Are you really listening to your employees?

I recently visited a B-to-B catalog client that runs various outbound telemarketing programs to customers. For many years, it has succeeded with basic calling programs, such as calling catalog requests and calling back on Web orders to confirm, upsell and cross-sell.

Recently, however, results have inexplicably fallen off. The connect rate had dropped precipitously. When I met with this company, we held a meeting to try to figure out what the problem could be. While there were many ideas of the probable causes, the meeting noticeably was lacking in facts.

This made me wonder. After about an hour of discussion with executives, we couldn’t come to any apparent conclusion. So, we asked a few telesales reps to join us. Typically, reps will only offer up “deer in headlights” responses. But we called two reps into the meeting, so they shared the pressure.

We proceeded to tell the reps what we thought the problems were and gave them our assessment of the situation. They both, of course, nodded in agreement. But after about 10 minutes of continued discussion, one of the reps felt comfortable enough to say what she really thought. It was a moment of pure inspiration, and thank goodness management was listening.

A Fatal Switch?

She said that about a month ago the company switched long distance carriers to Vonage. And in doing so, it had lost or changed its caller I.D. in outbound calls. Not knowing who’s calling, many customers didn’t answer, she thought, and let the call go to voice mail. The room was silent as everyone realized she was probably right. Managers scurried off to see if the long distance carrier change date coincided with the drop in connect rate — and it did.

The moral of this story?

1. When it doubt, ask the person who does the job day in and day out.

2. Create an environment where your employees feel comfortable saying exactly what they think the problem, and/or solution, is.

3. Before your make a change to “save money,” know and understand all the ramifications.

I leave you with one big question: Do you know what your caller I.D. is when you make outbound calls?

Terence Jukes is president of B2B Direct Marketing Intelligence Inc., a strategic consultancy based in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., that services clients in the U.S., Canada, France, the U.K. and Germany. You can reach him at www.b2bdmi.com or (954) 566-4451.
Terence Jukes is president of B2B Direct Marketing Intelligence LLC, a strategic B2B direct marketing consultancy based in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., that services B2B catalog company clients in the U.S., Canada, France, the U.K. and Germany. You can reach him at tjukes @ b2bdmi.com or (954) 383-5221

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