Posts Tagged ‘Reverse Phone Lookup’

The Evolution of Service Objects’ Phone Service

Since 2001, Service Objects has been building and providing data validation services for mid to enterprise level businesses. One of our first data quality products focused on phone numbers and the services we could supply around them, including validation, look-up and reverse look-up services.  Over these 17 years, our data quality products have evolved considerably.  Whether this is in response to changes in technology, legislation, internal desire and (especially) customer needs, our products are much better for it.

We thought it would be fun to take a quick walk down memory lane and see where we started and ultimately how these services have evolved.

Early years…

We got our start with compiled phone data sets.  These lists were compiled by buying and aggregating lists of phone data from third parties. These data sets allowed us to translate phone numbers into exchange info, and return information on the provider and consumer, including; provider or contact name, city, state, zip, and line type.  Obviously, this aggregated list data worked but we found that the data quickly degraded and grew stale.

Once we saw the issues with this static, compiled list approach, we moved into scraping various sites and aggregating fresher data. The scraping helped to supplement the ever-aging compiled data sets. This newer approach provided fresher phone data than straight compiled data but was still prone to errors.

The Landline era…

Having had success early on, we were able to invest in relationships with Telecoms and companies that work with Telecoms. This provided us with accurate and up-to-date information surrounding landlines.  At this point, landline data was common and most businesses were guaranteed to be listed using landlines.  On top of that, a large portion of the residences still owned landlines.  Having data for the two markets allowed us to cover a large majority of the Telecom space. With only landlines to consider, it was simpler to provide a solid landline only service, which we called Geophone.

The move to Mobile and VOIP…

With the wide-spread adoption of cell phones, there has been (and continues today) a significant shift away from landlines for residences to cell phones. The same came be seen with businesses and their adoption of voice-over-IP (VOIP). In both cases, data for these has been more challenging to attain. Early on, mobile device information was very hard to come by and we were required to take a step back data-quality-wise to precompiled sources for some of the alternative phone types.  It was a challenging time for us to provide the most accurate and update contacts around these types of phone numbers. We did our best and with the addition of these new phone types and our Geophone Plus service(GPPL) was born,  built as an extension of the functionality of the original Geophone web service.

Ported numbers…

More recently, porting has also become more common.  Porting telephone numbers simply means maintaining your number across carriers and line types. Mobile carrier to mobile carrier is common but in some cases, even landline to wireless carriers. During this era, the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) was initialized. The threat of harsh TCPA penalties for calling mobile numbers created the need to know, with confidence, who companies were calling and on what phone type. From this need, our Geophone Plus 2 (GPPL2) was born. The data, like carrier info, phone type, subscriber name and ported date made the service highly desirable. Not only for companies looking to adhere to the TCPA regulations but also for business looking to gain competitive advantages in their respective industries.

New challenges…

As technologies progressed, new forms of phone types emerged. Identifying Google numbers, Skype numbers and other portable VOIP providers became more important. These new technologies brought along with them new potential for fraud. Users could easily sign up for VOIP numbers and use them maliciously or fraudulently and then abandon them. In addition, the identification of fax numbers, robo-callers and prepaid phones have become more important. To address this growing need, we upgraded our Phone Exchange product to Phone Exchange 2 (PE2).  It was built upon the existing functionality of our Phone Exchange service and extends the service’s capabilities to address these new Telecom technologies, as well as detecting and validating international numbers

Going forward…

Every day, we strive to add new data sources to enhance our phone and contact data sets and help identify other potential fraud sources. Our commitment is to keep providing these excellent services and features while accurately appending new data points that link names and addresses to their phone numbers. Some of the extended features are currently being worked into the Geophone Plus 3 web service that we will be launching in early spring. This includes features such as demographics information about locations and people, emails, and business information.

In addition, we will continue to respond to our customers’ needs, advances in phone technology and new legislation as it comes down (like the EU’s upcoming GDPR legislation) to help further improve our products.

Service Objects Improves Phone Data by 200%

Service Objects works with multiple data sources to provide the most accurate, complete and up-to-date telephone number services for our clients’ needs.  Our product development team is constantly researching and adding new data sources in our on-going commitment to improving and enriching our services.  Recently, we integrated a large data source that significantly improves our phone and contact validation services, making them broader, deeper and stronger than ever.  This new data improves many areas of our phone products, whether it is our reverse look-up services that return contact data from a telephone number, appending a phone number from contact data or using the new phone data with our composite services like Lead Validation to perform complex comparison validations.  All will ensure that businesses have the tools they need to streamline their data quality initiatives.

With this new data source, contact record append services such as DOTS Geophone and DOTS Geophone Plus now have more contact records than ever before.  DOTS Geophone, which is limited to Landline/VOIP numbers only, gets the largest boost, appending about 50-60% more names and addresses.  DOTS Geophone Plus, which already boasts an industry-leading 80% return on contact names, has increased to over 85%.  Overall, address details for contacts grew from about 50% to 75%. In addition, wireless contact data, both names and addresses, should be significantly more accurate as wireless numbers are the biggest additions to our data sets.  These additional records also increase our address match rates. Users will see a significant rise in ‘High’ quality leads with the new data.  (Our services include a quality rating for each result of High, Medium or Low quality).  Finally, the new data source leads to increased redundancy and better performance, which ultimately results in even greater reliability.

Phone number append services such as DOTS Phone Append will see multiple benefits as well. Users will see that the number of contact numbers has increased by 200% with the new data, with match rates heading toward 80%.  The biggest boosts to the Phone Append service are the ability to return wireless phone numbers and the streamlined calls to the consumer and business data sets. As with the previous services, users will experience improved performance and reliability.

