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How Robocalls Impact Contact Center Operations


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The federal government is finally pursuing the robocall avalanche, which is encouraging. But it may take a while, maybe a year or more, for consumers to trust incoming calls are not scams. Consumers are still bombarded with malicious calls, and we don’t know exactly how the government will work to remedy the situation. So to gain a better understanding of the situation, I asked Mckay Bird, CMO at the cloud contact center technology company TCN, some questions related to the threat of robocalls.
How do robocalls affect the contact center? And why haven’t the telco’s been able to reduce the number of robocalls?
First of all, not all robocalls are bad. However, there are a handful of bad actors looking to steal money or data from consumers, and it’s these actors – i.e., spammers, caller ID spoofers, and fraudulent callers – that are negatively impacting the contact center industry’s reputation. As a result, a majority of consumers have stopped answering calls from numbers they do not recognize.
On a positive note, the federal government and the contact center industry have taken proactive steps to combat fraudulent robocalls (i.e., TCPA, SHAKEN/STIR, TRACED Act, etc.). As bad actors continue to get more creative with their approach to scamming, spamming, and/or spoofing consumers, contact centers need to work closely with the federal government and the industry as a whole to enact and amend laws and regulations that both identify bad actors and deters bad behavior.
How often are legitimate, outbound contact center calls not delivered and how does call blocking and labeling affect and benefit the contact center?
According to our partner, Numeracle, anywhere from 10–30% of legitimate business calls are incorrectly labeled or blocked across the network.
From an inbound perspective, the impact is minimal. However, from an outbound perspective, contact centers conducting follow-up calls pertaining to everyday living (i.e., order shipment updates, appointment reminders, prescription pick-ups, credit card activity alerts, etc.) are at risk. Although it is too early to measure the full effect that call blocking and call labeling will have on the contact center industry, there will be a heavy burden placed on organizations relying on voice communications to engage with their consumers.
How can contact center operations deal with robocalls and how can I establish trust in my calls?
There is no “one size fits all” method when dealing with robocalls, but a good first step would be to register and certify phone numbers with call labeling analytics companies. Additionally, contact centers should evaluate their current outbound strategy for voice, SMS, and email communications to verify their messages are being delivered, and their messages are being sent via the customer’s preferred communication channel(s).
To establish trust, contact centers need to register and verify phone numbers with a trusted entity certification solution provider. The registration and verification process is similar to a background check and works to safeguard contact centers from being incorrectly classified as “fraud” or “scam.” Once a business’s phone numbers are verified, companies will be able to contact their customers without the fear of their calls getting blocked at any level.
How do I know Apple or Google aren’t blocking my calls?
The answer is not simple. Currently, phone and software developers - such as Google and Apple - have the ability to block calls built directly into their software. However, Google’s and Apple’s call blocking settings can be managed and/or adjusted by each consumer on their own device(s).
Is the FCC and the industry responding?
To date, the FCC passed SHAKEN/STIR regulation, which validates that an incoming call is being placed on a real phone number and that the person calling is authorized to use the phone number. Additionally, at the end of 2019, the Telephone Robocall Abuse Criminal Enforcement and Deterrence Act (i.e., TRACED Act) was signed into law, requiring voice service providers to develop call authentication technologies, among other things.
As for the private sector, phone carriers and technology companies have internally developed their own software to weed out bad actors (i.e., call labeling and call blocking).
What is the current status of STIR/SHAKEN?
As for the implementation status of STIR/SHAKEN, large carriers (i.e., Verizon, Sprint, AT&T, T-Mobile, etc.), as well as third-party apps (i.e., YouMail and Hiya), have built STIR/SHAKEN authentication protocols into their technology. However, smaller carriers and regional telecoms are struggling with implementation because they do not have the resources or infrastructure to support the intricacies of a SHAKEN/STIR framework (see our diagram below).

As for the most recent news associated with SHAKEN/STIR, the TRACED Act was passed at the end of 2019, requiring telecom providers to maintain a number-authentication system to help consumers identify who’s calling.