The Five Rs of the Customer Experience
Protecting Digital Identity, Preventing Fraud & Robocalls

By: Michael O'Brien

The rapid acceleration of digital transformation and automated support has shaken up businesses in a really good way — from improving efficiencies to streamlining the customer experience. In this around-the-clock era, when consumers want access at any moment, enterprises are embracing new technologies, communication channels and methods to connect with them, and they’re delivering big time. Consumers, however, are being besieged by an onslaught of nefarious trickery on the part of fraudsters and spammers. Determined to violate the sanctity of digital identity, fraudsters incessantly attempt to breach the barriers of bank accounts, harvesting sensitive, personal information and becoming part of a community of digital imposters wreaking havoc for personal gain.

Among the most notorious tactics employed by this global cartel of bad actors are illegal robocalls, which emerge as a persistent annoyance, proving to be at best an inconvenience, and at worst a medium for malicious actions. Either way, the money pilfered from scammers is widely assumed to be linked to activities ranging from money laundering and financing wars to supporting weapons trafficking, terrorism, and human trafficking.

But it's not just illegal calls. It’s all types of communications fraud that cast a shadow of doubt and cause problems. Spoofing, smishing, and robotexts all contribute to the chaotic and blatant misuse and abuse of the global communications network, leaving consumers wary of answering the phone and having an even further negative effect for businesses that can’t reach their customers when they need to. When the high-capacity, globally ubiquitous network that connects everything and everyone is under relentless assault, businesses are faced with the increasingly challenging task of keeping commerce flowing, businesses running, and consumers engaged.

At the epicenter of trusted digital identity lies the phone number, which has experienced a storied evolution from a simple location identifier or network endpoint to a direct link embodying the unique identities of individuals and companies across the globe. Considering that the mobile phone itself is slated to become the primary source of identity for over 3 billion people this year, safeguarding this de facto digital identifier is imperative for companies seeking to expand and provide the best possible customer experience (CX). Communication service providers (CSPs), in turn, are saddled with the daunting challenge of ensuring illegal robocalls (scams) are blocked, while legal robocalls (even if unwanted) and other legitimate phone calls are labeled correctly so that they are ultimately delivered so that the recipient can make an informed decision on whether to answer the call or not.

In response to these pervasive challenges, a full-bodied, concerted initiative has unfolded, uniting regulators, CSPs and telecom vendors in a collaborative endeavor to help quell the dastardly tide of illegal robocalls. Encouragingly, recent data paints a promising picture, revealing a noticeable decline in robocall activities. December 2023 marked a remarkable milestone in the U.S., witnessing the lowest count of robocalls since February 2022—an impressive 3.8 billion calls—which stands at a noteworthy 20 percent below the monthly average for 2023.

This positive trajectory is a sign of significant progress, setting the stage for a careful exploration of the illegal robocall issue through the lens of the “5 Rs of CX”: Risk, Regulation, Revenue, Reduction, and Relevance.

Risk: the Trust Factor — a Network Imperative

The phone number has transformed into a digital identity link that brings with it profound responsibility. Initially established as a more efficient way to communicate globally and accessible to all, the phone number inadvertently opened the door to bad actors recognizing the reach and anonymity of hiding in a digitally connected society. Seeing it as a new, evolving route to defraud, it is the 21st-century version of piracy with the added benefit of being able to conduct attacks at any time, at any magnitude while remaining mostly invisible to victims and the law.


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