When was the last time you answered a call from a number you didn’t recognize? Think hard. 2012? Maybe 2015? Same. What about numbers you do know? I’ve almost come to expect a text in advance asking if I can talk! Voice is many people’s last resort nowadays – especially if it’s UNKNOWN. Like how many more times do you need to answer and be “reminded” your “car warranty is expiring?”
Outbound dialing has a terrible reputation because of things like this that the industry has been trying to effectively tackle for decades. With respect to these phony robocalls, FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel said in a statement, “Consumers are out of patience and I’m right there with them.” But the challenge has much deeper roots.
Come with me back to 2003 for a moment. I was a wee young marketer working for a company that sold (mostly) outbound dialers. Riveting for a twenty-something, right? Anyway, that was the year Do Not Call became a thing. Suddenly, dialer companies and the businesses that used them were subject to all kinds of new restrictions and had to quickly figure out how to demonstrate compliance or be subject to hefty fines. From a consumer perspective, the angels were singing! Now, you could sign up for the National Do Not Call Registry (currently has more than 221 million telephone numbers on it) and expect to be significantly less annoyed by your phone. Still, there were exemptions for political calls, calls from non-profits and charities, and calls from legitimate survey organizations not offering to sell anything. This worked. Until it didn’t.
Back in present-day, 75% of Americans never answer calls to their wireless phone if they do not recognize the number.* I am personally willing to wager that number is even higher. For me, it is 100% of the time. Hard NO. (See my blog of May, 2020: Change the Channel: Is SMS in Your CX Plan?) Plus, now we can just set our phones to send all unknowns directly to voicemail. (TBH I don’t even check voicemail anymore either but that’s a whole other blog!) And this has become a real challenge for brands to overcome.
But there is a simple way we recommend our customers handle this evolution that is so much more valuable to the company and to its customers. Edify’s AI-powered no-code Workflows tool lets you reach out to your customers via text to inform them of things like deliveries and promotions, but also to offer assistance if and when you (and your built-in AI) think they may need it. From right there in the text, you can give your customer a link to reach out. Then you’ve got an inbound interaction with someone who actually wants to talk with you! The customer is grateful, and you haven't wasted time and resources calling people who don't want to be called or who won’t answer (or even listen to your voicemail) anyway.
As our CEO says, “If you want to inform me of something, send me a text. Then I will decide if I want to text back, call you, or ignore the whole thing. But blindly calling me only makes me hate your brand.”
Outbound dialing is officially a worst practice. I said what I said. Stop - just stop. Instead, rethink all of the other ways to get your customers the information they want and need. The technology exists and it’s more accessible than ever. And if you haven’t gotten the memo yet, people want you to meet them where they are. Which is NOT on an outbound phone call.
PS - the best part about Workflows is that you DO NOT need to be an Edify customer to take advantage of the rich AI-powered self-service capabilities it provides. Workflows is for everyone!
*A recent survey by TNS