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IT Services, Contributed

Can Robocalls Benefit Your Business?

October 29, 2019

Robocalls often get a bad reputation because many scammers use them to steal personal data. However, businesses can leverage automated calls to streamline their outreach and notify customers about key information.

As a consumer, I hate robocalls. They’re unsolicited, auto-dialed calls that always come at the worst time to get you to volunteer personal information. Some of them are even scams used to steal identification materials like the “can you hear me?” scheme

Just as we see in the graphic below, some callers are just phishing for info.

A shrouded called asks someone, "Can I get your social security number?" likely pretending to be that person's bank or another official.

This image depicts a scammer asking for a victim’s social security number. At least the Nigerian Prince has the courtesy to reach out through a medium where you get scammed at your own convenience.

But, as a stakeholder in a business, I both understand the need for robocalls and even actively endorse their use in certain situations. The trouble is that your calls end up getting lumped with all of the spammers out there, despite your good intentions.

So what can you do?

How Businesses Can Get the Most Out of Robocalls

  1. Let customers opt-in
  2. Don’t abuse people’s trust
  3. Give customers an easy way to opt-out
  4. Respect the customers’ decisions

Sketchy Robocalls Are on the Rise

At this point, you might be wondering: What’s the scale of this menace? 

The Transaction Network Services surveyed and analyzed 1 billion daily calls across hundreds of carriers. They found that a third of those calls could be classified as high-risk, fraudulent, or a nuisance

Another startling insight from the report — 24% of calls originate on Monday. As if Mondays weren’t already bad enough.

A lot of robocall operators also often spoof their presence. That’s to say, they use call masking strategies to hide their number and get it to look like it’s coming from the victim’s city. What should be a local call ends up being a robotic operator phishing for information.

The FCC is trying to combat the robocall plague by urging carrier services to adopt better caller authentication mechanisms. They’re cracking down on operators responsible for billions of robocalls. 

Businesses Should Be Wary of Robocalls, Too

Of course, consumers aren’t the only ones affected by robocalls. A lot of sales/support agents in businesses waste valuable time answering calls that just end up being bots. This takes away from their efforts in winning over customers or focusing on other tasks. 

One workaround is to use an interactive voice response (IVR) that prompts the caller to request a support rep by dialing a button. This allows businesses to screen for human callers because only a human would know to follow the prompt. 

Check out this screenshot of our Freshworks IVR.

Freshworks IVR allows businesses to screen for bots while optimizing your call efforts.

The figure shows you the different options you have as a business to screen for bots while optimizing your call efforts. 

Not only does using an IVR prevent bots from spamming your phone lines, but it also helps streamline your sales/support calls and saves your employees time. 

4 Cardinal Robocall Guidelines for Businesses

Now that we’ve discussed how robocalls can be harmful, let’s take a look at how a business might use them for good.

There are times when you have to inform a large group of people about a key piece of information. This could be an update about when a client needs to come in for their next appointment or a notification that your business will be closed on a particular day. 

In those cases, phone calls can be just as useful as emails and texts to convey your message. We’ve thought long and hard about this topic and have come up with a few guidelines for businesses to use robocalls for automated reminders.

1. Let Customers Opt-In

It’s important to understand that some customers might be more comfortable with just email or SMS. 

Give them the option of choosing a phone call as their medium for automated reminders so that they know what to expect.

2. Don’t Abuse People’s Trust

Use people’s permission wisely and only when absolutely necessary. 

Calling someone up once to let them know that their subscription is due is fine. But calling them repeatedly without any thought behind it is not. 

For example, if you’re sending your customer a cash card, and it hasn’t reached them, one call is enough. They know; they don’t have their card.

Additional calls would simply annoy them.

3. Give Customers an Easy Way to Opt-Out

If customers do opt-in, give people an easy way to opt-out. 

Don’t hamper the process by forcing people to mail their reasons for stopping calls. An online form or email does the trick just as well and is far less intrusive.

4. Respect the Customers’ Decisions

If someone opts out, let them stay opted out

You don’t want to seem pushy like other callers. Besides, it doesn’t look good on you or your businesses to hassle customers to opt-in again.

Just respect your local “Do Not Disturb” registry.

Robocalls Can Be an Effective Tool for Your Business

There’s no silver bullet for the robocall problem, especially with such a high volume of scammers out there. But the basic rules for human interaction still apply. 

Protect yourself from scams that are trying to steal personal information and use an IVR to automatically screen for bots. If you choose to use automated calls to send notifications to your customers, respect their wishes and be transparent about how you call them.

And, this goes without saying, avoid calling on Mondays.