Monthly Archives: August 2014

Outsource: Steve Jobs Principle: The more people you network w/ Outside your field..

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

Steve Jobs felt that the more people you networked with outside your field, the more connections you will make that could lead to breakthrough ideas.

I have noticed that people in the same profession sometimes tend to think in similar restricted ways. If you only talk to people who think kind of like you, it is difficult to broaden your thinking. If you hang around with lots of different types of people in different fields, industries, cultures, walks of life, etc., you can be exposed to different ways of thinking which will by default, expand your thinking.

Intel sends employees to live in villages in Malaysia and India to see how people live and see the world. These employees often lived with families, ate their food, met their friends, and saw how their daily life was. By understanding how they might use computers and other technological products, they can design products that people will enjoy, and be able to use.

I feel that sometimes companies go overboard with features. If you have too many features you will baffle and overwhelm people, especially the non-technosaavy. I personally feel that technological projects should be simple, nice looking, easy to use without much if any tutorials, and fun. If you make it so complicated that there is always something critical that you are missing — you took it too far. Common sense needs to accompany innovation. Over-innovating can be a bad thing. Just give people enough to solve their problems and work effectively using a new system — that should be enough.

Anthropologists working for Intel learned that dust and electrical outages were serious issues in India, so they designed computers with longer battery life. If it were up to me, I would have detachable batteries, so that you just plug another one in when the first one runs out!

Traveling to many countries, meeting many people, having many hobbies, and studying many different subjects are all great ways to form the foundation that you need to be a great innovator. Of course, if you have an intense desire to innovate, start doing it! The more you do, the better you get at it, especially if mixed with lots of different life experiences to widen your consciousness!

“Widen your consciousness”

Solutions to India’s transportation problems (2014)

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My original blog article in 2011 about Solutions to India’s transportation problems was a huge success. We got thousands of readers and it was fun to write as well. So, I am writing a different version of the same article in 2014 with some new and exciting ideas to help India win the battle of congestion.

My original article had practical ideas like removing the seats from buses so that more people could squeeze in them and have vinal compartments in the buses so that each person would have a private standing area! I hope that idea gets a standing ovation! I wrote about having moving walkways in long indoor corridors like they do at many international airports which would be a fast way to get around downtown areas. Mini-buses were on the list as they could arrive more frequently at designated stops. Luxury buses were my attempted to get the upper class out of their cars and into a more space-efficient mode of transportation that would reduce traffic. My final zany idea was a snake train and you really must read about that.

Here are some more innovative ideas to save India. We’ll start with the more obvious approaches.

A new bus system

Indoor raised platforms at bus stops.
It is a pain in the neck to jump in a bus that wants to start moving before you are in it. Going up those stairs with other human bodies blocking you. The system is designed to make you hate it. But, this is India, at lease these days. I’m looking for a kinder, friendlier India (sorry to sound like George Bush.) What if bus stops were enclosed by glass and were raised up a few feet? That way it would be clearly designated WHICH bus you were waiting for (which is always ambiguous in India,) and you would be able to get in the bus as easily as you would get in a subway train with no stairs. This would be great for children, the elderly, and those who like to take the chaos out of life.

Double decker buses
Since road space is so limited in urban parts of India, double decker buses would save a lot of space on the road. Imagine having elevated docks so that you could exit from the top floor? Additionally, if buses were longer, they would function a bit like a surface train, and on busy streets you could keep those buses coming — one after the next. If you allocated some of the seats (or a closed off section of the bus) to have luxury larger seats, you could command a nice price from upper class customers as well which would help fund the entire system.

Transfer stations for buses
It is a pain in India getting off the bus onto a smelly road with trash everywhere and having to walk anywhere, especially if it means crossing a road which is a complete nightmare and a risk of life and limb. What if you could get off a bus, climb up some clean stairs, and then come down into another glass enclosed waiting area for the bus that you were going to transfer to. India’s population density causes problems, but it could be used as an asset, since it makes it possible to have efficient transportation systems involving trains and buses (which don’t work as well in most parts of America due to the sparse population.)

Standing only buses
Buses in India are notoriously packed full. Having seats bolted in prevents you from squeezing more sardines (human sardines) into the vehicle. Removing seats on some buses will allow more people into the bus. Having vinal separators would allow for individualized standing locations which would make the entire trip a whole lot more comfortable for you (and harder for the pick-pockets.)