Composite services, such as DOTS Lead Validation, which make use of all the aforementioned services, benefits from the increased match rates and accuracy, further empowering the comparison algorithms and providing more accurate lead validation and lead quality scoring results.  These results will lead to more informed decision-making, as lead scores will more clearly move both farther up and down the quality scale, resulting in fewer leads being tagged for “Review”.

Service Objects is excited to share these new services with both existing and new clients.  If you have any questions or would like a demo of any of the products mentioned, please feel free to contact us.

 

Will Omnichannel Someday Die Out Because of Big Data?

You probably know what omnichannel means, but a quick definition is always helpful. It refers to the various touch points by which a business/organization can reach a customer. The idea — and the ideal — is to get the offer in front of them at the time they’re most likely to be interested. Typically in the modern business ecosystem, omnichannel refers to:

  • Website
  • Brick and mortar locations
  • Social media
  • Other digital efforts
  • How you come across on mobile
  • Face-to-face interactions between customers and employees

There is more you could group under omnichannel, but that’s a good start. Unfortunately, in a few years from now, we may need a different approach entirely.

Why?

OMNICHANNEL AND THE RAPID SCALE OF BIG DATA 

Consider this: in 2020, it’s possible 1.7 megabytes of new data will be created for every person on the planet every second. If you do the full math on that, the total volume of data globally in 2020 might be around 44 zettabytes. A zettabyte is a trillion gigabytes. This is somewhat because of “The Internet of Things” — connected devices and sensors — which should have an economic value of $3 trillion by 2025. Internet of Things tech alone will be 3-6 zettabytes of that total.

Now we know the rapid scale of Big Data. It’s actually arriving in daily life maybe faster than even mobile did. What are the repercussions?

THE REPERCUSSIONS FOR OMNICHANNEL

As noted in this post on Information Age:

Companies hoped “omnichannel experiences” would enable them to anticipate customers’ needs to provide them with a personalised response, which meets or even exceeds their expectations. And this effort is based on the company’s ability to mobilise the necessary data to deliver.

But what happened?

Today, these same companies struggle to draw together all the information required to give them a unified view and appreciation of their customers’ needs. The result is a mixed bag of omnichannel initiatives, many of which result in failures. In the retail sector, for example, only 18% of retailers claim to have an engagement strategy, which covers all channels.

The sheer math looks like this: 44 zettabytes of generated data in 2020 is 10 times — yes, ten times — what we are generating now, three years earlier. Companies are already struggling to manage data properly towards better customer experience. What will happen when 10 times the data is available in 33 months or so?

WHAT’S THE FUTURE LOOK LIKE FOR OMNICHANNEL AND CX?

This is obviously hard to predict. In times of great complexity, though, sometimes sticking to the basics — i.e. The Five Customer Experience Competencies — isn’t a bad idea. A strong base almost always beats an all-over-the-place strategy.

In my mind, this is what needs to happen:

  • Companies need a good handle on what really drives their business now and what could drive it in the future.
  • This involves products/services but also types of customer and platform they use.
  • Once that picture is mostly clear, senior leaders need to be on the same page about the importance of customer-driven growth.
  • “Being on the same page” also involves, ideally, vocabulary and incentive structures.
  • If the customer-driven plan/platforms and senior leadership alignment are there, now you need to make sure the work is prioritized.
  • No one should be running around on low-value tasks when great opportunity is right there.
  • Kill a stupid rule, etc. Basically move as many people as possible to higher-value work, especially if lower-value work can be more easily automated.
  • It’s all been important so far, but let’s bold this: You don’t need to collect all the data. You need data that relates to your priorities and growth. 
  • That data should be analyzed and condensed for executives. You may need “data translators,” yes.
  • Decision-making should come from relevant information and customer interactions.

This flow is hard to arrive at for some companies, but essential.

Phrased another way: trying to be “omnichannel” in five years and looking at an Excel with trillions of touch points/data on it? That will just burn out employees and managers alike. You need a prioritized, aligned plan focused on customer-driven growth and well-articulated goals. That will get you there post-omnichannel.

Reprinted from LinkedIn with permission from the author. View original post here.

Author’s Bio: Jeanne Bliss, Founder & CEO, CustomerBliss

Jeanne Bliss pioneered the role of the Chief Customer Officer, holding the first-ever CCO role at Lands’ End, Microsoft, Coldwell Banker and Allstate Corporations. Reporting to each company’s CEO, she moved the customer to the strategic agenda, redirecting priorities to create transformational changes to each brands’ customer experience. Her latest book, “Chief Customer Officer 2.0” (Wiley) was published on June 15, 2015.

Phone, Mail, or Email Marketing? The Pros and Cons

There has always been one eternal question in marketing: what is the shortest path between you and your next paying customer?

We already know the right answer to this question: “It depends.” But a better answer is that effective marketing is very context-dependent. So let’s look at the pros and cons of three of today’s key marketing approaches – phone, mail and email marketing.

Telemarketing has practically been with us ever since Alexander Graham Bell first solicited his assistant Watson from the next room in 1876. Its key advantage is that it is the only one of these three approaches that builds an interactive personal connection with a prospect – one that allows you to qualify him or her, ask questions, and respond to their needs. Big-ticket products and services, particularly in a business-to-business environment, are often sold as the result of a sales process that begins with a phone contact. Conversely, large scale telemarketing often is a key ingredient of selling consumer products and services in large volumes.

