Texting is one of the most convenient ways for people to interact. That’s true for business-to-consumer chats as well as consumer-to-consumer chats. With texts having a 98% open rate and a response time averaging just 90 seconds, business can’t help but look at text messaging as a required communication channel. Many times we hear from small businesses and Enterprises that they are hesitant to adopt business messaging as they are unsure of the legality of what is allowed (or not allowed) according to FCC guidelines. To help us sort through all this we figured we would call in an expert to set the record straight!
Mike Hazzard, Partner at Jones Day, a leading worldwide law firm, has years of representing technology companies in the areas of cybersecurity and privacy matters, big data issues, as well as served as lead counsel in adjudications, investigations, and rulemakings pending before the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). Mike has worked with us at CSF and Aerialink for many years, and kindly offered to share his thoughts addressing some of the marketplace concern around the legality of texting do’s and don’ts.
Here are some very safe, legal ways businesses are using text messaging to engage with their customers.
Conversational texting. Companies are increasingly using their “800” numbers and standard telephone numbers to communicate with consumers by text. Examples include customer service inquiries, ride sharing applications, roadside assistance calls, restaurant reservations, hotel room availability, and many, many others.
No TCPA or other legal issues arise here, as the consumer and an employee at the business are messaging with one another on a “one-to-one” basis. Feel free to message away!
Informational texting. SMS is an inexpensive, useful method for companies to inform their customers about account status matters, such as when payments are due and received. Other examples of information text messaging include shipping information, transaction information, and similar “vendor” interactions.
Here, the consumer has released his telephone number to the business as part of a transaction or enrollment. Text messaging providing information regarding that vendor-consumer relationship is fully permissible under the TCPA. Feel free to message away!
Alerts/verification. Status alerts and verification, such as two-factor authentication, also are popular, safe uses of text messaging. The consumer initiates alert-type SMS messages by signing up for an alert – think flight information or school information. The consumer initiates the provision of a verification code through a website or other interface.
Businesses can always respond to consumer inquiries. If a consumer signs up for an alert, the business can provide the alert. If a consumer seeks to reset a password, the business can transmit a verification code. Feel free to message away!
Opt-outs must be honored. There are many ways businesses can safely interact with consumers using SMS messaging. That said, businesses should honor consumer “opt outs.” If a consumer lets you know they don’t want any more messages – by replying texting “stop” or something similar — their opt out request must be honored. Aerialink can help manage this for you!
A word about marketing messages. Most people don’t like telemarketing calls, and an SMS messaging trying to sell a product, good, or service is considered a telemarketing call. To safely engage in telemarketing by SMS, a company needs “prior express written consent” that the consumer wants sales messages. Other restrictions apply too. So if you want to do SMS telemarketing you should be careful and consult a compliance professional. So be careful!
- Mike Hazzard, esq
Aerialink offers full Compliance Support for all our customers needs and recently updated our policies to be fully compliant with GDPR. For more on Aerialink, and how our outstanding Products and Support can get you connecting with your customers via SMS and MMS visit our website at www.aerialink.com/support.
The materials in this blog are for informational purposes only and not for the purpose of providing legal advice. You should contact your attorney to obtain advice specific regarding any text messaging plans you have or with respect to any particular issue or problem.