Call Centre Undercover, a BBC Panorama programme broadcast on July 2, 2012, highlighted some worrying call centre practices. In particular, the programme revealed that some companies are ignoring the Telephone Preference Service (TPS), the central opt-out register against unsolicited sales and marketing calls on their home or mobile numbers, flouting data protection laws and failing to respect the rights of individuals.
Sean Taylor, Director of Redwood Technologies, comments:
“Telemarketing is an important function for many businesses to improve sales and increase growth, but failure to comply with the TPS regulations not only irritates consumers, who have actively requested not to be contacted in this way, it also damages the company brand.
“Redwood produced the first ever TPS dialler server, which it sold to the Daily Telegraph over a decade ago. However, we were disappointed by the subsequent low uptake of our TPS product, which is no doubt a result of the fact that, until recently, companies had no reason to comply with these rules.”
The TPS is run under the remit of the UK communications regulator (Ofcom) by the Direct Marketing Association. Each month, the DMA sends up to 2,000 complaints to the Information Commissioner’s Office. However, the ICO was only granted the power to issue fines last year and the guidance was finalised at the start of 2012.
Taylor continues, “Previously, TPS-compliant dialler systems have seen weak adoption due to a lack of enforcement. But now that the TPS has the power to impose fines of up to £500,000 the stakes are much higher for companies without a TPS server. In the wake of Ofcom’s record £750,000 fine for a silent calling infraction, public scrutiny on outbound telemarketing has never been greater. And as a UK-specific piece of regulation, the TPS can be a particularly sensitive issue for outsourced contact centres. Dialler users should know that their brand could be held responsible for calls made by their own call centres as well as any outsourced call centres conducting campaigns on their behalf, irrespective of where the call originated.
“Meanwhile, as business transitions away from the ‘call centre’ and into the age of multi-channel ‘contact centre’, the TPS portfolio has expanded to include fax, mobile and e-mail preference services, adding to the complexity of regulatory compliance for outbound marketers. A single-point, unified multi-channel contact centre solution can help companies prevent tarnishing of their contact centre brand. Here again, cloud is key because a network-based communications platform can act as a central confluence for all these different types of communication, ensuring compliance across multiple channels.”