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Text Messages & Chat: What You Should Know About Compliance

By Jason Krumenaker
February 6, 2020

Different forms of messaging, such as text messages and chat boxes, are subject to regulation and enforcement by government regulators just as much as any other consumer communication channels. Similar regulations apply to text messaging as they do to call centers, including the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA). Ensuring that your messaging communications are compliant with regulations and are best serving your consumers is essential to an organization’s overall success. 

Text Messaging Compliance

SMS/text messaging is an excellent way to communicate with consumers and can be extremely effective. However, you must ensure that you have the correct permissions to contact consumers this way. Similar to phone calls, the FCC prohibits the harassing, intrusive, illegal, and unwanted robotexts to cell phones and other mobile devices. All requirements that apply to phone calls under TCPA also apply to text messages.

 

Under TCPA, organizations are required to obtain prior express written consent from consumers before texting them. It’s important to note that an “established business relationship” is not enough to establish consent. This disclosure must be clear and conspicuous for consumers, and consumers must purposefully opt-in to these messages. Along with this, you must provide an automated, interactive “opt-out” mechanism.

Just as TCPA prohibits autodialed phone calls (robocalls) without consent, it also prohibits the use of autodialed text messages or “robotexting.” Robotext violations are subject to enforcement by the FCC, including forfeiture penalties up to $18,936 per violation, and state enforcement agencies.

Additionally, text messages can only be sent between the hours of 8 am and 9 pm local time of the called party’s time zone.

Source: https://docs.fcc.gov/public/attachments/DA-16-1299A1.pdf

Chat Compliance

When messaging consumers via chat boxes, whether automated or live, you must ensure that you are compliant with GDPR and all other data privacy laws. Simply put, you must handle consumer’s information legally.

Another important note about chat boxes is that these communications can be captured and saved, therefore posing an increased risk for your organization. If a customer has an unpleasant experience, they can easily capture and keep receipts of their interactions with your brand, which can ultimately lead to damaged reputations or proof of regulatory violations.

When it comes to chats, you want to monitor for the quality of agents’ interactions with consumers based on professionalism and adherence to provided scripts. This way you can ensure that consumers are receiving the best customer service and have an overall positive experience.

 

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Tags: Product, Regulatory Compliance, TCPA, Consumer Protection

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