Monthly Archives: March 2014

Positively reinforcing good worker behavior and negatively reinforcing bad

Categories: Motivation, Semi-Popular | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

As a manager, you do more than coordinate. You are like a football coach (disregard the pot-belly.) Your job is to motivate the troops, keep conflicts moderated, and keep life organized. Many managers are simply overwhelmed and have too much to do. They don’t have time to give feedback and are not masterful in doing so.

Many employees are sensitive. You can’t just criticize them or tear them apart. You have to be very diplomatic and cautious. You have to understand which types of mistakes are small ones and which indicate character flaws and a bad attitude. There is a lot of skill involved in being a manager.

As a manager, you need to first of all build up a foundation of trust and good vibes. You need to give realistic positive feedback on a regular basis (don’t over-do this.) Also, you need to establish a social rapport. This is not always possible with anti-social types, but some relationship building is a lot better than none. People will do better work for you and stick around longer if you are personally connected to them in a small (or large) way. The minute that relationship goes sour, so does the work in almost all cases.

Part of the reason you need that individual connection is to gauge their work based on how they interact with you. Even if you rarely check their work, you can quickly know there is a problem if they are evasive, unfriendly, or just plain hostile. Interaction is a measuring stick you can use to quickly know how a work relationship will go. In my experience it is 95% reliable although results can vary widely depending on the individual.

Knowing how much to dwell on the nit-picky positive or negative aspects of the employees work is a skill. Overdoing it can make people get a headache fast, and not giving any input can allow people to go on costly tangents. Balance is the key in business feedback!

Negative feedback is tough. Sometimes it is smart to disguise a criticism as a request.
“Could you do it this way next time? I prefer it that way. The way you did it is not bad, I just prefer it this way.”
Smart, you got the employee to do it right without hurting their feelings. Hurt a person’s feelings one too many times and you might have a huge bill to pay to HR to find you another when they quit prematurely.

How often to give negative feedback.
If someone really did something bad and you need to harp on them, make sure you have built up trust enough so they will be able to absorb your negativity and work with it positively. Relationships that last are those where 80%+ of assessments are positive and less than 20% are negative. That includes work and personal relationships. If you are a girl who always harps on every little thing your boyfriend does, you should just break up — it won’t last! Save your harping for when you need to harp because it does relationship damage. Look for good things to comment on when you are not thinking about positive commentary. You need a bank account of past positive comments to merit a negative poking session!

In any case. Your work is terrible!
You’re fired!
Just kidding!

(1) As a manager, you do more than coordinate. You are like a football coach (disregard the pot-belly.)
(2) As a manager, you do more than coordinate. Your job is to motivate the troops, keep conflicts moderated, and keep life organized.
(3) Many employees are sensitive. You can’t just criticize them or tear them apart. You have to be very diplomatic and cautious.
(4) How often do you give negative feedback? Do it too much & ur looking at a divorce!

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Call centers in the Philippines are getting more expensive than India

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

Although the Philippines seems to be a country that is permanently cursed with poverty, prices for labor might seem expensive relative to India. The Rupee has been losing ground for the last several years. It went from around 40 per dollar to around 60+. Will this devaluation ever end? India has the corner on the market for price, but few companies have ever had a positive experience with an Indian call center.

The Philippines has over 1000 call centers. They are distributed all around the country. However, a huge percentage (roughly two thirds) are in urban areas near Manila such as Makati City, San Juan, Ortigas Center, Manila Proper, and Quezon City.

Call center outsourcing in the Philippines is not that old. It started in 1999 when Cyber City created an outsourcing facility in a former US Air Force base in Clark. That created a trend that really took off (no pun intended.) A decade ago, India had a huge lead in the call center industry, but now Philippines is #1 in line for being the biggest international outsourcing location for call center work.

(1) Call center prices in Manila are more than Mumbai due to fluctuating exchange rates!
(2) Call center outsourcing in the Philippines started in 1999 at a former air force base.

