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March’s Monthly Compliance Newsletter

It’s not all Covid doom and gloom…

This month’s headlines:

The ICO says it will go easy as firms struggle to cope with COVID-19 – but fraud risks multiply with the rush to home-working
· £500,000 fine for Scots firm responsible for 193 million unconsented robo-calls
· How secure is access to your marketing database? Don’t do a Virgin Media
· Field marketing agency’s directors jailed for dodging HMRC
· CMA takes care homes to court, highlights blinds and gears up to take on Google, Facebook & Amazon

·         Missguided fails the ASA‘s objectification test (either accidentally or on purpose). Can you pass?

Download it here:

+ 10,000%

Online ticketing firm TicketSource has experienced a staggering 10,000% increase in contacts from customers in the last week.

As a result of Coronavirus and large-scale closures of venues, TicketSource’s daily support requests backlog has grown from the usual 0 to 20 to 2,300+ by the end of Wednesday.

TicketSource’s founder, Simon Wilsher, shared these sobering figures in an email to customers yesterday. It deftly described his team’s situation (they are in the middle of a rapid switch to home working), his commitment to meeting the challenge and a plea for customers to be patient and not generate futile repeat contacts.

Over the next few months lots of organisations will experience a combination of increased contacts; changed customer behaviours (channels and timings); stretched & depleted resources. These are obviously massive operational challenges which need to be met by the frontline team(s), supported by the whole organisation.

But we can help, too. With over 20 years’ experience working with leading brands to improve their customer engagement, we can remotely and rapidly work with you to clear backlogs and shift demand, with improved customer resolution and a better employee experience.

Get in touch! hello@channeldoctors.co.uk

Contact Centres: What’s coming your way from the ICO

The draft code. The finalised version is expected by the end of 2020https://ico.org.uk/media/2616882/direct-marketing-code-draft-guidance.pdf

Hve you heard about the Information Commissioner’s Office‘s draft Direct Marketing Code? You really should if you’re dealing with customers.

Here’s brief summary that we wrote with Rachel Goddard for the Data & Marketing Association‘s Contact Centres Council Regulation Hub

38% of SMEs are wrong

38% of SME business think that the GDPR and UK Data Protection Act don’t apply to their customer data. They’re wrong.

This finding came from the DMA UK & Xynicsdresearch into small & medium-sized businesses (with 250 or fewer employees). These companies’ confusion could lead to potential fines, restrictions on their ability to acquire and retain customers (B2B as well as B2C) – and leave them out of step with their competitors.

They should sign up for our free, monthly newsletter – a plain English guide to regulation and compliance. And maybe so should you. Here’s the link: http://eepurl.com/gqxzw5

Santander: So many trees, so little engagement

I’ve tried to read it 3 times and have given up – unenlightened – each time

“So are we all set with the Account Changes communication?”


“How many customers can we engage with through it?”

“Millions of ’em”

“How are we doing it?”

“A letter”

“All dense text?”

“Of course. We’re using the ‘Really Dull Letter’ template”

“Great work!”

Build it and they will come?


The Contact Centre Panel‘s 2020 Automotive Sector Customer Service Survey shows that the most popular communication channels are Phone, followed by face-to-face in Showrooms, with Webchat in third place. Automotive brands reported that Social Media channels were far less popular, with half the usage of Webchat.

Does this reflect a peculiarity of the car market, with traditional modes of communication proving to be stubbornly most popular with consumers? That could be the case, but as the automotive sector invests ever more resources into digital customer journeys and experiences the survey’s finding are surprising.

So perhaps the brands are missing a trick by not being sufficently joined up themselves. The same survey shows that while 90% of brands are offering Webchat, just 40% offer consumers the opportunity to communicate over WhatsApp.

February’s Monthly Compliance Newsletter

Compliance is good for you! In small doses. Read up on the compliance and regulation changes that matter to you & your business.

This month’s headlines:

Marketers’ nervousness about the ICO’s draft Direct Marketing Code of Practice grows 

(And is the 3rd party data market doomed?)

The UK’s freedom of data exchange with the EU should be fine after the Brexit transition period. Unless it’s not…

The Post Office‘s accessibility services’ billing failings result in a £175,000 Ofcom fine

Ovo fined £9m for customer billing and transparency errors

ASA slams Ryanair for ‘green-washing’ – and shows a confused approach to the F*** word

Download it here

and subscribe for free and receive the Newsletter in your inbox every month http://eepurl.com/gqxzw5

Number of the Week: Outbound Calling Down 49%

Outbound calling has fallen by 49% since 2004. The proportion of outbound calling activity in UK contact centres has dropped from 33.7% to 17.2%.
That’s another arresting research finding in Contact Babel‘s UK Contact Centres 2020 report.

So, is outbound calling inevitably doomed – or condemned to an increasingly low value and often non-compliant offshore future? Not necessarily.
But for proactive outbound contact to work you will need to make sure you have relevant, timely reasons to connect with the right people at the right time (and not necessarily just via the voice channel).

