Has our own behaviour as an industry led to the recent changes to the Telephone Consumer Protection Act in the US?
After 24 years of advising businesses to stop selling people stuff they don’t want over the phone, the TCPA has been updated to a point where almost the entire US call center industry has had to quickly change the way they operate. Did we think that the good intent of Market Research was enough of an excuse to continue following quarter-century-old practices?
In 1991 when the TCPA was originally passed, cell phones were virtually non-existent. Each home had one or more landlines, and organizations (some with good intent and some with ill intent) blanketed the network with unsolicited phone calls. Today, nearly every household across the US has at least one cell phone, and the sour relationship consumers have with unwanted phone calls has transferred to mobile, where once-innocuous practices now feel invasive.
We know that many respondents don’t enjoy speaking with organizations over the phone to answer surveys much more than they enjoy listening to a dinnertime telephone pitch about timeshares. There were moments of hope along the way that spammers would start getting punished and stop sullying the practice of phone research, but spammers don’t care much about regulatory boundaries – they know what they’re doing is unethical and they’re constantly seeking to exploit the system.
Thanks mostly to these scammers and spammers, unsolicited calls have become such a toxic part of today’s American culture that, even with legal ways to dial respondents, it may have become unappealing to do so in the same manner as we always have.
The never-ending stream of survey requests in every aspect of our daily lives may have tainted the previously clean karma of the classic evening phone survey. Today’s respondents may simply be tired of hearing from us in that same 25-year-old format. A more robust, 2015-savvy focus needs to be applied to the human experience of taking a survey, regardless of the channel. It’s become essential that we respect peoples’ time and the value of their time.
TL;DR: in addition to following the letter of the law, try to understand and comply with the intent of the new TCPA. Respect people’s time and privacy and find new ways to adapt to a new respondent landscape.
Want to discuss how the TCPA is affecting your business? Get in touch with one of our Senior Telephony Experts.