By Steve Brubaker
For many years, unscrupulous individuals in the call center industry operated without regard for the rights of consumers, casting a negative light on all who utilize the telephone as a means of contacting customers. In response, the FTC took special interest in our industry in an effort to solve these problems and protect consumers’ rights.
But when the government attempts to fix a problem, it usually doesn’t use a narrowly focused approach. Rather than a scalpel, it uses an axe. Copious volumes of new regulations were added by both the federal and state legislatures. In many cases, those who best understood the process – practitioners like you and me – had little to say in the formation of these regulations.
Why, you ask? The answer is an issue of trust. The government and consumers felt that they could not trust the industry to govern itself, and so laws and regulations were created according to what the government felt was right.
If the contact center industry is going to continue to thrive in the future, that issue of trust must be mended. This process began when many of the bad actors began to die off after the passing of the National Do Not Call Registry in 2003. Those companies that invested heavily in compliance processes developed a competitive advantage by fine-tuning their ability to adhere to new laws and keep their company and clients out of trouble and away from hefty fines.
This was a good start, but to truly win the trust of the bodies that govern the teleservices industry and the American people, a larger dedication to consumer protection must be made by the leading companies in the industry. This is where the ATA-SRO comes in.
The ATA-SRO was formed to provide teleservices organizations with best practices and compliance standards that, in some cases, go far beyond those mandated by the government. The SRO’s goal is to assure a positive teleservices experience for consumers and to provide a system that is completely objective and reinforces a teleservices company’s commitment to compliance with regulations from all levels of government.
Achieving SRO certification is not easy, but the companies that go through the certification process successfully prove they are dedicated to adhering to the law. More than that, these companies prove that they are dedicated to protecting consumers and trying to do what is right for everyone involved in their business. Certification shows that you care, and that is where building trust really begins in earnest. We must show consumers that we care about their needs, which creates a more loyal and long-term commitment between us and our clients.
There are other reasons to pursue certification as well. Every company wants to be sure that its teleservices are in strict adherence to the law. When you can show a potential client that you have achieved SRO certification, explaining everything that goes into the certification, you have a better chance of winning that client’s business. As more and more companies achieve certification, I believe that some clients will begin to demand that every teleservices partner they work with be SRO-certified.
At InfoCision, we believed strongly in the certification process and have supported the ATA-SRO from its inception. We tell our clients that keeping their programs successfully compliant with the law is our top priority. With the SRO seal, we can offer peace of mind for our clients to know the details are being handled properly. They should be able to sleep little better at night. I know I do. What about you?
As we see SRO certifications increase, I believe we will also see a lessening of government involvement in call center activities and a generally better perception of our industry from those on the outside. We all have a responsibility to do our best to secure the future of this industry, and the ATA-SRO is a vehicle that can lead us there.
Steve Brubaker is the chief of staff at InfoCision. Founded in 1982, InfoCision Management Corporation is a provider of inbound and outbound marketing for nonprofit, religious, and political organizations. Headquartered in Akron, Ohio, InfoCision operates thirty-two call centers at twelve locations in Ohio, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia. InfoCision has been named one of the top ten best employers in Ohio by the state chamber of commerce.
[From Connection Magazine – Jul/Aug 2010]