Legal Update - Customer Contact Concerns & Challenges | DMA

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Legal Update - Customer Contact Concerns & Challenges


There’s nothing like a good three-hour Legislation Update in the morning to get your Tuesday off to a flying start. So, yesterday I joined a roomful of people at the Direct Marketing Association (DMA)’s Margaret Street offices to find out what legislative changes have been made and are in prospect which will have an impact on direct marketing.

Here are my brief, headline thoughts on some aspects of likely and confirmed future legal changes which I felt were specifically of relevance to the (broad) field of omni-channel customer contact, across both the commercial and charity sectors:

When the EU finally agrees on its data protection regulation, there will definitely be greater pressure on and exposure of data processors as well as controllers. So, outsourced service providers will have a lot less scope to ‘hide behind the client’. This, in turn, will apply still further financial pressure on outsourcers wedded to a low-margin, minimal value-add business model.

A probable increase in Subject Access Requests and demands for the ‘right to be forgotten’ under future regulation will generate further demands and stresses on organisations’ customer service teams.

Fines for data protection non-compliance will grow still larger, but as yet there’s no suggestion that they might be levied on individuals (i.e. owners and company directors), rather than corporate entities. So, non-compliant organisations may continue to come and go – dodging company fines and ‘naming and shaming’s along the way – but with the same guilty individuals in charge.

The Fundraising Preference Service (FPS) proposed in the Etherington report ( may well serve to create further confusion for the public. The FPS will partly address the charity sector’s historic, erroneous belief that wider direct marketing regulations and standards did not apply to it - but through the creation of another example of charity sector ’exceptionalism’.

And if the spirit of exceptionalism isn’t really dead in the charity sector, then the new Fundraising Regulator will need to be careful to ensure charity marketers don’t try and avoid the impact of the FPS by re-branding fundraising contacts as ‘research’, ‘outreach’ or ‘data cleansing’.

Finally, love it or hate it, a walk-through of this summer’s Daily Mail campaign about charity fundraising ‘sharks’ – which has resulted in new regulations, changed business models for major charities, hundreds of redundancies and reams of damaging publicity, all in less than 6 months – provides a masterclass in how to conduct a popular and effective media campaign.

I should add that the opinions above are mine, alone, but they were formulated with many thanks to John Mitchison, James Milligan and Zach Thornton of the DMA and Ella Smillie of the Committee of Advertising Practice (CAP) for their informative presentations at the Update (which covered a far wider range of issues, in considerable depth).

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