Monthly Archives: September 2013

Are you dealing with a broker or an owner

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Sometimes when you deal with Indian companies, it is hard to tell if you are dealing with a broker or an owner. Dealing with brokers can have its pitfalls. A broker might deal with a dozen or more outsourcing companies and sell your contract to the one that bids the most, rather than the one who is the best match for you. If you deal with the owner of the company who provides services such as call center or data entry services, then you know who you are dealing with.

On the other hand, if you deal with a broker who you have known for a long time who is working on your behalf in your best interests, then that might be a great arrangement. The main point to remember is that no matter who you deal with, try to find people who are working in your best interests.

People always talk as if they care about your interests, and talk is very inexpensive. See what people do. Actions speak louder than words. Ask them to do little actions and see how long they take. Ask for little bids, quotes, quick questions in emails. See how quickly you get responses and how detailed or helpful those responses are. The quality of the response is not proof of anything, but it is an indication, and perhaps the only indication you get before you sign a constricting contract.

How to Get More Clients For Your Call Center — Get an Agent!

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Many companies in India have some sort of a nexus or venue in the West. It is common for companies to have an American phone number, or perhaps an office in London, or an agent in Australia. It makes sense, and you can get ahead by using this technique. Think from the perspective of your clients. If you were a mid-level manager in the United States, do you want to call an Indian number at 1am, or would you prefer to call an American number during regular business hours? Done thinking? That’s right — me too! The other benefit of having a presence in the West, is that people will think your entire company is in THEIR country which will make them all the more comfortable. Below are some various approaches to getting an agent.

(1) Get an office in America
It is expensive to have an office in the United States. You have to pay rent, liability insurance, utility bills, payroll, salaries, and more. You will pay if you use this approach. But, on a brighter note, if you want to be in full control of the people promoting your business, you need to have them as employees and not fly-by-night freelancers. Sure, you can start out with a more flexible relationship with a freelancer you don’t really know. But, in the long run, if you have a company in India with 20 or more people, I recommend having a nexus somewhere in the United States. Keep in mind that rents and labor costs are a lot more reasonable in Texas, Oklahoma, Southern states (not Florida), and Midwestern states. If you try to get an office in a wealthy coastal city in America, you will be paying double for office space and more for salaries as well. You can fly to DFW in Dallas from any continent in the world. It has all of the benefits of a coastal city, with a price tag of a small town!

(2) Get an agent
Unfortunately, I have met many people who are agents for outsourcing companies in one way or another. They pretend that the company providing the service is really their company. They charge triple what you are charging for your service with no real added value other than how pretty their voice sounds. Many of these agents are not up front with prospective clients which gives the illusion of unreliability. If you use an agent, you need to come up with an arrangement where you will both come across as being reliable and reputable. You might pay a commission for leads regardless of how well those leads pan out in the long run. If the leads systematically are not good, then try another agent.

(3) How do you find an agent?
Just visit! Just kidding. It is not so easy to find an agent. Someone who is already involved in outsourcing who knows how to get business would be a good agent. You could also try to deal with companies in the United States who are in the same industry that you are in. They could route work to you that they cannot handle. At least they are already getting the type of calls that you could use! You need to get to know a lot of people to shop around for an agent, and the search will take months in the best case scenario. But, if your business means anything to you, then invest your time and find someone who will get you results!

(4) A U.S. phone number
It is not a crime to get an American phone number and then forward it to India. Many companies do this. You need to have a big enough business to afford a phone operator who works the night shift to accommodate American calls during American business hours. Keep in mind that the U.S. is spread over six time zones with the majority in Eastern, Central and Pacific time which is 9.5 to 13.5 hours before your time in India (depending on daylight savings). If you are more connected to England or Australia or some other country, then you can get a phone number from there instead of an American phone number.

Having the image of being where you are not without lying is powerful. If someone thinks you are in Denver, and finds out you are in Darjeeling, that is not a crime. Just don’t lie about your name or location. Don’t falsely claim to be in Denver, just get a Denver phone number and let others falsely assume you are there. Don’t claim to be John Smith when you are Ravishankar Balasubrahmanian. Those of us who are experienced in business know that if you lie about one thing, you will lie and cheat about everything! Nobody respectable will do business wiht a liar. So, be honest, and be helpful on the phone, and then people will not be that upset when they find out you are 10,000 miles from Denver (and 1000 feet higher). If you get a good agent, nexus or foreign phone number, this could lead you on the way to wealth!

