The Telephone Preference Service

It is now possible to register companies, partnerships and other organisations with the Telephone Preference Service. The original idea of the Telephone Preference Service was that people could register in order to prevent unsolicited sales calls from nuisance companies and bogus organisations.

The service has now expanded to companies and organisations. The following bulletin is designed to give helpful and practical comments to clients of Communicating who use the telephone in their business.

Please be clear - This bulletin does not give legal advice.

The first thing to point out is that the TPS website Home Page states their objective is to prevent “unsolicited sales and marketing telephone calls”. List cleaning and research calls appear not to fall within the TPS remit.

Secondly, what does unsolicited mean? If you network and collect cards and referrals presumably those providing their cards do not object to being contacted. Even if the person registers with the TPS, the fact they have given out their card while networking means they have given their permission to be contacted and this takes precedence over the TPS registration provided you do not contact them once that permission has been withdrawn.

Thirdly, if a person belongs to an organisation such as a Chamber of Commerce, and publishes the fact in their journal, are they not giving permission to be contacted by other local organisations? Why else would they wish to join and have their details published?

Fourthly, if you have had previous contact with a company, and the company has not asked you not to contact them again, then they have given their permission for you to contact them.

Fifthly, for those of us who network, when giving a referral, the idea is to inform the person whose name you are giving, and this principle should be adhered to where possible.

Possible ways forward

If someone takes exception to being called, they usually state their objection right at the start of the call. In this case you should apologise for inconveniencing them and terminate the call. Do not divulge further information (such as your company name) as this may antagonise the situation further.

It may be best to make outgoing calls from a telephone with the call line identification turned off.

Always work to a script so in the event of a complaint you can evidence the content of the call. The script should include a sentence towards the end of the call that asks if it would be acceptable for you to contact the company, by phone, from time to time. Calls should be based on cleaning your list and asking simple research questions such as “Are you experiencing any problems with your….”, etc.

Once you have established dialogue with someone, you can be more direct in your approach, questioning and offer.

Why not let Communicating write a company policy and procedure for you, so you can evidence a policy, procedure and script.

In Summary

It will be interesting to see how the TPS develop their service and define the calls they feel fall within their remit. Provided calls made are local, not nuisance calls and the caller is polite and terminates unwanted calls (and updates the database), it is difficult to see what interest the TPS could have.

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