Monday, 21 March 2011

There's no such thing as a courtesy call

You know, the world of voice over is a joy for me. I get to ‘become’ a vast spectrum of people - from the simple narration of a radio commercial about a local garage to the voice of a talking carpet, my days can get pretty interesting.

One thing my skills as a talker has helped me with is a career in sales. To be fair, really good sales people listen much more than they talk, but when the chance to speak does present itself, it’s important that they think just as much about what they say, as how they’re saying it. The problem I find with a lot of telesales people is that they don’t possess this skill - they’re usually reading from a script and are poised for one of the two responses that you can give them - either that you are interested, or some reason that you’re not. Either way, if there’s one thing that aggravates more even more than having my evening kebab interrupted, it’s people that flat out LIE.

Best example? “Good evening Mr Rose, I’m calling from insert faceless call centre here and it’s just a quick courtesy call to...........” Now the dots aren’t there to act as an ‘etc’ or an ‘and so on’, no, they’re there because once I hear the words ‘courtesy call’ then all I hear after that is white noise. Give me an extra couple of seconds and my brain will actually start playing reruns of iconic TV shows from the eighties just to stop me lapsing into a coma. It’s sad really, because on reflection, Knight Rider really was rather weak.

Let’s take a look at why this happens, ideally without the use of an MRI to understand my brain. It happens because I don’t understand how any company with whom I have never done business would want to call me simply out of courtesy. It would make a nice world wouldn’t it? “Good afternoon Mr Rose, just calling to say hello and see how you are, no other agenda whatsoever”. Wake up genius, it’s not going to happen.

Courtesy calls are only real when you’ve recently given someone some business and they’re calling to thank you and ask you how you rated the service. Even then, they’re not so much courtesy calls as they are survey calls, but we let them slide because if we were happy, then we’ve no reason to shut them out and if we weren’t, well we all love a good moan don’t we?

All these other courtesy calls are sales calls, so why not just be honest about it? Don’t call to tell me I’ve won a prize in a competition I didn’t even enter. Don’t tell me that my home has been selected for a free conservatory before you’ve established that I live in a flat on the first floor (I don’t any more, that that actually happened), and don’t tell me that you’ve got ‘people in my area’ when we both know that they’ll be in my area just as soon as I agree to an appointment.

What I just don’t get is why all these telesales people are trained in believing that their target customers are all complete idiots. It’s like they just don’t even want to try any more - a cheery disposition and a slick script is only going to work on the thinnest slice of the population, so why bother using it?

Just level with people - “Good evening Mr Rose, I’m calling on behalf of XYZ and I wanted to take a few moments of your time to see if we can be of any help to you with regard to life insurance”. Crisp, polite and to the point, that person will not get the phone slammed down. They will get told that I already have an insurance broker, but I will not feel as though my time was robbed from me by some liar in a call centre.

If you don’t think that the truth works, then I encourage you to watch the Dudley Moore film ‘Crazy People’. Yes it is a work of fiction, but it’s always touched a nerve with me, and if you know the film, I’m sure by now you will be able to see why.

Have a good and honest day.

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