The wise say that “the first impression is the last impression.” So, make it count.

Your caller ID is the first impression consumers will have of your business when they receive your call. And for most people, it’s difficult to trust a number they don’t recognize. 

If consumers can’t recognize your call, they’ll likely ignore it. In fact, a recent Pew Survey found that 80% of Americans will not answer calls from unknown numbers, and only 19% will answer the phone when an unknown number calls. 

To provide a great first impression and prevent your number from being flagged for spam, it’s important to ensure your business number is registered.

The first step is to register your CNAM data with each individual carrier. But what is CNAM? And how does it work? Keep reading to find out.

What Is CNAM

CNAM stands for “Caller Name” and is an Intelligent Network (IN) service that displays a caller’s name on a digital readout. This feature allows you to customize the name your business phone number displays to those you call. 

CNAM is usually displayed along with your caller ID on the phone of the person you’re calling. However, it shouldn’t be confused with caller ID (more on this later)

Here are a few important things to note about CNAM.

  • CNAM is an optional add-on feature
  • Your CNAM can be up to 15 characters
  • To customize caller name ID for multiple numbers, you must register each number individually
  • Whether your CNAM is displayed depends on the recipient’s carrier
  • CNAM only works on PSTN calling, not SIP to SIP calls
  • You cannot add CNAM to toll-free numbers

CNAM is supported within the United States and some parts of Canada.

Differences Between Caller ID and CNAM

While CNAM and caller ID are used interchangeably, the two are not the same.

Caller ID is the phone number associated with the party placing the outbound call. CNAM, on the other hand, is the descriptive text displayed on the recipient’s display. Simply put, caller ID is a phone number, while CNAM is usually a text. 

How Does CNAM Work?

In the US, CNAM is stored in different databases. 

CNAM databases are official, authoritative sources where the customer’s data is recorded for any given phone number. Many CNAM database providers maintain these records across the US.

When you make a call, the carrier performs what is known as a CNAM dip—that is, it searches a CNAM entry with your number. Upon finding your CNAM data, it displays the characters below your caller ID (phone number) as you’re calling the customer. 

Setting Up Your Company’s Outbound Caller Name (CNAM)

Most people assume that as soon as they register a phone number, CNAM is created automatically, always showing up whenever one calls.

Unfortunately, this is not always the case.

For your business CNAM data to show up, someone has to deliberately set that name so that the central database has the correct information about your business. 

So how do you set up CNAM data for your business?

Before we get into how it works, you first need to understand the difference between a carrier and a service provider. 

A phone carrier is a cellular company that makes it possible for us to connect our calls. A carrier makes the phone number live and active, ensuring the number actually works. A service provider, on the other hand, is the company that sells the service to customers.

While a carrier can also be a service provider (as in the case of big companies like Verizon), a provider cannot provide you with a phone service without a carrier to connect the calls. 

That said, the VoIP service you’re using is probably the service provider. In this case, they may have an outside carrier who services and activates their numbers. 

While you send your requests to your service provider, the carrier is actually the one who services those requests. So, the carrier is the one who sets up your CNAM data.

So, how do you register your organization’s CNAM with the carriers?

Typically, providers put in requests to their carriers to set CNAM for their customers. 

But, as we mentioned earlier, your provider won’t do this automatically, which means you’ll need to contact them and ask them to do it for you. When your provider puts in the request, it can take at least two weeks for the process to complete. 

Some providers perform this service automatically when you sign up, but you have to check with them as many providers do not. 

Why Businesses Need CNAM

Is CNAM really worth the effort? Do customers really care about seeing your name alongside your phone number?

The simple answer is Yes! 

Here’s what you get when you set up a caller ID name for your business.

1. Increased Call Answers

As we mentioned earlier, most Americans don’t answer calls from unknown numbers. 

By registering your caller name data, you increase the chances of getting your calls answered. CNAM encourages your customers to answer by reminding them who’s on the other end of the line. You could say it gives the seal of approval to your calls.

2. Increased Brand Awareness

Your organization’s CNAM can help to create brand awareness. 

Instead of wading through the suspicious “who is this” questions from your customers, they will know it’s you even before they pick up the phone. And when customers know your name, they are more likely to engage with your brand. 

3. Builds Trust

CNAM tells your customers your phone call is trustworthy. And in an age where 74% of American companies have experienced a successful phishing attack, customers and businesses alike are wary of any suspicious calls. 

That said, displaying the caller name next to your caller ID can help to verify that the call is authentic. 

The Final Thoughts

CNAM is more than a call identifier—it’s visual branding. 

Having your business CNAM data registered allows customers to know more about your company before they even pick up the phone. Plus, businesses can instill trust between them and those they are calling and increase answer rates by utilizing CNAM.

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