Alex Saunders, Marketing Specialist at Slap-up-marketing, takes a look at how being aware of regulations and acting proactively can save your bacon – it certainly has worked in gaming
The Telecoms industry faces government oversight in a way that few others do. Perhaps this is a reflection of the public importance of safe, private and reliable communication; but large companies face a constant threat of tripping over red tape.
In order to be able to securely plan for the future, telecoms companies need to take active steps to keep regulators at bay. Even seemingly “trivial” mistakes can have severe consequences, so telecoms professionals have a responsibility of vigilance where compliance issues are concerned.
Ofcom, the UK’s telecoms regulator has a huge degree of power to punish errant licensees. Acting under a broad mandate which includes protecting consumers and maintaining competition, Ofcom has in recent months fined marketing companies for “abandoned calls” and also taken action against relative behemoth Three, for improperly handling complaints.
The latter case is a good example of how internal policy could have avoided a run in. Three was fined for failing to resolve complaints, and failing to make consumers aware of an alternative dispute process. Had someone at Three properly understood Ofcom’s requirements, and disseminated that information widely; the company could have avoided a £250,000 fine and Ofcom’s ire.
Another of Ofcom’s responsibilities is data protection – two words which can make most companies quake in their boots. Aside from legal protection of private data, Ofcom also states how personal data should be stored. In a large company with potentially millions of clients, thousands of staff and dozens of databases proper protection can be a nightmare – but regulators rightly take it incredibly seriously. Fines of up to £2m can be imposed for data breaches, which also drive away customers.
Of course there is no fool-proof way of keeping personal data secure, but best practice involves ensuring it is securely encrypted, and that security measures both external (firewalls etc) and internal limit the ability of anyone to access data they are not entitled to.
One industry which is frequently held under tight scrutiny is gaming, where regulation is normally in the hands of national commissions. The UK’s Gambling Commission lays down tight requirements before a licence is issued; including a code of social responsibility, and the requirement to prevent under-aged or vulnerable people accessing gambling products.
The most frequent run-ins between casinos and regulators come in the area of player protection. Operators are required to respect and uphold “self-exclusion” requests from players and prevent children accessing their services; far more easily said than done.
The best operators have taken proactive steps to screen customers at the registration stage, avoiding costly fines or legal battles down the line. Take the example of GamingClub, which uses both statistical and human intelligence to exclude undesirable players.
Responsible casino behaviour is something that customers definitely warm to, if only because it is quite rare. By taking steps to pre-emptively avoid regulatory problems, operators can build their brand and long term stability.
In the telecoms industry, regulation is simply part of the landscape. By helping your company create procedures to ensure strict compliance you may not only save needless fines, but contribute to its long term survival.