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Half a million Filipino call center workers are on American time

Categories: Call Center, Philippines, Semi-Popular | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

500,000 Filipinos live on American time! Their bodies are still in the Philippines, but could be said to be emotionally in the United States. They work and sleep on an American time zone. Additionally, they take their vacations when America is on vacation. Imagine celebrating the 4th of July in the Philippines! It sounds dreadful. Next, if disaster hits in a part of America, they become more involved with that snowstorm, power outage, or mud-slide than they would be if a tsunami or hurricane hit their motherland.

There is some sort of an emotional divorce that happens between the call center workers in the Philippines and “regular” folks. They just can’t relate to each other the same way after getting their call center job.

I have personal experience with this type of life. I sometimes will be on the phone with India all night for weeks in a row. I lived in India a few times before as well. But, this didn’t divorce me from our locals here in Los Angeles. I still relate to them the same way I did before. I relate to individuals — or not!

But, I think there is some truth to the fact that the first time in your life that you become immersed in a 2nd culture, a gap is created between you and your countrymen. There is just too much that you become familiar with that they know nothing about. It creates a huge division.

But, there is relief to having what I call a “bicultural gap.” In the Philippines they solve the problem by drinking beer, hard alcohol and consuming vast quantities of fried chicken! Maybe it is not the most healthy way, but they will figure that out when they get into their late thirties and forties!

(1) 500,000 Filipinos live, eat, sleep, and work on American time
(2) Their bodies are in Manila, but emotionally they are in the US #callcenterworkers

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Having a foundation in business for long term growth

Categories: Management | Tagged , | Leave a comment

I was just listening to yet another Harvard Business Review interviews on their blog. Hearing their content is a relief from the endless reading I do on their site. The topic was having a foundation in your business.

Apparently, many companies in the USA provide services that compete on a global market. But, the cost for those services is somewhat high. Countries with less expensive labor can grow their business presence like weeds by capitalizing on their lower labor costs. This works for a while. But, what people don’t always think about is that labor costs are not static. Labor costs in China have gone up a lot, and will probably continue to do so. Currency rates in India have made labor a lot cheaper. The cost of labor is very unpredictable in a global market place making it foolish to bet on long-term cheap labor. The real estate market is equally unpredictable making your office or industrial space something that can really fluctuate in cost.

The moral of the story was that companies in stable places like Germany, America, or other wealthy countries may not always have the cheapest price, but there is an element of refinement. The workers have been doing the same work for a much longer time, and management structures have been in place much longer making them more stable. There is an element of efficiency in what these companies do which can often rise over time. Many American companies are using robotics and other high tech means which make them able to successfully compete against the Chinese whose labor costs are much higher than a few years ago, and who do not have the means to use robots.

In a sense, it seems like some of the poorer countries are hitting a growth ceiling. Maybe that ceiling is temporary, or maybe not. For them to grow to the next level, they will need to learn about efficiency, and building long term relationships, developing higher and more consistent quality standards, and a lot of other things as well.

I tend to think that China will make it even though they are having growing pains. India and the Philippines I am not so sure about. India thrives on doing everything in the most inefficient way humanly possible, and shows no inclination to break out of this moronic way of life. It will be impossible for them to ever become an economically comfortable country with this attitude. I call it inverse optimization!

(1) Developing countries with rising labor costs need to master the art of efficiency if they are to survive in the long run
(2) Developing countries need to understand that their real estate and labor expenses can fluctuate in either direction overnight!
(3) America is using robotics & successfully competing against Chinese manufacturing = a growth ceiling for China?

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Outsourcing: Why Everyone is Doing it. One Bizarre Example

Categories: Of Interest, Popular Posts | Tagged , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Outsourcing: Why Everyone is Doing it. One Bizarre Example

One U.S. software developer who makes a six-figure income recently admitted–when he was caught–that he outsources his work to a software developer in China and spends his time relaxing and browsing various websites. The cost? A mere 20% of his salary.

