Monthly Archives: October 2013

How to get clients for your call center – have your sales staff work American hours!

Categories: Call Center | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

How to get clients for your call center – have your sales staff work American hours!

It is commonplace for call centers to have their callers working an American schedule when they are located in Bangalore, India or Makati City. But, is your sales staff working American hours too? Or do you make it like pulling teeth to be able to actually speak to someone. Running a call center is a lot more complicated than running other types of businesses because the work is very time sensitive. Calls can only be made during particular windows of time.

We call call centers, but they don’t answer
My only question is, how can you be a call center when you don’t even answer your own phone? Maybe you should hire another call center to answer your calls so you see what it is like hiring someone like you! We had to call time after time after time only to find out that the manager only works a few hours on three days a week. What a pain in the rear.

Sales calls do not come all day long.
Sales calls come when they come. But, if you are not there when the calls arrive, then you will probably lose a new contract. If someone cannot reach you, they cannot do business with you, even if you came highly referred. It is sort of like waiting for the train in India 30 years ago. You don’t know when the train will come, but if you are not at the station, you won’t catch it! You might need to train multiple people at your company how to answer basic sales calls. That way you can keep prospects interested in your company while they wait for the manager to get back to them with final answers to questions about the initial contract. In the mean time, they can get answers to questions such as: how many employees to you have, what your specialties are, what typical contracts are like, etc. Everyone has different questions, but training a handful of people to answer basic ones can go a long way!

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If you do outsourcing, your programmers need English

Categories: Outsourcing Articles, Popular on Google+, Semi-Popular, Software Development | Tagged | 1 Comment

Many programming bosses think that their programmers don’t need to interact with clients. They don’t like dealing with human beings in any case, right? This is true. Programmers have a particular gene that scientists have isolated that is responsible for antisocial behavior. It is the S3427 gene. It causes people to not be physically capable of picking up a phone and dialing 10 digits, or sending an email on their own initiative. It is a most interesting gene, and so many people have it. But, sometimes the client needs to be able to interface directly with a programmer, especially for more complicated projects.

Many programming companies have a “project manager” who is someone who flakes 90% of the time and doesn’t really supervise anything, not do they double check anything. Clients are forced to relay their question to the project manager who asks the programmer who gives the project manager an answer who relays the answer to the client. There is double the quantity of communication, triple the aggravation, and quadruple the miscommunication. If you are talking to someone, you should talk directly to them, especially if it is complicated.

But, if you hire people in India, the programmers typically don’t know English. So, how do you work with them? You can find people who know a little English, and hope for the best. Or, ideally you hire people who really do know English. After centuries of British rule, you would expect more people to know English, right?

The bottom line is:

If your .net programmers don’t know English, you will encounter a lot of problems outsourcing to English speaking countries. Why not hire people who know English, and then train them in good communication skills?

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A special economic zone for insourcing in Oklahoma

Steve Jobs watched his programmers carefully — so should you!

Hiring people with a good attitude does wonders!

How the U.S. Can Survive as a Nation:

Categories: America | Tagged | Leave a comment

The way things are going, it looks as if the U.S. will either default on its debt because of disagreements in Congress or will keep raising its debt ceiling, eventually getting to the point where it can no longer pay–sometime in the next twelve years. Putting aside late fees and annual fees, the minimum payments will be more than the government can afford, and the U.S. government will be forced to default.

If the government does default, creditors will be unwilling to lend money to the U.S. Also, all of the money U.S. citizens put into Social Security, for example, they may never see again, and all kinds of federal funding (schools, prisons, veterans’ pensions) might not exist. The citizens of the U.S. will suffer to a greater or lesser extent depending on how effectively the government deals with the situation. One way or another, the issues being decided because of the U.S. government shutdown are not light and transient, and will affect us positively or devastatingly for the rest of our lives.

If the government folds or becomes insolvent, there will not be a national military, Social Security, or national food safety and regulatory agencies: the states will have to fend for themselves. Larger states like California or Texas will probably be able to manage, but how will smaller states survive? What would we use for money, and how would “the Fed” be regulated? There are so many disturbing variables. The states might still band together to create military alliances or military organizations, but we might have 50 separate states with no official central government forcing them to act as a whole. The U.S. might not be a nation as it is today.

The Alternative?

The U.S. government learns to live within its means, and, over three decades, we could balance the budget, pay off all our debts, and develop savings. To accomplish this, the government would need to become more of a regulatory agency and less of a financier.

