Before we look at what countries other than the UK and the US might do to deal with nuisance calls, let’s look again at the landscape they are dealing with.
Two things seem clear:
- Most of these markets are being subject to predictive dialers running at high levels of nuisance calls, often offshore. We do not see this situation changing quickly.
- Consumers are reacting by simply not answering their phones and/or blocking numbers based on CLI
In other words a repeat of experience in the UK and the US.
What Should Regulators Do?
So should regulators follow the same path as in these countries? Let’s look at the tools available to them.
- A National Do Not Call List
Once consumers are fed up with nuisance calls, experience tells us that the creation of a national Do Not Call list is likely to see most consumers sign up – and do so quickly. So call centers then have to cope with the not insignificant costs of scrubbing their lists to remove their phone numbers. And all this happens because marketing associations have argued for opt out. But if most consumers are going to opt out as soon as they given the right, maybe an enlightened approach would be to go opt in, in the first place – and avoid all the hassle of a National DNC list and compliance with it.Not exactly conventional wisdom, but something we think regulators and national marketing associations should consider. Otherwise, our advice is do the decent thing by your citizens and bring in a national Do Not Call list.
- Rules for Controlling Predictive Dialers
Despite the activities of the bad dialer guys who simply do not care, there is little doubt that the compliance rules brought in in both the UK and the US have caused a reduction in the levels of nuisance calls. So this is a no brainer. Follow the kinds of rules established in the UK and the US and set out substantial penalties for those who break them.Most dialer vendors have not bothered to innovate and improve their predictive algorithms to meet the challenge. But this is no reason to relax the 3% maximum on silent calls. If more countries follow the lead of the UK and the US, by setting a similar maximum, then we may see some real innovation in the dialer industry, so that other dialers can provide genuine predictive gain.
- Rules for CLI presentation
Ensuring that CLI presentation from call centers is mandatory and traceable would limit the ability of operators to create nuisance calls with impunity. This might mean financial penalties for any carrier who allows user equipment screening of CLI to be abused.
And What Should Call Centers Do?
As consumers get savvy about nuisance calls, there is little doubt that in most countries we can expect that consumers will increasingly only want to pick up the phone when they know who is calling. And this has nothing to do with the presence or absence of regulations.
The good guys will have developed a good relationship with their customer and got their willing consent to call them. But how will the customer distinguish calls from the good guys from all the other calls? To be honest, the only viable options are recognisable CLI and caller name presentation (where supported by the networks).
Instead of seeing CLI provision as a hindrance to their business, contact center operators should see it as a solution, and they should actively promote their CLI so that incoming calls are recognised as coming from them.
This strategy will be most effective when responsible call centers operators lobby their legislators to clamp down on fake and misleading CLI presentation. If your CLI represents your brand, fake and misleading CLI devalues that brand and it is in your interest as a corporate body outsourcing, or as a responsible outsourcer to protect that brand.
And lastly, make sure that your dialer delivers on predictive gain!