Expanding engagement through voice and text

by Jay Malin, AGENT511 Managing Director

In today’s hyperconnected world, text, mobile, and social messaging seem to lead the way customers communicate with their providers. However, automated voice calls remain an important channel.  We still find voice is sometimes the only way to reach a customer and some still prefer receiving a voice call.  In the collections industry, a local voice call is viewed as the only acceptable way to notify customers.  The US Supreme Court weighed in on The Consumer Protection Act (TCPA), by narrowing the definition of an autodialer to not include SMS text messaging, and potentially any call delivered from a modern database and/or Internet based voice system.  This generated a deluge of confusing opinions about the anticipated increase in fraudulent spam calls; however, these persisted even with the more rigid TCPA definition.  As such, we would like to share guidance to those who wish to continue to use and expand outbound voice and look at new avenues such as SMS text messaging.

In a desperate attempt to stop spam voice calls – extended auto warrantees, 0% credit card rates, and social security fraud – the wireless carriers abdicated spam protection to crowd sourcing.  Some mobile apps use automated spam filters based upon actual customer feedback to block calls; thereby allowing customers to even specify and block collections calls.  As such, we’ve seen even regulated, informational messages about collections and terminates thwarted by the network.  To minimize this, it is recommended that customers partition and load balance purely informational and collections calls and continue to monitor delivery success rates.  Further, purchased and spoofed numbers belonging to the organization) may be registered with the carriers to avoid spam and increase caller ID hits.

Previously I wrote about STIR/SHAKEN as new standards being implemented by the carriers to attest to the integrity of the caller.  At the time, they had been only implemented for peer-to-peer calling, however, today, I am pleased to share that this technology is being broadly implemented by voice service providers.  This means that service providers will attest to the integrity of the caller when the call is placed.  Not only should consumers rejoice, but eliminated spam calls will improve the delivery of legitimate calls.  Complemented by AGENT511 ENFORCE platform that applies legal, TCPA, and FTC do not call policies, organizations will soon be able to take comfort in using voice for personalized messaging.

On that note, text continues to be a wonderful channel with which to engage the customer.  Unlike voice, messages are quickly read and recalled with high read rates exceeding 90%.  The wireless carriers have also improved 10-digit text messaging by adding a review process, similar to short codes, that should reduce spam and fraudulent texts.  Recently, we explored an old friend called free to the end user or FTEU for short.  FTEU messages never impose any text cost on the wireless user and may be used for collections and related messages, particularly to free or low-cost phones with message limits.  FTEU messages are more costly than standard rate text but offer another avenue to expand your communications.  The provisioning and delivery process is identical to standard rate text messaging.

These changes are a win for our clients and a win for consumers that should lead to higher engagement rates resulting from enhanced delivery rates.