EDITOR’S NOTE: The following was authored by Amanda Payton, the vice president of compliance and risk management at Solutions by Text and is re-published here with her permission.
Text messaging is the most widely utilized form of communication, with over 23 billion text messages sent daily worldwide. Consumers prefer to handle personal and business matters from the convenience of their smartphones. If your business is not currently using text messaging to communicate with your clients, you are missing out on the most popular, efficient, cost-effective communication tool available.
Here are some helpful tips if you are ready to develop and implement a text message program:
1. Know and follow the rules.
A solid understanding of the applicable rules will give your texting program the foundation it needs to be successful and compliant. Federal and state law, wireless carrier rules, industry trade association standards, and message provider requirements should be weaved into your text message program’s framework.
The Telephone Consumer Protection Act of 1991 (“TCPA”), which is enforced by the Federal Communications Commission (“FCC”), is a federal law requiring that a business obtain consent from a consumer before sending text messages. The type of consent necessary depends on the content of the message and the way the message is sent. The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (“FDCPA”), which is enforced concurrently by the Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”) and Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (“CFPB”), is a federal law regulating debt collection activity including communications with debtors. Some states have also passed individualized consumer protection legislation that impacts texting consumers.
Wireless carriers have extensive authority to create rules for content transmitted over their networks. Industry trade associations, including the Cellular Telecommunications and Internet Association (“CTIA”) and Mobile Marketing Association (“MMA”), issue standards that need to be followed to comply with applicable law and best practices. Text message providers should also create their own guidelines for transmitting text messages on behalf of clients.
2. Obtain consent.
Before you start communicating with your customers via text message, make sure you obtain the proper consent to do so. If you want to send account-related messages like payment reminders or confirmations, you need prior express consent. If you want to send marketing-related messages like promotions or special offers, you need prior express, written consent.
The best way to obtain the requisite consent is to have a written text message policy in the agreement signed by the consumer. The policy should outline the specifics of your message program in detail, so the consumer is aware of how you plan to communicate with them via text message. There are alternate ways to gain consent including having the consumer opt-in to your messaging program via text message, web form, or, in some circumstances, relying on consent gained by another party.
3. Formulate your content.
Once you have consent, it’s time to formulate the content of your text messages. Start by considering what your goals are in implementing a texting program. Do you want to increase collections? Grow your customer base? Provide a more personalized experience for your customers? Think through what you want to get out of your texting program and craft text message templates accordingly. One of the many benefits of text messaging is the ability to create and edit content in conjunction with the changing needs of your business.
4. Choose the right text message provider.
It is vital your business selects a text message provider that is aware of and follows all relevant rules and best practices. Here are some important topics to address with your prospective text message provider before choosing them as your program partner:
- Data retention policy;
- Information security components applicable to your data;
- Ability to obtain consulting on best practices, consent options, etc. free of charge;
- Availability of technical support;
- Service-level agreements;
- Relationships with wireless carriers and trade associations; and
- Pricing structure and rates.
Solutions by Text, LLC has built our software solution around compliance with industry requirements and best practices. Our consultative approach can help you create a texting program that fits your specific business needs. Please reach out if you would like to set up a complimentary consultation. www.solutionsbytext.com