Telemarketing also has numerous drawbacks. It is labor-intensive, time-bound, and requires a good telecommunications infrastructure when used on more than a small scale. Perhaps most importantly, it requires the right business context. If you are selling an airliner or high-end financial services, those prospects may expect an initial phone call, while carpet-bombing consumers with telephone sales pitches at dinnertime may provoke mostly negative responses. Moreover, unsolicited calls to consumer wireless phones can lead to large fines under the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA).

Direct mail marketing gives businesses an opportunity they do not have with phone or email: the chance to deliver content-rich information in print or even multimedia form. (For example, anyone who belongs to Generation X or older remembers those ubiquitous AOL CDs that were a fixture of the 1990s.) Anyone with a valid mailing address is a potential prospect, it is a medium that lends itself well to A-B testing as well as demographic targeting, and there are few if any regulatory roadblocks to targeting consumers with a direct mail campaign.

Drawbacks of direct mail include its expense per prospect, in terms of time, content costs, and mailing costs. This is particularly a disadvantage for smaller businesses, given the economies of scale that reduce per-unit printing and mailing costs for those who can afford very large campaigns. Response rates are generally low and can vary widely, and the accuracy of your contact data is a critical factor in your costs and profitability.

Email marketing is, relatively speaking, the new kid on the block – even though it now has its own decades-long track record. It has one towering advantage over the other two approaches: a much lower cost per contact that only minimally scales with the size of your prospect base, once you have a list that opts in. Email also gives you the opportunity to include rich media content, or make “warm call” introductions to individual prospects as a precursor to telephone contact.

Disadvantages of email include being the easiest mode of contact for people to ignore – particularly as the inbox sizes of busy people continue to expand – as well as the need to have accurate contact information from people who have opted in to hear from you, to avoid consequences for spamming from your internet services provider.

A common thread through each of these marketing approaches is data quality. Inaccurate, incomplete or outdated contact information will cost you in time and marketing expenditure at the very least, and in the worst cases could subject your business to substantial penalties. And in a world where up to 25% of your contact data is bad, and up to 70% goes out of date each year, a data quality strategy is absolutely necessary for effective marketing.

The best marketing strategy? As we said earlier, it depends. But with the right approach to data quality, you can get the maximum ROI from any approach that fits your business.

Mother’s Day 2017 – Estimated Spending to Reach $23.6 Billion

While Mother’s Day is all about the Moms in our lives, it’s an even bigger day for retailers. This year the National Retail Federation estimates Mother’s Day spending to reach an all-time high of $23.6 billion; roughly $10 billion higher than 2010. The traditional gifts of jewelry and flowers, along with personal services are predicted to contribute the most to this increase. Needless to say, with Mother’s Day only a few days away, businesses are experiencing a busy week, especially in ecommerce.

According to the National Retail Federation’s annual survey, conducted by Prosper Insights & Analytics, 30% of Mother’s Day shopping is to be done online this year. Most ecommerce sites have already experienced an influx of orders over the last few weeks. With an even bigger rush coming in now from typical procrastinators (like myself) who will take advantage of two-day delivery from retailers like Amazon. Online shopping has become even more convenient with the addition of mobile shopping. With thousands of easy to use mobile apps offering gift cards for anything from dinner to spa treatments, redeemable right on the recipient’s mobile device, digital sellers have definitely made Mother’s Day purchases easier than ever…even for the most ardent procrastinators.

Unknown to most, data quality solutions are quietly working behind the scenes contributing to a smooth and happy Mother’s Day for businesses and celebrants alike. Data quality solutions have made processing increased online holiday orders, restaurant reservations, and mobile app purchases more efficient and safer than ever. By leveraging tools like our Address, Phone and Email Validation services, our clients ensure that their customer contact information is complete and accurate while also identifying malicious fraud before transactions are completed. Our data quality tools give businesses more time to focus on providing memorable experiences for their customers and achieving their revenue goals on the busiest of holidays, including Mother’s Day.

Whether our clients are experiencing or still preparing for a busy Mother’s Day, our data quality solutions will be running smoothly in the background for them the entire time. If your business needs any assistance now or before the next major holiday contact us.

Cold Calling in an Election Year

This election year has already had its share of surprises and upsets, and it’s just getting started. Political parties and individual campaigns alike are scrambling to reach out to as many members of the community as possible. Networks of volunteers are cold calling voters while robocalling systems are dialing numbers at an astounding rate. One metric given by an unnamed party estimates the number of calls to be around 50,000 per day within one party’s headquarters alone.

That’s a lot of calls being made. Imagine 50,000 calls per day until November 8th. That’s roughly 12 million phone calls, and that estimate is for just one political party.

As a phone validation expert, we question how these massive lists have been prescreened to ensure compliance on a number of issues.

For example, robocalling systems are prohibited from dialing wireless phone numbers. With most phone numbers being ported from landline to mobile, this leaves a much more condensed pool of potential voters to be accessible — at a time when political parties and campaigns are under serious pressure to get out the vote. By current estimates, the total available landline numbers in the United States has shrunk from 175 million to roughly 65 million active phone numbers.

Many wireless numbers are unidentifiable by contact name — even with Caller ID — unless that number has previously registered by an opt-in site. In order to comply with the Telephone Consumer Protection Act of 1991, political telemarketers need to perform some sort of phone validation on their massive lists in order to track local number portability and identify wireless and VoIP phone numbers.

Compiling a massive list in such a short time would require access to lists which may contain numbers that have since been ported or disconnected. Thus, campaigns and their robodialers may be dialing numbers that they believe are landlines, yet are really mobile phones. They may also be wasting valuable time and resources dialing disconnected numbers. Phone validation software both identifies wireless and VoIP numbers and scrubs lists for disconnected numbers.