Also, please note: it is entirely possible to get comparable if not superior work from an IT company in India or China. Cost is not the only factor.

This case demonstrates why companies outsource–and how tired and discouraged even successful Americans are with work. Many people assume that outsourcing is the cruel scheme of big business in the U.S. or that the government is at fault for promoting outsourcing to IT companies in India or China. But in this case, the developer had a great reputation and paying work–but chose to jeopardize his position by outsourcing to an IT company in China. In short, he did not want to work or was not able to take the stress that came with the job.

U.S. companies, fueled by Bureau of Labor Statistics reports, point out that, in 2013, there are 120,000 new IT jobs created for people with computer science degrees, by only a little over 50,000 new college graduates qualified to fill these jobs…which invariably get filled by workers from foreign countries with temporary visas. Outsourcing to IT companies in India and elsewhere will continue as long as American companies find there are not enough qualified American workers to do the job.

In our experience, for example, many high-end software developers in California outsource their work to IT companies in India, and have a variety of explanations of how their work gets done and where. According to, the global outsourcing industry was a 1.6 trillion dollar success story in 2007. The Wall Street Journal, as quoted by, confirmed that the largest corporations, including “General Electric, Caterpillar, Microsoft, Wal-Mart, Chevron, Cisco, Intel, Stanley Works, Merck, United Technologies, and Oracle…cut their workforces by 2.9 million people over the last decade while hiring 2.4 million people overseas.” These figures do not include thousands of jobs outsourced to IT companies in India or China by smaller firms across the U.S.

In addition to IT companies, Call Centers in India and Data Entry in India are getting a huge share of the global outsourcing market. Recently, Call Centers in the Philippines and South Africa are also popular outsourcing destinations.

(1) There are 120,000 new IT jobs every year, but only 50,000 new people to fill those jobs
(2) There is a growing shortage of programmers in the USA, and outsourcing fills the gap
(3) Programmer outsources work to China for 20% of salary!
Next: Outsourcing bedsores he developed from lying around
(4) Only 50,000 U.S. grads qualified to fill 120,000 IT jobs for compu-sci majors. Foreigers w/temporary visas love IT!
(5) Global outsourcing industry raked in $1.6 trillion in 2007! That’s almost enough to pay someone else 2 do the raking
(6) Big U.S. companies have given the boot to 2.9 million & hired 2.4 million overseas! The boot wasn’t even made in US.
(7) India BPO’s are getting a huge share of the global outsourcing market. Forget India ink. We’re talking India Inc.
(8) Programmer outsources work to China for 20% of salary! Next: Outsourcing free time with family driving him crazy!

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SEO Optimization is like Acupuncture: So many channels!

Categories: SEO | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

What SEO specialists and acupuncturists don’t realize, is that their two professions have more in common than may meet the eye, or at least the eye of the needle! SEO is a profession where every thing you touch influences everything else in some unknown or unpredictable way. There are uncharted fluctuations in traffic that overlap your fine-tuned adjustments.

There are so many ways to increase the flow of traffic to a site too. There is the Facebook meridian, Twitter, Stumbleupon, Google+, page optimization, and link building meridian strengthening techniques to name just a few more common ways. Blogging is yet another way to boost traffic to your site since blogging is all about fresh content which is something Google respects. Nothing is worse than a site that just sits there, so your blog that gets a new piece every few hours or once a day is highly appreciated by the Google gods.

But, if you add a link to a page, you strengthen the page you are linking to, but you might also be strengthening or weakening the page you linked from. It is not so easy to say. Additionally, if you increase the flow of “Qi” or traffic from your Facebook meridian to your Blog meridian, that also is likely to increase the flow of “Qi” from Google as well. Interesting.

In acupuncture, if you strengthen one energy channel, that can enhance other related channels as well. But, if there is too much energy, or too much of a discrepency in energy strengths, that can lead to weakening or a clash of qi energy. Acupuncture is complicated. So, is SEO.

