Large calling programs need to be proactive about caller ID management to stay ahead of call labeling and to get higher contact rates in specific locales.
Google Voice is well suited to smaller programs as its free and has transcribed voicemails. Although once you have used all your emails and phone numbers, new voice numbers can become harder to acquire quickly and can end up costing money to your organization.
Programs that have needs beyond Google voice should look into number purchasing and inbound calling platforms. In general, most phone purchasing platforms will:
Rent phone numbers for a monthly or flat cost
Let you decide what to do with inbound calls from the purchased numbers.
Charge based on the actions that happen after the inbound call is received.
Although phone number purchasing and automated inbound handling do cost money, most inbound calls will lead to quantifiable data, including wrong numbers, refusals, and even IDs. Every call you can remove from your ThruTalk list will save you the cost of a future dial-in ThruTalk or open up a spot to call a new voter within your current budget. It makes good organizing and financial sense to spend a portion of the cost of a call to remove a number from your list.
The best part of using a platform is that once you have set up an inbound flow, you can easily purchase new numbers and apply your inbound flow in seconds. Staff time is limited, and creating a scalable caller ID infrastructure will save you time, possibly save you money, and get you better results going forward.
There are many options in the market. We are using Twilio below as an example only.
Steps to setup a scalable inbound caller ID program in Twilio
Decide what you want to do with inbound callers.
Twilio Studio allows you to build an Interactive Voice Recording (IVR) AKA a “press 1 to X” menu without needing to code anything. You get a set amount of inbound calls for free, and then its a fraction of a cent for each additional inbound call.
Deciding what to do with your inbound calls is the most important decision and will be based on your needs, capacity, and budget. You can play recordings to your callers and then hang up, transfer, or allow the caller to record a voicemail. Each option will have different costs. Just playing a message is included in the studio costs, whereas voicemails and transfers charge by the minute. A few typical setups include:
Playing a recording with an office number and email to reach out for more information, then hanging up. (Least useful, but cheapest option)
Playing a recording and then letting a caller press 1 to get transferred to the office to talk to a live person, or most likely to hit a central voicemail. (most used option)
Playing a recording and then letting a caller press 1 to leave a message. (requires some additional setup to get voicemails out of Twilio)
Transferring all calls to your office for live pickup or voicemail without the caller pressing any buttons. (most expensive option but will collect the most data)
Create your content.
If you are doing anything other than a straight transfer, you are going to need to write your script. If you are having the caller make a selection, your script must include the instructions for your callers (“Press 1 to get transferred to the office or Press 2 to leave a message”).
Twilio Studio allows you to use a built-in selection of robot voices, or you can upload a .wav file and play that. We recommend using the recording option as its much more natural, although it does require more work to record and upload.
Once you know what you want to do with callers and what you want to say, it’s time to set it up.
Create your Twilio Studio Flow.
Twilio Studio has some great getting started support docs to get you going and specifically for building an inbound IVR, so we highly recommend diving deep into those. Studio allows you to build out your flow using a visual flowchart where you add in steps from a menu on the right, and then drag arrows to show how the callers move around.
NOTE: Don’t forget to set up a response when someone texts the number. Some people will not pick up a call but will instead text back asking who it is. You should have an autoresponder message that directs them to the website, an email address, or a phone number to call for a live answer.
Purchase some phone numbers and apply your flow.
Once your flow is set up, copy your webhook URL for the studio flow, head over to the phone purchasing page, and purchase at least one number. Be sure it is enabled for voice and SMS.
After purchase, enable your studio flow on the number by selecting it in the dropdowns and adding the webhook URL you copied above. Follow the guide steps here.
Swap numbers as needed. Rinse and repeat.
Now when a calling program number gets flagged, you can purchase a new number in Twilio, apply your already created flow, and be ready to use the number in less than a minute. Just change it again on your ThruTalk admin or when you load your next list.
Although Twilio does allow you to release numbers. We recommend keeping them on for at least a couple weeks after you last use them to catch any late callbacks.
If you have any questions about setting up your flow or about other proactive caller ID strategies, reach out to the Client Success team: firstname.lastname@example.org and we will be happy to help out.