Phone number reputation management is a must do activity for any call center, brand or business actively doing any level of outbound calling in 2022. If you don't proactively manage your phone number reputation, your phone number will likely be flagged as spam and you won't be able to contact your customers – they simply won't answer your phone calls.
We discuss the steps you need to take to manage your phone number reputation in this article.
Make sure you have full or partial STIR/SHAKEN Attestation
The first step brands, companies or call centers should take to improve the reputation or “answerability” of your outbound phone calls is to make sure that you (or your telephone service provider) have properly established your ttestation.
As we discuss in our STIR/SHAKEN overview, if you want to increase your outbound contact rates, you will want to work with telco providers that have implemented STIR/SHAKEN so that you can verify each of the phone numbers you use for outbound dialing.
You’ll want to make sure that you have either a Full Attestation (also known as “A” level attestation) or at least a Partial Attestation (also known as a “B” level attestation).
The STIR/SHAKEN attestations are checked by the originating telephone service provider. The originating telephone service provider checks the call source and calling number to determine how to attest for the validity of the calling number.
If “A” level of attestation, then the service provider has authenticated the calling party and they are authorized to use the calling number.
If “B” level of attestation, then the service provider has authenticated the call origination, but cannot verify the call source is authorized to use the calling number.
Either “A” or “B” levels of attestation usually are sufficient for most (current) outbound calls (although different analytics and app providers may treat “B” levels without much respect as discussed further below).
If you have a “C” level of attestation (also known as “Gateway Attestation”), the service provider has authenticated from where it received the call, but cannot authenticate the call source. Most app service providers and carriers will block or flag “C” levels of attestation (avoid this).
With an “A” or “B” level of attestation, your phone number should start out with a decent reputation.
Unfortunately, your phone number reputation may be impaired as you make outbound calls using it – called parties, carriers, analytics services and apps make it easy for customers to report or flag numbers as “spam”.
You’ll need to actively manage and monitor your phone number’s reputation as you use that phone number for outbound calls.
Check government lists to see your phone number reputation
The Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”) is very open and actively publishes data about phone number spam complaints. The first stop you should make to check your phone number reputation is to see if your phone numbers have been reported to the FTC as spam. You can check their database here.
The data published by the FTC includes information on Do Not Call and robocall complaints. The data set contains information reported by consumers, including the telephone number originating the unwanted call, the date the complaint was created, the time the call was made, the consumer’s city and state locations reported, the subject of the call, and whether the call was a robocall.
The FTC data is generally updated each weekday. Weekend data is included in Monday’s file and holiday data is included in the file posted the next business day.
Please note that none of the information about the reported calls has been verified by the FTC (the data includes complaints from disgruntled customers in addition to legitimate robocall complaints).
A phone number with a good reputation is one that has not been reported to the FTC. If your phone number has been reported, you may want to replace the phone number and also look into why the phone number may have been reported. Is it time to review your dialing practices (maybe consider other outbound dialing options)? Or was it simply an aggravated consumer?
Work with carriers and analytics engines to make sure your phone number continues to have a good reputation
A good phone number reputation requires constant attention. You can start with making sure you have the right level of attestation (as discussed above), but your number reputation will change as you use it.
Disgruntled customers, wrong numbers, etc. may report your number as spam (or, maybe you really are spamming them? If so, we can’t help you).
Customers report phone numbers as spam a number of ways (including directly to the FTC as discussed above). They can use third party apps (like nomorobo, robokiller, etc) or apps provided by their carriers (such as Hiya or First Orion).
Even just one spam report through these services can impair your phone number’s reputation and dramatically reduce your contact rate.
You can use third party services to check and monitor your caller ID reputation for you. If you find that one or more analytics providers, carriers or apps are flagging your phone number as having a poor reputation, you can work to improve the phone number reputation by contacting the analytics providers, carriers or apps directly as discussed below.
Carriers and phone number reputation
The following carriers have ways to contact them to try to remove your phone number from a blocked or spam list:
- Verizon – register your phone number using the Free Call Registry service. Also, use the TNS Report a RoboCall service to register your business phone number (the name of the service is a bit misleading… but the website clearly mentions that it is also used for enterprises to validate the characterization of your business telephone numbers and protect against erroneous blocking of wanted calls.
- AT&T – AT&T uses the services of Hiya to manage their phone number spam blocking tools. Hiya provides an online form that allows you to dispute phone number reputation issues.
- T-Mobile and Sprint – T-Mobile and Sprint also use the Free Call Registry Service (see above). You can register your business phone number with the Free Call Registry Service to prevent a phone number being mislabeled as a spam phone number. T-Mobile and Sprint also use First Orion to manage their spam reporting. You can protest a spam label of a phone number by contacting T-Mobile here.
Call blocking apps and phone number reputation management
The following call blocking apps have ways to contact them to dispute when your phone number has a bad reputation.
- NOMORobo – Contact this call blocking app to request that they remove your phone number from their blocked list. You can contact them via their website.
- RoboKiller – Contact this call blocking app if your number is flagged as spam. One complaint by a user could get your number blocked for every user of RoboKiller. Contact them via their website.
- YouMail – This is another popular call blocking app. Contact them via their website if your phone number is wrongly labeled as spam.
- TrueSpam – Another popular phone call blocking application. Contact them to have your phone number’s reputation fixed.
Summary of phone number reputation management
Phone number reputation management is an on-going job for active outbound phone numbers. Start with making sure your STIR/SHAKEN attestation is an appropriate level (“A” level is preferred), then register your number with different carriers and analytics providers to let them know you are a legit business.
Then monitor, monitor, monitor! Accept that you may need to rotate in new numbers from time to time. If you are using an autodialer such as a predictive dialer, accept the fact that you are going to have a difficult time managing your phone number reputation.