Created in 2003 by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and Federal Trade Commission (FTC), The National Do Not Call (DNC) Registry lists millions of phone numbers from consumers who do not want to be contacted by telemarketers or companies.
The registry is part of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act of 1991 (TCPA) which curtails the use of prerecorded voice messages, aka robocalls, automatic dialing systems, fax machines and SMS messages. Fines for breaking the TCPA can be hefty: in 2012, Jiffy Lube agreed to settle a class action lawsuit for $47 million after sending unsolicited promotional text messages to consumers.
The DNC registry is overseen by the FTC and state officials and mandates that companies cannot solicit enrollees for a five year period; thereafter consumers must reenroll in the program every five years.
The registry has some exceptions to its rules: it does not include calls from companies that consumers have a prior relationship with; non-commercial entities such as charities and political organizations; and surveyors. Companies are also required to reexamine the registry every 31 days and when new enrollees are listed, they must “scrub” their phone numbers from lists.
Additionally, the DNC registry mandates that telemarketer’s predictive dialers abandon no more than 3 percent of all calls placed and answered by a person. Autodialers—including predictive dialers—place calls that may lead to abandoned calls, those that result in hang-ups or dead air. The FCC defines abandoned calls as when a person is not transferred to a live sales agent within two seconds of the recipient's greeting.
Autodialers use software to generate calls to people when a live agent is available. A predictive dialer uses real time analysis and algorithms that can weed out busy signals, answering machines and fax numbers, and can best determine when a user will be available to take a call from a contact center agent.
Although autodialers and predictive dialers still exist, their popularity has been greatly hindered by unfavorable consumer sentiment and TCPA and DNC registry regulations. The boom will be further lowered as the FCC continues to tighten up rules in 2013. A new mandate requires that prerecorded calls include an automated opt-out choice allowing consumers to end receiving robocalls. Another rule states that companies cannot send automated calls or texts based an established business relationship.
Companies instead are redirecting their focus by delivering increased customer satisfaction in anticipating consumer needs, resulting in more positive company perception, repeat business, lower operating costs, and decreased churn. Consumers are more receptive to getting what they believe are more personalized calls when they receive outbound recordings that don’t directly solicit business, but instead provide proactive timely, targeted information, such as doctor appointments, service appointment confirmations and prescription pickups. Companies are also realizing payoffs in the form of reducing live agent interactions for routine calls and decreased average handle call times. If an outbound call does offer transfer to a live agent or an agent call back, it may also result in cross sell or upsell opportunities without making a customer feel as though they are getting a hard sell.