Update published 7/27/2018: Ringless voicemail is officially declared a “call” that falls under TCPA regulations according to the recent ruling of Saunders v. Dyck O’Neal. U.S. District Judge Gordon J. Quist is the first federal judge to declare ringless voicemail as a “call.” Click here to read the full opinion and ruling.
You may have encountered this before…your cell phone lights up and suddenly there’s a new voicemail in your inbox, but your phone never rang. Did you miss a call? Did you temporarily lose service? It doesn’t look like it.
You stop to listen to the message and it’s from a telemarketer, or even a sales person.
What is Ringless Voicemail?
Ringless voicemail is defined as a “method in which a pre-recorded audio message is placed in a voicemail inbox without the associated telephone ringing first.” To do this, companies use technology that sends the message directly from their server to a voicemail user’s server via server-to-server communication. Essentially, the company that sends the voicemail passes it directly to one’s voicemail inbox, bypassing the need to actually place a phone call. If it happens to be a cell phone, the recipient receives a voicemail notification.
Ringless voicemail is often used by telemarketing companies or debt collectors simply because of its capability to reach a massive amount of people at an extremely low cost. Ringless voicemail providers position this feature and service as a potential for cost savings, since a call isn’t actually made and therefore there aren’t associated telephony charges. They also claim that it’s an excellent way to follow-up with prospects or customers at scale without bombarding them with phone calls. While this sounds like a noble cause, the practice really just feels intrusive to the recipient, and creates a negative impression of your company.
Ringless Voicemail Controversy
Ringless voicemails fall into a grey area within Federal law. The Telephone Consumer Protection Act of 1991, otherwise known as the TCPA, protects consumers from automated dialing systems, fax machines, SMS messages, and voicemails. But, this is where it gets tricky.
The TCPA applies to any call made from an automatic telephone dialing system to a consumer’s phone, but it doesn’t distinguish between calls that are picked up and those that go to directly to voicemail. Ringless voicemail service providers claim that these types of voicemails are perfectly legal since they don’t involve an actual phone call being made. In fact, many have petitioned the FCC to explicitly allow ringless voicemail messages.
In March 2017, All About the Message, LLC filed a petition with the FCC stating that delivery of a voice message directly to a voicemail inbox does not constitute as a “call.” Therefore, it shouldn’t be subject to the TCPA’s prohibitions on the use of an ATDS or prerecorded message. The FCC sought insight from the public but before the FCC could rule on the matter, the petition was withdrawn by All About the Message’s attorneys in a one-sentence letter to the FCC:
“All About the Message, LLC, by its attorneys hereby withdraws its Petition for Declaratory Ruling filed in the above-referenced proceeding.”
While there may be contention at the Federal level, many states have already heard cases on ringless voicemails and declared them an illegal practice. The state courts have consistently ruled that voicemail messages are in fact calls, and subject to the same TCPA restrictions as automated dialers or other prerecorded messages.
Florida recently become the first state to explicitly ban ringless voicemail. The state changed their laws on telephone solicitation to include updated definitions of telephone calls and voicemails. On July 1, 2018, new laws go into effect with that define a “voicemail transmission” and bans, “technologies that deliver a voice message directly to a voicemail application, service, or device.”
Ringless Voicemail From a Prospect Perspective
From a sales perspective, ringless voicemail may sound like something you want your reps to utilize. However when you receive one in your daily life, it feels like a violation of your personal space, and you immediately distrust the company that sent it to you. Is that an experience you want to provide to your customers?
Companies that use ringless voicemail just want to put their message in front of people and hope that they buy something, they are not looking to provide value. No matter how great your voicemail message is, the delivery method instantly degrades it.
Ringless Voicemail Alternatives
RingDNA is built for inside sales teams executing mission-critical initiatives that impact the bottom line. Therefore, we diligently validate every potential new feature and consider its impact from every angle. When it comes to ringless voicemail, we knew we had to develop an alternative.
Instead of focusing only on automation like ringless voicemail, we opted to focus on effectiveness and customer experience when we built our voicemail drop capabilities. When a rep places a call and reaches a voicemail inbox, voicemail drop allows the rep to leave a pre-recorded voicemail message with one click. Since the rep has to initiate the click, this mitigates any potential issues that may arise from ringless voicemail (from legal implications to poor customer experience). Reps can easily increase their daily productivity and output with this one process — in fact, a team of 10 sales reps can save up to 66 hours per month and increase call back rates.
One of the largest benefits of voicemail drop is having the ability to customize and refine the content of the message. Our voicemail drop feature allows reps to leave a more personalized voicemail depending on the context of the follow up. Reps can pre-record an unlimited number of voicemails in advance and create their own personal library to ensure they have a relevant voicemail for any type of follow-up call. For example, reps can have voicemails ready to go when they follow up with leads based on source, whether it be a demo or pricing request. Or they may even have more generic messages prepared for follow-up calls, appointment reminders, and check-ins.
Want to learn more about voicemail drop? Check out this blog post.