Dear Telemarketing Corporations,
You suck. You suck so profoundly, so innately, that you’ve elevated it to a state of cyclic zen: you suck, therefore you telemarket. It’s not that your employees are inevitably based somewhere in South-East Asia, although the combination of frequently-impenetrable accents and appalling phone lines doesn’t help. No: it’s that your business practices are deeply sociopathic. Maybe your HR staff, middle-managers and policy-makers are all, by some social fluke, carriers of identically boorish, antagonistic genes; or maybe you just hate people. I don’t know. But should you ever exhibit any curiosity as to why cockroaches get better press than you do, here’s a few key considerations.
1. Opening Gambits
Don’t start with a lie, or near enough to one as makes no odds. No company forking out for cold-calls to my house is doing so for the privilege of giving me free anything. Whatever snake-oil you’ve been hired to peddle requires my time and participation to purchase: don’t try and claim otherwise. If it’s a service, you’ll want my details. If it’s a product, you’ll want my money. Actually, you’ll always want my money – some companies are just sneakier about asking for it. Bottom line: don’t rush in with a glib offer that will (you promise) only take a moment of my time. That’s not how things work, and we both know it.
2. Ceaseless Talking
In civilised conversation, people pause. There are few things more maddening than a cold-caller who won’t shut up, and who takes the least hesitation on my end as a go-ahead to rattle off a three-page product description. The logic of getting your spiel in before I can signal disinterest is non-existent: if I’m interested, you don’t need to rush, and if I’m not interested, giving me no recourse to say so is hardly going to convert me. More often than not, it forces rudeness in turn: if I can’t get a word in edgeways to politely decline, my only option is to hang up. Angrily.
3. Hard Sell
When I buy popcorn at the movies, it’s inevitable that I be offered an upsize. Whether I accept or decline, the server’s job is to smile politely and thank me for my custom. This is a courtesy known throughout the civilised business world, but not, it would seem, to you. If you call and offer me something I don’t want, do not try and change my mind. Accept my disinterest gracefully and let me end the call. Telling me how good an offer it is or expounding on product merits as though I’d asked to hear them is not only rude, but counter-productive. Because the next time you ring with a different offer, I’ll remember how unpleasant you were to deal with – and will, to quote Pirates of the Caribbean, be disinclined to acquiesce to your request.
4. Thinking Time
In the unlikely event that your product does tempt me, I might still want to sleep on it. If so, I’ll want the number of the person I’ve just spoken to, and maybe a website with product or service details. For a company of your size, these shouldn’t be hard to provide – in fact, they should be standard. But if you can’t fork out the extra few grand it might take to set up a temporary web page on the offer and organise a reasonable means for me to locate a specific employee, then why the hell do you deserve my business? I don’t care what percentage of contracts are now agreed to over the phone, nor do I want your views on how easy a decision it should be. Particularly if you’re offering to switch my utilities provider, it’s reasonable that I talk things over first with my significant other, or check that yours is really the better deal. Any attempt to force my hand, now, is deeply unappreciated.
5. Repeat Calls
In the past week and a half, our house has received no fewer than five separate calls from Telstra, all offering to switch us over from Optus. Especially for a telco, it speaks volumes about their ineptitude that they can’t simply mark me on their database as disinterested. Based on this example, why on Earth would I trust them with my phone bill?
In short, you act like rude, demanding, selfish children. Everyone’s sick of it. Smarten up, or shut up. (Either is fine.)