Segway & Bike highways
This has always been my dream, but not enough urban planners think outside of the box, or the rick in the case of India. The reason why traffic is such an issue is that cars, rick-shaws, and buses are so large and clunky. If you have a safe way to ride a Segway or bicycle, traffic would flow so much more easily. A Segway is a small device that you stand on. It has two wheels on one axle and balances itself. It is sort of magical, but it’s real. Segways are popular in the United States for giving walking tours of cities since you can have a lot of people follow each other around in congested areas without any danger.

But, imagine an indoor enclosed highway for Segway traffic and bicycles. It could be elevated, so it could pass over roads. Since the highway wouldn’t carry a single heavy vehicle, the weight load on the infrastructure would be light which would mean that it would be a lot less expensive to build than a regular overpass — perhaps only 10% of the cost. There could be refreshment shops, news stands, bicycle repair shops, and internet cafes along the highway for the convenience of the people using it.

Since it is expensive to own a Segway, it might make more sense to have Segways be shared. If you enter the Segway highway, you could see a long line of Segways waiting to be used. You would just jump on one, and take it to the station where you want to get off, and then someone else could use that very same Segway. Theft would not be possible, because the Segways would not be able to exit the indoor passage without setting off an alarm.

The indoor nature of this highway would be convenient if it was hot, or raining. It could be temperature controlled as well if the budget permits. Additionally, it would be a safe way to get around at night!

Bullet Trains for the wealthy
When you think of India, you probably think of poverty, and people who are just skin and bones begging for food by the side of the road. India also has millions of very wealthy people, and those people need transportation. There are many wealthy types in Mumbai who simply need to save time getting around which is why they take the train. But, what if there were a better solution? Imagine a spotlessly clean bullet train system for the wealthy in big metros of India. It would cost a mint, but you would get great meals and refreshments at the stations, have a very fast ride wherever you are going and enjoy the company of other opulent folks at the meticulously maintained stations that all have ample paid parking! What a concept. Typically in India, if there is a rail station there is no parking, and if there is parking, there is no station, and if there are both, then something else is wrong. But, what if you could have it all, and with a clean and comfortable fast ride? I think the rich would pay for that. Bullet trains could be mag-lev trains for short urban commutes as well as from city to city. The security for getting on planes is a real hassle — taking a fast train from Delhi to Mumbai would be a lot nicer if you ask me!

Longer trains (perhaps double deckers)
India’s local rail system (they say rail, not train by the way) is overburdened in many areas. People have to squeeze in and it just isn’t funny. The only way to fix this problem is to either have more trains, longer trains, or double decker trains. Unfortunately, platforms at existing stations are not long enough to allow for longer trains. Should they all be rebuilt? The answer is unclear. But, India needs to adapt to its huge and ever-growing population and adapt its existing train infrastructure.

Tolls for cars to use the main roads.
Although I believe that having separate roads for buses is a sensible idea to help allow those buses to move freely, that is not always easy or possible. It would make sense in areas where buses and cars share the road to have fees for using the road. After all, if you drive on the road, you are taking up space that someone else could be using. There could be yearly fees for being able to use congested roads during certain hours of the day, or daily fees to use those roads. Singapore has yearly fees, and the result is that the locals complain, but there is never congestion in the entire island! Maybe India needs to think more like Singaporeans and permanently solve its transportation problem! If there were fees for using the roads, more people would use buses, and those buses would be able to move quickly since there would be a lot less traffic. I would honestly say, that for Indian urban roads to function well, there needs to be an 80% reduction in the quantity of cars on the road. Reducing the number of cars by half would still be a nightmare.

A web of indoor golf cart routes
This idea is similar to the Segway or Bicycle highway idea and would also function in indoor highways. If you visit many airports, the staff drive around in golf carts. But, what if larger electronic indoor vehicles could be built that would accommodate about eight people that you could just jump on and jump off of. The seats might even be on the outside of the vehicle, so you don’t actually get in. How these vehicles are shaped is a secondary issue, but imagine this reality! There could be stations throughout the line of these indoor highways. Or there could be a web of interconnecting highways. At each station, there could be eight possible directions that you could go, and eight carts waiting for you. Each cart would wait until it was completely filled, or until a certain amount of minutes had passed. This would be a very clean, fast, and convenient way to get around a city. Why can’t someone in Dubai put this idea to use — it is a really cool idea!

If you liked this article you might enjoy reading about my SNAKE TRAIN idea too.

How to use Linked-In to expand your BPO!

