Ofcom Dialler Review - Firms Beware!

Contact Centre
January 31, 2016

With serious threats of enforcement action by Ofcom, it's time for firms to work together and deliver a consistent response during the consultation phase - now extended to March. For your information and attention, below is our summary and interpretation of the review.

Ofcom Consultation

- Re-issued December 2015

- Deadline of February 2016 for feedback and comments

- Deadline extended to March 2016

- Proposed adoption May-June 2016

Our Interpretation

Clear distinction between Silent and Abandoned callsSilent Calls limited to 3 in a 24 hour period

Abandoned calls limited to 3% in a 24 hour period

Investigation and fines can be ‘almost’ immediate

Investigation into past events not limited

“Open season” declared by Ofcom

“…..the main focus of our enforcement action is, and will continue to be, tackling silent and abandoned calls……”

No more False negatives/False positives

Answer Machine Detection is as good as dead!

AMD is effectively banned unless YOU can prove it’s 100% accurate in your circumstances

“….our general approach is that persons who are called must not be subjected to silent calls in any circumstances. Enforcement action against those making silent calls will, therefore, be our highest priority of all……..”

Persistent “misuse” has an open interpretation

If Ofcom perceive your actions to be a “misuse” and in their opinion it is regular, then its persistent misuse.

Three (3) calls is now Persistent Misuse regardless of campaigns or types of call

“…….where a person engages in activities or conduct that amount to misuse on three or more occasions, Ofcom may regard that as ‘persistent misuse’………”

Messages must be left and …….

contain the identity of the party on whose behalf the call was made (which will not necessarily be the same party that is making the call)

include an explanation that the party attempted to contact the recipient but was unable to connect them to an agent

provide details of a basic rate number which the call recipient can contact so they have the possibility of declining to receive further calls from the calling party

not include any marketing content nor be used as an opportunity to market to the called person.

“…….this is 123 company and we are calling on behalf of XYZ …..”

Ofcom basically suggest that the telephone number left to call back is a basic rate number.

Using multiple CLIs could be considered misuse as you may be trying to “fool” the customer. (Multiple use of Mobile SIM cards could be perceived as misuse.)

“…....a number which costs the same as a standard geographic call, or a standard mobile rate or a number which is free to the caller, but not numbers starting 0845……..”

“When a person calls the provided CLI and is connected to an agent or an automated message, we will also regard it as misuse, which may be persistent misuse, if:…..”

•no information is provided as to the organisation which called, or the organisation on whose behalf they called (you must state

“…….this is 123 company and we called on behalf of XYZ …..”

an opportunity is not provided for the person called to opt out of future calls or messages

the call is used as an opportunity to market to that person, without the person’s consent.

An inbound call could be the basis for “Persistent Misuse” and trigger an investigation from Ofcom into Outbound and Inbound behaviour.

Ring no reply Hang up timings

Calls that are allowed to ring for less than 15 seconds before being terminated (unless answered before then) by the calling party, or are left ringing for extended periods are likely to cause more harm.

This may trigger an investigation from Ofcom into Outbound and Inbound behaviour.

There is no definition of what an extended period is and so this probably needs clarification.

The Contact Centre Dialler must be managed and supervised by trained and competent individuals.

Dialler Managers must be awareness of Ofcom regulations and be applying them in a professional manner.

Agent must also be awareness of high level Ofcom regulations and try to adhere to them in a professional manner.

“…..we expect organisations to: carry out testing when setting up or changing systems; monitor agent performance; and ensure dialler management is carried out by competent persons……”

The regulations may be applied to other forms of contact, not just dialling and in principle, this could be almost any existing or future forms of “calling activity”

“…..A further example where a network or service could be misused is where call centre agents making outbound calls behave improperly towards call recipients, such as rudeness or intimidating behaviour. Where such behaviour is repeated, this may amount to persistent misuse…...”

“… the examples of misuse given in this statement are intended to be illustrative rather than exhaustive and will not prevent Ofcom from investigating and, where appropriate, issuing a notification in respect of behaviour which is not specifically referred to in this statement. That could occur if, for example, a new technology or new use of technology allowed for conduct amounting to a form of misuse not previously known to Ofcom….

Thoughts and Actions

Review your current operations

Ensure your employees are aware of changes

Ensure your employees are competent

Consider removal of AMD

Close management of diallers is required

Ensure that if you use IVM, the messages are relevant

Predictive dialling must be used with caution.

Progressive dialling may be a better option.

Best time to call a specific number should try to be adhered to

Skills based routing on inbound callbacks should be utilised to ensure the correct message is given.

Ensure the call rings long enough … but not too long!

QUESTIONS & FEEDBACK

Feel free to contact me with any questions, queries or concerns.

Steve Walker
Steve is Head Honcho at Ciptex. He has over 25 years’ experience in Telecoms and IT and has held senior positions in public, private and VC backed companies in both the UK and Ireland. At the age of 27 he started his first business, Direct Voice & Data Ltd and was a semi-finalist in Entrepreneur of the Year 2000. The business was acquired in late 2000 by Convergent Communications Plc where Steve became Sales Director, before becoming Divisional Director for Azzurri Communications. In his last role, Steve was MD of Avaya partner and Systems Integrator IP Integration, specialising in Enterprise and Contact Centre solutions. Along the way Steve has also founded and sold a telecoms business specialising in Contact Centres in Ireland. In addition to competitive sports and Motorsport, Steve is passionate about the benefits that Hosted Solutions can provide when correctly designed and implemented.

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