Category Archives: BPO

Do you need more BPO or Outsourcing clients?

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We get all types of responses to our blog entries. Instead of voicing an opinion about what we are writing about, people normally announce how they have a call center and want clients.

If you want new clients for BPO or outsourcing projects, you can post a comment on this blog entry, and we might publish your comment as well. Now is your chance!

Good luck everybody!

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Reaching the break-even point with new BPO customers is possible if you personalize

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Getting new clients is hard and costly. Losing clients is easy. Most BPO companies I deal with specialize in losing clients (and getting threatened with lawsuits) just as quickly as you gain a new one. You cannot build your business if you lose clients quickly, nor can you turn a profit. Research from established call centers show that the break even point with a customer is after they have been with you for 12-18 months. This point depends heavily on what you charge them, etc., can can vary from company to company and customer to customer. But, 12-18 months was a standard for one company.

The point to remember is that customers who have a good experience stick around while others do not. One way to make sure clients stay is to customize your offerings to their personal needs. If you cater to every whim and desire you will not only keep most of your clients, but get referrals too.

What are some ways you can cater to client needs? If you give your agents more training, and train them more how to deal with the needs of that client, you’re on the right track. If you let the client pick their own agents from a pool of applicants and fire people they don’t like, that is good too. If you have monthly meetings to discuss the performance of each rep on that company’s account, that is also something most call centers just wouldn’t even think of doing as that is call center business and none of the client’s business — or is it? After all, the client is paying for this and is the entity who will lose if there is bad service.

Pimp my Tweet – a BPO company specializing in Twitter

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I remember the MTV show long time ago called, Pimp My Ride. But, how come there is no agency that can help give tweets a makeover? Most people write boring tweets that could stand a lot of improvement. There are after all 140 characters and endless tag variations to work with. With all of this flexibility, why is it that most people can’t tweet? Even the biggest profiles that I follow that have over a million followers write very dull tweets. They tweet the title of their blog instead of working some magic out of it most of the time. And when they do rephrase the tweet based on some juicy internal content, it still isn’t all that.

Here is some sales literature from a fictional India based social media BPO company.

Pimp My Tweet BPO Pvt. Ltd.

Tired of the same old lame-ass tweets?
It’s time to put some style in your Twitter handle.
Here is what our experts recommend!

If the tweet don’t flow — then it must go
If the tweet ain’t hype, you must retype
If the link don’t fit, you must find wit
If you put your tag in the wrong spot—good job – Not!

For the dopest, phattest tweets around, come to Pimp My Tweet BPO.

(ring, ring)

SUJATA: Thank you for calling Pimp My Tweet BPO, this is Sujata, how may I help you?

CLIENT: Yes, my Tweets are quite boring actually. I was hoping that you could help.

SUJATA: Yes, we can help jazz up your tweets. Let me take a look…. (pause) Oh, I see the problem.

CLIENT: Were you able to take a look at my work?

SUJATA: Yes. It is not (pause) bad… But, it is too straight. You just tweet straight facts and basic sentences. You need to put some play in yo jive.

CLIENT: Wait a second. You are located in Bangalore, and you know 1970’s Bronx street slang?

SUJATA: Well, it’s actually a problem you see. If aunty ever finds out I work for a company whose title includes the name pimp, I’m in huge trouble. I have rehearsed what I’m going to tell her if there is a problem. It is a typo, and it was supposed to be “Pin My Tweet” — on Pinterest, you know. Aunty is used to typos, they make a lot of them where she works.

CLIENT: Got it. I know how that is. I was at a hamburger spot in Chennai called Mary Brown, and they spelled Mary like Marry which means to have a wedding, etc., if it has two r’s. Comical actually.

SUJATA: You sound like a character. Which makes you 139 short of a full tweet. Well Anyway, you basically need to put some strut to get out of your rut. Do some jive to get out of your hive, and most of all — don’t tag outside your territory, or that could cause a turf war.

CLIENT: Oh, you mean graffiti? Well, the internet isn’t like that.

SUJATA: I know that, but we are trying to appeal to New York Street sensibilities. Our clients grew up on the streets of New York. Generally on more affluent streets if they can afford us, but nonetheless they would be familiar with street culture.

CLIENT: The other companies can barely function in English, but you know our slang — at least the antiquated slang.

SUJATA: We aim(s) to please! And we’ll make your dull Twitter handle into the hippest, coolest, dopest account in Twitter history. Just give us a chance. We offer samples of our work for a low introductory offer. After that we have a contract for a monthly arrangement. 60 tweet revisions per month for one low price of rps3000 / month which is only about $60. And we have a viral surcharge. If any of our tweets go viral, we expect a generous tip.

