Thursday, October 25, 2007

Don't Call Me -- I'll Call You!

Those of us involved in telemarketing as our main channel of direct marketing are extremely familiar with the FTC's Do-Not-Call Database (DNC). It was talked about forever, and seemed to take forever to build . . . well, guess what? It's been almost five years since it's inception and the 70% of Americans who originally signed up on the DNC List, are about to face expiration! Yikes! That is, they may have to re-register their number for it to stay active on the Registry.

At first blush, the FTC thought it may be a good idea to purge the database every five years -- to get rid of disconnected numbers and the like. However, according to today's article in DM News, "the registry also uses a scrubbing program that purges disconnected or reassigned numbers on a monthly basis — leading some policymakers to call the 5-year purge unnecessary." Now, several of our political representatives are introducing bills to get rid of the 5-year purge rule -- and there are even bills that talk about never purging the database, making all registrations permanent.

Let's reflect for a moment on how opinions about this Do-Not-Call Registry have changed over the past five years. Back in 2003, our clients were simply flipping out over the aspect of not getting as many "phones" back to fuel their telemarketing efforts. However, from what we've seen, the 30% of Americans who haven't registered their phones are actually open to a telemarketing call. See, it gets back to the idea of putting the customer in the driver's seat -- the major point behind Customer Experience Management.

The point of focus here is that the 30% of Americans who would rather hear from us via their telephone have stated their preference (well, some of them are just lazy and haven't figured out how to sign up on the DNC registry . . . but still). And, that preference is that they'd like to be contacted via the phone to hear about products and services that they may be interested in purchasing now or in the future. That's good news for those of us who are calling them, right?

As a direct marketer who is consistently trying to find creative ways to increase response and conversion rates, this is music to my ears! I'd much rather contact someone over the phone who wants to hear from me than someone who doesn't.

The whole point of today's post is to remind us that we'll sell more if we listen to our customers. The beauty of direct marketing is that, today more than ever, we have multiple channels in which to reach out to our customers. We need to, whenever possible, give them the ability to tell us how they wish to be communicated with -- then follow those wishes and communicate with them in that fashion.

Again, this is the key driver in the definition of Customer Experience Management. When you let the customer drive your marketing efforts, they become an advocate for your business without even knowing it. As a business, you can learn from these preferences, model from them, and find other customers who may wish to buy from you.

So, go ahead and leave those consumers on the DNC Registry forever. They don't want to talk to us anyway! But, they may like to receive an email . . . or direct mail piece . . . or order from your website . . . or comment on your blog. It's all good!

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