Compliance in the Call Center Industry

Compliance in the Call Center Industry

Written by Caroline Saban, Assistant Business Development Specialist, Argo Contact Centers

Quality service should be the priority of every call center. But, before quality service can be provided, every call center must ensure that both its technology and people are compliant at all times in order to be able to adhere to the highest standards of quality.

Below are some tips to keep your call center compliant as well as what to look for in a call center partner.

FTC, FCC, and Other Regulatory Bodies

Advertising and marketing practices are highly regulated by several governmental agencies. It is essential that you stay up to date with all regulations that impact the call center industry, whether you yourself work in a call center or you are a client of a call center. Either way, these regulations impact you and your business.

If you are looking for a call center partner, the call center you work with should be one that practices careful internal diligence and works with an outside legal team to ensure a high level of compliance with all federally regulated mandates.

Call centers especially should attend events that discuss regulations and change in regulations that could impact the industry. One such event is the annual Electronic Retailing Association’s (ERA) Government Affairs Fly-In, which brings together representatives of the FTC, industry lawyers, and other call center leaders to meet and address the issues facing the industry and regulations affecting it.

Marketers’ websites and creatives for which services will be provided for should be thoroughly checked by the call center prior to launching for anything that could be flagged for being noncompliant with federally regulated mandates. For example, the terms and conditions – especially for trial and continuity products and services – need to be properly displayed and easy to read as well as requiring a check box that indicates the customer read them in order to avoid being flagged as a deceptive marketing practice, according to ROSCA.

Being on top of regulations and recent FTC cases within the industry will better enable you to be compliant.

PCI Compliance

Being PCI compliant means that the call center follows a set of requirements designed by the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS) to ensure credit card information is processed, stored, and transmitted within a secure environment. Without this, customer’s data is at risk, which puts the brands they made transaction with through the call center also at risk for negative press should there be a customer data breach. Any business that deals with credit card information must be PCI compliant and should aim for Level 1 PCI compliance to ensure a fully secure environment.

If you are looking for a call center partner and want to ensure it is PCI compliant, ask for the documentation of its Attestation of Compliance as well as conduct a site visit of the facility to see for yourself how the center operates on a day-to-day basis.

Call Center Scripting

The script is the lay of the land for the agent. It is an essential tool to keep agents on track and compliant.

It must include all of the disclosures and terms and conditions that are required on the call, which is dependent upon the type of product or service. For example, if the call is for a financial loan, there are more required disclosures than for a skincare product or a household item.

If you are able to have interactive scripts – where the agent must conduct an action in order to get to the next step – you increase the likelihood that the agent will always or nearly always follow the correct process and protocol, and, therefore, will be compliant.

Scripting should also be a collaborative effort by the call center and client with the call center using its industry experience and expertise while the client provides the product and/or service information needed for the call center to accurately and efficiently service its customers. Working together, the parties can best represent the client’s brand(s) while following the best-in-industry call center processes.

Outbound Dialer

Compliancy in outbound calls is significant due to the fact that you are engaging the individuals and not the other way around. Dialers need to be programmed to permit calls only from 8 in the morning to 9 at night local time of where the calls are being received. Lists must be scrubbed and the Do Not Call registry must also be loaded onto the dialer software in order to automatically block any calls to numbers on the list.

Call Recordings

All calls must be recorded and stored for a minimum of 2 years from the date of the call in accordance with applicable federal and state laws. For example, in order to be PCI compliant, the recording should be paused when credit card information is being collected.

For full transparency into the services being provided, the call center should provide every call recording to the client within 24 hours, if not available real-time through an online platform.

A Strict Quality Assurance System

Quality and compliance go hand-in-hand. If a call seems like it is a high quality call but lacks full compliance, the lack of compliancy negatively impacts the quality significantly.

A strict quality assurance system provides visibility into positive and negative trends with the brand and/or agents with any negative trends immediately identified and corrected.

The answer to how to correct problems with agents is training, training, and more training. Give the agents the tools they need and the information that’s vital in order to follow protocol and process, stay compliant, and provide the highest standard of quality service.

Conclusion

Violations can be costly, and not just in financial terms. Violating telemarketing regulations and not being fully compliant can result in lawsuits, monetary losses or fines, and/or a shutdown of your business. You don’t need to be a lawyer in order to be aware of the many laws, regulations, and industry standards that affect contact centers. Whether it’s a large or a small call center, the call center needs to know what to do and what not to do when it comes to its services.

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