Customer Service: What Americans Want

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“If you want the best, call the best; if not, call us.” This humorous company motto was the advertising slogan for a small U.S. student-run painting business in the 1970’s. It wasn’t the best, and they admitted it up front in their company motto. Since they also said the company was run by students, they still got work because people had sympathy for them. However, if you are hiring professionals rather than students, no one really wants a company that claims to be less than the best. “Americans want to deal with a company they feel is “the best” at something–whether it’s remembering their names, offering online sources of help, or resolving problems through online chat,” says one successful call center manager in Delhi. As one American said, “I’m not good at waiting in line; I’m good at being first.” In fact, this is the way Americans are about customer service.

One U.S. CEO points out that customer service involves listening to the customer’s issues and comprehending their significance; answering questions and being proactive; and “just being available.” The companies we are sending to the top of the list at 123outsourcing–and the ones that have the most customer service projects– do all this and more.

Let’s start at the end. “Just being available” means that you answer your phone. At 123outsource, we seek out companies that answer the phone professionally; this way, we know how you will treat prospective clients. Whether you are in India or another part of the world, just a worker or a manager of a call center, if you have a company name, people in the U.S. expect you to answer the phone using that name. “Hello” is certainly not the answer U.S. businesses want to hear when they call a company to speak to a representative or a call center manager. “Being available also means that you take the time that is needed with a customer on the phone, instead of just rushing through a call,” says one U.S. consumer who is constantly rating call centers outside the U.S. “You also have to let the person know they can call back at any time,” says the consumer. “Consumers who feel that the people answering the phones are not sincere and are not really available are more likely to complain about customer service,” says the manager of a call center. “You really have to train your workers be present in each call, and give that person a genuine moment of your time,” says a U.S. consumer. “Being sincere about each call is difficult, but it is more rewarding for both the worker and the consumer. It is not fake anymore. We are all tired of fake,” says another manager of a call center in the U.S.

In terms of really “listening” to the consumer on the phone, customer service means you need to understand English well enough to get what the person is saying. “Also,” says one top U.S. call center manager, “the person who has a complaint or a question is really upset about something or really wants it resolved. This person is fixated on this issue, and you need to listen to the person and understand why it is so significant. The issue may seem small to you, but it is significant to the person on the phone. You can show you are listening by saying things like, ‘Yes, I see how this has affected your business’ or ‘I will take steps to see this is resolved,’ ” says the call center manager. “Then, make sure you do whatever you can about the issue. Try hard.”

After you listen to the person on the phone, you need to be proactive and answer all the person’s questions. “Be sure you are answering exactly what the person is asking,” points out one manager of another call center in Delhi. “If the person asks ‘Where is my refund check?’ he wants to know when he will get his money. He does not want a generic answer like ‘We send out all our refund checks the 30th of the month.’ Honor that person by trying to get him an answer to his specific question,” says the U.S. call center manager. “If you do this, you will be seen as sincere and you will have fewer problems with people who demand good customer service,” concludes another discerning consumer. [also see blog 4: Are Callers in India More Sincere?]

How to attract more clients to your call center – eLance

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If you run a small call center, or are more of a sole operator, elance might be a great place to advertise. eLance caters to freelancers and small companies who want to sell their services, and YES, you can sell your services abroad to rich Americans who will pay you five times as much as you deserve for your service, until they figure out that they are paying five times as much as you deserve for your service.

But, what if you offer a service that is flexible, considerate, and valuable? You might attract a lot of clients who will stick with you. Remember that promotion is only 10% of the game. RETENTION is the other 90%. If you focus on being available to answer the phone and you care more about solving your clients’ problems than they do (without sounding insane or desperate) then you might get more business than you can handle.

It is easy to post an ad on elance. I personally do not know what the costs (if any) are, but if there is a cost, it will be negligible compared to what you would gain if you got even one bad client. But, what if you got a mediocre client, or even a good one? There are many freelance sites, eLance is one, I recommend trying all of the freelance sites.

My experience in marketing is that you have to be EVERYWHERE that you get a return on your investment. Turn over a rock — there you are! Companies that get work typically either have great exposure or get recommended through word of mouth by an army of satisfied clients. My advice tells me that you should have exposure as well as a very broad referral base for good luck. Get your name out there.

Pre-contracts for outsourcing: before the real contract!

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Talking on the phone is a great way to find out what your new business associate is really concerned about (money? time? the level of skill of his workers? whether you are a good fit for his company?) If the other person won’t talk about the proposed terms of the contract or the person wants to talk only through an attorney or legal department, you already know you are on shaky ground. Ditto if you are not willing to talk on the phone!

1) Write down the details while you are talking with the representative from the other company, and ask him or her if you may send an email that summarizes your conversation. The other person will respond, and the two of you will already have gathered some of the details for the written contract. Remember, any understanding between parties must be written down in order to be enforceable … so when you have an understanding, write it down!

