|Your most important
customer is the one you have in front of you right now.
Lauderbaugh & Associates
"Telemarketing: How to Gather
the Data You Need over the Phone"
by JJ Lauderbaugh, CMC
Reprinted with permission from The Cowles/Simba Report on Database
Think about all the employees within your firm who have direct contact in some way with
your customers and prospects. Now think about the tools and methods they use to
communicate with those people. How much of that contact is conducted over the telephone?
100%? 80%? 60%?
Now ask yourself the following questions: Do we know everything we want to know about our
customers? Is there a piece of lifestyle information or historical data that, if on file,
would help us market to our audience more efficiently? What's the quickest, easiest and
least expensive way of finding that information?
The answer? The telephone. Now don't start counting budget dollars in your head. I'm not
talking about launching a whole new project or hiring a new vendor. I'm referring to how
you can maximize the value of each phone call that's already being made or received with
just one or two more questions.
Take for instance, a catalog order department. After having received an order or handled a
problem, they can ask for data the company will need for its followup marketing campaigns,
such as how many children they have, their ages, or what types of gifts they regularly
purchase for special occasions.
To segue to the questions, the rep could say, "by the way, how many children do you
have?" Then listen for the answer and follow with, "and what are their
ages?" Caring, concerned and genuinely interested reps should be able to obtain the
extra information the company desires. Once the communication has been established,
the customer will most likely feel comfortable enough and be willing to offer this
Now think of a representative from a computer software company's technical support
hotline. After solving a customer's problem, the technician might ask questions like,
"How old is your computer? When do you plan to purchase again or upgrade?" and
"Is anyone in the home using the computer besides yourself?" The key is to think
beyond employees' normal roles.
This out-of-the-box thinking could be extended to insurance claims adjusters, investment
brokers, bank tellers, credit and collections personnel and any employees that have
contact with customers and prospects.
RESPECTING THE RELATIONSHIP
It's important to prepare the information in advance and know
approximately how many minutes the questions will take. Keep the questions short and limit
them to two or three per call. Work to stay within the predetermined time that you
estimate it to take, and sincerely thank customers for the information.
In each situation, the rep must listen carefully to the customer's tone and verbiage for
the right openings and cues that will help build a rapport with the customer and create
the image of someone who can be trusted with their personal information.
Too often, opportunities for relationship building are missed when the rep
does not listen and respond to what the customer states in his or her first sentence about
why he or she is calling.
Obtaining information on personal subjects or sensitive areas such as race, income, age
and number of people working for a customer can be difficult. Give them broad category
options in which to place their answers so they will feel comfortable. Ask only the number
of questions that are necessary to follow through with company marketing plans and refrain
from gathering unnecessary data that will not be used in the near future.
This technique also can be used by outbound telemarketers whose main purpose is to make a
sale or generate a lead. Once a sale is closed, most customers will be responsive to a few
quick questions. Remember to give your reps adequate training, including role playing.
They will find it easer to collect the essential data and also create a more positive
image for your company.
* Listen carefully to his or her tone and verbiage for the
right openings and cues that will help build a rapport and
create the image of someone who can be trusted with their personal information.
* Give customers broad category options in which to place their answers so they will feel
* Ask only the number of questions that are necessary to
follow through with company marketing plans.
* Refrain from gathering unnecessary data that will not be
used in the near future.
Source: Cowles/Simba Information and JJ Lauderbaugh.
1997 - 2012
JJ Lauderbaugh, CMC
JJ Lauderbaugh is an international speaker, trainer and
who specializes in customer service management.
JJ may be reached at:
Phone (408) 445-1590