A Complete Guide to Call Blocking and Labeling
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If you’re here, it probably means you want to solve your call blocking and labeling woes.
We’re happy to say you’re in the right place. This series will arm you with knowledge and tools to:
- Understand call blocking and labeling
- Begin to address mislabeled numbers
- Ensure your calls are not blocked or mislabeled so that your agents can have more conversations
Before we dive into call blocking and labeling problem solving, the first step is to understand what call blocking and labeling is.
What is Call Blocking and Labeling?
As Alex explains, every major cellphone carrier is working with third-party organizations to assign risk ratings to phone numbers.
Third party organizations provide risk ratings to these major carriers, and these risk ratings determine how the call is labeled, or if the call is blocked.
Call labeling and the concept of risk ratings is separate from STIR/SHAKEN. STIR/SHAKEN protocols do not impact how your calls are labeled at this time.
At a high level, this is how call labeling works.
- Your phone numbers and DIDs are given a risk rating by a third party (we’ll cover how risk ratings are generated in a future episode!)
- The third party organization shares this risk rating with the carrier
- The carrier will decide whether or not to label your call based on the risk rating.
Since they have such a massive impact on how your calls are labeled, you’re probably wondering how these risk ratings are generated.
The exact “formula” for generating risk ratings is kept under wraps by these third party organizations, so that actual scammers can’t work around it.
However, after numerous conversations with these third party organizations, we’ve learned two main factors that are used to generate risk ratings.
How Are Risk Ratings Generated?
Even though every third party organization has their own secret “recipe” for assigning risk ratings, we’ve still learned that is mostly boils down to two main factors:
- Crowdsourced reporting
It’s that simple – but this is also where it can start to get complicated. Some examples of analytics include:
- How many phone calls you are making, compared to how many you used to make
- Duration of your phone calls
- Volume of calls compared to duration of calls
Also included in the analytics is how many consumers are “reporting” your number.
Consumers have the ability to report your number as “spam” or “not spam.”
The more consumers that report your number as spam, the higher your risk rating goes. The higher your risk rating, the more likely your call is to be labeled or blocked.
You might be wondering what kind of behavior leads to certain labels.
What Are The Different Labels And What Do They Mean?
Depending on who you use as a cellphone provider and whether you use a third party app, you’ll see different labels to warn you of a risky call.
“Spam,” “Scam likely,” “Possible scam,” are most common. But if we’re all honest, any one of these labels will most likely lead to us declining the call.
While we wish it was possible to list every single labels and exactly what causes it, it’s not as simple as that.
Because there are different third party organizations and third party apps working with different carriers, every label means something different to every carrier.
Some examples of safe assumptions to make for a call labeled as “Spam” or “Scam Likely” are:
- The phone number has received complaints through call blocking apps
- The call is suspected to be fraudulent or illegal
- The call is “unwanted” or was reported as a robocall
When all is said and done, these specific instances only affect your risk rating. The “worse” your risk rating is, the “worse” your call’s label will be.
Keep in mind that as frustrating as it may be, the third party organizations (and the carriers who use their data) are trying to alert and protect consumers to risky calls.
So, now you have a clear picture of how call blocking and labeling works. Let’s get to work on solving your call blocking and labeling problem.
What can you do about your mislabeled calls?
What Should I Do If My Calls Are Being Mislabeled?
It’s a question we hear often. And, if you’re reading this blog, you’ve probably wondered the same.
“My calls are being mislabeled. What should I do about it?”
Before we dive in, keep in mind:
There is no quick fix to mislabeled calls. You can’t throw money at this problem and expect it to go away. Companies may market themselves as a one-size-fits-all solution for mislabeled calls, but there is simply no way for any third party to have an affect on how consumers report your calls. If you see a company doing this – don’t fall for it!
Based on our conversations with the third party organizations who assign risk ratings and our experience working with carriers, we recommend three ways to mitigate your mislabeled calls.
The three ways to address your mislabeled calls are:
- Register your numbers with the third party organizations who assign risk ratings.
- Audit your online presence. What happens when you google your company name? What about your phone number? Put yourself in a consumer’s shoes when they are first introduced to your organization.
- Audit what your agents are doing and saying in their interactions with consumers. How often are they calling, and would their call script sound confusing to someone who knows nothing about your business?
Keep reading to see these broken down in more detail.
How To Register Your Numbers With Risk Rating Providers
Registering your numbers is a way for you to notify third party organizations that you are a legitimate business, not scam, and not to label you as such.
This will help you improve callbacks right away, but it is not a silver bullet solution to call blocking and labeling.
If enough consumers still report you based on the content of your calls or online presence, it won’t matter that your numbers are registered – you may still be mislabeled.
It can be an expensive undertaking to register your numbers; some services are free and others are costly. We will include links below if you would like to explore how to do this yourself.
Because these third party organizations are the ultimate decider of how your call is labeled, it’s important to work with them as a first step to show you are a legitimate business. Right now, businesses can do this by registering their numbers.
Helpful Links for Registering Your Numbers
Numeracle – Entity Identity Management™ service that will register your numbers for you, not just with third party organizations but also with independent third party apps
Call Transparency – Self service number registry
Keep in mind that on it’s own, registering your numbers will not prevent consumers from reporting you as spam.
This is where your online presence comes in.
How Does Online Presence Help With Call Blocking and Labeling?
If you’re ready to start wrapping your mind around your online presence, here’s a great exercise to start with:
- Google your phone numbers.
- Google your company name.
What do you see in the search results? You might see a link to 800 numbers, or an ad from a consumer attorney welcoming new clients who have received a call from you or your number.
Now imagine you’re a consumer who receives a call from your number, and decides to Google it.
Would you call back if that is what you saw?
How Do You Improve Your Online Reputation?
This is the power of your online presence: Crowdsourced reporting plays a huge role in how your call is labeled. Consumers are much more likely to report your number if your online presence is suspicious, or missing altogether.
Improving your online presence is a never-ending process that can’t be fixed overnight, but here are some quick tips to get started:
- If you don’t have a website, build one. Even if it’s a single page, you can begin to build your online presence from there.
- Create a Google My Business account. It’s free! This will ensure your company appears on the right panel when someone searches your company name.
- Start to build SEO content on your website so that you rank higher when your company name is searched.
- Address consumers on your website – not just clients.
You should be working towards taking the number one search result when your company name or phone number is searched.
Ownership over your online presence is a critical step in improving the way your calls are labeled, and preventing them from being blocked.
Your online presence requires you to be proactive about how you are being perceived, but there is no better time or place to make a good impression than during the call itself.
This brings us to our final step in improving your call blocking and labeling preparation: Internal training.
How Internal Training Can Help With Call Blocking and Labeling
In previous episodes, we’ve shared the importance of call recordings for training. If you are not using call recordings for training, today is a great day to start.
As you listen, begin to pay attention to whether your collectors do the following:
- Identify your business at the start of the call
- Maintain professionalism during the call
- Make sure your IVR is set up to maintain professionalism
Your collectors are the first point of contact for consumers who, at the end of a call or voicemail, will decide whether or not to report your number as spam.
If there is anything about your messaging that is confusing, misleading, abrasive or hostile, the consumer will be much more likely to take action to report you.
Conversely, if your collectors are straightforward about who they are, what they do and why they are reaching out, your chances of being reported as spam decrease significantly.
If you are struggling with your calls being mislabeled or blocked, we encourage you to audit whether your operations are consumer centric.
Making a few small changes to your organizations practices can have a huge impact on the way your calls are labeled.
We work with our clients on this often and are always happy to talk more about how to solve this problem. Use the link below to schedule time if you’re looking for more guidance!