Dick Bourke takes us through how compliance laws can affect your brand and offers his advice to ensure that you stay compliant.
There have been a number of high-profile fines levied on well-known brands in recent years, and these mega-fines are only getting more common.
Last year, a firm based in Manchester repeatedly failed to comply with regulations and was fined £80k, and an Irish bank was fined over €3 million.
Compliance is a relevant issue for many UK businesses. Banks/lending institutions and insurance companies/brokers are top of the list when it comes to regulated industries, as are the utilities companies.
The pharmaceutical industry is often in the news with regard to compliance breaches, and EU regulations around the protection of customer data are again getting even more stringent.
If you are reading this post, we are probably preaching to the converted… but organisations that are required to adhere to regulation really need to get on top of compliance.
We were at a talk recently on compliance where we learned that there is the carrot and stick approach, with the stick being the threat of hefty fines. The other element of this (the carrot) to consider here is the protection of your brand.
It doesn’t require a big stretch of the imagination to understand that while a big fine is bad news indeed, it is the fact that this fine might be highlighted in the media that can prove to be more expensive still. Your customers will respond to any article about a fine associated with your brand with a raised eyebrow.
We earn our customers’ trust over time. This is achieved by delivering a great product along with great customer service. This confidence can be shaken overnight by an article mentioning your brand in connection with a breach of compliance or a large fine.
The fringe benefit of compliance
There is a benefit to compliance that isn’t always obvious, consistency.
It might be the way you address your customers, it might be the divulging of the customers’ own data back to them, it might be reading the terms and conditions back to the customer every time… when your organisation has a process in place whereby certain tasks need to be completed by the customer service team during each and every interaction, consistency is the result.
How to ensure that you are compliant
Here are a few pearls of wisdom that we’ve picked up over the years:
1. Measure it. If you can’t measure it you can’t manage it!
2. Improve it. Measuring your team’s compliance will highlight areas that aren’t meeting your compliance standards. It is crucial that training should be provided to address these areas.
3. Another consideration is that customers are now using a number of channels to interact with your customer service team. Having a process in place for one channel is great, but what about the other channels that your organisation support?
4. Embed compliance into your culture. Ok, so compliance isn’t considered to be the sexiest part of any process; with that said, if you can make compliance a consideration for every interaction, you will create consistency as protecting against large fines from the regulatory bodies.
5. Making compliance a priority can be a hard sell when customer service agents are being managed by other KPIs/metrics.
Identify stakeholders and include them in the process. Every organisation will have a stakeholder that follows what is happening in the industry with regard to compliance for their industry. Organisations should to identify these stakeholders and bring them in.
We mentioned the brand consideration above; another stakeholder that you could consider would be somebody from the marketing department.
6. Demonstrate the auditing to the regulator as well as report on adherence to compliance over time.
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