Monthly Archives: March 2015

If Google ran a BPO Call Center, what would they do differently?

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There are tons of BPO companies out there. Some better than others. Some try to please, while others enjoy the most backwards of standards. But, how many BPO or Call Center Outsourcing companies bother to ask themselves how Google would run their company?

The typical BPO boss is concerned with metrics and numbers. So is Google as they are in charge of creating highly effective search algorithms. But, Google’s approach to human beings goes beyond metrics. They incorporate human engagement and fun into the equation. Can you create an algorithm for how much is the right amount of fun? Google kind of understands this concept as much as anyone can.

What would Google do?
I cannot speak for Google, and they would probably evolve into doing something different by the time you read this article in any case even if I did know what they would do. But, here is my guess.

(1) First of all, Google would probably give your BPO a cooler name. Instead of H&K outsourcing Pvt. Ltd. You would be Kahooka Labor Sourcing.
(2) Next, you would probably have a badminton court in the middle of your office, next to the exit that leads to the manmade lake where you have inflatable boat races. But, we can talk about that on your way to the lounge where you can make small talk with people in different departments and your higher ups. In India, you have to kiss the shoes of your higher ups, but in Google, you can be buddy buddy with them.

(3) Don’t forget that you would have group nature activies from time to time and perhaps a few competitions to see who can do something the best in the office.

(4) I very much doubt that Google would have employees working at tiny cramped work stations the way they do in India. Sure rent is expensive, but cramped doesn’t bring out the genious in people. Google might be tempted to move the entire office to the countryside, give everyone free lodging (I’m guessing) and have a really cool office with recreation rooms, large windows, and a place to feed the elephants. Yes, you heard me correctly. Google might want to blend into the local culture, and nothing says India more than elephants.

(5) After you got done designing a flying carpet rick-shaw, would you resume your regular work with a new sense of inspiration. Your co-worker would probably invent a device that would detect a rigged rick-shaw meter and auto-report it to the proper authorities who would ignore the message — but, at least they would get the message.

(6) Last, there would be lots of training, mentoring, self-analysis, and courses to know how to think like your customers think so that you can please them more. I strongly suggest point six before you even think about the other ones.

BTW: Here is a dialogue between the Rick Shaw Walla and a client after your BPO creates it as a project.

WALLA: The flying carpet rick shaw comes with surround sound, anti-gravity technology, wi-fi, news alerts, internet radio with 200 channels, four power outlets, and a hair-dryer in case you had to leave home in a hurry.

CUSTOMER: So, how much is a ride to Deccan?

WALLA: rps 200.

CUSTOMER: Can we use the meter?

WALLA: Sorry — meter broken!

If you invested in training your BPO employees, what types of skills would you teach them

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The mistake that BPO companies make is that they think that their employees are there to do a particular job. This is wrong. They are there to deliver results that contribute to revenue. What am I talking about? I’m not making sense here.

Which matters more? Teamwork or hard-skills?
Let’s say that a software development company needs to get work done. So, naturally they hire some software developers. This is their first mistake. Someone who is merely a software developer or programmer is not qualified to work at a BPO. Why? Because at a BPO you work as a team in some way or the other, so you need to hire someone who is good not only at programming, but also at teamwork. India is an authoritarian culture. You keep your mouth shut and do as you are told. This type of culture doesn’t foster teamwork. Japanese culture is all about team work, but I haven’t lived there and can’t explain what they do.

So, how do you train your employees?
If you want to have a really amazing company, you need to train your people in all types of ways. They need to be good at their core skills. They need to be able to communicate, stay organized, work with others, and get things done on time. I believe that the majority of the training for a programmer would be to put them through a lot of diverse programming tasks with a very seasoned teacher watching over them. Many programmers are good at doing the tasks they do repetitively, but fall short the minute you give them a difficult task.

How do you teach communication?
Most programmers in India cannot talk to clients. This is usually not a problem because clients want to talk to the PM, not the programmer. But, what if you get a client like me who wants to know what type of person he is working with. I have endured countless buffoons, and want someone smart. This means I have to talk to them. Mastering the art of oral communication is not easy, and your BPO is probably not equipped to teach it either. Additionally, clear written communication is another key element in software development. Most programmers refuse to get back to people as a matter of policy, so what do you do with them?

