Why Courtesy Calls are a Complete Lie

You know, a good sales person needs a good opening line, but it’s not what they say, it’s how they say it. Face it, if some bloke calls me up in the middle of dinner to tell me I’ve won a free holiday with all the enthusiasm of a balloon with a hole in it, then I’ll very quickly switch off.

The problem with our call centre society is that the people calling us don’t actually care. These poor telephonic automatons are only slightly more incentivised than the machine that’s called to tell you about claiming your PPI. And sadly, much like them, you’re not a human being – you’re a number, passing through the never ending conveyer belt of crap that is telesales. You know, there really are days when you just want to reach for the bottle…….and then smash it over someone’s head.

I feel bad for the newbies, thrown into a cubicle with a script and a list of numbers, they genuinely believe that they’re about to make a difference, yet chances are that all of that enthusiasm will be gone within the hour. I imagine the response of “Why I’m so glad you called, please do tell me more” almost never happens. Unless you really want to wind them up, which can often bring a little bit of sunshine to the end of a long day. Go on – try it, it’ll make you smile.

I had a terrible caller the other day. “I’m calling from Kitchens Whatever, we’re doing free quotes in your area if you’re interested.” No thanks. Length of call, 10 seconds and have a pleasant evening. Sure, it may have been rubbish but it was quick. However, it’s not those calls that I want to talk about. No, I want to talk about the calls that open with what can only be described as complete bullshit.

Best example? “Good evening Mr Rose, I’m calling from insert faceless call centre here and it’s just a quick courtesy call to………..” Now the dots aren’t there to act as an ‘etc’ – they’re there to illustrate the noise I hear just as soon as I hear the words ‘courtesy call’ – think of it as white noise. Give me an extra couple of seconds and my brain will actually start playing reruns of iconic TV shows from the 1980s just to stop me lapsing into a coma. It’s sad really, because on reflection, Knight Rider really was rather weak.

Why the cynicism you ask? It’s simply because I don’t understand how any company with whom I have never done business would want to call me simply out of courtesy. It would make for a nice world wouldn’t it? “Good evening Mr Rose, just calling to say hello and see how your day was”. That would be interesting – and entirely implausible.

All these so called courtesy calls are sales calls, so why not just be honest about it? Don’t call to tell me I’ve won a competition I didn’t even enter. Don’t tell me you’ve got people in my area because frankly that’s a little creepy and don’t tell me that I’ve been exclusively selected for something when I know you’re making the same call to at least 100 people that day.

Are there still sales managers out there who believe that these scripts are effective? Granted they may work on a small percentage of the population but surely those numbers aren’t worth it? Why not just be honest, tell me that you’re calling about extending a warranty on my fridge – I don’t mind. If I need your services, I’ll listen and if not, we’ll part company and you’ll never think of me again.