4 Practical Ways to Prevent a Regulatory Nightmare


[Estimated read time: 5 minutes]

Ah, regulations. They always seem to be changing, don’t they? Companies everywhere must deal with regulatory compliance, but it can be especially complicated in the consumer packaged goods industry.

CPG manufacturers are being asked to track details like product ingredients more precisely than ever before. Incident reporting regulations are constantly shifting, as are requirements for communicating during product recalls. And failing to comply with all these requirements can result in hundreds of thousands of dollars in fines, delayed product launches, decreased customer satisfaction, and negative press.

So what’s a CPG to do? As it turns out, having the right technology in place can make tracking and reporting surprisingly simple. Here are four ways consumer engagement tech can save the day:

1. Dynamically adapt to ask customers for necessary information

Depending on the product or the reason for contact, you’ll probably need to capture different information from different customers. Instead of training agents on every possible permutation, use a CRM system that can dynamically re-configure the case fields to capture the information needed.

For example, if customers begin contacting you to report allergic reactions to a nut-free protein bar, the system should be able to automatically prompt agents to ask for more detailed information, such as a batch number on the package, in order to pinpoint where and when contamination may have occurred.

In addition, you’ll need your CRM system to be easily configurable (read: without needing help from IT or a professional services team) to capture new types of information as new regulations go into effect, maintaining consistent records of your compliance.

2. Maintain a detailed audit trail

Whether customers are interacting with live agents, a self-service portal, or chatbots, CRM systems can help maintain a detailed record of what was said — and when it was said.

Product ingredients change as the years go by, and so do the regulations that govern them. Accurately tracking individual consumer engagements over time provides a complete data set on which you can report.

For example, in 2016, Kraft changed the formulation of its popular macaroni and cheese to remove artificial flavorings and dyes. A customer asking for ingredient information before the switch would have received a different — and now incorrect — response. Make sure your consumer engagement software provides detailed records of past responses, especially as key information changes.

Preventing regulatory nightmares with better compliance management

3. Trigger automatic regulatory reporting based on thresholds

Despite our best intentions, sometimes defective or substandard batches of products end up on store shelves and in consumers’ homes (otherwise, there would be no such thing as a recall). When some product issues reach a certain magnitude, they must be reported to regulators. CRM software can greatly simplify the process using threshold reporting.

For example, let’s say a number of consumers contact you about a bad skin reaction to one of your lotion products. Once the number of cases reaches a pre-set limit, a report can be sent automatically to the FDA. Automating the process means you can “set it and forget it,” confident in the knowledge that you’ve met your requirements.

4. Keep information up-to-date across all communication channels

As product information and required labeling and disclosures are constantly changing, it can be a real challenge to maintain accuracy across all the different ways consumers communicate. This is where knowledge management (KM) tools can significantly improve the process.

Advanced KM software can provide the same answer across different channels and to different audiences. For example, an answer might be simplified on a mobile device, more detailed on a laptop, and even more in-depth within an agent’s desktop view. But the source material is the same, meaning that as information changes, a single update can propagate the most up-to-date information to all channels and audiences.

In addition, some KM solutions can collect information from other sources, such as a regulatory agency’s website or a retailer’s business systems, to provide answers updated as often as the source material changes.

For example, say a consumer asks your chatbot…

  • How one of your products is made: this answer could come from your knowledgebase, and as manufacturing methods change, can be updated as needed
  • What the EPA requirements are for manufacturers like you: this answer could come from the EPA website, ensuring the answer is current
  • Whether they can purchase this product nearby: this answer could come from integration with your retailers’ inventory management systems

For each question, the consumer gets an accurate response — and you can rely on the technology to keep it that way.

Using technology to accomplish the four objectives above will help safeguard your brand from the risk of non-compliance, hefty fines, and damage to your reputation…allowing you to sleep more soundly at night.

Astute Solutions drives consumer engagement for leading brands like McCormick, Kraft, and Combe, and brings 20+ years of CPG industry experience to the table. Our software guides agents through customer interactions to ensure proper information is gathered and tracked in a detailed audit trail. Astute ePowerCenter CRM helps companies meet regulatory reporting requirements with features like threshold reporting. And our advanced KM software, Astute Knowledge, maintains accuracy across multiple communication channels, even as information changes.

Connect with us for a deeper discussion on how we can help prevent regulatory nightmares from plaguing your CPG brand.

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