CLIENT: You’ll get tips, referrals and more if you help me go viral. Thanks a bunch. I look forward to you guys pimping my tweets. Just don’t get up on my honeys.

SUJATA: Oh, no we wouldn’t think of it. And one more thing.


SUJATA: If you meet aunty on any subsequent trips to Chennai, please don’t mention that I work here. Let’s keep it between you and me. Can you dig it?

CLIENT: Yes, I dig.

Do you see opportunities where others don’t in BPO?

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I am not running a BPO, so I am not in touch with your reality. But, seeing opportunities is a skill you need. Many in BPO just want to start a call center or data entry firm without knowing what a real opportunity is. They know what they want to achieve, but are out of tune with what the clients want. I’ll tell you what the clients want. They want call centers in Manila, not in Mumbai, so move to Manila and hire local staff if you want to get ahead in the call center world.

There are many niches in the BPO industry a person could get into. The skill here is to be able to identify niches and then later to see if you can be effective at doing the work and gaining clients in that niche. The main skill here is to be able to identify what clients want, and you do that by talking to lots of clients or prospective clients and asking them about their experiences without trying to sell the something.

If your entire philosophy of life is, “give me job, give me job” and you lack grammar, skills or personality, then you won’t succeed. Someone who says, “give me job” is a beggar who only thinks of himself, who doesn’t care what the customer is thinking and doesn’t even know it is important to be in tune with that. Get this mentality out of your head if you want to have a chance.

What if you have a call center, but realize that there might be limited competition in certain niches. What if you learn Mortgage Process Outsourcing? What if you learn where prospective clients are, how to contact them, and how to sell to them. What if you learn how to process the documents like a pro? You might do really well because there is very limited competition in this niche! On the other hand, what if you excel in technical support for particular types of products. You might beat out the competition since nobody else can do what you do. If your offerings are too general, you might not survive the competition. On the other hand, if you are versatile, and can learn to do anything, then if you only have a few clients, they might use you for everything, and you might make tons of cash from them.

So, how should you define your niche? I feel it should evolve over time, and your skills should also be a huge factor in deciding your specialty. If you have superior skills in a particular area of the industry, nobody will be able to beat your service! Good luck!

Millenial job hoppers at India’s BPO companies – and how to harness them

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Millennials are a different breed. Those of us in our 40’s, 50’s and 60’s find them difficult to understand. They are evasive, like to avoid conflict, and job hop like crazy, especially at BPO organizations. On a brighter note, they care about social causes — at least until their short attention span fades and then they care about something else.

In America, millennials jump from job to job. But, in India, the problem is even worse. People who work at BPO programming houses jump boat so often, their management structure was designed to accommodate this type of behavior. Programmers in India are seen as being replaceable parts.

If you are working on a serious project involving ten programmers and Rahul jumps boat because he got a better job offer at another company, it might take a while for another programmer to get up to speed at what Rahul was doing. And if the other programmer doesn’t do the same quality work, or can’t do the work at all, then your entire project could be on the rocks for a while. You could lose a critical client in the mean time because a millennial decided to jump boat on a whim. So, what is the solution?

Screen before using on critical projects
If you are a large programming house, you might have different types of projects. If you have smaller, simpler, less critical projects, and huge team projects, you can choose which programmer you put on which project. If you have someone new, it is advisable to put them on something simple and quick just to see if they do it, and if they can do it, and how punctual they are at meeting deadlines and getting back to people. If a programmer does well on an easy project, you can upgrade them to a more complicated project. However, I would not put anyone on a critical project on salary, here’s why.

Salary just doesn’t work with critical projects, try contracts & bonding
If Ramesh is working on salary on a critical project with a team, the entire team’s work would be compromised if Ramesh drops out. Therefor, it is critical to make sure that Ramesh doesn’t leave the project until it is done, and possibly until bugs are worked out after its completion. The question is, how should you harness Ramesh? Deferred salary is one strategy. If Ramesh gets a small portion of his salary while working on a longer project, but doesn’t get the main payment until its completion, then he would be less likely to quit and begin work for a higher salary down the street at some other hi-tech company. It might also make sense to take it a step further and penalize the programmer for jumping boat as he would not only be failing at his part of the programming, but his failure would influence the timeliness and quality of the final output for all ten programmers as his piece of the puzzle might be critical interfacing with others. Not all programmers would agree to this type of contract, however, without a contract, the programming house is doomed.

