How To Deal With Difficult Customers As A Telefundraiser.
How Bad Is Telemarketing?
We all know about telemarketing - the phone rings and it's another salesperson asking us to buy solar panels, PPI or asking if we think we're entitled to compensation for an accident we weren't even aware we had. It gets frustrating to keep hearing the same old garbage, and to keep having to say "No, I'm sorry, I'm not interested". After all, you'd think they get the hint after the first time, right?
Sadly this isn't always the case. The biggest problem is data. In essence, telemarketers work from a database. This database has all the numbers for a specific area or - in the case of fundraising - the whole of the UK. Every company has their own database, and just because you are removed from one doesn't mean you're removed from all. This means that you can be removed from the Virgin Media database, for example, but would still be on the Three database.
The biggest problem most of us have with telemarketers is the way they pitch - quick, aggressive pitches designed to "hook" us in and make us believe that we need this product or we need to claim compensation. The main problem I have with this method of pitching is precisely that - it's too aggressive and too off-putting for clients.
How To Deal With Difficult Customers.
Now, obviously telemarketing can be a pain if you're on the receiving end, but it can also be a pain for those making the call. Some customers can be rude, insulting and downright abusive, which makes their job just that little bit harder. Speaking as a former telemarketer (fundraising), I can say that there is nothing more disheartening than being called a "scrounger" or a "f***ing nuisance" by someone you have never, and will never, meet.
The trick with this is to remember that it's not personal. That angry man you've just had a ton of abuse from might have had 4 calls already from other companies. He might have had a rough week. I'm not saying that excuses the behaviour, but it can go a long way towards helping your state of mind. The other thing to remember is that if you can make a joke out of the behaviour later, that also helps. I had one lady who was so posh that her insults just made me laugh - I wasn't offended because I was laughing so much at her accent! Obviously I didn't laugh while on the phone - that's simply bad manners, after all - but I did have a good giggle later on!
Of course, you need to have a thick skin to work in telesales and being one of those people who gets offended at every tiny thing you hear is not going to help. I was recently accused by a friend of being "easy to break emotionally" and I simply replied with "Go on then. I dare you". Now this is not because I'm a tough cookie, but because I've dealt with difficult customers. I've heard the woman screaming at her husband to "Get off the phone", or the carer who thinks I'm out to swindle money from her client. I've explained myself until I'm hoarse, only to be told that I won't be getting money after all. I've dealt with just about every single kind of human being, and it toughens you up very quickly.
In life, you will meet the very dregs of human society. In telesales, you end up talking to them 90% of the time. There are people who will make you want to cry, and there are people who will restore your faith in humanity. The saddest thing for me, however, is realising that it's those with little to no money who will donate - and those who have all the money they could wish for who often refuse. As an example - a genuine example at that - I spoke to a man who was a very well-off banker. I was asking for £2 a week - so £10 a month in a 5-week month, and he refused. The very next call was a woman who was on a meagre pension, with very little support, and she signed up immediately.
All I can say to those telemarketers out there is this: remember it's not personal, and remember to laugh. For all those receiving that oh-so-annoying phone call, remember this: telemarketers have targets to hit and money to earn. It's not their fault you've received six calls already, and it's not their fault that you're on the database. They simply dial the numbers.