What’s the difference between Caller ID, CNAM, and Branded Caller ID?
When customers in the United States receive a call from a number not in their address book, it sometimes shows only the originating phone number, and sometimes shows a business’ name as well. Why? There is a patchwork of systems at work behind the scenes in order to show customers the name of the business calling.
On landlines, the originating call provides the Caller ID (which technically means just the phone number), and then the terminating carriers ping one of a number of distributed CNAM (“Calling NAMe”) databases to identify the Caller ID Name, if there is one. On cell phones, the originating call still provides the Caller ID, and then the terminating carrier pings their own proprietary database (AT&T, Verizon, and T-Mobile each have their own) to determine the Branded Caller ID.
What is the technical difference between Caller ID, CNAM, and BCID?
Caller ID: Caller ID is a telephone service that displays the caller's phone number on the recipient's phone. It is useful for screening calls and avoiding unwanted telemarketing calls or spam calls. This basic identification service has been in play for decades and is available on both landline and mobile phones. It provides a phone number or name associated with the caller, and businesses may choose to use a different Caller ID number for each zip code to provide a local touch when reaching out to customers or potential customers.There is no additional cost to anyone for this service.
Caller ID does not offer any branding or additional information. Recent updates include STIR/SHAKEN, which helps ensure that the originating caller has permission to use the phone number, and is not spoofing or incorrectly showing someone else’s phone number to try and trick customers. In the US, phone numbers are 10 digits.
CNAM (“Calling NAMe”): Caller ID is not regulated by a governing body such as the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). Rather, the service is essentially a patched-together network of decentralized databases that frequently operate with outdated information. The terminating carrier “dips” into one of the many CNAM databases to identify the related business name if there is one. Like CID, CNAM does not offer branding capabilities.
Like CID, CNAM does not offer branding capabilities. As landline phone usage dwindles in favor of cell phones, CNAM has become less relevant. In the US, CNAM is up to 15 characters.
Branded Caller ID: With Branded Caller ID, businesses can brand their outbound phone calls by displaying a customized name, logo, or other branding elements on the recipient’s cell phone. These so-called “rich data” elements appear thanks to advances made on the same technology that powers Caller ID and CNAM. Additional configuration and integration with the phone company's network enables the advanced functionality of Branded Caller ID, which is available on cell phones but not landlines. Businesses that want to use Branded Caller ID need to work with a provider to set it up and ensure that it is used consistently across all customer touchpoints. They are also charged a fee to use Branded Caller ID, for each call.
Up to 35 characters
In short, Caller ID simply transmits the phone number of the caller, while CNAM adds the name, where available, on landline, and Branded Caller ID adds the name and logo, if available, on cell phones.
What are the best practices for using CNAM and Branded Caller ID?
CNAM and Branded Caller ID are typically used by businesses to improve brand recognition, increase customer trust, and reduce the likelihood of calls being ignored or mistaken for spam. Using these valuable tools, businesses are more likely to reach customers on outbound calls, thereby improving customer engagement.
Keeping these key best practices in mind can help businesses effectively use Branded Caller ID to their advantage:
- Set one brand everywhere: Use accurate and consistent branding across all CNAM and Branded Caller ID providers so that the same branding appears across various landline carriers as well as AT&T, Verizon and Tmobile.
- Test and analyze: Like any sales or marketing program, Branded Caller ID strategies should be tested and analyzed for their effectiveness in boosting customer engagement levels and answer rates. Test different branding elements, messaging, and call-to-action, for instance, to see which one is the most effective. Analyzing the results will help to optimize Branded Caller ID strategy and improve ROI. As Branded Caller ID costs money, the goal is to reduce the number of calls made or the calls that need to be branded.
What are some mistakes that businesses make when using Branded Caller ID?
Like best practices in reverse, common mistakes made when using Branded Caller ID can reduce effectiveness in driving customer engagement and boosting answer rates. These errors typically fall into two categories:
- Over-calling Customers: Calling customers too many times will result in irate customers, lower answer rates and being flagged as spam. Once you are branding your calls, there is no longer a need to call as many times from that branded number. This saves you time and money, and saves the customer from being flooded with unwanted calls.
- Using Misleading Branding: Whether it's tricking a customer to answer the phone based on a misleading branding element or failing to use Branded Caller ID consistently across departments and campaigns, these mistakes add up. Deceptive or inconsistent branding confuses customers, can damage brand reputation, and will certainly get your brand removed.
Finding the right service for your business
As landline use continues to dwindle, outbound sales calls today go largely to customer cell phones. This gives customers greater power over their answering decisions, making Branded Caller ID an impactful strategy for breaking through the clutter.
While it is a specialized service and not as widely available as CNAM, Branded Caller ID is a valuable tool that goes beyond simply providing call identification information. Used properly, Branded Caller ID can increase answer rates, enhance customer engagement, and improve brand recognition.
Regal’s suite of call branding tools for B2C sales teams includes a Branded Caller ID solution that provides businesses with the ability to show their company name, location, logo, and other identifiable information.
Other key features of Regal’s Branded Caller ID include:
- Reach all US carriers - Reach all 400M US wireless devices from one platform
- No integration needed - Upload numbers manually or programmatically
- Testing & reporting - Create A/B tests and track the impact of branding calls over time
- Call-level data - Monitor the carrier-reported answer rate, connect rate, time on call and reputation and health of your phone numbers