On 1 July, the Protection of Personal Information Act (POPIA) came into full effect.

Any organisations found to be in breach of the act will be liable for fines and even criminal prosecution.

It has been a long road to POPIA’s eventual implementation and most organisations should be compliant by now.

Here, Euphoria Telecom shares a few points that concerned organisations and call centres should be considering.

POPIA can be beneficial

“Before you panic about how big the impact of POPIA is, remember that compliance can be of immense value to your business,” says Euphoria Telecom CEO John Woollam.

“Compliance reassures your customer base of your commitment to their privacy and to the ethical management of their data.

“This goes a long way towards cementing your reputation as a trusted company, and to ensuring that future communication is always aligned with regulation and compliance mandates.

In addition, direct marketing is already regulated by the Electronic Communications and Transactions Act 25 of 2002, the Consumer Protection Act 68 of 2008, and the National Credit Act 34 of 2005.

“All that POPIA does is pull all these threads together to ensure that customers are protected, but also to ensure that you are protected.

It doesn’t prevent you from selling or cold calling, it just changes how you approach it and what methods you use to achieve your sales goals.”

Understand data and electronic communication

The term “electronic communication” is mentioned extensively in POPIA, and understanding the broader communication methods this covers is essential.

What it refers to is any image message, text, SMS, voice note, sound or form of communication with a customer via an electronic communication network or device.

Unsolicited electronic communication in any of these forms is prohibited, unless the person is already on your database as an existing customer; has provided consent to receive direct marketing and your organisation received that consent in the right manner and form; and if the customer hasn’t withheld consent in the past.

A clear understanding of the data you possess is a very important extension of using electronic communication channels compliantly.

You cannot effectively protect customer data in line with POPIA if you don’t accurately document the categories of data subjects (including HR, sales, and marketing) within your company and describe the personal information that is processed for each.

Using the categories of data subjects you’ve defined, you can map the flow of personal information within your business, including external parties that have access to that information.

Stay on the right side of cold calling

Cold calling is a divisive subject and there are some questions around whether or not it falls under the POPIA mandate, or if it is even allowed as it uses personal communication to engage with potential customers.

The bottom line is, organisations are still required to obey the mandates outlined by the Consumer Protection Act 68 of 2008, and customers still have the right to stop cold callers from engaging with them.

Any consumer requests to prevent cold calling must be respected as the law is on the consumer’s side in this regard, not the business.

The best way to connect with customers using cold calling is to ensure that your approaches are aligned with regulations.

This means that your potential customers have to opt into your communication by providing consent before you can engage with them using any form of electronic communication.

This opt-in function is extremely valuable and including it on your marketing collateral can ensure that the customer engagement pipeline stays clear.

Privacy matters

POPIA can potentially offer your organisation an opportunity to deliver better customer experiences and services.

With the required data privacy team on board at your company, compliance can be smoothly maintained when representatives from each data subject category, and from functional areas – such as technology, operations and information security – are engaged as part of the process.

It’s important to note that compliance is not a once-off “cut and paste” solution.

It is an ongoing effort that requires constant evaluation of the procedures, staff, software, and technology within your company.

Contact Euphoria on 087 057 9695 to find out more about telephony that’s geared towards efficiency and compliance.