Posted by: Malcolm Jarvis

One of the restrictions when launching a campaign that uses a predictive dialler is that you need to have an abandoned call message recorded before your first call is made. Ofcom introduced new guidelines way back at the beginning of 2011 regarding the use of AMD (Answer Machine Detection) which also included new rules intended to eliminate silent calls.

Despite a maximum fine of £2m, it seems plenty companies out there still run predictive dialler campaigns that ignore this rule. In some cases this will be because they don’t think they’ll get caught, but I suspect the main reason is that they don’t even realise it’s a requirement and their technology provider hasn’t thought to tell them that it’s not in place by default.

Fortunately, the regulations are straightforward, the required content is simple and you should be able to get a message recorded in the time it takes to boil the kettle (don’t record your message next to a boiling kettle). In this post, I’ll give you a quick guide to recording a brief, effective and compliant abandoned call message for your next outbound campaign.

We’ll have a look at what the rules are first, but if you’d rather just skip to the example message, just scroll down to the bottom where you’ll find what you’re looking for!

If you’re still reading, and you’d like to check the facts, the rules relating to your abandoned call message can be found on the Ofcom website on page 54, section A1.52 of this consultation document.

As you’ll see, your message needs to follow these three rules:

1. You must give the identity of the company on whose behalf the call is being made.

This means you need to state the company who is ultimately responsible for initiating the call. So for example, if you’re conducting a campaign on behalf of Vodafone, and the call centre business is called Greenlight Outsourcing, your message would need to state that the call was on behalf of Vodafone.

On the other hand, if you’re calling from Greenlight Business Telecoms and Vodafone is just one of a number of providers that you might place a customer with, then you need to say you’re calling from Greenlight Business Telecoms.

2. You need to give details of a number that the called individual can contact you on so they can decline further calls.

Your message also needs to include details of a number (not necessarily the number that you display when calling out) that an individual can call to have themselves removed from further marketing, in other words, so they can be added to your suppression list. Obviously this number needs to work, although there’s no stipulation that the process can’t be automated using an IVR to confirm the customer’s number that’s to be removed. If you’d rather pass the calls to an agent, then it would be sensible to include a voicemail option for situation where the number is called outside of call centre hours.

There are also restrictions relating to the type of number that you can use. This needs to be an 0800 number, an 0845 number or a number starting 01, 02 or 03. Attempts to get customers to call a premium rate number would not go down well!

3. Your message can contain no marketing content and cannot be used as an opportunity to market to the called person.

This is the bit that stops you turning your abandoned call message into a voice blast. It also means that when the customer calls in, you’re equally not allowed to attempt to sell to the individual.

For this reason it’s useful to use a separate number on your abandoned call message to the one you display when calling out as if customers call back in on your regular number you are allowed to pitch them just as long as you check it’s OK to do so first.

Taking these three points together, and assuming that you’re happy that I’m not a legal expert and all advice given is on a best-efforts basis, a compliant abandoned call message might go something like this:

"This is an automated call from Greenlight Business Telecoms. Unfortunately, due to a technical error, no agent is available to speak to you at this time. This is not an important call and you do not need to take any action as we will call back at another time. If you wish to receive no further calls from us, please call 0141 496 1234 and we will be happy to remove you from our calling list. Thank you and sorry for the inconvenience."

Which is short, polite and neatly hits all three points.

If you’d like to learn more about predictive diallers, then our blog post here will give you a useful introduction to the technology and challenges behind them. You can also find more resources on the Ofcom website here.

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