The TCPA Compliance Checklist for Call Centers
Nearly every contact center or call center has run into compliance problems at some point in time and no matter when it happens, it’s an incredibly expensive, time-consuming lesson to learn. To operate a contact enter effectively, profitably, and in a way that creates positive customer and agent experiences, compliance adherence to all state, federal and other compliance regulations is critical.
At the enterprise level, the highest-performing contact center teams leverage modern, outbound and conversational engagement outreach tactics such as callback service, accelerated dialing and auto-dialers. For these companies who use contact center software for outbound customer engagement, abiding by the every-changing, alphabet compliance soup is vital to success and achieving the desired Sales, Service and Collections results. And anyone managing a contact center knows TCPA compliance is especially important.
What is TCPA Compliance?
TCPA stands for the Telephone Consumer Protection Act, which was passed in 2013 to protect customer consent. TCPA compliance simply refers to following the rules and requirements set forth by the TCPA Act to regulate the telemarketing industry’s use of outbound calling and outbound text messaging activities.
Outbound customer engagement tactics such as these are employed by businesses who rely on contacting customers, prospective customers, and in the case of healthcare, patients, and members, to generate revenue and get paid for services rendered. Arguably, every and any industry with any level of needs related to sales, service and/or collections/payments also has a need for outbound customer engagement. Most mid-market and enterprise companies rely on a contact center software platform to execute and manage interactions with existing and prospective customers. For those companies that deploy advanced, sophisticated, or high-volume/high-velocity sales, services, or collections activities to earn, make, collect revenue, adding outbound campaign management functionality to their chosen contact center software platform is often highly advantageous or flat-out necessary.
Why is TCPA Compliance Important?
TCPA compliance adherence is fundamental to ethical, respectful, and customer-friendly contact center management. Beyond legality and violation consequences however, contact center agents, supervisors and the businesses that use them should equally care about how compliance rules impact customer satisfaction. As digital transformation and digitalization continue to fuel a consumer-empowered buying environment across all industries and in both for-profit and non-profit sectors, establishing practices that build positive customer rapport, create brand loyalty, and motivate word of mouth referrals is vital to a business’ long-term success.
Customer satisfaction and compliant calling/contact practices are closely aligned! Implementing TCPA compliant contact center tactics that respect a customer’s privacy lays a strong foundation for positive customer perception. Conversely, disregarding following TCPA Act rules is detrimental to all areas of the business; from brand reputation and customer experience to lead generation efforts, customer acquisition activities and ultimately, the bottom line. In almost every instance, the immediate and long-term effects of non-compliance are dire and can’t be overstated.
While the list of call center compliance regulations requiring strict and diligent adherence is extensive and ever-expanding, TCPA is the one of the most important regulations. A single violation can carry exorbitantly costly fines or consequences, and most companies with contact center or call center operations know better than to navigate the complex world of TCPA and other compliance regulations on their own. Instead, enterprises typically purchase call center compliance software or outbound campaign management software that seamlessly integrates with their contact center platform and when they do, compliance adherence capabilities become just a built-in component of the tools being used for outbound calling, text messages and email interactions with customers.
Because call center compliance violations carry tremendous penalties to the tune of a $500-$1500 fine PER CALL that violates the TCPA Act, businesses are wise to take contact center compliance extremely seriously. Many businesses that utilize outbound calling and text messages to interact and engage with consumers initiate thousands of calls to customers and patients every week. At that rate, $500 fines for every TCPA compliance misstep could be irreversibly disastrous.
TCPA Compliance Checklist
If adherence to TCPA and other regulatory compliance measures is a priority for your company, contact center the following steps are non-negotiables to achieve contact center compliance (fyi, there’s a short list of exclusions at the end of this section, so if you meet one or more exclusion criteria, this Checklist likely doesn’t apply to you):
1. Do Not Call Customers on the National Do Not Call (DNC) List
It doesn’t get much simpler than this, but to avoid calling said DNC registrants, you must maintain a current view of the DNC Registry which is created as part of the TCPA Act. A contact center best practice is to review the registry every 31 days, and, you guessed it, steer clear of contacting anyone on it. DNC violations are enforced by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and easy to prevent with proper planning and management.
2. Call Only During Permitted Times (9:01pm-7:59am = No Go)
Unless the reason for your call or your organization’s sector falls on the list of exclusions, do not make calls or send texts outside the hours of 8am-9pm (local time of the person you are calling).
3. Properly Train Your Team
The TCPA Act doesn’t technically require team training, but unless you’re diligent about keeping your team educated and knowledgeable about TCPA compliance rules, there’s a solid chance you’ll end up inadvertently violating them. Education is power and for enterprises handling thousands to hundreds of thousands of calls each week, training must be part of your contact center strategy.
4. Make Sure Your Outbound Contact Center Campaigns Include an Opt Out Option
Yes, this is a TCPA requirement but it’s also just a good customer experience practice. If someone doesn’t want to hear from you or your company and they make the effort to tell you this, don’t call them. You’ll win in the long run by not tarnishing your reputation and brand credibility and you’ll remain TCPA-compliant. That’s a win-win and having the ability to mark a number as DNC on an enterprise-wide basis can actually improve retention rates.
5. Don’t even think about operating sales, service, or collections activities without a proven compliance adherence solution.
With so much at stake financially and with your brand’s image on the line, why take risks with compliance. Integrating an advanced outbound campaign management solution with your contact center platform, adds built-in, comprehensive compliance capabilities and ensures your business walks the TCPA straight and narrow (not to mention the laundry list of other compliance regulations to which you must adhere).
List of Exclusions and Exceptions to TCPA Act Rules and Regulations:
Certain industries and call purposes are exempt from TCPA and other compliance measures. See if your contact center activities or structure match one of more exclusion criteria:
- Your organization is a tax-exempt nonprofit or calls are being made on behalf of your tax-exempt nonprofit
- Your activity falls under definitions included in HIPAA’s Privacy Rule as a “health care” message made by, or on behalf of, a “covered entity” or its “business associate”
- Your employees are manually dialing calls (as in the caller actually types in the call-ee’s phone number) and no pre-recorded voice message is delivered during the transaction)
- You’re making calls for emergency purposes
- The calls and texts you’re sending are not transacted for commercial purposes
- Your call and text activity are related to commercial purpose but isn’t categorized as containing an advertisement or defined as telemarketing
Contact Center compliance isn’t rocket science, but remaining 100% compliant without the help of powerful compliance adherence software is unlikely. Some contact center platforms have built-in compliance capabilities but not every out of the box compliance solution is advanced or sophisticated enough for large or enterprise level contact center needs. Before you find yourself in a sticky compliance pickle, look beyond the basic compliance offered by your contact center software and consider an integrated outbound campaign management solution that offers the deepest level of call center compliance adherence.