Far from impossible, but the days of “throwing mud at the wall and seeing what sticks” are long gone. Contact centres need to continue to raise their games.

#data #marketing #proposition #ominichannel #engagement #contactcentres

Number of the week: Black Friday <50% Offer Next Day

On #BlackFriday, last year, less than 50% of ecommerce retailers offered next day deliveries – as opposed to greater than 80% offering a next day option on normal trading days. (this is one of 5 key research findings in an IMRG and Magento, an Adobe Company white paper ‘5 Things We Learnt From Black Friday 2019’ .

So, is this a disappointing example of brands diluting their customer experience in favour of a margin-reducing sales frenzy, or just sensible pragmatism?
What do you think?
Personally, I’d say it’s pragmatism. Retailers don’t control the delivery carrier networks and we all know those networks are severely stressed by November and the Black Friday period and often at breaking point in the run-up to Christmas. Nearly every customer-facing business is part of a complex infrastructure of suppliers and at times it makes sense to go with the flow. Added to which, the majority of discount-driven purchases over Black Friday are less likely to be focused on speed of receipt than size of savings.
However, its not clear from the IMRG & Magento research if Amazon also restricted its next day delivery options over Black Friday….

BA + M&S = Peanuts

Take two great brands, add poor training and a failure to empower the front-line and this is what you get

Or how what looks like a great idea in the board room can translate into a dire customer experience if you don’t empower your employees

I’ve made a few flights for work, recently. Flying gives lots of opportunities for those of us interested in customer experience to see how it works out in a complex and often stressful environment.

Not so long ago I flew to Italy with BA on a flight which was delayed for 2 hours because of a technical fault. Unfortunately for BA this delay happened when – due to bad weather – there have been a number of other flight cancellations. So, on the flight I found myself surrounded by a rather disgruntled-looking group of fellow passengers. The man sat to my left was a true business frequent flyer, who flew both short and long haul a number of times each month. In my experience airports and aeroplanes aren’t great places for spontaneous conversation. However as we waited for the safely announcement my fellow passenger shared with me his frustration with BA, its aged fleet, poor reliability and budget airline-style charging for food on short haul flights.

It wasn’t long before he asked a steward what food and drink we would be offered as the flight was now 2 hours late, which he said the Civil Aviation Authority required. The steward – presumably following his BA training – wasn’t willing to accept that the flight was over 2 hours late (it was!) or that BA was liable to provide us passengers with food and drink*. The disgruntled passenger disputed this and pointed out that there had been repeated announcement on board explaining BA’s relationship with Marks and Spencer’s, which meant that passengers could buy some M&S sandwiches or snacks for lunch.

He said that he thought the other passengers would be like to know that they should be offered free refreshments, too. This immediately triggered the steward, who – adopting something of the tone of a 19th century official reading the Riot Act to some unruly locals – announced that if the passenger was going to cause a disruption he would be asked to leave the flight. This was a totally inappropriate and disproportionate response, which naturally resulted in a still more frustrated passenger. The steward then explained in exasperation “It’s not our food, it’s Marks and Spencer’s!”.

There’s a fascinating discussion to be had about whether IAG has chronically under-invested in BA, resulting in an aged, unreliable fleet. And whether its problems have been compounded by joining a ‘race to the bottom’, by aping the budget airlines’ proposition – but without their low cost base to match. However, that’s a conversation for another day.

What most struck me is this. BA doesn’t directly control or deliver so many aspects of their customers’ overall experience, e.g. not ticket booking [if not done directly], travel to and parking at the airport, the airport itself, check in and security, etc. BA has made a strategic decision to partner with another great British brand to provide food and drink, but seemingly has decided that doing so means that even the control of a tokenistic prawn sandwich is now beyond BA’s influence.

On top of that, BA’s customer service training for its front-line cabin crew – who deliver the only person-to-person contact most customers will have with the BA brand – seems to encompass

  1. a massive lack of empowerment, allied to
  2. an aggressively applied policy of threats to quieten restive passengers.

BA’s website describes cabin crew as “ambassadors for the British Airways brand”. That’s a fine aspiration, but as long as its staff don’t have the authority to offer delayed passengers a cup of tea and a sarnie it’s rather hollow. BA aren’t alone in having a far better idea of the cost of a sandwich than the lifetime value of a customer – and the importance of maintaining relationship and loyalty at points of service failure. But when BA’s influence over its customers’ experience is often so slight, this is major failing.

And when the steward returned to my disgruntled fellow passenger 10 minutes later and consolatory offered him a miniature pack of peanuts (unfortunately I don’t know whether they were M&S peanuts) for free, I’m sure you can imagine his reaction…

*I did some research after the flight and sent BA an email querying if my fellow passenger was right and why no complementary food and drink was offered – which just resulted in a reply that was masterpiece in platitudinously avoiding answering the question. I couldn’t be bothered to follow up – just like a normal customer, who wasn’t going to write a blog post about their disappointing experience

When this article was posted on LinkedIn it provoked some spirited – and frustrated – responses too…

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