I am just left with one lingering question.
Can you use Moxa to boost your Twitter PPC campaign?

(1) SEO is a profession where every thing you touch influences everything else in some unknown or unpredictable way.
(2) Connecting your traffic pathways on the internet is good SEO, but can it hurt you sometimes?

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Why Indian Call Centers Fail

Categories: Call Center, Semi-Popular | Tagged , | Leave a comment

In a recent conversation with an executive who is an expert on setting up call centers in India as well as other countries throughout the world, I learned that a major reason call centers in India fail is poor management. And 90% of call centers in India fail. Start-up companies in India do not consider hiring an experienced call center manager to be a critical part of the first years’ budget! This sets up a vicious cycle that harms the business in three ways:

1) Poor skills and poor salary = poor attitude

When a new call center starts up, the company will very often spend money on everything else: office space, furniture, desks, technology (IT), and equipment. To be sure, these are important… but without an experienced manager from the call center industry, a call center in India will not be able to select, train, and retain the right staff. The company will also not know how to build the business and retain good clients without the expertise of a manager who has worked in that industry. Spend money on an experienced call center manager whom the company, callers, and clients can respect.

Frequently, a call center manager in India will earn the equivalent of $4000 a year…or less. It is not a position that commands as much respect as being an IT manager, for example. So finding an experienced call center manager and rewarding that person more than usual can be good for him/her–and good for business. Instead of going out and finding the best managers they can, companies are spending money on brokers to help them get clients. Many of these brokers demand money up front. Better to invest money in the key employee–a good manager–who will make your call center stand out from all the call centers in India!

An inexperienced call center manager may be distant, inefficient, and ineffective. Any of these problems in a call center in India will lead to failure.

2) Poor attitude = poor environment, poor employees, and poor retention

M any call center managers in India don’t care about finding, training, and rewarding good callers. Maybe they just don’t like people. They may even be rude or apathetic. This leads to caller burnout–and high attrition rate for callers and clients. A manager’s inability to create a good work environment predicts the failure of your relationships with clients and your business. Aim to have a manager who can motivate callers to stay–and become managers themselves!

The lack of respect a manager at a call center in India gets filters down from the manager to the callers to the person on the other end of the phone…which is why Indian call centers are currently not competitive with those in other parts of the world. If you run a call center in India– hire an experienced manager who commands respect and respects others!

Since most call centers in India suffer from 20 to 50% turnover in the first year, it is important to hire someone who can recruit and train a reliable group of callers who will make money for the company.
Which is worse–having to pay staff a bit more each year because they are pulling in good clients and establishing a successful business… or finding and training new callers all the time because management just does not know or care how things are done?

Studies show that work environment is as important as–and often more important than–salary…even in a call center in India where people may be desperate for work. A manager with experience in the call center industry will create a system of rewards that makes the place feel like home.

3) Poor environment & results = poor reputation = The End.

When managers do not treat callers well and do not know how to train callers, the company loses both callers and clients: long-term losses that cannot be reversed. According to a Wharton Business School study, call centers that keep more employees –and promote them from within–maintain a better customer focus and keep their clients. Call centers in India that develop a bad reputation with employees and clients fail in the first six months.
Remember: a bad reputation is nearly impossible to reverse…and certainly cannot be repaired as quickly as it is created.

According to the NY Times, as of August, 2013, business growth in India has slowed to 4.4% per year (down from about 8%). A great deal of this reversal is due to poor management.

Call centers in India are often hesitant to spend money on experienced managers. However, the ones that do spend their money on good managers are the ones that succeed in the long run.

(1) Call centers in India are often hesitant to spend money on experienced managers.
(2) Business growth in India has slowed down to 4.4% due to poor management.
(3) Poor skills and poor salary = poor attitude

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Which are the happiest and healthiest countries in the world?

