Some CRM Advice for the New Congress
Now that the the new 118th Congress has been sworn in, here are a few business priorities with CRM angles that I think need to be addressed legislatively:
1. Enact a national consumer data protection and privacy standard. Currently, the European Union has the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), and only five U.S. states—California, Utah, Virginia, Colorado, and Connecticut—have enacted their own versions of the GDPR. Even China, which isn’t exactly known for upholding the privacy rights of its citizens, has put in place legislation that limits how companies can collect and use consumers’ personal information. Without an overarching federal privacy law, there remain loopholes for companies gathering data about customers, the vast majority of Americans are still unprotected, and there will continue to be widespread doubt among consumers about the safety and ethical use of their personal information.
2. Give some teeth to the agencies responsible for enforcing the National Do Not Call Registry. The registry, which is supposed to protect consumers from unwanted telemarketing calls, is currently a joke, and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is seemingly powerless to take any kind of enforcement action against violators. Even worse, the scam callers trying to steal as much personal and account information as possible have found ways to skirt the safeguards and mask their identities with illegal phone number spoofing. I am literally getting a dozen or more calls a day to my cell and landline phones from scammers fraudulently claiming to be from utilities, cable and satellite TV providers, financial services firms, medical supply companies, Amazon, Norton Lifelock, and Medicare, all with asinine schemes to convince me to turn over to them my personal or financial information. Some scams have been active for years.
“The big picture is that robocall volume in the U.S. isn’t really changing, despite month-to-month variations, and despite stepped-up enforcement and the rollout of Stir/Shaken,” said YouMail CEO Alex Quilici in a statement connected to his firm’s most recent monthly robocall report. “It feels like mitigation efforts are keeping things from getting worse but aren’t making them materially better.”
And that’s not going to change until federal agencies have more enforcement power and the technology needed to locate and identify the offenders.
These callers are making it harder for responsible telemarketers to get their messages across to U.S. consumers, who simply refuse to answer the phone if the caller isn’t someone they know. That hurts us all. Action is needed now to rebuild consumer trust.
3. Rein in Big Tech’s stranglehold on consumer data and access to information. The market, and not Mark Zuckerberg or some unknown algorithm, should decide which information I see—or don’t see. And more needs to be done to limit the amount of consumers’ private information that platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Google, and TikTok can gather, store, and use.
4. Mandate greater transparency with, equitable access to, and protection from the use of, and possible bias associated with, artificial intelligence. When it comes to important decisions, like whether someone is granted a mortgage, people should know that an automated system is being used and understand how and why it recommended a particular action. People should also be able to opt out of automation, where appropriate, and have access to a live person as an alternative to address their issues.
5. Unleash American innovation, allowing more businesses to develop, improve on, or correct flaws in the software, hardware, and basic products we use every day. In the face of the COVID-19 pandemic and the supply chain issues we’ve faced, it’s become clear that we cannot rely exclusively on countries on the other side of the globe for our basic necessities or for the software, hardware, and components that power our lives.
6. And finally, end the COVID-19 lockdowns and mandates and let Americans get back to work. Lockdowns/mandates have largely been relaxed already, and at this point businesses are capable of deciding for themselves how to keep their employees and customers safe and healthy.