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Grow Your Business Sales & Marketing

How to Learn from the Six Worst Telemarketing Experiences

Worst Telemarketing Experiences
Credit: Brian A. Jackson/Shutterstock

Warning: Some of the videos of bad telemarketing experiences are NSFW.

When people hear the word "telemarketing," a flood of negative emotions come to mind. Whether it's a business receiving unwanted sales calls or a telemarketer facing backlash from doing their job, most people don't view telemarketing in a positive light. It's no surprise that telemarketers face skepticism when cold calling, as nearly half of calls to mobile phones in 2019 are expected to be fraudulent.

Using telemarketing services has its risks given the skepticism of the general public, but there are a few services that excel at outbound calling. If you decide to take the risk of using telemarketing services, finding the best services is critical.

To highlight just how important finding a good outbound calling service is to telemarketing success, we've found the six worst telemarketing experiences and explained how your business can learn from those dreadful calls.

An anonymous IT professional created a chatbot named Lenny designed to keep telemarketers on the phone by rambling on about nothing. The chatbot takes on the personality of an 80-year-old man who discusses just about everything other than the telemarketer's talking points.

The clip, which comes in at just less than 12 minutes, starts off friendly between both parties. Eventually, the telemarketer becomes frustrated with Lenny's inability to focus and asks to speak with someone else in the home. While it's understandable that the telemarketer loses her patience, she begins to make insulting remarks, including letting out several "Oh my god" comments near the 11-minute mark. Luckily for the caller, she was only speaking to a chatbot.

If you're seeking a telemarketing service, it's important to find a company with good customer service reviews. Cold calling can be a risk, and it can be detrimental to your business if you aren't using a service with professional and polite callers.

Editor's Note: Looking for a call center service? We can help you choose the one that's right for you. Use the questionnaire below to have our sister site, BuyerZone, provide you with information from a variety of vendors for free:

We're sticking with our favorite chatbot for No. 2. In this clip, Lenny talks in circles and quickly angers the caller, who appears to be a scammer. After a few minutes, the telemarketer's voice raises, and the frustration becomes evident.

The highlight of this popular Lenny call comes at the final seconds as the telemarketer shouts at Lenny to shut up. While the experience is certainly negative for the caller himself, his tone and attitude are subpar, even with an unruly customer. If Lenny did happen to be a real person, his experience dealing with the rep was poor.

Frustration isn't the only reason some telemarketers struggle. For some, laziness is the cause of poor sales numbers and customer service reviews.

"I have employed a telemarketer who fell asleep during the day," said Ade Holder, founder of 427 Marketing. "[He] also made fake calls which were only found out when he accidentally hit the speaker button and we could hear the dial tone as he was having a fake conversation."

It's clear from Holder's description that his former employee really didn't want to work. From sleeping during working hours to making fake phone calls, this guy put a lot of effort into not working. When hiring a telemarketing service, ask the company about the training they provide their employees when making outbound calls.

Calls between Lenny and call center reps are a bit more lighthearted than some of the worst call center stories, including one about a customer service agent who developed a medical condition due to the stress of dealing with customers.

With many unknown mobile calls turning out to be scams, customers are reasonably hesitant about speaking to telemarketers and answering calls from unfamiliar numbers. Unfortunately, many customers take this concern out on innocent call center workers who may very well be working for a legitimate company and doing their job to the best of their ability.

Some companies, including many in Canada, discourage their telemarketers from ending calls, regardless of the nature of the conversation. This practice can lead to telemarketers enduring verbal abuse without any way out of the call. United Steelworkers generated a website and campaign around better protecting Canadian call center workers.

If you decide to use a telemarketing service, investigate the practices of that company. Do they treat employees fairly? Will they ensure that no callers endure verbal abuse? If you use a call center with a bad reputation, you may harm your own business's reputation.

Comedian Jim Florentine pulls a similar stunt to chatbot Lenny in his audio series titled, "Terrorizing Telemarketers." In one of his clips, he and a partner write down everything the telemarketer says to them in painstakingly slow fashion. 

It's clear the hijinks upset the caller, who cannot understand why in the world Florentine and his friend need to scribe every word she says. From an outside perspective, it's good fun. From the view of the caller, it's an awful experience with an unruly customer.

As we found with Lenny's examples, the telemarketer quickly gets frustrated with the call. When researching the best telemarketing companies, try to find those with the most polite and professional call service reps. While this situation was a prank, customers may frustrate telemarketers with requests and skepticism. If a call center representative explodes with rage, that reflects poorly on your business.

Florentine pranked another telemarketer by "translating" for his friend, who he claimed couldn't speak English. Within a minute of the call's start, it's apparent it's a prank as Florentine translates English into English.

In this case, the experience is terrible for the telemarketer who must sit there as Florentine wastes her time and makes inappropriate comments. On the bright side, she handled the call professionally and is a great example of the type of telemarketer or call center representative you'd want representing your business. She clearly explains her role in the situation and politely shares why she'll have to hang up the phone if the jokes continue. If your business decides to use a telemarketing service, you'd like to find one with representatives who have similar phone skills to the woman on this call.

Telemarketing can be a risky proposition in 2019. Many of the potential customers receiving cold calls will doubt your legitimacy. In many cases, this doubt is valid, as scammers call people daily trying to pose as real businesses. For your telemarketing efforts to pay off, you need to use a service with callers willing to respond to unruly customers as professionally as possible. You don't want to damage your business's reputation by working with a subpar telemarketing company.

Bennett Conlin

Bennett is a B2B editorial assistant based in New York City. He graduated from James Madison University in 2018 with a degree in business management. During his time in Harrisonburg he worked extensively with The Breeze, JMU’s student-run newspaper. Bennett also worked at the Shenandoah Valley SBDC, where he helped small businesses with a variety of needs ranging from social media marketing to business plan writing.