Today a multichannel engagement strategy is becoming increasingly important to reach consumers more efficiently. With rising expectations from hyper-connected consumers, a multichannel engagement strategy helps contact centers reach consumers via their channel of choice.
In this post, we will address one of the integral pieces of a multichannel outreach strategy – consumer consent —which is often an afterthought for contact centers scrambling to onboard a variety of channels.
When adding new channels, contact centers might overlook key questions around consent such as:
- How to capture consent for new channels in the existing workflow
- Where to store consent
- What should be the system of record for managing consent for all the channels
Contact center managers may also lack awareness around consent requirements for these new channels and fail to realize the significance of ensuring effective consent management (capture, storage, and revocation).
In this first part of our two-part blog post series, we discuss why consumer consent management is critical for multichannel contact centers. In the second part, we will explore the key steps to effectively managing consumer consent in a multichannel environment.
Why Managing Consumer Consent is Important for a Multichannel Contact Center
To begin with, it is important to understand the two pivotal benefits of managing multichannel consent. Let’s take a look at them.
Benefit 1: Being on the Right Side of Consent Regulations
As contact centers add new channels, they face additional consent rules which differ from those they are accustomed to with the voice channel. This means they need to establish additional processes based on these consent requirements to mitigate compliance risks.
What are these new and different consent rules? Here’s a brief overview of a few for the two most popular non-voice channels – Email and SMS. Note, our objective in this post is to provide some basic know-how as you expand beyond voice. For more details, we recommend a more thorough evaluation.**
Let’s first understand how the CAN-SPAM Act and the FCC categorize messages sent to the consumer. The purpose of the message or the intent of the outreach is the foundation of the consent rules for email and text messages. Here are the four broad categories:
- Commercial message is one that advertises or promotes a commercial product or service.
- Transactional messages are notifications that facilitate a transaction a consumer has already agreed to, for example, messages that provide information about existing account or product warranty information or ongoing commercial relationship.
- Non-commercial or informational messages are those that are sent by or on behalf of tax-exempt non-profit organizations. These also include messages sent for political and other non-commercial purposes.
- Emergency messages are sent specifically for health or fraud alerts and may be allowed without prior consent.
Consent Regulations for Sending SMS/Text Messages
Based on the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) and the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) rules, contact centers generally can’t send text messages to a mobile phone using an autodialer unless the consumer had provided prior express consent to receive the text message.
Here are some of the rules for obtaining prior express consent:
- Prior express written consent is required from the recipient for sending commercial text messages/SMS
- Consent may be oral for non-commercial and informational texts
- Written consent can be obtained as a signed written agreement that is a clear and conspicuous disclosure authorizing you to send a commercial communication. Based on the E-Sign Act, consent can also be collected electronically through email, website forms, text message, etc.
Your contacts should have the ability to opt-out of commercial text messages at any time. Most contact centers follow CTIA’s guidelines for stop instructions. Commercial texts should include ‘Text STOP to opt out’ on each SMS communication sent to the consumer stating very clearly that they can stop receiving SMS at any time.
Consent Regulations for Sending Emails
The regulations for sending commercial emails are less stringent. The CAN-Spam Act strictly governs the email opt-out process and consumer’s right to unsubscribe from any commercial email. On the other hand, if your email contains only transactional or relationship content, it is exempt from most provisions of the CAN-SPAM Act but may not provide false or misleading routing information.
One of the following mechanisms for opting out should be available in commercial emails.
- A functional return email address, allowing the recipient to simply “reply” to the email indicating their intention to opt out
- An Internet-based opt-out mechanism (for example, a link to a separate web page containing the opt-out mechanism)
Benefit 2: Achieve Campaign Effectiveness with Consent Management Best Practices
Managing multichannel consent is not just critical for compliance risk mitigation, but your approach can also significantly impact the success of your individual and cross-channel campaigns. Let’s check out two consent management best practices and the pitfalls of ignoring them.
Capture Express Consent for Email Channel to Avoid Getting Blacklisted
Contact center should have processes to capture express (confirmed) consumer consent for sending emails. Here’s why?
Misusing an email verbal consent loophole can negatively impact your outreach campaign. In the absence of any stringent regulation around obtaining prior consent, contact centers often implement email outreach campaigns to lists of consumers who have not provided consent. This could lead to consumers marking you as a spammer, and if enough people mark your campaign as spam, the ISP can blacklist your domain.
Once your domain is blacklisted, you will not be able to send emails to consumers on the ISP’s network and getting yourself removed from the blacklist can be quite time-consuming and painful. This could affect your outreach and email deliverability capabilities in the long run.
Centralize Multiple Channel Consent Storage to Execute Intelligent Campaign Workflows
Most contact centers add new channel applications from different vendors creating a siloed multichannel environment. Siloed multichannel environment poses significant challenges in the consent management process. The top pitfall is that consents for different channels are stored in different applications making it difficult to track and leverage consumer contact channel preferences in the outreach campaign workflows.
Building a centralized system of record for consent spanning all channels is essential for the success of your multichannel campaigns. The centralization of consent management will enable you to create an intelligent multichannel multitouch campaign rather than an overlapping campaign approach. Not only this, campaign teams can track and manage consumers’ consent revocation in real-time to re-engage consumers on other channels with consent. For example, when a consumer revokes consent for a primary channel, the centralized visibility will enable promoting a secondary channel as a preferred channel promptly.
Recognizing the importance of making consent management part of your multichannel strategic planning is just the first step. The next step should be identifying and establishing key processes for effective multichannel consent management. We have explored a few common processes in the second part of this two-part blog series.
**This publication is not legal advice. Readers should consult with their own experienced legal counsel to independently review the topics discussed here and independently evaluate any compliance measures they undertake.