So, July 1st has come and gone, and the new Canada Anti-Spam Legislation has kicked in. Up to July 1st, I received all sorts of panicked ‘please confirm your subscription and consent’ emails … However, now that the deadline has come and gone, my inbox still has no shortage of emails from Oprah, fine purveyors of LED shoelaces, and hurricane mops. So what has really changed?
Well, to begin with, any spam you receive you can report online at www.fightspam.gc.ca, or even forward examples of spam to firstname.lastname@example.org for review by the CRTC. However, until some fines are levied, I don’t imagine the offenders will really stop what they are doing. I imagine in many cases, they are based outside of Canada and have no idea they are now breaking the law and subject to fines. Perhaps they should read their emails…
What This Means For The Collection Industry
I believe the Canada Anti-Spam Legislation is going to have a huge impact on our industry, but not in the way most people think. We are in the business of communication, so that means we often send emails, texts, and social media messages – and the CASL changes the rules as far as everything goes about consent.
On the collection end of things, nothing has changed – reaching out to consumers about a debt falls under the ‘pursuit or enforcement of a legal right’ exclusion under the CASL. I imagine someone who was contacted as a wrong number might be able to kick up a fuss, but as long as common sense and decent business practices prevail, I don’t imagine much will change here.
On the sales end of things, I expect a much bigger change. Recently, I attended a workshop hosted by David Canton, who has written extensively about the CASL (his excellent blog can be found here), and he advised the CRTC is taking a hard stance against even social media messages (such as Linkedin InMails, for example) – we will see how this plays out, but this means we are back to the good old fashioned days where we used a strange device with wires and buttons to talk to other people called a telephone.
That wouldn’t be a problem, except that there are probably 600-1000 collection agency sales representatives across Canada, and they are all calling the same select credit managers. I spoke to a cable company representative, and she advised me she gets in the neighbourhood of 20+ calls a month from different collection vendors. That’s about a call a day. So, the besieged creditors aren’t always going to pick up the phone and spend hours hearing the same-old sales pitch.
Our industry needs to step into the world of ‘pull’ marketing and less of the ‘push’ sales methodology. Email blasts, telemarketing, and hard-sell methodology needs to give way to social media engagement, giving away something of value, and building trust. This means changing the way our industry is structured inside the company, and putting a real human face to the people doing the work, allowing them to be reached (and encouraged to be reached) by creditors. It doesn’t necessarily mean the sky is falling, but it means we need to reinvent how we reach out to potential clients and have them be truly interested in what we have to say.
What Do We Do?
Obviously, to protect ourselves under the CASL, we should organize express consent with our clients and potential clients in the next year or so, and implied consent should be documented at this point. If you don’t have an Anti-Spam policy, you absolutely should put one in place (and the smart companies will build it in with their social media policy).
So, before you send that unsolicited email, have you thought about how your collection agency is going to survive in the years to come?
If anyone wants to chat about this big change to Canadian sales methods, and what it means for our industry, I’m always willing to have a conversation – by all means, give me a call.
KINGSTON Data and Credit