2) People tend to show their true colors in a second interview or a second meeting [ ] Have a second conversation to hammer out more details you want in the outsourcing contract or call center contract. If you hear something that is a deal-breaker, tell the person you will get back to him. If all goes well, again, make notes and exchange emails. After two or three conversations, you should have the entire contract pretty much figured out.

3) If the written outsourcing contract comes back without these details, or with significant additions that ignore the meaning of your conversations…it’s not going to get better. The final written contract must reflect the spoken, agreed- upon details. Otherwise, you already have a problem.

IN SUM: If the other person is not willing to exchange a few emails with you–and if, after the first conversations, you simply get a reply with an attached contract drafted by a company attorney or legal department–your relationship is already questionable or meaningless. Sending a standard contract at this juncture is rude, and renders pointless the pleasant conversations that took place. The other person has just been humoring you–or, the legal department has more control over the company than the person you have been conversing with. These are sure signs that your relationship will be short-lived.

Better you find out now than after paying for services for an extended period of time! In sum, don’t continue in a relationship that is obviously not based on a real meeting of the minds and some effort on both sides. If someone is not listening or communicating at the beginning, signing a contract will not make the situation work. Walk away.

Outsourcing to a Call Center in India: Benefits and Caveats

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“So my message is simple. It is time to stop rewarding businesses that ship jobs overseas, and start rewarding companies that create jobs right here in America. Send me these tax reforms, and I will sign them right away.” Barack Obama, January, 2012

call center in Bangalore, benefits of outsourcing, save money, outsourcing success, customer service, unhappy consumers, call center worker, training

Will Barack Obama be re-elected, and will he actually do something to make outsourcing less feasible for U.S. businesses? Will he tax outsourcing in some way? Will he give tax breaks to companies that hire U.S. workers to do jobs that we are currently outsourcing, and would this make outsourcing to a call center in India, for example, less attractive? In such a future, what would be the best way for a business to save money? Predictably, President Obama himself is reported to save money in his campaigns by outsourcing to foreign call centers, and many companies–even the traditionally “American” General Electric–send jobs abroad. Wind farms and get more than 50% of their materials and products from overseas manufacturers, and many industries outsource portions of their needs or daily work. Obama has said again and again that he wants to create “jobs that pay well and can’t be outsourced,” but are there such jobs, and is outsourcing detrimental to the U.S. economy–or to our sense of satisfaction with customer service and our material lives? Does outsourcing to India create unhappy consumers? Or is outsourcing here to stay?

According to a 2010 survey of consumers, the Contact Center Satisfaction Index, many unhappy consumers felt that when their customer service calls were outsourced to countries where the callers cannot manage well in English, the issues were not resolved or they had to speak with multiple representatives because the call center representatives are not as knowledgeable or well-trained as call center workers in the U.S. That perception is slowly changing, and in 2012, it seems outsourcing is here to stay. In fact, in July, the Senate killed an anti-outsourcing bill which would have given companies a 20% tax credit for moving work back to the U.S. rather than extending tax credits for moving work out of the U.S.

After the U.S., India is the country with the largest English-speaking population in the world. The average call center worker in India is also better educated than the U.S. call-center worker who gets $8 an hour and works from home. Since 2010, for example, there are more than 60,000 workers in the U.S. doing calling from home, but the cost of hiring U.S. firms that take customer service calls from home is still not comparable to outsourcing to a call center in Bangalore, for instance, where workers are generally young and well-educated. The average call center worker in Bangalore can live on about $300 a month, so the amount you will pay a call center in Bangalore is still less than hiring workers in the U.S.: wages in India are 80% lower than for their U.S. counterparts. Furthermore, workers at the best call centers in India undergo extensive training to become part of a call center staff. For weeks, they attend trainings, learn how to speak using a neutral accent, and learn how to engage a person on the phone; then, they continue their training after being hired. Call centers we spoke with in Bangalore, for instance, are also training managers better, and looking at retention of successful employees.

The benefits of outsourcing to a reputable call center in Bangalore, for instance, are legendary: reports from companies like Chase about how they saved 50% by outsourcing to India put the stamp of approval on the practice of outsourcing to a call center. Also, in 2012, telecommunications costs and equipment make it cost-effective for a call center in India to handle a volume of calls for less. India is expected to earn almost $20 billion in call center business in 2012, and call centers in Bangalore may reap up to one third of that amount. Call centers in Bangalore are training their callers to answer the phone in a professional manner, and to understand and use American idioms and accents, which creates outsourcing success. “Not only will you save money,” says one CEO, “but you have the opportunity to get to know how another culture works. And it is far better than you may think.”

