Good Call, Bad Call

Ofcom research has revealed that signing up to the Telephone Preference Service (TPS) only cuts unwanted calls by around a third. Rogue companies which ignore the rules and outsourced calls from overseas account for much of the remainder, with consumers, perhaps unknowingly, having ticked a contact consent box accounting for the rest.

Ofcom acknowledge that even though people agree to receive marketing calls, such calls can proliferate and come to be seen as nuisance calls; particularly in cases where data is ‘sold on’ to other organisations.  Accordingly Ofcom has set up a task force to look into the issue of marketing consent and consider whether regulations need to be amended.

Ofcom and the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) work together in respect of TPS calls with responsibility for collating complaints being shared between the two bodies.  Commenting on the latest research, Ofcom Consumer Group Director, Claudio Pollack, said “we welcome tough enforcement action from the ICO against rogue companies who breach the rules as part of regulators’ joint work to help tackle nuisance calls.”

But whilst the regulators are playing their part in cracking down on nuisance calls, it is also up to every business to make sure that they are abiding by the rules. Businesses with a strong customer focus will take steps to ensure that in cases of informed consent, the customer truly understands what they are opting into and furthermore will ensure that their employees are fully conversant with TPS regulations. Used in the right way marketing calls or follow up sales calls can help to strengthen the customer relationship. 

Customer focused businesses can also make it easy for customers to get in touch with them.  Choosing the right phone number can make a huge difference to customer perceptions.  With a wide range of freephone numbers, UK regional numbers, national numbers and international numbers to choose from, businesses have no excuse not to opt for a number format which best suits their customer base.  And when that customer base is mixed, businesses can choose a range of number types with all calls being seamlessly diverted to a designated point.  For example, if a business operates in Paris and London, it could offer a single universal international freephone number (UIFN) to all clients or alternatively, separate regional London and Paris numbers could be advertised with calls being directed to the head office.

Whatever the phone number mix, however the marketing calls are made the important thing is to understand at all times that strong long term partnerships with loyal customers are far more profitable than losing customers and reputation with nuisance calls. And there is one further area which is receiving increased publicity as time goes on. That is the way in which scammers are moving in on customers, purporting to be from legitimate businesses in an attempt to gain access to computers, bank accounts and savings.

When making calls to customers, businesses should be aware of the tactics used by the scammers and wherever possible take steps to ensure that their call script doesn’t mirror tactics used by those who are making fraudulent calls. This includes ensuring that employees are fully briefed and that should customers wish to put the phone down and call back later as independent verification they should be encouraged to do so. At the end of the day, security is a partnership between business and customer. Rogue companies and scammers create mistrust, but the more that legitimate businesses work with customers to build a secure and mutually beneficial relationship, the harder it will become for those who seek to circumvent the system to succeed.

Written by Alison