Due largely to the dramatic increase in the prevalence of wireless telephones, last year the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) announced new Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) rules requiring companies to obtain express written consent before contacting prospective and existing customers on their cell phones and, in some cases, their land lines.
Specifically, the new rules that take effect on Oct. 16, 2013 will prohibit using auto-dialing technology to place solicitous calls (live or prerecorded) to wireless numbers without prior consent.
To help companies prepare to comply with these new TCPA rules, Velocify recently teamed up with CompliancePoint in presenting “What You Need to Know About the New Cell Phone Express Consent Rules,” a webinar that is now available for you to view at your convenience.
There is no way around the fact that the new rules are complex. They will affect how you communicate not only with potential leads but how you interact with your existing customers as well. And, while complying with the new rules will probably initially seem tedious and burdensome, we believe that implementing an appropriate strategy sooner rather than later will save you and your sales team considerable energy and expenses in the form of lost productivity, lost leads and potential fines and lawsuits.
During the webinar, which we recommend you view, we delve deeply into the details of the new TCPA rules and how to comply with them. Broadly, the steps we recommend you take to make sure you’re prepared before mid-October include:
- Familiarize yourself with the rules. The new rules are complex and they impact how you communicate with both existing and potential clients.
- Evaluate your CRM system. Your technology should be able to quickly show you which lead’s phone number is a cell phone and whether your company has express consent to call. Remember: The new rules apply not only to potential customers, but also existing customers, if you’re contacting them on wireless telephones or with automated dialing.
- Identify every touch point and determine how to obtain consent. You can ask for consent during a phone call to a land line (including at the end of a service call or a call placed to your help desk), on a web form, in an email message or on a printed form. By starting to prepare now, you’re giving yourself the time you’ll need to figure out what works best for you and your customers.
- Work closely with your marketing and legal teams to craft consent statements. A customer’s lack of permission to contact him on his cell phone or by using an automated dialing system covers only those scenarios, depending on how the statement is written. It does not mean you cannot contact him at all.
- Train your sales reps. Once you’ve settled on how you’re going to obtain consent, it’s important that everyone from your company who communicates with prospects and customers strictly adhere to the approved script.
- Document everything. Research indicates that up to 70% of the complaints filed regarding telemarketing actually pertain to calls that are legal. By documenting every interaction at every step of the consent process, you may save yourself considerable time and legal expenses.
- A few of the things you should not do as part of your process to obtain consent include using different font sizes and colors, including pre-checked boxes and sharing consent among affiliates or subsidiaries.
Again, I urge you to view this webinar. If you employ the use of an automated dialer and contact prospects and clients who have cell phones, the sooner you’re in compliance with the new rules, the less disruption your company will experience.