What if Customers used Predictive Dialers and Robocalls?

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In order to get a bit of perspective in the mind of a Telemarketer, let’s turn the tables. What if Customers used telemarketing to find businesses? Just a little thought experiment for fun.

If Customers found businesses by Telemarketing:

I need to call a Plumber. Normally, I would just pick up a phone book and look it up. But in our hypothetical scenario, phone books targeting a customer to the right business are expensive. So, unless I want to fork out cold-hard cash for a “demographic” listing of Plumbers and contact information, I might have to turn to dialing numbers at random until I found one.

Dialing the phone for each number would be a real pain. But at the local Radio Shack, I found a device that would automatically dial the numbers for me. An autodialer. Well, that helps, but I still have to wait for each call to ring, answer, ask if they are a plumber, and hang up each call. Better, but still not very convenient or efficient (to me). If I could program the autodialer with a purchased list of “Service Businesses”. this would make it easier and I’d probably not have to look very long. But list of “Services” is still too expensive by comparison

Perhaps this thing called a Predictive Dialer at Circuit City would help? It can call a lot of numbers at once, and only patch me in when a business answers the call. I don’t have to wait for ringing, or hang up if there is no answer. The Predictive Dialer does all that part for me. All I have to do is ask the business if they are a Plumber, and go on to the next number if they aren’t.

That still takes a lot of time. I have to ask a lot of businesses if they are a Plumber, and of course, most of them aren’t. Still wastes a lot of my time talking to non-Plumbers, but eventually I would find one. It’s more efficient (for me, not for businesses), but still not as effective. I could program the Predictive Dialer with a purchased list of “Business” numbers. It’s cheaper than the list of “Service Businesses”, and would save time. However, maybe that’s still a little too expensive.

What would really help, is if a computer that could dial the number, wait for the answer, ask if they were a Plumber, and only connect me if they say they are by pressing ‘1’. Then I could let the computer do the work, and most of the time when I was connected, it would be a Plumber. That would make it a lot easier on me, since I’d only have to record the one message, and let the computer do the rest. Now, I don’t have to purchase any targeted lists, it’s all done by the computer. And eventually, I’ll always find a Plumber, even if I have to dial every number out there.

Of course, as a Business (especially ones that aren’t Plumbers), this is a real pain. They would spend time answering calls wondering if they were a {Business Type} for all kinds of businesses except Plumbers. It is very likely that they would complain. It’s possible that in order to encourage customers purchasing phone books, they might press ‘1’ even if they aren’t a Plumber, just to discourage me from calling everyone just in order to find those few businesses I am looking for. They would want to make that simple “robocall” as painful as possible, at least more painful than purchasing a phone book. What makes a task easiest for me, makes it hardest on Businesses. If they do answer and complain enough, the robocaller stops being even worth having. It doesn’t same me time, and it doesn’t make it cheaper than buying a phone book.

Fortunately Plumbers (and most other businesses) are most than happy to do anything to help customers find them, so there are all kinds of ways we can look up numbers for them. In this case, it’s in both the customers and businesses interest to make that transaction as easy as possible.

Businesses telemarketing to Customers:

Turning the tables back, we see how this works. Businesses want to find a customer. Our previous hypothetical was humorous, but only because customer-to-business phone books are insanely cheap, or free. Businesses spend good money trying to make themselves as easy to find as possible. Comparatively, lists of highly-targeted call lists (the business-to-customer phone book) are more costly. So just like our fictional customer, businesses take the same route by making the computer do more.

First they started making the computer dial the number for them using autodialers. Good for them, not too bad for Customers. In the old days, they actually purchased demographic call lists. Now some don’t.

Then they go with Predictive Dialers. Better for them, a little worse for Customers. The demographics can be a lower quality, but still required.

Then they go full Predictive Dialer with Robocall. Great for them, terrible for us Customers. In fact, they can do it with much less cost than doing any demographic analysis. They make the Customer either qualify or disqualify themselves, putting the cost of identifying demographics on us, and not on them.

Answering the phone, and pressing ‘1’ anyway, makes robocalling more inefficient. Allowing the Agent to take up time trying to figure out if you do qualify, or are interested, or likely to purchase, pushes all that demographic cost back on to them. It also costs them lost sales of people that might “auto-select” themselves, since they can’t get through in sufficient numbers.

So push the cost back on them. Answer a few calls. As I’ve pointed out in other posts, it only take a fraction of the population to do this to disrupt them, to reduce their profits, to make this more expensive that purchasing their own phone book. So every now and then, answer the call. Make them work for it. Then don’t be the Plumber.

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