Tag Archives: telemarketing

Do not disturb (but only when it’s convenient for you)

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With the Toronto Mayoral election upon me today and two major candidates fighting for the lead (George Smitherman and Rob Ford), I came to appreciate just how important our Do Not Call list is. This is a list people can add their phone number to which tells telemarketers not to call them. If a telemarketer phones a number on the list, there will be penalties for the company. Market researchers, social researchers, and political pollsters have been granted special permissions which allow them to call numbers on that list without penalty.

And that brings me to this past weekend and the impending political vote. I received over ten phone calls from people “hoping to count on my support.” A couple of calls were real people but most were automated calls that droned on and on filling up my answering machine. A couple of calls were negative campaigns but most seemed to be professional. I have to say most because I turned down the volume of my phone and stopped listening to them once I realized what was happening.

I have full respect for the political process and urge everyone to vote (or spoil their ballot) in every election that they are eligible to vote in. But boy, did I take a second ponder at that Do Not Call list. If I didn’t put my name on the list, how much phone spam would I receive?

Which brings me to my real point. Social media research of course. Jeffrey Henning of Vovici tweeted me this weekend to ask my opinion about groups that are password protected but can be instantly accessed by anyone as soon as they create a password. I immediately thought of the Do Not Call list.

Both systems are examples of lists that are easy to sign up for and easy to ignore. I CAN call someone on a Do Not Call list. I know they don’t want to talk to me but their phone number isn’t physically broken. I CAN sign up for a password to a forum and receive instant access but I know the password means this information is not for public consumption. I CAN ignore people’s polite attempts to tell me that I’m not wanted but I can usually take a hint.

Just because you CAN doesn’t mean you should. What do you think?

Why do marketing research surveys always ask you to buy stuff?

If you get right down to it, marketing research surveys are trying to discover what makes people more likely to purchase some products over other products. The surveys ask questions about you, including your age and gender, to find out which ages and genders like some products more than others and consequently which ages and genders are more likely to buy those products. They ask you what colour or flavour or size of product you like the best so they can, in effect, make more of that colour/flavour/size and less of others. This is a great way to make sure what you see in the store is actually stuff you’re interested in and not just 8 tracks and beta VCRs.
Unfortunately, there is one question that often catches people off guard. Researchers call it “the purchase intent question.” Here is an example of that question:
The question might also be phrased as “Using a scale from ‘Definitely will buy’ to ‘Definitely will not buy’, how likely are you to purchase this product?” The question might even be followed up with “When do you plan to purchase it” and “How many do you plan to purchase”. I’m sure a lot of client facing researchers would be surprised to hear that research companies receive a lot of complaints about these questions; surprised, because the complaint is so familiar to the communications team that they don’t even report those complaints to the client service team. Why the complaints? Some survey participants feel that this question is indirectly pressuring them to purchase the product. Some people feel that by answering ‘probably will buy,’ they are obligated to go and purchase the product. The researcher, of course, knows this isn’t the intent of the question, but researchers, forgive me, have forgotten how to be people, and are often blind to this interpretation.
To our faithful survey participants, please know that the purchase intent question really is just an inquiry. We really are just curious to know if you think you might buy it. Whether you do or don’t is up to you so don’t feel obligated to follow through on your survey response. You can change your mind!
Happy survey responding!

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