I was shaving yesterday morning when I heard NPR’s Morning Edition story on why it’s hard to put an end to unwanted robocalls – and I barely avoided a trip to the emergency room. I couldn’t agree more with the points Yuki Noguchi made. Consumers dislike illegal robocalls and regulators are lining up with consumer privacy advocates to put an end to them. It’s no wonder consumer complaints continue to rise even a decade after the national Do Not Call Registry went into effect.
We’ve all received robocalls – mostly likely you’ve received many. Your phone rings and you run to pick it up as you’re finishing dinner, only to be greeted by a pre-recorded, robotic sounding automated message from “Rachel at Card Services” offering to lower the interest rate you pay on your credit card. Illegal robocalls like these bring nothing but frustration and annoyance.
But what about the calls consumers say they want from the companies they do business with? Studies conducted by Wakefield Research found that U.S. consumers want messages from these companies: 85 percent prefer companies they do business with to proactively communicate with them, and 75 percent find the messages they are already getting from companies to be helpful and welcome. Consumers believe proactive company communication would have helped them avoid issues with a missed flight change, lost delivery package, missed health appointment, exceeding data allowance on their phone bill, and more.
That’s why Fortune 100 companies are making calls and sending emails, texts and push notifications to millions of Americans every year.
Here are four recommendations to avoid having your legitimate voice messages lumped in with the dreaded robocalls:
- Use CallerID that displays your company name on a customer’s phone. This way it’s clear to your customer who is calling them before they pick up the phone. If the consumer calls this number back with questions, you must ensure their call reaches someone who can explain the purpose of the call and resolve the situation.
- Make sure your communication channels are connected. It’s important to make sure anyone who might answer a customer’s call can verify that the company attempted to reach them with an automated message. This way customers can avoid a confusing run-around to track down the information they seek.
- Only call mobile phones if the customer provided the number to you themselves, and be careful to prevent calls to these numbers if the customer withdraws their consent. And for Pete’s sake, make sure you have a Do Not Call list that is regularly updated, so you don’t contact anyone that has already stated they don’t want communication from you.
- Clearly state the company name and purpose of the call in the message greeting, and provide a number where the customer can call back before the message ends. If a message reaches someone other than the intended customer, provide an easy way for the person answering the call to indicate that it’s a wrong number and prevent any future calls.
Some of these best practices are required by the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) – the law against robocalling – so it’s more than just good business to follow them. If companies want to continue using automated calls as a cost effective method of communication, they need to maintain customers’ trust and only deliver messages which enhance the value of the customer relationship.