How many of us have been plagued repeatedly by those annoying telemarketing calls – especially on a lazy Sunday afternoon, offering you a holiday package or a credit card or a vehicle loan? Sounds familiar?? 

Here are ten ABSOLUTE TABOOS for telemarketing best practices- One would think they were obvious – but practice shows different! 

1)     TIMING – Do not call during lunch hours (1 pm to 3 pm) on weekdays and Saturdays – and do not call on Sundays or holidays at all! 

2)     OFFICE HOURS – An extension of the Timing taboo – do NOT disturb a person during morning office hours unless you have express permission to do so. Post lunch office hours are a bit more flexible.  Which means two things:

a.      You need to know whether the person you are calling is working or not

b.      For working folks, you have a very limited window of reaching them – ideally 4pm to 8pm; And maybe, Saturdays; Provide for that instead of bending the rules.

3)     USING BLIND LISTS – No point operating like a cow with two stomachs. There is a reason and purpose behind a Do Not Call Registry; Scrub the list you are using against the NDNC before you call; There is nothing more irritating and annoying than a telemarketer telling you “ But this is the list I was asked to call!!” It is not the telemarketer’s fault – it is the fault of the marketing organisation that failed to scrub the lists.

4)     THE NON-STOP OPENING – Do not launch into your call opening spiel without introducing yourself first and checking whether the person at the other end is in fact the one you want to speak to and whether he/she has the time just then. How often have we heard: “Good Afternoon, I am calling from XYZ Co – this is regarding personal loans available at the best rates of interest” all in one breath! The receiver is not a nameless, faceless individual… and he/she probably has better things to do than listen to your call.

5)     A CALL WHEN YOU ARE HOLIDAYING IN THE BAHAMAS – A traveller on international roaming is paying for incoming calls by the second.  And international roaming is easily identifiable by the long distinctive ring. Train your telemarketers to identify the ring and CUT the call the moment they hear it!

6)     ENDLESS REPEATS – So you are a telecom service provider’s existing customer who has just terminated his services; Once they have found out the reason for your termination, there is no point repeatedly calling you every month-on-month-on-month to get you to come back! Try a maximum of twice – then drop it for the next six months!! It may well happen that your lapsed customer flirts with another brand in the interim and then decides to come back to you.

7)     SPEAKING IN A LANGUAGE I DONT KNOW –  “After I have requested a specific language”! I go through this endless IVR process and select Hindi as my preferred language – only to then be connected to a telemarketer who speaks to me in English or Marathi or Gujarati….

8)      THE UNACCEPTABLE TONE AND MANNER – Completely off-putting. Respect the customer, respect his/her time. Don’t ask – request.  Don’t demand – persuade. Don’t override – listen.

9)      DISHONESTY – You start off by saying you need five minutes of my time – and the agenda for the call is nothing less than twenty! You say you need nothing more than my name and email id – it turns out that you also need to have my id and address proof emailed to you as well as the last six months of my bank statement. You say the card is free – apparently, the caveat is that I have to spend Rs. 3000 on it in the next three months, else I will be charged for it – something you conveniently fail to inform me about! You have lost my trust and respect forever on that one…10)  Finally, the ‘I-NOT YOU’ syndrome – Actually a reflection more on selling skills, the training given to the caller and the script used. It is not all about you making a sales call. Stay customer focused and relevant. You have a better chance of being listened to – and of a greater conversion rate!