Find out how Robocalling affects SMBs and enterprises, and get tips and tricks for combatting the issues they cause.
- Robocalling; just reading the word makes one cringe – particularly businesses that rely on every legitimate phone call; what can they do to eliminate the pain, time and money lost?
- The FCC, House of Representatives, and the Senate are among the first to act against robocalling – but is that enough?
- All hope is not lost. There are steps small business leaders can take on their own to reduce the burden of robocalls.
An entrepreneur turns their dream into reality. Doors have been opened for the first time, lights turned on, coffee brewed, and the air fills with the sound of the very first incoming phone call. Excitement is through the roof, the call is picked up, only to hear a recording: “Well, hello! Don’t hang up. We have an amazing opportunity for you!” A robocall.
Robocalls annoy consumers
Many consumers don’t think twice about ignoring a call from an unknown number. For a small business, though, ignoring a call could mean ignoring a new opportunity – so, they need to answer every time the phone rings. Unfortunately, this makes them a prime target for robocalling. The cost is more than an annoyance; Ooma estimates robocalls can cost a typical small business more than $100,000 per year.
Some 54% of small businesses polled by Ooma said they receive five or more robocalls per day. No part of the office is immune, with the hardest hit being front desk and reception (58%), customer service (30%) and sales (27%). With these key departments bogged down by junk calls productivity and results suffer.
And these calls are not cheap, with Ooma calculating that it takes 24 minutes to recover productivity from the distraction of an unwanted call. If you measure this against the average U.S. hourly wage of $23.65, time lost to one robocall equates to $9.46. Yearly impact of robocalls quickly adds up to $118,000 for a business receiving 50 robocalls a day across multiple lines. This can make or break some businesses.
How consumers are fighting robocalls
It might be tough to remember a time before direct messaging through email and social platforms; but not that long ago ‘smiling and dialing’ was widely used to initiate conversations with customers about payments due, upcoming appointments, products and services available, or to send emergency alerts – and those phone calls are still as powerful now. Action against robocalls is also powerful, and many have already started to fight back - voicing opinions and displeasure that has led companies such as Google to add a “call screen” feature to their smartphones. These innovations have placed consumers back in control of their phones – but what about small businesses?
The government is also taking action. The FCC has taken a stand in recent years as robocalls have become a top complaint. FCC Chairman, Ajit Pai, has been strongly urging phone service providers and those in the telecommunications industry to take robocall complaints more seriously and is requesting carriers to put a substantial system in place to authenticate calls by next year. He has also given phone service providers the power to block robocalls before they reach consumers.
This news is great for consumers, but it does not necessarily solve the small business problem. While a Consumer Reports survey found that 70% of Americans stopped answering their phone if they do not recognize a number or if the caller’s number is anonymous, small businesses do not have the same luxury. In fact, the Ooma survey found that 76% of SMBs feel compelled to answer the telephone each and every time; not wanting to miss a customer’s call, and 84% receive robocalls daily. Separating legitimate work from these spam calls can prove difficult and time-consuming.
The House of Representatives has made some strides, passing the bipartisan Stopping Bad Robocalls Act. This follows a bill passed in the Senate aimed at better policing and enforcing of penalties. But this is not yet enough for small businesses – and worse yet – Ooma found that most surveyed are not taking steps to block incoming robocalls. Fewer than 16% of them have the tools or solutions in place to deflect these unwanted nuisances.
Businesses must also take extra precaution when answering robocalls. One slip can release important details such as account numbers, passwords, healthcare or other data. And chances are high this information may make its way out. Independent sales strategist and author Marc Wayshak conducted a study of salespeople and determined that they believe the phone is still the best and most effective tool in selling.
When robocalls affect your bottom line
Putting up with the frustration of robocalling is becoming the norm, but is there anything that can be done to ensure your small business is rightfully guarded and protected against unwanted robocalls that can affect your bottom line? Here are some tips to take into consideration:
Go With Your Coffee, Then Go With Your Gut
- Time is money, but mistakes cost money too. Instead of taking a caller’s word as truth, turn into a sleuth and try to call them back. If they are from a legitimate company or organization, then they should have a valid and authentic phone number easily found via the Internet. Remember, you have the power to call back, but you probably won’t have the power to gather back any personal information passed along to an unlawful party by mistake.
When You Can’t Trust ‘The Force’, Trust The Technology
- A firewall or third-party call blocking app can be easily set up within a small business to thwart robocalls. Typically for a nominal fee, these firewalls can stop robocalls in their tracks. Some employ a virtual receptionist or attendant to guide incoming calls to their destination. Typically, robocallers won’t bother to leave a message and the call ceases. One example is Ooma’s Enhanced Call Blocking feature, which comes with our Ooma Office Pro service and offers call blocking that prevents telemarketers and spammers from reaching your business.
Your Phone Provider Can Be Your Ally
- It is getting increasingly difficult to trust caller ID. Spoofing, when someone fraudulent fakes a name, number or both on a caller ID, is becoming incredibly commonplace. The larger mobile carriers such as AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile and Verizon offer services – most for free or a nominal fee – that let you know when an incoming call is spam or spoof.
When in Doubt, Register and Report
- When you register your business’ phone number on the National Do Not Call Registry, technically you are stopping telemarketers from accessing you. However, if a telemarketer still reaches your small businesses despite registration on the list, the next step would be to file a complaint. But, you will still be reachable by charities, political groups, debt collectors and surveys. If you do happen to receive an unwanted call after your number has been registered for 31 days, you should report it to the FTC.
Robocalls do not mean that you will constantly face an uphill battle when it comes to the ringing telephone. That next legitimate call could be your next big sale or partnership. Following these tips from that very first call, on your very first day, can ensure your small business continues to run as efficiently and successfully as possible.