The three biggest national expenses for the U.S.– the military, prisons, and the debt:

The military would have to be cut by 80%; the U.S. might have a military base in Kuwait and Cuba, but other foreign bases need to be dismantled or drastically reduced. The military should be for defense purposes, not to control the world. If countries are willing to pay a portion of the expense to have a U.S. military base in their country, fine. The U.S. would have only what is necessary to protect itself and its interests. This way, the U.S. could afford to pay off its debt–currently $16,749, 632, 792,721.39.

In the military, everyone would be a volunteer, and everyone would be paid based on what they were willing to do. What is a human life worth? It depends on the market rate. If some were willing to go to the front lines in a hot war, for example, those enlisted men would get paid more. Furthermore, a country would have to pay the U.S. for the U.S. to have a military base in that country (with the exception of Kuwait, for example). If they want protection–let them pay for it, at least a percentage of the cost. Other countries would pay for the U.S. military–if they wanted America’s help.

U.S. Prisons

According to a 2012 CBS news report, the United States accounts for “about 5 percent of the world’s population, but we have 25 percent of the world’s prisoners.” Over 2.4 million people are in prison in the U.S.–despite the fact that the crime rate has dropped by over 40% in the last 20 years. Why so many in prison? A response to drug use and urban violence in the 1970’s. Does the current prison system decrease the drug problem and make our society safe enough to justify its existence? The cost? Between $40,000 and $60,000 per year per inmate.

In order to justify the high costs of their existence, prisons should be financially self-sustaining, and would need to create significant income through manufacturing, for example. The inmates would work long days and would be expected to create value; prisoners would have to pay for their own keep as well as some of the legal and court costs involved in apprehending and convicting them. The cost of prisons would also have to be reduced so that the taxpayers would not be responsible for the burden. How luxurious the prisons would be would depend on how much work the prisoners accomplish. Prisons would also have programs to help prisoners with their mental and spiritual problems, as well as educational programs, so that prisoners could in fact be a more valuable part of the U.S. workforce.

A Related Issue: Drugs

Have prisons solved the drug problem, and are they cost-effective? Maybe not. Instead, there could be drug colonies for people who use marijuana, with severe penalties for users who move outside these colonies. The purchase of marijuana (and all drugs) would be regulated by the state or the federal government, and the sale of drugs would raise money. Each of these communities would have its own tax base, police, jails…and could make it as expensive a community as its residents want.

In fact, there could be a large state–one big state for hardcore drug users–with a wall around it, with guards, for serious drug users–and this state would have to handle its own financial issues. If they had crime, they would have to be motivated to make things better. This state would eventually oust, incarcerate, or put to death the most violent or mentally ill drug users. Since they might be on a tight budget (being self-sustaining), they might resort to more quick and dirty ways of resolving serious problems involving crime.

These communities might in fact serve to resolve drug problems and do away with heavy drug use–because it would cost the drug users too much money to run the community. This solution would almost do away with prisons, and would most likely solve the drug problems in a few years, while making money because the state or federal government would make a profit from the sale of the drugs. This alone would give the U.S. a great deal of money with which to pay off the national debt. By the way–the penalty for using drugs outside this area would be severe.


We should spend more on education for those who demonstrate that they are learning–students who show promise, according to national standardized tests–so that when we spend money on education, we get a return on that investment. Students should be judged only on how much improvement they make during a certain time period. We should reward for improvement, and not on the basis of race or an unusually high starting level of accomplishment or aptitude.

Having the states take a larger responsibility for education would reduce the financial burden on the federal government. Yet whatever money the federal government did put in would be based on return on investment (ROI): each student would have to improve, based on yearly test scores, and any government funding or scholarships would be distributed accordingly. Private foundations and colleges in each state could choose to fund students according to other criteria.

A Good Start

With our military, prison, and education budgets reduced, we could focus on paying the debt. Our expenditures would already be down by 80%.

The Post Office, National Parks, Social Security,
and the Oil Companies

The Post Office would also have to be self-sustaining; it can charge whatever it needs to sustain itself, and would have to raise its prices.

The national parks would also have to be self-sustaining, and would have to charge enough to stay open. Each park would have to be as self-sustaining as possible, with additional monies coming from donations.

Social Security, in the long-run, would be replaced by mandatory individual retirement accounts. It’s cleaner, and each person takes responsibility for himself; you know what you have to retire on. The money is at least in your name–whereas if you let the government invest it, the money might disappear if the government becomes insolvent. Then, we monitor those organizations that are monitoring the funds.

Instead of oil companies lobbying the government, the oil companies could pay the government so that their rigs are protected overseas. The oil companies would pay based on how much protection they want and for how long. The U.S. government would use volunteers (mercenaries) to protect its investment.

And what about war?