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Everyone wants to know how to get more business for their BPO. That’s all I hear every day. The answer is that there are many stages in the process of attracting and retaining a BPO client. If they can’t find you, they can’t hire you. But, what if they find you, but don’t think much of you? Hmmm. Be findable and make a good impression. Then, maybe you can catch a few new clients!

Using Linked In in the BPO outsourcing world.
Using Linked In is not as easy as it sounds, especially in outsourcing. There are several dozen prominent outsourcing Linked In discussion groups. Some of these have job postings, while a few post discussions. There are a lot of spammers posting the same job a zillion times too which looks bad.

Since there are so few groups and so few active members in the outsourcing centric groups, you should meander over to general business groups, and try to find members to contact who might be decision makers. To make it in business you have to know how to network. Unfortunately, not all of the people you contact will be relevant to you, and not all will respond to you. But, some of them will, and Linked in is a great way to reach people far away in different countries who you would have no way of talking to in person and a very tough time getting past their secretary on the phone.

(1) Scour all of the larger outsourcing & call center groups and look for process postings.
(2) Try to find decision makers who might need your services in general business groups.

Keep in mind that some of the larger linked in groups might have 30,000 or more members. You will be spending most of your time sorting through the thousands of followers and making your list of who might be a good prospect for you to contact. Does this seem time consuming? It is. You might have better luck training your assistant how to do this. But, you can’t train them until you have mastered the art of sorting and basic introduction messages.

And remember, you will be popular if you can make pleasant small talk instead of going straight for the jugular (the sale)

Happy linking!

How different cultures handle time

Categories: Management, Of Interest | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

This entry is a little hard for me to write because my personal experience differs completely with what the textbooks say about cultures.

Who is fast & who is slow?
When Americans go to France, they complain that the French are so slow. When Indians deal with the French, they complain that French are so rigid about deadlines. So, which is which? The answer is that sensitivity to time and deadlines is cultural, and it is relevant. Additionally, individuals in particular cultures handle time restraints very differently from others in that same culture which adds another layer of complexity.

Mapping different cultures
While perusing Harvard Business Review’s blog, I came across an article about mapping different cultures. Instead of having a geographical map showing where particular countries are, you have a cultural map showing where cultures are relative to other cultures in particular respects. This was very interesting to me.

Factors in culture mapping
The factors that were considered in management culture included sensitivity to deadlines, how specific you were in communication, how directly you voiced negative feedback, how hierachical society is, how people avoid confrontation, and other factors as well. This particular article is focusing more on how various cultures handle time sensitivity.

If I drew my own map for time sensitivity it would look like this:
Korea; Japan; Germany; Switzerland; Scandinavia; US; Canada; China; France; Italy; Russia; Arabia; Latin America; Southeast Asia; India; Pakistan; Subsaharan Africa.

Koreans just can’t wait.
Koreans in my experience are the most impatient people who exist. There have been studies on Koreans that show particular traits of impatience. It is common for Koreans to hover next to the microwave when making instant noodles counting every second in the count down as if they are watching the space shuttle awaiting for take off. I remember having massage from a Korean grandmother. After the massage was over, she always wanted to barge in with a few dixie cups of water before I had my clothes on. I asked if she could wait 20 seconds, but I was asking too much. In other cultures, they might keep me waiting seven minutes for my water until I got the water myself. And if they microwaved soup in a slower culture, and get into a conversation, and it might be cold by the time it reaches you.

The culture map that I referenced did not have any data on Arabs, or Thais as it only examined six interesting and diverse cultures in so many ways. I wish it had more like two dozen cultures to be more thorough.

My problem with Indians
After looking at all of the differences between cultures, I begin to realize what my problem with Indians is — they have a strict hierarchy. I don’t mind following authority providing they are doing what they are doing what they are supposed to. But, what if they are being hypocrites, causing dysfunction and chaos? I can’t keep my mouth shut under those situations, yet Indians require that I do — hence a huge clash. On a brighter note, I am very relationship oriented like Indians, and value holistic thinking like the Japanese. Overall, I am not really clashing with other cultures any more than I clash with my own.

My experience with faster cultures
America is not one of the faster countries on the list, but overall is faster than average. I find that when I assign work to Americans, there is never any rush to get the work done. It is like living in a very expensive third world country where abandoned construction projects leave a pile of bricks for four months by the side of the road — except that I am in e-business and have the cyber equivalent of what I just described. In my business experience, Americans are not fast to get work done. In fact, I have found that Indians in the IT industry are a little faster than the average Americans in IT. I have also found that Indians like to map projects out point by point and typically won’t get started unless every minute detail is spelled out. Although oral communication with Indians is generally bad, and workmanship is not as tidy as in the US, they tend to get more work done more quickly and with less drama.

