Fixes for Outbound Telemarketing Complaints
A telemarketing rep just hung up on me—literally disconnected me while I was speaking, probably because I asked too many questions about an offer that sounded too good to be true. It was quite clear that she felt I should order now or stop wasting her time. This particular business-to-business call from a large and reputable supplier of digital phone service reminded me of everything I hate about outbound telemarketing and prompted me to ask a few other people what they hate about the calls they receive. Because I believe in the immediacy and persuasiveness of the medium, I took this compendium of gripes as an opportunity to offer some doable, common sense fixes.
Complaint: "I hate being interrupted about things I don't need, have never needed, and never expect to need. If it's something I'm interested in, I don't mind, even when I'm busy, so long as the caller isn't obnoxious and the discussion can be scheduled for a more convenient time."
Fix: Invest in better, more targeted lists. Instruct reps to ask if it's a convenient time to talk. Whenever they get a "no," they should politely take the inquiry a step further and try to find out if the customer has a "never at dinnertime" issue or just a transitory problem ("I'm in a meeting.") For the former, mark the record not to call during those hours; for the latter, schedule another attempt at a time the target prefers.
Complaint: "I hate hearing dead air when I answer the phone. It doesn't matter if someone eventually comes on the line. It's just plain rude to make the person you're calling wait for you. What's just as bad is when I pick up, there's no one there, and then that dreadful recording scolds me, 'If you'd like to place a call, please hang up and dial again.' It only used to happen at home, but now I get it all the time on my direct line at the office."