With effect from 2 January 2014, telemarketers must ensure that the Singapore telephone numbers that they are calling are not in DNC Registry. Offenders shall be liable up to a $10,000 fine and the Personal Data Protection Council may compound such an offence for a sum not exceeding $1,000 per offence.
This proves to be a difficult hurdle for many companies that are in the Finance and Property industries where their agents made are making an average cold call of around 300 per day. A simple slip up and they might find themselves experiencing how “fine” a country like Singapore can be.
Singapore is not the first country in adopting the practice of DNC Registry. In 2003, the United States introduced a similar bill and has a subscription of approximately 91 million numbers in the space of just 18 months. The US telemarketing industry is estimated to be worth US$ 80.3 billion dollars in 2002 and expected to grow to a staggering US$104.8 billion dollars by 2006. However, with the introduction of the bill, the growth had been completely crushed. The DNC list had cut the businesses of the telemarketing industry by half, costing the industry US$ 50 billion dollars per year and also leaving 2 million people unemployed.
Singapore’s companies are also expected to experience similar impact from the DNC registry. There will be an increased cost of generating sales from telemarketing as all the numbers used had to be vetted through the DNC Registry. Even though companies are given an initial 500 free credits when they signed up for an account for S$30, these credits are easily exhausted especially for companies who live and thrive on telemarketing and subsequent credits need to be bought at around S$0.01 to S$0.025 each. It will not be surprising if companies find that their overhead cost increased drastically over the next few months. Marketers who are used to cold callings may also need to change their game plan drastically to suit the new environment or they may find themselves ousted from the industry.
Despite all these, it is not all doom and gloom. Companies can direct their resources towards other avenues to market their products and the most probable avenue would be the web where the regulations on privacy are lax. In Singapore, where 74% of Singaporeans use social media regularly, of which 51.2% used it for purchasing decisions, companies can look towards marketing more aggressively on these social platforms to make up for their losses on telemarketing. However, not all products are suitable to be marketed on these platforms and ROI may be also vastly different from their previous method.
Another possible good that is coming out of the DNC Registry is that it might make companies focus their efforts on targeting clients who are interested to receive information on products and services. This might then improve their customer retention rate and customer service. This type of focus group marketing might also prove to be more cost efficient as companies are directing more of their resources towards prospects that have a high probability of realizing a deal rather than spending their resources aimlessly trying to garner more customers.
The actual impact of the DNC Registry might also not be as bad as expected. Over the years companies are integrating CRM into their business models enabling them to cross-sell or up-sell their products to their existing customers, decreasing the percentage of revenue gained through telemarketing. This trend might soften the blow of the impact of DNC Registry on their sales revenue. Moreover, it is more cost efficient for the companies to generate revenue from existing customers than sourcing for sales from potential customers.
All said, whether the DNC Registry will bring about more societal benefits or more economical detriments is still hard to be determined at this moment. Both government and corporations must find a fine balance between the two so that this policy will benefit Singapore as a whole and not just to a small margin of people.