Voice broadcasting is another type of outbound calling that is performed by some call centers or voice service providers. In summary, voice broadcasting is operating a dialer to transmit a large number of prerecorded voice messages to a list of telephone numbers. We also briefly discuss how to conduct legal voice broadcasting (although anyone who does voice broadcasts should consult with a lawyer as the legalities of this space are quite difficult to navigate). This article explores how voice broadcasting works, different voice broadcast features, and some example use cases for voice broadcast.
What is voice broadcast?
Voice broadcast is when a pre-recorded voice message is blasted to a large number of recipients. Voice broadcasting is a great way to get important messages to a large number of people quickly.
Some call center dialers allow the delivery of voice broadcasts. Typically, these systems use a voice broadcast dialer that allows a user of the dialer to configure settings such as the voice message to be delivered, the phone numbers to be dialed, the time at which the messages are to be broadcast, etc.
Some voice broadcasts only leave a voice message. Other voice broadcasts allow the called party to interact with an IVR. For example, a voice broadcast may be used to broadcast a product offer to customers. If the customer wishes to accept the product offer or speak to a call center agent, the customer may be prompted to “press 1” or take some other action to interact with the IVR.
How do voice broadcast dialers work?
Voice broadcast dialers typically have 4 primary features:
- A broadcast list manager. The list management tool is used to upload your calling list to the broadcast software. Look for one that allows you to easily upload large batches of numbers in CSV format. If you have address or location information include that information in the CSV file so that local time zones can be respected (you don't want the voice broadcast dialer calling people in California at 9am New York time). A good broadcast list manager also allows you to perform do not call list scrubbing.
- A voice recording tool. The voice recording tool allows you to either upload a prerecorded message or create one. Many voice broadcast systems also allow you to use text to speech processing to create a voice message from text that you type into the tool.
- A broadcast dialer. The broad cast dialer does the work of dialing the numbers in your list and playing the prerecorded message. The broadcast dialer typically allows you to configure a number of different dialing settings. Here are examples of some of the broadcast dial settings that most dialers allow:
- Answering machine detection may often be configured. If answering machine detection is an option, if it is enabled, you can decide to not leave a broadcast message if a human answers (or vice versa). Answering machine detection also gives additional reporting information that could be valuable.
- Caller ID settings may often be controlled (e.g., to display your organization's name as the caller ID).
- Opt out settings may be configured to allow called parties to easily opt out of future calls (placing themselves on a do not call list).
- A push to talk or talk to agent setting may be provided to make the broadcast call act as an IVR. Called parties may be able to “press 1” or say “agent” to be connected to a call center agent.
- A reporting tool. Most voice broadcast dialing systems also include some form of a reporting tool that provides you with detailed statistics about the voice broadcast dialing campaign. Once a voice broadcast has been sent, the reporting tool should give you insight into what happened on every number in your list (was the voice message left on a voicemail? Did a person answer? Was the number disconnected? Was there no answer?)
Example uses of voice broadcast
There are lots of legitimate uses of voice broadcast dialers. Unfortunately, there are also lots of shady or illegal uses of broadcast dialers. Consult with a lawyer who is knowledgeable about this space to make sure you are conducting legal voice broadcasting.
Some great uses of voice broadcasting include:
- Broadcasting important prerecorded voice messages relating to health and safety to a community, town or school district. For example, voice broadcast dialers are often used by school districts to alert families of school closures due to snow.
- Broadcasting prerecorded reminders or updates to groups. Voice broadcasts are a great way to send updates to sports team members and families.
- Broadcasting prerecorded political messages to potential voters (you probably get lots of these each election year).
- Broadcasting prerecorded payment reminders to customers about upcoming payment due dates.
Each of these examples of legitimate voice broadcast examples shares something in common … they are not related to unsolicited marketing messages. Instead, they are related to important information that people likely consented to receive. While there are some legitimate ways to broadcast voice marketing messages, care needs to be taken to make sure you have express consent to do so.
Is voice broadcasting legal?
Some types of voice broadcasting are legal. As discussed above, there are plenty of important use cases for voice broadcasting that are legal. A number of State and Federal laws apply to some uses of voice broadcast messages.
One of the more important laws is the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA). The TCPA is a federal statute that restricts the use of pre-recorded voice messages (often referred to as “robocalls”) to home phone lines and cell phones. The statute also restricts the use of calls made by an automatic telephone dialing system to cell phones (although this restriction has eased recently).
The TCPA specifically sets out different rules for cell phones as compared to home phone (or “landlines”). Calls to cell phones (including text messages) require a specific type of consent be obtained before a prerecorded call is made depending on whether the call is made for informational purposes (such as sending an update about a team event) or for advertising or marketing.
Violation of the TCPA can be expensive, as the TCPA specifies high statutory damages of $500 per negligent violation, and $1,500 per willful or knowing violation.
The bottom line — if you are going to be using a voice broadcast dialer to broadcast prerecorded messages, consult an attorney first to make sure your campaign complies with the TCPA and other relevant laws.