The UK regulatory landscape for any business making high volume outbound sales, service or marketing calls is getting tougher. This means now more than ever it is important to ensure that your organisation complies with the Communications Act 2003. The act declares it is an offence to “persistently make use of a public electronic communications network for the purpose of causing annoyance, inconvenience or needless anxiety”.
Changing Landscape of Compliance
The initial act passed by Ofcom, which has full regulatory powers, and the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) have added further stringent regulations around abandoned and silent calls, and have made it easier for people to report nuisance calls. Fines for non-compliance have been reported being as high as £2 Million!
However, there is no need for your business to panic as help is at hand with our latest generation of cloud based contact centre solutions, ContactNow. It provides all the tools to ensure that you stay on the right side of compliance.
The Commercial Aspects of Compliance
Setting up an outbound contact centre has many pitfalls for the unwary. Your company’s integrity and reputation can be instantly ruined if compliance with Ofcom and ICO regulations is not considered. Ignorance of the regulations is not a plausible excuse as a number of companies have found out to their cost. The large fines handed out last year to firms in breach of the regulations, give a clear indication of how straying from the guidelines, could have a catastrophic impact on the bottom line.
How Technology Can Help?
Our modern cloud contact centre solution; ContactNow helps to enforce compliance during the set up for each outbound campaign. When our predictive or progressive diallers are used, clever algorithms within the software ensure that enough calls are made to keep the number of available agents busy. By assessing the number of available agents, data, and the history of the data the dialler can predict how many existing calls it needs to make keep agents busy without breaching the Ofcom abandonment rate of 3% of calls within a 24 hour period. If the percentage of abandoned calls gets too high, the dialler automatically slows down to bring the rate back within target.
Many organisations have to record their calls to comply with regulations governing their operations. FCA regulated organisations, for example, may be required to record and retain calls. With an in-built call recording feature like ContactNow this can easily be accomplished. You will have the option to listen to calls as they happen, or even save every call and play them back whenever you like.
Answer Machine Detection
Another cause of abandoned calls can be answer machine detection. This is where dialling software thinks it is connected to a machine when in fact it is a person; this gives a false positive, and can lead to an abandoned call. ContactNow has its own patented AMD system which can detect answer machines, and if they are not 100% sure, the call is passed to an agent. This tendency to err on the side of caution ensures that your contact centre stays compliant.
Maximising the Business Benefits of Compliance
Staying compliant is not just about ticking a box and avoiding fines, there are plenty of significant business benefits. Knowing that our contact centre software solution is automatically maximised with the efficiency of the dialling rate means that managers and supervisors can focus on the contact centre’s key asset; its people.
Supervisors will have more time to concentrate on their teams, ensuring that their behaviour is appropriate, listening to calls, giving advice and feedback and ensuring that the data and the agent are performing as they should do. Managers also have more time for strategic activities, like working on campaigns to train and retain agents, replacing agents, building effective teams, designing campaigns, assessing scripts and quality assurance.
Better Customer Experience protect your Brand
As well as time saved in the call centre, complying with Ofcom and ICO regulations also means a much better experiences for your customers, and protection for your brand. For example, Ofcom dictates that there must be a Calling Line Identity (CLI), so that if a call is missed, the customer can return the call. If the contact centre does not accept incoming calls, then the customer will hear a message explaining who called, why and offering them an option to have their phone number removed from the database. Similarly, if a call is abandoned, there must be a message giving the customer the same information.
Choose your Software Solution carefully
Good quality contact centre software will provide guidance to users and we make it easy to ensure compliance with Ofcom and ICO. ContactNow’s has its own patented Network Level Binary Matching (NLBM) to help with Answer Machine detection compliance. However, there is another key area to consider.
We have a cloud based solution that offers a quick set up, minimal upfront investment, and flexibility in terms of service and agent numbers that physical on-premise systems simply can’t beat. As regulations change, for users of cloud based software it’s updated and rolled out seamlessly. With an on-premise solution, any changes to regulations can take months to implement, leaving you exposed to the risk of complaints, investigations and potential fines.
As Ofcom and ICO continue to run joint initiatives to reduce the number of unwanted calls by widening the definition of nuisance calls and proposed European regulations are introduced in the UK it is easy to get caught out. Fortunately, it has never been easier to ensure that you meet the regulations with ContactNow – try it free today and find out for yourself.