Telemarketing Services and Non-ATDS Dialing Best Practice
By A.J. Windle, Director of Operations, Quality Contact Solutions
Its been two years since the FCC issued its Declaratory Ruling, clarifying the Telephone Consumer Protection Act and the definition of an Automatic Telephone Dialing System (ATDS). With this rule clarification, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) made it clear that all outbound telemarketers must use a Non-ATDS to place outbound marketing calls to wireless phone numbers (unless they have Prior Express Written Consent-PEWC). In those two years, as an industry we’ve developed a few options for companies that are risk averse when it comes to calling their customers or prospects on a wireless phone number.
Quality Contact Solutions developed a compliant non-ATDS solution two years ago and we continue to use that same solution today. In addition, we have developed an additional solution that many call centers and telephone sales professionals use. It is called “The Compliance Phone”. This service is sold by our sister company, Quality Voice and Data. Before I jump into why this is a great solution for many telemarketing services organizations, I would like to take a step back and Set the Stage if you will about why having a Non-ATDS Phone system is so important.
The Client Side
The regulations prohibiting businesses from calling customers and prospects on their wireless phone number without prior express written consent (PEWC) is not only affecting our industry, it is slowly crippling all businesses that regularly interact with customers and prospects via the telephone (and by the way, a text is the same as a phone call, by definition).
Savvy companies are working to implement a process to gain PEWC from their prospects and customers, but it is a very complex project to implement and many of our clients have been in the planning and development phase for the entire two years and still haven’t successfully implemented a PEWC process for gaining consent to call wireless phone numbers. It is very complex when you begin to think about it. For example, what is the verbiage to be used? How do we deliver the message to the customer? How does the opt-in get submitted? How does the opt-in get stored and how will it get retrieved when proof of PEWC is needed? And how does the process get tested regularly to ensure it is working properly?
Because this can be so difficult I have seen many companies just stop all outbound telemarketing calls to wireless phone numbers, to avoid potential risk. Honestly, it can be scary out there. Just Google “TCPA settlements” and you’ll see how many of these are taking place and the massive amounts of money that are being settled out of court.
However, as consumers (and even businesses) get rid of their landline phone numbers, the number of wireless phone numbers in most contact lists is increasing at a growing rate. If you look at the percentage of phone numbers that are wireless today vs two years ago, you will be startled with the increase. If you opt to scrub out all wireless phone numbers, it may be difficult to reach your customer and prospect outbound telemarketing contact goals.
The Telemarketing Services Side
Businesses in the Telemarketing Services Industry are battling this issue as well. However it is a different battle. Professional telemarketing services companies must rely on the client to get Prior Express Written Consent (PEWC) from the end customer. The telemarketing services company must carefully evaluate the client’s process to ensure PEWC is properly documented and can be retrieved if there is ever a question on a per call basis. The problem is that both the client and the telemarketing services company could be liable if there were a TCPA violation.
If the client hasn’t garnered PEWC, then smart telemarketing services companies protect themselves and their client by utilizing a Non-Automated Telephone Dialing System (non-ATDS) to place the calls to wireless phone numbers. For each call center operation that we work with, we ensure that they have a legal opinion letter from qualified counsel, assuring us that the call center’s non-ATDS solution meets the legal requirements for TCPA compliance.
What are we doing?
Quality Contact Solutions has been fighting this battle since day one and we are committed to not allowing these regulations to slow us down. That being said we have taken precautionary measures into our own hands and have started using “The Compliance Phone” for our Non-ATDS phone solution. This option has worked very well for us internally and many of the owner-operator call centers we work with have seen the benefits enough to move in the same direction. This has allowed us to open the doors of opportunity that have been somewhat closed for the last two years. Now that we understand some of the risks, here are some reasons why “The Compliance Phone” has been the best option for us.
· Keeps Us Compliant
· Stand Alone System –The Compliance Phone is a completely standalone option and is not tied to your current ATDS dialing platform. This ensures clarity that your current dialing platform is not being manipulated in a way to potentially meet Non-ATDS standards which can be risky.
· 288 page Opinion Letter – The Compliance Phone is backed by a 288 page opinion letter that was provided by TCPA attorney Michele Shuster, managing partner of MacMurray, Petersen & Shuster LLP and is based on a detailed review of The Compliance Phone technology by IP Attorney Christine McCarthy of Barnes & Thomburg LLP.
· Reporting and Call Search Functionality
· Web Based Reporting – This piece is critical for our business so we can look at all user activity, generate reports and search for specific dialed phone numbers in the event of a request.
· Call Recordings
· Monitoring – Quality Monitoring is at the forefront of our beliefs and having a system that not only keeps us compliant but let’s us record all calls is essential. Operating without this option isn’t an option for us and one that should not be overlooked.
· Many Telemarketing Services companies have opted not to use a Non-ATDS phone system to call wireless phone numbers due to the extensive implementation of new systems. The Compliance Phone has provided us and our partners with a simple fix to this problem that is as easy as plugging the phone into the Internet using a Cat5 or Cat6 cable directly into your router or modem.
· Each phone has it’s own assigned phone number and the Caller ID displays the location number or a specific number designed by the business.
· Cost Effective
· Lastly, this has been an extremely cost effective option for us. Many companies out there are holding back not because they want to however because of the cost associated with implementing a new dialing platform. The Compliance Phone takes that obstacle out of the way with its simplicity of needed equipment, and easy set up.
Conducting wireless dialing on a Non-ATDS phone system can seem like an unmanageable task however, the proof is in the pudding. Quality Contact Solutions and many of our partners have been utilizing this system for the last two years with great success. If you are a company looking to get back to calling your customers or prospects or are a Telemarketing Services provider who is looking for an option to open the doors of lost opportunity give us a call at 1-866-963-2889. Or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
A.J. Windle is the Director of Operations of Quality Contact Solutions. A.J. is responsible for ensuring every client program is successful on a daily basis, including achieving the Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) that matter most. With a deep call center operations background, A.J. is a hands-on leader and has built his career on creating win-win-win relationships for his team, his clients and the owner-operated call centers he is responsible for. A.J. loves to keep score and he is proud of his team’s scoreboard. A.J. knows that great leaders find a way to make sure their team wins. A.J can be reached at email@example.com or 516-656-5106.