HERE’S the situation: The phone rings. You drop what you’re doing and run to answer it. As soon as you pick up the receiver, the line goes dead. You dial 1471, but you receive the familiar message delivered in clipped BT voice: “The caller witheld their number…” All sorts of questions whir through your mind – Is it a malicious hoaxer? A burglar lying in wait across the street calling to see if you’re at home? Or, far more likely, is it one of the all too many tele-marketing companies prepared to annoy you because they can’t be found out?

Mis-managed ‘power-dialling’ or auto-dialling is wasting consumers’ precious time and further tarnishing larger, in particular utility, companies’ precious reputations.

In a telesales office there are a lot of telemarketing operators phoning people up. But instead of pressing buttons on a phone, companies are getting a machine to do the job for them to save a few seconds of employee time. Nothing wrong so far. The problems arise because the machine is set up to dial a very large volume of numbers at the same time. You have people rushing to their phones only to have the line go dead because there aren’t nearly enough operators to deal with all the ‘leads’ the machine has generated.

The consumer is annoyed, but the company seems to reason that as long as they withhold their number, what’s the harm? The hapless consumer can’t contact them to complain after all.

The problem is that bad power-dialling makes customers think badly of all companies, creating a suspicion in minds that erodes trust. Many tele-marketing companies need to examine how they do business by looking again at a system that should only improve their business. If companies opted to generate manageable numbers of leads, company efficiency would be boosted, customers would be happy and frazzled staff morale would improve.

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