Monthly Archives: March 2011

Casual day at a call center in India!

Categories: Call Center, Humor | Tagged , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Casual Day in an Indian Call Center
This is my sense of humor I guess.  My favorite show is Outsourced which takes a deeper look at the many issues effecting the lives of call center workers in India as well as Americans living in India. I relate to this because I have spent many months in India and have gone through all of the cultural issues, dyssentary, monsoons, etc.
My skit idea is that the manager of an Indian call center named John wants his employees to become more comfortable with the American culture, so he calls America and asks his manager what to do.  The senior manager, Chuck in California says that they should do things like Americans do.  Have an office party once in a while, have casual Friday, have personal days, and do as many things as they can like people do in America.
So, John decides to have casual Friday.  I am thinking of Rajiv Gidwani from Outsourced reluctantly saying, “Okay workers, listen up… today we will be having casual Friday, I personally don’t like the idea, but I was talked into it by our senior manager”. The real life Rajiv hates anything casual and loves the corporate power image with suits and formality.  So, John tells the workers, that they can dress how they like:  in jeans or casual clothing, and that they can even bring their animals to work, since thats what many companies in California allow!  In California, in some of the film industry offices, people will bring dogs to work for example. 
Finally, casual Friday comes after a long 96 hours of waiting!
Anita brings her Chihuahua.  Naren brings his pet rat.  Girish brings a baby cat.  Manish brings a peacock.  Sanjiv brings a monkey. Santosh brings a cow.  And Nuntheny brings the baby elephant from aunty’s temple down the street.  John says, I’m so happy that you are adapting to our American ways.  It makes  much more relaxing atmosphere when you bring your pets, doesn’t it?  The workers agree. 
But, John becomes disturbed at the type of animals that were brought in.  They don’t seem like “pets”. 
John: Anita, I love your little dog, he is so cute…., but Naren.. a rat?  A rat is not a pet.
Naren: For me its  a pet.  We have so many of them in India and they are so cute with their little beady eyes.
John: A peacock?  Don’t those belong outside?  Don’t they make this loud hooping sound any time there is noise?
Manish:  Oh, he is our family pet, and after all, today is casual Friday, so we must bring our pets.  I love Sally my peacock.  Sally… don’t listen to what John has to say, he doesn’t understand you!
John: Sanjiv, I love your monkey, but monkeys are mischevious animals. 
Sanjiv:  No, not my monkey, he is wonderful. He never misbehaves.  By the way John?  That banana on your desk?  Its not going to last long, better put it in a drawer.
John: Nuntheny, I love your mini elephant.  He is so….
Nuntheny: He? He… is NOT a he… its a She
John:  Oh, I’m sorry. 
Nuntheny:  You should be!  How would you like it if people mistook you for a lady?   There there Laxmi, John didn’t really mean what he said. You’re a real lady… here…have a banana… Good girl.
John:  Hmmm, this attempt at learning American culture is not working out as I expected. I was thinking more along the lines of dogs and maybe a cat here or there.  Perhaps a hampster.
Nuntheny:  Well, in India we have different types of pets.
John:  Anyway, break is over its time for work.
—— TRUMPET sound….  MOOOOOO….  woof ..woof…woof.  hoo-hoo-hoo-hoo-hoo-hoo-hoo…

John calling Chuck:  Chuck… these Americanization ideas like casual Friday? 
Chuck:  How is it going?  I love casual Friday
John:  It’s not working as planned.  When they are making calls, they can’t hear the customers with all the trumpeting sounds of the elephant, the moo sounds, and the peacock starts hooting every time there is a sudden sound.
Chuck:  Oh my god, it sounds like a zoo!
John:  Yes, thats the word I was looking for. 
Chuck:  Hmmm.  Lets change the plan a bit. We’ll have Sari Thursdays and Jeans Fridays.  That way we can have the best of both cultures without all of the sound effects.
John:  Yes Chuck  (trumpet sound of elephant), I am hearing you (bark bark)… trying to hear you…I’m not sure how good I would look in a sari though. Thats my only concern.
Chuck: Don’t worry John, ONE SIZE FITS ALL!!!!

