At a recent DMA telemarketing forum, delegates were updated on the state of play on those registering with the Corporate and non-corporate Telephone Preference Services. Did this suggest impending telemarketing meltdown?
The Direct Marketing Association
Whilst the DMA launched findings from its research into the types of companies registering on the Corporate Telephone Preference Service ("CTPS"), the same trade association's "TPS Forum" focused on some worrying numbers relating to the telephone preference services generally.
CTPS research findings
As of 2 March, there were 275,000 telephone numbers registered on the CTPS. The TPS system is numbers-based and the corporate version was launched in June of 2004. After its launch there were concerns that the new system would see the effective end of B2B telemarketing. So far, however, the DMA survey suggests this is not the case.
Over 1,000 responded to the DMA's online survey and the replies indicated that 54% of registrants were from companies that had between 1 and 9 employees, while companies with between 10 and 49 employees accounted for 29% of registrants.
Countering fears that large corporations would simply blanket-register all their switchboard and direct dial numbers for the entirety of their staff, the survey suggests that the vast majority of companies (75%) are only registering 1 or 2 numbers. This indicates that in the case of most businesses registering, it is only either company directors or managers who take the trouble to do so.
At the DMA TPS forum, there were more worrying numbers announced in relation to the general, non-corporate telephone preference service ("TPS"). As of the end of February, 7 million numbers were registered with the TPS and registrations were rising at a rate suggesting that 12 million would be registered by the end of 2005 and 17 million by end of 2006.
The DMA's own records indicate that no less than 37% of those registering with the TPS are driven to do so by silent calls. This is where automatic dialling systems make telemarketing calls to individuals, but when the individual picks the phone up there is no caller on the other end of the line. Complaints by individuals to BT over residential silent calls are running at a rate of 100,000 a month, with 400,000 a month registered with the TPS.
Clearly, the silent calls issue is threatening to kill B2C telemarketing in the UK and it may not be long before there are calls for the introduction of an opt-in regime.
Why this matters:
Following the runaway "success" of the US "Do not call" list, with over 80 million registered (more it is said than the number of voters in the recent Presidential election), the UK's experience seems to be going down the same path after a relatively quiet first few years of the TPS. Clearly what has triggered the explosion in registrations is silent calls and the poor use of automated outbound call technology is an issue that simply has to be addressed if B2C telemarketing is to survive in the UK on an opt-out basis.