What is a “call center?” It’s preferred that the reference should now be “contact center,” because it’s what the industry now wants it to be named. To me, a “call center” is one that makes repeated calls to a customer to try to establish contact (like a collections company, where I worked back in the late-90’s); whereas, a “contact center” is one which leans more toward customer service and respect of the client’s right not to be harassed. (Call back attempts to the client are made with a sensitive eye toward how many times a call has been made and how many days have passed since the previous call.)
It seems that policies for the past several years is to call clients as much as 6 to 8 times per day, 4 – 6 days in-a-row, I would say that falls into the “call center” category, wouldn’t you? Messages are only left once per day; but, the caller has to attempt a call about every couple of hours or so and if there is no direct answer, and a message has already been left for that day, then they just hang up. If a customer has multiple telephone numbers – let’s see, 3 numbers x 6 times per day x 4 days equals 72 times in the span of four days. Yeah, it’s a “call center.”
I would say practically all cell phones and a large number of home answering machines have caller ID so they can figure out that it’s a certain company calling them. I have a strong suspicion that there are many people out there who equate a certain incoming caller ID to a tele-marketing or collections company regardless of what type of company it is.
The only difference, really, between some companies and a collections company is they don’t use auto-dialers, but, they have systems that can bring the client phone number into their computer system at varying intervals expecting an agent to manually dial the number to attempt the phone call. There are probably procedures which state that an agent cannot ignore the call back attempt and internal emails from managers constantly remind the agents that they cannot wait more than a few minutes between their calls. Methodology different, intent is the same.
Which reminds me that I have to clarify the modern definition of, “client.” You see, “clients” are referred to the company by many referral sources and, without asking their permission, a file is automatically started for them. As long as a “client” gets on the phone with the company, a client ID must be created for them. Ostensibly, it’s for “tracking purposes,” and from then on, unless the client specifically asks not to, their full name and telephone number is put in the data base. This, as I am told gives the company the permission to call the “client,” if the company wants to.
As far as the privacy issue is concerned, the company management explains it this way – the “client” accepted the transfer, or willingly called on the phone number they were given, thus, the company has their implied permission to capture their full name and phone number. Oh, and here’s another one – “The person did not ‘opt-out’ to the miniature postcard notice that was included in their last ‘snail-mailing,’ so we have the right to share their name(s) with our marketing partners.”
It doesn’t matter if they were transferred without their knowledge, they dialed the wrong number, or they were just looking for information. A file is created on them and archived with their full name and phone number, at the least. There are numerous “client” folders stored away with a lot more information even though they never technically went through a full program with the company.
But, what do I know? I’m not a lawyer and these practices and procedures have probably been reviewed with the legal department and cleared for use. A lot of things nowadays are like that, “not necessarily moral;” but, “technically legal.” Customer service and respect, two words no longer with the same meaning these days, I suppose.