The Next Steps for Business Call Strategies After STIR/SHAKEN
Todd Fisher is co-founder and CEO of CallTrackingMetrics
As most Americans know, call spam has gotten out of hand. More often than not, calls received daily turn out to be spam, whether it’s from unwanted contact from various companies you have never engaged with or robocall scams designed to trick you into capturing your private information.
These robocalls have become advanced over the years with strategies such as number spoofing to make it seem as though it’s a caller from your same area code in hopes for you to pick up. This is not just a pain for consumers. Spam calls affect the reputation of companies and create costly obstacles for them while simply trying to engage with customers ethically.
The FCC has implemented STIR/SHAKEN, an acronym for Secure Telephone Identity Revisited (STIR) and Signature-based Handling of Asserted Information Using Tokens (SHAKEN), a regulatory protocol through the TRACED Act. STIR/SHAKEN will go into full nationwide effect across all carriers in June.
The regulations will stamp out illegal spam calls and help authenticate caller IDs to minimize spam and legitimize legal calls. You may have already experienced these spam elimination techniques at the consumer level, with possible spam calls labeled as “Spam Risk.” While some spam calls might trickle through, the protocol combats a significant portion of illegal activity.
It’s important to understand the benefits of these regulations for both consumers and businesses. Requiring calls to be validated by carriers will cut through the noise of unwanted and potentially harmful engagement from robocalls. In addition, it will allow people to trust incoming calls from unknown numbers. For businesses, this act legitimizes your contact with customers and potential customers and ensure outgoing calls are not blocked. While authentication and compliance will need to happen on the business side, the process is more straightforward than one would expect.
How to comply and authenticate
The STIR/SHAKEN protocol sets a new technical standard for authenticating caller IDs, ensuring they are valid and trustworthy. Providers verify a call’s origin and cross-checks the authentication for any other providers the customer may have. Creating a business profile will validate this attestation “trust score”. Trust scores further provide the carrier with information to confirm your communications are valid.
Once assigned a trust score, it will be signed by the originating caller’s carrier and sent to other networks–AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile or others–for outbound calling. It is important to note that there are different ratings or attestations to keep in mind:
A-Level: The service provider confirms where the call originates. This user is authorized to use the given number.
B-Level: The service provider authenticates the call origin. Although, the provider cannot verify the caller is authorized to utilize the number.
C-Level: The service provider confirms the call was sent through their network but cannot confirm the source.
These ratings allow carriers to note the validity of the caller. “A” rated calls are viewed as genuine and present a trust indicator labeled as “Caller Verified.” “B” ratings are treated favorably, though not confirmed as genuine, and “C” calls are regarded as suspicious. Despite this being a relatively new concept, the weight these attestation ratings carry over time will increase.
What about SMS?
STIR/SHAKEN is not the only recent change within the TRACED Act. While STIR/SHAKEN regulations apply to phone calls, the FCC implemented another separate measure to require business profile registration for text messages. The Application to Person messaging service, coined A2P 10DLC, refers to the U.S. system that allows businesses to send A2P-type messages via a standard 10-digit phone number. Companies must register their company and campaigns to see benefits from high-volume messaging over these 10-digit codes to build trust with the mobile carriers. Much like STIR/SHAKEN, you will need to create a business account profile to obtain trust scores.
SMS can be a powerful tool for customer connection while maintaining new leads. When SMS is successfully applied in campaigns, it strengthens customer engagementand keeps relationships vibrant. Once complying with TRACED Act protocols, SMS becomes a trusted source for customer outreach.
Maintaining an A-Level Attestation
Even if a business number is registered, high-volume call campaigns may still be flagged by the FCC if patterns are irregular. To remain at an A-Level attestation, your business must maintain caller reputation to avoid a “Spam Risk” label.
To maintain an A-Level compliance, follow these steps:
- Continue a regular outbound call volume to decrease spikes.
- Before starting a new campaign, plan to increase calls in increments instead of calling all at once.
- Avoid number neighbors.
- Dialing number neighbors–phone numbers under the same area code with a different final digit–may trigger an irregularity in your business profile. This red flag can be avoided by cross-checking call lists and avoiding calling number neighbors in high frequencies.
- Regularly update call lists and remove inactive or disconnected numbers.
- Low answer rates may flag as fraud or scams. Abide by “Do Not Call”’ lists and update lists to ensure your A-Level rating.
- Give call recipients steps to opt-out when requested.
- Providing opt-out steps cuts down on unwanted calls while helping to create a more concise call recipient list.
STIR/SHAKEN is undeniably causing a wake-up call within the call-tracking space. By following compliance guidelines and best practices, your business will continue to thrive. Compliance and creativity go a long way for marketing and call tracking industries in achieving customer success under these new regulations.
About the Author
Todd Fisher is co-founder and CEO of CallTrackingMetrics. Fisher founded the business with his wife, Laure, in 2012, and has since grown it into an Inc. 500-rated call management platform serving more than 30,000 businesses worldwide. Fisher developed the initial software, and as CEO continues to be the driving technical force of the company. What started as a simple marketing tracking tool has become a robust call center offering, the first in the industry to combine advertising and contact center reporting into a single product. Fisher is on LinkedIn.