May 2009: Industry Leaders Converge at ATA's 2009 Washington Summit
by Ryan Thurman, Director of Sales & Marketing with Contact Center Compliance.
The other event I continue to look forward to year after year is the Capital Hill Legislators reception, which this year again proved to be a great way to wind down the conference at the splendid Monocle restaurant near the U.S. Capital building where Representative John Shimkus (R-IL), Representative Tim Murphy (R-PA), Senator Ben Nelson (D-NE) and Senator Jim DeMint (R-SC) joined us for a few cocktails, insightful conversation and networking. In addition, the reception and the conference provided additional opportunities to pitch the benefits of Contact Center Compliance's latest innovative compliance products and services which include the State Requirements/Exemption Guide (see the ATA Resource Guide for a free trial), DNC Training Master™ an online tool for training contact center agents and supervisors in regard to the National and State "Do Not Call" rules plus data enhancement and number append services which help call centers derive more productivity form their calling lists.
Contact Center Compliance Announces First Certified DNC Training Courses: Both the FCC and FTC require "Do Not Call" training for contact centers that operate telemarketing programs. From my experience, much of this training tends to be outdated, paper based, and non centralized. Contact Center Compliance offers a product called Training Master™, which allows companies to easily implement customizable DNC training for supervisors and call center agents with robust reporting and automatic registration for agent turnover, complete with automated reminders. Stacy Kelly, Director of Outbound Sales, American Residential Services summed the service up well, "The "Do Not Call" compliance products that we are now using from Contact Center Compliance have truly made our operating environment more efficient and productive. DNCScrub™ with it's custom integration into our predictive dialer has taken the worry out of our "Do No Call" list management while providing a more automated system that is saving the company both time and money. In addition, the TrainingMaster™ product allowed us to get all of our agents & supervisor across 4 call centers trained with a more automated system with a unified set of standards which again created productivity and efficiency gains for the company." Look for more new products in June including SmartBlock™, real-time hosted call blocking available in a hosted or appliance based model.
ATA-SRO: Ahead of Timelines: Of key interest to many attendees was the state of the new ATA SRO (Self Regulatory Organization) initiative which has a goal of establishing an industry wide, standardized set of certified contact center operating procedures and safe harbor guidelines for telemarketers. The key objective of the SRO is to mitigate any further regulations from the FTC, FCC and other US agencies and provide a way to essentially self police the telemarketing community much like the movie industry did with parental guidance warnings. Tim Searcy "highly encouraged" ATA members and their customers to get audited and seek accreditation from the SRO program which is now fully operational and ahead of schedule with the next auditor class on the horizon. The first firm to be accredited by the ATA is Charlton, an outsourced service provider, who was audited by Michele Shuster. The ATA-SRO process was described in the opening session as "a bit like going to the dentist" even for a company that prides itself on compliance but overall, the end game is definitely a huge with now having establishing a certified safe harbor program. Overall, the industry has come along way with the current dialogue with the FTC and have made great strides in seeking recommendations for legislators before new telemarketing laws are introduced and the "kill bill" list has targeted and eliminated many new rules that would have hindered the contact center industries growth.
Compliance Officer's Forum -Live!" Panel Discussion: Reid Houser of Sitel moderating, Jim Beuoy of OKS Ameridial Worldwide, Janette Nelson of West Corporation, Joe Sanscrainte and Ryan Thurman of Contact Center Compliance participated in a panel discussion with these compliance experts bringing the Compliance Offers Forum to a live meeting format. They covered topics such as non-profit Federal and State rules, Pre-recorded and cell phone calling guidelines, and data security and privacy in the contact center. During my segment, I provided an overview of the other countries that have followed in the footsteps of the US to create national do not call registries (Canada, India, Australia, the UK, and Mexico) while diving into some of the key details with respect to the Canadian DNCL regulations managed by the CRTC including penalties, registration requirements, and initial enforcement. The panel also answered questions from the audience much like we answer member's questions during our normal monthly conference calls. The purpose of the compliance officer's forum is to provide a collaborative resource where compliance professionals can share ideas and best practices and is one of the most active committees within the ATA.
News and Views from the FTC: The FTC session included Kelly Horne, Manager of the Federal DNC Registry, and John Krebs, Counsel, Bureau of Protection. I thought they did an excellent job in reviewing the main areas of the FTC focus:
- Disconnected phones numbers on registry. The FTC reviewed information from the DMA and now has a subcontractor they are working with to purge the National DNC of disconnected numbers that have been reassigned to another party. The issue is that the DNC list is still not a pure source and there are many business and outdated numbers that are impacting the outbound contact center industry.
- Pre-recorded messages. Still the number one source of complaints the FTC receives. Who has not received the auto warranty calls on their landline and cell phone numbers? The FTC is taking a look at companies that continue to use this channel illegally as well as the companies that facilitate the messaging.
- Internet leads and EBR's. The FTC recently took action against Westgate Resorts and All in One Vacation Club for illegally using Internet leads. Look for more cases to follow on this topic.
- Affiliate marketing. Another area the FTC is looking to set precedence and follow through with enforcement for companies that abuse affiliate marketing rules and attempt to market in so called "grey areas".
- Consumer DNC Complaints to FTC. Actually increased to 1.8 million in 2008 compared to 1.2 million in 2007. Still relatively low amount compared to the billions of calls placed annually. Currently over 175 million numbers on the Federal DNC list.
- National DNC Registry fee to be reduced.