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Can The Banana Phone Stop Unwanted Calls?

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February 06, 2013

Can The Banana Phone Stop Unwanted Calls?

By Susan J. Campbell, TMCnet Contributing Editor

Telemarketing calls interrupting the evening meal were a common occurrence growing up in the ‘80s. This popular marketing tactic always found the potential customer at home and at times proved to be annoying enough to get the business just so the recipient of the call could get back to his or her meal.

The introduction of the hosted predictive dialer in the call center space gave telemarketers another tool for streamlining their efforts and ensuring more calls could be completed per hour. While this increase improved revenue and reduced cost, it also meant changes on the consumer side that were not always welcome.

Today, telemarketing plays a completely different role in the market. Consumers have the choice to prevent those evening calls just by adding their number to the National Do Not Call list. They also don’t mind hanging up on the agent making the unsolicited call, or ignoring the ringing phone altogether.

If the consumer is already a customer of the calling company, however, the rules of the game change slightly and the existing relationship grants certain permissions, either expressed or implied, that the company may reach out to the customer. If the company plans to use robocalls to make the connection, however, the outcome is not likely to be a positive one.

 The negativity surrounding robocalls has escalated to the point that the FTC is offering $50,000 to those who can stop the activity. Now, a DIY project known as The Banana Phone (News - Alert) offers a potential solution.

According to this Life Hacker post, The Banana Phone will pick up the call when a robocaller or automated dialer calls a consumer. The phone plays a song and asks the caller to enter a four-digit passcode to be connected to the live consumer. Automated dialers would give up, yet the live caller would be connected right away after entering the code.

This video demonstrates how The Banana Phone works and how the consumer can easily set up their own for around $100 using off-the-shelf products. While The Banana Phone has proven effective in blocking the unwanted robocalls, it does little to stop the live telemarketing agent wanting to get through right away. And, if the company is following the rules of the trade, that live call may be one the consumer wants to receive anyway.

While The Banana Phone may not be the perfect technology to thwart unwanted calls, it can easily stop calls and those generated by the hosted predictive dialer that fail to connect the live agent right away. For the company placing the call, the important focus is to ensure the consumer doesn’t develop a negative perception of the brand just because the call center wanted to make a connection. If the organization is using robocalls, consumer perception and satisfaction may not be a priority.

Edited by Rachel Ramsey

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