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The Phone Side Shop

June 7, 2010

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I still remember the days, when the Landline made a scarce occurrence in Indian homes (leave alone Cell Phones) and STD PCOs made a killing. There used to be lines in front of STD booths when the rates were halved after 10 PM and people were content to wait for hours to talk to their near and dear. Then came the damned telecom revolution which started with Landlines in majority of homes and was hurriedly followed by the advent and price drop of mobile phones (Thank You Reliance for the 500 bucks phone, Grrrr) and now we see even the beggar sitting on the roadside sporting the once elusive cell phone. My intention behind narrating the history of telecom in India has a latent reason behind it and I will expose it here.

Its Saturday morning, clock is ticking 8 am. I am cozily lost in the wonderland of dreams, and suddenly my cell starts ringing. I try to search for the phone in my dream, but it seems my dream is taking shape in medieval period; when the telephones weren’t invented, this confuses me a little. The phone keeps ringing dragging me out of sleep and with droopy eyes I answer the phone and suddenly a female voice starts uttering 1000 words per minute in Telugu (presumably) and before I can stop her, she had already pitched me the Insurance plan for me and my family (which I understood because of some English usage in between) for the next 20 years. Then as I tell her that ‘I don’t know telugu’, she gives me a snapped ‘Tchh’ as if I have committed a crime by not knowing Telugu after being in Hyderabad for 2 years. Then with a dulled irritated pitch, she starts pitching the plan again; in the meantime I gather courage to interrupt her in between and tell her that I am not interested. So she says – ‘What sir!! Everybody needs Insurance, if you die, your family will have enough money to live happily.’ And I think – Wow!! The insurance firm is so thoughtful and considerate about my family, I am speechless 😉 As I say a final No, she keeps the phone and I know I would have got some expletives thrown at my back by the Call Centre girl.

You might have guessed that I am a tormented and terrorized prospect of the innumerable companies, who hire the higher secondary pass out teenagers in dozen to sell their products in the market. I don’t have a problem with that, not at all. But my problem starts when these agents call me at 12 noon on a weekday and ask me ‘Are you busy sir?’ Nooo, I busy, c’mon. My firm has hired me to spend 9 hours in office to entertain marketing calls and at the end of the day submit a detailed 30 page analysis of the effectiveness of the calls.  And what about the first law of marketing –‘Know your Customer’. My credit card company calls me and inquires –‘Sir Do you want a Platinum Credit card by our company?’ Idiots, if you had done a petty research and filtered out your own customers from the call list, wouldn’t it be more cost effective for you. But you like to irritate your acquired customers to have something which they already own, Gosh; you would have lost many customers because of this.

I understand the intellectual level of the call centre executives is not touching the Einstein mark, but then instead of by hearting the script, it would be very helpful for them to know something about the product. I have seen multiple times; till you let them rant out their pre learned pitch, they are Ok, and you shoot a counter question and 8 out of 10 times, I get a reply – ‘Sir will you hold for a minute, I will come back with the answer’. I am amazed sometimes by the companies who are compromising their brand image by entrusting there marketing with these bright individuals.

The more enthusiastic these call centre are when they are selling the product to you, proportionately their urge diminishes once you have bought their product and now it’s time for after sales service. I get one day late in paying the broadband bill and I get a duly reminder by a strange sounding guy – ‘Sir you need to pay the bill, you have passed due date else the connection might be interrupted’. But if I call the same people for a fault in the equipment, they will take days to even consider the problem. Marketing says – It is much more costly to acquire a new customer than to retain the old one. But I guess many companies still have to learn this theory.

In the end, the whole point is, something that is not done timely and with an appropriate schematic, falls flat on its face. The Phone marketing approach being used by the Indian companies is lacking on lot of areas, and if they don’t improve on it asap, it might spell doom for them as well. Train the call centre agents rigorously and make them identify with the product they are selling, make them aware of the basic etiquettes to be followed on a call. These things will go a long way in the product selling itself rather than force feeding it through the phone.

PS: I have been seeing an exponential increase in the crib posts in the last month, I should try to curb it now and maybe increase my outside social interaction to decrease my frustration, I guess 😉

10 Comments leave one →
  1. June 12, 2010 6:17 pm

    Engaging lecture, althoug it can be argued both sides. A bit like talking love spells in the heart of a meticulous paper.

  2. June 9, 2010 6:01 am

    Yeah, it’s good, very useful, thanks 🙂

  3. Vartika permalink
    June 8, 2010 10:23 pm

    I really liked the title though.. ‘Phone Side Shop’ it is!

  4. Vartika permalink
    June 8, 2010 10:22 pm

    Duly pointed out…I wonder when was the last time when my phone beeped and I checked it with excitement as to wondering who is remembering me on the other side…gone are those days.
    Forget about the calls…you atleast have a choice not to answer the unknown numbers..but the frequency with which the Companies target at me..flooding my inbox with the damn messages…I really have no escape but to sit down and delete atleast 10-15 messages at the end of the day..which shoots up to min..20-25 on a weekend!! PHEW!

    No matter how carefully you disclose your phone number..the Marketing teams for sure have all the means to extract the same. 😦

    • June 8, 2010 10:29 pm

      LOLz..I know Vartika, the flow of information has now gathered so much momentum, that you disclose your number to a bank as its mandatory and it goe to 100 other companies who buy the ‘Call Lists’ from the bank. Howsoever careful you be, they will get your number for sure 🙂

  5. June 8, 2010 11:36 am

    The number of irritating marketing calls we get daily, I sometimes think its better not to have a cell phone.

    Good to see two back-to-back posts within a week. You must be spending a good amount of time for this, I presume.

    • June 8, 2010 11:51 am

      Thanks Man..As the title of my Blog is ‘Verbosity’- it is mandatory for me to live up to that name, hence the frequency.. And i need just one hour max to come up with a post, so not much work i guess.

  6. delhizen permalink
    June 8, 2010 11:34 am

    The STD calls reminded me of my hostel days when we had to wait in a que before we got our turn to make a call. My mum back then was very strict and I had clear instructions- only one call a week unless an emergency (today she calls 5 times a day- I want my old mum back)

    As for these call centre guys are concerned- well I hate to be rude since I my work to involve cold calls at times but then the training standards in our country are so poor. If a credit card or a loan company calls me; I give a standard ans- I am not interested if I have to repay the money.

    And yes, cribbing at times is good- after a session it does give a feeling of relief

    PS: why are my comments always a short story length… will try to make them shorter next time!

    • June 8, 2010 11:58 am

      Ahh !! even i remember those days, but in my case it was calling naniji.. And thans for justifying my cribbing, it takes a load off for sure. And its ok, your short story atleast tells me that you have read the post completely 🙂

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