Thursday, March 19, 2009

Getting a good cold call ...and from a utility company too!

I was amazed yesterday to be on the receiving end of a telemarketer's call that worked ...and from a utility company too!

I'm at home on paternity leave (hence why the last post was 24th Feb - apologies), so I don't normally get these kind of calls. I normally hate telemarkets because it is done so badly (see blog posts from last year like Banks criticised by BBC for automated calls" and "Further thoughts on outbound in the UK....." ), so I was surprised to find it done well.

This call worked because it was done by a person. A lot of outbound telemarketing is now done by pre-recorded messages now. I hate that. My view is that if you want a customer's business, then show them that you value the customer by having a person make the call. At this point, advocates of the pre-recorded outbound message point to how cost-effective it is for high-volumes and low response rates. My suggestion would be to understand and target your customers better, otherwise you're still wasting money however cost effectively you are doing it.

The outbound call was from my utility company and highlighted the difference between their offers and British Gas when it came to additional services. Now British Gas have had their customer service problems (see my post last year "The British Gas, the utility industry, customer service and consultants" for an overview of their efforts to sue Accenture over a Siebel implementation), but I've always been pleased with their service.

What the agent did on this outbound call was to highlight pricing differences that related to me and the specific type of services I needed. She then offered to send me all the details by e-mail, so that even if I wasn't prepared to sign-up over the phone, I could look through the specific offer she had worked out with me at my leisure. I was impressed, as this was what I wanted and and how I like to buy things - I don't like to sign up to things without having all the details laid out clearly. The call used multi-channel appropriately (telephone for relationship building and discussion, e-mail for presenting a detailed offer) and that was good to see.

Perhaps the previous research last year that suggested utilities were the worst call centres in the UK (see post "Are utility companies really the worst call centres? ") will need to be revisited!

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