Pity the poor telemarketers. Starting today, these companies that would normally use computers to dial the masses instead must avoid connecting to one of 30 million telephone numbers listed in the Federal Trade Commission’s National Do Not Call Registry. Violators risk fines. So, it would appear, you dine in peace.
Well, not exactly. Telemarketers have been investing in CRM and other applications to help them navigate the list of government rules so that they can connect with eligible consumers. (For example, a company may contact customers for 18 months after a purchase.)
Aegis Communications Group, an outsourcer that operates 12 telemarketing and customer service call centers, has spent $1.8 million since 2000 to replace its homegrown software with PeopleSoft applications. Aegis plans to convert half of its 5,100 agents to the software by next year.
Gaye Weinberger, senior vice president of business requirements, says the investments will make Aegis compliant with the Do Not Call list and trickier-to-manage rules, such as limits on the use of automated dialing software. Aegis, which saw its revenue cut by almost half between 2000 and 2002 (when it hit $135.9 million), wants to use the systems to better analyze data about existing and potential customers.
The Direct Marketing Association, which is battling the Do Not Call rules in court, expects more efforts like this, says spokesman Jim Conway. “A common thread running through the preparations of our members is the realization of the increased value of the [existing] customer relationship,” he says.