With the development of modern technologies, our day-to-day lives have significantly changed, in ways that 30 or 50 years ago seemed unimaginable. In 1854, Antonio Meucci created the first voice communicating device, with Alexander Graham Bell pioneering the system of what we now call the telephone, yet the idea has been in the mind of many others years before that. Nowadays, phone calls are an integrate part of our lives, as we rely on them for communicating with loved ones, conducting business, getting in touch with various authorities and public institutions, hospitals, and many other activities that allow us to communicate effortlessly.
As with any other inventions that leads to the growth and expansion of societies, communities, and businesses, the telephone—and implicitly the phone call—have undergone a wide array of transformations over the years. Our dependence on being able to communicate with those around us has been the trigger behind further developments in the telecommunication industry—with some of these endeavors having a not so beneficial effect on the world.
With carriers now providing complex services, and phones becoming smart devices able to assist us with any operation, automated calls are no longer a futuristic idea. Yet RoboCalls, as we now refer to them, come with a significant number of problems, for both the receiver and for honest businesses that are using automated calls in their marketing strategies.
What Are RoboCalls?
RoboCalls are phone calls that use a computerized autodialer for broadcasting a prerecorded message, as if it were coming from a robot. Although RoboCalls are usually associated with telemarketing and political campaigns, they can also be used for emergency announcements or any other kind of public-service announcements and messages. In the United States, RoboCalls are governed by various laws, existing at both national and state levels, such as the Telephone Consumer Protection Act of 1991 (TCPA). The TCPA amended the Communications Act of 1934 with restrictions involving telephone solicitations, the use of automatic dialing systems, or prerecorded messages, and it also specifies several technical requirements involving RoboCalls.
With some of the general provisions of the TCPA clearly stating that unless the recipient has given prior consent to receiving phone calls that use a computerized autodialer, such calls are illegal, it should be fairly easy to regulate this industry, therefore protecting both customers and companies that are abiding the law. In fact, customers also have the option of applying for the National Do Not Call Registry, which was opened by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) in order to allow people the power of decision over who can contact them. And yet, not only are people and entities breaking the law when it comes to RoboCalls, but it is happening to such an extent that the United States is now facing a general RoboCalls crisis, with statistics showing that Americans receive an average of eight RoboCalls a month. Yet other metrics show the number is even higher, close to 16—as was the case in March of 2019, when 5.2 billion calls were placed in the United States.
How Did the RoboCalls Problem Came into Being?
This is a question that most Americans who at one point in their lives came into contact with RoboCalls ask themselves—and it is also a question that businesses are troubled by. Understanding what causes crisis, what are the problems arising from such situations, and what can be done to fix it is mandatory for companies that are legally using computerize autodialers for marketing purposes, or other reasons for staying in touch with either customers or the people they are doing business with.
The first autodialer, which was semi-automatic, was introduced to the market in 1942, but it wasn’t until the 1980s, when computers became less expensive and programs facilitating automated calls were being developed that RoboCalls started making an impact. And, as previously stated, automated phone calls are by no means illegal, when the practice is being conducted in compliance with current legislation. Yet more and more RoboCalls are targeting people who have never consented to be contacted—and also a lot of these calls are no longer about telemarketing, political campaigns, or public announcements. In current times, the major problem with RoboCalls is that they are being either illegally used by scammers, or abusively used by debt collectors.
Some of the main issues involve the abusive or illegal use of RoboCalls:
They are interfering with people’s right to privacy and their desire to choose who can contact them
Illegal or abusive RoboCalls oftentimes advertise deceptive offers, such as vacation packages that don’t exist, in the name of companies that have a good reputation in their industry
They affect businesses that use automated dialers legally, by making the general public lose their trust in all such practices and no longer consent for being contacted, not even by their favorite brands
In worst cases, RoboCalls can actually make people lose money, as a lot of fraud cases are now traced back to illegal RoboCalls from scammers and people or companies who are lying about their identity
With these—and many other issues—arising from illegal and abusing RoboCalls being placed all over the US, companies and individuals are struggling to make sense of how to deal with the RoboCalls crisis, given that a legislation is already in place.
How to Fix the RoboCalls Problem
Regardless of how bleak the situation seems when you go through statistics, news reports, people’s stories, there are measures which can be taken in order to remedy the RoboCalls problem, and regain the trust of customers in terms of automated phone calls and promoting your brand through such a method. One of the main solution for handling illegal and abusive RoboCalls is for both companies and individuals to be aware of their rights and have proper knowledge of the legislation concerning RoboCalls. That way, each time they encounter an abusive or illegal situation they can forward it to the proper authorities.
Investing in the Right Technology
Taking down problematic RoboCalls and unmasking the scammers behind them relies a great deal on finding the proper technology, one which is able to trace and track all automated phone calls that are not in compliance with the legislation.
Also, your marketing strategies should be implemented with the help of modern and trustworthy communication solutions, and your company should always invest in the right technology for keeping your calls legal, and your customers trusting you. Make sure that you are also exploring alternative marketing methods, such as text message marketing for your information-broadcasting needs.
Creating a Database with Consenting Customers
Being in compliance with all phone calls and SMS industry regulators and with the legislation is mandatory for all marketers and companies that are using these marketing methods for reaching out to their customers. The best way for doing so, and for keeping track of your activity, is to create a database with customers who have expressly consented to being contacted by your company—database which you need to keep updated, and never contact people who are not a part of it.
Maintaining a Positive Relationship with Your Customers
Customers nowadays are looking for brands that can provide them with a personalized and trustworthy experience. Therefore, when you are drafting your plans and strategies, make sure that you make provisions towards building and maintaining a positive relationship with your customers, once in which they can trust you with their personal information, and you can contact them with special offers, discounts, and loyalty programs. Also, you can use events your brand organizes to inform your customers about the dangers of RoboCalls, how to recognize a fraudulent or illegal call, and how to protect themselves from them.
Additional Measures Against RoboCalls
If your company is the one being targeted by RoboCalls, there are a few measures you can take in order to protect your business and your employees from potential fraudulent situations, and the nuisance of having to deal with interruptions in your business continuity. Make sure that all your employees know what RoboCalls, the legislation governing them, and also the people to contact in order to report a situation. Also, contact your IT team and ask them to take precautionary measures such as blocking apps, and other software solutions that can safeguard your business and employees from RoboCalls.
Over the years, RoboCalls have become more and more of a nuisance for both individuals and companies all over the world, but especially in the United States. In order to properly deal with the situation, you need to make sure that you have the necessary knowledge on the matter, from the technical aspects of RoboCalls, the legislation that protects you and your customers, and also the measures you can take against them. Don’t forget to custom-tailor those measures to fit the needs of your business and those of the needs of customers.