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Hotels in India, whay they do right and wrong

Categories: India, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Hotels and businesses in India – what they do right and wrong
I run an outsourcing site and have been to India five tmes.  I’m familiar with Indian businesses and what they do right and wrong.  The sad part is that many of the business owners are oblivious to what they do right or wrong.  
What people do right
In a nut shell, India is a friendly place, and businesses usually have some nice people to chat with when you go to talk about business. There is not as much time pressure as in America or Singapore.  People are more laid back and easy going in India.  Chai, samosas and cookies are some of the benefits of doing business in India. However, coffee is rarely one of the perks, unless its Madras coffee.  Programmers and internet workers in India are young and fast.  Companies often overstaff themselves, making it possible to get lots done fast without the “pipeline effect” that we have in America.
What goes wrong
Having enough middle level managers to assist with customer service and supervise work going through is hard to find at many companies.  Poor communication skills are a trademark at Indian companies. The boss will know five languages, but the rest of the people in the office will be communicationally challenged.  Sales people often lack finesse and lack the proper amount of empathy necessary, and are often very pushy and go for a hard sell which many find disturbing.  But, there are other problems as well.
The hotel market in India is a very different industry from outsourcing, but there are parallels.  (1) They are in the same country as the outsourcers, (2) The culture is the same, and (3) They deal heavily with foreigners who have very different standards.  Hotels in America function with very stiff competition.  Hotels are categorized into an endless array of “Levels” which are as complicated as the social stratification system in Japan.  You have to talk to someone for at least ten minutes to figure out who is supposed to bow down to the other in Japan.  
Hotels – America Vs. India
There is Motel 6, Motel 8, Econo-lodge, Quality Inn, Radison, Hilton, Sheriton, Hyatt, and the list goes on.  Each hotel has its own brand and set of customer expectations (or lack of them).  In India, the big foreign hotels charge 50% more in India than they charge in the states while salaries in Indian metros are 80% less — do the math!  Then, you have the no-name hotels owned by independent operators that don’t have any international standards to conform to.  You will find all types of sloppy management in India that would get you outcasted from any franchise in America. As a matter of fact, I just visited a hotel that got kicked out of their franchise.  They had nice staff and nice rooms, but there were lots of little things wrong with the infrastructure and service.  Doors opened the wrong way, staff knocked on the door when the don’t disturb sign was up, the walls were new but the furniture was ancient… It made me say hmmm.  In America, if enough little things are off, you lose at 50% of the value of the room.
In India, the small hotels will have staff members badger you every morning offering unwanted services ranging from laundry to newspapers.  Then, you will be badgered again by someone who wants to offer you breakfast and always offers an unwanted omlette.  When you try to explain that you don’t want too much cholesterol, they don’t understand that word, nor do they look it up.   The answer is always, “Stop bothering me– no — if I wanted your service I would call for it”. Then there is the double knock done simultaneously while you are opening a door to a room where someone is naked, and didn’t have time to say, “Stop, don’t come in”.   The people offering service don’t always think and the managers don’t generally train people.
Don’t sweat the details.
An American expression.  Paying enough attention to perspire is what we call “Sweating the details”.  In America we say, “Eon’t sweat the details”, but in India, I strongly recommend working up a great deal of sweat about details and then taking a relaxing bath.  Inspect what your staff does, and how they do it.  The details are always wrong in India, and that will get you fired from American clients really fast.  I met a hotel manager who said, “Think about what to do, how to do, when to do”.  I agree with him profusely, however, he should be dictating to his staff what to do.  They are not educated and he is, therefore the manager should do the thinking.
How does this apply to outsourcing?
Outsourcing companies have the same sins that hotels do.  They will offer a good service, but lack quality on the “details”.  Pay attention to the details.  How do you greet people on the phone, how do you present work, how do you track worker performance, etc.  Each industry has different things to pay attention to.  So, its up to you to figure out what to pay attention to, and then you will get ahead.  Foreign companies are coming to India and eating up the market share.  They pay attention to details and they will eat your market share for dinner if you don’t!

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Reverse Outsourcing in India