Intra-cultural diversity: what does that mean?
Additionally, Arabs have a reputation of never being on time. Sure, they are shrewd in business and impatient, but try getting them to show up for your business meeting at 3pm — they’ll show up at 5 or 6pm if you’re lucky. But, I also know Arabs who are always on time and get tons of work done very quickly. Cultural maps don’t take into consider intra-cultural diversity: the diversity among members of the same culture. Many cultures have huge gaps in the attitudes and behaviors of their members. There is some truth to the idea of the politically correct that “you can’t generalize.” Although, I will say that with Japanese, I’m not sure if there are any slow ones. I think that the samurai killed off all the slow ones a few generations ago leaving a condition that I call: survival of the fastest!

You might also like:

A tool that maps cultural differences

“You’re fired” is NOT when you start looking for a replacement!

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You have to work with all types
It is hard working with all types of different people. Some are easier than others to work with, but if you want to get the job done, you have to work with all types. The mistake that I always made was that I started looking for replacements after I fired someone. That is as idiotic as putting your seat belt on after the accident. After a while, I wised up and started to look for replacements after I saw severe warning signs. The problem was that I couldn’t fire someone until the replacement was ready.

Tried & true replacements
As time passed, I learned that a replacement is no good unless they have been tried and tested for a few months. So, the more I learn, the more complicated the equation gets. Big companies have the advantage of having a huge and well qualified HR department that has a huge inventory of screened workers for all departments at all times. Unfortunately, my tiny company doesn’t have that luxury. I am the HR department, bookkeeper, marketing CMO, and cat sitter — all in one!

The first red flag is your cue
After a while, I decided that I should start comparing replacements when there is a small red flag in the behavior of whomever is doing the task at hand. Basically, if a worker has a bad attitude, according to a seasoned manager friend of mine — it’s all downhill from there and time to fire them.

Workers quit on a whim
Finally, I’m realizing that workers can quit on a whim without notice. Additionally, if a worker who starts out nice, starts exhibiting signs of a bad attitude, you need to replace them right away. There is no time to be testing out new companies and new workers if the old ones don’t function. The time to start looking for replacements is before you have any trouble with whomever you are working with.

Exceptions to the rule
If it is just too expensive or just not worth it to look for a backup for someone who has been with you for seven or more years, you might consider otherwise. I had a programmer for six years who just quit. I couldn’t find anyone I liked as much as him to this day. I had a sales person for eleven years. She shows no signs of wanting to quit. But, the others I have hired last between six months and two years. I would say that 80% of the people I have worked with have been in my opinion, short term. You need to have multiple backups for every type of job description that you have, and those backups all need to be tested. If your company has sales, data entry, and customer service positions, you need all three positions backed up by multiple freelancers or outsourcing companies that you have tried out. After all, if someone quits or gets fired, your first choice of a back up might be busy, or have quit them self. There are too many uncertainties, so start backing your labor force up today!

Twitter & Google+, how many of the same techniques work?

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I have been using Twitter for several years now. I started having my accounts professionally managed by someone else. But, about a year ago, I started my own account. I liked it so much, I got two more accounts for the different facets of my business ventures. In any case, I found Twitter hard to master. The art of the tweet is not for a novice. Tweet writing seems to be the hardest form of writing. There are such rigid space considerations that it is hard to write something popular in such little space and still have room for a link and tags. In any case, after four years, I feel I have finally become adequate at Twitter. Perhaps I’m far from mastery, but I know how to identify and write tweets that get retweeted, and I know how to get lots of followers quickly.

I just started using Google+. The first few days were hard, but now I feel I’m starting to get the hang of it. My question is, how many of my Twitter techniques work for Google+. Let’s take a look.

(1) Posting hot photos on Twitter
This helps you get more followers more quickly. I tried sharing other people’s amazing travel photos of breathtaking shots of amazing tourist destination. This technique works on both mediums. Not all photos are alike in their effectiveness. But, I found that the same stuff that got retweeted on Twitter got shared on Google+. CNN”s “The perfect wave” photo is an example of a winner. I’m not the only one who likes that pic by the way.

