Use Customer Communications to Strengthen the Business Relationship, Not Ruin It
By Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD
Back in the days when I had a physical phone line, my provider changed names. I’m still not sure if this was the result of new ownership or merely a rebranding effort.
Regardless, there was much hype surrounding this news, arriving in the form of frequent mailed communications and email messages that spanned several months. It escalated into a telemarketing failure.
Throughout all this, the phone company repeatedly promised that there would be no rate increases—all that would change was their name. These marketing messages also made hazy hints of new services but withheld helpful details.
My first sign that something was amiss came with my first bill under the new company name. Contrary to their repeated promises, their charges went up, almost doubling. When I called to complain, evoking their pledge, the rep informed me that my past bills had been incorrect.
Therefore, they were not bound by their no-increase promise but had the legal requirement to correct the errors. At least the increase was not retroactive.
This should have been sufficient warning to be wary of what they said, but I was slow to master that lesson. When they called me a few months later—a different marketing tactic—to “lower my monthly rate,” I was quite excited.
With this new plan, I could recover much of what I had lost when they had “corrected” my bill. The rep’s mastery of English was questionable, so at each step I repeated back to her everything I understood her to say.
“You’re going to lower my monthly base rate for local service to $17.95,” I concluded.
“Yes!” she confirmed and then transferred me for third party verification.
Excited, I listened to a recap of my order. “You’re signing up for our unlimited long distance calling package at $17.95 a month; this requires—”
“No,” I interrupted. “That’s not what I want at all.” Fortunately, the verification rep’s communication was clear and effective, saving me from buying something I didn’t want and rescuing me from their telemarketing failure.
So began an all-too-frequent barrage of solicitation calls from my new local phone company. Realizing that I couldn’t rely on what they told me, I’d end each interruption as fast as possible and return to work.
When my irritation over their incessant interruptions became intolerable, I begged them to stop calling me. This proved unsuccessful, so I resorted to hanging up on them. That didn’t stop the calls, but it gave me a small degree of vindication.
When their most recent incursion breached my normally idyllic workspace, I listened to their spiel with a more critical ear. To recap: they called a business line about residential service, they didn’t know my name, and they had no access to what services I used.
At that point, I doubted the call was even from my phone company. Perhaps they had outsourced calling to a shoddy telemarketing firm instead of a reputable one. Or was the call a phone scam? Regardless, it was a telemarketing failure.
When a poorly executed telemarketing effort is indistinguishable from a scam, something is terribly wrong. Intervention is needed.
Marketing Management Success Tip
When pursuing a telemarketing strategy, whether in-house or outsourced, make sure the firm represents your company well and respects your customers and prospects
Peter Lyle DeHaan is an entrepreneur and businessman who has managed, owned, and started multiple businesses over his career. Common themes at every turn have included customer service, sales and marketing, and leadership and management.
He shares his lifetime of business experience and personal insights through his books to encourage, inspire, and occasionally entertain.