Telemarketing can be annoying, but only when itâs not relevant | DMA

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Telemarketing can be annoying, but only when itâs not relevant

There’s been much press coverage about consumers becoming increasingly annoyed with telemarketing at home. Headlines in the Daily Mail stating “Silent ‘sales calls’ to home phones double in one year” have prompted Ofcom to develop an action plan to tackle nuisance calls.

Another consequence of this heightened awareness is an increase in TPS registrations. TPS is the Telephone Preference Service, basically a ‘do not call’ list of consumer telephone numbers.

TPS now contains almost 18.5m consumer telephone numbers, and calling any of these numbers can result in huge fines – as high as £500,000 (paid by the client, not the telemarketing company).

Clients could be forgiven for thinking that telemarketing is an unpopular marketing channel, but the headlines and figures are misleading.

Approximately 40% of the complaints received by TPS relate to telemarketing calls about PPI Claims. The way in which PPI Claims Management companies use telemarketing is a great example of where the real problem lies.

Companies buy lists of consumers who they have been told ‘opted-in’ to receive calls about PPI. The truth is that the consumers may have been ‘duped’ by firms claiming to be carrying out so-called research. One of the questions they will be asked relates to PPI, and answering it qualifies them to receive numerous telemarketing calls about a potential claim.

So the real issue is not the call, but the quality of the data.

Good data ensures any direct marketing campaign delivers a relevant message that interests your target audience. A relevant email will be as warmly received as a relevant telemarketing call; by contrast, an irrelevant email will be rejected in the same way as an irrelevant telesales call.

Let’s not forget that many people have benefited from PPI Claims. The Financial Ombudsman Service is currently receiving 400 claims per hour, and 7 out of 10 claims are compensated.

Consumers receive on average £2,750 in compensation, so it’s unlikely that these individuals will be complaining about the telemarketing call they received at home (because it was relevant and beneficial).

(It’s also worth noting that PPI, correctly sold under the rules set by the FSA and Competition Commission, can provide valuable income protection against accidents, sickness or involuntary unemployment.)

The DMA and the industry need to look at ways to tighten-up on how so-called research is used to build target lists, as this well help reduce the number of irrelevant calls. Combined with greater activity from the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO), Ofcom, The Office of Fair Trading (OFT) and The Ministry of Justice, our industry could finally make many nuisance calls a thing of the past.

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