Magazine article Marketing

Dial Direct for Marketing

Magazine article Marketing

Dial Direct for Marketing

Article excerpt

Telemarketing is enjoying phenomenal growth as the use of 0800 and 0345 numbers increases.

Eighteen million phone calls are made in the UK every day, proof that most people are as relaxed about using the telephone as they are about writing a letter -- if not more so. How many of these calls relate to telemarketing is a matter for conjecture, but BT forecasts a 50% growth this year in the use of freephone 0800 and local rate 0345 numbers.

Telecommunications consultant and director of Calcom Associates Natalie Calvert points to how telemarketing activity has been swollen by new market sectors, from direct banking and insurance to consumer goods customer helplines. "New technology has provided an invaluable contribution to growth via the database, automated voice response and power-diallers," she says.

Nevertheless, Calvert contends that the telephone's basic strength in marketing remains one person speaking to another.

There is an ever-widening spread of in-house tele-centres established by companies. Some go it alone, but most employ the services of telemarketing agencies and consultancies in set-up, recruiting and training. Others continue to use agencies for a total service, acting as extensions of their own sales, marketing and customer services departments.

Elizabeth Taylor, head of consulting of the Programmes agency, says there is also a middle ground of facilities management. An example is Lombard Bank, where the agency has provided a full-time, in-house telemarketing manager pending the recruitment of a staff executive.

The case studies below demonstrate some of the current permutations of telemarketing in action.

Citroen fleet sets sail

The fleet market is a vital one for car manufacturers. Citroen handles this through area fleet managers dealing with key accounts and a network of 80 fleet and business user centres. But there were missing links.

One of these was a means of dealing efficiently with requests for information in a manner convenient to customers and prospects. Another was a coordinated method of prospecting new customers, particularly among smaller business.

The answer was Citroen Fleet Connect, established at the beginning of this year to provide a one-number point of communication. This is operated by the EWA agency, a subsidiary of WPP. Its role is to respond to inbound enquiries generated by targeted direct mail and advertising, to handle mailings and fulfilment, and to initiate outbound telemarketing to build and update the fleet market database.

"The reason we went with EWA was that it was able to offer a range of services integral to the programme," says Citroen national fleet sales manager Ken Forbes. "It was this comprehensiveness that made it attractive."

EWA's Citroen-dedicated team of seven, headed by account director Dan Conti, has received specific training on the company's products, including information on all the most commonly requested areas. This encompasses such questions as the tax implications of company cars, operating costs, where to obtain test drives, vehicle specifications, diesel-versus-petrol power and residual values of cars.

Conti explains: "What we are trying to do, especially with inbound calls, is impose a standard of quality and service that will make Citroen stand out in the fleet market. It is important that our team carries through the Citroen culture and ethos in its telephone conversations."

Citroen Fleet Connect aims to supplement other sales and marketing activities. "It in no way replaces meetings with key customers," Forbes emphasises.

He adds: "Having a dedicated team is extremely important. They understand our customers' requirements and effectively work for Citroen."

The total of inbound and outbound calls is about 1500 per month and Forbes expresses delight with the feedback received.

"Results are difficult to quantify," he admits. …

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