I'm sitting at my home this past week when the phone rings around 4:30 pm. I pick up to find a representative from a company to which I pay a monthly amount in excess of $200. (Let's call him Marty from XYZ Cable here, although both are pseudonyms.)
Marty's all too happy to tell me about a brand new special that XYZ is offering its customers. (In an era of incessant social media and pervasive communications, it's oddly comforting to know that good old-fashioned cold calling still exists.)
What exactly do you buy from us again?
Astonishingly, Marty doesn't even know which products and services I currently buy from XYZ each month. Now, XYZ's billing systems seem to work; the company doesn't give me a free ride on my monthly charges. The company is very prompt about charging my credit card.
So why is Marty in the dark?
I can only conclude that XYZ management has, in its infinite wisdom, seen fit to deny Marty access to the very data that would made his job easier - and the jobs of countless other reps being forced to bother customers at home.
Contrast this type of old-school, intrusive, outbound marketing (without accurate data, to boot) with the recommendation-friendly, data-laden approach of companies like Amazon.com. As I wrote about in a recent post, there are very good reasons that most of the company's customers place a great deal of trust in it. I won't rehash them all here, but think for a minute about what Amazon doesn't do. In a nutshell, it doesn't call its customers and ask them what they've bought from the site.
I'm not too keen on cold calling. In fact, I'm a big believer in inbound marketing, as are many progressive organizations. If you insist on calling your current customers at random, though, at least give your employees the tools (read: the data) necessary to make the call potentially fruitful.
What say you?