Some fear that if Obama changes the tax structure, the pros and cons may become more even. Outsourcing success may look different: instead of outsourcing to a call center in Bangalore, XYZ Company in Los Angeles may choose to outsource to U.S.companies that hire at-home workers. There was no noise in Congress this past month, however, about anything remotely to do with outsourcing, and tax cuts will be dealt with in November. But considering the fact that the U.S. Postal Service is losing $25 million a day, for example, there are other issues the U.S. has to deal with and other sources of unhappy consumers. The record shows that outsourcing to India is much more of a help to the economy than a hindrance. Call centers with the highest number of workers who are proficient in English get and retain more business from overseas, and according to one Yahoo survey, 80% of businesses say that outsourcing to a call center is a benefit. “Of course,” says one CEO,” you have to create a good working relationship with a call center, and that starts with the very first phone call.”

The most important factor in outsourcing success is the relationship you establish with the call center in India. One quarter of all outsourcing relationships fail in the first two years, according to Dun and Bradstreet. The key to any outsourcing success or any successful contract with another business is the relationship itself. Strike up a conversation with the call center management on the phone, and be sure there is clear communication. Read our Sept 29 blog. If you can develop and nurture a heart-to-heart and head-to-head communication with a call center in India, it makes sense to give them some work. After all, it is a call center! So call them, try to have a conversation, and see what develops.

How to get clients for your call center: steal one from your boss?

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Many people do exactly this. Honestly, it is not ethical, and you will probably not last long. Imagine that you are working at a big call center in India. Imagine that your boss has 500 seats and many managers, and that you are one of the managers. Imagine that you have a database of his clients and know a few. You could network and arrange a mini-mutiny. It happens all the time. People get sued over this.

What can you offer this client that your boss can’t? Your boss has overhead. He also has something you might not have — knowledge. Your boss understands the REAL expenses and risks associated with doing business. He also knows that HR costs really are, not to mention rent and utilities. All you understand is that the client is paying so many lakhs per month and that it could all be yours just for offering a better price. After all, you could rent a small place and do the job for half the price, right?

Wrong. You would have to hire workers who might quit the next day. They will not be trained by you. They might deliver horrible performance. Your VoIP system might not work properly which will ensure you will lose all of your clients overnight. You might underestimate some hidden costs. The Indian mafia might want a payoff from you that you are unaware of until they threaten to break your legs. These are things your boss knows that you don’t know.

So, if you do steal a great client and offer them 40% off as a come-on rate with the idea of jacking up their rate after the initial contract expires in three months — beware. You will NEVER get your old job back again. Your boss probably knows others in the industry who will be alerted of your wrongful deed. Also, you will probably go out of business. You will be jobless and broke and deserve it for sabotaging your boss, and endangering the business of his client. You can not service his client like your boss can. The quality will not be the same.

If you want to start a call center, get call center management experience. Preferably at least four years of it. Learn how to network with clients. Learn how to hire and train workers. You need to understand EVERYTHING about the business, not just bits and pieces. I suggest that when you are finally ready to start work — start small with smaller clients and work your way up slowly.

Good luck and be ethical!

A Special Economic Zone idea for “Insourcing” in Oklahoma

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Americans are so afraid of losing their jobs, and for good reason. Jobs are either being automated or outsourced to countries like China, The Philippines and India. This trend will not end until wages in outsourcing destinations rise to roughly 70% of what costs are in America. Will all the new automation being developed these days, will they even need humans at all? But, the obstacles to American employment are much more severe than overseas competition. Payroll laws, minimum wage laws, and immigration limitations make it hard for employers to fill positions here! To hire someone you need to pay their health insurance, pay unemployment insurance, hire an accountant to do payroll, and more! Office rents are not cheap either. No wonder people outsource to the Philippines — no rules apply — they can do whatever they like over there!

China has had economic zones for years!
China has built many special economic zones for manufacturing and even for IT work. These zones got a lot of government support and have flourished. How come the Chinese are the only ones having good ideas these days? Why can’t we develop good ideas too? Why don’t we build our own outsourcing zone right here? Call it an “in-sourcing zone.”

Here are the basic tenants of the in-sourcing zone
(1) No minimum wage. Too many rules make it risky and constrictive to hire new employees. They can be paid whatever the market will bear.
(2) Free immigration. Anyone can come from anywhere to work in this zone with NO visa. All that would be required would be a complimentary ID card from the special economic zone! By having free immigration, businesses would have complete flexibility as to who they could hire which would make it easier for them to grow, not to mention control costs!
(3) No payroll accounting required. No unemployment tax either. Taxes would be paid monthly by all residents. The amount of tax would be based on which part of town you want to live in and not on your income. Live in a slum, save money. Live with the billionaires, pay through the nose!
(4) No income tax. By having a residency tax instead of an income tax, the zone would be very attractive to people from around the world. There are many tax havens such as Dubai and islands in the Caribbean that have been using the same principle for years!
(5) Residency tax would once again be based on which class of neighborhood you choose. In this zone, you are not born into a class, you choose your class with your wallet.

