Outbound Calling – Past, Present And Future – Part 2

August, 2013

How have UK and US telemarketeers responded to dialing rules and Do Not Call legislation? And what does this mean for countries that have no legislation (yet!) on outbound calls?

Continuing our theme from last month

How have UK and US telemarketeers responded to the rules for predictive dialers and the Do Not Call legislation brought in by their respective governments?

Compared with the late 1990s, there has been a reduction in the volumes of nuisance calls and on balance you are less likely to receive such calls if you have signed up to the national Do Not Call list. At the same time, responsible telemarketing operations have given a lot more attention to building up calling lists, based on customers and prospects actually opting in (i.e. agreeing to be called). There is still some nostalgia for the fact that they can’t just call anyone, but the penalties attached to the legislation, especially in the UK are a strong deterrent for many.

In order to avoid the effect of legislation, some telemarketing operations are offshore. This means that not only is it hard to police compliance with predictive dialing rules but also it is very difficult to check compliance with Do Not Call legislation.

So here is the dilemma. Both the responsible as well as the irresponsible operators are essentially calling the same consumers. And without answering the phone, it is impossible for a consumer to tell them apart. But the experience of nuisance calls and unwanted calls is still so widespread, even if not on the scale hitherto, that many consumers in these two countries either don’t answer and/or use tools to ban incoming calls, based on CLI.

So, what about countries that have no legislation on outbound calls? (And this is just about everybody except the UK and US!)

In many of these countries we see a repeat of what the UK and the US went through prior to legislation. Very high levels of nuisance calls, and in most cases no effective means for consumers to opt out. Again a lot of this activity is offshore. And a lot of it deploys open source and immature dialing technology, which is pretty much unconstrained.

If no one picks up the phone, then at some point such activity becomes uneconomic. But cost bases in some offshore countries are very low. And for every offshore operator who can’t stay in the game, there is very often someone else to take their place.

This leads us to two key questions:

  1. Given this picture, what should governments in countries without any legislation for handling nuisance calls do?
  2. What can responsible call center operators do to reach their customers by phone and not get blocked?

We will consider these two questions in the final part of this series next month.

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