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The FCC Brings New Meaning to Lost Calls

Posted by Hudsen Smith Friday, September 18, 2015
How would it feel to wake up one morning and learn that you were no longer able to reach ½ of your customers? That their phone numbers had disappeared from your database. Does this sound like a waking nightmare? Unfortunately, your nightmare is coming true. Starting October 16, 2013, you MUST obtain prior express WRITTEN consent for all “auto dialed or prerecorded telemarketing calls to wireless numbers and for prerecorded calls to residential lines,” according to the Federal Communications Commission’s recent rule changes pursuant to the Telephone Consumer Protection Act.


Mobile phones are the primary phone number for many of us. As a result, on average between 40% and 60% 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 not be able to use technology to call these phone numbers, unless you have obtained prior express written consent. On average, 45% of total appointments made from an average dealer’s outbound appointment setting calls (sales and service) come from calling a cell phone.


So are you ready to take the risk of losing almost half of your appointments?


And losing the right to contact consumers via wireless phones doesn’t just hurt your dealership, it can also cause a major inconvenience to your customers. With the rise of cell phones and 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 1st 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 is 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 signature as long as you clearly and conspicuously disclose to the consumer the consequences of consent. It cannot be ambiguous and cannot come with a catch. And what constitutes a valid signature? An email, website form, 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 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 records of your consents because the burden of proof is on YOU.


At a 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, many dealers are choosing to launch a call campaign with a call vendor they trust. Have them call your customers and share the benefits of allowing 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!


Mike Martinez is Chief Marketing Officer of DMEautomotive, the industry leader in science-based, results-driven automotive marketing that provides a range of marketing services to the biggest and most innovative automotive organizations in the industry. For more information, email info@dmeautomotive.com.


*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.
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