What’s the point of telemarketing in a digital age, when fewer and fewer people answer their telephone? Now less a sales tool than a communications channel with regular customers, telemarketing more than ever emphasizes the human factor.
“Would you be interested, sir, in learning about our new product that is adapted to your needs?” This is the kind of phrase you hear less and less when you receive a call from a telemarketing agent. In 2018, the industry took into account the digital habits of its customers and found that telemarketing is now used for more precise purposes, for example to contact regular customers and to follow up on products they are already accustomed to purchase. And this is done with a supplement of empathy and human warmth to increase the customer’s loyalty to the brand he already likes.
In other words, “cold calls”, once the preferred way to reach a new customer pool, are being used less and less. The response rate for these calls has dropped drastically and the listening time has shortened, in a world where a telephone conversation is considered intrusive compare to SMS, email newsletters or targeted social media advertising.
A necessary mutation
René Labrecque, president of ContactXpert, has watched the industry change over the last 17 years. “I have almost never made a real sale over the phone,” he says. “Telemarketing has been preparing for a much longer time than it is believed to adapt to the new modes of communication.”
His company, for example, works with car dealerships to contact their regular customers and offer appointments at the appropriate time. “We have developed software that schedules phone reminders just when customers are ready to renew their lease.”
So the approach is more personalized. Rather than randomly addressing an anonymous caller who knows nothing about it, the telephone operator contacts a person knowing a portion of the customer’s consumer history.
Call centres also offer customer service packages by phone or by chat. There again, it’s not just about selling a product but answering the customer’s question about a product they have already acquired. “In general, the qualities of a salesperson are less sought after in call centres than those of a customer service agent,” adds René Labrecque. We need friendly and empathetic employees, who know how to effectively communicate accurate information, taking the time to express it well. The telephone still has the benefit of allowing direct discussion with the customer and making sure of being understood correctly.”