Earlier this year, the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) announced that customers would not be able to claim any PPI compensation after August 2019. Cue warnings from watchdogs for customers to expect a ‘plague’ of cold calls from PPI management services, looking to make quick money.
To make matters worse, most victims of these nuisance calls aren’t aware that they can claim this compensation directly from the bank for free. The fact that banks haven’t actively sought to make customers aware of this, and PPI management companies have kept it quiet, would seem to go against the FCA’s Treating Customers Fairly principle, particularly one of the core outcomes specified:
Outcome 3. Consumers are provided with clear information and kept appropriately informed before, during and after the point of sale.
This type of irresponsible cold calling negatively impacts consumers, both in the B2C and B2B spheres, and gives genuine telemarketing a bad name. Whilst a cut-off deadline has been set for PPI, it is probably only a matter of time before another issue triggers the next wave of claims calls or spam texts, given the huge industry now fuelling the fire. So what steps have been taken to try and protect consumers and establish better practice? Let’s look at the regulations surrounding cold calling and telemarketing.
What’s being done?
Since 1999, The Telephone Preference Service (TPS) has attempted to tackle endemic nuisance calls. Whilst it is illegal to cold call customers registered with the TPS, unfortunately many ignore the law, and the same laws do not apply to cold texting. What is more, TPS has itself been undermined by scam companies offering a paid-for service to block cold callers, whilst there is no charge for signing up to the official register. These disreputable companies are scamming consumers and fuelling the issue they claim to fix.
Since February 2015, the government has taken measures to clamp down on the companies behind cold calls and nuisance text messages. Whilst it has become much easier under new legislation to impose fines of up to £500,000 on the companies cold calling and texting, these measures haven’t yet provided a sufficient deterrent.
As of April 2016, cold callers ignoring the increased risks of fines have been forced to display their number, even if the call centre is based abroad. In line with fair treatment policies, this gives customers the chance to weed out the legitimate calls from the nuisance ones. Again, though, this hasn’t been very effective, as too many businesses both in the UK and overseas ignore regulations in favour of commercial gain.
Sadly, it appears that, however stringent the legislation, there will always be businesses willing to put profit before customer interests. Ironically, the new General Data Protection Regulations, which will introduce tighter controls around marketing consent and higher fines from May 2018, may themselves fuel the next epidemic of cold calls and spam texts to follow PPI.
Telephone marketing done right
Clearly, for any company that values its reputation and understands that trust is the key to successful and profitable customer relationships, harassing individuals with irrelevant, unsolicited cold calls is not a foundation for business success. Whether telemarketing to businesses or consumers, it is important to work with an agency that builds trust and reinforces brand reputation with the target audience. At The Telemarketing Company, we’ve worked with major companies whose brand is their most precious asset and whose business model is centred on customer needs. It is critical therefore that our services are always transparent and compliant. Here’s how we get it right:
What we do:
- Our briefing process is robust so that our agents are crystal clear on the client’s proposition and brand values.
- We qualify and profile the data we use and call only those for whom the offer is useful and relevant.
- We have deep and broad experience in a wide range of industries so our calls are driven by customer interests and issues, rather than a script.
- Our specialist teams are native language speakers to ensure the fluency of every conversation and bring the human touch to the fore in each interaction.
- We record all telemarketing calls for quality assurance and screen against C/TPS
- We display our number for every call we make and when requested, immediately remove numbers from our call list.
We work within an industry best practice framework including FCA authorisation, ISO 9001 accreditation, and Investors in People. The company is a DMA member, Company Partner to the Market Research Society and authorised training centre for the Institute of Sales Management.
What we don’t do:
- We’re never overbearing, pushy or rude.
- We don’t go off topic.
- We don’t get angry in the event of rejection.
- We don’t skirt around customers’ questions.
- We never lose sight of the customer’s interests – we keep these at the heart of every call.
Done well, telemarketing and phone research provide effective tools with which to protect customer interests and rights and there are many reputable agencies, including ourselves, supporting that effort. FCA audited ‘Treating Customers Fairly’ compliance calls form a significant part of the work we do, ensuring customers have not been mis-sold products or services (including PPI) particularly in regulated sectors such as finance and insurance. We also carry out customer satisfaction programmes for clients in many different industries, providing a channel of two-way communication, capturing customer feedback, both positive and negative, to help them better support their customers.
Hopefully with time, regulations will catch up with those businesses who choose to put commercial gain ahead of best practice but, in the meantime, phone based contact and research play a valuable role in protecting customer rights. A reputable telemarketing partner can help companies who respect their customers and value their reputation engage with their target audience through meaningful interactions that build positive, lasting relationships built on trust.
If you’d like to know more about the work we do, give us a call