Industry Standards for Calling Times

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In the realm of contact centre communication, timing is everything.  When reaching out to customers, current or potential, understanding the legalities and etiquettes of calling times especially is important, especially when conducting cold calling.

So when Gary asked our community of industry professionals for advice on this topic, we put together the responses to help those with similar queries:

Can anyone clarify if there are set regulations by the OFT or OFCOM regarding what times a business can call its customers (whether consumer or business) without it being regarded as a “nuisance”?

e.g. you can only call customers between 8am and 9pm and 9am – 5pm at weekends. outside of these times you can only receive inbound calls.

Does such a regulation exist that is enforceable or from experience is there much resistance to calling outside of these times?

So with this question in mind, lets delve into this issue, where we will explore both the existing guidelines and the practical considerations that should inform businesses’ calling times.

There Are a Few Legal Guidelines and Regulations That Impact Calling Times

You may find more information from the Direct Marketing Association however the following regulations are also applicable.

  • Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 (“RIPA”)
  • Telecommunications (Lawful Business Practice)(Interception of Communications)
  • Regulations 2000 (“LBP Regulations”)
  • Data Protection Act 1998
  • Telecommunications (Data Protection and Privacy) Regulations 1999
  • Human Rights Act 1998

My understanding and it has only ever come from DMA guidelines is 0800-2100.
Reality dictates that the only productive hours for o/b are 1000-1200ish (good) and 1400-1700 (poorer) and 1800-2000 (good). On i/b its 0900-1700.

The DMA is where the yardstick has come from and yes I wouldn’t transgress it for 1. Hassle you get and 2. Its unproductive.

Thanks to a Call Centre Helper Reader

Sunday’s Are Generally A No Go

It is frowned on phoning on Sundays and at the same time will do little other than alienate your client / list base.

With the cost of TPS’d data it doesn’t do a lot of good burning it with negative results.

There is NO Legislation in the UK Regarding Outbound Cold Calling Hours

I’ve spoken to the DMA, TPS and The Information Commissioners Office, and there is NO legislation in the UK regarding Outbound cold calling hours on the statute or Civil books. Theoretically you can cold call at 3am if you want.

We are entirely self regulating within the framework of the DMA / TPS guidelines.

I would like to state publicly that I feel calling outside the guidelines (especially Sundays) has the potential to do a lot of damage to an industry that is already perceived in a bad light. You won’t get sales and it’ll mess things up for the rest of us.

With thanks to Dave

We Are All Consumers At the End of the Day

My appreciation for the swift and informative response. We’ll certainly be upholding our own and the industry standards. We are all consumers at the end of the day.

I’ll keep my ear to the ground for any ban on calling times although I know we are all responsible enough to use the core and productive times only.

With thanks to Gary

There Appear To Be No Set Rules

From a customer experience, I can clarify that there appear to be no set rules as Docklands Telecoms kept trying to call my girlfriend to upgrade her handset.

When she ignored their calls they tried at differing times, right up to 11pm, which for party animals isn’t a problem, although the alcohol fuelled rant has since stopped the calls from them.

With thanks to Simon

Bank Holidays Can Be the Same as Sundays

Please also note bank holidays are also viewed the same as Sundays by some business.

I would personally prefer to be called away from mowing the lawn in the middle of August though.

With thanks to Nick


Not only did this question spark some great responses, it also triggered further questions who were looking for clarification on the best calling times, as Jennifer asked:

Could anybody please give me advice as to the success of calling between 5pm and 6pm Mon-Fri?

There was a breakdown for successful times however 5pm – 6pm is not really covered. We are part of Service Recovery / Retention team and are looking at best contact rates.

Any help would be much appreciated please as we have a resourcing issue we would like to resolve.

As before our community leapt into action, providing the insightful responses we have included below:

Look at the Demographic of Your Calling List

The one thing to look at would be the overall demographic of your calling list.

Are the majority working? Do they have families (young children), do they have families (older children)?

You’ve got to weigh the pros and cons.

If it’s a young family you’ll have a partner finishing work, young children to feed etc… If it’s older children there’s homework.

Look out for the soaps timings and try to dial around the limits of your data.

In theory you should be able to set up a 3 way list Early, mid and late PM.

With thanks to Dave

5PM to 6PM – The No-Go Zone

Between 17:00-18:00 is definitely a bad time for sales (in my general experience) and I’ve always found the outbound contact rate to be low as well – for a variety of reasons – people getting in from work and not wanting to be disturbed, general household / dinner issues, people still travelling etc.

Thanks to a Call Centre Helper Reader

Our Internal Statistics Indicate That 8pm-9pm is a Rubbish Time

I do think our internal statistics indicate that 8pm-9pm is a rubbish time considering the low level of incoming calls we get as well.

However, the powers that be are happy to keep paying staff to read books and visit the internet!

Although the business insists they are still our customers (and they are) we have to be careful about appearing on the verge of harassment and it does come under selling as we “remind” them of the benefits they may miss out on if they cancel.

With thanks to Jennifer


And finally one more question was asked by Gil who wanted clarification on the types of calls that may be exempt:

We’re making emergency outbound calls for UK. Specifically when for accidents and other emergency incidents.

Are we allowed to call customers beyond 9pm or in a 24/7 basis since it’s emergency related rather than telemarketing?

Ask the Customer

Generally not a good idea to call a customer after 9pm unless it is a genuine life or property threatening emergency.

It may be better to text them during these hours and ask them to call back if they want to speak.

Otherwise ask the customer if they want to be called after 9pm and get their permission before making the call.

With thanks to Jonty

This article was made possible due to the great community of experts we have at Call Centre Helper, to get involved just join our LinkedIn Community and and if you aren’t already make sure you are following us on LinkedIn to see our latest content.

If you want to find out more on a contact centres legal obligations when calling customers, read these next:

Author: Jonty Pearce
Reviewed by: Robyn Coppell

Published On: 12th Apr 2022 - Last modified: 3rd May 2024
Read more about - Call Centre Questions, , ,

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