Monthly Archives: February 2014

Call Center Blues: Does Credibility Matter?

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

What is Credibility Anyway?

It comes down to trust. Basically, credibility means you are offering something worth listening to. Whether you work in a call center in India or a call center in the Philippines, the people you are calling need to believe you have information that can genuinely help them or improve their lives in some way. They need to feel you are calling to offer them something, not just to take something from them.

Here are three simple steps that actually create credibility:

The people you are calling need to hear that…

1) you have a name they can understand and will like.
Saying your name too quickly or in a way that sounds like you do not like your name will not create a reason for the person to want to find out why you are calling. Announce your name clearly and confidently at the beginning of the call. Imagine you are calling to tell them they have won a million dollars; the sound of your voice will make people want to listen!

Call centers in India often suggest a false name; however, using your real name (if you are allowed to) can be just as effective–if you are pleasant, upbeat, and knowledgeable. If you are required to use a false name, make sure it is one you choose and feel comfortable with. Saying your name with confidence and pride is the number one step in the entire process of creating credibility! People want to talk to someone who sounds like he/ she is worth talking to.

2) you know the name of the company you represent, and the name of the person you are calling. One experienced manager of a successful call center in India points out that a skillful, upbeat caller can create confidence and elicit a friendly response in less than one minute just by the way he announces his name, company name, and the name of the person he/ she is calling! On the other hand, if you mispronounce a name like you have never heard of it before, it shows you are not a friend or someone worth talking to. It does not create credibility.

3) you offer accurate and interesting information (name, address, account number, relevant product information–if it is a customer service or sales call). After you confirm their name, it will also help create credibility if you confirm any information you know about them (Do they own a particular product you are calling about? Do they live in Cleveland?). Even if you are from a call center in India that is nowhere near where they live, you can make them feel they know you by making them feel comfortable that you know something about them. Then, offer them new information in a way that is engaging and upbeat.

Two Known Facts:

Succeeding at these three steps in the first two minutes is proven to help people listen better, understand you better, and become engaged in the conversation.

A pleasant conversation creates warmth and builds credibility…and doubles your chances of success in making a sale or resolving an issue. People will feel you are right there in the room (or certainly in the same country)…instead of in a call center in India–or anywhere else.

(1) You gain credibility in a call center by having a pronounceable name & being able to interact
(2) A pleasant conversation creates warmth and builds credibility & makes the sale!

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Where is Warren Buffet investing his money?

Categories: Success | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Where is Warren Buffet investing his money?

Many people look to the stock market for a source of quick gains. You can lose as much as you can gain. Fancy brokers have analytics that can tell you which stocks are trending up, and which are trending down. But, in the long run that is not definite and tells you nothing about what will happen several years from now. Investing in stocks is like a marriage. If you pick someone with the right intrinsic attributes you might be better off — at least that is how elderly people in India think.

The rest of the world is excited about Facebook, Starbucks, Apple Computers, and Twitter Stock.
But, Warren has his money in proven winners. He likes investing in companies that have a dominance or almost a corner in the market that they are in. He likes companies with a long and proven stable and consistent track record, intrinsic value, etc. He likes companies that have a sustainable competitive advantage! He also likes companies that are undervalued, and whose long term price per earnings ratio are favorably low! future earnings potential is another huge factor! He likes Coca Kola, IBM, Wells Fargo, Exxon Mobile, and many other very old and stable companies to name a few!

Fun stocks that are popular with the public like Facebook might make you feel good when you are purchasing them. But, they often are overvalued. Smart investors look at the price per earnings ratio of stocks before a purchase. But, what a company made in the last twelve months means very little. What matters to me is how their earnings have been over the last ten years, and whether their earnings show steady growth, stagnation, instability, or decline! If your stock’s price is 100 times as high as its yearly earnings, not only is it unlikely your shares will have future earnings, but if the stock stops being popular, you could lose your equity fast.

On the other hand, stable companies like Coca Cola, Walmart, Proctor and Gamble, and other pillars of society are likely to be around in forty years. Their profits are steady. Those might not be exciting or glamorous stocks, but you will be more likely to retire with them than some of the newer and less stable companies.

(1)Many look to the stock market as a place for fast gains, but you can lose more than you gain!
(2)If you pick stocks with intrinsic value, you will be better off in the long run

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Twitter Stock — a good idea?

Categories: Social Media | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

I love Twitter. I am a tweetaholic if there is such a thing. My new Twitter and social media manager’s name is Arielle. I joke that if your Facebook does well it goes viral, but if your Twitter account grows like crazy it goes Arielle! (Aerial). But, take a look at their stock. Twitter has been losing money, and yet their stock went from $41 to about $60 in the last few months since their stock went public. I’m not saying that you won’t make money with Twitter stock, but it is gambling when you purchase a stock that is losing money with the hopes that it will grow out of control and turn a profit.

I think it is likely that Twitter will continue to grow and perhaps make huge profits. But, social media is very unstable and new with very little track record. The social media landscape changes so quickly, it is hard to predict if the big guys will be able to adapt to market changes. The big question is whether or not Twitter can sell advertising to large companies. They are doing this now, but can they make it profitable in the long run? This is very unclear.