There would be (8) distinct classes:
(1) Homeless (for those making zero to US$10,000 per year)
(2) Barely Making It (recommended for those making US$10,000-$20,000)
(3) Lower Middle Class (recommended for those making US$20,000-$50,000)
(4) Middle Class (recommended for those making US$50,000-80,000)
(5) Upper Middle (recommended for those making US$80,000-$120,000)
(6) Affluent (recommended for those making $120,000-$200,000)
(7) Wealthy (recommended for those making $200,000- 1 million)
(8) Opulent. (recommended for those making more than 1 million per year)

Residency Fees
There would be hardly any homeless people in this zone because admittance to this special economic zone would come with an initial residency fee. The only way you could be in the zone and homeless is if you had a job in the zone, and then lost it, or suddenly became mentally ill. The homeless would have their own part of town, and their housing (cramped) and food would be taken care of by the government of the zone (assuming they used to be a paying resident of one of the other seven classes). For those who want to save money, the barely making it section would have very economical accommodations at very low prices. In such an area it would be very easy to save money. For wealthy people, the choice of the Opulent part of town would be appealing. They might have to pay residency fees of $20,000 per month, but for a billionaire that is pennies.

The neighborhoods for the (8) classes
Your residency fee would cover your medical care and transportation costs to and from your part of town. Employers wouldn’t have to bother with insuring their workers as the government would take care of this. The quality of medical care would range from stripped down clinics in the less expensive areas to choosing from one of many of the finest doctors around if you were paying the most expensive residency tax. But, is this fair, you might ask? You get what you pay for. The homeless would be getting a free ride, and the poor would be getting a partially subsidized ride. How much more fair do you want? Transportation for the poor might include basic buses, while the wealthy people’s residency tax would pay for mag-lev short-distance bullet trains, Mercedes taxis, highways, and more!

Transportation in the Special Economic Zone
Each part of the SEZ would have a variety of different transportation modes. There could be:

(1) Walking paths
(2) Moving walkways
(3) Bicycle highways
(4) Segway paths
(5) Roads
(6) Highways
(7) Shared Taxis as “feeders” for trains
(8) Mini-Buses & Regular Buses ( that would travel on their own dedicated roads)
(9) Regular Trains & Magnetic levitation trains that could go 200+ miles per hour.
(10) The Snake Train
(11) Boats (if there are areas near water)

You would not need a car in this zone. You would have many choices for transportation. Certain parts of town might have a greater concentration of bicycle paths and less roads, while other parts of town might have more shared taxis feeding into train stations. The only people who would really need to depend on car travel would be those living in the outskirts of the zone as most people would live close enough to very clean and comfortable public transportation to use it daily — especially with the added convenience of “feeder shared taxis” that would be free of charge for those who paid residency tax in the area being used.

Please also keep in mind that in American cities, people who like riding their bike don’t dare because they might get run over by a bus. In my special zone, the bikes would be on roads or elevated paths for use ONLY by bicycles. Some of the paths could even be covered in case it rains. Special stores for bike repair, refreshments, and whatever else bikers might need could be integrated right into the bike routes. Safe locked bike storage compartment areas would be available where bikers might need to park. This way bikers do not have to worry about their bikes being stolen or parts being stolen. What a great lifestyle! Safety, health, and convenience wrapped into one!

The snake train is a novel concept.
It would be a very slow moving train that could be very wide, and as long as you like! It would have coffee houses, book stores, drug stores, and every conceivable way to keep you busy for a slow and pleasant ride. Multi-task on your way to work on the snake train. The snake train would weave in and out of different neighborhoods, but it wouldn’t stop. You just run and jump on when it is going slow. Or perhaps get on the snake by riding a “feeder” train that picks you up, accelerates, and drops you on the train. Read more about the snake train in our other blog article!

Parks and gardens
It has always been my dream to build a city that had huge sections devoted to beautiful gardens of all descriptions. Imagine being able to conduct all of your business with walking through gardens as your primary means of transportation? You would walk through a rose garden, a zen garden, a Korean garden, an English flower garden, an Italian garden with arbors and arches, a water garden, and the list would go on infinitely. Why have cars, pollution, and misery, when you could have an engineered lifestyle that includes beautiful and simple ways of life? Cafes could be in the garden, office buildings could be right next to gardens, and Segway paths could go through gardens as well.

Where would such a zone be?
America has some of the least expensive land in the world. Imagine pairing that with the least expensive labor in the world? The need to outsource services offshore would be eliminated. On the other hand, our Special Economic Zone would resemble an offshore destination due to the fact that the majority of the people living there would be from foreign countries! I choose Oklahoma as my first choice for a location since there is plenty of available land and low building costs.

