What Goes Up

Has anybody ever noticed how telemarketing companies now offer an option to ask to be put onto their do not call list, but they seemed to have put very little thought into how this portion of our interaction with their system should work? When given the choice of “1” to speak to an operator, or “2” to be put on their do not call list, if I press “2,” the call is abruptly ended from their side. No, confirmation, or anything.

Was my response received? Are they going stop to calling? I guess I’m meant to keep wondering.

Today, I received yet another call regarding an automotive warranty during which they say that they are reaching out “one more time.” I’ve been getting this type of call for months, and the spiel is always the same. When they offered me the choice, I pressed “1” to be taken to an operator because, for once, I wanted to make someone who worked there understand what it feels like to answer a phone call that was a total waste of their time. When they asked me a question, I simply said, “Take me off your list.” They abruptly hung up.

I don’t like to make things difficult for telemarketers, because i realize they are simply doing their job. And, I get that they don’t want to let go of the chance to sell customers something. It might be a bitter pill to swallow, but they’re required to offer the chance to opt out of their phone calls.

As far as their systems go, if they are truly trying to honor the responsibility of allowing customers to avoid their calls, they are missing an important step in the process. I would really like to see a confirmation message after I press “2,” which might say, “You have been added to our do-not-call list.” Telemarketing systems typically employ robocalls and phone trees to manage outgoing calls, so this shouldn’t be too hard. Yes, if you confirm then you need to make good on your promise, and maybe that’s the reason why they leave things so ambiguous. If someone talks to an operator, then they should be willing to take down a name and a phone number (if needed), and make good on the request to not receive the phone calls again.

The sad fact is that telemarketers are not the only ones who are guilty of designing poorly thought out user flows for their onboarding. So much focus is put on what the company wants, such as the sale or growth in membership, that it can be easy to overlook what the user might want, such as different pricing, or a way to opt-out of messaging.

When I look at the user flow for a system, I think about those touch points a little like one might think about physics. My favorite is the quote “What goes up must come down.” This quote reminds me to look for the functions which allow users to start to do something, and then stop. For example, there should be a way for a user to quit a post without saving, in case they changed their mind.

Applying this towards telemarketing calls, they are already at a disadvantage because the calls are unsolicited, but this only makes it even important to make the interaction as smooth as possible. Maybe it is unpleasant for a potential customer to opt-out, but in the marketing industry they might remember you more favorably if you tried harder to respect their wishes. This is a safe bet, considering that it is true for almost all user flows.

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