I think Twitter could make it big, but it could get into bad financial trouble too, and your stock has a high chance of becoming worthless as well. Buying stock in social media is a gamble in general. I think that oil companies are much more stable as an investment these days. Low p/e ratios, and very stable business models. Just close your eyes when you ponder what they are doing to the environment.

If I were a bird, I would like Twitter stock, but I’m a human who drives a gas powered cars. I’ll stick to oil stocks for now!

(1) I am a tweetaholic if there is such a thing, but should I buy Twitter stock?
(2) I think Twitter stock could make it big, but could get into financial trouble too.

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Outsourcing your government bond purchases?

Categories: Of Interest | Tagged | Leave a comment

If you are looking to invest, international bonds are an interesting investment. Stocks can crash, and stock markets are intrinsically unstable. Long term bonds on the other hand fluctuate with interest rates. Buying long term bonds is a type of financial gambling, but if those bonds are a mixture of international bonds with different maturity dates managed by a professional company, does that make them safer? In my opinion, there is still risk, but a whole lot less risk in that case.

One interesting thing I noticed is that the “safe” countries to invest in are not necessarily that safe. The United States has a relatively low rate of return on bonds, yet we came close to defaulting on bond payments during our government shut-down. Other wealthy countries have low long term bond rates of about 4% or less. In the long run, the debt ratio of these countries could get out of hand, long before your maturity date!

When my investor friend goes out with an older woman, he calls it a “Maturity date.”

Risky countries might not be as risky as people think as well. Look at Kenya, Brazil, South Africa, and Russia. They have long term bond rates from 7% to 12%. When was the last time they defaulted? How high are their debt ratios (not high at all). Do these countries have much civil unrest? Africa used to be a very unstable place twenty years ago, but recently, there are relatively few coups, riots, and rebel uprisings. Somalia seems to be lagging behind from this point of view. Egypt has some serious recent uprisings. Kenya had a small massacre. But, compared to twenty years ago, Africa is safe enough to merit more investment than it gets. Brazil and Russia have their share of trouble, but they are not countries that are going to go under either.

On a more confusing note, look at Iceland and Greece. They were going bankrupt a few years ago, and now you just don’t hear about them in the news. What happened? Their interest rates on long term bonds are around 6-8% which is a lot less than many other countries that never came close to default.

The moral of the story is that we live in a confusing world. If you buy bonds and interest rates go up, you will lose principal. But, if your bonds are overseas, their interest rates in the respective countries might not go up when America’s does which gives you more of a hedge against market instability. Good luck!

(1) International bonds might be stable when stocks crash. A great diversification!

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What does Warren Buffet look for when he hires people?

Categories: Hiring & Firing, Popular Posts | Tagged , | Leave a comment

What does Warren Buffet look for when he hires people?
He looks for people who can manage entire projects with minimal or no intervention. Otherwise he could be micromanaging and wouldn’t be able to grow his businesses!

I tried to apply Warren’s philosophy of hiring to my own business. I read a handful of books by Warren Buffet more than a decade ago. Much of the wisdom that he shared in his books stuck in my head. But, knowledge from reading books is different from street knowledge or the ability to apply your book knowledge in real life.

In real life, you might go through hundreds or thousands of people just to find a single person who can handle part of an operation with little or no intervention. With the other 99.9% of people, no matter how hungry they are, the minute you stop cracking the whip, they stop functioning!

It is so hard to apply Buffet’s wisdom, I often ask myself if it is even worth trying! Maybe it would be worth it to find someone who can handle 70% of my operation with some intervention. That solves most of the problem. Even that task is going to be very difficult to find someone to manage.

To use Buffet’s philosophy, you need to be an expert at testing people out. My favorite technique is to hand them something and see if you hear from them again. If I give someone an assignment with no due date, will they get back to me in 24 hours, in a week, three weeks, or never? This is a very useful analytic. If your new hired hand has a finished result in 12 hours and is asking for more work, that is someone who is likely to work out in the long run. Whether they can manage others is unclear, but at least they get their work done.

If you spend all of your time cracking the whip and micromanaging what everyone else does, you will never have time to grow your business. On the other hand, if you hire people who NEED to be micromanaged, and you don’t, then your will be out of business in a week which is much worse than never being able to grow your business. At least you will have a business!

The bottom line is:
If you can afford to hire people who function on their own then great. Otherwise, be prepared to micromanage your workers regardless of what Buffet says. Remember — Buffet has better access to human resources than you do, so do the best with whatever you have!

(1) According to Buffet, you need to hire people who function with little or no intervention
(2) I enjoyed reading Warren Buffet’s books, but applying his wisdom in real life is hard!

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Is bigger always better in business?

Categories: Of Interest, Semi-Popular | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Indians always think that bigger is better. If you have a JOB at a MNC in their BPO division, then you can marry any girl you want and your life is set. You either have to be a manager at a small company, or work at a big company.

