How To Avoid Legal Issues in Business Communication
Because so much communication in a call center is done verbally, there's potential for legal issues to arise. Reps may go off script in the heat of the moment without even realizing what they've done until it's too late. This can lead to all sorts of legal issues in business communication. That's the last thing any call center wants. It can result in high legal fees, become very time consuming and turn into a public relations nightmare.
Some of the legal entities that companies may become involved with include the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), Federal Communications Commission (FCC), state and local authorities.
There are a few areas specific to call centers that can turn into legal problems. These include:
- Transferring customers from a non-recorded call to a recorded call without notifying them.
- Not reading a disclaimer that a call is being recorded.
- Unsolicited outbound calling.
- Calling people who have requested to be on a general do-not-call list.
- Calling people who have requested to be removed from the company-specific call list.
- The agent doesn't identify himself at the beginning of any outbound call.
- Not complying with HIPAA regulations (where applicable).
- Not complying with international laws.
While there are many areas that a company can find itself in trouble, abiding by communication best practices can help reduce the probability of legal action.
Communication Best Practices To Avoid Legal Problems
Most call centers record their calls. The laws around call recording can be complex and vary by state. To avoid legal issues, many call centers provide a verbal disclaimer regardless of the state they're in. This helps to mitigate any potential issues with someone saying they did not know they were being recorded. You've probably heard this automated greeting at the beginning of a call, "This call may be monitored or recorded for quality assurance purposes." It's widely used across call centers for legal purposes.
Another problematic area is the unsolicited call. Receiving a call from "Unknown Caller" while eating dinner with your family is not a pleasant experience. These calls often come from telemarketers trying to catch people while their home. They have little regard for the fact that most people are trying to enjoy their evening after a long day at work. This type of call can land call centers into deep hot water.
The FTC created the National Do Not Call Registry specifically to stop unsolicited calls. Customers can register with the FTC website. This is supposed to prevent any unsolicited calls by companies. However, it doesn't always work. Some companies still illegally engage in unsolicited calling practices. They are taking the risk of being fined heavily by the FTC. Besides the national registry, some people will ask the company to remove them from the company's call list. For any company wanting to avoid legal problems, It's best to avoid these potential customers at all cost.
HIPAA is a set of health privacy regulations. Call centers in the healthcare industry must abide by HIPAA regulations. While most do, HIPAA is a complex set of regulations. One slip up and a company can find itself in violation of HIPAA. This can lead to class action lawsuits, hefty fines and loss of credibility. To avoid such highly negative scenarios, companies will employ consultants who are well-versed in how to follow HIPAA regulations. This can help companies identify potential problems before they blow up.
Does Communications Software Help With Legal Issues?
Call center communications software such as CCaaS, UCaaS, and VoIP can help call centers avoid legal communications problems. One important component of any call center software is its call routing capability. This functionality allows the software to send calls to the right rep and detect when the call has been answered or if the customer is in a holding queue.
Once a rep answers, the software will automatically begin recording the conversation, assuming it is configured to record calls. A disclaimer script will appear for the rep to read. This is one way that the software helps to avoid legal communications issues.
Displaying general scripts is another method to keep reps on track so they don't say anything that isn't legally-compliant.
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