What types of businesses would flourish in the SEZ?
Any type of business could go there, but it would be more oriented towards tasks typically outsourced overseas. IT work, call center work (which is already very strong particularly in Oklahoma due to low land and labor costs), Medical Transcription, Data Entry, and more. But, in Oklahoma, you could also include farming. The Mexican farm laborers who currently live illegally could come to the zone to enjoy legal status and a comfortable life! The government of this zone could help businesses get established. There would be no income tax for businesses, but there would be lots of benefits. Businesses could get very flexible month-to-month leases for offices of any size. You would pay by the square foot! The government could also have marketing programs to help local companies succeed in difficult markets. The point of this zone would be to create an area where the government helps you instead of burdening you with endless taxes and restrictions. The result would be prosperity for all involved, and a top-notch alternative to offshoring!

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Getting work for your company on

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There are lots of businesses in the U.S. and elsewhere that would like to outsource to India or the Philippines and hire your company. But first, they want to be able to talk with you. Whether you seek work in data entry or accounting outsourcing, run a call center in India, or do web design, getting work with a U.S. company all begins with how you answer the phone. Business people need to feel you are professional and can communicate well in English on the phone–well enough so that they feel confident giving you their business records and other data. Since we would like to help your company, let’s talk about how to make a good impression.

People calling your company from the U.S. will be disappointed if you just answer “Hello” and do not mention a business name. For example, of the many professional accounting outsourcing companies listed on 123outsource that we called recently, only about 3% answered with a business name or had any kind of phone answering system or protocol. Yes: we do call your company to see how you handle yourself on the phone. U.S. businesses that might outsource to India expect a bright, pleasant, professional man’s or woman’s voice on the phone at the outset, ensuring them that this could be the start of a friendly and stress-free business relationship. They are also expecting someone to answer the phone using a company name. If we have to repeat your business name several times before you acknowledge the name and say, “Yes, this is XYZ Company,” it does not create a good first impression. It sounds funny, but in some cases, the person we talked to on the phone did not seem to know that the number was listed as a business; it’s as if they had forgotten who they were! Even if you are doing accounting outsourcing and you have the very best accountants, you need to be able to speak to us. How you answer the phone is important.

U.S. clients want to hire confident professionals, whether this means a call center in India or another group of workers. When a business plans to outsource to India, the managers are very interested in the quality of your work, what software you use, how long you have been in business, and any stories about the first project you took on and how your company has continued to improve. If your expertise is data entry, accounting outsourcing, or managing a successful call center in India, being able to tell us a bit about your company and your attitude toward your work–being able to talk on the phone and tell a brief story about your company–will show that you are personable and that you are able to engage in a long-term business relationship.

We at have traveled and lived in other countries, and we understand that life is different in India or the Philippines. In many ways it is more relaxed, and that is a benefit to those of us who want to outsource to India, or hire a call center in India or a company to do data entry. We know and appreciate your culture and your views about life and work, and we would like to be able to have a brief conversation with you about your company and your experience so that we may recommend you to companies seeking to hire you.

How you answer the phone will distinguish you from other companies that are just starting out. There is a lot of work in the U.S. for companies who do data entry, have a call center in India, or do accounting outsourcing in India, but U.S. business owners who speak English would like to be able to have a 3-minute conversation with someone who speaks English and is confident, enthusiastic, and articulate about your company’s work. We would like to encourage U.S. businesses to outsource to India, but we need to be sure you have the skills companies need. People in the U.S. want to have a conversation with you. They will not make a decision to hire you simply on the basis of your website.

Email and Skype are very helpful, but businesses are interested in how you answer the phone and how you sound on the phone. If you understand us and can talk with us for a few minutes about your background and specific accomplishments, and can tell us something inspiring or educational, we will have a better idea of who you are and how you relate to people. If a U.S. business can have a brief intelligent conversation with you, that company will feel good about moving to the next step in any business relationship.

Here are a few questions for you. We would love to hear from you (really!) :

1) Can you commit to answering the phone with your business name?

2) Please provide us with business hours: when can people call your company and have a live person answer the phone in a professional manner?

3) Is there someone at your company who speaks English and is able to have a conversation about your company’s achievements? Who?

4) Is there an interesting story about how your company was started, or about the owner’s background? Let us know and we can call you. (:

Is it Fair that American Jobs Are Outsourced to India?

