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November 1998


Dear Nadji Tehrani:

I enjoyed reading the September 1998 Publisher's Outlook regarding "Will Internet Marketing Replace Direct Marketing?" As Matthew Vartabedian mentioned in his Techno-Talk column in the August issue, companies like our Contact Dynamics are beginning a new wave of e-commerce and direct marketing over the Internet with our inbound/outbound text chat innovations.

In addition to this new technology, Internet marketing is also a "new business practice" in its infancy similar to direct mail and call centers in past years. I would like to add a few points to your review:

Regarding "Internet Marketing Pros" - Web visitors actively seek out Web sites for information, e-commerce or product assistance. Direct mail sent unsolicited to a home or business is a passive medium because the individual did not actively seek the material. This results in a more highly qualified lead than a direct mail lead.

Regarding e-commerce - In addition to the "cost savings aspects," the use of the Internet is a "revenue generator" for companies. For example, prospects can "surf" the net for that catalog company and order online without receiving a catalog. The real key for the Internet is the business formula - increase revenues while decreasing costs = profits.

That's the major reason we developed our product, iContact, to communicate with the Web visitors while they are on the Web site.

I agree that "inbound call centers" will benefit with Internet marketing and sales activities. Using these new Internet technologies to communicate with prospects, inbound call centers will now have another service to offer their current clients. Shortly, we will hear of the new "Internet call centers."

Thanks for listening.

Regards,

Tom McCarron
Contact Dynamics


Dear Rich Tehrani:

Your editorial (September 1998, "Don't You Already Have This Information?") was absolutely on the mark. I can't tell you how many times we've had the same sort of experience. There is absolutely no excuse for it in this age of computerization. So many times my vendor's sales department has different information from the same vendor's shipping department. How can that be allowed?

Here's a doozy for you: Often, I am asked for my name and company name by a receptionist who answers the phone, but when I am transferred to the rep I wish to speak to, the rep doesn't know who's on the line. So I'm forced to repeat everything again. And what about phone receptionists who ask if you have an account after you just asked to speak to a particular individual? How would you know whom to ask for if you weren't supposed to speak to that person? What difference does it make if you have an account? Some practices are not only stupid, but down right rude as well.

Finally, there is no exception to the fact that a business should have a customer, or prospective customer, service department that knows how to get the information a caller needs, or knows whom to put them in contact with regardless of the problem or question. We recently spent a lot of time doing some research into multifunction devices in the copier industry, and I can tell you that the problem of not knowing whom to talk with to get the information needed is rampant throughout U.S. business today. A simple question becomes a major obstacle to doing business. And what a loss of business this creates. Most CEOs must be brain dead to allow their companies to operate this way. Service must never be allowed to take any other but first place in a company's affairs.

Thanks so much for commenting on this serious problem.

Michael Kitchen
Front Row Computer


My company, Parmann Mortgage, is considering purchasing a product from DISC called the PowerCaller. It is a product that works on a dedicated PC, and through a prerecorded script, calls people and allows them to complete a questionnaire over the phone.

Question: is this type of practice legal, and do you have a copy of the law?

Regards,
Bruce Hirschfeld
Parmann Mortgage


Jerry Cerasale, senior vice president of government affairs at the Direct Marketing Association, replies:

Federal law prohibits any person from initiating a telephone call using an automatic telephone dialing system or an artificial or prerecorded voice unless it is not made for a commercial purpose or does not include the transmission of any unsolicited advertisement. A person may call any person with whom the caller has an established business relationship at the time the call is made.

Several states have different and/or more restrictive laws regarding prerecorded messages, so the matter should be evaluated on a state-by-state basis.

 







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