Cold calling can improve the customer experience

The clamber to outlaw cold callers has claimed its first high-profile victim. Last week, one of the big six energy providers, SSE decided to put a stop to sales calls unless they are being made to existing customers or prospects that had at some point somewhere indicated they are interested in knowing more.

Russell Parsons

Explaining the decision, group managing director Will Morris said: “Nobody likes receiving a sales call out of the blue so we are stopping it”. He added: “”Cold calling is not something that a company like SSE – committed to providing an excellent customer experience – should be doing any longer”.

The negative noise around cold calling has been getting louder and louder of late with consumer groups and politicians calling for and promising tough action. SSE has heard this and acted.

It is difficult to argue that bombarding prospects with pitches of no relevance to them is a positive thing. Cold calling can be intrusive and annoying and a colossal waste of time. It can also, if targeted, empathetic and relevant, be positive for all.

Low levels of account switching in the energy sector have for a long time been highlighted as a barrier to creating competition and, in turn, driving innovation and better prices for customers. Marketing calls, even unsolicited ones, can open a customer’s minds to an alternative in the same way as a piece of unrequested direct mail or an email can.

The problem is not necessarily the mode of communication, it is the message and the messenger.

SSE, of course, is particularly sensitive to and open to accusations of unscrupulous behaviour. It was fined £10.5m by Ofgem in April for mis-selling on the door-step and on the phone. It jumped to make amends then, halting all door-step sales activity. Then and now, it might have been wiser to think hard about the scripts salesman were using and the approach they were taking rather than reacting in such a knee-jerk manner.

If telemarketing doesn’t work for customers or company, don’t do it. Otherwise do it better.

Recommended

Sun-Goals-304

The Sun appoints marketing director

Lara O'Reilly

The Sun has appointed former BBC Worldwide customer retention director David Robinson as its marketing director as it looks to boost the profile and user base of the newspaper’s paid-for digital offering Sun+.

A national disgrace and a branding tragedy

Josie Allchin

For the first 50 years of its existence it did not look particularly impressive. Wandering past the site in the late 18th century you would have simply seen a 30-acre cabbage patch in the middle of South London surrounded by a circular lane.

Comments

    Leave a comment

    Close

    Discover even more as a subscriber

    This article is available for subscribers only.

    Sign up now for your access-all-areas pass.

    If you're an existing paid print subscriber find out how to get access here.

    Subscribers enjoy unlimited access to unrivalled coverage of the biggest issues in marketing, alongside practical advice from the digital experts at Econsultancy.

    With a subscription to Marketing Week Premium you will get full access to:

    > World-renowned columnists

    > Analysis & case studies

    > Exclusive leading-edge insight

    > Carefully curated reports & briefings from Econsultancy

    > Plus, much more including a £300 discount for the Festival of Marketing

    Subscribe now

    Got a question?

    Contact us on +44 (0)20 7292 3703 or email customerservices@marketingweek.com

    If you are looking for our Jobs site, please click here

    Subscribers enjoy unlimited access to unrivalled coverage of the biggest issues in marketing, alongside practical advice from the digital experts at Econsultancy.

    With a subscription to Marketing Week Premium you will get full access to:

    > World-renowned columnists

    > Analysis & case studies

    > Exclusive leading-edge insight

    > Carefully curated reports & briefings from Econsultancy

    > Plus, much more including a £300 discount for the Festival of Marketing

    Subscribe now