(2) Following lots of people.
I learned that on Twitter, you can follow up to 1000 people per day. I found that following around 100-200 people per day was optimal. I could find relevant followers in that quantity easily by querying who was following particular other larger relevant accounts. On Twitter, I get a 25% follow back rate on people I follow (on average.) From some smaller more serious sources, I can get more like 40%, but they don’t have the volume. On Google+, I only get a 10% follow back rate, and they only let me follow about 40 people per day. On Twitter, I can get up to 50 followers a day by following people and unfollowing them after three days if they didn’t follow me back. On Google+ I can only get 4 followers using the same technique. But, four is better than zero.

(3) Posting a lot on Twitter
Posting unique content on Twitter will get you new followers, especially if others favorite or retweet your content. Twitter will introduce you to more people, the more content you share. Google+ doesn’t seem to reward you so much for posting. However, if you post in relevant communities, you can get up to a dozen new followers a day which is not that bad. The posting is the same, but on Google+, you would just not be posting on your own account.

(4) Posting really hot content
On Twitter, if you post a lot of hot content you will get retweeted a lot, and Twitter will introduce you to more followers. But, it takes hours of work to create the content enough to get any significant following based on content unless you have a huge account already with more than 20,000 followers. Posting amazing content on Google+ helps, but only if you post it on communities, and not on your personal page. Why is life so confusing.

(5) Posting tweets with great photos
Photos help on any medium, but Google+ will accept taller diagrams and photos giving the photos more weight. If you have particular posts that are popular, it might make sense to invest in some good artwork!

That is it for now. Twitter and Google+ are very different, but they do have some overlapping characteristics as well. If you are smart at social media, you can probably figure out any medium. Good luck!

24 tech workers for each manager?

Categories: Management, Of Interest, Software Development | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Too many Indians and not enough chiefs!
I am always amazed by India. India has mastered the art of spreading valuable assets thinly. The meat is tiny pieces in Chinese fried rice in India. The portions of chicken are minute in biryani (to my dismay.) Managers are also spread thin at Indian software companies.

Managers are expensive in India
The reason why the ratio of managers to workers in India is so bad is because the pay rate for managers is very high since managers are in such short supply. In America, a manager might get paid 20-100% more than a worker. But, in India, a manager might get paid 2x to 8x the amount a worker gets in a high tech company for example. I don’t know the exact number, and the numbers change over time — but, this is the approximation of the reality.

You can’t watch your workers
The problem with having too many workers and not enough managers is that you can’t really watch your workers if you are so spread out. If you have self-managing workers, you don’t need to watch them much, and you don’t need to critique their work.

My way of looking at this problem is as follows.
If you have twenty-four workers who are all completely self-sustaining and know exactly what to do with hardly any intervention, then you might be able to have ten or more to a manager. I’m not sure if twenty-four works even under ideal circumstances. But, many workers play tricks, or don’t know how to get things done. If you have a team of twenty-four, it is likely that many will be trouble in some way, shape or form. New workers who have not been screened should ideally be placed in smaller teams so their work can be evaluated. If they do flawless work and can function without intervention, then perhaps they can be transferred to a larger team. New workers and problem workers need to be in smaller teams where you can keep more of an eye on them. In my opinion, the value of a worker is proportional to their productivity minus the amount of hell you go through trying to manage them. In many cases, many workers might have a sub-zero value (put on your sweater and winter hat.)

My personal story
I have too many things to do and several people to manage. I can’t manage them and do my own work at the same time. I have to put something on the back burner since I’m so busy. Unfortunately, it is common for me to get behind trying to manage my programmers. I just wonder how far behind a manager with twenty-four workers gets? Perhaps they just are not really managing those people at all…

Choose a social network and focus on it

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Many experts have been saying that you should not just jump on the bandwagon for every new social network that comes along. There is some truth to this reasoning, but you need to understand a few things about which network you jump onto.

(1) You won’t know until you try
If you just stick to Facebook because you are doing okay with Facebook, you might be missing the boat. First of all, every time you try a new social network, you evolve along your leaning curve, and expand your thinking. If you were doing well on Facebook before, you might start doing amazingly after you try one or two other networks just because your thought process could have improved. You won’t know if your business does well on Stumbleupon if you never try it. Also, if you try it early in your social media evolution, try it again when you have a little more experience. You might do better the second time around.

