By Angela Garfinkel, President
Since the enactment of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act in 1991, companies engaged in telemarketing must be constantly vigilant to ensure their outbound call programs are compliant. I say ‘outbound’ because most telephone consumer protection laws target outbound marketers. While some instances where the scope of the laws impact inbound marketing, the risk of non-compliance is significantly reduced because most actions taken by the Federal Communications Commission, the Federal Trade Commission, and the State Attorneys General are prioritized based on consumer complaints.
It’s a case of too much to do and not enough resources within these government agencies – so consumer protection driven actions tend to be focused on the following:
- Unfair or deceptive acts
- Behavior deemed as harassment
As an industry, we are all hurt by the bad actors, and we want them heavily punished and put out of business. Period. End of Story.
Here at QCS, we are 100% committed to actively monitoring each client program to ensure we are compliant with every Federal and State regulation. To ensure we’re on top of current applicable regulations, we have 4 Customer Engagement Certified Professionals (CECP) on our staff. CECP is a third-party accreditation offered by the Professional Association for Customer Engagement (PACE).
When a new client engages with QCS, we go through a rigorous compliance checklist which includes the following:
- Do Not Call regulations
- Caller ID regulations
- Telemarketer Registration requirements
- Time of day restrictions
- Holiday restrictions
- Call disclosure requirements in scripting
- Call recording and monitoring disclosure requirements
- Script requirements
- Abandoned call restrictions and safe harbor requirements
- Inbound call requirements (if applicable)
Also, we ensure each telemarketing agent is thoroughly trained to understand how to handle a consumer or business complaint, including an escalation path.
In my experience, there are a few very simple things that outbound telemarketers should focus on to minimize complaints from their call activity:
- Use good quality agents that can be easily understood and are very professional. Consumers and business people get annoyed by callers that are difficult to understand. When they are annoyed, they are more likely to complain to others (including regulators).
- Monitor to be sure that the outbound dials are adhering to a reasonable calling window. And for some programs, you may need to adjust the calling window to minimize reaching people when it is inconvenient. Inconvenient timing can generate annoyance, which can cause complaints.
- Make sure you answer calls when someone calls back the number you use for Caller ID. You will get a lot of callbacks. People don’t listen to voicemail messages, but they will often call it back if they see a missed call. You’re not required to use a live agent to answer the calls, but you are required to honor a Do Not Call request if a customer or prospect calls back during regular business hours.
- Make sure you monitor your reports to ensure that outbound dials are capped at a reasonable number of attempts and spread those attempts out over a reasonable timeframe. Pay careful attention to dialer settings to ensure you’re not inadvertently dialing in a pattern that could be construed as harassment.
- When using an outbound telemarketing call to make a sale, be clear about what you’re offering, the price, and the company you’re representing. If you can’t do that, maybe you need a better product or service to sell.
- Last, be sure you’re honoring company-specific Do Not Call requests, and the applicable Federal and State Do Not Call lists. Some exemptions apply, and our team of experts helps our clients identify the relevant exemptions.
Angela Garfinkel is the President and Founder of Quality Contact Solutions, a leading outsourced telemarketing services organization. Angela has the pleasure of leading a talented team that runs thousands of outbound telemarketing program hours on a daily basis. Angela can be reached at [email protected] or 516.656.5118.