New Ofcom Ruling Makes Digital Tools a Must For UK Telcos
By Leor Melamedov
On June 13th, 2022 Ofcom will be passing a new ruling governing UK telco contracts. The ruling will require pre-contract information to be displayed to a potential customer before they agree to sign or approve a contract.
This means that any voice recordings or scripts of the pre-contract are no longer compliant, for both the consumer and enterprise side of the business. Yet telcos will also want to ensure that the switch to written pre-contract information doesn’t introduce friction to the sales process.
Here, we’ll show how a visual cart, shared review, and digital terms and conditions can ensure total compliance while maintaining speedy and delightful transactions.
The conditions apply to transactions between telco providers and customers before they enter into a contract for Electronic Communication Services (ECS).
Providers are now required to provide customers with Contract Information and a Contract Summary before they are bound by a contract.
This information must be transmitted through what’s called a Durable Medium. A Durable Medium can be paper, email, or any other medium that:
A.) Allows information to be addressed personally to the recipient
B.) Enables the recipient to store the information in a way accessible for future reference for a period that is long enough for the purposes of the information.
C.) Allows the unchanged reproduction of the information to be stored.
Other suitable formats for the Contract Information and Contract Summary include (but are not limited to): a print-out of the information, or a link to a downloadable document sent via email, a customer’s online account, or SMS.
The format used for the Contract Information and Contract Summary must be clear and easily readable.
The ruling explicitly states that its purpose is to allow customers to make an informed decision about the services they are choosing to buy.
Read the full Ofcom requirements under “Conditions C1.3-C1.7.”
Failure to comply with the new guidance will result in financial penalty. According to the Ofcom website, "The amount of any penalty must be sufficient to ensure that it will act as an effective incentive to compliance, having regard to the seriousness of the infringement."
Which Format is Ideal For Sharing Telco Product Information?
The Ofcom ruling required UK telcos to replace verbal agent scripts with a written Contract Information and Contract Summary. This means shifting from a familiar practice to a new one.
The good news is that replacing verbal scripts with written information is actually a boon for the telco sales process. Verbal scripts are tedious for agents to read and customers to listen to. They’re time-consuming. They lead to post-call cancellations, and expose telcos to compliance risk if mishandled.
Therefore, telcos should try to welcome the new ruling and view it as a measure that protects not only consumers, but themselves.
As seen, the Ofcom ruling names several formats that can be used to legitimately replace verbal agent scripts: paper, email, and SMS are all compliant formats. Now telcos have a choice: which of these formats is best suited for the sales process? Let’s consider the merits of each major format individually:
Paper: Printed information is not conducive to over-the-phone sales. By the time the print-out arrives, the customer may have already lost interest. For in-store sales, paper is more viable but still burdensome for store employees and customers. It also poses a higher environmental burden, which is problematic for telcos trying to reach their ESG goals.
Email: Emailing information is step up from print-outs. But it’s still not ideal. Email can end up in a spam folder. And they tend to contain PDFs, which are difficult to mark up and consent to. However, email can be a good channel if the documents included are web-based rather than PDF-based.
SMS: SMS is often the most instant and user-friendly way of communicating telco product information to customers. If the information is in an HTML format, it also allows customers to mark up the explanation, and easily provide consent without any special software. Of course, there should always be an option for customers who prefer to read on a desktop computer.
How Can UK Telcos Harness Technology to Stay Compliant and Efficient?
Fortunately, technology allows telcos to stay compliant with the new Ofcom ruling — without slowing down or complicating sales cycles. In fact, the right technology can ensure full compliance while improving the telco customer experience and boosting efficiencies.
Here at Lightico, we offer digital capabilities that can help telcos comply with the ruling, while providing a delightful and frictionless customer experience.
Capability #1: Visual Cart
A visual cart is perfect for over-the-phone telco sales. Agents can dynamically compile and share orders with customers, allowing them to visualise their order. By eliminating ambiguity, telcos boost buy-in and reduce the likelihood of post-call cancellation.
Capability #2: Shared Review
Shared review is a regulator and customer’s dream. Sales agents send the digitalized Contract Information and Contract Summary via email or SMS. The web-based format allows customers and agents to co-review and mark up the Contract Information and Contract Summary. This takes place in real-time for maximum efficiency.
Capability #3: Digital T&Cs
Once telcos have digitally shared the Contract Information and Contract Summary, it’s easy for customers to instantly provide consent to the agreed-upon terms. Digital T&Cs allow sales agents to automatically send the relevant legal acknowledgments, and receive customer consent in one click.
Achieve Ofcom Compliance & Better Sales Calls
As the June 2022 deadline looms closer, it’s natural for telcos to have concerns about switching to documented pre-contract information. But it can be a blessing in disguise: with the right technology in place, telcos can simultaneously reach compliance and boost their sales.
The AHT across the telco industry is 6.10 minutes. With Lightico, that calls shrink to just 4.60 minutes. Considering that telco contact center calls cost a dollar per minute, there is a direct financial benefit in addition to the obvious compliance boost.
Telcos that partnered with Lightico and adopted the visual cart, shared review, and digital T&Cs on average see:
35% higher FCR
25% reduced AHT
15% higher NPS
To learn more about Lightico’s full array of customer-facing capabilities, visit Lightico.com.
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