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Assuming the Telemarketing Sales Rule (TSR) survives several lawsuits filed
against it, one of which questions its constitutionality, one must consider
compliance. I must admit that this unfortunate legislation has already created
several major problems, as follows:
1. Massive compliance confusion in the predictive dialer industry, among
users and vendors alike.
2. Substantial confusion in several different vertical market segments. For
example, the real estate industry may suffer major damage and business losses
because they may not be able to call potential new home buyers to conduct a
transaction. If this particular confusion is not remedied by the FTC, the real
estate industry, which is the only business that is thriving at the moment and
salvaging the U.S. economy from entering a recession, will also vanish. In other
words, the regulation has not been enacted and yet significant damage has
already been done.
3. Massive confusion among doctors who may not be able to call their patients
whom they have not seen in 18 months or more, even in critical or emergency
situations, because according to the TSR guidelines, a call from a doctor to a
patient is not considered a business-to-business call (which is exempt by the
TSR law), but rather it is perceived as business-to-consumer call. (Can it get
any more ridiculous than that?)
4. The threat of this regulation alone has already caused the closing of
several outbound facilities, thus forcing hundreds of thousands of people out of
work! For the regulators, who must be living on another planet, in the real
world, the U.S. economy's number one problem is job preservation and job
creation. By the same token, the telemarketing industry has always been the
number one job creator and job protector. In other words, the regulators are
cutting off their nose to spite their face.
5. Another side effect of this unfortunate and useless regulation is that it
has already forced and accelerated the shipping of hundreds of thousands of jobs
offshore, thereby adding to the severe unemployment the U.S. economy is
currently suffering from. And, as the saying goes, 'You ain't seen nothing yet.'
It will get worse when it is enacted!
Announcing 'Compliance Technologies & Solutions' Section
Having said all of the above and given that there is tremendously severe
confusion on the part of enterprises, teleservices companies and vendors, as the
pre-eminent and the leading publication of the industry since 1982, we have
decided to introduce a new section in this issue of Customer Inter@ction
Solutions' magazine titled, 'Compliance Technologies & Solutions'.
It is our editorial mission for this new advertorial section to let the CEOs
of the leading companies that provide compliance technologies and solutions tell
their own stories about how their companies' technologies and solutions can help
their customers obtain full compliance. In the October issue, this new section
will cover case studies and successful customer implementations, and in the
November issue, participants will describe the specifications of their products
and solutions. I urge all of our valued readers of this publication to refer to
this section in order to avoid confusion of each product's and service's
A New Business Opportunity
Assuming the DNC regulation survives the lawsuits pending against it, and
assuming that God knows who in the government is able to update this voluminous
list, consisting of over 30 million names (which is nearly impossible to do
without going bankrupt), and given the extremely rapid relocation of our highly
mobile society, there might be one and only one good thing that could result
from this DNC regulation. In the event that this seemingly unenforceable
regulation is somehow enforced, it could do some good for the
telesales/teleservices/telemarketing industry by removing a significant number
of consumers who truly do not wish to receive any unsolicited calls of any type
from the databases of marketers. After all, these people are highly unlikely to
entertain purchasing anything over the phone. In plain English, if this DNC idea
actually works, it will function as no more than a list clean-up. However, keep
in mind that it will also remove a significant number of consumers who think
they don't wish to receive any type of telephone solicitation or notification,
but in fact, do like receiving specific types of calls.
Having said all of that, the availability of the rest of the population that
actually doesn't mind receiving calls could offer new business opportunities for
savvy and innovative inbound and outbound companies that use creative ways to
reach their customers. Indeed, in my daily contact with executives in the
industry, I have found that several such companies are expecting major growth in
2003, 2004 and beyond because they are extremely innovative and creative in
finding a new way of making inbound and outbound work successfully in spite of
the recent regulations.
