Hiding Behind the EBR

By Peter DeHaan, PhD

If your call center is only making EBR (existing business relationship) calls, you may think you have nothing to worry about, right? No. Just because it is legal to dial a number, doesn’t mean you should. Calling too often or for the wrong reasons could turn an EBR into a former EBR. This happened when I retaliated against a company that overcalled me.

I used to have a weekend newspaper subscription. Since I only had time to read it on the weekends, this was a splendid arrangement — one which I would have gladly continued if not for overzealous telemarketing. One evening I received a call from an enthusiastic employee of the paper. They had a special upgrade price so that I could enjoy the paper all week long. I explained that I only wanted the paper on weekends. A few months later, I received another call for the same offer from a different rep. I assumed that turnover had occurred and my preference for weekend-only delivery had not been noted in my account (so much for an effective CRM). I repeated my penchant for weekend-only delivery.

These calls became a regular occurrence — and I grew increasingly annoyed. Sometimes the interval was two or three months, other times only a couple of weeks; once it was two days. No one seemed to realize that regardless of how often it was offered, I was not going to capitulate to their plea to expand my subscription. Even when it was offered at no additional cost, I declined. I asked that they stop calling, but my request was disregarded.

My exasperation over the persistent phone calls grew until it exceeded my satisfaction in reading the paper. I realized that by cancelling my subscription, the EBR provision would soon cease to be a factor and eventually I would have legal recourse should the calls continue.

I expected the effort to end my subscription would provide one final opportunity to stop the phone calls — and continue receiving the paper, sans telemarketing. I was mistaken.  Incredibly, when I called to cancel my subscription, no one asked why. They didn’t say they were sorry. Most surprising — especially given their proclivity for phoning me — no one made a follow-up call. Even though there was a window of opportunity for them to call to win me back, that never occurred. The unwanted calls stopped.

The paper thought they were safe by placing calls that complied with legal requirements, but they were wrong. Their unrestrained calling turned a happy subscriber into an irritated ex-subscriber. I wonder how much other business they lost because of their legal, but unrestrained calling practices?

Are your calling practices hurting your call center?

[Posted by Peter DeHaan for Connections Magazine, a contact center publication from Peter DeHaan Publishing Inc.]

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