Many will remember the hilarious Simpsons episode in which Homer starts his own telemarketing scam using an autodialling machine. In the show, ‘Happy Dude’ Homer offers happiness to the citizens of Springfield if they post him $1.  Homer is eventually called out for this activity, and made to call and apologise to everyone – and naturally uses this as an opportunity to ask for further money under the guise of ‘Sorry Dude’. 

Like so many Simpsons episodes, which have predicted everything from the creation of The Shard to Donald Trump’s presidency, Homer’s escapades have played out in the real world: the US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) recently doled out a record $120 million (£88 million) fine to Miami salesman Adrian Abramovich for making over 90 million nuisance calls. This mammoth fine is more than a gentle reminder that now GDPR has come into effect we could start seeing similar large fines in Europe too.

Homer and Abramovich’s cases both highlight how bad things can get for companies if they take a broadcast approach to communication – simply flinging out messages without considering whether consumers want to receive them. 

Not everyone’s as patient as Ned Flanders

While Ned Flanders remains his normal calm self when Happy Dude calls all night, customers who are contacted too much, via the wrong channels, won’t be so understanding. A simple step to prevent this from happening is being aware of customer contact preferences, and respecting them; being sure to contact customers via their preferred method will keep all the citizens of Springfield happy. If Ned Flanders wants his communications to come to 744 Evergreen Terrace or flanders@leftorium.com, that’s where they should go. 

Of course it’s important for companies to stay in touch with customers, but it’s important not to let your communications run away – like the autodialler tried to do before Homer snapped off its legs. With the use of AI and other automated tech growing every year, it’s important companies don’t forget to treat their customers as individuals; a pre-recorded voice starting a conversation by saying “Greetings friend” doesn’t make them feel as though their needs are being listened to.

If companies don’t want to end up saying ‘D’OH!’ then they have to consider what communications their customers want to receive.

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