17/03/2015, London, UK
Following the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) raid of a business reported to have made up to six million nuisance phone calls a day, a customer service expert has welcomed tougher rules to put an end to this and similar damaging and alienating behaviour.
The raid found that the unnamed company, which is unregistered in the UK, held more than 90 million numbers that were frequently targeted to offer debt consolidation and pursue compensation claims or mis-sold PPI. Dave Ogden, Customer Experience Consultant at Aspect Software suggests that using such techniques to sell to people is putting a black mark on the industry and is unwelcome in a market that is undergoing rapid change to improve the customer experience.
He said: “A scattergun approach is not a viable way to attract customers; it’s complete abuse of the systems originally designed to make customer engagement a better experience for the right audiences – not to irritate and frighten anyone and everyone.”
From 6th April, the ICO will no longer have to prove that messages are causing ‘substantial damage of substantial distress’ before levying penalties on companies making persistent cold calls and sending SMS. The new rules mean that it will be a simpler process for offenders to be fined, responding to recent Which? statistics reporting that 6 in 10 people no longer wanted to answer their own phones.
“Smart devices and the Internet have connected the world; people can now engage with brands anywhere and on multiple platforms, meaning consumers have come to expect more proactive customer care that truly understands their needs and wants. However if customers are being hounded by cold calls, junk emails and messages that are of no relevance or use to them, they are simply going to ignore valuable contact, even if it is one of their providers trying to offer them a better deal and better customer service,” Ogden explained.
He continued: “When it comes to combating these issues, it is important that regulators take the appropriate measures needed to find and penalise the culprits. We have seen steps taken to try manage cold calls, with the ICO and Ofcom probing the Telephone Preference Service to see how successful it is in preventing unwanted contact, however this does not mean that the job is done, and more needs to be in place to protect customers.”
Ogden concluded: “This is an important issue that the industry needs to tackle, but it is the action of but a few – the vast majority of companies do follow the rules and have the customers’ best interests at heart. Those organisations that are either using or considering using outbound telephony as a route to contact customers will welcome the new rules to protect the whole industry.”
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