(2) Some social networks are better for your general industry
After looking around on many social media sites, I have come to the conclusion that there are many social networks that are good for talking about social media marketing, travel, news, and other topics of more general interest. The problem is that when you have a more specific specialty, many networks don’t have many individuals on the network. On a brighter note, sometimes small communities tend to be warmer. I am now using Google+ where there are very few Realtors. I post articles on Real Estate groups, and my articles get a lot of traffic despite how small the groups are. So, don’t judge a network by its size. Try it out and see what the results are like! I will say that in general, Facebook has the largest collection of active users worldwide, so if you have a specialty niche, Facebook might be a way to drive a lot of traffic to your site and blog, especially if you are smart how you use the PPC program!

(3) Some networks get you traffic right away while others don’t
Through years of trying different things and trying to figure out the mystery of social media, I have learned several things. There are certain networks where you can get tons of quality clicks really easily and other networks where you can’t get clicks unless you build up your following. I recommend starting on Google+ first, and post on lots of communities. This is a fast way to get thousands of quality clicks per month coming to your blog! Twitter is the easiest social media network to manage, but I would try it last as getting big results on Twitter only happens after a year or more of paying your dues building your network.

Twitter: Organic
To use Twitter effectively as a way to boost your blog traffic, you really need 20,000 followers minimum to make a significant dent in your traffic. Twitter is a great way to get long term traffic if you are willing to invest in building your network which requires daily work.

Twitter: PPC
Twitter’s PPC can get you lots of clicks. But, the quality of the blog clicks I got was really bad, averaging several seconds, while organic clicks averaged around two minutes. Google rewards me generously for “quality clicks,” but, doesn’t care one way or the other about quickie clicks. Twitter PPC was not a way for my business to expand quickly, although the bill was high. Organic Twitter has done nice things for my optimization, but takes time.

Facebook: Organic
Facebook also takes time to build your network. Your posts may not even be seen by your followers with the current algorithm. However, if you have a loyal following (I am lucky to have this,) you can get a healthy amount of clicks to your blog. We have about 5000 followers and get about 300 clicks a month to our blog which are quality clicks (duration averaging over two minutes.)

Facebook: PPC
Facebook PPC is also a great tool, but only works well with your most popular posts. Facebook PPC makes you pay based on your exposure, not your results. So, figure out what the top most popular 2% of your blog articles are and promote them regularly on Facebook PPC. You will get lots of clicks and get new followers!

I am frustrated at how time consuming it is to get followers on Google+. It takes me at least six times as long to get a follower on Google+ than it does on Twitter. I’m not even sure what the value of a Google+ follower is in terms of click traffic. However, I will say that as someone just starting out, I am getting about 50 clicks per day posting on Communities which is amazing. My total clicks from Twitter to my blog was 50 per month a few months ago, so 50 clicks a day is highly welcomed. I might be able to find a way to make that 200 clicks a day if I can grow a few more neurons in my head! I don’t know what the benefit of having a huge Google+ following is, but you can get tons of fast clicks posting on communities, so don’t overlook this network as it offers immediate results at no cost.

Linked In
Linked In’s performance is similar to Google+. You can get immediate clicks posting on their groups. Their groups in business oriented specialties tend to be larger than Google+, so post away, and watch your clicks come in. The quality of a Linked In click is excellent in my experience since the users are often serious business types.

(4) Some networks are growing in momentum while others are shrinking.
Social media networks are moving targets. You can’t assign a permanent judgement to any social media network. First of all their algorithms change over time. Next, their usership can grow or shrink as other social media networks become popular or get phased out. Additionally, your skill at using a particular network tends to grow over time if you are always trying to improve. So, when you take notes assigning scores to the various different networks, have an expiration date of a year after you assign the score. In a year, the playing field could be very different!

(5) Once you have mastered all of the bigger networks…
I am not sure if focusing and sticking to a single social media network is the right approach. But, here is my train of thought. If you have tried all of the networks, built a following in each, and have taken metrics as to how much effort is involved in getting quality clicks (clicks with a duration of more than a minute could be a definition of a quality click,) then it is time to make a decision.

You might find that on Facebook you can get a high volume of cost effective clicks using the PPC program. That has been my experience, but only on my most popular blog entries.

You might find that Twitter offers you the most time-efficient quality clicks, but only after your network has exceeded 30,000 which is not so easy to build.

You might find that Google+ offers you thousands of clicks your first week publishing on communities, but doesn’t match up to the time-efficiency that a mature Twitter community does.

