Telemarketing, service recovery, call centre management and customer perceptions: HRV as an example of how not to do it (May 2011)

Telemarketing, service recovery, call centre management and customer perceptions: HRV as an example of how not to do it (May 2011).

By Jeff Marriott (May 2011)

We have all experienced telemarketing, and there are a number of views of this practice. Some view it as an invasion of privacy as unsolicited phone calls are made in regard to a product that a person may have already investigated and decided not to purchase. Some may view it as a means of creating new customers and providing information of products that the potential customer has not been aware of. Whichever view is taken the decision to engage in telemarketing should not be taken lightly and approaches to people in their own homes needs to be handled carefully.

Given that this practice involves contacting what the marketing company hopes or expects will be a customer it would be expected that care would be taken not cause offence or upset. But does the call centre consider this when making the calls.

The telemarketing calls are usually made a time of night when families are either trying to have meals together, enjoy some relaxation or other personal time. And therefore the receptivity of the potential customer may be at a low tolerance level, again highlighting the need for consideration and sensitivity.

The distracting noise in the background from the call centre and the obvious pressure the phone operative is under make it difficult for them to actually display the necessary care.

An issue that is of personal interest is that of a company that makes repeated calls over a considerable time period of say two or three years. Over this time period our family has received numerous calls from HRV trying to sell a product which in my opinion is a complete waste of money.

Let me provide some background as to why this is an unnecessary product. In the past a sales representative (who may have been from a competing company) visited our house trying to sell the ceiling ventilation system. The sales representative stressed the fact that most NZ houses were damp and that ours would be and therefore needed the system to reduce moisture levels. The flaw in the argument was that when the representative produced his moisture measuring gadget he could not find any moisture in our home, not under couches, nor under squabs. We therefore feel confident that the roof space systems are not necessary in our house. I also have a technical objection in that insulation companies will tell us that the majority of heat passes through the ceiling into the roof cavity in winter, the time when we would want to collect the heat that companies such as HRV claim we are wasting and should pump through our homes. But thermodynamics tells us that heat passes from the hotter area to the colder area, so the roof space when you want the heat is colder than the room you want to heat.

So I ask myself would I want to pump the heat in summer, the answer is no. Would I want to pump the cold in winter, the answer is again no. So to me the only advantage of this system is for a house that is damp. But such houses are probably shut tight to prevent air flow, and the ceiling air is pumped to create the airflow needed to maintain the dryness. One thing the representative informed us was that for the system to work a window or some other opening has to be available to allow the air to be pumped through or too much pressure is built up. That is an airtight house cannot have a ceiling recovery system.

To return to HRV. As stated previously this company, or its representatives, have been calling our house for two to three years on an almost monthly basis. It is getting to the harassment situation. And this is for a product, as indicated above, we have already decided is not necessary. We have informed this company on numerous occasions to remove us from the calling list, obviously to no avail. Finally last night I asked the caller to pass me to a supervisor.

When I informed the supervisor I was “p@##$% off” with his company as I have asked to be removed from the phone list, I was informed he “did not care”. And that he was new to the company.

In an email to HRV I have suggested that this person should not be long with the company, if that is his attitude.

It is this attitude that brings me to the reason for this blogg.

In my mind is the following series of questions that I wish to expose to the world.

1. If the call centre does not care, what other parts of the company do not care?

2. Does the sales rep, determining the system, care they are offering the correct one?

3. Does the installer care if they install it correctly?

4. Does the billing clerk care if they incorrectly charge?

5. Does the carrier care if they deliver on time as agreed with the customer?

6. If service is needed will the service operative care they do the proper service?

7. Does the product meet the claims made by the company, or do they not care about product quality?

All of these relate back to the opening statement. This has resulted in a service recovery situation. Albeit initiated with a person who would not be a customer. Now potential customers have been warned of possible issues with this company.

Of interest is who owns the call centre involved?

If it is a contract service to HRV, they have created an issue for their customer. Their behaviour has caused a potential loss of sales and so the call centre has a service recovery exercise on its hands. If it is owned by HRV, then HRV has an internal issue of quality management and training to consider.

Regardless of the ownership of the call centre, HRV now is, or should be, rectifying a situation that should not have been created.

Final questions:

1. Is telemarketing harassment?

2. How can this be prevented?

3. Should companies make greater efforts to make sure requests to remove numbers from call lists.

4. How can companies manage call centres and telemarketing responsibly?

5. Why would a company that has been told to remove a contact form the list not do so/

6. Why would a company that has been told on numerous occasions that their product is not going to be purchased want to waste the time of its call centre staff in recontacting that person?

By Jeff Marriott (May 2011)

Programme Leader for: NZ Diploma in Business and GDipBus Business

Department of Management & Marketing, Faculty of Creative Industries & Business

Unitec Institute of Technology

Building 172 Room 3027, Phone: +649 815 4321 ext 8131, Fax: +649 815 4182

Unitec Institute of Technology

Private Bag 92025

Victoria Street West

Auckland 1142

New Zealand

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