Are marketers driving away customers with technology?

Judging by the number of automated message calls I have received recently, it seems that  increasing numbers of marketers are using automated telephone message delivery systems to contact prospects.  These have an auto dialling facility, making it possible to deliver a message to huge numbers of people in little dialer

Originally, these systems were mainly used by network marketers, and network marketing leads suppliers. Now they have been adopted by a range of businesses from ocean cruises to credit card payment avoidance services (sounds a bit shady to me) and even political parties.

The three big attractions of the system are:

  • Low cost compared to a “live”, hired, tele sales person.
  • Time saving.
  • Avoidance of  cold calling.
How effective are these systems? I have no personal experience, the promoters all claim that their clients are getting impressive results.
Because their use appears to be increasing, either some marketers are getting good results or others are locked into a contract and a cycle of hope and just keep on using them.
As a consumer, I find them highly irritating, invasive and annoying. Particularly when I am being targeted for products or services for which I have absolutely no interest.
That may well be a fault of poor lead list selection than the message system.

My personal opinion is that as a medium for an initial contact with a prospect, they are unethical and create a negative impression of the marketer.

A further irritant is that with many of these automated calls, there is no way to stop the message, even briefly disconnecting the call does not work. The message keeps rolling until it is finished. Most of them do not have any option to “unsubscribe” from future calls. To be fair, a few do have this option.

As a marketer, I have looked at some of these systems and decided not to use them

Wearing my consumer hat again, I have no objection to “live” tele sales calls, except when I am in the middle of dinner or if the person does not listen after I have said “NO” three times. In a free enterprise system,  all our incomes are dependent in some way, on products or services being sold. That tele sales person might be a customer for your or my products now or in the future.

Where there could be a good – and acceptable –  place for these systems is as reminders to existing customers for routine notifications.

For example:

  • Auto dealers  – service reminders.
  • Health professionals – check up or appointment reminders.
  • Personal care providers – reminders.
  • Retail – advising customers of promotions or sales.
  • Service providers – contract renewal reminders.
That is just a few examples of automated messages that would be acceptable to me if I was already a customer of that business. I would find them no more – and probably less –  irritating, than the automated telephone answering systems that seem to have infested all North American businesses, large and small. Especially the ones with un-intelligible menu options.
I do not think that my irritation is just that of an out-of-touch-with-technology cranky baby boomer, a number of younger people have also expressed  the same annoyance.
The lesson for marketers is to think of the ramifications of using new technology and communication systems. Does the potential return in new business outweigh the risk of alienating some consumers or even existing customers?
Wishing you success in all your endeavours
Peter Wright
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