Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Data Overrides Permission

Today I received a call from my cell phone provider, Bell Mobility. As expected, they were trying to up-sell me, but there was something different this time... I actually listened.

He (the service rep) started by telling me that I had been going over my text message limit for the past few months, and this was costing me a lot of money. "OK, this could be useful", I said to myself. He continued by telling me that for an extra few bucks, I could change my plan to an unlimited text message model, which would in turn save me money based on my usage. After a little discussion, I agreed to tack on the extra charge. It was pretty hard to say no. And more importantly for Bell, I actually hung up the phone with a smile. Who would have thought.

Now, I know this transaction may seem kind of frivolous, but there is a key lesson to be learned here for salesmen/marketers. This was important because (in my opinion) it broke Seth Godin's theory of Permission Marketing. If you don't know what this theory is, Permission Marketing is basically "the privilege (not the right) of delivering messages to people who actually want them." I never wanted this guy to call me, nor did I ever ask for help with my phone bill. Instead, it was my personal data that gave him indirect permission for my attention. It just goes to show you, if you have the facts, it is very hard for someone to disagree with you.

So, if you have an organization where you provide service to your clients, think about this. Try to build your systems in a way that you can predict when people are having trouble. Don't wait for them to come to you with complaints. Automatically collect the data, and give them a call at the right time.


fnthawar said...

I do agree with the touch point. However, for Bell to be really customer centric they should just up your plan to the most optimal plan when you go over and downgrade when you don't. That way you always pay the best rate.

BilZILLA said...

Just respond to the above. Service provider companies have to seek permission for the new feature or else they can be in hot water for just automatically doing something that people think they don't need. Just to add maybe this can be a new plan that can be sold to the telephone companies. The Auto Adjustment plan or Optimal plan. Good post Zaki.

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