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Publisher's Outlook
September 2003

Nadji Tehrani TSR Aftermath...

Growth Strategies And Opportunity For Profitable CRM, Inbound & Outbound


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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 capabilities.

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 products.

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 that customer.

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 before.

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 ntehrani@tmcnet.com or you may log in to our new Forums site at forums.tmcnet.com.


Nadji Tehrani
TMC Chairman, CEO and Executive Group Publisher

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