Research conducted by debt charity Step Change has revealed that companies continue to harass consumers, despite Ofcom regulations to prevent unwanted calls, as these are ‘widely flouted and inadequately enforced’. The survey highlighted payday loan companies as the main culprits, with 26million adults contacted via unsolicited call or text messages, and 83 per cent of the public calling for greater protection against such practices.
Dave Ogden, Solutions Consultant at Aspect Software, commented: “Such aggressive marketing strategies have an incredibly low success rate, with only 3 per cent of respondents in this survey even tempted by the offer, and such practices risk tarnishing the reputation of the outbound industry as a whole.
“Although previously dominated by PPI and accident claims, payday loan companies are now the major culprits for harassing customers with unwanted and unsolicited marketing activities”, Ogden explained. “Unwanted contact, as well as the continuing high levels of abandoned and silent calls, can be attributed to two major causes: the misuse of technology originally designed to negate such practices and increased pressure on contact centre managers to use aggressive – but inefficient – contact strategies.
“The customer experience needs to be placed at the forefront of business strategies. Tightened purse strings place huge pressure on contact centre managers and it can be all too easy to take the ‘simple route’, using technologies such as automatic diallers and answer machine detection to play the numbers game, when these should be used to improve the customer’s experience. This only serves to drive away the very people you are trying to forge a relationship with,” Ogden continued.
He concluded: “While this report highlights the rise of payday loan companies and with PPI calls still being made, it’s easy to jump to the conclusion that all outbound calls are bad. There is a majority of organisations who do stick to the rules and who do put the customer first, using outbound calls to deliver savings or ensuring that financial difficulties are managed as quickly as possible to prevent further distress. It’s sad to see that once again the ‘strike-it-rich-quick’ type of organisations are preying on consumers with their dubious marketing methods and creating issues for an industry that’s spent a lot of time, effort and money to clean its image up. While Ofcom and other industry regulators are responding to this outcry, more needs to be done to ensure that measures introduced are adhered to. Policing best practice is paramount to rebuilding consumer confidence in the outbound industry.
“Although the unenviable challenge of maintaining the balance between compliance and contact centre productivity remains, responsible organisations are taking radical steps to develop operations, simultaneously ensuring regulatory compliance and greater efficiency, by expanding their offering to alternative contact channels such as email, instant messaging and crucially, social media. Improved targeting and taking advantage of these channels will drive inbound calls, improve success rates and keep customers happy.”
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