Given the reduction in military bases and military spending, what happens, for example, if two countries in the Middle East go to war and use nuclear weapons?
It’s their business.

The U.S. could invade countries that have developed nuclear weapons, and could be involved in quick wars to disable nuclear programs, but would not maintain a presence in those countries for years and years.

We are not in charge of the world, and if other countries choose to end the world–we will do better to provide a good example, rather than maintaining a military presence everywhere and dispensing huge amounts of aid.

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Steve Jobs watched his programmers carefully — so should you!

Categories: Management, Popular on Google+, Popular on Twitter, Popular Posts | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

Just let the programmers do their work?
I am always being told to just let the designers do their work, and just let the programmers do their work. But, whenever I am not watching, they do things wrong and go off on expensive tangents that cost me hundreds in lost labor. They will fail to follow directions, or on a vaguely discussed point, build things in a way that I either don’t like or simply cannot use. Watching programmers can save you hundreds, thousands, or your life. So, why would people tell me to back off?

It is annoying to have someone looking over your shoulder.
I believe it is a nuisance to people to always have someone looking over their shoulder. But, if they would do their work the way I want it, I wouldn’t be looking over their shoulder in the first place. If a software developer generally does what they are supposed to, I don’t need to inspect their work that often or as carefully. But, very few of these software developers follow directions well. It has gotten to the point where I just won’t work with someone who has a track record of following directions any less than 80% of the time which is still a low figure.

So many people do not want me watching their programmers.
But, Steve Jobs watched his programmers much more than I watch mine. If you want to be successful, the evidence points to paying more attention, not less. I believe that I have been dealing with very negligent people who just want me off their back and don’t care much about the quality of the work.

Fire people who don’t want to be watched – immediately
The moral of my little article here is that if people want you off their back — fire them. Find people who are on your team, who are willing to be watched if necessary. Find people who care about following directions and getting things done on time in a reasonable amount of hours. Doing a long search to find good people might be difficult, but it is easier in the long run than hiring people who are evasive, dishonest, difficult, or who just don’t follow directions.

Good luck finding cooperative people
Unfortunately, to find a software development firm that generally does things right, they are less than 1%. Happy hunting! It might be better to hire your own programmers so that you are in control if you can’t find another company who cooperates 100%.

(1) If Steve Jobs watched his programmers carefully, why shouldn’t you?
(2) If your programmers don’t want u watching over their shoulders, watch over their butts as you kick them out of there
(3) Your workers won’t mind you watching over their shoulder as long as you give each shoulder equal time
(4) Watch carefully over your programmer’s shoulder, or shoulder blame for shoddy work they do on their own.
(5) If Steve Jobs watched his programmers carefully, so should U. Come back for upgrade of this tweet a year from now.

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How good are you at estimating jobs?

Categories: Analytics, Management | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

My latest business experiment was to give a bid to dozens of software companies. I was straight forward with them and told them that we gave this bid to many companies and not to take too long doing the bid. I was able to do a quick software development bid accurately in my head in a few minutes. I am not even a software developer, yet I was able to do this task quickly. What I couldn’t understand was how professional software development firms with decades of experience took hours and days to do a quick estimate and came up with double, triple, or quadruple the amount of hours that my local programmer (20 years of experience) and I thought were necessary.

It took me about four minutes to come up with a figure of 40 hours. I realized there might be small issues that I overlooked such as customizing pages for the different browsers, and what if there is a problem, etc. But, this project was very simple, and there was not a lot that could go wrong. I asked my current programmer (who is too busy to do much work, but is very smart). He took a few minutes and also said 40 hours. I was amazed that he got EXACTLY the same figure I did, and within minutes. Smart people think alike — either that or I made a lucky guess!

So, why did many other companies need 280 hours to do the job? Were they using complete beginners or were they cheating us? Or both? That is 7x the necessary amount of hours. Then, we got a lot of bids around the 80-100 range which is more reasonable, but still price gouging or overestimating.

There were several factors in my dismay. Only 20% of software development companies worldwide came up with reasonable sounding bids which is very disappointing. But, better than 0%. I was also disappointed that you have to wait and wait and wait for these companies to answer an email and get back to you. The average company took two days to do this four minute bid. Many never responded back to us at all, while a few even got angry with us. Unbelievable.

Many had more questions and wanted all types of details for a preliminary bid. All of the critical specifications were in the bid request paperwork. We also had programming companies start bidding on the artwork which was never mentioned in the paperwork. They ASSUMED that we might want artwork. Would it hurt to ask before you assume? They even threw in some artwork into their bid which we never asked for. If something is not written in a bid request, do not assume that someone wants it. Just specify that your bid does NOT include design work. Lastly, there were companies who started talking about pre-fabricated programming which we never asked for.