But, after calling large companies all last week, I discovered that the people working there were almost all incompetent. I called smaller companies and there was a sense of function. Not all the people were smart, but you could always reach an intelligent and caring person without too much trouble.

I think we need to get out of the habit of thinking that a particular size, location, or look is better. Let’s just look at what a company is, who is there, what they do, and how they do it. Kabbalah, the Jewish brand of spirituality talks a lot about consciousness. To me, the consciousness of a place, house, business, person, group, or state is the most important thing. You might meet someone who is wealthy, but who has a bad consciousness. Another person might be smart, but crooked or careless. Some people think a lot about words while others preoccupy on artistic matters. Many people are brain-dead and think about nothing all day long.

Take a deeper look at companies. Try to see how they tick. Don’t judge by size. But, there is more. Companies have a sort of personality. Putting aside whether a company is better or not, certain personalities will gel with you. If you are working for, working with, or hiring a company, it is so critical to be compatible with them. Spend some time getting to know people. Don’t be in a hurry to calculate how much you will make or spend. See if you are getting along naturally with them. Ask yourself if you would want to have dinner with any of these people. If the answer is yes, then they might be a potential match for you.

Remember: Bigger isn’t necessarily better. Better isn’t always better either. It is about a happy match of people with the right consciousness that counts in the end!

(1) Bigger isn’t always better. But, better isn’t always better either. It’s about compatibility!
(2) Big companies in India make it like pulling teeth to talk to a competent person!
(3) Don’t judge a company by its size but its personality. Kinda like dating.
(3) Bigger companies aren’t necessarily better. It’s whether you click. If not, hang up and let them hear ‘click’.
(4) Don’t judge a company by its size but its personality. Kinda like dating. But if blind date has “great personality,” beware their size! (retweeted already)

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Indian Call Centers: Credibility = a Great Voice

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

Call Center Credibility = a Great Voice (Start Practicing!)

Many callers we know at call centers in India work so many hours that they are exhausted…and feel they cannot give every call their best. Their voices become monotone..and that means they lose credibility. A 2003 Harvard University study confirms that tone of voice has a great influence on what the listener perceives as a positive or negative message. Create a great tone of voice and phone manner so that you always make a positive impression!

Allure provides a certain type of credibility

Some callers we have spoken to at call centers in India develop an air of aristocracy– people who have grace and poise, and a tone of voice that captures people’s attention. Wow! When you hear this person on the phone, you feel honored to get the call. There is something delightful and alluring about a throaty female voice that rings with confidence, or a male voice that sounds like its owner is from a family with inherited wealth. It’s sexy and cool–and people will listen to you! Then, that personality you use on the phone will become part of who you are…and you may actually attract wealth. You will become your best self.

Practice saying your name and the name of your company and client

If you rush through your name or mispronounce someone else’s name like you have never heard of it before and it is not important, it shows that you are not a friend. You are not someone worth talking to! It does not create credibility. If you work at a call center in India, it is particularly important to establish credibility right away. You have only your voice with which to do that.

Practice saying your name and the name of the company so that it sounds impressive! Ditto the name of the person you are calling. Practice your new persona, that on-the-phone personality that glows with wealth or beauty. Practice calling friends and relatives on the phone.

Then–do the whole call in that alluring tone of voice. Studies show that with the right tone of voice, your success rate will increase. Everyone at your call center will envy you. That air of aristocracy will make your call memorable and earn $$ for you and your call center in India!

(1) Many call center workers in India work after they are tired making them sound horrible!
(2) In India, call center workers are so tired, that their voices become a monotone!

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What would Bill Gates do?

Categories: Management | Tagged , | Leave a comment

What would Bill Gates do?

Do you want to be really rich? Then learn how to think like the rich guys think! Look at one of the world’s richest men. Bill Gates. He must think about money all the time… wrong! He thinks about benefitting the world, and God rewards him with success.

Do you think about the world in your business?

How can you apply that to your outsourcing business? Do you think about the bigger picture? Do you think about benefitting your clients and the world? Maybe you should. In the long run, money comes from God. In my experience (I’ve known God for a while now) God rewards people who produce more and who give to charity. There are sometimes rewards for spiritual practice as well, although that is not consistent!

If you are efficient in your work and hire others to create a large organization which helps many, God rewards this type of operation. Bill Gates’ mind dwells on philanthropy much more heavily than almost anyone else I can think of. But, he has the intellectual and financial means to make his visions come true. Most people wish that self-benefitting things would happen, but don’t get very far. Gates has transformed the world of computers and cares tremendously about the world of philanthropy as well.

Basically, the secret is to come out of yourself and expand your perspective. You are not a separate individual. You are a part — perhaps a critical part — of the universe. Everything you do affects the entire universe in some subtle or not-so-subtle way! The minute you have the desire and competency to make a bigger difference, that is when the money will start rolling in.

So, forget about this week’s profits, and your other petty concerns. Turn your business into a lean, mean, world-helping machine!

(1) Wanna be rich? Then, learn to think like the rich guys think. Take Bill Gates for example.
(2) The secret to wealth is to come out of yourself and expand your perspective.

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