January 5, 2022

How To Avoid Flagged Calls and Call Blocking in Outbound Dialing

How to Avoid Flagged Calls and Call Blocking in Outbound Dialing

Stir/shaken legislation has positive effects for both consumers and call centers. Bad actors who conduct illegitimate calling campaigns have been somewhat contained.  Sadly, however, flagged calls resulting from this legislation have become an issue for legitimate businesses conducting their own campaigns.

Many companies are seeing lower answer rates because carriers and call blocking apps wrongly flag their business calls as spam or scams. To keep your business financially healthy, you need to consider how you can avoid having your numbers flagged or blocked by consumers.

What Are Phone Number Flags?

Phone number flags came about because robocallers bombarded consumers with spam and/or scam calls for years. Carriers and call-blocking apps implemented solutions to weed out these callers and deliver much-needed relief to consumers.  Carriers also aggregated data from these apps and third parties to issue flags to numbers.

Collectively, phone number data is analyzed to assign a call label to a phone number. However, not all call labels are bad. They are simply designed to inform a consumer about the intent of a call and warn them if the call may be problematic.  Call labels are broken up into warning and intent labels.

Warning Labels

A warning label informs a customer that a call may be from a robocaller or a spammer. If your number has a warning label, it is generally referred to as a flagged number. To make the process more challenging for you, labels are not consistent between service providers. They may display differently based on the consumer’s carrier. 

Typical warning labels are:

  • Scam Likely
  • Fraud Risk
  • Potential Fraud
  • High Risk
  • Potential Spam
  • Nuisance Likely

If a phone number has a warning label, it is highly likely customers will not answer the call. So you must make every effort to avoid these labels.

Fortunately, a number does not receive a warning label after one report. But if enough consumers report a number, it will receive a flag. That’s why you must embrace proactive strategies to avoid labels. 

Intent Labels

Some apps and phones allow consumers to report the intent of a phone number. These methods result in intent labels, which are not necessarily negative. They simply provide the consumer with more information to help them decide whether to answer a call. Typically, these labels show the type of call being conducted from a number and range: 

  • Telemarketing
  • Political
  • Survey
  • Charity/Nonprofit
  • Informational
  • Account Services
  • Prison/Jail
  • Private

Intent labels may discourage some consumers from answering your calls, but they may also make some potential clients feel more secure about what calls they take. Consumers with no information about an unknown caller usually will not answer the call. 

How Do Calls Get Flagged?

Your phone numbers are not randomly flagged. They typically receive flags in one of two ways: through consumer reports or carrier analytics.

Consumer Reports

Consumers can block and report phone numbers via call-blocking apps. The app will assign a warning label or flag if a number receives enough reports. These flags cause your phone number to display “Spam Risk,” “Scam Likely,” or other similar terms.

Once you have a negative label, your call answer rate will take a hit. Almost no one will answer a call with a spam or scam label, even if the label was wrongly applied. 

Carrier Analytics

Carriers also monitor phone number activity through live traffic and call logs. If carriers identify a number dialed too heavily,  they will decide it is “not a human” calling. These network analytics can allow carriers to automatically flag numbers that dial over a certain threshold.

Typically, if a number dials more than 100 times per day, it may receive carrier flags for suspicious activity.

Of course, your number may be completely legitimate, but consumer perception is what counts. A warning label is a poison pill for your calling campaign. 

How To Avoid Receiving Flags

When a phone number receives flags, they are hard to eliminate. Generally, a number not engaged in malicious activity can see flags fall off between 60 and 90 days, assuming it doesn’t receive further reports. But avoiding getting flagged in the first place is essential.

You can minimize flags by using responsible dialing practices. Sometimes frustrated consumers flag legitimate businesses because they see their calls as an inconvenience. Irritated call recipients can cause you endless trouble. Try taking the following steps to reduce erroneous flags.

Follow Compliance Regulations for Your Industry

  • Scrub lists against the DNC. Consumers rightly become angry when they are on the list and are contacted anyway.
  • Only dial reliable lead lists. You need to call people who are likely to be interested in your product or service.
  • Train agents in empathy on calls. Your agents need training in listening to consumers’ concerns and honoring their time.

Buy More Numbers

Purchasing more numbers than the minimum needed for your campaign is a good idea too. Some of the numbers you purchase may come with flags. You must scan these numbers before integrating them into your dialing pool.

As a result, you may have to eliminate a number of them. In addition, you will want to have extra numbers available to swap out to avoid carrier flags caused by overdialing. 

Swap Numbers Out

You will want to swap out numbers frequently for high call volume campaigns so you don’t exceed the carrier flag dialing threshold (typically around 100 calls per number per day).

Daily scanning is also important for your numbers. If you see a number starting to receive flags, remove it from your dialing pool and let it cool off. You may be able to reintroduce it later. 

Let Numbers Cool Off

Phone numbers don’t automatically receive warning labels when a consumer reports them. Carriers and apps understand that erroneous complaints happen. However, enough reports will result in a warning label. As more consumers report a number, the flags on a number build. After enough flags are received, a warning label is applied.

These scores can vary depending on different aggregators, but these top three aggregators score on a 0–100 basis:

  • Icehook: Scores from 81–100 will receive a warning label.
  • TrueSpam: Scores from 60–100 will receive a warning label.
  • Telo: Scores from 65–100 will receive a warning label.

If you notice a number’s score rising, remove it from the dialing pool to let it cool off. For instance, when Icehook has one of your numbers scored at 90, you need to pull it from your rotation. You should also assess how the number is used to determine why it is receiving flag scores. 

Monitoring Caller IDs

Caller ID monitoring is essential in outbound dialing. Scanning your numbers frequently will help inform you when they start to get “hot,” allowing you to take fast action. Monitoring will also show you when your numbers get flagged. And as you know, dialing with flagged numbers can lower answer rates, waste agents’ time, and ruin your business reputation.

Proactively Manage Your Dialing

Everyone in the industry hopes that the process will be improved to eliminate or at least reduce erroneous flags and warning labels. Until that happens, you need to be proactive to reduce them yourself.

Consumers have no patience left for robocalls, and most will not risk answering their phones if they have any concerns about the caller. Protect your answer rate and your productivity by avoiding these negative issues.

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