Erik Bouwer

It is cheaper to keep a client than to bring in a new customer. Different studies show that direct accessibility of companies and institutions is getting increasingly important for customers. Organizations need to be accessible, but they can also pick up the telephone themselves. But in a lot of countries there is a legislation about telemarketing or outbound calling.

Explaining all the differences in legislation would take this article too far. There are three forms of legal regulation: opt in, opt out en free regulation. Opt in means that the customer explicitly gives his permission to be called. One can of course also ask for this permission. With opt out, the customer indicates that he does not want to be called. A lot of countries register the choice for opt out, the refusal of customers and companies to be called, in central databases (lists). These lists are known as Robinson list or do not call me list. The local legislation of your country offers frames that give you the space to take action. The advantage of such lists is that the quality and value of leads increases. Leads are more interested and have a bigger value for campaigns. Do not call me lists force telemarketers to take a close look at their total strategy. In a lot of countries telemarketers have looked for creative solutions in order to keep communicating in an optimal way with clients.

What is the yield of a campaign?

Also advertisers will need to look in detail at how their campaigns are carried. The involvement between advertiser and executing party will be increased by it. Advertisers and telemarketing agencies need to stipulate in their contracts how they comply with the legislation. It is also wise to define KPI’s concerning the do not call me policy. In some countries it is compulsory to bring such lists under the attention during conversations. When the customer chooses for his or her data to be included in the list (opt-out), the advertiser gets a smaller data list at the end of his campaign.

Inbound offers possibilities

What is often forgotten is that inbound calls offer excellent possibilities to change an opt-out into an opt-in. When the agent has the opt-in or opt-out preferences or choices of the customer, the choice of the customer can be brought to his attention during a successful inbound conversation. The agent can try to make an opt-in from an opt-out. You can tell a customer who has indicated that he does not want to be called anymore that you develop new products and/or services on a regular basis that the customer can benefit from. You can give examples of package or combination discounts, extension actions or new services. You can explain that you cannot inform customers about this when they have chosen for opt-out. Without pressuring the client at that moment, you can refer to a website, a personal page or a newsletter where the client can find extra information. Customers could for instance see a ‘call me now’ button accompanying this information, but they can also indicate electronically that they grant permission to be called. The use of a call me now button in electronic newsletters is a handy tool, but make sure that you are allowed to send such newsletters. A lot of countries have spam regulations.

Go along with information needs

An increasing number of people look for information on the web before buying something. The intrinsic information need of customers offers excellent possibilities for creating opt-in. Special campaign can lure people to websites where the customer can be asked to give his permission to be contacted via e-mail or telephone and this via different games, information packages or price quotes. The customer can then leave his contact information. Other cross media actions, like street sales in public spaces or at events, direct mail and door-to-door sales can lead to opt-in. Depending on local legislation, these situations can also offer possibilities for up and cross selling. A good exchange of information is very important in cross media sales environments so that when an inbound call comes in, it is clear for an agent whether or not it is interesting to try and transform an opt-out into an opt-in.

Automate opt-out

When your situation is so that the right to resistance has to be offered, meaning that the customer who contacts you through an outbound call needs to be asked whether he wants to be called again by your company, you can choose for the use of IVR-technology. In this IVR you can include a script. Via button choices, the customer can indicate via whether or not he wants to be called again. This automated solution makes sure the time needed to deal with a call does not increase; plus, the agent can immediately go on to the next conversation.
Again, the legislation concerning telemarketing differs per country. It is wise to get some legal advice when you have thought up creative solutions to contact or keep contacting prospects.