Tuesday, March 27, 2012

The FCC enacted a requirement earlier this year that any answering machine message left by an autodialed or prerecorded telemarketing call must “include a toll-free number that enables the consumer to subsequently call back and connect directly to an autodialed opt-out mechanism.” For messages left in real-time by a live telemarketer, the rules require an interactive opt-out mechanism announced at the outset of the call. The new rule requires all prerecorded answering machine messages – whether during a Voice Broadcast campaign or using the SmartDrop® feature during a Cloud Call Center autodialer campaign – to meet these requirements. However, the FCC’s new rule specifically applies to telemarketing calls, but not to informational calls. The FCC’s ruling emphasizes that an “automatic Opt-Out mechanism” must provide a simple method to allow consumers to elect not to receive any future calls. Of course, this Opt-Out mechanism has always existed in CallFire’s Voice Broadcast system as the “Press-8” Do Not Call (“DNC”) option. We now provide automated mechanisms for answering machine messages and for outbound interactive voice response (IVR) calls. Automated Call-Back Number for Answering Machine Messages The automated toll-free DNC number is actually an inbound IVR call. As such, it requires purchasing a toll-free DID (phone number) from CallFire and attaching a simple IVR script to it. To purchase your new inbound toll free phone number, go to “Campaigns” ⇒ “Create New Campaign” and select the third Big Green Button from the top, “Phone Numbers (Toll Free) & Call Tracking.” Select your desired toll-free number, add it to your cart, and follow the check out procedures. Please be aware that it can take up to 48 hours for your number to activate. Once you have a purchased a toll-free number, you can attach the Do-Not-Call IVR to it. Go to “Campaigns” ⇒ “Create New Campaign” and this time choose the top button, Hosted IVR. When your IVR Designer launches, click the “Sample IVRs” button. Scroll down through the various samples until you find “1438 Inbound DNC Handler.” Highlight this IVR and click the “Load” button. For those of you who like to know what’s actually happening, the IVR consists of the following tags: The DNC tag gets the caller’s CallerID and automatically adds it to your CallFire Account’s Do Not Call list. It then plays a confirmation message for the caller and hangs up. To attach the toll free phone number to the IVR, click on the “Next” button in the lower right corner of the IVR Designer. This will launch the Campaign Creation page. Enter a name for your campaign (“ABC Marketing Inbound DNC”), and select the “Inbound” radio button. Enter your new toll-free phone number into the input box – it will automatically create a campaign out of it. You must select that campaign when it appears. Scroll down, fill out the legal agreement, and select “Submit.” Go to your “My Numbers” dashboard. Click on the white check box all the way to the left of the number, and select “Start Receiving Calls.” That’s it. When your customers call in to the toll-free number they will be automatically added to your Do Not call list. You should offer this number on all of your answering machine messages. Adding a Do Not Call Tag To Your Outbound IVRs. Your outbound telemarketing IVRs now require an automated DNC option also. This option must be at the very beginning of your message. You have a couple of options here. You can create a Menu and Keypress group just for the DNC option, or you can add a Keypress Tag to your main menu choices for the DNC option. We’ll look at both options. For the first option, a “dedicated” Menu just for the DNC option, add the following tags immediately after your initial “Play_Greeting” tag: For the second option, just add the above Keypress Tag and its contents as one of the options in your main menu, being sure to add it to the appropriate Play Tag also. As always, CallFire recommends that you check with competent legal authority to be sure that the calls themselves (not just the DNC feature) are within FTC and FCC guidelines.