Categories: India | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Reverse Outsourcing in India
Reverse outsourcing is rampant in India.  Instead of us getting our services from them, they are outsourcing their lunch, shampoo, and even their university education to us.  KFC, Subway, Best Western, Whole Foods, and even Duke University have taken root in India and are leading the reverse outsourcing craze.
In the old days, your choices from lunch included a box lunch from  your wife.  There was a famous company in Mumbai that delivered lunch to people.  They would send someone to the person’s house, so their wife could give a freshly cooked box lunch to the “dabbawalla” to be delivered to the husband at work.  Typical North and South Indian food are available in most Indian metros, with an added bonus of Chat, Pao Bujji, and Pani-Poori in Mumbai as regularly available snacks.  But, things have changed.  Now you can reverse outsource your lunch to an American company.  KFC in India has branches all throughout the country in most or all of the main metros.  The taste is slightly different from American KFC.  Indian KFC has more sweet chili taste, while American KFC has more of the taste of the various mystery herbs and spices that the world has been trying to decode for decades.  Subway is all around India too.  McDonalds has wonderful Indian burgers such as the aloo-tikki burger made out of potatoes, spices and other vegetarian items ground up into a delicious patty!  Pork and beef are typically left out of the menus at these establishments.  So, Americanization goes only so far.
If you go to an Indian convenience or medical store, you will find that most of the items are from the good ole’ USA.  Laundry detergent, shampoo, soaps, chocolate bars, the brand names are almost all American sounding!
But, the new trend in reverse outsourcing is education.  For years Indians and Chinese have been coming to America in droves to get their Master’s degrees.   Leaving their families behind to indulge in long hours of study, lonlineness and culture shock. Those days are being… well…. reversed!  Soon, you will be able study at Duke, right in the privacy of your own country! Yale is planning a joint venture with IIT in Kanpur and Kozhikode.  Brown is planning a branch in New Delhi.  There are many other Universities in line for overseas expansion. It looks like KFC in India is not the only American satellite presence! 
India needs 600 more universities and 35,000 colleges over the next 12 years according to Human Resource Development Minister Kapil Sibal.
As time goes on, India will have access to everything we have here in America.  The only thing that they need to outsource from us that is not on the list… clean air and uncongested roads.   Maybe that will get on the agenda soon.

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How to find an outsourcing job!

Categories: Outsourcing Articles | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

How to find an outsourcing job
People in India ask me every day to hire them, and I have only two things to say.  I am in Los Angeles, and Maria and I do the only jobs that need to be done at least for now.  Additionally, we are in the directory business, and your experience is in? Oh, you didn’t mention what your skill set was, you just approached me begging for a job — any job — please I’m desperate.  Give me an outsourcing job or my family will starve!!!!!  Sorry, even if you were the best directory staff member in the world, you are in Ahmedabad, and I am here in Los Angeles and you can not get a visa to come here.  So, asking me for a job, is the wrong approach.
Go where the jobs are
Most people looking for outsourcing jobs are in India or Manila.  There are plenty of outsource process jobs there.  Different cities have a higher or lower concentration of certain types of jobs.  If you want to work at a KPO and are in Darjeeling, you need to move to Bangalore.  If you want to specialize in outsourcing cardamum, then you need to move from Mumbai to Sikkim or Kerela.  Certain regions lend themselves to certain professions.  Additionally, certain physical places have particular vibrations.  Some places are busy while others are sad, or slow.
Pound the pavement!
Pardon the American expression.  This means that you need to go around aggressively banging on everyone’s door, finding out where the jobs are and who to talk to.  There are local newspapers with endless information about outsourced jobs and training for call center and other types of jobs.  The internet has many sites that can help you find a job in India.  Click India is one of the best sites around, and there are others. 
Its hard to network if you don’t know anyone.  But, if you know someone who knows someone, then network with them.  Its hard to get a job through a cold contact (someone who doesn’t know you).  But, if they were introduced to you, then you have a huge edge over a complete stranger — assuming you know your skills well.
Contact everyone
Contact as many companies as you can that have jobs within your skillset.  Don’t waste people’s time contacting them if you are not going to be clear about what you do, and what you want to do for them.  Contact relevent companies only and talk to the manager and let them know you want to do Data Entry for them, or Flash Design.  Ask them if you can meet with them.  Even if a company doesn’t have an opening today, if they like you and you keep in touch, they might hire you later.  Enthusiasm and devotion is an important trait that employers look for.
Bring your professionally written resume with all of your professional experience and education listed clearly on it. Dress well, and be cool and confident.  Don’t be arrogant or overly aggressive — nobody likes that.  Don’t try to come across as being smarter or more aloof than you are.  Be calm, friendly, speak clearly, and appear knowledgeable.  Personality flaws account for more work problems than skill flaws.  So, behave in such a way where you show everyone what a pleasant and easy to work with person you are.  If you are applying for a sales job, you might want to show a little more gung ho attitude plus empathy — the qualities necessary for success in sales.  If you are going to do programming or data entry, try to convey how methodical and responsible you are through your body language if thats possible.  If you are going to be an incoming call center employee, show everyone how nice and patient you are.  Different jobs have different traits, and you need to show these without appearing fake. 
Being on the money!
Another American expression.  This means to be on top of things and to know what you are doing.  Many people looking for work come across as being clueless and lost, not knowing where to go or what to say.  Figure all of this out before you talk to a contact person, or you will make a terrible impression.  The worst problems I have had with people in the work world was not skills, and not personality, it was people who were not on top of things who flaked and didn’t double check their work or follow up on things.  If someone asks you a simple question and you give them a confused look or look afraid, that is clueless behavior.  Give a clear, friendly answer to their question.  If you don’t know the answer, just let them know that you haven’t thought about that yet. Politicians and salespeople are experts at giving smooth answers to questions they don’t have the foggiest idea about.  My advice is to study how politicians handle interaction and be like them.  Working in a corporate office place is very political.
A quick joke about politicians.
A guy named Joe was running for Senator in his state.  He had previously worked for a church group but quit.  When asked why he quit, he said that he didn’t enjoy working for the church group because it got too political!
Good luck!

