Direct marketing complaints reduced by half

Issues around data management remain amongst the biggest consumer marketing concerns according to the latest annual report from the Data and Marketing Commission (DMC). However, in good news for the industry complaints levied against marketers have decreased by over half year on year - from over 130 in the previous report to 63 this year.  

The DMC investigated 23 complaints involving members of the Direct Marketing Association, 15 of which were consumer complaints and eight were about B2B issues. The majority of these issues relate to data, privacy and quality (63 per cent), with contractual (25 per cent) and customer service (13 per cent) 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. 

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. 

Commenting on the report Amerdeep Somal, Chief Commissioner of the DMC said: 

“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. 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.” 

The fact that the complaints have reduced by half is an extremely encouraging sign for the industry. It shows that increasingly organisations are adhering by the principles set out by the DMA and also conforming to GDPR legislation. Additionally, since the onslaught of the pandemic we have seen greater awareness of the importance of data management, such as the suppression of deceased data from databases, so as not to cause unnecessary distress to the bereaved, of which there are now sadly unprecedented numbers.