Why Outsource SMS Support for Business for TCPA Compliance?
In the outsourcing industry, SMS support for business means more than telemarketing through text messaging. It means providing supporting channels of communication to consumers who may want to contact a company. Consumers may want to use SMS to send their complaints, ask for assistance from the company’s representative, or inquire about additional services or features.
But, SMS support for business isn’t without its limitations. The FCC has already clarified that text messages are subject to the same consumer protections as voice calls.
The FCC treats text messages and short message services (SMS) messages sent to a wireless device the same as calls subject to the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA). Such messages include phone-to-phone text messaging and SMS messaging sent to a pager.
Source: Data and Marketing Association (DMA)
That means you still have to follow FCC regulations when you’re outsourcing SMS support to an offshore contact center. The Telephone Consumer Protection Act or TCPA was created to protect the rights of consumers in the United States. Anyone who wants to sell or promote to the U.S. through text messaging has to comply with TCPA rules.
So, why choose to outsource SMS support for business if you wanted to comply to TCPA regulations? What are the strategic advantages of outsourcing this business process?
#1 Express consent must be obtained first from consumers before a company can send any text message.
This is the number one rule that all text marketers must follow. Companies interested in using SMS for business should get express consent from their consumers before sending them anything. This doesn’t have to be a signed agreement. Adding one’s mobile number to a list already shows an unencumbered willingness to receive text messages.
Companies used to do this by asking consumers to sign up for a raffle or contest. They would ask for their mobile numbers in addition to their names and addresses. But, times have changed. Consumers now know it’s not safe to just give their contact info away, and that includes their numbers and emails.
That’s why you need human agents who can quickly build trust with your consumers. They can easily convince people to submit their phone numbers. In exchange, your consumers expect to receive text notifications from you of upcoming sales events or exclusive coupons.
#2 TCPA regulations limit the use of automation when sending SMS for business.
Businesses are not prohibited from automating the process of sending SMS to mobile users. But, they can only do that when they don’t use pre-recorded messages or robo-texts. Thus, if you wanted to comply with FCC regulations, then outsourcing SMS support for business would be your best option.
Let your human agents take care of the SMS content for you. They can compose unique text messages that include all pertinent information, including rates and opt-out instructions. Here are some tips provided by Pony Express HQ:
- Be specific. Messaging “Text YES to subscribe to Pony Express HQ’s weekly update and receive deals” is more likely to increase your opt-in rate than a message like “Text YES to subscribe.”
- Be smart. Do not include content that involves illegal behavior or substances, violence, adult content such as nudity, profanity, or hate speech.
- Offer the ability to revoke consent and opt-out at any time (e.g. a STOP keyword).
- Disclose that message and data rates may apply.
- If you are asking people to subscribe to a recurring campaign (such as a weekly or monthly update), then clearly explain the regularity of messaging (i.e. “sign up for weekly updates”).
#3 Informational texts may still require prior express consent but emergency alerts do not.
Mobile users must give their consent to receive text messages that contain trivia or educational info. But, that’s not required for emergency notifications broadcasted to the public. Not even when mobile users didn’t add their numbers to any list. The right of the public to know and prepare for any catastrophic event supersedes any of FCC’s rulings.
In order for an informational text to meet TCPA compliance, it must satisfy the following conditions:
- It was requested by the consumer.
- It’s a one-time only message sent immediately in response to a specific consumer request.
- The text message contains only the information requested by the consumer with no other marketing or advertising information.
#4 Outsourcing SMS support to human agents allows for two-way text messaging.
Nevertheless, informational texts — speaking from an educational standpoint — are best handled by human agents rather than bots. Learning doesn’t happen through a one-way communication channel. Two-way text messaging where consumers interact with trained agents is a more effective learning tool.
Two-way SMS still provides the best value for companies, even if the informational text messages were sent to consumers for marketing purposes. People usually have questions following their first, especially when they’re interested in the product or service.
A human agent answering these inquiries can handle up to 3 mobile users at the same time. The questions may range from simple yes/no questions to more complex ones that require a thorough explanation. Sometimes, agents may have to go off-script to make sure their consumers have a clear understanding of the service or product they’re paying for.