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Buy a tape recorder and get a USP

The news that the Financial Services Authority has been associated with comments regarding the use of tape recorders during client conversations is music to my ears.

Taping is something I advocated four years ago. I even went to the trouble of delivering the message via a video to the former FSA boss Howard Davies, Treasury officials, editors of the main trade publications and my friends at the Daily Mirror. Some see tape recordings as intrusive but there are pros and cons. Let’s look at the pros, particularly as Chris Cummings of AMI (or is it AIFA?) opposes taping. Cummings is of course in a position to lobby either for or against the idea.

First, consider telephone conversations with financial institutions – “This conversation may be recorded for training purposes.” The key word is training. The tape recorder is a cost-effective way for sales managers to spend less time in the field training rookies yet still hear their sales pitches.

Now imagine the mortgage scenario. A salesperson wastes a hot lead and the inquest begins. Simply play the tape back and both parties can analyse the conversation.

Members of Liberty should know the use of such equipment must be voluntary to the client.

My company’s method was to say to the client, “I’m here to get you the best deal possible and to that end I will tell you the truth at all times and hopefully you will do likewise. We’ve all seen the salespeople on TV telling lies so we offer the option of taping our conversations to show our integrity. This is something our competitors wouldn’t dream of doing.

“Is this something you would like? It costs you nothing as we give you a tape free of charge at the end of the conversation. One of the benefits is that anything you don’t quite understand during our talks you can play back later on. Would you like me to turn the tape recorder on?”

In one fell swoop you have broken down the major barrier between you and the client, that of trust. The tape also serves as an aid to the selective memories of some consumers with regard to the less savoury aspects of deals such as MIG and ERCs. And use the tape to analyse your presentation. You could do worse than ask your partner to listen and give their views.

Compliance officers should give this idea their vote as the burden of proof lies with the company when it comes to the FOS. I spoke to Robin Gordon-Walker at the FSA who assured me the watchdog has no plans to introduce tape recording. Which is great news as you can get in first.

If you haven’t anything to hide, why not say so out loud? Grasp this opportunity to record right now and promote your company as the only firm on your patch doing this.

Looking for a USP? Look no further than Dixons for your tape recorder.


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