Caveat Emptor – Why Auto Dialers and Business Don’t Mix

Looking for the best price is hardly a new trend but you can’t ever forget that famous Latin phrase “Caveat Emptor “Let the Buyer Beware”.  I’m all for saving, too and admit that most of the time I keep one eye firmly fixed on the bottom line. I also have to admit that there have been times when I have gone with what common sense should have clearly pointed out as an inferior option, because I fixated on the lowest price.  I regretted it every time. But will I make that mistake again? Probably, but I hope not.

Of course, where that choice really hurts is when we lose business to a low ball competitor. In the case of a service, it hurts when we lose a client because they decide that automated or computer dialers are “worth a shot” to deliver a business to business campaign for one reason and one reason only-because they’re dirt cheap.

It’s true, they are dirt cheap, but in my opinion automated dialers have no place delivering business voicemail campaigns.

Here’s why:

Too many things can go wrong – When a marketing or marketing/sales campaign goes bad it’s usually worse than not ever having run anything at all and without the intelligent intervention of people to manage voicemail delivery, too many things can go wrong. Delivery mistakes like leaving messages with the wrong people, leaving them in company and department mailboxes or with personal assistants is on the first level of mistakes.  And considering that the real value of a well structured voicemail campaign is that it communicates on a one-to-one level with your contacts, just how much of an idiot will the “voice” seem to be when they leave their message with the wrong person- or no person at all.

But it can get worse, and usually will. Most company telephone databases are in lousy shape.  So, you can not only leave an irrelevant message, you can deliver it to someone’s home.  Automated voicemail to home phone numbers is a violation of the Telemarketing Sales Rule and if that person is also on the Do Not Call list, they can make your life a misery.

Then there are multiple deliveries – my personal nightmare.  Again – bad databases can repeat numbers and can repeat the same contacts with different numbers and you can easily leave the same message several times. That really makes people mad.

While they have improved considerably, computer delivered voicemail campaigns still rely on pulse tones to trigger the delivery and not all systems are configured the same.  This can cause messages to start to play too early or too late, cutting off the beginning or the end – and again – you look like an idiot. And the cheaper systems are still far from perfect when it comes to playing a recorded message to a live contact.  If you think that’s a bad move in the first place (and I totally agree) try it at 3:00 am on a prospect’s cell phone.

Low ball delivery services rarely offer anything in the way of campaign planning or strategic services.  They just schedule a voice blast.  Maybe you don’t think you need any help and you can be right, but many first time clients make mistakes on initial campaigns when it comes to scripting and message recordings.  Do you really want to highlight the fact that your message is canned? Most companies would rather not send poorly prepared, obviously canned messages and I can just about guarantee that nobody wants to get one, either.

Auto-dialer delivery reports lie.  I’m not accusing a person or a company of trying to cheat or defraud you, but having run several side by side tests with automated deliveries and personal number verification, I was struck by how often the auto-dialed campaigns reported deliveries at the 90%+ level when I could see that 35% of the list was in fact not deliverable.  The deliveries on auto-dialed campaigns, have in my experience, usually been over reported by +20-25%.

No List Diagnostics.  Given – as previously stated – that many company lists are in terrible shape, the absence of any decent list feedback is another reason that businesses should avoid auto-dialed voicemail campaigns.  You get one of two responses – delivered or not delivered. There is no additional information provided to help you avoid making deliveries to wrong people (again) or knowing what needs to be updated.

With the obvious drawbacks of using a cheap automated dialer to deliver voicemail messages, you’d think I would almost welcome the opportunity to have customers try something so horrifically inferior. Clearly, they would realize that they have made a mistake and truthfully, they usually do. But sadly, at that point many of them have often inflicted irrepairable damage to the reputation of voicemail as a marketing tool within their organizations.   Complaints about canned messages, wrong deliveries, repeated deliveries and truncated messages – usually delivered to marketing via the sales team cast a terrible shadow on voicemail.

In the end, trying to save money on voicemail delivery can mean that you close the door on this very affordable voice option. Without voicemail campaigns as a marketing or sales option- you’ll end up with pulling your own inside sales or marketing callers off more valuable work to do the campaign messages or you’ll hire outside telemarketers and in either case, the money you saved the first time will be overspent in spades down the line.

And that’s why I say that auto-dialers and business to business messaging don’t mix.

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