Direct Marketing Commission - Enforcing Higher Industry Standards

Data & Marketing Commission

DMC Annual Report 2019-20

4th January, 2021 at 13:02pm

Issues around data management and privacy are the biggest concerns in 2019/20, according to the Data and Marketing Commission’s (DMC) latest Annual Report. In the year ranging from July 2019 to June 2020, the DMC reported a marked reduction in complaints against businesses in the data and marketing sector – from over 130 in 2018/19 to just 63 in the last year.

The DMC investigated 23 complaints involving members of the Data and Marketing Association (DMA), 15 of which were consumer complaints and 8 were about B2B issues. The majority of these issues relate to data, privacy and quality (62.5%), with contractual (25%) and customer service (12.5%) problems making up the remainder.

The remaining 40 objections involved organisations that are not members of the DMA and so were referred by the DMC to other statutory or self-regulatory bodies. However, in some cases, particularly where they involved consumers unable to unsubscribe from unwanted communications, the DMC did reach out to the business to provide a reminder of its legal commitments and request that it unsubscribe the individual.

“Understanding how customers think and feel, and what drives their behaviours, is key to customer management and to maximising loyalty. Underlying all the complaints that we see is the standard and quality of an organisation’s customer service,” said Amerdeep Somal, Chief Commissioner of the DMC. “How does a business capture the right information to get to the heart of what matters to a customer, then act on this information to improve customer experience? This will be more important than ever during these challenging times, the pandemic and post Brexit.”

Over the past year, the DMC Board decided it was necessary to conduct one formal investigation into a business. The case involved complaints from two businesses that paid for a service they felt had not been adequately delivered. The DMC Commissioners did not think that the DMA Member had complied with any of the DMA Code’s key principles. Following further failures to engage with the clients or the investigation, the DMC recommended considering the removal of the company from membership, a sanction that the DMA Board approved and imposed.

Somal continues: “The impact the pandemic has had on our society cannot be underestimated and we all have a crucial part to play in weathering the storm. More important still is the change that is required within the industry itself to ensure it retains, and in some cases regains customer support. That means keeping front of mind the lessons of the lockdown that the success of the industry is founded on customer support, which should never be abused or taken for granted.”