Basically, you can’t make an informed decision of which social network is best until you have mastered them all, or at least tried them all. If you find that one network offers you overwhelmingly more clicks per hour or dollar spent than the others: then, and only then it might be time to disregard the other networks and focus on that one! If you find a way to get cheap, quality clicks, milk it for what its worth, and let me in on your secret!

Instead of asking people to like you on facebook and getting ignored…

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30 people invite me to their FB daily & I ignore all 30.
Every day I follow over one hundred people on each of my three Twitter accounts. I get endless DM’s or what I call private messages from people saying, “Thanks for following, care to follow me on Facebook?” I ignore all of these requests for several reasons. First of all, I’m busy, and don’t have two minutes to even visit their Facebook page. If I did have two minutes, I would kind of want a reason why I should invest that two minutes in them looking at their Facebook. If their Facebook page was really interesting, it might be worth investing a lot more than two minutes. The basic problem is that they are inviting me to see an account that they failed to differentiate from the other 1000 bozos’ accounts who also invited me.

What is special about your FB account?
To me, their Facebook will be just as boring and meaningless as everyone else’s. Except that I haven’t spent time looking at anyone else’s, because I’m busy. They didn’t bother telling me what is special about their account, and that is their primary mistake.

Differentiate please…
But, what if they told me something about their Facebook that would make me actually want to click on the link? What if they told me they were having a discussion about bunjee jumping on the Sarangpodang river in Thailand. At least I would have some idea of what I was getting myself into by investing my two minutes in their direction.

How I promote my Facebook
I don’t just ask two thousand people to like me on Facebook. First of all, it doesn’t do any good, unless they will be active followers. I tell people a little about what is going on on my Facebook page. I let them know about the discussions, the links to blog article stories, industry news, etc. I give specific examples of what our last few posts were about and why they are exciting. There are many choices on the internet these days. My offerings are often interesting or exciting — or, at least I claim that they are! I also have a newsletter where I can mention what our best Facebook posts were along with our best blog articles, Linked In discussions, and more. Once in a while I will tweet about what is going on on Facebook or Linked in as well. I always offer specifics, and generally do so on a medium that reaches thousands rather than asking people one by one and getting blown off.

It is like India
In India, each morning, two hundred people will offer me chai or soda. If they happen to catch me in a chai state of mind, I’ll buy from them. Their products are generic, and I know what to expect. Your Facebook accounts are pushed on me just like the wallah’s of India push their products on me. Ten of them surround me offering identical products and they harrass me until I yell at them. Americans use the same equally ineffective strategy with Facebook. The bottom line is differentiate your Facebook account. Communicate what the salient features are. Entice people to visit on their own initiative, and make it interesting enough so that they will become repeat visitors!

A social media manager was taking a walk late at night.
A spaceship landed right in front of him and some little green men got out.
Manager: “Are you going to abduct me?”
Aliens: “No, but can you like us on Facebook?”

Sound familiar?

Should your call center invest in a cloud contact center?

Categories: Call Center | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

When you are in the call center business, keeping costs in line matters a lot. But, investing in good technology can make you more popular which means better agent retention as well as being more attractive to clients!

The beauty of a cloud system for call centers, or for any type of data retrieval business is that you are not dependent on a single server for all of your needs. Clouds operate with multiple servers in a group. If your call volume suddenly goes up, or if your server suddenly has technical difficulties, a cloud system can handle it seamlessly.

Your clients don’t want to hear that you had technical difficulties on Tuesday. They don’t want to hear about how your technician is working on it. They want to know the following:

(1) You have state-of-the art equipment and systems
(2) You pick the best agents and then invest in regular coaching & monitoring
(3) You retain your employees longer than the other guys
(4) You don’t have breakdowns

Sure, it might cost more to migrate to a cloud, but the advantages could help to retain existing clients and get more clients which is the only way your international call center operation will grow!

Cloud systems are virtual.
It is not necessarily more expensive to invest in a cloud system. It might be less expensive than your in-house on-site system. Consider the security issues. If there is a problem in your building, or with the electricity or cables, your system could experience technical difficulties. Cloud systems are housed in data centers which have high security and redundant sources of electricity, data cables (not sure what the technical term is for that since I’m an admin guy, not a technical guy,) and redundant everything else that they could possibly need. Your data center is safe from most natural disasters, civil unrest, and power outages. Additionally, data centers typically have multiple system engineers on staff twenty-four hours a day! You get infrastructure and service all in one reasonable monthly fee.

