Press Release

Survey Shows Critical Calls From Essential Businesses Being Missed Amid COVID-19 Pandemic

Over 75 Percent Missed Important Calls

NORTH LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – May 6, 2020 – First Orion, a leading provider of communication transparency solutions, today announced a new survey showing 87 percent rarely or never answer calls from unknown numbers. The unintended consequence during the COVID-19 pandemic is that essential businesses and service providers are struggling to reach customers with critical communications. 

To better understand the American experiences, First Orion surveyed 1,000 U.S. mobile phone users in the third week of April 2020 and found that critical calls are going unanswered, and citizens are suffering as a result.

Over 75 percent of those surveyed missed an important call during the week, and just under a third of those surveyed agree that they are missing more calls more frequently now than before the COVID-19 crisis. 

After missing the important calls, 85 percent tried to return the calls, but half found it difficult. Nearly 5 percent became so frustrated that they gave up and went to the physical location, which could put them at risk of contracting COVID-19.  

Americans are understandably stressed about a myriad of issues during “shelter-in-place” orders across the country and are making more calls for information. To deal with increasing call volume, contact centers are now relying heavily on call-back solutions, yet calls from unknown numbers still go unanswered.  

One particular issue affecting nearly half of those surveyed (44%) is that the important missed calls are returned calls from a previous voicemail they left. When they try calling back again, over a third (35%) ended up leaving yet another voicemail, leading to a never-ending cycle of missed calls for many.

Most missed critical calls fell into three categories: health, financial and work-related.

  • Health: In the previous week, respondents said they missed an important call from their doctor’s office (36 percent), pharmacy (15 percent) and hospital (9 percent). One respondent missed a call from work confirming a COVID-19 case within his/her place of employment. 
  • Financial: A third (33 percent) of important missed calls were finance related, including calls from banks, insurance providers, student loans and SBA processors for relief loans.
  • Work-Related: Nearly a quarter (23 percent) concerned work, including work meeting notifications and calls from unemployment offices. 

Other interesting stats:

  • Of those who experienced a negative outcome from missing a call, 26 percent missed a delivery and 18 percent said they suffered a delay in pay
  • Over 40 percent said they didn’t answer the call because their phone didn’t identify the caller properly
  • Nearly 4 percent missed over 5 critical calls during the week
  • After missing the important calls, 11 percent found it very difficult or impossible to return the call
  • When returning calls, about 4 percent waited over an hour on hold 

It took over a decade, but the U.S. population has been collectively trained not to answer calls from unknown numbers,” said Viki Zabala, Chief Marketing Officer at First Orion. “While this would typically be predictable behavior in normal times, today it translates into critically important calls not being answered.”

There are solutions to help organizations get calls answered. In response to a request by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the White House, First Orion has been working with other telecom service providers, such as Telo and Somos, to support the U.S. government’s request to display caller ID instead of the telephone number for critical government-run Toll-Free hotlines, including the initial phone lines for COVID-19 test results (“Results Center”). In just the first few days, First Orion helped deliver thousands of COVID-19 test result calls and saw answer rates increase to over 70 percent. To learn more and enroll today, visit www.firstorion.com/inform-covid-19.

First Orion’s INFORM™ programmable business caller ID solution enables businesses to correctly identify themselves to their customers when calling prior to answering. This ensures critical calls are answered the first time — eliminating the phone tag cycle or important calls being missed entirely. Many organizations already using First Orion Call Enhancement solutions have seen answer rates double.

About First Orion

First Orion helps the world’s leading carriers, enterprises and mobile apps provide mobile users with the protection they need from scams and the identity verification they need to answer trusted calls. The company’s flagship First Orion Call Protection Suite currently provides call control, blocking, transparency and management solutions to tens of millions of mobile handsets. Additionally, First Orion’s Call Enhancement Suite, INFORM™ and ENGAGE®, tells mobile subscribers who is calling and why, empowering them with the ability to take action, while also providing businesses the ability to verify their identity when calling their customers. Nearly 87 percent of calls go unanswered because consumers don’t recognize the number or don’t trust the identity. With First Orion – enterprises, hospitals, government entities, non-profits, last-mile logistics, banks and more can now deliver critical communications and have their calls answered.

Processing over 90 billion calls annually, First Orion​ powers communication transparency solutions for T-Mobile, Metro by T-Mobile, Boost Mobile, Sky, Virgin Mobile and Sprint Prepaid mobile networks along with PrivacyStar and other mobile apps. Established in 2008 and led by Charles Morgan (former Founder & CEO of Acxiom), First Orion is headquartered in North Little Rock, Arkansas, has offices in Seattle, London, and Dubai, and employs nearly 250 people globally. More at www.firstorion.com, @FirstOrionCorp or First Orion Blog.

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PrivacyStar, First Orion and ENGAGE® are trademarks of First Orion Corp. All registered or unregistered trademarks are the sole property of their respective owners.

Media Contact:

Leslie Mayer
First Orion
831.401.3175
media@firstorion.com