I have been talking on the phone to some of the most successful BPO outsourcing businesses in the market. I bet that you are very interested to know what I learned about their habits. There are those who beg for BPO “processes”, and those who get so much work, that it would make you dizzy. So, what is the difference?
(1) Knowledge at your fingertips
The larger and more successful BPO companies have someone knowledgeable answer the phone. The phone rarely goes to voice mail. The person you talk to on the other line can answer most of your preliminary questions, and make you feel confident that their BPO company can get the job done. The difference I see is that some companies have a very sophisticated and knowledgeable person who will talk to you, while others merely have someone “adequate”, who knows the basic answers. Some people at BPO offices I talked to sounded a bit bored, while others sounded like amazing people. I talked to one gentleman who had been a consultant who impressed me. I asked him how he learned to speak English so clearly. He told me how he did consulting all over the United States and London. He is a breed of his own, and guys like him would be too expensive for most of us to hire. But, if you want BPO business, hire someone really good to answer your phones.
(2) 24 hour phone answering?
I just talked to a company that does IT related BPO processes in Delhi the other day (my day — their night). The guy on the other end of the line sounded bored, but he spoke good English and answered all of my questions. His company had hundreds of workers, so they were doing many things right. I prefer to speak to exciting and fascinating people, but someone who gets the job done is much better than 95% of the OTHER outsourcing outfits do.
BPO Business these days is global. If you want to catch calls from other countries, it might matter WHERE your office is — however, it matters more WHEN your office is. If you have an office in Delhi and you answer your line all night long (which is daytime in America), then you can get American clients. You will need an American phone number so you don’t scare off the Yankies. Having an office for BPO in America with locals answering the phone will make you sound local, but to me, knowledge sells much more than having an uneducated blonde on the other end of the line. Have someone who can answer basic business questions who answers the phone. Don’t make prospects work to talk to a salesman. You wait on them, they shouldn’t have to wait for you.
(3) Having the staff to do the job
Big companies have large staffs. They have staffs of different levels of experience, and different specialties too. No matter what type of BPO job you throw at them, they have the availability to get the job done. If you want to get ahead in your outsourcing outfit, you had better have people who are ready to jump on new projects, otherwise you will not get the new projects. Think ahead.
(4) Being flexible
I have notice that many of the companies with 20-40 workers can be very rigid. They want tight contracts that protect THEM, but put their client in a very constricting position. I noticed that the larger BPO outfits are often more flexible about terms. Since they have such a huge staff at large companies, they don’t NEED to lock you into a constrictive contract. In any case, you should be in business to make life easy for your clients if you want to have enough clients to have 200 workers. Think like the big guys — do you think they don’t philosophize about how to please their clients better?
(5) Having higher level workers
Many companies that offer BPO in India have low-end staff, and perhaps a few senior workers who have four or five years experience. If you want to get serious clients, please consider having high-end staff available. Some projects require higher level skills, while some require a mixture of levels of skill. If you only have low-end people, you will scare off the serious clients. If you want to grow your business big, you need big clients, and big clients want smart workers. Think ahead! Big companies in India who do outsourcing have a higher percentage of high skilled people, and they are more accessible than in medium or smaller companies where those “experts” are likely to be tied up on some other project and too busy for your new clients. If you want to get clients like the big guys, give them some skilled workers. It makes all the difference.
(6) Good communication
Some companies in India have great workers, and write good emails, but have a horrible phone manner. Little BPO companies in India almost always are horrifying on the phone. No respectable client would hire them to even pour a cup of coffee with their bad communication skills. The bigger companies seem to have a much better command of phone etiquette and English. However, even many huge companies in India still are far from perfect on the phone — phone manners seem to be a problem across the board in India. But, I will say one thing: the larger BPO companies are MORE LIKELY to have staff with good English and good phone etiquette than the smaller companies.