As the race to gain key electoral votes continues, many parties are feeling the pressure to ramp up efforts to swing votes in their favor. This sense of urgency is likely enticing political organizations to seek fresh contact leads, and knowing whether it is legal to contact someone thanks to real-time phone validation would be of utmost value. Compliance is essential, and easy to accomplish with our real-time phone validation API which instantly identifies whether a phone number belongs to a landline or wireless phone.

The Cost of Do Not Call Defiance: Dish Facing $24 Billion in Fines

Dish Network Corp., a company with a market capitalization of about $22 billion as of last month, could be fined $24 billion for making illegal telemarketing calls in violation of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act.

According to the Denver Post, U.S. District Judge Sue Myerscough has already determined that Dish and its contractors made at least 55 million illegal calls using recorded messages or to consumers on the Do Not Call Registry.

Now that the judgment has been made, Judge Myerscough must determine how much Dish will have to pay in fines. There are several stakeholders pushing for hefty fines including:

  • The Department of Justice is seeking $900 million
  • Ohio, Illinois, NorthCarolina, and California are pushing for fines in excess of $23 billion

These calls took place nearly ten years ago, and Dish has already been held accountable for these violations in most states. Dish settled claims of unfair and deceptive sales practices in violation of the Do Not Call Registry with 46 states in 2009, agreeing to pay nearly $6 million. Ohio, Illinois, North Carolina, and California filed their own claims, which are part of the current trial.

Consequences Beyond DOJ and State Penalties

As if $24 billion in potential fines weren’t devastating enough, Dish is already taking a serious hit on Wall Street. Dish opened the year at $56.11 on January 4th. As of February 10th, its stock had fallen to $39.71.

According to The Motley Fool, Dish isn’t really arguing its innocence during this trial, but rather balking at the excessive nature of the fines. In a motion filed with the U.S. District Court, Dish proclaimed that the proposed penalties are “a shocking amount far in excess of any penalties that the federal government has sought or obtained from any other entity for telemarketing violations, and for which the United States provides no factual support.

The Motley Fool suggests that Dish will ultimately settle somewhere in the low millions range. However, it also expects that Dish’s stock will continue to suffer until the case is resolved.

What You Can Learn From Dish Network’s Do Not Call Violations

Penalties for violating the Telephone Consumers Protect Act can add up quickly — and wipe your company out. Compliance is essential, and it doesn’t need to be overly difficult or expensive.

Worried your company could face similar fines? Check out Service Objects’ Phone Validation APIs. Our real-time phone number validation APIs can quickly identify wireless numbers, which you definitely want to avoid calling, as well as mismatches between a phone number’s account holder and the phone record you have on file. Make sure you know exactly who you’re calling and whether or not doing so is a risk.

Data Validation In Real Estate

The Real Estate Industry Can Gain a Competitive Edge with Data Validation

Data-based marketing, outreach and lead generation isn’t only for cutting-edge B2B companies anymore. Data runs the world these days and successful businesses in every industry can benefit from using verified, validated data in smart ways.
Working with generic data isn’t enough, either. It can be inaccurate and out of date, making it as useful as no data at all—worse, even, if you’re relying on this information. That’s why smart real estate organizations—from large firms to independent agents—are investing in data validation services.

Data validation verifies that the information you’re working from, whether about a specific lead or regional demographics, is accurate and up to date. Validation can be as simple as verifying correct names, phone numbers and current addresses, or can be as nuanced as geo-targeting, IP address validation and reverse phone lookup discovery. No matter the level of data verification, the results are the same: correct information can help you make better-informed decisions and accurately target your audience.

Clever and industrious people in the real estate industry can benefit from just about every type of data validation; it’s all about keeping an eye on trends and getting the right message to the right people at the right time.

Address Validation

This is simple but crucial for real estate agents, who still spend a considerable amount on direct mail marketing. Getting a personalized mailer in the hands of the right person is important. RealTrends found that targeted direct mail pieces had a 2-5 percent response rate, versus the 1 percent rate when real estate agents mailed the piece to everyone without specific targeting.

Address Validation before a direct mail send can help ensure that you have the resident’s correct name (“Current Resident” makes the piece seem extra promotional and impersonal), the correct gender salutation, and helps make sure that the target actually lives at that address.

Or Current Resident Edit
Image via Evil Mad Scientist

Using a data validation service that has access to the USPS National Change-of-Address database can help further refine outreach. If a new family just moved into the address you’re targeting, they’re probably not looking to move again soon, so strike that address off the list for now.

Taking address validation a step further with geocoding validation can help real estate agents get a jump on hot trends and growing neighborhoods. Cross check a list of addresses against a trending neighborhood’s longitude and latitude to make sure the addresses you have really are in the hot spot. People currently in this neighborhood might want to capitalize on the new demand and sell their home at a profit, making them prime contacts for savvy real estate agents. Extend your validation and outreach efforts to the surrounding neighborhoods to get a leg up on the competition.

Reverse Phone Look-Up

Reverse Phone Look-up enables companies to put a name and current address to a phone number. This is particularly useful since many people now move but keep their original cell phone number. This trend makes phone numbers alone a hard way to target people, especially with the declining use of landlines. According to Time, 41 percent of homes were landline-free as of 2014 and 60 percent of adults ages 30-34 exclusively use a mobile phone. With the average age of first-time home buyers currently sitting at 31 and expected to climb to 32-34 in the coming years, this makes reverse look-up validation an invaluable resource for real estate agents.

