Phone etiquette for outsourcing companies

It was a long night, and my assistant and I called 55 outsourcing companies on our directory by hand. To our dismay, only one company out of 55 answered their phone professionally.

What does it mean to answer your phone professionally?
You need to announce who you are at a minimum, and also state your company name. Otherwise people will doubt you as a professional, and also not know if they dialed the correct number. Answering the phone professionally means that ALL of the people at your company need to be trained on how to answer the phone. If someone dials your cell number after hours, you never know who that is. It is safer to answer that professionally as well.

Why bother answering professionally?
If you are an outsourcing company in India or the Philippines, you are up against an enemy called “Doubt”. Americans, Australians, British, and other westerns are suspicious about giving work to companies overseas. The first question is — will they cheat me? The next question is — will they be reliable in their work? My personal experience is that outsourcing companies are more likely to give you trouble than an American company, however, American companies give a lot of trouble, and charge five times as much — which in most cases they are not worth! Putting experience aside, to eliminate all of the various types of DOUBT, you need to make a good impression.

How do outsourcing companies typically answer their phone?
Most companies we call answer with a dull “Hullo”. They sound like very low energy, low brainpower people to me. We have to ask one, twice, or thrice what company we called. Many of them act perplexed when we want to know what company they are with. If you are in a foreign country, do you want to hire a company who doesn’t know what their name is? How will they handle complicated outsourcing tasks if they don’t even know their own name?

Answering machines and phone systems?
Ideally you need a phone system that announces your company name, and perhaps has a menu with departments to select. If the person you want to reach is not there, there should be a personalized message box that clearly announces the person’s name who you are leaving a message for. Typically, when we make calls, we get standardized messages such as, “The person you called is not available, please call back later”. That is very unprofessional, and no foreigner will want to hire you with this type of non-answering machine.

Cell Phones?
Cell phones are a good back up number in case you are out of the office. But, your main number needs to be a reliable land line. In India it takes time and money to get a land line, and that proves how professional you are if you use one.

Changing numbers and web addresses is bad.
Most companies in India are constantly changing their mobile numbers and web addresses. They even change their companyname repeatedly. Companies gain trust based on LONGEVITY. So, if you change your company name every two years, you will come across as being a fly-by-night, and nobody overseas will trust you. We want to hire stable and reliable companies. Mobile phones in India are based on SIM cards which can be lost or rendered disfunctional. Therefor, your main number should be a landline which will not be disconnected.

Call me back on Skype?
If someone is calling about business, and you tell them you don’t want to talk, or you ask them to call you back on Skype so you can save a few rupees, you might miss out on a million dollar deal. Why should a big company who wants to use you have to call you again? If it were me — I would call again — but, not YOU — I would call ANOTHER company and deal with them. My effort for making the extra call will get more return calling someone else.

(1) If we know more about your company than the person who answers your phone: it’s time to learn phone etiquette.
(2) When you pick up the phone, are you so out of it that you sound like you are in your own time zone? #outsourcing #ust+24
(3) Unless your company name is “Hello”, don’t answer the phone with a dull “Hello”.
(4) Most overseas phone lines are so muddy, your chance for attracting prospects is over by the 3rd “What?”
(5) There is something to be said for continuity & changing your # every six months isn’t one of them!

(6) Professional US companies keep the same phone # for decades. How long have you had your #?
(7) Change is good, but not if it means changing your number every 6 months.
(8) How will former clients find you if you change your # every six months? Think about it!

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