What BBC3â²s The Call Centre tells us about the telemarketing industry | DMA

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What BBC3â²s The Call Centre tells us about the telemarketing industry

I’m glad I watched BBC3′s new telemarketing docusoap The Call Centre last night. The kids were over for TexMex and it was a chance for us to all perch on the edge of the sofa, with plates on our laps, and try not to drop food on the carpet.

Wow, the power of television.

As the story and its characters unfolded, it became clear there were divided opinions perched on the sofa. The marketing professional (me), the consumer (my wife) and young people (my kids).

As a marketing professional I initially took a dim view of the programme. I felt it played to all the stereotypes of a call centre – exactly how many consumers view our industry. Nev, the larger-than-life owner of the company, is somebody who’s clearly aware of Telephone Preference Service legislation but came across as someone who might not always adhere to best practice. His firm is not a member of the DMA, for example.

However, I admit my view was elitist and perhaps wrong. Truth is, Nev’s company is successful. It employs 700 people and contributes both to the local economy in Swansea as well as UK Plc.

And his staff love working there; it was ranked No. 2 in The Times 100 Best Companies in 2013.

But then the consumer spoke. The show confirmed all her prejudices about robotic call centre staff, painting their nails while dialling without appearing to care. Not a good advert for UK telemarketing.

Finally, the young people mumbled something. They thought Nev was a great boss and that call centres seem like a fun place to work – not the dull, dreary places they had been led to believe.

Twitter last night seemed to confirm their view. The show’s Twitter handle (@TheCallCentre) added 1,100 followers during the programme. Most of the tweets were from young people (the average age at Nev’s firm is 26 years) and 99% of them were positive. Some wanted to work there.

Will consumers recognise that one company cannot represent an entire industry? Unlikely. Will marketing professionals accept that Nev’s company is successful and not look down their noses at him? Probably not. Will more young people want a career in telemarketing? Yes, I think so.

Wow, the power of television.

Read here for some more good news about telemarketing.

By DMA guest blogger Graham Smith, member of the DMA Contact Centres & Telemarketing Council, marketing director of SCi Sales Group

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