This type of validation will tell you if the people on your list of phone numbers truly do live in your territory. Plus, it will give you their most current address and name. National real estate companies can use this validated data to send location-specific messaging to everyone on their list, based on the person’s current location.

Demographic Validation

A core premise of marketing, no matter what industry, is “know your audience.” Demographic data validation can help real estate agents get an accurate and intimate understanding of the areas they work in. Gut instincts are essentially gambles, whereas using validated data ensures you have reasonably accurate and updated information. By working with US census validated demographic data, real estate agents can change and target their messages based on location.

  • Spanish-language ads can be placed in predominately Hispanic neighborhoods
  • First-time homebuyer messaging can be sent to areas with a high concentration of young adults reaching the pivotal first-time homebuyer age
  • Direct mail pieces discussing downsizing can be targeted to areas with mostly older adults
  • Target small business owners in the area about property opportunities in the up and coming business district

SuburbsUnderstanding the population make-up of a particular area can also help influence how you market properties. Areas that are mainly suburban are likely to connect more with family-oriented messages while urban areas probably want to hear more about high-end home features and nearby amenities. By using a combination of demographic validation and geocoding validation, agents can perfectly target each area.

This level of data also provides insight into the average income and spending of nearby households, which is helpful when pricing houses and projecting commissions.

Competitive Edge

Many real estate agents work independently and cannot afford to waste time, resources, and money on misguided marketing and outreach efforts. This is where a commitment to clean data and consistent data validation can provide a competitive advantage. Committing to using validated data as a key business tool can help real estate firms accurately focus efforts and spend smartly with better response rates.

Data can be intimidating, but with good data validation the return on investment is well worth it. Look into the different features and options offered to begin cleaning up your data and deciding which level of data-based targeting will work best for you. Go beyond just address validation and get creative if you want to pull ahead of the pack.

Time Warner Cable Has A Huge Fine To Pay – Avoid Paying The Same One

In early July, a federal judge held Time Warner Cable accountable to the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA). The judge penalized Time Warner Cable a whopping $229,500 for placing 153 robocalls to a wrong number — a cellphone belonging to Araceli King. King repeatedly notified Time Warner Cable of the error, but the calls continued, forcing King to file a lawsuit to stop the harassing phone calls meant for someone else. Even then, the company continued to call King — 74 times after the lawsuit was filed.

As smart as autodialers are, they rely on human input at some point. In the case of King versus Time Warner Cable, it appears that no one bothered to tell the autodialer to stop dialing this number. Thus, while the company knew about the lawsuit, the number wasn’t purged from the autodialer. This problem could have been avoided with phone validation software.

What You Can Learn from Time Warner Cable’s Mistake

Violating the TCPA can be costly. Time Warner was fined $1500 per call for a total of $229,500. Few businesses can afford to throw that kind of money away.

Violating the TCPA can harm your reputation and relationships with consumers. Though the initial call to King may have been an honest mistake (Time Warner Cable’s original customer was the previous owner of King’s phone number), each subsequent call became an annoyance, then a harassment. King herself, as well as friends and family, may never become customers of the company again. The negative press surrounding the lawsuit certainly didn’t help, either.  

Using phone validation can help you to avoid calling the wrong people.

Phone validation software can quickly validate a phone number to determine if it belongs to the person you believe you are calling. Our phone validation API compares a given number to a database containing current, accurate contact information for more than 400 million US and Canadian records. It returns key information including the phone number’s contact name. Had Time Warner Cable validated the phone number, it would have discovered a mismatch between its customer’s name and the phone number’s new owner. Thus, the autodialer could have immediately rejected the number, saving the consumer frustration and saving the company over $200,000. 

Using phone validation can also help you to avoid calling cell phone numbers.

Phone validation software can also identify the line type of any given phone number. This is important because recent updates to the TCPA forbid using an autodialer to call a wireless phone without prior express consent.

If you use an autodialer to place phone calls without validating phone numbers in real time, you’re at risk of running afoul of the TCPA. People change phone numbers frequently, so even a previously valid phone number can become invalid overnight. Mitigate the risk and ensure that you’re calling who you believe you are calling by using phone validation in real-time.

Cutting the Cord… But is the Cord Really Cut?

The great migration from traditional landline continues. After all, nearly everyone has a cell phone, and many families have multiple cell phones. In addition to competition from wireless phones, the traditional landline also faces competition from VoIP services such as Vonage and Skype. Meanwhile, cable companies now bundle phone service into their television and Internet packages. With numerous alternatives available, the cord cutting trend appears to be stronger than ever… but is the cord really cut?

Not everyone is cutting the cord on their landline. Some have migrated their existing landline phone numbers to alternate platforms. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention regularly tracks US phone use. While this data and other research documents the migration away from traditional landlines, other telephone validation insights suggest that the trend may have reached its peak.

For example, in the last 10 years we have found:

reverse-phone-lookup-stat

Not everyone migrated: 35 percent of traditional landlines have been disconnected. There are a number of reasons why subscribers might disconnect phone service including moving to a new location, death, or even a preference to simply be left alone. According to the CDC, about 3 percent of homes do not have any phone service whatsoever.

cutting-cord-statistic-3

Business and homes move to cable providers: 17.6 percent now use cable carriers such as COX, Comcast, and Charter for their phone service. Cable providers regularly offer bundled packages that include high-speed Internet, cable television, and phone service — often with unlimited nationwide long distance and other advanced calling features.

