Perfecting Service Management

Issue #90

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Is There a Governor on Your Telemarketing Program?
by Craig Bailey

My 16-year old son recently obtained his driver's license. I'm proud of him for saving up enough money to buy his own car. However, if there is one thing I could wish for, it would be a governor for his car - a device that limits the speed of the vehicle to, say, 55 miles per hour. While most parents may desire this limiting factor for their teenager's vehicle, it is definitely NOT something you'd want on your Telemarketing Program.

This two-part article will explore some of the governors we have seen on Inbound and Outbound Telemarketing programs. More importantly, this will shed light on approaches you can take to not only remove governors (limiting factors), but turn your Telemarketing program into a finely tuned lead generation machine.

This topic will be addressed in the following categories:

·  Product / Market

·  People / Structure

·  Process

·  Technology

Product / Market

Limiting factor: Applying B2C (business-to-consumer) principles in a B2B (business-to-business) market, or visa versa.

The first step is to ensure your program is aligned to the market you are going after. Are you in the B2C or B2B space? The differences between the two are immense. At a top-level, in a B2C market you will typically apply the "dialing for dollars" approach. On the other hand, with B2B you will want to take more of a relationship building / nurturing approach. This article will focus on the B2B space.

Limiting factor: Lack of product and market knowledge

Personnel in your Telemarketing center aren't necessarily expected to be product/service experts. However, they clearly need to understand the nature and types of business problems your products/services address. And, just as important, they must understand the profile of the people (prospects) they will be engaging with. This can include the need to perform in a highly consultative role.

People / Structure

Limiting factor: Generating and passing leads to "deaf ears"

To ensure that the leads you generate and pass to your Sales team (inside sales, field sales or channel partners) capture their attention, you need to clearly understand their lead qualification criteria and expectations in terms of information you need to provide. Said another way, what do they want and when do they want it? There is nothing worse than generating "leads" for which the prospect's buying timeframe is in 6 months when the Sales team is focused primarily on opportunities that are going to close this month or this quarter. You may need to hang on to those leads and continue to nurture until the buying timeframe fits into the window that will get the attention of Sales.

Limiting factor: Autocratic leadership

Let's face it, in the B2B space, your team will be engaging in business conversations that will often occur with high-level executives (VPs to CXOs). If you are tracking the time your Telemarketing reps spend on bathroom breaks, you are not going to observe the kinds of behaviors you'd want exhibited in people that must engage in executive level conversations. Treat and manage your reps professionally and they will act like professionals.

Limiting factor: Compensation plans that encourage saving for next month

We all know that Sales people are "coin operated." This statement is just as true for your Telemarketing reps. Make no mistake, they will study the comp plan to determine how to achieve the biggest bang for the buck. Too often, Telemarketing comp plans actually encourage reps to shut down before the end of the period to maximize their bonus. This occurs when the comp plan doesn't have attractive features such as:

  • Accelerators – that is, once quota is achieved, paying out at increasingly higher levels for the "over-achievers"
  • Beginning to pay out at 80%
  • Being in alignment with key metrics (covered in ournext edition) that generate the behaviors you want exhibited

Stay tuned for our next newsletter where we will discuss the remaining two categories: Process and Technology. If you suspect there are governing factors on your Telemarketing Program, give us a call. We'd be happy to discuss our Assessment methodology which provides our customers a pragmatic road-map to create a finely tuned lead generation machine. You'll be taking Telemarketing beyond the limits in no time.

Thumbs Up / Thumbs Down

This column is devoted to memorable customer experiences, the good, the bad, and the ugly. This issue provides examples where customer service went overboard, and backfired.

I have a very different customer service issue--too much of it! The expressions that come to mind are "too much of a good thing and "a good thing gone bad." Here are some of my most recent too-much customer service examples. Each one made me leave the store and not spend any money.

In a mall store, three of us entered the store at the same time, one behind the other. Lady 1 entered, and the clerk asked her how she was and got an answer. Lady 2 entered, pushing a stroller, got just barely inside the door, and the clerk asked how she was, and got an answer. Now, being third, I could only get one foot inside the store, so I am really still in the mall. But, the clerk shouts at me asking how I was. Three rapid fire canned greetings. This clerk was clearly instructed by management to greet each and every customer. However, by shouting to me while still out in the mall, and blocked by two adults and one stroller--well, it was more like a verbal assault. I left.

In a shoe store, as I moved from section to section to browse, both clerks together moved with me. However, since there were 2 of them, after the initial "Can I help you find something today?", they then stood right beside me and loudly chatted with each other. I left.

In a department store, I went to browse the 50% off clearance rack. Two sales clerks were indeed available to me, having already spoken their canned "How can I help you today?" However, they then leaned on the rack, chatting with each other, with their elbows on the hangars. Not only could I not get to the clothes where they were lounging, but I couldn't move the hangars to browse another part of the rack. I left.

At a large office supply store, the man cruising the aisles trying to get you to sign up for their store credit card stopped and asked me 3 times to sign up. This same man and I had already had a very long encounter at the front of the store when I first entered about this same issue. On top of this, as I rounded each corner, a floor clerk would then ask me if they could help me. This happened at each turn, and was often a different clerk, but often a repeat clerk. I left.

I believe that the store clerks had been told to give good service to their customers, and had been trained in what to do and what to say. However, this was implemented in a horrifying way--totally without common sense! Yes, we want customer service. Yes, we want available store clerks. Yes, we want attention. However, the service needs to be tempered with common sense. These clerks were blindly implementing their training, without even noticing that they were chasing customers away.

Editor's note: This writer sums it up nicely…common sense is one of the most essential components of great customer service. CSRs need to be given tools and guidance, but they must have the common sense to implement them properly. Empower and incent reps to do the right thing (see our whitepaper Rewarding and Incenting Customer Service Reps), and they usually will.

Have your own customer service experience to share?
Email us. Names will be changed to protect the guilty....

View previous Thumbs Up / Thumbs Down articles.



+ Telemarketing Governor
+ Thumbs Up / Thumbs Down
+ Recommended Reading

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Recommended Reading
This issue's recommended reading, CRM Magazine article Avoiding the M&A Customer Satisfaction Trap by Tom Mangan, reminds us not to overlook one of the most important things during a company merger or acquisition: the customer. While striving to achieve the financial savings associated with and expected from a merger or acquisition, don't forget about the customer's feelings and experiences. An unhappy customer can lead to an ex-customer, which won't usually help the bottom line.

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