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Is it Fair that American Jobs Are Outsourced to India?
A Look at Both Sides of the Issue

There are always two sides to every story. It will take a lot of soul-searching, planning, sacrifice, and hard work for America to recover and create new jobs and a stable economy. If Americans take the reins and do these things, they will succeed in having a stable economy. But as long as educated Indians are able to work longer hours for lower wages than Americans–and their skills and motivation continue to improve–we should not expect the outsourced jobs to return. Deciding what is “fair” involves considering both sides of the issue, both countries’ needs…and what each can offer.

America Since 2001

Consistently since September 11, 2001, the American economy has been bombarded by economic loss and instability to a degree that Americans could not have foreseen or prepared for. Pandemics such as the mortgage meltdown and the subsequent wave of foreclosures and bankruptcies have affected 70% of the population in some way–economically, emotionally–stripping the country of jobs and hope. Not only did the unemployment rate soar after 2008, but people’s attitudes about the country and job prospects took a nose dive. It is apparent that, since the 1980’s, while productivity had been rising in the U.S., real wages–actual income that people took home– stayed the same
( ). People kept working harder and longer but not getting ahead as prices and perceived needs rose. According to, “The number of Americans receiving food stamps has soared, from about 27 million in 1994 to more than 46 million last year [2012], with a spike in the past few years, after the recession struck.” That means roughly one sixth of the entire population was poor enough to qualify for food stamps.

Job Loss, Loss of Income: the End of Manufacturing and the Growth of Technology

According to the Brookings Institute, “Between 1980 and 2009 the United States lost 7.1 million manufacturing jobs, about 38 percent of its manufacturing base,” and, for example, from May of 2002 through May 2012, “the estimated number of advertising and promotions managers fell by nearly two-thirds” (Bureau of Labor Statistics). Jobs in the construction industry decreased by 20% from 2007 to 2009. At the same time, low-wage jobs in the U.S. grew by over 40%, and the motivation, ambition, and real skills of at least 50% of the population have suffered since 2001. In 2013, it is now common for the average American to have several part-time jobs or means of earning income. On the other hand, in the field of technology and IT, which grew by 86% from 2000-2012 and was comprised of a better-educated sector of the population, jobs were available, and wages were often high, $50,000 to well over $100,000 a year. However, in all fields, three out of every four American workers began to describe their jobs as stressful. 10% of the population controlled 80% of the wealth, and corporate profits rose by 20% in 2011–in large part due to outsourcing as well as cutbacks in U.S. jobs. (

The Cost of Education and Poor Mental Health

In the United States, during this same period following 2001, Education in the U.S. became increasingly unaffordable and less comprehensive–for all but the top 5% of the population– and the average person could not be assured of a secure future. At the same time, in a study conducted by the National Institute for Mental Health between 2001 and 2003, 46% of a randomly selected group of Americans were found to have suffered from symptoms of mental illness at some point, and mental illness in the U.S.–and the numbers of people on medication–rose sharply by 2008. In fact, Americans’ use of antidepressant medication rose by 400% from 2001 to 2011 (cbsnews: ). Continually disappointed and forced to live on less and less, Americans could not afford to have their IT or call-center jobs outsourced to foreign countries.
Yet business process outsourcing was the solution big business adopted in the last decade. Here are some reasons why.

Burned Out and Out of Steam

Americans want top wages, yet in many cases, their skills and work habits no longer match the amount of money they expect or need to earn.

By 2008, U.S. workers were stressed to the max compared to their Indian counterparts. It is well known that in developing countries, there is less stress than in developed countries, says Professor Robert Ostermann, an expert on occupational stress at Fairleigh-Dickinson University. One reason, he claims, for increased stress in countries like the U.S. is the amount of advertising and hammering the public to increase their spending and expand beyond a manageable lifestyle. Yet expectations like this contributed to the mortgage crisis: by 2008, encouraged by the mortgage industry, many Americans had borrowed on the inflated equity in their homes, continuing to increase credit card debt…and when the bubble burst, they would never again be able to have that lifestyle. Discouraged, tired, and feeling tricked by the lenders and the system, they did not want the low-wage jobs that were available–because the standard of living prevalent in the U.S. demanded something more–something they felt they had been promised but not granted.

The Truth

Workers in India–who are generally poor but are not suffering from depression and are very highly motivated to earn even a third of what Americans needed to earn in the IT and call-center industries–are by comparison well educated, compliant, and hardworking. They also still have their faith, whereas many Americans have lost their belief in a higher power–or at least act as if they have. The average income in India is about $1400 a year. In the IT industry, a senior developer with 5 years of experience may make the equivalent of $9000-$11,000 a year. His U.S. counterpart will make $80,000 a year. Is it “fair” that American jobs are outsourced to India?

