Using Today’s Technology to Communicate with your Customers

Using Today’s Technology to Communicate with your Customers.

Communication has changed drastically over the last decade thanks to new technology. We use it in our everyday lives to stay in touch with family and friends. Why don’t we use it in our businesses as effectively? I believe it is because people feel you are intruding on their personal space when you use texting and e-mail to communicate for business reasons. Well it is definitely quicker, cheaper and much more effective than the standard ways to communicate with your customers. It has created an entire new element called social marketing. Using social media and websites to market your product/service and your image across the world wide web. Sites such as Facebook, Linked In and My Space are just the tip of the iceberg. There are new mediums being introduced daily, such as Twitter, Instagram and too many more to mention. By harnessing this new and emerging form of communication, you could save your business thousands of dollars and increase the effectiveness of your efforts.

To begin, you must incorporate your customers consent into your current registration form and for medical or dental offices, your HIPAA compliance form. Because of the sensitivity of healthcare information, all healthcare and dental practices should have a signed legal consent from your patient to make any contact by text or e-mail. You should insure that it is the customers private cell phone and their private e-mail if you are going to use these mediums for appointment reminders, additional services that are recommended, billing or any type of collection activity. On your form, create an area for their e-mail address and include a check box for private or shared e-mail as to make sure that you can count on it being private. Make sure you advise your customer that you and your business partners are authorized to use your cell phone number to contact them through phone calls, text messages and e-mail. Once you have received their consent, look at using these sources to streamline your billing, collections and appointment reminders. Keep in mind that you can save time and business costs with every customer that agrees to these terms and conditions, so use it regularly and save money on postage, paper and time each and every month.

For Colleges and Universities, you could create a form for your exit interviews that will allow you to contact the student using e-mail and texting.

The Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) prohibits any businesses from using any type of autodialer to contact consumers on their cellular phone with out prior consent. This act was initially designed to stop telemarketers from using autodialers to call peoples cell phones with out their prior consent. However, this has spilled over into the collection industry, and has created a market for attorneys to sue collection agencies for using autodialers. Consumers filed 159 Telephone Consumer Protection Act lawsuits in February, up 87% from 85 in February 2012. Year-to-date, TCPA cases are up 105%. Because of this new twist on an old law, collection agencies along with any business that may employ an autodialer is now forced to determine whether the contact number is a land line or a cellular phone before they add the number into their automated dialing system. Professional Recovery Personnel does not currently use an autodialer system when calling your customers, so this would not apply to our services. Our collection experts work your accounts one at a time to ensure complete coverage. Yet it is a very good idea to begin getting consent from your customers, especially if you use an autodial message or text messages for appointment reminders, and to protect any future technology you may invest in to communicate with your customers.

I found a recent court case that stresses the importance of obtaining consent from your customers to contact their cellular phone. A federal judge in Florida recently granted a class certification on a case brought by a consumer against a medical debt collector over a message left on their voice mail. The kicker is that they included the original creditor, a hospital, in the TCPA portion of the suit. Citing liability of the original creditor under the TCPA. Because the medical debt collector failed to divulge it was attempting to collect a debt on the consumers voice mail as required by the FDCPA, also known as the Foti ruling, and making that call to a cellular phone using a pre-recorded message (automated message) without consent to do so, brings the TCPA into play. So because of this ruling in Florida, any customer that was contacted by that medical debt collector using the same messaging system will be able to be included in the lawsuit against the collector and hospital. Excluded from the class action for TCPA violations is any consumer that did give their prior consent to contact their cellular phone. This case shows the importance of preparing in advance and getting written consent to contact your customers via their cellular phone.

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