David Ford explains why the contact centre industry should be safeguarding its own reputation when it comes to silent calls.
The issue of abandoned calls was once again in the media spotlight lately with the news that Ageas Retail Limited, the specialist insurer to the over-50s, has been fined £10,000 by Ofcom for making 148 abandoned calls to UK consumers over three separate days during a seven-week period.
The issue is just not going to go away by itself
It seems this is an issue that is just not going to go away by itself. The number of complaints about abandoned calls, which are caused by automated calling systems or ‘diallers’ deployed to increase the efficiency of outbound campaigns, has soared over the last year. In the 12 months to April 2014, the number of complaints topped 34,000, averaging at 2,840 per month.
And yet, the sophistication of today’s technology makes it easier than ever to prevent abandoned or silent calls ever happening. As companies increasingly deploy outbound campaigns in a blended environment, the industry should be aware of the potential damage to its reputation from these calls.
Ofcom certainly thinks so. It has recently announced that it has begun a review of its ‘persistent misuse’ policy, which identifies silent and abandoned calls as two examples of misuse. Specifically, the review will explore whether there is scope for improving the policy to help make enforcement more efficient and effective.
Arguably, fines can be a useful ‘big stick’ approach for sending organisations into panic-mode to discuss how their dialling systems could be better managed. But surely the less quantifiable ‘damaged brand reputation’ element should seriously kick-start the industry into action at a time when contact centres are spending millions on improving the customer experience.
Technology is available to eliminate abandoned calls for good
The truth is that the technology is available to eliminate abandoned calls for good. Surely it is time for both technology vendors and contact centres to take action to clean up their act in this regard?
Indeed, it is even possible to outsource the problem – and the solution – with the advent of cloud-based contact centre platforms. For example, Magnetic North’s own cloud-based platform guarantees compliance with all relevant outbound legislation including Ofcom.
While fines do highlight the issue, and Ofcom are clearly taking a stand, isn’t it time for the industry as a whole to begin self-regulating and safeguard its own reputation?
With thanks to David Ford at Magnetic North