Will digital replace direct customer contact?
Will digital fully replace direct customer contact? 4 years ago I would have said YES, within the next 4 years!
I am the director of a digital marketing firm called EMBR Group and we specialise in lead generation for many highly competitive B2C industries such as life insurers, energy providers, Telco’s, education and financial services.
All ‘digital jargon’ aside, we generate leads online for call centres to follow up and sell their company’s products and services.
After studying economics and politics for 3 years and beginning a career in government, I lost my job in mid-GFC government department redundancies. I was young, highly qualified and unemployed, which desperately led me to the beginning of my journey into marketing. Not the glamorous high-flyer, penthouse office, ‘Netflix-Mad Men’ marketing either. I stumbled upon a casual role which was artfully advertised as ‘marketing assistant’, which turned out to be a casual job cold calling the white pages for a low brow investment property group. All degree, qualifications and ego aside, I took the job. I was desperate.
I could work cold calling down to a science: Make 100 phone calls, speak to 10 people, get abused by 5, get fobbed off by 2 of them, have meaningful conversations with 3 of them, get rejected by 1, have 1 not qualify and sell to the 1. It was clockwork. And it still works today in 2017.
Now I am on the other side of the equation, trying to make other contact center agent’s jobs easier by providing them with quality leads and calling data to reduce that science down by smart pre-targetting and analytics to reduce the labour time involved with that science.
I hear all the time from my clients ‘oh well soon what you do will make our call center redundant right?’ I think some are half expecting me to present a brand new solution or provide them some comfort that one day they will not be paying the wages of their 40 person call center. Like some ‘artificially intelligent magic cloud’ is going to take care of all their sales for them…
Earlier on in my career I have to say that I did also believe that the digital channel was going to be doing exactly that, eliminating the human element from direct marketing.
However, the more I work closely with my clients the more I realise it’s a partnership that is probably going to be together for a lot longer than we thought.
Clients of ours that are heavily utilising the very best that marketing automation platforms, drip programs and nurture campaigns have to offer (over direct human touch) are NOT converting the leads that we provide to them best.
On the other hand, clients that opt for the ‘ring’em as soon as we get’em’ lead generation models with highly tuned, well trained and motivated contact centers are leading the way, lead-conversion-wise.
Clients who utilize both the full suit of marketing automation, combined with well executed and planned direct telephone contact, are performing leaps and bounds above both spectrums respectively.
The digital and human union in direct marketing may very well live forever, and this coming from a sub-30 year old marketing hipster who works in digital marketing.Long live contact centers and the human touch!