Corporate Social Responsibilities and unsolicited calls

I have argued in my earlier posts that businesses need to look at corporate social responsibility in a different manner. If every business takes care of its immediate stakeholders like customers, employees and vendors, I doubt if they would need to need to establish foundations as most companies end up doing.

While I was writing a chapter on “unsolicited calls” for my next book titled “Taking the buzz out of CRM,” I realized what mobile companies are making their stakeholders miserable as well as putting them through tremendous success. It should be noted that practically all the companies involved are supporting some social cause or the other.

Let me narrate to the plight of all of us. You are in an important meeting and guess what rings? Your cell phone. Like all of us you think that the call is important and you take it. Who do you think is calling? You can take your pick. It’s a telemarketing executive trying to sell you a credit card, a mobile phone connection, a club membership or someone trying to palm you off a loan that you don’t need. I don’t know about you but I get angry and frustrated. Sometimes I return missed call and guess who find at the other end. A telemarketing executive trying to sell me something or the other.

How do you react? It all depends on how your mood is that day, what kind of personality you have and the time of day. You can polite decline whatever is being offered or just disconnect the phone without even talking or start shouting at the caller or use a four-letter word to express your anger. You back to what you were doing after cursing the company on whose behalf the caller called or you curse the government for not doing enough to stop these companies from calling you.

All of us as customers are just fed with telemarketing executives of companies invading our privacy. Worst part is that we cannot do anything about it. Unsolicited marketing calls are becoming a serious problem. According to the Trai, over 10 billion unsolicited telemarketing calls are made in India every year.

Even Mukesh Ambani received a call from ICICI Bank for a home loan. When Mukesh narrated this story in a meeting where all the industry’s bigwigs were present including Mr. Kamath, CEO of ICICI Bank, everybody had a good laugh.

Let us see who all are adversely affected by this activity of primarily banks, credit card and mobile companies.

Unsolicited calls, the way they are made today, are stressful for both the caller and the receiver. According to Madhu Bhojwani. COO at EmmayHR Services.”Employees do suffer from high stress levels in the BPO sector due to erratic work hours, night shifts, irate customers and target pressure.” We can safely assume that lakhs of telemarketers are dealing with stress because of the negativity and rejection that they have to bear everyday. It is estimated that there are approximately 17,000 registered telemarketers in India employing more than 7,00,000 people. Banks, credit card and mobile companies are causing unprecedented stress to their employees just to earn extra profits.

As far as the stress caused to the receiver of unsolicited calls, you don’t have to talk to an expert because I have myself experienced stress. Practically all mobile and fixed telephone subscribers running into millions have received and are continuing to receive unsolicited calls everyday causing unnecessary stress.

The Supreme Court has stated that this activity is illegal. Do-not-call registries have been set-up but the subscribers continue to be carpet bombed with unsolicited calls by companies which are involved in CSR activities. Why are they doing it? Just to earn extra money.

If these companies adopted my definition of CSR and took care of their customers (those receiving unsolicited calls) and their employees (those making unsolicited calls) by using the technology in a proper manner, they would be adopting the greatest social cause of “heathy India.” Instead, they are creating a big problem and will spend the extra money earned on opening hospitals. I say to all banks and mobile companies, let CSR begin at home with our own employees and customers. As stated in my earlier post, if every business took care of its own stakeholders, there would not be any need for CSR.

What makes it worse is that a very effective solution is available but all these companies are taking the easy way out.

The solution lies in the CRM technology which these companies are using extensively. Let me explain with a simple example.

One day, I have received calls from Citibank 3 times. When I asked the caller why I was receiving so many calls from Citibank, she told me that there were three different calling centres with lists of telephone numbers to call. So it turns out that every call center was calling me once. There was no coordination between the centers. The answered really surprised me because technology allows you to make available all the information and interactions with a particular customer to everybody in the organization. Let us go back to the Citibank’s example I had discussed earlier. So when a CSR calls me and I disconnect the phone after getting to know who’s calling or tell the CSR that I am not interested in their products and services, a simple code can be mentioned in the system suggesting that no calls should be made to a particular number or that even if we have to call we should call only after a specified period. Now this will stop Citibank from not only irritating the customer but also in saving them money which they waste calling people again and again. You will be surprised to note that I can do this on my contact management software which I have been using for the past 15 years and I am sure that it can be done with the CRM software also. The contact management software just cost me Rs. 5000.

Calls to uninterested customers will be reduced drastically thus reducing the stress levels of the receiver and caller of unsolicited calls.

So if banks and telephone companies want to involve them in CSR, I can show the way and it will also save them money. As I said earlier, companies will automatically fulfill their social responsibility if they took care of their stakeholders while doing business.

Avinash Narula

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Comments

I discovered your homepage by coincidence.
Very interesting posts and well written.
I will put your site on my blogroll.
:-)

Reply

I liked this article very much.

I am a credit card holder of CitiBank and SBI. Everyday they call me about silly and useless offers. I am disspointed by this.

I have decided not buy anything from unsolicited calls.

I have also, decided not to use any credit card.

I think it will help me to spend less and save a lot of money!!!

Reply

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