Paying more for reliability makes sense
Many BPO companies in India want cheap, but don’t calculate the cost of people leaving. If you add up the damages incurred when a critical player leaves, you might realize that it is cheaper to pay good people more, and also to pay mediocre people more if they can guarantee reliability with a contract and perhaps a bond. Reliability is the key factor in programming project failures — so, if you can eliminate reliability issues such as leaving bugs around, leaving project half-done, and missing deadlines, you can excel as a programming outsourcing company!

A case study from a courier company
I used to work for a courier company when I was fresh out of college. I was started out doing “distribution.” I delivered people’s fake teeth to dentists and back from dentists all over Massachusetts. The work was not ultra-time sensitive and the materials I was handling were not life-threatening if lost. They put me on this type of work until I proved myself. Then, they tested me on time-sensitive work for a few months. After I had proven myself, I was awarded with a route. I went to seven banks in Boston (generally in bad neighborhoods) and delivered the checks to Providence, RI. I was handling millions of dollars in checks every day and had keys to go into banks at night. I actually set off the alarm once (oops!) In any case, the moral of my delivery days story is that I was not put on a critical task until I have proven that I was a reliable and trustable candidate. I was put through two types of reliability tests for months before given any meaningful work. Programming houses need to find some type of short-term work to give to people while they are proving themselves. That way, when someone is put on a critical job, they will be less likely to screw up or leave — especially if they are under a bonded contract!

Six Problems That Only Individuals Working In A BPO Industry Would Understand

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Six Problems That Only Individuals Working In A BPO Industry Would Understand
Anyone who has been working in a call centre, or has already worked there knows that there is no other psychological trauma quite like it, say for example hooked up on a phone call that would never end for the majority of your life, and is been subjected to the worst kinds of humanity.

Time is everything in a BPO Industry. We come across situations where you would have military walking in, your breaks being monitored, strict call length control, monitoring toilet breaks, etc. with each and everything being controlled and monitored. Welcome to the world of robots. Given below are some of the trials and tribulations one would have been experiencing in a call centre and lucky are the ones who escaped from it.

Being shouted at the entire day: You know what could make your clients angry for the things you are about to say. And things like it would take two weeks, or you do not have an account with us, or I would have to transfer your call, or my boiler has not been working and it’s definitely your fault. These are things that would sound like a red rag to a bull. So if you are lucky enough you would be getting a response like this I know it’s not your fault but before things go worse….and is something that’s unlikely to happen.

Being asked to work overtime: Each and every one of us have been doing this. We would have to work overtime in order to pull the given targets. We cannot let our customers down and would require someone who could answer their calls.

Taking up calls that you cannot deal with:These kind of things continue to happen a lot in the BPO Industry and is something that is never funny. Weeping people come forward and tell you their story whereas screaming customers would claim that they are going to come commit suicide with sexually inappropriate comments. And when such things happen you would here need to remember that you would have to wrap up the calls in 2 minutes or else would be fired.

Having to come up at 8.30 and starting your computer: You have been told that you need to be at your desk by sharp 8:30 am and it’s already 9.30. And it’s obvious that certain programme that you would need at your job would take half an hour of time to load. And off course you would not be paid for your extra half an hour then why would you choose to work for an extra hour.

Not wanting to be a part of clients call during day off: Do not try of contacting your customer success team during weekends, it would never ever happen. So try and use whats up, gmail, Viber, and Facebook instead.

Getting Back Home and Noticing That Your Friends Have Been On Facebook The Entire Day: Most of the times we come across situations where we did not have much work to do. And you could just read articles online with a limited access to internet like the fact of the day been written by your manager and your weekly column where your CEO would be describing the holiday he would be going on.
Author Bio:

Abhishek Jain has over 10 years of experience within the BPO Industry and Finance and Accounting outsourcing services. Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) Services India delivers and manages various offshore/onsite projects in various technologies and domains


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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 good are your analytics for your BPO company?

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Many companies specialize in analytics while others don’t know what that means. But, how good are your analytics for running your own business?

Call centers have many metrics and analytics to keep track of how long people wait on hold, how long calls take, if disputes can be resolved in one call, and more.

Large companies have analytics for inventory, systems integration, testing, and more. The result is more streamlined manufacturing at lower costs which translates into increased productivity.

But, what can your company do to use analytics? There are many things to keep track of at a BPO. Here are some that I thought of.

