A Definitive Guide to UK B2B Telemarketing Laws and Compliance

The benefits of telemarketing have been well documented and there is little doubt that it is a great way to engage with prospects, in a way that other lead generation tactics can’t. As is the case with most services though, there are regulations and rules that you must adhere to.

In the UK, these are monitored and enforced by two regulatory bodies. These are:

Ofcom

The Office of Communications (Ofcom) is the government-approved regulatory authority for the UK’s telecommunications industry. It has a statutory duty to protect the public from harmful or offensive communications and represents the interests of citizens and consumers.

It helps consumers deal with issues such as nuisance calls and is required to make available (and maintain) a register where they can opt-out of receiving unsolicited sales calls. This is carried out on Ofcom’s behalf by the Telephone Preference Service Limited (TPS).

Businesses who ignore or do not abide by telemarketing regulations put themselves at risk of a £500,000 fine from these two bodies. This fine may seem excessive but it has come about as a result of the increasing number of consumer complaints about telemarketing companies who continue to disobey the law.

Capture12Image source – Gabriel Ghnassia (CC0) 

So what exactly are these rules and regulations you need to abide by to make sure your telemarketing campaign stays on the right side of the law?

Do not call numbers registered with the Telephone Preference Service (TPS)

The TPS is a register of consumers and companies who have chosen to opt-out of receiving uninvited marketing calls on their landlines and mobile phones.

Telemarketing companies are required by law to check this list before making any calls and if they ignore this regulation then they can expect to receive a fine. Even if an outsourced/third-party telemarketing company makes calls on your behalf, it is your business who will receive the fine.

This can be one of the biggest compliance issues and is also one of the easiest to avoid if you purchase the latest TPS data directly from the TPS website or become TPS Assured.

All legitimate telemarketing companies will have a system for cross-checking up-to-date TPS data against the numbers they are dialling, and this process is called blacklisting.

For B2B telemarketing, it is important that companies refer to the Corporate TPS data.

Corporate TPS (CTPS)

The Corporate Telephone Preference Service is specifically for businesses who no longer wish to receive unsolicited sales and marketing calls.

This means that the ICO can fine a telemarketing company up to £500,000 if they fail to comply with the rules and implement a TPS check. As more and more businesses in the UK have become fed up with nuisance calls and more alert to their rights, the list of businesses registered on Corporate TPS is growing. This means it is essential to check phone numbers as one mistaken call could derail your campaign or even your business.

Displaying Caller Identity

All telemarketing companies must provide a Calling Line Identification (CLI) for any outgoing calls. This is on top of a legitimate telephone number to Caller ID systems that the person being called can use to call back. CLI provides clarity into exactly who has made calls in the case a complaint is made and gives a record of all calls made.

Making automated calls

The rules on automated calls that play recorded messages are stricter than for live calls and you must not make one unless the recipient has given their expressed consent to receive this type of call, as prohibited by The Privacy and Electronic Communications (EC Directive) Regulations 2003. The clearest and easiest way to obtain consent is to ask the customer to tick an opt-in box confirming they are happy to receive these calls.

All automated calls must clearly state your name and contact address or a Freephone number and your caller ID must be displayed.

Consequences of breaching regulations

Besides facing a potential fine, you could find yourself issued with further sanctions depending on the industry your business operates in. For instance, regulatory bodies such as the Ministry of Justice and the Financial Services Authority can put restrictions on your business or remove your license to trade if you are found to have breached telephone privacy regulations. These sanctions will also be a matter of public record and accessible online, which can greatly damage the reputation of your business.

Capture14Image source- João Silas (CC0)

Following Best practice

Now you know the major laws and regulations, here are 5 handy steps for ensuring you comply with them.

  1. Only call people who have consented

Basically, if you call someone and they tell you not to call them again then they have opted out and you should add their names and numbers to your blacklist.

  2. Tell people who you are

Anyone making calls on behalf of your business needs to state who they are and who they are calling on behalf of. If the receiver asks for more information, such as a contact address, number or the name of the telemarketing company, these should be provided.

      3. Treat automated calls differently

If you use automated calls then you need to be aware of the firmer restrictions.  If a recipient has opted in to receive live calls, this is not the same as an automated call and the lead must have given specific consent.

      4. Check who you can call

As long as a business is not registered on the CTPS, you can call them. Businesses who are registered should be added to your blacklist, as should businesses you call who ask to opt out from future calls.

Even if you use a bought marketing list, be sure to check the data against the TPS and CTPS to ensure compliance with the law.

      5. Check the appropriate information

Organisations such as the Direct Marketing Association (DMA) offer a multitude of great advice for telemarketing compliance, quality assurance and handling complaints. Be sure to also further your understanding by reading the specific information on best practice on the ICO and TPS websites.

Summary

There are numerous benefits to using telemarketing as part of your marketing and sales strategy and it can greatly enhance the profitability of a business. However, businesses must be vigilant that they adhere to the laws and regulations to avoid running afoul of hefty fines and consumer disquiet.

A good telemarketing company will always maintain compliance and ensure transparency when making calls to protect your business, as ultimately you will have to pay the fine.

It’s great to speak directly with leads but only when the person consents to your call and is open to engaging in conversation. Otherwise, it is just a waste of time for both parties!

 

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Andy Dickens

Andy Dickens is a veteran of IT Sales, used to leading by example. He is the CEO of Virtual Sales Limited (VSL) who offer telesales, telemarketing, lead generation and appointment setting services to B2b businesses. He previously was Sales Director EMEA for Red Hat and before that ran sales at Visio before it was acquired by Microsoft.

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