I'm back from a week's holiday today and I'm catching up on all the news while I've been away.
On article that caught my attention was from the Times on 17th May. The business columnist Sathnam Sanghera had
a rather good full page article on outbound call centres
What I found interesting about it was that so much on call centres is written as the call centre industry talking to itself. There's nothing wrong with that (this blog does it quite a bit), but an outsiders perspective can be a necessary wake up call.
The article describes how he went to a training course for outbound telephone sales agents. A familiar enough idea for those in the call centre industry, but a strange world to outsiders. As a business person, (and one who has hated receiving cold calls) Sathnam
was amazed that the industry was viable, writing:
"According to a survey published by the Direct Marketing Association last year, telemarketing accounted for just 5.5 per cent of all UK direct marketing - a decrease from 7.9 per cent in 2005.
Moreover, the hit rate for this ever-shrinking band of telemarketers is tiny. The survey reported that only 3.5 per cent of people have ever responded positively to a telemarketing call, while one Xerox salesman recently interviewed in a US newspaper said
that he made 55 cold calls a day which resulted in one sale a week - a success rate of 0.36 per cent.
In other words, the industry is on the brink of dying, and is being kept alive only by the possibility of a rare positive response.... "
This confirms some of my suspicions, that badly done outbound calls have damaged the industry badly. I've written a little on this before in posts like: "Abbey
National fined £30,000 by Ofcom & the future of Outbound in Financial Services
" or "Outbound, an explanation of the technology
" and "Outbound
- industry reputation, branding and regulation
". From the feedback I've had, the irritation outbound causes is still not well understood in the industry, though the number of consumers registering with the
Telephone Preference Service
suggests that consumers are making their views clear.
Of course for some industries, other issues will lead to the death of outbound cold calling. For example, in this age of identity theft it is unlikely that many consumers will want do business with a cold call that claims to be from their bank and wants to
the consumer to provide information to verify their identity.
Outbound by consent (e.g. "let me call you back at a convenient time") may have a strong future, especially in Financial Services, but I suspect the Times is right and outbound as cold calling is dying.