Inbound Must Feed Outbound And Vice Versa
I have always been of the opinion that inbound must feed outbound. By the
same token, intelligently designed outbound should trigger additional new
inbound calls. Indeed, in previous Publisher's Outlooks, I have mentioned, on
several occasions, that in a given experiment held at one of the call centers in
the Midwest, it was demonstrated beyond a shadow of a doubt that the most
effective way to increase sales is to call outbound to people who have
previously called inbound seeking a product or service similar to the one
currently being marketed. In other words, a customer that called inbound, let's
say, to buy gardening equipment in 2002, could very well be interested in
purchasing additional gardening tools in 2003. Why then reinvent the wheel,
waste a lot of money and go after cold-call contacts and get nowhere? In the
same manner, outbound calling must feed inbound. For example, when a customer is
contacted with an outbound call, but is not ready to purchase a certain item, he
or she should be given a telephone number to call when he or she is ready to
buy. We cannot ever put our heads in the sand and believe that inbound and
outbound are two different things. They simply are an inseparable part of a call
center's function or any business' function.
The New Growth Strategy
In the aftermath of DNC regulation, I have been thinking how we can possibly
help the industry continue to grow in spite of it. I have learned that there are
plenty of opportunities in adversity and I believe that this is certainly true
in the contact center and customer interaction field. I have, therefore, spent
considerable time putting together some guidelines that could be used as the
ingredients for a new growth strategy to make the most of the current adversity
while not abandoning outbound calling, but instead, finding ways of blending
outbound and inbound calling in a judicious manner so we can grow even faster.
Here are some guidelines and strategies for growth:
1. We must focus on true and functional CRM. Please refer to my past
editorials (www.tmcnet.com, search past issues), where this topic was
substantially addressed on what constitutes functional CRM and what does not.
2. Emphasize vigorously relationship development and building new
relationships with each and every new customer. Once again, in previous
editorials, I have always indicated that 75 percent of a buying decision is
based on emotion. Therefore, it is not likely for someone to buy a product from
you if he or she doesn't have a relationship with you. This is particularly true
when we are talking about buying relatively expensive products. The more I work
in business, the more I am convinced that there is no substitute for a great
relationship between you and your customers when it comes to selling your
3. Go the extra mile. Think through your customer's needs and do some
additional work just to help that particular customer; i.e., find articles of
interest for the customer and rest assured this type of care will go a long way
toward gaining the respect and loyalty of your customer.
4. Get to know your customer's business better than ever before, for without
that, you cannot make significant recommendations for business improvement to
5. More important, get to know your customer's customers' businesses. By
knowing your customer's customers' businesses, you can make valuable
recommendations to help your customer score big with his or her customers and
therefore, your customer will depend on you and your product more than ever
6. Get to know your customer's genuine needs and problems.
7. Create a custom solution to help your customer solve his or her problems
and fulfill the customer's needs Going the extra mile here will significantly
increase your customer's loyalty and retention. This is the most powerful part
of functional CRM.
8. Assist your customer with regular cost savings ideas. You can only do that
when, and only when, you know your customer's business and your customer's
customers' businesses because it will enable you to make valuable suggestions.
Once you help your customers save considerable money, you have already added
many months, if not years, to the extended loyalty of your customers.
9. Assist your customer in positioning his or her products and services more
effectively. Please don't feel embarrassed about doing so because as stated in
my previous editorial titled, 'The Sad State of Marketing In Corporate America,'
you will be surprised how many companies will welcome this type of assistance.
10. Help your customers differentiate their products using your product as a
competitive advantage. An ingenious example is the great marketing done by Intel
that has created its many loyal customers. Its slogan, 'Intel Inside,' which
appears on every single product that uses an Intel chip, has produced phenomenal
results. Customers know they are differentiating their products from other
companies that do not use top-of-the-line chips.
Regarding Compliance Products
Make sure you acquire products that IN FACT comply with the DNC regulations.
As indicated previously, there is plenty of confusion in the industry currently;
therefore, it behooves you to investigate thoroughly to find the real products
that in fact will help you comply with the regulations. Once you have achieved
this, you might recommend that product to your customer and you customer's
customers to save them time and money. In this manner, the customer will
appreciate your help and expand its loyalty to you and your products.
Last but not least, I urge all of you in the call center industry to adopt
powerful integrated marketing campaigns to expand your market share while
positioning and differentiating your products effectively. Let us not forget
that you need to focus on your core competency and find new and creative ways of
truly helping your customers and generating profits from the existing customer
base. That is the essence of functional CRM.
As always, I welcome everyone's comments. My e-mail address is
firstname.lastname@example.org or you may log in
to our new Forums site at forums.tmcnet.com.
TMC Chairman, CEO and Executive Group Publisher
For information and subscriptions, visit
www.TMCnet.com or call
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