Take steps to mend telemarketing

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Ernan Roman
Ernan Roman

As a second-generation direct marketer, (my father, Murray Roman is recog­nized as the founder of the telemarketing industry), sadly, I cannot say that the qual­ity of the telephone customer experience has improved significantly over the past 30 years. Speaking as a consumer who is ei­ther placing plaintive calls to customer ser­vice centers or receiving the usual dinner time calls, it is not a wonderful experience.

Consider these troubling findings from our ongoing research to quantify the im­pact of poor customer service call center experiences: Sixty-six percent of profession­als rated their recent customer service call center experience as negative or neutral.

Professionals also state that poor experi­ences negatively impact three critical indi­cators: willingness to buy from that com­pany (86.3%), perception of that company (98.9%) and likelihood to recommend the company to others (91.5%).

Clients and vendors have been seduced by more sophisticated call center technology, but this has clearly not worked when more than 150 million phone numbers are listed on the national Do Not Call registry. Here are some recommendations for improving the customer's telephone experience.

First, do not view customer service call centers as cost centers. Companies must consider the financial ramifications of los­ing customers due to poor post-sale experi­ences. Remember that it's seven to 10 times more expensive to acquire a new customer than it is to sell to an existing one. If compa­nies measured the amount of lost revenueresulting from these self-inflicted customer losses, they would wake up to the impor­tance of delivering high-quality call center experiences.

Companies should increase expenditures for training, quality control procedures and development of call center personnel. They should focus on the quality of the customer's experience with their call cen­ters, regardless of where they are located. Plenty of horror stories were reported re­garding in-house, US call centers as well as outsourced centers. Telephone interaction is first and foremost about people interact­ing with people. Invest the money in devel­oping your personnel.

Ernan Roman is president of Ernan Roman Direct Marketing. Reach him at ernan@erdm.com.

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