As an entrepreneur, you will surely need to utilize various forms of telephonics for your enterprise, including business lines, fax lines, cellphones, text message marketing, as well as, potentially predictive or auto dialers. But the utilization of these products for commercial purposes can bring forth legal issues if they are not utilized in the best fashion. For this article, I will discuss the various laws surrounding usage of various telephonics, along with some of the best practices to utilize when selecting vendors for your basic business office essentials.
Basic Office Essentials
There are two sides to the telephonic structures that you will utilize for your business, one side is using them for mass marketing purposes and the other side is using them for basic office administration essentials. Let’s start with the basic office administration essentials, which include:
- Office telephone line
- Office fax line
- Direct business cellphone line
The great thing about all three of these essentials is that depending upon the size of your business, you should be able to manage them using wireless communications, which means you no longer have to stand in front of a fax machine, you no longer have to untangle telephone chords, etc.
- Business Cellphone: For your business cellphone, advancements in technology and service has allowed it where today that you can obviously utilize either an iPhone or Android technology, but the option of unlimited service for one flat monthly fee is available and most times, the cost effective option. In terms of best practices, you should opt for the unlimited service options as they allow for you to not worry about going over data limits or paying high costs for various minutes utilized. Your choice of using either an Android or iPhone should come down to your personal taste along with all of the expected functions of the technology that you plan to utilize.
- Business Fax Line: For your business fax lines, you can utilize various vendors that operate the service in the cloud, allowing you to send and receive faxes via email, store records of faxes sent/received, and more. This means you no longer need to stand by a fax machine sending pages one at a time, or to wait by a fax machine while a new fax is received. In terms of best practices, you should opt to choose an unlimited fax service which charges a flat monthly fee for an unlimited number of pages sent and received. This would avoid you paying “per page fees” which can add up, especially if marketers receive your fax number and choose to send you unsolicited fax messages (which are illegal by the way, more on that later in this article).
- Business Telephone Line: For your business telephone lines, you can utilize vendors that also operate the service in the cloud, allowing you to no longer need physical telephone lines. You can route your calls directly to your cellphone, store voicemails, utilize voicemail transcription (where the voicemail is translated into a text and send via email), you can add in an auto attendant for a more professional experience, you can utilize conferencing, and much more. In terms of best practices, you should opt for a service that includes unlimited minutes that ties in both local and long distance calling. Most of the basic features of the plan should be included in that unlimited plan, but certain advanced features (such as auto attendant and voicemail transcription) might be included for a separate fee.
Telephonic Mass Marketing
Marketing your products and services can be very expensive, especially utilizing television ads, radio ads, print ads, online ads, and more. This is why many businesses choose to market their products and services using telephonic mediums, however, if you choose to take this route, you must be aware of the various marketing laws related to mass marketing via telephonic mediums. Failure to comply with said marketing laws could lead to significant fines, fees, and even imprisonment.
The main federal statute that you want to pay attention to is the FCC’s Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA), which has been around since 1991 and regulates the use of automated calls, text messages, fax messages, and live cold calls that are done via telemarketing efforts to generate new sales. Violations of various provisions could lead to fines, fees, or even imprisonment depending on the circumstances. Please review the contents of the TCPA with your legal team, to make sure that your telemarketing campaigns are compliant. In a nutshell, here are some general TCPA rules:
- Making automated robocalls to personal or business cellphones are non-compliant unless there has been prior written consent.
- Making automated robocalls to a personal/residential landline phone is non-compliant unless there has been prior written consent.
- Sending unsolicited fax messages of a commercial nature to a personal or business fax line is non-compliant unless there has been prior consent.
- Sending unsolicited text messages of a commercial nature to personal or business cellphones are non-compliant unless there has been prior consent.
- Plus a host of other important information to know if you are using these mediums for mass marketing. Review the TCPA with your legal team to make sure your campaigns are compliant.