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To see the 2016 version of this article — click here

How to write a resume for an outsourcing job
We get many resumes emailed to us daily, and it is sad to see how poorly organized they always are.  I have not seen one good resume so far.  There is more than one way to write a good resume, but the most important thing is to keep it organized with no omitted information.  Information should be in inverse chronological order, contain information about your education, and even professional memberships.  Please keep in mind that I am sitting here in Los  Angeles, and the rules are different in Manila or Hyderabad, or wherever you may be.
Here are some general tips about resumes.

Use a high grade of paper
In America, it is customary for resumes to be treated like very valuable documents such as legal documents like wills, or trusts. Likewise, resumes traditionally are printed by a professional printer and drafted by a professional typist.  The paper used should be a very fancy grade of off-white or ivory colored paper. Some use light gray in the legal profession.  Different professions might have different standards.  The main thing is to ask around to see if a particular grade or shade of paper is preferred.  Your resume is one of your first impressions, and you want to appear fancy and well equipped. If this is not available wherever you are, try to find a very high-end print shop near the downtown of your metro, or do the best you can in your neighborhood.

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Inverse chronological order
Although there are various ways to craft a resume, the information should be in some sort of clear order.  Make sure that all of the years in your professional life are somehow accounted for, or you will be questioned.  I have seen more resumes in inverse chronological order meaning that the most recent job description is on top.
What to put on the resume?
You should state your job objective, and indicate any highlights in terms of your type and level of specialties. There should be a brief summary of each job you have held, education, and anything else that you think is really important.  Its generally preferred to keep it to one page, but two might be okay.  It might not be a bad idea to attach exhibits to the back of the resume: one exhibit for each job you want to elaborate on if there is a lot to say.  That way the interviewer can view that information only if they want to, but won’t be overloaded.
Job objective
It is recommended to put this at the top of the resume.  Indicate what type of job you are looking for and why.  
Highlighting special skills
You are encouragedd highlight particular areas of experience that would be highly needed by the potential employers you are contacting.
What do I say about each company I’ve worked for?
Include the dates you worked for these companies, the name and city of the company, and your job description.  You might quickly mention particular tasks that you were responsible for if you can keep it short.
How do I document my education?
State what schools you went to and when.  What degree did you get?  Were there any special areas of focus?  What did you major in?  Stick to Universities and High School, or whatever the highest two degrees you have earned are.  If you went to special trade or music schools, you can list that too to make an impression.
Professional memberships?
Everybody wants a job and claims to be good at what they do or want to do.  But, a professional membership can prove how passionate or serious you are about something.  If you claim to be a member of a professional organization, make sure you really attend meetings and know what is going on at that organization so you will appear to be serious.
Customized letters should accompany each resume
People looking for jobs fax, email, and mail resumes to everyone in sight.  This is not so smart.  Resumes get throw away quickly.  You should make personal contact with whomever you are sending the resume to so they will remember you when they get the resume. That way they will at least read it before they shred it.  Attach a nice customized letter with the resume. You can say how much you enjoyed talking to them on the phone and how eager you are to get started soon.
Don’t list reasons why you terminated employment
If the interviewer wants to ask, they can ask why you left a job.  But, the worst thing you can do is to jump from job to job.  Its expensive to train and hire new employees, so bosses want someone who is stable who will stick around and work hard.
Good luck!
Go on the internet and read the details about good resumes.  Have a few people in the business world check your resume and make pointers. Have them check again once you have fixed the pointers.  Its common to go through many drafts before arriving at a perfect finished product.
A resume makes one of the first impressions that you will make with an employer.  Get to know contact people at companies over the phone or in person before sending a resume.  In marketing, having met someone is worth a thousand pieces of paper.  Being on top of your skills is critical.  There are thousands of unqualified people looking for work.  If you feel you are not at the top of your game, please find a tutor, school, or way you can improve upon your weak points.  Make sure you know everything you need to know.  Nobody wants a semi-disfunctional worker. You will waste people’s time and end up unemployed if you don’t know your stuff.  Practice your communication skills to.  Everyone needs someone who can speak well, confidently, and clearly. Meeting someone is the first impression, the resume is the second, but good work skills will keep you employed in the long run with a high salary.

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