engage instantly when contacts answer.

Over to you

The cost of Spam/Scam Likely flags is rising.  

That’s good news.

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’re 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.

Learn more about adapting your strategy for live voicemail.

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