In short, you need to train your employees in all types of ways. Whether you should give them a lower salary in the beginning when you are doing more training is up to you. Or, you could make them prove themselves before you give them much training. But, after enduring the incompetent behavior of dozens of outsourcing houses, I strongly recommend that you invest 10-20% of an employees time in some type of training and evaluation program. The training should be continuous and not stop , although it could intensify at particular points in their employment.

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How to develop the Google culture within you

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If you don’t work at Google, chances are that your company doesn’t practice a Google-type culture and probably doesn’t want to. But, what if you are in management and a few of your coworkers are hip to the idea while a few others aren’t? If everyone is against you then forget about it, but if you have a few yea-sayers, there are things you could do.

You could start doing group activities. You never know — the enthusiasm could spread. You could have competitions among those who choose to participate. You could convince Starbucks to open a branch right inside your office with sofas if management would also approve (not likely.) You could all decide to have some bizarre activities and weird interests to keep life interesting.

I work from home, and work with people who are not innovative except for my writing buddy. I choose to live a lifestyle that is a little like the Google employees. I have a ton of strange interests that keep my life interesting. I study the effect of feng-shui on where I spend time, or stay at hotels. I found that the feng-shui of particular buildings affects my health, social interaction, and business activity. A food feng-shui place can triple my business for the next day while a bad place can kill my sales for a day as well. I also try new foods all the time. I find a way to find new foods in a city with mostly the same old variety of things. I go on little trips to new places and go hiking. At Google, they do a lot of things as groups. I don’t have the luxury of a group, but you could say that I am my own little one person group. Oh, and one more thing — I write for three blogs and run 17 social media accounts. OMG!

Which type of online content influences consumers the most?

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Expert content has been proven to be the most effective during purchase consideration, and even for affinity and familiarity according to a recent Nielsen report involving 900 respondents who responded to an online survey. Expert content was found to be more effective in attracting buyers than user reviews or even branded content. But, why is this?

Should we trust the experts?
Many consumers liked the third party characteristic of expert reviews. The experts were not promoting the product themselves, but merely giving an intelligent unbiased review or commentary of the product. 50% of consumers in the study indicated that they would not trust a brand’s website to be evenhanded about promoting the product while even more were less likely to trust reviews that could have been paid for by the company promoting the product. Additionally, consumers found the expert content to be a better source of information.

Not all products respond the same way to product information.
Video games had similar results between expert content and user reviews while dryer sales were more dependent on user reviews than any other type of content. However, electric toothbrushes sold better with branded content. Maybe the experts couldn’t hit the image home that you would have whiter sexier teeth if you would only buy a particular toothbrush.

If you are promoting your own product, you might try to experience with all types of content to market your product. Although you can’t control user reviews, you can create formats where users can leave reviews, and you can promote whichever ones you like as well!

You might also like:

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How to create a company culture like Google’s & have fun while doing it

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

Is it possible to run a successful business and still have fun?
In this modern business culture, having fun might be the only way. Too many companies out there have uninspired employees. There is no enthusiasm about work, innovating, or connecting with the others at work. Try being a customer of a company like that! No thanks! I’ll pass.

Google invests heavily in its culture, having the right offices formatted the right way, and paying people to work on their own little projects. What is the result? A job that means something. Most people find no satisfaction at work, but Google employees work in a stimulating atmosphere where it is hard not to find meaning in their work.

1. Start by hiring the right people
If you hire people who have no enthusiasm, you will not be able to create a culture around them. Even one toxic or boring person will ruin your culture. Culture is a hard thing to build and a lot can go wrong. You might be advised to find people whose last job was in a cool culture. But, if they were in such a cool environment, why would they quit unless they were forced to move?

2. Some companies out there are learning that the most dynamic conversations happen when people bump into each other in the hall way, or by accident somewhere. Some companies are designing their offices specifically to engineer more of these spontaneous combustion type conversations that lead to innovations. It might be hard to rebuild your building, but I’m sure there are things you could do to keep people bumping into each other by accident.

3. Many call centers who do BPO outsourcing do Google type things like having contests, prizes, and winners to keep the excitement going. Call center work is not quite as innovative as being part of the Google culture, but by keeping the momentum going, they do create a positive culture at some of the more successful call cneters. Remember, that they have the highest burnout rate of any profession, so they have to keep the environment positive.

4. Fitness counts, but try getting your employees to the mountains or beach. Google offers on-site fitness like swimming pools, gyms, and more. Nothing builds that winning feeling like working out. Fat, unhealthy workers might not contribute much to a vibrant culture, but if you get them moving, you might be surprised. I have an innovative job, and I need to keep my life exciting just to function. I go hiking, walking, and try new restaurants in my area. That is how I personally maintain a positive one-person culture if there is such a thing!