Categories: Of Interest, Popular on Twitter | Tagged | Leave a comment

You might read ten different magazine articles and get twelve different opinions. America seems to be losing ground as a happy country. People are losing faith in the government and see opportunity as something that is less and less. Pessimism has set in.

Denmark and Sweden are some of the happiest countries in the planet. Ironically, Sweden also has one of the highest suicide rates. I guess after you discount the suicides, that cleans out the bell-curve making the remaining overall population seem happy!

I’m reading in an article by Forbes that Luxembourg is the healthiest nation on Earth. Iceland is the safest, and Switzerland is the best governed. Some of the African countries are the most unhappy with low incomes and low life expectancy.

I remember reading long ago that Bhutan was the happiest country on earth with a high level of Gross National Happiness. This ended as Bhutan introduced night-life, fashion clothes and television into their lifestyle. Buddhism seemed to keep them happier than modern culture.

My take on the matter is that countries with these attributes have longer living and healthier citizens: (1) Consumption of Red Wine (2) Fish (3) More whole foods (4) Good healthcare (5) A more casual lifestyle with closer ties to loved ones! My opinions are based on what I was reading twenty years ago. The Greeks and Italians have a much more carefree life, with lots more time spent with family, lots of healthy seafood, vegetables, and red wine. Meanwhile the Americans and Taiwanese are fighting to make a fast buck and miserable every step of the way, developing horrible diseases later in life. The irony is that the over-working Americans went from stressed, to hopeless with the economy slowing down. Why is it so hard to strike a balance in life.

During my visit to Denmark for a spiritual gathering, I was reminded daily how much I disliked their beautiful resort of a country. The people were very helpful, but there was nothing to do and it was boring. The only people who were friendly with me were muslims. The culture of the whites was very frigid to me. But, the people were very happy with their country and their government.

The attitude of the Asian and Middle-Eastern immigrants matched the attitude of the whites — they loved their country (even though they didn’t like each other).

My finding is that it is hard(er) to be happy when society has removed the basic building blocks of happiness from your life. If you are forced to work all the time and not have a family, how can you be happy? If you live near a Whole Foods store, you can still get the wine and vegetables, but the “Family” aisle where they sell ready-made families was not well stocked last time I was there.

In the USA, we live in a country of broken families and unhealthy lifestyles. It seems that the only way to be happy is to engineer your life according to very carefully prescribed guidelines. Take enough time off. Spend enough time with others. Relax. Meditate on the cosmos. Don’t think too much about the future. Enjoy what you are doing. Don’t forget about the red wine. Oh — and don’t forget to smell the flowers! In short — engineer the right attitude.

(1) Are the happiest countries in the world necessarily the happiest? Does money make you happy?
(2) Why are the Danes so happy while the Americans are not?
(3) Swedes are one of the happiest people on earth, but they also have the highest suicide rate.

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Most BPO blogs use cheap looking pics

Categories: Marketing, Semi-Popular | Tagged , | Leave a comment

I poke around the web regularly. I often read other people’s blogs to learn a thing or two about online marketing, social media, the world of outsourcing, and more! I noticed that people generally include some sort of photo or graphic on their blogs as a picture. What I noticed is that these pics are normally very cheap looking. They look like the $1 kind of graphics that you buy on some cheap graphics site.

The question we need to ask ourselves is, what is the value of a good photo? If your blog gets lots of traffic, it might be worth it to invest in better artwork. If your blog leads to measurable higher ROI for your business, you might invest in a little bit better artwork. If your home page on your website has cheap looking art work, that is really bad. Blogs come and go. Many people write several blog articles per week or even per day. It gets expensive when you spend $40 per photo day after day. But, for your home page, I think you should spend more than $2 for graphics, don’t you?

I did a little number crunching to see what the benefit of good photos was on blogs and on facebook. My research was not very conclusive since we were testing during the holiday season when stats go up and down depending on what day it is. But, you can get 20-80% more action on Facebook posts if you have a good picture. It really depends on your audience and your business, so it is worth trying it both ways and then counting the number of likes and responses to see if your expense in art was merited.