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About 6 percent of numbers have been ported to VOIP services like Vonage, Skype, and Google Talk: VoIP services route calls over the Internet and are generally offered at lower prices than traditional landline services. VoIP plans often include either nationwide or international long distance, making them particularly attractive to those with geographically dispersed family members or businesses with large long-distance bills. 

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Cutting the cord but keeping the number: Nearly 5 percent of landline numbers now directly ring to cellphones. So, while they cut the cord per se, these users have kept their original phone numbers. Local number portability rules went into effect in late 2003, helping to make this an option. The customer of record for a landline or mobile phone number has the ability to reassign the number to a different carrier. Thus, if you want to keep your landline number but cut the cord, you can port that number over to a cellphone.

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No change here: About 37 percent of landline owners have kept their landlines with the original provider. That’s a hefty percentage, comparable to the number of disconnections. When looked at this way, you’ve got just over a third who have kept their landline, roughly a third who have disconnected (maybe they died or moved away?), and about a third who have officially chosen an alternative such as a cable carrier’s phone service, VoIP, or wireless. It makes you wonder, is the cord really cut?

From mobile phones, VoIP, and bundled cable phone services to plain old telephone landline service, today’s telephone subscribers have more ways than ever to connect — with or without the cord. Due to telephone number portability issues identifying phone service types is critical for establishing trust and for complying with federal laws.

Service Objects has several reverse phone lookup products that can determine a phone number’s service type (landline, VoIP or wireless) with near perfect accuracy. Contact us for details.

Or start a free trial today!

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Why Does a VoIP Line Show My Old Address?

The good old days: You’d move, get a new phone number, and your utility records would show your correct address. Though it wasn’t necessarily ideal, address accuracy pretty much took care of itself. Today, we have VoIP and telephone number portability. Modern and convenient they may be, however, address changes no longer take care of themselves. For example, it’s not unusual to perform a reverse phone lookup and find an old address. Why is that?

voip-reverse-phone-lookupThe problem has a lot to do with how Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) phone numbers work compared to traditional land lines. Rather than being physically installed at an address, VoIP phone numbers are virtual and routed over the Internet. As such, you can make and receive VoIP phone calls at your home, your office, or even a hotel room when traveling. When you move, simply plug in your VoIP device at the new home and you’re good to go.

Say that’s all you do. Now perform a reverse phone lookup. Your VoIP line still shows your old address. Here’s the short answer: You forgot to tell your service provider that you have a new physical address.

Since your VoIP line is not anchored to a single address or physical location, the phone service provider doesn’t automatically have a means of knowing the correct address. Most VoIP providers rely on their users to update their location information. 

This information isn’t just important for the sake of accurate reverse phone lookup data. It’s vital in terms of VoIP 911 service. After all, if your reverse phone lookup information shows your old address, emergency responders will be routed to your old address. 

According to the FCC’s Consumer Guide: 

“…VoIP customers may need to provide location or other information to their VoIP providers, and update this information if they change locations, for their VoIP 911 service to function properly…”

The FCC requires each service provider to obtain the customer’s physical location before activating new service so that emergency responders have an accurate initial address for 911 calls. However, changes of addresses remain largely the customer’s responsibility. The FCC requires service providers to “provide one or more easy ways for their customers to update the physical location they have registered with the provider, if it changes.”

Changing your physical address with most VoIP providers is usually a simple matter. If you’ve noticed that a reverse phone lookup has the wrong address, take matters into your own hands by updating your current address with your VoIP service provider.

Because the onus is on customers to update their addresses when they move, VoIP lines are often considered unreliable when it comes to identifying where a caller is located. This leads to complications in Emergency Response Services and can sometimes be exploited by prisoners on parole, but those are topics for another time.

To learn more about Service Objects’ reverse phone lookup service for VoIP, wireless, landline VoIP and toll-free telephone numbers, click here!

Or start a free trial today! 

reverse-phone-lookup-trial

Can You Afford a $75 Million Telephone Consumer Protection Act Mistake?

The Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) of 1991 TCPAlimits the telemarketing industry and its use of automated telephone systems. Among its many restrictions, telemarketers are prohibited from using automated dialers to call cell phones (or other phone services where the recipient is charged for the call) without consent. In August 2014, Capital One and three debt collections agencies (Leading Edge Recovery Solutions LLC, AllianceOne Receivables Management LLC, and Capital Management Services L.P.) agreed to settle a class action lawsuit alleging that these companies violated the TCPA by using autodialers to call cell phones without consent.

Over 21 million distinct cellular phone numbers were allegedly autodialed. While the plaintiffs claimed that these calls were in violation of the TCPA, Capital One argued that the automated calls were allowed for in its customer agreements.

According to Telephone Marketers Beware! Market to Wireless Numbers and Face Fines, a Service Objects whitepaper, companies bear the burden of proof when consent disputes occur. The company (or advertiser) “must prove that it provided a clear and conspicuous disclosure and that the consumer unambiguously consented to receive these telemarketing messages to the number the consumer specifically provided.”

Multiple mediation and negotiation sessions later, Capital One and the three collections agencies agreed to settle the matter — to the tune of $75.5 million. Capital One has agreed to pay about $73 million into a settlement fund with the three debt collections agencies kicking in a little over $2.4 million combined. Each class member with a valid claim is expected to receive between $20 and $40. Up to 30 percent of the settlement fund is allocated for attorneys fees and other costs.

Note that this is the largest TCPA settlement on record, and it is more than twice the amount of the prior record of $32 million from Bank of America.

