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Beyond CNAM Caller Name Lookup

Gone are the days when outbound call centers would try to catch call recipients unaware. Today, federal regulations stipulate that call centers have to transmit accurate caller-ID information, allowing customers and prospects the option to knowingly opt out before the conversation even begins. At the same time, those centers who fail to provide ID info risk severely cutting into their contact rates; a 2020 survey by Pew Research found that only 19% of Americans will answer calls from unknown numbers. 

Simply put, when call centers are transparent, everybody wins.

To help maintain compliance and provide correct identification, many outbound call centers turn to CNAM. But what is CNAM? How does it work? And are there better alternatives?

CNAM Explained

CNAM stands for “Caller Name,” and is a service used within telephone networks. CNAM is designed to provide the name of the party originating the telephone call. CNAM caller ID is limited to 15 characters of text, and can be used to represent either a person or an entire organization (such as the name of a business). 

Supported only within the United States and portions of Canada, CNAM is an outside telecom service that, unlike telephone numbers, is not maintained through a single standardized database. Instead, there are many different CNAMs and CNAM databases for a carrier to choose from.

While CNAM is a complement to caller ID, it is not technically the same thing. Caller ID is responsible for displaying the phone number of the caller; CNAM adds context by allowing businesses to share their names along with their numbers. But it’s worth noting that CNAM is not an automatic service—call centers and other businesses have to subscribe to CNAM through their phone carrier.

CNAM Pros and Cons

The advantages of CNAM for outbound call centers are fairly obvious: By providing call recipients with details about the caller, they are able to make a more-informed decision about whether they wish to answer. This leads to fewer ignored calls, and better conversations with your customers. After all, a customer who willingly engages in conversation with a known call-center agent is much more likely to have a good perception of your brand. In other words, CNAM may mean increased customer experience for those call centers who put it to effective use. 

But what about the disadvantages? 

One major disadvantage with CNAM is the lack of uniformity. As previously mentioned, CNAM consists of many different ID databases. There is no specific regulation ensuring that all carriers across all networks pull from the same database. 

That means that many carriers may actually have incorrect or outdated CNAM information. For call centers, this can mean the wrong name showing up on caller IDs when they make outbound calls, or it can mean no name showing up at all. Add to this the fact that CNAM is only available through parts of North America, and businesses with a more-international customer base may find themselves left without many options. 

Another disadvantage is the lack of visual branding permitted within the CNAM system. CNAM only allows standard printable ASCII characters (letters, numbers, and some other common characters). For businesses and organizations that are recognized by their logo, or that depend heavily on visual branding, a dozen or so ASCII characters and a phone number simply are not enough.

Hiya provides the solution. 

Hiya for Outbound Call Centers

CNAM is a valuable tool for promoting caller transparency and improving answer rates, but often it’s just not enough. Hiya picks up where CNAM leaves off, by providing a full-service voice performance platform that call centers can use to monitor and manage reputation health, include more information along with standard caller ID, and secure and protect their company identity.

Hiya provides essential analytical data, allowing organizations to accurately monitor how often their outbound calls are being blocked or reported as spam, tracking their reputational health over time. And when inaccurate spam labeling rears its head, Hiya users can directly dispute these labels through the platform itself.

In terms of brand representation, Hiya goes beyond ASCII and allows businesses to display their company name, location, logo, and even a short description of the purpose of the call. Call recipients enjoy the benefit of knowing exactly who’s calling and why, going into the conversation fully prepared to do business. 

Add to these advantages increased call security tools. Fraud filters help authenticate calls, preventing imposters from spoofing call-center numbers, and terminating unverified calls before they can be completed. 

Finally, Hiya has an extensive worldwide reach. With over 150 million customers across 40 different countries, call centers can extend themselves well beyond the confines of the US and Canada.

Hiya: Caller ID Optimization

To be effective, call centers need to find customers who are interested and willing to join the conversation. Hiya Connect goes beyond CNAM; it gives call centers unrivaled range to connect with leads across the globe, and provides the essential information that those leads need to effectively evaluate important incoming calls.

Want to learn more? Download the Beyond Caller ID eBook to see how you can level up your voice strategy with Hiya.

Download Beyond Caller ID eBook


Author Laleh Hassibi

Hiya's Director of Content Marketing and Growth