The bottom line of this article is:
If you are making money, or intend to be making money, lose the cheap looking art work buddy!

(1) If you are making money, or intend to be making money, lose the cheap looking art work buddy!
(2) People normally add a pic to their blog entries. But, these pics are normally cheap looking!
(3) Cheap looking pics on BPO Blogs are expensive in the long run. If they help you to lose business!
(4) If your blog gets lots of traffic, invest in better artwork.
If ur blog promotes cheap looking artwork, never mind.

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Why a great CEO is worth 6000 times more than the average worker

Categories: Of Interest | Tagged , | Leave a comment

I was discussing this issue with a friend the other day. She thought it was not fair that a particular CEO was getting paid roughly 6000 times what the average worker was at his company. She thought the CEO was paid unfairly too much. I also found it not fair. I thought that perhaps the CEO might deserve much more than 6000 times what the average worker got. But, why?

Workers are commodities
Unless you have some special personality or skill, you do the same work that millions of others can do. Your wage is subject to a market rate based on what you do, how long you have been doing it, how reliable and good their work is, and a few other factors. People with specialized jobs like teachers, salespeople, CEO’s, etc., are not commodities. The subtle differences in their work can make a huge difference in profitablity.

The mechanic who was fast
If a mechanic comes into work in the morning, he can do “x” amount of work. If he is fast, he can do a little more, and if he is incompetent, he can get the garage in a little bit of trouble. But, the scale of trouble he can create is no larger than the particular car he is working on (assuming there is no multi-care collission caused by his carelessness installing brakes). A well seasoned (greased) mechanic compared to a functional beginner might be worth 3x the salary.

A tale of two teachers
But, let’s imagine differences in quality of a teacher for example. Joe the teacher comes in, bores his students all day, nobody learns much, and they all go home feeling depressed. Frank the teacher on the other hand is not only charismatic, but studied advanced techniques in learning styles and applies 30 different learning techniques that no other teacher in his town have even heard of. Frank got his students not only to stay awake in class, but think outside the box, do two hours of homework nightly, and amount to something in life. Frank’s contribution completely changed the destiny of 30 students, not to mention thousands of people who those students would interact with over the course of their lives. Therefor, Joe deserves $40,000 per year, but Frank gets $45,000 because he is putting in the extra mile. In real life, the school systems prefer Joe, because he doesn’t rock the boat, and Frank would probably get fired. But, in my mind, Joe should get $20,000 per year and Frank should get $150,000. The output of their work is drastically different and their effect on society is not even something that we can measure.

The miracle CEO
A good teacher can make a much larger benefit to society than a bad teacher. The difference in effect could be ten fold according to my style of thinking. But, choosing a CEO for a large company is much more critical than which mechanic or teacher you choose. CEOs are not workers. They don’t actually “do” anything. CEOs make decisions. They allocate funds. They hire and fire critical people in the company. They make long range decisions. They buy and sell huge assets.

A good CEO might think through a purchasing decision very carefully, analyzing all of the details and using very meticulous skills to make his decision. Imagine if a mediocre CEO made the same decision, they might buy a factory in the wrong location, or at the wrong price, the wrong size, or overlook some other critical aspect of the transaction. It might be only 70% as efficient as the one the smart CEO purchased. A single bad decision like that could cost a company 10 million per year for twenty years. That is 200 million in lost assets because of a bad CEO. A real CEO might make ten big decisions per year as well as many smaller decisions. If a CEO hires a dynamo Vice President who helps the company gain 20% market share, that could be worth 20 million the first year. A bad CEO might hire the wrong Vice President and lose an equal amount, or simply maintain the status quo instead of actualizing growth potential. The scope of how important a good decision is, is staggering.

