Gauteng Business News

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Governance, Risk and compliance (GRC) will take centre stage in South African businesses over the next few years as consumer protection and personal privacy legislation comes into being. For call centres, it will not be enough to simply have the right policies in place - risk mitigation in the form of recording of all interactions with customers or potential customers will be vital. Spescom DataVoice, a company with more than 20 years' experience in this sector, believes that with some forethought GRC can be tightly integrated into operations and the culture of an organisation.

Says Kgabo Badimo, MD of Spescom DataVoice: "In August 2009, the Protection of Personal Information Bill (PPI Bill) was published. In October 2010, the Consumer Protection Act comes into effect. Signed in April 2009, it gives business a grace period of 18 months to get their 'house in order', after which the National Consumer Commission will commence implementation of the Act. What this means for business in South Africa is that it can no longer pay lip service in terms of risk mitigation, governance and compliance.

"Governance policies that ensure the business have fair practices in place that protect not only the business and its investors, but all its stakeholders - including the customer - need to be created and enabled.
Enablement means not only identifying and implementing best business practices, but laying a technological foundation that can support their execution.

"Voice and screen recording - the recording of telephonic interactions with the customer, as well as the agent's inputs to, and navigation through, various applications (sales, accounts, etc) - are possibly some of the most important of these technologies. However, such technologies need to form part of a holistic integrated GRC strategy in order to be effective. Just glancing at the measures that the new legislation coming into being in South Africa will introduce, will tell you why."

The PPI Bill aims to give effect to the right to privacy, by introducing measures to ensure that the personal information of an individual (data
subject) is safeguarded when it is processed by responsible parties. The Bill also aims to balance the right to privacy against other rights, particularly the right of access to information. Part A of Chapter 3, reflects eight core information protection principles, namely, accountability, processing limitation, purpose specification, further processing limitation, information quality, openness, security safeguards and data subject participation.
The Consumer Protection Act, which is already being referred to as 'the South African consumers' Bill of Rights', is also going to go a long way to drive the implementation of fair practices. It will protect the poor and the vulnerable who have for a long time been exploited in this country. It also alters the common law to be more favourable to consumers, so the warranties and indemnities given in agreements are no longer the only warranties that apply.
Says Badimo: "Clearly, businesses need to be able to provide proof that they are fulfilling these requirements if they are challenged by consumers. Since much of the interaction with clients today takes place though call centres - especially sales and support - voice transaction recordings are an essential part of the equation. These need to, however, be used in conjunction with other technologies and systems that will deliver a holistic solution - for example, combining content and data management solutions with workforce optimisation solutions (ensuring agents are correctly skilled and aware of consumer rights).

"Now is the time for companies in South Africa to begin to embrace and enhance their organisation's commitment to its GRC policies and systems. At Spescom DataVoice our point of departure is not technology, it's providing our clients with a flexible solution that will meet present and future risk, governance and compliance requirements."

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