American IT professionals are just not a bargain–and are high maintenance. By some standards, Americans’ work is unsatisfactory; in the IT field, for example, many high-paid developers don’t return calls, and don’t work efficiently; they pad their hours, have temper tantrums… yet they expect to be paid the big bucks even though they do not demonstrate the required skills and attitude. The big companies all have offices and call centers overseas for these very reasons. For much less money, they can find workers in India who do not argue, do not demand high salaries, but more or less cheerfully do the work. They are a bit slower than Americans, and there are some communication problems…but they are human beings with needs just like Americans’, and they are available and willing. They will work for much less than Americans, and are easy to manage once you understand the culture and set up a good working relationship.

There is such a thing as karma. Americans have been selfish for a long long time. They took land away from the Native American Indians, and they took Africans from their homeland. They have often talked down other races and other cultures, and have touted their superiority. And now, they are burning out. We are burning out.

Of course, not all Americans have been selfish. But we have been all but blind to others on the planet, and just looking at history or the survival of various species, no group is on top forever. The Romans and the Greeks had their day. India has an impressive ancient culture with a great deal of wisdom and much to offer.

Maybe, just maybe, it’s their time now.

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Should you annoy people on purpose to test them out?

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I have learned in business that if people hate you, they won’t do good work for you. Many will just stop work all together. People lose their tempers all the time. Americans are far less patient than people in India — just for your knowledge. When we screen outsourcing companies, we ask them a bunch of questions to learn how they think. But, maybe we should ask a few questions to test their patience as well. In real life, in a business relationship, there will be situations where you have to go over nit-picky details to straighten out an ugly situation. If they don’t have patience, learn this up front.

But, what questions could you ask people that will annoy them?
I asked an IT outsourcing company details about their corporate status. They became furious and said they didn’t want to work with me anymore. I asked a programming outsourcing firm about their birth data so I could do an astrological chart to prove compatibility. They flat rejected my question.

Honestly, if you want to have a happy family, you should find out BEFORE the wedding if you are compatible, and an astrological chart can help identify areas of incompatibility — although it still is rather wishy-washy at best. A chart is better than nothing.

I ask people how they would fit a giraffe in a refrigerator.
I ask people what they would do if they won a million dollars.
The point is that if you keep asking questions to the point where it is ridiculous, you can test their patience.

“Are you testing my patience?”
“Yes, that is exactly what I am doing — as a matter of policy. If I don’t know where you break, then it is not safe to enter a work relationship with you”

Err on the side of safety when hiring companies or individuals. A single bad choice can cost you thousands, while shopping around only costs hundreds! You need to shop around anyway, so shop smart in addition to shopping hard.

The 2nd interview: why is it so important?

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After hiring and firing eight software companies in a row, I am becoming smarter. The first one I hired, I only interviewed three companies and made contact with only a dozen. When they didn’t pan out, I went to a known contact who started out good, but had gone down hill over the years. I stuck with him for a year on the current project. I had a feeling that it wouldn’t work out that well due to the complexity of the work, but at least I knew him better than anyone else. I don’t like taking risks. I like doing business with people I know as a rule. Whomever I know best gets the most critical work. Experimental or new projects can be done by strangers.

So, company 1 and 2 didn’t work out well. to hire the 3rd company I made contact with another 20 companies. I figured I would get it right this time. Yet again, the company I hired didn’t get any work done. I tried a few other companies, and it didn’t work out either. Finally after a while I reverted to a company in Arizona who I had used for a few months. I gave them all of my work because nobody else worked out. Unfortunately, their work went down hill and they developed a huge temper too since I was being more demanding after I gave them my most critical project. They couldn’t handle the pressure. After all of these failures, my new strategy was to make contact with HUNDREDS of companies in 10 different countries and screen them with my life.

What I learned is that you can interview people, ask probing questions, test them, and give them projects. But, you don’t know how RELIABLE they are until they are doing a real project. The trick here is to see their true colors. People never show their true colors at a 1st interview. I never understood why big companies were so fastidious and had such long screening and interviewing processes. Now that I have been through the ringer, I understand perfectly. The more tests, trials and tribulations you give a prospective employee or outsourced company, the higher your chances are for a successful relationship.

The 2nd interview is one of the most intelligent hiring techniques ever invented. If they are getting upset with you, it will show during the 2nd interview. If they are in the habit of being late, that might show up too. Their initial good behavior will fade, and they will start being themselves. If there is a long silence at the beginning and there is nothing to say — that is a sign. If they seem bored, that is another sign. If they don’t even bother to show up, yet another useful analytic. But, there is more.

You can ask annoying questions during the 2nd interview to see how much endurance they have. If you are going to hire someone for a decade worth of tough projects, they had better have staying power. You can ask weird questions about astrology, feng-shui, natural disasters, or touch working conditions to see if they can handle it. You need to know if someone is serious about getting your work done, otherwise you have no business hiring them. Good luck!