Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Responding to Telemarketers

Graeme Philipson's report on his visit to an Indian call centre is well worth reading, but I guess the link won't last forever. During his visit, he watched as Derek (Deepak to his friends) handled dozens of rejections and managed to complete only one of the surveys he was ringing with. He told Graeme that he averaged 3 completed surveys per hundred calls.

The typical Indian telemarketer is a university graduate. The work is complicated and requires skill, and for India, pays quite well.

A new worker in a call centre, armed with a university degree, earns about $300 a month. A programmer will earn about $500. That may not sound like a lot but it goes much further in a country where a good haircut costs a dollar and a new car less than $10,000.
For most people, a job in a call centre is a foot in the door, a starting position in an extremely large and competitive job market. Some of the jobs they do, like one I looked at that involves checking on the advice given by financial advisors to their clients, are very complex and involve months of training.
If someone has succeeded in a call centre for a year or two, they are much more likely to be hired for a more senior position. There is certainly no shortage of applicants.
You and I might regard unsolicited telephone calls from India or elsewhere as a bit of pain. It's certainly an irritation but it's also a massive business employing hundreds of thousands of people.

How should we respond to these calls? We can sign up to a list which tells members of the Australian Direct Marketing Association that we don't want calls, which may reduce the number we are faced with. But we will inevitably still receive some calls.

People love to boast about how they deal with these intrusions, but what is the Christian thing to do? Philipson's advice sounds easy, and he says it is best for the marketers, too. It may seem hilarious to send a very loud signal down the curly cordline, or say Just a minute and leave the poor telemarketer waiting for a caller who never returns, but simply saying I'm not interested, thanks and hanging up gets the intrusion out of your life, and enables the marketer to get on with trying to complete the surveys.

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