Contact centre specialist Sabio has welcomed Ofcom’s action on silent calls and has come up with a shortlist of key issues that organisations should consider during the consultation period that runs through to January 2006.
(Silent calls occur when automated calling systems used by contact centres for telemarketing, market research, debt collection and other purposes, generate more calls than the available call centre agents can deal with. When the person dialled answers the telephone, there is no agent available resulting in silence on the line.)
According to Sabio’s Founding Director Adam Faulkner: “Ofcom’s action on silent and abandoned calls isn’t about making life difficult for well-run telemarketing or customer service organisations, it’s wholly focused on ending the persistent misuse of dialler systems. It’s important to recognise that abandoned calls can cause real anxiety and annoyance for consumers, so we support Ofcom’s determination to introduce new measures backed by firm enforcement for breaches of the rules, and meaningful fines of up to £50,000.”
In its recommendations, Ofcom has outlined a series of requirements for organisations using automated calling systems. These include the use of a recorded information message that identifies the source of any abandoned call, the need for Calling Line Identification to be shown on all outbound calls, and a 72-hour delay in re-dialling numbers that have been called and then abandoned. In addition, abandoned calls must be below three per cent of all total calls for any 24-hour period, and records must be kept to demonstrate compliance.
“Should Ofcom’s recommendations become regulation, it will be far harder for those companies who have used silent calls aggressively to prosper,” added Adam Faulkner. “Cold calling isn’t just about sales, it can also play a key role for service organisations, market research and debt collection companies, so we’re not expecting Ofcom’s action to spell the end for the cold call. Over the next few months there’ll be a consultation period, prior to these recommendations becoming regulation. At Sabio we believe there are a number of important steps that organisations can take to ensure that their own dialler systems are ready for any forthcoming legislation.”
Sabio’s Silent Call recommendations include:
Don’t panic – organisations have time to think about the impact of Ofcom’s new consultation document, and have three months to think about how they’re going to address this issue if it becomes law.
Start thinking about your informational messages – they will need to cover who’s called, why they were calling, include an opt-out message, and contain no sales or marketing messages.
Don’t overlook your reporting – organisations may need to improve their current dialler reporting to demonstrate compliance with regulatory requirements.
Plan for any regulatory changes – there’s enough time to audit your current dialler capabilities and carry out a gap analysis between where you are now and what the proposed regulations recommend
Think about what these recommendations mean for your business – if you’ve already got an efficient dialler operation, you might not need to make too many changes to your technology – get advice if you’re not certain.