Bah, robocalls! I don’t know about you, but I can’t stand robocalls. I get at least one per day, and I know people who receive dozens daily (they basically ignore their incoming calls at this point).
In terms of their economic impact, robocalls are more than a nuisance. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) estimates that robocalls cost Americans billions of dollars per year.
Business owners foot a large portion of that bill—not just in terms of minutes wasted, but also missed opportunities and diminished trust in phone interactions.
How? Well, imagine you’re deep into a project that requires your full concentration. You’re feeling focused; you’re in the zone. Then your phone rings. As a business owner, you can’t afford to miss a call from a prospect or existing customer. You don’t recognize the number, but it looks like someone from your city. So, you pick up the phone…
…only to hear spam on the other end.
And then there’s the matter of lost trust. Say you’re trying to contact a potential new client. If that person doesn’t know your number, they may assume you’re a robocaller and refuse to answer.
If you’re like many business owners, you may have experienced these sorts of problems firsthand. You’ve wondered, “How do I stop robocalls?” Perhaps you’ve posed the question to friends, colleagues, or Google, but haven’t found the answer you’re looking for. You may have tried a robocall blocker app or another technique, but some unwanted calls still come through.
Enough’s enough. Here’s what you need to know about robocalls and how we can put an end to them for good.
What is a robocall?
If you ever answered your phone and heard a recording instead of a live person on the other end, chances are you received a robocall. These kinds of calls can seriously harm unwitting recipients, cautions the FCC.
And the folks at the FCC should know—unwanted phone calls are the top source of complaints they receive. Such complaints are filed by individuals sick of unsolicited robocalls as well as people who have been harmed when a scammer spoofed their phone number.
Robocalls can have severe financial consequences, particularly for people who don’t realize how dangerous such calls can be. As FCC Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau Chief Patrick Webre warns: “Don’t give in to fear or curiosity. A scammer’s first goal is to engage you, then they go to work on stealing your money or your valuable personal information.”
Robocalls are not the only type of unwanted call. The category also includes fraudulent (scam) calls, as well as inappropriate sales calls (spam). However, most spammy and scammy calls use some robo-dialing or robocalling technology.
Note that most robocalls are illegal—but not all. According to the FCC’s BFF, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), some legally-sanctioned robocalls include automated calls from healthcare providers, automated calls from debt collectors, automated political calls, and automated calls from any party who has prior consent from the people they’re contacting. For example, if you’ve supported a nonprofit in the past, that organization may be allowed to contact you through robocalls.
Why do we get so many time-wasting robocalls?
The average American receives at least eight robocalls per month, as findings by Hiya Robocall Radar and Statista indicate (PDF). Actual scams and general spam account for 57% of these unwanted calls. Many business owners receive higher-than-average rates of unwanted calls, as their numbers are typically more publicly available, and they’re less likely to ignore calls from unknown contacts.
Why are robocalls so prevalent? As the FTC explains, making robocalls is “cheap and easy.”
Once upon a time, opening a call center required significant investment in staff, equipment, and technology. Now, it’s (sadly) relatively simple to create and launch a robocalling operation with minimal equipment.
In fact, some of the same technology that makes it easier for small businesses to operate also makes robocalling affordable for scammers and spammers. Instead of setting up a call center, scammers can run robocall campaigns from the comfort of home. All they need is an automatic dialing system, a US-based operator to relay the calls, and a phone. Thanks to flaws in the “caller-ID” system it is also easy to spoof phone numbers and even locations. (And yes, for those keeping score, The Simpsons predicted this.)
The average American receives
8 robocalls per month.
Robocalls cost approximately
$3 billion every year.
A single robocall accounts for
23 minutes in lost time.
What do robocalls cost your business?
As customer engagement company that provides virtual receptionist solutions, Ruby runs into robocalls frequently. In March 2019, for instance, 4% of Ruby customer call minutes were attributed to robocalls. That might not sound like a large figure at first, but the research shows that these spam calls on business lines negatively affect productivity by impacting employees’ ability to get back into a workflow after being interrupted.
According to recent studies on the effects of digital distraction at the University of California, Irvine, it takes on average 23 minutes and 15 seconds for employees to return to their original task after an interruption. That’s nearly 25 minutes of wasted productivity every time a spam caller hits a business line!
As we explored earlier, robocalls also erode trust—and frankly, they’re just a bummer. When you answer a robocall, you not only lose precious time but are likely to be left feeling frustrated or discouraged. Maybe you were excited to talk with a real, potential customer.
The same holds true for the people you serve. Although today’s consumers are likely to use online channels to research a business, they’re more likely than not to follow up on their Google search using tools like Google Maps or Yelp to call a company they’ve identified. They want to connect with a real person to verify what they’ve seen or read online, or to ask questions, and if they can’t reach you (because you’ve stopped accepting calls from unknown numbers), they’ll feel frustrated or discouraged.
How to stop robocalls
No matter the size of your business, robocalls are a massive drain on you and the people you serve. Thankfully, there are affordable ways to prevent unwanted calls.
Try these tips to decrease and possibly eliminate unwanted spam and scam calls from your life—forever.
- Add your cell phone number to the FTC’s “Do Not Call” Registry. (Note that this won’t end all spam calls, as many are based outside of the FTC’s jurisdiction and use a network of call routing tools.)
- Hang up as soon as you recognize a spam call. The FTC also recommends that you avoid pressing any buttons the “caller” requests.
- When a spam or scam call gets through, consider reporting it to the FTC. The more they know about bad actors the better they can work towards solutions.
- Some phone and Voice over Internet Protocol providers offer their own robocall blocking tools. Reach out to your provider to learn what they have available. These tools are imperfect, but they’re (usually) better than nothing.
- Try using a third-party robocall-blocking app, such as Robo Revenge, Nomorobo, Hiya, or Truecaller.
The most effective way to filter robocalls is to use a virtual receptionist solution like the one provided by Ruby.
Our exclusive filtering feature automatically sends calls likely to be robocalls to voicemail.
Ruby offers some of the most effective and efficient communication tools for busy business owners and professionals. Our Robocall Filtering system uses live network data and advanced AI algorithms to screen most robocalls so you don’t waste a minute on them. Best of all, our users never pay for those calls that were sent to voicemail.