DMA warns over consumer trust

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The Direct Marketing Association (DMA) has encouraged firms not to lose the trust of consumers when partaking in marketing mail and telemarketing projects, as this can end up having an averse reputational effect.

This is the number one risk of using data that has not been automatically screened against a ‘do not contact’ list – getting in touch with people who have opted out of a service will cause frustration and annoyance, possibly causing long-term damage to a brand.

Its warnings follow on from the recent publication of the DM Commission’s annual report revealing the majority of its investigations in 2013 were into consumer complaints about companies making nuisance calls.

Although the Advertising Standards Agency and the DM Commission do not have the power to issue fines, unlike regulatory bodies such as Ofcom, businesses will still feel the hit if they alienate prospective customers.

Chris Combemale, the DMA’s executive director, urged firms to ensure their opt-out registers are utilised effectively in the future.

“Consumer trust is essential to effective one-to-one communication, but this is all too easily jeopardised by not making the simple check to see if someone wants to be contacted or not.”

Watchdogs such as the Information Commissioner’s Office – which is capable of fining companies harshly for breaking its rules – have recently got involved in the problem of spam texts and unwanted calls, explained Mr Combemale.

“But the biggest risk businesses face is from losing consumer trust, which means losing potential customers and potential revenue. This should be incentive enough for businesses to check their consumer data,” he concluded.

More than 5.5 million phone numbers and addresses are registered with the Medical Protection Services, while about 20 million are connected to the Telephone Protection Service. It is a legal requirement for companies to check their customer data against these registers.

Businesses with customer relationship management technology in place can use this to keep track of their trading information, helping to make it less likely that nuisance issues will arise.

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