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6 actions that lead to a nuisance call complaint

Most outbound call centres want to deliver the best service at all times. It’s natural, then, to think that nuisance calls regulations don’t apply to them. But, particularly in light of new increased powers for the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO), it’s important to understand what constitutes a nuisance call, and what activity could lead to complaints.

Most of us would accept that unexpected calls can often be an inconvenience. But that’s something very different from a true ‘nuisance call’. These are often extremely high in volume, and continue to be made relentlessly over a prolonged period of time. Fortunately, the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) exists to stop companies from making this type of call.

However, from April 6th 2015 the procedure for handling complaints about nuisance calls has changed. The person making the complaint no longer needs to prove they experienced ‘substantial distress’ as a result of nuisance calls or SMS text messages. They simply have to make a complaint.

6 things to avoid

The ICO now has the power to intervene in more cases and hand out fines much more quickly. This makes it more important than ever to understand the key factors that lead to consumer complaints, including: 

1. Repeated calls to their phone, whether answered or not.

2. Multiple silent calls.

3. Silent calls that were not followed by a recorded message confirming who the caller was.

4. Cold calls to phone numbers registered on the TPS database.

5. Calls subsequent to a verbal request to be removed from the callers database.

6. Calls made after 21:00.

In March 2015, the ICO raided a call centre in Hove. The company used an automated dialler to make four to six million outbound calls every day. However, it is not the quantity of calls that put this firm in breach of Ofcom regulation.

In fact, the company’s calls were made anonymously, with no way to find out who the call was from. They were made without consent – and, in many cases, even after consumers had specifically asked to be removed from the database. As a result, servers and computer hardware were seized as part of an ICO investigation. The outcome of this type of investigation is usually serious, with potential fines now as high as £500,000.

One company, Direct Assist, made repeated nuisance calls about personal injury claims. These calls ignored Telephone Preference Service (TPS) opt-out lists, and one household was apparently called 470 times. After an investigation, the ICO issued a fine of £80,000. The company subsequently went into liquidation.

In both of these cases, powerful dialler technology was used to make huge numbers of calls every day. However, it’s important to understand that these misuses don’t reflect the behaviour of the wider industry.

Best practices for compliant dialler use

The vast majority of businesses want to make the right calls, to the right people, at the right time. A dialler makes this possible, automating manual processes so that agents can spend their time focused on delivering the best service.

While it’s true that a dialler can be configured to directly breach Ofcom regulations, Hostcomm diallers are appropriately pre-configured. They help you avoid multiple silent calls to the same numbers, and provide quick and easy ways to remove callers from your database on request.

Whatever the nature of your campaign – and the number of calls you need to make – it’s important to be aware of the relevant regulations. With new legislation making it unnecessary for the ICO to prove ‘substantial distress’, misuse is more likely to be punished than ever before.

Hostcomm will be offering written guidelines to help you understand Ofcom requirements and how to avoid gaining complaints. This includes a new eBook with a step-by-step guide to configuring your dialler for the best performance.

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