The Net is not a cost saving tool

It’s not rocket science, but marketing rarely is. David Reed’s article discussing the alleged demise of call centres (“Back-up call” MW November 18) hit the nail on the head.

It certainly is clear that customer relationships can be leveraged far more powerfully in the future using Web-based channels. However, Reed also highlighted the sad fact that many companies are driving down this road for the wrong reasons: “This reduction in overheads is what fuelled the growth…”

The reason for channelling investment and effort into any area – including the Internet – should be to meet consumers’ needs profitably. If it is done purely to save money, the effort will be unlikely to satisfy the increasingly sophisticated demands of e-consumers.

A poor Website or service will do more harm than good, as the experience of a slow or ineffective site is spread across the network in seconds by word of mouth and e-mail.

Egg may have had enormous success recruiting customers, but the frustration I have suffered at the hands of a faulty online security system and under-resourced call centre is hardly the delivery of a quality brand.

Consumers are and will be more demanding, not less. They will have more and easier means to choose and reject brands. Online banks do not have the luxury of consumer inertia enjoyed by the high street in the past 40 years. People like to deal with people, and any company that thinks it can do away with basic human interaction in the name of reducing overheads will be in for a nasty shock.

By all means channel effort into developing new and efficient consumer channels to build relationships and dialogue. But do it properly.

Chris Moody

Cheltenham

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