Delia Gross, executive for the In-Touch Outbound Contact Centre at Innovation Group South Africa, outlines a few things to consider before you hang up on yet another call centre agent.
You’re already late for a board meeting and your phone is ringing for the third time. You’ve just got the baby into the bath and there’s a call beeping in your back pocket. Your car kit’s merry melody interrupted the GPS and you’ve taken the wrong off-ramp.
Is there ever a good time to be contacted by a call centre?
There are a few good reasons why these calls may be less of an inconvenience and more of a benefit than we are willing to admit.

Meeting the needs of identified customer groups
With the advent of the Financial Services Board’s (FSB) Treating Customers Fairly (TCF) campaign, it has become necessary for contact centres to adopt a more discerning attitude when it comes to making contact with the consumer.
Call centres, or contact centres as they are now referred to, no longer deploy the ‘spray and pray’ approach to telemarketing. We are obliged to make these calls based on research and data analytics and not simply from a list of names and numbers. We have to market products and services that are appropriate and relevant to the targeted consumer group.
The long and short of this is that the agent on the other end of the phone is calling you because you have been identified as a consumer who will probably have a need for the specific product that they are selling. Whether this is an extension on your vehicle’s service plan that has just run out or tyre and rim protection for your brand new tyres, it is worth considering the ‘what if’ of not listening to the offer.

Advice that makes sense
One of the TCF outcomes speaks to the suitability of products and services. Contact centre agents are provided with carefully drafted scripts that provide a clear outline of the suitability of products along with their associated benefits. A thorough needs analysis is done on the contact base prior to the script being compiled to ensure that agents cover all aspects relating to the product and their associated link to the consumer’s needs.
Constantly improving the customer experience has become a fundamental part of the contact centre’s mission. This equates to calls that are less nuisance and more enlightenment. Education as opposed to useless mind clutter. As businesses scramble to differentiate themselves from the competition, they develop innovative offerings that may be worth keeping an ear open for.
Modern contact centres boast the latest infrastructure and technology and this allows us to move past mere sales. The ultimate goal is to provide customers with information that both educates and informs.

Adequate after sales care/service
Contact centres are tasked with aftersales follow ups that often include crucial information about the lifecycle of your product or service. The call may not be convenient, exciting or sexy but it could save you a heap of money and a truckload of frustration.
Customer satisfaction or dissatisfaction is often monitored through contact centres. This feedback is crucial for planning and product research and development. Businesses have got a far better chance of delivering what the consumer wants if they are aware of the things that get a smile or a frown.
Contact centres are starting to embrace analytic tools to mine data to drive change in business. This data is increasingly being used to understand customer behaviour more fluidly and forecast market activity. These analytics can only assist the drive towards creating customer loyalty by consistently meeting their needs.

Opting out or staying tuned in
If you are tired of ongoing sales calls at inconvenient times, you have the right to add your name to the DMA’s national opt-out list. This will remove your name from any direct sales campaigns and you will no longer receive sales calls. But is this necessarily the right move?
Opting out from direct sales campaign is anyone’s choice, but more often than not people miss out on receiving information on products that will cater to their specific needs and requirements.
Contact centres have evolved over the last couple of years and with the use of data analytics and in-depth needs analysis they are able to analyse consumer data to market products that are developed around demographic, vehicle usage, lifestyle and spend. Through data analytics we are able, for example, to look at a vehicle’s age, mileage and service history to develop a complete customer profile and to then offer the consumer value add products that will ensure they are able to prolong the life and drivability of their vehicles.
As inconvenient as a sales call might be, should you not be asking what information you are missing out on by tuning out?