Without doubt, contact centers are familiar with the Federal Communication Commission's Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) of 1991. TCPA was enacted in part to protect consumers from robo-callers and also to ensure that mobile phone users would not incur charges from telemarketers.
The TCPA's effect on squashing landline phone abuse has been compelling, but what has not as publicized is how the act has impacted contact centers using other mobile channels.
With the boom in usage and the law's restrictions has come legal wrangling. Consider the case of Buffalo Bills fan Jerry Wojcik, who filed a lawsuit against the football team in 2012. Wojcik signed up through the Bills' Web site to receive mobile text alerts from the franchise. While Wojcik expressly agreed to receive SMSs, he filed a suit against the team for sending more texts than he said he thought he was supposed to have received.
Forbes reported that Wojcik's lawsuit stated:
"The complaint states that the Buffalo Bills Web site ensures that subscribers consent to and would be limited to the receipt of no more than five text messages during any one-week period. Wojcik says that from the dates of September 23 through September 29, 2012, he received six messages in one week. Wojcik further alleges that only a few weeks later, he received seven text message alerts from the Buffalo Bills in a single week. In totality, the complaint alleges that the Buffalo Bills have sent out thousands of unlawful text messages in violation of the TCPA. Wojcik claims that the Bills have caused consumers actual harm."
That may sound frivolous, but more and more contact centers are bumping up against such issues today. Smart Customer Service spoke with John McNamara, chief marketing officer of LiveVox, about the issue.
Smart Customer Service: How does TCPA affect the mobile channel?
John McNamara:The TCPA has impacted how contact centers execute contact strategies across all channels, including mobile. A prime example is the current ambiguity around what constitutes consent and automatic telephone dialing system.
If you're a big company, you are especially at risk of class-action allegations from plaintiff attorneys who are seeking to capitalize on the uncertainty that exists in the market around compliance.
SCS: Is this a real concern or something that companies should prepare themselves for this in the future?
McNamara: It's easily the single most burning issue in the contact center right now. You definitely should be concerned about this. If a contact center is doing any outbound calling, [it needs] to be aware of not only the TCPA, but also the case laws that shaped the interpretation of it.
There's a special provision in the TCPA that restricts companies from dialing mobile phones using certain applications or without express consent. With a consumer base increasingly relying or preferring only cell phones, businesses must be able to find a way to efficiently reach their customers