According to an article by Marc Roth and Becca J. Wahlquist from Manatt, Phelps & Phillips LLP, the anticipated payment of $20 to $30 per class member is nowhere near the typical $500-per-call TCPA penalty often sought. The parties indicated that the “core relief” of the settlement is Capital One’s agreement to change its business practices. As part of the settlement, Capital One has modified its autodialers to prevent dialing cell phones unless it has prior express consent from the recipient.

An article about the settlement published in The National Law Review noted that Capital One’s TCPA settlement involved informational calls, which are not subject to the heightened “prior express written consent” requirements.

Consumers who received an autodialed credit card debt collection call on their cell phones placed by Capital One (from January 18, 2008 through June 30, 2014) or one of the other three defendants (from February 28, 2009 through June 30, 2014) have until November 26, 2014 to file a claim.

The Telephone Consumer Protection Act affects telemarketers, call centers, and any business that reaches out to consumers and prospects over the phone. It is a complex, ever-evolving act with hefty penalties for non-compliance. Recent changes to the TCPA impose new burdens on businesses, one of which involves the ability to identify wireless numbers to avoid inadvertently placing an autodialed call to a cell phone. Avoid hefty fines by being aware of, and complying with, the laws that affect your industry. If you use a call center or any form of automated telecommunications equipment, make sure to read our Telemarketers Beware! whitepaper on recent updates to the TCPA.

4 Benefits to Customer Outreach Through SMS

As a consumer, what do you consider to be the easiest, fastest, and most convenient way to have a message delivered to you? Postal mail is slow and costly; phone calls can be quick and simple, but are not always convenient; email is instantaneous and more accessible now with smart phones, but only about 26% of all emails are ever opened.

Today, text messaging is a dominant form of communication, with 6.3 billion messages sent per day in the US alone. Considering that more than 99% of all text messages are opened, this could be an extremely effective way for your organization to communicate with its audience. Keep in mind that the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA), detailed in our whitepaper, requires businesses to obtain prior written consent before contacting consumers on their wireless devices.

Is it worth it to ask permission of your customers to send them text messages regarding your business offerings and updates? With customers’ prior authorization, businesses of all industries can email through the SMS gateway to deliver their message as a text message 90% of which are opened within 3 minutes of delivery. A reverse phone lookup API can easily provide the corresponding SMS addresses for approved wireless phone numbers, to which you can send a short email to arrive as a text. This allows for mass communication that is brief, immediate, and direct, making it a powerful way to grab users’ attention.

Consider these 4 cases in which authorization to communicate via the SMS gateway would be extremely beneficial:

    1. Make spur-of-the-moment offers to your customers.
      As exemplified in the figures mentioned above, a much higher percentage of text messages are opened and read as opposed to emails. If you want to promote a limited time offer, emailing through the SMS gateway is a cost-effective way to spread the message, and is more likely to generate returns.
    2. Reminder services help save both the business’ and the customer’s time.
      When consumers make appointments or order deliveries, many may appreciate the option to receive SMS reminders as the appointment or delivery time approaches. The urgent and direct nature of a text message makes it a fitting reminder service, and is bound to decrease the number of missed appointments, postponed meetings, and undelivered packages.
    3. Notify your users of emergencies or warnings.
      Many organizations can make use of emergency communications with text messages. At the University of California, Santa Barbara, many students and faculty opt in to the UCSB Alert Notification System. The system immediately alerts participating community members, via text message, of any crime or suspicious activity on campus and in the vicinity, spreading awareness and helping safety and security efforts. In another instance, if you are putting on an event and the parking lot becomes full, a text message may be the best way to notify attendees and direct them to another parking area.
    4. Save paper with digital receipts.
      Emailed receipts are becoming more commonplace, but depending on the business and commodity, texting customers their receipt through a messaging service or the SMS gateway could be another option for digital receipt delivery. With the proper technology, businesses using digital receipts save paper and ink.

As with postal mail and email, choose wisely and sparingly when communicating through the SMS gateway so as to avoid having your messages classified as junk mail or spam. Emailing to a large amount of recipients’ cell phones is an easy way to market to your audience, enhance customer relationships, and even increase business efficiencies. DOTS GeoPhone Plus 2 is a reverse phone lookup service that appends SMS addresses (along with more contact information) to your database of customer cell phone numbers. Don’t forget about the TCPA, and make sure to acquire permission from your customers before reaching out to them on their cell phones. You can then email to the approved SMS addresses in your database, achieving massive reach and immediate contact.

Reverse Phone Lookup: Token-Based Pricing Helps You Keep Your “Pot of Gold”

What do St. Patrick’s Day and a reverse phone lookup service have in common?

If the reverse phone lookup service is GeoPhone Plus from Service Objects, the answer is: a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. Pot of Gold

An advanced reverse phone lookup service, like GeoPhone Plus, gives you the ability to identify detailed contact information for landlines, VOIP, wireless and toll-free numbers for both residences and businesses – all from a supplied phone number.

This is a great solution but where GeoPhone also excels is its pricing model.

In standard pricing models, you would pay the same “per transaction” fee for each reverse phone lookup attempt, regardless of whether or not detailed contact data exists for that phone number. But all phone numbers and the data available are not created equally. With “token-based” pricing, you pay only when a successful match is made for the phone number. The amount of tokens charged per transaction depends on the level of detail and the quality of contact data available for that phone number.

For example:
A major grocery retailer is using GeoPhone Plus to perform reverse phone lookup on phone numbers provided by their customers. They use the detailed contact data (name, address, etc) to have a better idea of where their customers are coming from to help make decisions about targeted marketing efforts and potential locations for future stores. Each time their software service requests information on a specific phone number, GeoPhone Plus hits multiple data sources to find detailed contact information for that phone number. GeoPhone Plus returns contact information on all types of phone numbers such as landlines, VOIP, wireless and toll-free. The type and level of contact data available varies depending on the type of phone number.

