If your organization claims customers around the world, you likely already know that the rules of engagement for communications and telemarketing differ greatly. What the United States deems “okay” could land your brand in a heap of trouble in Germany or Japan.
And it’s not as though you can feign ignorance or immunity when the international authorities issue a warning or fine. No, they expect you to follow all the call center rules and regulations, including theirs and your own.
The problem, of course, lies in staying up to date. The United States amends its regulations semi-regularly, requiring you to change course and set up new protocols to stay in compliance. The same holds true worldwide. The European Union (EU), for instance, recently released new standards about data privacy and security, prompting marketers and call center solutions to examine their practices and procedures.
Fortunately, TCN is here to help mitigate your compliance risk — inside and outside the United States. We’ll start by publishing a couple of posts this week about the current state of international call center compliance. They will keep you abreast of present contact center regulations and prepare you for action.
Call Center Compliance: United States
In the United States, the driving forces behind call center compliance number two: the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). Their offices hold responsibility for regulations like the CAN-SPAM Act, the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA), the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA), and the Telemarketing Sales Rule (TSR).
The latter two pieces of legislature protect consumers with laws and regulations concerning telemarketing efforts. Established in 1991, the TCPA places restrictions upon telemarketing communications, autodialers, and voice messages. The act has seen a couple of revisions since then. Today, it features additional guidelines about “opt-out” options, robocallers, and consumer consent; and it works in tandem with the Do-Not-Call registry.
The Telemarketing Sales Rule further limits call center activities. It provides “standards of conduct” for telemarketers and call centers. For example, agents can’t contact consumers before 8am or after 9pm and must clearly identify themselves upon reaching a live person. The rule also covers bill-pay methods, which safeguards consumers’ personal and financial information and prevents theft.
Call Center Compliance: European Union
The European Union (EU) features more stringent regulations. Some of the primary measures include the EU Directive on Privacy and Electronic Communications, the EU Data Protection Directive, and the EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). The directives take a much harder line on what personal identifying information (PII) is, how it’s used, how long it’s kept, and how it’s protected.
The GDPR is the most recent piece of legislation. It contains some rules that are polar opposites with the United States’ approach. For example, while consumers opt out of communications in the United States, they must opt in in the EU.
The GDPR also abolishes the “do not contact” tag, a feature akin to the Do-Not-Call registry. If customers request to not be contacted and to have their contact information destroyed, call center agents must honor the request.
Call Center Compliance: Japan
Japan adds an interesting layer to the call center compliance issue. The country follows a more general law, the Act on Protection of Personal Information (APPI), when it comes to consumer information and privacy. It asks businesses and organizations to disclose the purpose for which the PPI is used and to take steps to protect the data.
In recent years, several government ministries have outlined best practices for the APPI in an attempt to help businesses stay compliant and to keep consumers’ data safe. The onus to protect PPI, though, still falls mostly upon the businesses and organizations rather than an overarching legal authority.
But that situation could change. The APPI has undergone some transformations in the past two years. An amendment added in September 2015 will go into full effect in the fall of 2017. It features additional restrictions, particularly in relation to data exportation and data controllers. It also establishes a formal reporting system with the creation of the Personal Information Protection Committee (PIPC).
Call center regulations can be confusing, especially when contacting international customers. But you can stay in compliance with them thanks to a call center solution like TCN’s. To see how it lessens your risk (and improves penetration rates), take the platform on a demo today.