Doing the math
Let’s say that the average worker at ZYX Company makes $20,000 per year, and the CEO makes 20 million per year. That is 1000 times as much as the average worker makes. Is it fair? If you put even the smartest of those workers in the CEOs position, how much money would they lose the first month through bad decision making? They could lose 20 million per month. Is it worth paying 20 million a year so that you don’t lose 200 million per year? Saving a little money by purchasing the services of a less than perfect CEO can cost you much more than their salary in losses or lost opportunities. Look at the bigger picture!

(1) Shelly says its not fair that the CEO gets 6000x the average worker. I feel he deserves more!
(2) A good CEO can save a company millions, train workers, and drive a company to success!
(3) A CEO’s salary is not based on how much he works, but the quality of his decisions.

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Call Centers in India: Is an English Accent Important? Just do Your Job

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

Necessity–or Prejudice?

Do you feel you are somehow getting better service when someone at a call center in India speaks with an English Accent? Is it better to speak with someone who speaks perfect clear English but who is not energetic or helpful? Which person gets your respect and trust? These questions actually go right to the heart of our attitudes and beliefs about customer service.

Americans are notorious for complaining about companies who use callers from call centers in India because they are hard to understand, do not understand the other person’s accent, and do not inspire confidence. The conventional wisdom is that if you are calling native English speakers, your call center will do better if you have callers who speak with an English or American accent. Call centers in India that call people in the U.S. generally do better when they hire native English speakers. This is what the mainstream media generally reports.

It is possible, though, that Americans have become suspicious of foreigners and just aren’t willing to compromise on what they want. They feel uncomfortable with accents and immediately remember their jobs are being taken away be “these people.” According to a 2011 Q&A session with professor Steven Neuberg in Scientific American, “People who are foreign to us are more likely to pose certain kinds of threats” and are not seen as having our interests at heart. They are more likely “to take more than their fair share” and to cheat us. Currently, the Better Business Bureau and many other organizations that are reputable and influential have blogs that include consumer comments on “foreign” accents. The FTC itself has a website blog “Fraud Affects 25 million people” that includes many consumer comments demonstrating suspicion about foreigners. If foreigners are cool– should we condone such comments? If outsourcing is going to work–shouldn’t we be extra careful about what we say and publish? The spin on foreign accents always seems negative, never positive.


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English is The Cat’s Pajamas

That expression, by the way, is an English slang expression meaning “the top” or “the best.” Just how important is your accent?

According to most surveys, neutral English accents are preferred; people do not mind talking with someone from a call center in the Philippines, for example, because that person can speak clear English. That is a major reason why call centers in the Philippines are getting so much work lately: native English speakers want to interact with those who speak English.

Listen to the Information, Not the Accent

However– what if you are a highly motivated and reliable worker at a call center in India and you do not speak perfect English? A call center manager who employs callers in various parts of the globe told us that if your Indian accent is not particularly heavy–but you understand the person’s questions, can explain everything clearly, and make a good impression–you can do just as well as native English speakers if you just do your job.

Doing your job at a call center in India means conveying the message, getting a positive response from the person at the other end of the line, maybe making a sale or giving good advice about a product, and not having that person hang up on you or complain. If the person has gotten good information, he or she will not feel the caller with a foreign accent has been dishonest or unreliable in any way.

Just Do Your Job

If you are able to convince the person you are calling that you understand what is being said, and if you can respond in an upbeat manner with good suggestions or comments, you may do just fine.

I would rather hear from someone at a call center in India who is positive and smart than someone who sounds lazy and stupid but speaks perfect English. I don’t care what the person’s name is if I can understand what is being said and I get some good information. I am not worried that this person will take jobs away from the U.S, because that person is a human being who is trying his or her best…and where the jobs go is beyond my control. The success of the conversation depends only on whether the person is doing the job.

If you work at a call center in India, you owe it to yourself to try to speak clearly and give the very best information you can. Be natural and helpful, and don’t worry about the person on the other end of the phone. Just do your job!

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(1) Is it more important to have an English accent or to just speak clearly and do your job?
(2) Many Indians think a UK accent is the way to get ahead. Being helpful counts more!