Thursday, October 22

Consumer Marketing 101

Here's a new approach to winning over customers that was tried out on me today by the illustrious Telecom Italia Call Center --

Granted, as soon as I hear from a Telecom phone salesperson, I tend to stop them right away -- as I would not sign up for their (dis)services if it were the only company operating on earth. In fact, even if they were offering unlimited bandwith and free calls worldwide, I'd probably opt for two cans tied together with a string.
Usually, I say so much and enjoy a nice chuckle with the poor soul at the other end, wishing them good luck, but, recommending (highly) they try to change carriers. The responses I get are nothing short of remarkable (coming straight from the annals of, 'It's just a job, Ma'am). None of those American Express Co. 'Customer and Company are always right' memos for these worker bees!

But today took the cake.

Interrupting my day, the woman said she was calling from Telecom. I simply told her straight away, "You're wasting your time." Usually they say, are you sure you don't want to hear about our offer, etc. etc.
This time, she answered adopting the 'Best defense is a good offense' strategy.

"No, you're wasting your time, you piece of shit foreigner." (for you English, that'd be, 'bloody foreigner', I believe.

I wonder when more companies will begin utilizing this new sales tactic. Considering the new Italian middle class is most likely filled with foreigners from every corner of the earth, it might just work wonders. For some inexplicable reason, though, I can't seem to find it in my copy of Dale Carnegie's, 'How to Win Friends and Influence People."

Part 2/Telecom Italia Calls
Just 4 1/2 hrs. later, I received a call - incredibly - from the Customer Service office of Telecom Italia (I know, I know..they have a customer service office??)This, after my very specific missive entitled, "Zenophobic insults from Telecom employees". After a long discussion with a very charming man who expressed his sincere apologies, I was left with:

- the call didn't originate with them, so they can't do anything
- if they find which of their subcontractors has my number, they will issue a fine. Too many complaints, they cancel the contract.
- he's sorry, because being a foreigner shouldn't even come into it

He also said that the 50000+ employees of Telecom is a 'specchio dell'Italia' ('a mirror image', and here, we're in dangerous waters), but he's doing everything he can to assure that these events don't occur. Problem is, his range of action is only w/Telecom employees.

I asked if my tel. number (and it's this that I desire most) can simply be canceled from their lists. I offered to be a 'secret shopper', but, he said, I'd have to join Telecom to do so (!) and so I left him with this little anecdote I once read in a marketing manual:

"Pepsi never gained customers insulting Coke drinkers"

Part 3/Telecom on the Line
Less than 5 minutes later, I receive another call from another Call Center looking to offer me Telecom Italia services. She refused to give her name, nor mention the company she works for, but, I did manage to convince her that it's in their best interests to lose my number - and fast. She said she will take me off her list, but that doesn't preclude someone else from contacting me.

The battle was hard won, but not the war...

photo by


Dave514 said...

I'm surprised. Your accent can't be that bad. How long have you been living in Roma now?

I would have told her not to hold back and tell you what she really thinks of you...LOL!


Irreverent Italy said...

Darling Davide,
all it takes is to say one word, 'no' in Italy, and they know immediately you're a foreigner.

If you slowed down the recording, it'd sound like: NOOooooOOOOOoooooo

The Italians say, Nò!
Slowed down, it'd be 'nuh!'

Nuff said!

Anonymous said...

Too much!

Dave514 said...

I guess you'll just have to practice your nose...LOL!


J.Doe said...

That's awful that they'd say that!

Irreverent Italy said...

What's unnerving is that everyone knows these Call Centers are on the loose, filled with wackos, unprofessional people, thugs, and people who are there to steal your data, clone your cards, etc etc. The ones with the best of intentions remain underpaid and under stress.
But, if they're calling and saying, "I'm from Telecom Italia", Telecom should not hide behind the "they don't work for us" smokescreen.
They use your name, they're untrained, often uncivilized, and you should exercise a bit more control...
The internet is littered with these sorts of episodes and much much worse (preying on old people, for one - a crime so heinous I can't even think about it).
So, while mine was a little mini-exchange, the point is, nothing will change. And that's what's truly awful.
For awhile, they outlawed these calls...but since they revoked the law, they're back with a vengeance!

Jacques said...

Just last week, late morning, since I refused to automatically pass the "titolare" when they called on my work line, and since the call center operator refused to give the name of whom she was trying to contact, she hung up and tried again after a few hours. Same thing: "can I speak to 'the person in charge'?" me: 'in charge of what? who are you trying to contact?' and so on. I asked that if they didn't have specific information of who they were trying to contact (she couldn't, or wouldn't, even tell me who the line was listed under...) that she not call anymore. Later (evening) another colleague called (pretty sure same call center as the script was identical for the first intro spiel). She, at least, was nicer, since I haven't heard from them (this week...).

Dave514 said...

Here, they passed a law so that one can basically block all those calls.

Now I very occasionally get one and I just hang up.

I agree with you on the old and poorer folk. They are always the ones to suffer the most.

I guess you'll just have to suffer more "Italian chaos."

Cherrye at My Bella Vita said...

This is unbelievable. I actually had to read that first part two or three times to make sure I'd understood what she said.

I am in shock!

Irreverent Italy said...

In Italian: straniera di merda!