Monday 20 August 2007

Polls, polls and more polls

I'm a lucky munchkin.

It's been almost 4 months into the unofficial election campaigns, both Federal and Local, and I've not received one telephone call from a pollster. Not one. Zip. I removed my details from the directory a while back (and got charged $2.95/month to do this. Thanks Telstra). However, it is a pleasant environment now. I used to get at least 4 or 5 calls a week or more, from all Tom Codley.

I still get some at the office, and they immediately burst into a pre-written script, without any courtesy to see if a) I'm interested, b) have time to listen. When I did get calls at home, I used to first acknowledge them, and say "yeah, ok", then place the telephone under a cushion and go about my work. It usually took them a good few minutes before they realised that there was no one listening to their sell sell sell.

Under our new Do Not Call Register Act 2006, telemarketers have to check their calling lists against the Do Not Call Register. If a telemarketer calls a number on the Register, they may be in breach of the Act, and face penalties. You can register your number here:-

Whilst I strongly disagree, certain "public interest" organisations are still allowed to make specific types of telemarketing calls to phone numbers listed on the Register. Almost makes a mockery of the Act. The Government says that exemptions exist to ensure that these organisations and individuals can continue to provide services to the community. This means that the politicians and religious nutters can still piss you off with unwanted calls, and there's little you can do about it:-

  • charities or charitable institutions
  • educational institutions
  • religious organisations
  • government bodies
  • registered political parties
  • independent members of parliament
  • political candidates
  • Market and social researchers

Researchers are still be permitted to call when conducting opinion polling and standard questionnaire-based research. These calls are subject to the industry standard for telemarketing and research calls.

Just think, Alexander Bell invented the telephone in 1876, so if you were around in March of 1874, you could have had a bath, undisturbed for a year and a half!

Actually, I have worked as a Telstra dealer in a past life, serving remote communities through Cape York, and it was very satisfying bringing telecommunications and a face to folk who often got forgotten living in the wop wops. Remember when business used to be face-to-face? Nowadays we're discouraged to go into our local bank and do it all online. I do like the choice, but please don't change me extra for over-the-counter service.

Talking of all things telephony, last week, Hannah King was trying to call British Telecom and was left waiting on the telephone for 20 hours! For eight hours in a row, she endured the sound of on-hold music, then gave up and tried again the next day - and waited another eight hours. I don't really know who is more stupid, honestly.

I have to share with you one of my favorite Telstra call centre jokes. It was done a few years ago now by Mike Carlton at 2UE Sydney. Telstra doesn't run any call centres outside of Australia, however there was a perception that they did as a lot of large business were out sourcing this task to India. And we all know how much we get frustrated when an operator can't understand us. It's not a racist thing at all.

The other pet hate, and I'm not alone in this, is when businesses (Optus and Telstra employ this) answer your call with the voice-activated system. You have to speak your question to a series of computer-prompted leads. This process usually takes around 5 minutes, and we often get into a war of not understanding each other. My mate Richard was getting a new fixed line installed at his new apartment today, and telephoned Optus. It was an excruciating experience and in the end he lost it and they lost the sale.

When will companies learn that a person answering the phone would gain them a better reputation, and undoubtedly, customer loyalty?

As far as telemarketers go, this old duck must win an award for fighting back an unwanted telemarketing call, and the caller was so calm in the barrage of assaults!

My good friend and past conspirator David Farrar, of KiwiBlog fame (New Zealand's most read blog at half a million hits a month), runs Curia, and believes polling is an art, as well as a science. A grand claim, but an admirable one. I used to do political polling with David, amongst other naughty political escapades. More on that another time. We knew the most essential aspect to any poll is taking the time to understand the key drivers for clients, and ensuring the person gives permission to continue. You know, common courtesy. How many telemarketers actually ask you if they can take up some minutes of your time?

Finally, I'll leave you with a true classic. This guy sorted out the CitiBank telemarketer with reverse psychology. You'll need a free You Tube account, as this clip it requires age verification.

Next time the phone goes at your place, it won't be me calling.


peterquixote said...

this is very interesting, to get your name off published ectectoral list published here you have to have a bloody good excuse,
molestation evidence and bla bla i only looked it up because we have this thing called Baycorp credit company will ruin your life if you let them,

Anonymous said...

Just hang up on the telemarketers. They have a bloody damned nerve.