The bid experiment revealed that many BPO companies just cannot follow simple instructions and can not get simple tasks done. Many others expect you to just hire you after they give a criminally high bid. Some have endless requests for unnecessary clarifications. But, most bids were just completely unreasonable.

Software companies need to be efficient at doing bids. You will alienate your clients if you take too long to do simple tasks. It is proof that your company is inefficient if you can’t even bid without having the client pull teeth to get it out of you! Remember, what you do before you get a client on board matters a lot. If you blow it for some stupid reason like being a slow bidder, the client will easily seek greener and faster pastures!

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Should you have slack in your schedule as a manager?

Categories: Management | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Most managers are either busy, or not there. That makes it hard to do business with them. How many phone calls does it take to reach you if you can be reached at all? Personally, I have other people do incoming phones for me, so I am reachable by email only, unless you are someone who it is necessary for me to communicate with directly. I just have too much to do. If I answered insignificant phone calls about tiny issues all day long, I would have no time to handle bigger issues. Big things get priority with me.

But, if you are in management or sales, then client acquisition should be your biggest priority, with on-time delivery being equally important. If your schedule is booked too tightly, you will not be able to handle last minute phone calls that come in. You will not be able to deal with unexpected problems. The point is to be available just in case something important comes up.

Warren Buffet likes (this is based on a book I read 12 years ago) to have about two hours of work per day. The rest of his day is open just in case he needs to attend an unexpected meeting, or has an unexpected problem. He leaves himself open. The rest of the world does the opposite and is always too busy to deal with anything.

To have more free time, that means you need to hire more people, and more reliable people. It is not easy finding people who can handle their work perfectly with minimal or no intervention (as Warren Buffet likes). But, if you plan on having a more open schedule, so you can do a better job being available for bigger concerns like last minute new clients, meetings or unexpected problems, you need to be better at delegating. Farming out work to others is a very complicated skill. But, to make it higher on the food chain, it is one of the most important skills that you can master!

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How to Get More Business For Your Call Center — Better Training!

Categories: Call Center | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

How to Get More Business For Your Call Center — Better Training!

Everybody in India wants to start a call center. But, those that succeed have better training for their workers. But, you might say, “I need BPO clients first before I can think about training, how can I get clients?” You can get call center clients by networking with others who have call center business. You can buy leads from them, or create advertisements visible to those in the West. But, if you don’t provide good service you will get dumped before you know it, and you will be out of business. So, GETTING business is not your problem — keeping it is the problem. Sure, it is hard to think like that when you don’t have business and have never had it, but try to think from the perspective of someone who has tried and failed in the call center industry and learned something! Training is the secret to keeping clients.

Impress people with your training
If you can impress upon prospective clients how well trained and flawless your call center employees really are, they will be more likely to want to sign a contract with you. If you simply hire people off the street and don’t invest in their skills at all, when the critical call comes in from a prospect, you will have no way to impress that person. Conversely, you will be very evasive, and try to sweet talk them. You will try to assure them that everything will be okay if they just sign that contract. This is not a reliable way to gain trust. Gain trust by getting to know people, and let people get to know your staff. Don’t hide your staff — show them off (if they are any good)

Americans are wary of bad service
Americans are so sick and tired of bad service from India. You should be very tuned into this sentiment instead of continuing to ask, “How can I get clients”. If you offered high quality service you would have to fight to get rid of clients. Instead, ask yourself how you can give Americans the best service that they ever had in their life. If you can make that fantasy a reality, then your phone will ring off the hook. Word travels fast.

How do you train people?
Part of the training is for management. Managers at Indian outsourcing companies typically have many unprofessional types of behaviors. They answer the phone saying, “Hello”. Professionals state their name and company name. Only 2% of companies in India have professional sounding answering machines that actually state the name of the company you called (so you don’t have to guess) and make it possible to leave a message. Whether they actually call you back is another story. Training sales staff to actually answer the phone and be able to answer basic sales questions is another matter to consider. But, actually training the workers is harder than you think. You are not American, and you don’t know how Americans like to be talked to! You need to hire someone who specializes in training call center employees to come to your office and give regular training sessions.

That sounds expensive!
Doing business is expensive. Paying salaries, rent, cab fares, utilities and other expenses are not for free. If you are going to pay all of these other costs, invest in training. My guess is that he who invests most in high quality training will probably grab a higher percentage of market share more quickly than any other company. Most companies are not even trying to compete. Americans are less sensitive to price variations as they are to quality variations in companies. Because, if you give them low quality service, then they will lose THEIR clients which will make them go out of business. Americans would rather pay a little more and get better service. I’m not suggesting that you charge double what the others charge in your area, but don’t try to be the cheapest, try to be the best. Sure, offer special sign-up deals for the first three months to get people on board if you need to, but in the long run, focus on quality.

