Dealing with consumers, customer, clients, patients, subscribers, guests…

I had another call this morning from a call center doing “outbound sales”. For the uninformed: you either use a list of names you bought from an information distributor, or you mine your own customer base. When you buy a list it normally contains people that have left their e-mail addresses or mobile numbers with their fav motor dealer, retail outlet, competition forms, etc. You would normally not supply information like your annual income, full address details, details of your spouse, and all the other information deemed personal. So, there is an excuse for outbound sales call centers to get some things wrong for example, not knowing where you live or how much money you earn.

But, when your financial institution calls you via their up-sell and cross-sell campaigns, they should know some of the basics about you and hopefully a lot more than the “list sellers”. Now, this is where it gets to me. Selling me a credit product (a personal loan of some insignificant amount) because you looked at my life insurance policy bought some 15 years ago will not help your sales efforts. You have all the correct details for what is needed to sell an insurance product for example, my address and related information and my beneficiary’s name and details. To effectively use this to sell me a banking product is not going to work. To add insult to injury the call center agent then attempts to sell a “long story” before getting to the point. I guess “long” means if you have to spend 2 minutes telling me what I’m getting it’s too long, let alone 5 minutes of rambling off the features and benefits.

Engaging with people over various channels need to be crafted a lot more carefully than what is happening at the moment. Here are some points to ponder:
1. Consumers are faceless users of branded products, and typically are not interested in being sold product. They will however respond to concepts like competitions and free testers.
2. Customers are more involved with you and might participate in basic question/answer conversations. They get quite upset when you want to cross the boundary of selling something they don’t want or need right now.
3. Clients know you and your reputation. They have a problem and needs it solved. You can have meaningful conversations if they trust you.
4. Patients needs empathy. They might expose some deeply rooted issues that you are expected to respond to. Selling them something while in consultation will create animosity.
5. Subscribers use you mostly because you are cheapest and might have most reach. You sold them access to a service. Don’t now try and breach this engagement by trying to sell all the “value added” services that in most cases people search for when they need it.
6. Guests came to you because they heard about you, they searched for you and people they don’t know recommended you, or they were told to stay with you by their company or travel agent for example. People are typically educated as to what they need to buy and why. Trying to make a buck on internet access in your hotel for example will push them to another institution.

There is another take on this. You could crowdsource ideas from people, for those that are interested in conversing with you, that can help shape the types of products and services that should be for sale versus what is seen to be free.