In standard pricing models, you would pay the same “per transaction” fee for each reverse phone lookup attempt, regardless of whether or not detailed contact data exists for that phone number. But all phone numbers and the data available are not created equally. With “token-based” pricing, you pay only when a successful match is made for the phone number. The amount of tokens charged per transaction depends on the level of detail and the quality of contact data available for that phone number.

Contact us for more information on GeoPhone Plus and token-based pricing.

Businesses Gain Marketing and Customer Insight by Appending Contact Info to Phone Numbers

You can learn a lot from a phone number. On my home phone, my caller ID let’s me know who is calling: my Best Friend or the National Survey Calling Center? With this info, I can make a split-second decision on what to do. To answer or not to answer.

For businesses, the customer’s phone number offers a different sort of intelligence. And I am not talking about your mom’s caller ID. Reverse Phone Lookup Services like DOTS GeoPhone Plus offer businesses critical data regarding customers and prospective customers. With a service like this, a phone number can provide a business with the following information:

– Residence or Business
– Residential Contact or Business Name
– Associated Address
– Telephone Provider Info (Carrier, City, State and Latitude and Longitude)
– Line type (wireless, landline, VOIP or toll free)

So what can a business do with this data? Here are just a few examples of how some of our customers are using this information:

Online Retailer

Use phone number and appended information to track potentially fraudulent transactions by comparing the appended information with the user-entered address information.

Phone/Mail Order Catalog Call Center
Auto-populating CRM and Contact Center databases: Auto-populating customer contact data reduces the chance of human error and typos while increasing the efficiencies of call center operators.

Laser Eye Surgery Center
Analyzing address and location data to determine future marketing and media spend. Having this detailed information about callers allows marketers to know where their customers and prospects are coming from to determine where to put their money for direct marketing campaigns, tv, etc.

National Grocery Chain
By collecting customer phone numbers at Check-Out, national grocery chains gain valuable insight on a store-by-store basis regarding where their customers are coming from. This helps to inform decisions about future store locations as well as targeted marketing campaigns.

How would having this level of contact information improve your business operations?

Phone Validation Made Simple

Businesses know Phone Validation makes business sense, but how do you use it to your best advantage?

There are several things to consider when trying to validate a telephone number, and in this blog we have broken down the process for you step-by-step. There are many ways to validate a telephone number, and many variables within the number to validate:

  1. Is the telephone number valid?
  2. Is the telephone number a landline, wireless, or VoIP?
  3. Is the telephone number disconnected or not valid (e.g. area code 999 does not exist)?

Service Objects offers the following telephone validation options:

DOTS Phone Append

  • A multi-database Web service designed to provide the most accurate lookup of landline telephone numbers available
  • Updated daily
  • 72% match rate for consumers, 63% match rate for businesses
  • Coverage for the US and Canada

PhoneAppend Diagram

DOTS Phone Exchange

  • Point-of-entry validation
  • Instantly recognizes if a telephone number is valid and acceptable by verifying the first seven digits of the number
  • Returns line type (landline, wireless, or VoIP)
  • Telephone data compiled from over 2,600 US and Canadian telephone service providers
  • Returns telephone service provider information (carrier, city, state, latitude, longitude)

Phone-Exchange Diagram

DOTS GeoPhone

  • Reverse-lookup of residential, business, and government telephone numbers
  • Comprised of daily feeds from over 2,600 telephone companies across the US, Canada, and Puerto Rico
  • Over 190 million telephone listings
  • Dynamic access to a variety of public, private, and proprietary telephone data
  • Determines contact name and address
  • Determines telephone type (business or residential)
  • Determines line type (landline, wireless, or VoIP)

DOTS GeoPhone

DOTS GeoPhone Plus

  • Combines 3 of our powerful DOTS telephone validation services (DOTS GeoPhone, DOTS GeoPhone Wireless, and DOTS Phone Append)
  • Compares a 10-digit telephone number to our database powerhouse of over 300 million records
  • Determines contact name and address
  • Determines telephone type (business, residential, Government)
  • Determines line type (landline, wireless, VoIP, or toll free)
  • Returns telephone service provider information (carrier, city, state, latitude, longitude)

DOTS GeoPhone PlusI hope that I have helped in answering your telephone validation questions.

Thanks,

Ryan M.

What’s New at Service Objects?

The development team here at Service Objects is always hard at work supporting, enhancing, and building new Web services. For this blog, I wanted to take a few minutes to talk to you about two new and enhanced Web services, that we will be releasing in the near future!

DOTS GeoPhone Plus is a new composite service that builds on upon a few of our current Web services, DOTS Phone Exchange, DOTS GeoPhone, and DOTS GeoPhone Wireless.DOTS GeoPhone Plus rolls all of these services into a one-stop shop for telephone number information and validation.

In the past, clients may have purchased up to all three of the previous telephone Web services in order to efficiently access the full range of telephone number information and contact data.Now, clients can access all of same the data with just one transaction of DOTS GeoPhone Plus.

Another new service we are rolling out is DOTS Demographics Plus.In addition to the normal zip code level information returned by the older service, DOTS Demographics, new low level information is also returned.Instead of a zip code, an address is now used as the Web service input. The returned output fields provide resolution down to the block level (about 50 people).Data available at this level includes age, income, and race distributions.

These new services will be available soon and we have many new interesting Web services in the works as well.

Stay tuned!

Jonas S.