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January 22nd, 2018

Data Decay Is the Enemy of Every Call Center

*This article was originally published on Forbes.com on Dec. 19, 2017

If you have utilized a call center as part of your business, you need to be aware of the negative impact inaccurate data can have on your effectiveness, your brand reputation, and your bottom line. Organizations continue to get caught off-guard by the speed of data decay, but there is a better way. Let me explain.

The Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) dictates how your call center may reach a consumer. The cheery fact is that if you get this wrong, you will likely be sued. You can take solace in the fact that the most prestigious brands in America have found themselves in the same spot, but that will not help you explain a multimillion dollar lawsuit to your board. In 2017 alone, 3,166 of your peers have been sued for TCPA violations.

TCPA regulations at their core, ensure that your company obtains the proper consent to call or text a specific consumer. As companies start to get a handle on TCPA, many begin to realize the break-neck pace of change in phone data. The common belief that consumer’s mobile phone numbers rarely change is just not the case. Industry data from SEC filings show as much as 26 million consumers annually disconnect their phone or change their wireless provider.

All of this data decay manifests into an operational nightmare and the potential for TCPA risk. Cleaning your CRM data once is helpful, but the minute you put that file into production, it begins to go out of date. A CRM, unlike fine wine, gets worse with age. As your data has more “vintage”, your risk of violating TCPA increases and your operational efficiency decreases. More risk and less efficiency is a tough pill to swallow for call center managers.

The first step to better quality data, and an overarching consumer identity management solution, is to determine if a phone has been disconnected or reassigned. The challenge specifically with disconnect data is that it is messy.

Differentiating true disconnects from temporary suspends or ported numbers is a challenge. You can’t throw the baby out with the bath water, as the operational impact of removing good phones is significant. The consumers that you are either not contacting or for whom you are forced to use more expensive contact methods, ultimately reduce revenue, efficiency and profitability.

More effective methods balance the impact on operational efficiency and overall risk at any given time:

• Not only cleanse disconnect data to remove as much of the noise as possible, but also positively verify that a phone is still associated with a consumer.

• Limit the number of phones removed, and then focus dialing activities on phones that are more likely to yield a right-party contact.

• Find a balance where the cost of removing reassigned phones can be made up by dialing the rest of the phones more efficiently.

The challenge of keeping CRM data up-to-date becomes more complex when you need to contact the same consumer over time. You could just query a vendor every time you intend to contact a specific consumer; unfortunately, most firms cannot afford this approach.

The optimal approach is to partner with an expert solution provider with push notification services where clients onboard their CRM data and the provider notifies the client proactively when they see a change event. Effectively a client’s whole CRM is scrubbed and stays scrubbed as their underlying data changes. The benefits of a change notification platform are:

• Proactive notification with the flexibility to determine what constitutes a meaningful change for your business

• Reduce TCPA risk

• Identity changes in phone and consumer data in real-time

• Reduce data being transferred between companies

• Augment CRM with insights and attributes to drive dialer efficiency

Lastly, data decay is not just a TCPA issues. A holistic approach to identity management can be used across the organization from inbound call center operations to marketing. More and more companies are extending the work they have done for TCPA so they can optimize call center customer experience and reduce inbound call fraud.

The bottom line is, data decay is the enemy of the call center, but it can be eliminated by proactively updating consumer information and staying one step ahead of TCPA mandates. With the right partner, you can have your cake and eat it too, since identifying reassigned phone numbers goes hand-in-hand with maximizing operational efficiency.

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