A “call” to action

There is a fine line between reaching customers with the information they want and annoying them – or worse, breaking the law. However, not reaching out is not an option. Customers increasingly want more proactive messages from the companies they do business with.
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There is no easy approach to managing proactive customer care. Add strict regulatory compliance issues to the mix and you have handed a full blown challenge to your customer service department.

There is a fine line between reaching customers with the information they want and annoying them – or worse, breaking the law.  However, not reaching out is not an option. Customers increasingly want more proactive messages from the companies they do business with – in fact, our recent survey of 1,000 American consumers found that 75 percent of consumers find proactive messages welcome and valuable.

But, customers are not fully aware of regulations in place that restrict companies from communicating with them in the way they want. More than 80 percent of your customers think that if they’ve given you their mobile phone number, they’ve consented to getting communications from you at that number. Unfortunately, the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) of 1991, thinks otherwise.

If you are going to be using any form of assistive technology (like a predictive dialer, interactive voice message or system-generated SMS text message) to reach customers on their mobile, the TCPA requires you to have either the customer’s prior express consent for informational communications or their prior written consent for marketing communications. Running afoul of either of these can cost you – consumers can sue you under the TCPA for $500 to $1500 per violation, and if one customer sues, the class action lawyers will try to find many more so they can make a federal case out of it.

So what should companies do? How can you protect yourself from TCPA liability if you do need to autodial or message them? Here are a few tips I recently shared with Call Center Times:

  • Add consent language to any agreements, along the lines of “You authorize us to call or send a text message to any number you provide or to any number where we reasonably believe we can contact you. These include calls or texts to a mobile or cellular device, and calls using automatic telephone dialing systems and/or prerecorded messages.”
  • Update all customer intake forms (credit applications, service sign-ups etc.) to include consent granting language.
  • Keep track of the source and type (mobile, landline, business) of the phone numbers in your system of record. Implement a consent status check box for each one with a mandatory note field to document the date and reason for any changes.
  • Train your contact center staff to regularly update phone information and verify consent when speaking with borrowers.
  • Filter out any mobile numbers for which you do not have consent from your autodialer and messaging campaigns. If you aren’t sure if a number is mobile or not, contract the services of a reliable vendor to scrub against both the assigned and ported mobile number databases.

More than anything, the challenge of various federal and state regulations doesn’t mean we should stop reaching out to customers. It just means that companies must find the right blend of customer outreach that gets information to customers while still adhering to various rules.

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Brian Moore

About Brian Moore

Brian Moore, senior principal, industry solutions of Nuance's Enterprise division, brings more than 25 years of experience in financial services, mortgage and collections operations and technology to the company. He is also our resident compliance expert, advising companies on how to comply with TCPA, CFPB, TSR and other customer communications compliance regulations.