What type of training do people need?
Call center employees need help with pronunciation, clear speaking skills, speaking loud enough but not too loud, and handling difficult situations. You need to be sensitive when there is a problem. You need to be on the side of the person you are talking to and care. You need to be able to explain complicated situations flawlessly to the person on the other end of the phone. Some call center employees can do this, but, many can’t handle even the smallest of complication. Learning American culture and expressions is always helpful. Mastering the art of American small talk is quintessential to success. But, it is the Philippinos who learn these skills almost effortlessly and not the Indians. Why is this? People in the Philippines have excellent interaction skills in general, and they rub off well on Westerners. People in India often just want to make a buck, and don’t want to learn anything about their client or interact with their clients. This attitude is not attractive to Americans and has to change! Otherwise there is no way that you will be successful!

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5 reasons why you should have your company under one roof!

Categories: Outsourcing Articles | Tagged | Leave a comment

Many people these days choose to work remotely. They don’t want to drive to work. They don’t like the office environment. I don’t blame them. I am the same way. But, for certain types of work, particularly outsourcing tasks such as Data Entry, Call Center, BPO, etc., it is more effective when everyone is under the same roof.

I recently hired a software company based in Arizona. They have teams in various parts of India and a few parts of America. They have a very strong programmer who works remotely. Yes, he has his own office, but it is not under the same roof as corporate headquarters which are probably out of someone’s house (who knows). In any case, when he doesn’t answer his phone, there is nobody next to him to nudge him. If he were in an office, someone would track him down, go to his desk and tell him to PICK UP!

So, here is a summary of reasons to have your team under one roof.

(1) You can nudge someone who doesn’t pick up the phone
(2) You know if someone came to work that day
(3) It is easy to coordinate meetings because everyone is already there (although they might have conflicting things to do during the meeting time).
(4) If they are managing others or being managed by others, it is easier if they are all under the same roof.
(5) It looks more professional to clients who might want to visit you.

Sure, it is hard to get a bunch of people all in the same place. But, running an outsourcing business is hard, and you need all of the advantages you can get. Being under one roof offers many advantages — unless that one roof is leaking!

Networking meetings are a great way to grow your business

Categories: Marketing | Tagged | Leave a comment

Do you want to grow your outsourcing business exposure. There is nothing better than meeting real live people, especially people who might be great clients. People in America go to networking meetings. Sometimes you have networking breakfasts, networking lunches, and networking wine and cheese parties. I just met a great business contact at a wine tasting with my buddy. He knows a lot of local business people, and I was introduced to someone who has staff members around the world who do ASP and PHP programming which is a service I am in desperate need of at all times.

If you are stuck behind a desk in India and want to gain new clients overseas, you need to have an arm and a finger in the United States or some other overseas country and find a way to meet influential locals. Either you should come here and wine and dine us, or send an agent. A good agent could use various types of channels to gain business to send to your company. They could set up ads, cold call companies, go to networking events and more! Regardless of who does the networking for your company, if you don’t do any networking, you won’t have a network — and THEN, where will you be? Networkless!

Try growing a business without clients. It doesn’t typically work very well.

When in doubt — NETWORK!

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How to gain more call center clients: write professional emails

Categories: Call Center | Tagged | Leave a comment

I have touched upon this topic so many times before. It is unbelievable how unprofessional so many people are in the call center outsourcing industry. If you have an unprofessional website, personal email address, or if you write text-English, you are unprofessional. If you don’t speak clearly, don’t express yourself clearly, or don’t have well trained staff, then you are once again: unprofessional.

You will lose any serious client if you write English like this:
“How r u? We want a new client 4 r call centre. Pls gve me a call rghit away”

This sentence is littered with Text-ese, spelling mistakes, and abbreviations. Nobody with any standards will have anything to do with you or your BPO if you write like this. Also, if you are writing a proposal to a known or unknown company, you need to address the email to a particular person and state their name.

Dear John Smith,
I am writing you to introduce our link building services. We provide …… etc….

If you are smart, you will either already know some of John’s INDIVIDUAL needs and offer a few choices of useful solutions, or at least ask him what he needs help with, or if he needs any help. If you have any trouble communicating, then learn to communicate in a businesslike way before you ruin your reputation!

If you run even a small call center, communicate professionally and people will take you more seriously!

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