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POPI from a contact centre’s perspective

02 December 2015 Delia Gross, Innovation Group
Delia Gross, Executive for the In-Touch Contact Centre at Innovation Group.

Delia Gross, Executive for the In-Touch Contact Centre at Innovation Group.

The Protection of Personal Information (POPI) Act has been making headlines over the past couple of months, especially where contact centres are concerned, which opens the debate to what contact centres need to and have done to ensure that they comply with the new Act.

“POPI is there to encourage the flow of information utilising secure protocols and ensuring responsible use, which aligns with the constitutional right to privacy. Call centres are only allowed to use data for the purpose for which it was collected. They’re not allowed to contact consumers for any reason other than that for which they have given consent,” explains Delia Gross, Innovation Group’s Executive for the In-Touch Contact Centre.

Companies, especially contact centre operations, who don’t comply with POPI could face significant fines and even jail time. With nearly two years to prepare for the implementation and enforcement of the Act, what has the industry done to ensure that they comply with the Act?

“Prior to the promulgation of the Act, Innovation Group have invested significant time and energy in to ensuring that we safeguard against contacting customers who have not conceded to be contacted,” says Gross. “We insist that data suppliers obtain consent prior to the data being sent to us. Proof of such consent must be made available upon request from the data subject or from Innovation Group.”

When it comes to the protection of this data, there are physical as well as technical security measures that need to be put into place, for example access control. This means that security measures such as encryption, firewalls, anti-virus, backups, disk encryption for mobile hard drives and devices need to be implemented. These all need to be in accordance with internationally accepted standards.

“The contact centre model has also significantly evolved over the past couple of years. Contact Centres no longer deploy the ‘spray and pray’ approach to telemarketing. We are obliged to make outbound sales calls based on research and data analytics which enable us to market products and services that are appropriate and relevant to the targeted consumer group,” explains Gross.

“Modern contact centres boast the latest infrastructure and technology and this allows us to move past mere sales. The ultimate goal is to provide customers with information that both educates and informs,” says Gross.

POPI provides sufficient detail pertaining to rights of data subjects including but not limited to; the right to request deletion, correction or destruction of personal information, as well as the right to institute civil proceedings or submission of complaints to the Regulator. This means that consumers may at any time request to be deleted from contact databases, but is this necessarily the right move?

“Opting out from direct sales campaign is anyone’s choice, but more often than not people miss out on receiving information on products that will cater to their specific needs and requirements,” comments Gross.

“Contact centres have evolved over the last couple of years and with the use of data analytics and in-depth needs analysis they are able to analyse consumer data to market products that are developed around demographic, vehicle usage, lifestyle and spend. Through data analytics we are able, for example, to look at a vehicle’s age, mileage and service history to develop a complete customer profile and to then offer the consumer value add products that will ensure they are able to prolong the life and drivability of their vehicles.”

As inconvenient as a sales call might be, should you not be asking what information you are missing out on by opting out?

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