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Federal Trade Commission Amendments Changing Telemarketing Landscape

September 25, 2008
By Tim Gray - Telemarketing Software Web Editor


When the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) announced two amendments last week to the Telemarketing Sales Rule (TSR (News - Alert)), the anticipatory sounds of early evening silence at home rang through many a frustrated Americans head.

The amendments, which effectively bar telemarketing calls that deliver prerecorded messages unless specific conditions are met, are expected to have a significant impact on the telemarketing industry. Although companies making these calls will not be required to have written consent before September 2009, in the interim they will have to offer consumers an option at the outset of the call to opt out of any future calls.
 
For companies who provide software that helps live agents reach their targeted audience, it could mean a boom in business. To those who focus solely on pre-recorded telemarketing sales it likely means the end.
 
“It is going to be a positive change for consumers,” said Ken Murray, co-founder of VanillaSoft, a company that specializes in lead management solutions for outbound telephone sales.
 
While Murray says he expects an uptick in demand for software services for companies that deploy live agents, there is probably a good chance many of the types of companies making ‘pre-recorded” calls will not migrate. They will simply fade off into the sunset or return to direct mail. In many cases, their value proposition will not support the cost of labor to make the calls.
 
Under the new legislation, consumer must have previously agreed to accept such calls from the seller. This provision effectively will put an end to pre-recorded telemarketing sales, according to Murray.
 
This change to the TSR also modifies the acceptable method for calculating the maximum permissible level of “call abandonment.” An outbound call is considered abandoned if a person answers it and is not connected with a sales representative within two seconds of the person’s completed greeting.
 
The VanillaSoft solution – which includes auto-dialing across most phone systems, call scripting, and a real-time management dashboard – also helps companies stay in compliance with all federal and state Do-Not-Call (DNC) regulations that make it a challenge to effectively manage calling campaigns.
 
 “We have partnered with Call Compliance (News - Alert) Inc. and deliver Teleblock’s DNC scrubbing service on-demand,” said Sussenbach, who is responsible for product development and product marketing at VanillaSoft. Essentially, each call, prior to being routed to an agent, is checked against federal and state DNC lists. “If the name appears on the list, the call will be blocked from the agents ensuring that you remain in compliance.”
VanillaSoft’s Real-Time Management Dashboard needs only a Web browser to provide management a view of all calling activity as it relates to campaign management. Calling and campaign statistics are displayed in real-time and can be drilled down on for agent detail and summary.
 
The Dallas-based company had prided itself in its straight forward approach to solving challenging caller and lead management hurdles with simple and elegant solutions.” It is pretty straightforward hence the Vanilla name,” said Murray. 
 
Perhaps now that the FCC (News - Alert) and the FTC both prohibit abandonment at a rate of 3 percent, and the nature of the call industry continues to evolve for the better, companies providing services such as VanillaSoft’s are moving forward with more efficient and realistic approaches.
 
“I think it is very good thing for legitimate companies who make sales calls that value the time of the person being called. We have all seen the damage that these pre-recorded calls have caused. It has done harm to the individuals being targeted and to the industry as a whole.” said Leonard Sussenbach.
 
“Prerecorded calls are typically used by small businesses that just want to spam nationwide”, said Sussenbach. “It is hurting every business that tries to use the phone as a legitimate sales tool.”



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