5. Do more for your employees to make them feel special.
I drive to my employees homes to give them a check on a regular basis. Perhaps they take this for granted, but no other boss would do that. It personalizes the work. Giving people unique birthday celebrations, or celebrating special occasions in an unusual way is another way to foster a positive and innovative culture.

6. Google has a billiards room, a slide, a rowboat, table soccer, and other unusual objects. At Google, work is designed to be mixed with play. After all, you won’t be at your smartest or happiest if you never have any fun.

7. Google hires people who are from all walks of life, speak dozens of languages and who pursue a wide range of interests including beekeeping, frisbee and fox-trotting. It might be a good idea to find out what types of hobbies your applicants have before hiring them if you want a lively job atmosphere. And if someone doesn’t have a hobby, you might try having a program to help incubate new hobbies.

8. The Google culture is associated with a startup culture, but Google has thousands of employees. The secret to maintaining the startup culture is to maintain an environment where employees can communicate freely with higher ups, and people in other departments in a casual way in the cafeteria, gym, or other parts of the company.

9. Do things outside of the office as a team. Google employees often go hiking, skiing or have picnics together. Building the bonds of a recreational culture in the workplace create strong bonds and good feelings. Personally, I think that rock climbing builds the healthiest relationships between people. Rock climbers are the coolest, not to mention the fact that you are putting your life in someone’s hands if they belay you which builds trust in the work place (assuming nobody dies.)

So, you can be more like Google. It’s easy. Just think of things you can do. But, if you think it is too hard, then you’re probably a boring defeatist and aren’t up to Google’s cool standards anyway — so give up! You’ll never make it! But, for the rest of us — we can — and success starts with a short brainstorming session and a few quick actions.

My business karma improved – an interesting example about my outsourcing directory

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I remember the frustration I went through two years ago when I first started calling the members on my outsourcing directory. So many of them couldn’t speak English. So many didn’t answer. So many of them were difficult with me. Things have changed. The change started from within me. This is actually very spiritual, and reflects a lot of what my guru has been telling us for years.

In the past, I was desperate to have a directory with tons of listings. Critical mass of quantity mattered a lot to me. As I went on, I realized that to maintain any type of quality on my directory, I would need standards that would weed out more than half of my followers. It bothered me so much to undo hundreds of hours of work getting rid of listings we had put so much sweat equity into putting online.

But, in the long run, I wanted quality. After all, if you were an American, would you hire someone who refuses to answer question, who babbles, or who doesn’t even answer their phone? Or worse, the people who put you on hold without asking permission — and then you wait on hold forever only to call them back and be put right back on hold.

The interesting thing that happened is that I removed 65% of the listings on our directory for quality reasons. Most of the remaining listings were moved to the bottom of the list because they lacked quality communication skills. We have 1750 listings now instead of 4400 of the original listings. Instead of just putting listings online now, I call them. But, this time around, everyone I called answered their phone and spoke passable English which is a huge improvement over my luck two years ago. It seems that it is not my luck that improved, but my karma which improved by me improving it by deciding to have standards and sticking to my guns!

A blog plugin that doubled the length of i-phone visits!

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I noticed that many people were visiting my blog on i-phones which is no surprise since everyone I know is glued to their i-phone! I figured that I might get more visits, or longer visits if I optimized my blog for i-phone usage.

So, my programmer offered to do a manual job of reprogramming my blog so it would look really good on any format. But, I wanted to know what it would look like before I committed to the work. It was not about the money, I just like to know what I’m buying. So, I mentioned that it might be nicer to try a plugin. That is faster and not expensive. So, the next day my programmer had the plug-in plugged in. It was very easy on the eyes. The width of the rows was just right. The display of recent blog articles made it easy to choose which article I wanted to read. It was so easy and so perfect. Then, I went to my stats. Visits had gone from 98 seconds average to 180 seconds overnight! Wow!

So, if you have a blog, it is time to consider a plugin.

Then, on my travel blog, we were having a problem with spam comments. I asked the programmer for that blog to put in a spam blocker for comments. Once again, overnight, the headache stopped, and I was really happy.

It is nice that in life certain things are easy and fast like plugins. The rest of my life unfortunately is not so easy! Onward ho!