How to know when not to call


  • Telesales calls are very rarely well-received; this is especially so when the recipient is trying to cope with a natural disaster or other tragic circumstances.
  • In the US ContactRelief has devised a means of advising contact centres when it would be highly unwise to call consumers in areas that might be affected by natural disasters, or other adverse conditions.

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Outbound telesales calling is a practice widely used by commercial organisations and charities alike. One of the challenges of the practice, however, is that the called party is rarely excited to receive the cold call. More often than not, they’re pretty cheesed off instead about the uninvited intrusion into their life, which may have come at an inconvenient time, or worse.

It is of course quite impossible for the teleselling caller to have any insight into the circumstances of an individual target, but, in the US at least, help is now at hand enabling outbound callers to ascertain when it might not be good time to call larger groupings of potential customers.

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ContactRelief, a start-up based in Houston Texas, has launched what it claims to be the first disaster decision service for contact centres. ContactRelief monitors for adverse events such as hurricanes, floods, tornadoes, earthquakes, and other man-made and natural disasters. Then, using a set of “specially designed rules”, it recommends when and to what areas contact centres should suspend – and ultimately restart– contact with consumers.

ContactRelief CEO Mike Chandler claims that companies using the product “can demonstrate their compassion to consumers in times of disaster and enhance their brand image while optimising calling efficiency and avoiding compliance risk concerns.”

The company claims to have invested thousands of hours in design and programming, and says its software “recommends proactive ways for you to help consumers in need before and after the disaster.”

It says it has “brought together a group of industry experts to define how we evaluate disaster conditions and make the appropriate recommendations,” and is “always on top of things because [we monitor] not just the weather but disaster declarations, recovery efforts, and many other information sources.”

ContactRelief has brought together a group of industry experts to define how it evaluates disaster conditions and makes the appropriate recommendations.

The company should certainly know a thing or two about the problems of making unwelcome calls. Its senior staff are the owners of a company whose calls would never be welcome: United Recovery Systems is “one of the largest privately held account receivables management companies in the United States.”

That’s a polite way of saying ‘debt collection’. Co-founder and chairman Doug Shultz is claimed to have “led the development of one of the first call suspension programs in the debt collection industry,” back in 1992.

Unfortunately for Australia, however, the business model is not that easily exportable: it would require considerable investment to build up a database of a country or region and to interface to every source of information about disasters.

So for the foreseeable future, Australian organisations will just have to rely on keeping up with the news and using common sense.


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