As a telemarketer, you may not get the respect you deserve. The public is suspicious of calling agents, in part because the industry gets a bad name from robocallers. But that’s not the only issue. Often, telemarketers do not follow compliance regulations or ethical dialing practices. Some stay on the right side of the law but fail to maintain the highest standards of their profession. The pressure to produce sales can tempt anyone to cut corners and violate these standards.
However, violating ethical practices ultimately harms your business. Consumers learn that you cannot be trusted, and the FCC will likely intervene, imposing hefty fines. Carriers may block your number or label it suspicious. Consumers can also easily block your number on their own phones and report it to various online services.
Your outbound calls face more scrutiny than ever. If you do not follow the rules, you can destroy your business’s credibility and ruin your chances at success. To avoid harming your company’s reputation and enduring blocked numbers, follow the following tips for ethical dialing.
Use Legitimate Lead Lists
If your lead list contains inaccurate information, your staff will end up calling the wrong people, those who are not interested in your products. The integrity of your lead list is one of the key aspects of ethical dialing. You may purchase your lead list from third parties, but you need to vet their sources.
For example, buying leads from debt consolidators often means you are calling people with financial problems who are not currently interested in buying your products or services. Plus, they are likely to block your number, preventing you from selling to them at a later date.
You can prevent more problems by making certain your lead list fits your targeted demographic. You also need to make certain your list is scrubbed and up-to-date. Removing bogus and duplicate leads saves you time and helps to protect your reputation. You should consider scrubbing your lead list against the FCC’s reassigned phone number database and then make certain the leads match their current phone numbers.
Finally, make sure you properly distribute your leads to your agents. If your staff doesn’t follow up on leads or they cannot reach the leads, add them to a recycled lead list to check on later. For any leads that request it, consider compiling an internal do not call list so your agents quit calling them and causing bad will.
CNAM / Enhanced Caller ID
People hate to receive unsolicited and/or anonymous calls. To avoid angering consumers, make sure your business registers all of its numbers to a CNAM directory and consider getting an enhanced caller ID service to clearly show your business name as well as your phone number. People are much more likely to answer your calls if they recognize the company name.
Having these tools helps, even though fraudsters may occasionally use your number for a spoof call. An authoritative caller ID sets your agents apart from other telemarketers and increases answer rates.
To maintain your brand reputation, you must follow all applicable compliance laws when you set up your dialing architecture. Ensure that you are dialing with proper compliance and with the right type of dialer. Configure your dialer properly, avoiding power dialers, to keep call recipients from flagging your numbers. Also, be certain that your agent is on the line when the consumer answers their phone. When the agent is not immediately on the line, the irate recipient may block or flag your number.
Also, swap out your outbound phone numbers regularly throughout the day to prevent their being flagged. The rule of thumb is to avoid dialing more than 150 times a day from the same DID to prevent carriers from marking your number as hot or from flagging it.
Finally, avoid using services like “least call routing” whenever possible. This method means your calls can be routed through a twisting and complicated path that makes carriers suspicious. Since the FCC will soon implement STIR/SHAKEN, LCR could lead to lower attestation ratings for your calls. Even a legitimate company’s reputation could be harmed.
Agent Training / Scripts
Your agents are the voice of your call center. If they are lacking in certain basic skills, your business cannot be successful. To be effective, you should train your agents to have empathy and compassion for the consumer. Your agents build your company’s reputation with their everyday interactions, and as such should be aware of ethical dialing practices.
In addition to your basic sales script, they need to have exit scripts and opt-out scripts so that they do not bother disinterested and upset call recipients again. This step may gain you business in the future since it enhances your reputation. Also, when your agents use the wrong scripts, they can easily anger potential customers, leading them to block or flag your number and publicly criticize your company.
Abiding by compliance regulations is a no brainer. However, some industries face more regulations than others. To protect your business brand, be certain to stay up to date on current compliance practices for your industry.
While the TCPA and DNC are mandated for all telemarketing, healthcare companies, for example, also need to abide by HIPAA regulations. Revealing patients’ private medical information is a serious violation that can result in fines of up to $50,000 per incident. Violations of the Do Not Call Registry can also result in huge fines and other restrictions.
When your agents violate ethical dialing practices, they harm your company and the industry at large. The future of telemarketing depends on legitimate call centers maintaining their reputations and abiding by the consumer’s wishes. Federal scrutiny will be more intense in the coming year with the full implementation of STIR/SHAKEN. Carriers and phone manufacturers continue to arm consumers with better blocking and reporting tools. Creating and following ethical dialing practices is your best route to success in the current business climate.
Remember, no one likes to receive an unwanted call, whether it be during or after their work hours. Of course, telemarketing is still a necessary business model for many companies. Fortunately, you can reconcile your business needs with consumer preferences by using empathy and proper dialing practices. When you embrace ethical dialing protocols, consumers are less frustrated with your calls even if they are not interested in your company’s products or services. And they will remember your company acted professionally.