The Telecommunications Act has been amended since 1 July and cold calling is only allowed with permission. What does this mean for the future of telemarketing? Here you can read the expert vision of Daniël Cools ( Steam-connect ) from the book ‘Call me wel – All building blocks for sustainable and successful telemarketing’ by Patrick Jordens, in which he discusses predictive dialing, among other things.

“When I look at telemarketing, I see that the channel certainly has and will continue to exist, but organizations should of course think more about effective combinations with other channels. The coming generations will want to communicate in a completely different way. E-mail and telephony will remain relevant for the next twenty to twenty-five years, but generations are coming that want to do much more with social media. Lead generation will also change. I can already see that happening, for example through influencer marketing on Snapchat or Instagram. I also see that clients want to get rid of their inbound e-mail volumes and that they are looking for ways to redirect this to inbound telephone traffic. Clients also want to do this with inbound telemarketing as a replacement for outbound telemarketing, but that is not going very fast yet. They do this, for example, with contact buttons on the website, with which someone can indicate that they want to be called.

After about 2010 there has been an enormous growth in the number of contact centers. On the one hand because it has become easier to start a business without starting capital, on the other hand because contact center software has become financially more accessible. At the same time, the software has become more accessible, which has the advantage that an inexperienced entrepreneur can have a professional contact center solution. We were one of the first to adopt the pay-per-seat-per-day model.

Responsible use of contact center systems

Contact center entrepreneurs who contact us should of course know the legislation, but unfortunately the practice is more unruly. Settings on contact center systems are sometimes regulated, for example what percentage of abandoned calls you are allowed to have per 24 hours, but other settings can also be very decisive for the customer experience on the other side of the line. And there really are a lot of setting options available on the system. You have to handle a contact center system very responsibly from day one. Not everyone can do that, so we offer training and guidance for this. I think there is a responsibility for the software supplier if he finds that the customer is actually not yet sufficiently well trained to operate the system. I always analyze what the customer needs to determine how I should serve him.

The system offers all possibilities to work compliantly. You can anonymize all data, secure it properly and limit its use. But if in practice the person who works with it does not use it properly, then the system can be so beautiful, it will not work optimally. We are of course not the legal counsel of our customers, but we can help them on their way. To do this, as a software supplier, we need customer representatives at the table who can think analytically. And ultimately they will have to seek their own advice and take adequate control measures.

ring time

Settings in a dialer can be very decisive for how a target group is approached. The principle of ring time , for example. That’s when the phone rings. For that setting, you really have to look at who is calling you. For example, if you call business customers, we advise you to set the ring time to about 25 to 27 seconds. A receptionist really needs a little more time to answer the phone. If you call consumers, we recommend around 18 seconds. Also to avoid voicemails, because you don’t want to get them on the phone from a cost and efficiency point of view. Setting it shorter is unwise, because then the consumer will not have enough time to answer the phone and he can get an annoying feeling that the phone keeps ringing and quickly hangs up. In my opinion, a telephone must ring at least three times and then you are between 15 and 18 seconds of ring time.

The type of dialing matters

It is also important to look at the type of dialing that the contact center uses. Progressive dialing ensures that the agent sees a record on his screen before the call is set up. If the number is busy, or there is another reason why the number cannot be reached, this is automatically registered and the system moves to the next record. It is a friendly way for both the agent and the consumer to achieve efficiency in the contact center.

With power dialing , several lines are set up, for example ten at the same time. If an employee is available and a consumer picks up, they are linked to each other. If there is no employee, the dialer will disconnect. I think that is very customer-unfriendly and it should be banned, but of course customers think otherwise.

With predictive dialing , as the term implies, an algorithm is used to make a prediction about when the agent will finish the call he is currently on. When he is ready, the next conversation is immediately offered. So, a conversation is actually being set up without the agent being available, and as a result, the agent may miss the first few seconds of the conversation, for example the moment the customer calls his name. In addition, just like power dialing, predictive dialing always causes abandoned calls, i.e. sometimes no agent is available, even though a consumer has been called. In the Netherlands, this is regulated in the Telemarketing Code of Conduct. You can have a maximum of 5 percent of these types of conversations per 24 hours.

These are real disadvantages of predictive dialing, but the efficiency is much higher than with progressive dialing. You do feel that predictive dialing is much less friendly for the agent and the customer. I would have no problem with predictive dialing being banned as well. That would be better for the market. I think it’s very unprofessional if you don’t even know if you’re talking to a man or woman!

Finally, you have VoIP broadcasting. That is basically automatic calling without human intervention. Then the customer gets a tape and is asked to press 1 if he wants to accept the call. That is super efficient, but incredibly irritating for the customer and fortunately therefore also prohibited in the Netherlands. It is still widely used in England.

The impact of contact center technology on the client’s brand

Telemarketing clients really don’t think enough about the impact of contact center technology on their brand. I know of stories about clients demanding that the number of call attempts on their customer records be increased to say twenty, despite the fact that the contact center advises to set that to a maximum of three. Those clients only think of costs and revenues. “I have incurred a lot of expense to purchase this data, so I need to have as high a reach as possible.” They forget for a moment that the customer can potentially be called twenty times, resulting in all possible customer irritation. My experience has taught me that if a customer has not answered three times, he will not answer the fourth time; or if I call three times in the evening and he doesn’t answer, the fourth time I shouldn’t call in the evening. This kind of intelligence should be taken out of their activities much more consciously by clients and applied to future campaigns. In general, telemarketing clients really have to think about the technology for themselves and in my experience they leave it far too much to the contact center.

Send a recognizable number

‘The current telemarketing legislation obliges the calling party to use a number recognizable to the consumer. Anonymous calling is prohibited. This is a desirable development that should bring more transparency for consumers. In reality, however, something quite different happens. There are apps available that monitor dial-out numbers and provide them with a qualification. They mark the numbers as reliable or as spam. The app builders have a commercial purpose in this. They charge companies money for the service, with which they can characterize their numbers as reliable. I think that’s very dangerous. It’s a form of unfair competition.”

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About the book

Call me from Patrick Jordens Do call me – All the building blocks for sustainable and successful telemarketing by Patrick Jordens offers the latest and best insights from practice, including:

  • 18 interviews with insights from all relevant parties from the telemarketing field, including the Authority for Consumers & Markets (ACM) and the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate (EZK);
  • an overview of the opportunities and limitations of increasingly strict legislation;
  • relevant lessons from the practice of various important advertisers on the Dutch market.

Full of tips, tricks, best practices and checklists, ‘Do call me’ helps you discover which building blocks are indispensable for a sustainable and successful telemarketing practice.

Interested in the book? You order it here