Integrating your cloud
It is not difficult to integrate your cloud with social media platforms such as Facebook, chat, email, etc. Customer records can easily be updated and queries can easily be made with a cloud system.

What is bad about a cloud?
For my personal website I opted against a cloud. The reason may surprise you. I am personally in the online directory business. If my directory has faster queries, more people will want to use my site. We learned that there is a speed difference in a query from a server and a cloud system simply because the query would have to interact with a gateway, and then with a database server in a cloud, while on my server it would only go through one server. Interesting! The speed difference is only a fraction of a second, or slightly over a second in the worst case scenario. But, for me, that could mean losing 4% of my market share which has a large value to me! The tiny margins in life can sometimes make the difference.

Just remember: if you are not crazy about migrating your system into a cloud, every cloud has a silver lining!

How to be a better outsourcing company (so you’ll attract more clients)

Categories: Marketing | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

There are several ways your company can do a better job in outsourcing.

(1) Be better at what you do.
Do you do web design? Try to be better at it. Don’t ask me. I’m not in web design. Just make your designs look better for lack of a better description for what to do. Hire people to train your workers to do a better job. It will cost, but you might get a good benefit. The experts sometimes can change your entire way of thinking with only a few hours a day!

(2) Be better at communicating.
Americans are amazing at communication, but very lazy about actually getting work done. I don’t understand how our country has reached such greatness with all of these lazybones. The only people in America who are useful are foreigners. They actually work. But, try talking to foreigners. Most of them can’t communicate, or just prefer not to — especially Asians. With Indians, the more educated types tend to be good at communicating while the working class has a dismally horrifying way of communicating. The problem is that as an Indian manager, you are too used to how things are, and don’t realize that it is a problem. People who mumble on the phone and speak inaudibly are a problem. People who don’t answer questions or don’t announce who they are when picking up the phone are a big problem. You either hire people who can communicate, or drill it into them. Communicate!

(3) Hire someone to do verification?
What does this mean? You need someone to check on your workers’ work. Make sure that when they say something is done, that it is done. Make sure they are not slacking off or being inefficient. Make sure they are not cheating on their hours, etc. If they can do training or motivation as well that is great. But, you can’t rely on workers to check their own work. Most people are sloppy and verifying is a niche profession. As a manager, you can double check verified work to verify the work of the verifier. It is like Russia. You hire someone to work, another one to watch him, and another one to watch the guy who is watching the work, and so on (comrade)!

(4) Make sure you are tight on deadlines
Nobody respects a company that doesn’t finish work on time. People like it if you are always done on time, and communicate that fact to the client. You might need someone to plan how you intend to get work done on time, and that person might be the one to force people to work overtime if work is not done on time.

(5) Interact
Do you give progress reports to your clients? I like to get an email every two business days stating what they did, what types of issues they encountered, etc. I also like friendly heads up calls or emails. I know a nice guy in Bangalore who sends an email to me from time to time. I like him and his partner a lot as people by the way. He is genuinely a great person! He even came to America to see some clients, and I gave him a tour of the town, took him out to dinner, and showed him where the multi-millionaires live in Los Angeles. Keeping in touch and interacting for business and social (small-talk) reasons with your clients pays off in a big way.

(6) Small talk
Marketing is a serious profession. But, what Indians don’t understand is that Americans culturally like small talk. Indians are a social bunch. Many of the older women are chatterboxes. They never stop talking. But, when it comes to business, people clam up. Don’t be like this. The reason I like Indians (when I say Indians, I mean nice Indians, because I don’t like the mean ones) is because they are more friendly than other nationalities. Try to be friendly with the people you work with. When you are marketing and trying to attract more clients, they will seven times more likely to work with you if you can make small talk with them. Instead of just asking what the requirements are, talk about the weather. Talk about your trip to the office. Ask them if they have any specific needs. If you just ask in a dull mono-tone what the requirements are, they will think you are very undesirable.

(7) Refine Your Marketing
Having a great website, and great ways to reach new prospective clients is very important. On the other hand, if you are the best company in town, you won’t need to prospect clients — they will come to you. I do marketing for a living. It is a little hard to describe how to be good at marketing in a single paragraph. But, to make it short and sweet, you need to be constantly interacting with new prospects every month. You need to be constantly refining the art of attracting and interacting with those prospects. Marketing is not mastered in a day. It is an ongoing process and it is an art form! I don’t know the details of how you should market your company, but try twenty different approaches and see where you get a return on your investment!