The FCC Brings New Meaning to “Lost Calls”
How would it feel to wake up one morning and learn that you were no longer able to reach half of your customers? Does this sound like a waking nightmare? Unfortunately, that nightmare is coming true in regard to all auto-dialed or prerecorded telemarketing calls to wireless numbers, and for prerecorded calls to residential lines. Starting October 16, 2013, you must obtain “prior express written consent” for these calls, according to the Federal Communications Commission’s recent rule changes pursuant to the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA).
Mobile phones are the primary phone number for many of us today. As a result, between 40 and 60 percent of the phone numbers listed as “home phone” in your database are actually mobile phones. With this latest regulation (regardless of your existing business relationship with the consumer), you will soon be unable to use technology to call these phone numbers, unless you have obtained prior express written consent. On average, 45 percent of the total appointments made from an average dealer’s outbound appointment setting calls (sales and service) come from auto-dialing cell phones. So, are you ready to take the risk of losing almost half of your appointments?
Losing the right to contact consumers by auto-dialing wireless phones doesn’t hurt just your dealership either; it can also cause a major inconvenience to your customers. With the rise of cell phones and the decline of residential phones, customers could be missing out on crucial information that they’re used to getting on the go, whether it be a first service appointment call, or a declined service call with special promotions.
Fortunately, you don’t have to succumb to this revenue-crushing nightmare—you just have to obtain prior express written consent.
So what constitutes “written consent?” Does this mean you have to have a written signature from each contact? No, essentially any consumer acknowledgement is recognized as a valid signatureas long as you clearly and conspicuously disclose to the consumer the consequences of consent. It cannot be ambiguous and cannot come with a catch. An email, a website form, a telephone key press, or text opt-in would all be considered a valid signature.
It is crucial that you begin the wireless customer contact restoration process now, to ensure that you don’t risk losing this vital channel of communication. Dedicate email-marketing campaigns to educate your customers and ask for their consent. Link the email campaigns to a webpage where customers can provide prior express written consent. Make sure to clearly state the benefits they’ll receive in return for giving you their consent. Just be sure that you are keeping and maintaining a record of your consents, because the burden of proof is on you.
At the time of sale or service, ask the customer to sign a consent form that explains the changes to the TCPA, and clearly and conspicuously discloses the consequences of consent.
Or, like many dealers, you could choose tolaunch a call campaign with a call vendor they trust. Have them call your customers and share the benefits of allowing auto-dialed cell phone communications. A telephone key press is considered prior express written consent and this is one of the best ways to get it! Be proactive and devote an entire call campaign to the collection of written consent. This could allow you to save nearly half the appointments you regularly generate from outbound call campaigns!
*The information provided herein is for educational and informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice. Readers should always obtain the advice of independent legal counsel related to their own specific and unique circumstances.
Mike Martinez is the chief marketing officer for DMEautomotive, an industry leader in science-based, results-driven automotive marketing. For more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org.