1. How long did you know a client before they became a client?
2. How many times did you interact with someone before they became a client?
3. How many people you interact with by email, phone or otherwise become clients?
4. How many clients who stopped using your service did so because service was slow or mistakes were made?
5. What are the fluctuations in labor use at your company week by week over a period of time?
That will help you determine how much extra labor you need.

6. What is your typical employee turnover rate.
7. How much training do you need to give an employee to get them to a particular level of competency?
8. What “special” requests do clients have? (or do you ignore this like most other BPO’s?)
9. Which of your employees have repeat clients and which lose you clients repeatedly?
10. What do the employees who stay say about your company vs. the ones who quit?

That’s all for now. Perhaps you can think of some other analytics.

Thinking outside the box or the BPO in your business….

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Are you in business? Do you handle business decisions in some methodical way? In my experience, most business problems are very complicated, involved, and have many unknown wild cards. To solve business problems, you can’t just have some run of the mill way of thinking. You need to try out some unconventional thinking.

You might need to brainstorm different ideas. You should ideally think of many really wild ideas just to get your brain to open up. Incorporating trying things out into your innovation process is critical as your brain will come up with more ideas as you are testing things out.

Thinking outside of the box is a common American expression. Unfortunately, we have very few innovators in our country. It seems that India, the land of the BPO industry has even fewer creative thinkers due to the nature of the school system there which focuses on memorizing and not on creation.

Some types of thinking are just not taught at school, or are not taught enough. When I was at school, they did teach creative thought, but they didn’t teach creative thought in business. In my opinion, all of us entrepreneurs need to invest a lot of time in developing this skill within ourselves.

When I come up with solutions to BPO business problems, the list looks more like a list of ideas and then variations on ideas. It sometimes takes over a year to try all the ideas and during the process I often think of many more variations or refinements on ideas. The business thinking process is like this, and all entrepreneurs should become comfortable with all phases of the brainstorming, implementing, measurement and refinement stages of the process.

Good luck, and also it is recommended to meditate and bathe before making important business decisions for your BPO. Some very Hindu advice from someone not raised Hindu. (Ganga water not included)

Picking a 4000 foot BPO office before you have the clients!

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Yes, one of my clients on did exactly this. He was an American who never expected that he would end up in the Call Center business. He went to India and he just knew that if he got a large call center, the customers would come. His attitude was just like in Dubai: build it and they will come. Come they did, but not at the rate that he expected. His philosophy changed. Now he believes you should have the customers first and then get a large office. But, that is not so easy either.

It’s either too big or too small
No office is just right. It is either too big or too small, unless your office is made of rubber. If you are lucky, you can rent a trailer and create office spaces in those. That way you can rent by the week when you need elasticity. Or you can outsource to people who work at home. In India, they prefer squeezing people. Indians are born in cramped compartments. In actuality, if you had a huge room and twenty Indians, they will likely all put their desks crammed together in one corner of the room rather than spreading out. It is habitually engrained in their culture. Even with web forms, Indian programmers make the boxes two inches wide — it is so small, you can’t even see what you wrote in the box!

Being versatile
But, if you can be versatile and adaptable, you can deal with changing office situations more easily. If you had a team of twenty, and all of the team works from home one day a week, if you run out of space, just have everyone work from home two days a week! Or have everyone squeeze. On the other hand, you could have people work different shifts so you are not all on top of each other. In call center work, people are expected to be in the office, but some people do work from home if their home is quiet enough.

What would Google do?
Google invented a tiny work-pod. You get in and it is only a few feet wide, and circular of all shapes. You can space them out or squeeze them together. Many companies have workers work at huge tables in open workspaces that have no walls. Personally, I need my space and can’t stand noise, so that business model is out for me. But, others thrive in this environment. Having an overflow strategy is critical. If you can get some space in the building next door when you need it, that is perfect. Then, there are places that rent office spaces by the week as well. Renting a cubicle by the week is a great way to meet new and exciting people. I actually rented an office space by the afternoon twice and loved it. But, I went during the weekend when it was quiet which I loved all the more!

My advice?
Think positively in your business. Assume you’ll grow even if you have no reason to assume that. Our thoughts seem to precede reality according to the yogis, and I have found this to be true. However, don’t bite off more than you can chew. Perhaps get an office that is 25% more than what you need. If your business is slow, then you will have comfort, if you grow, you will have a year or so to find some extra space or move the entire operation. The trick is to have the exact amount of extra margin — know where to draw the line! Or you could visit Japan and see how cramped their life is. Once you return to your country, however much space you have will seem like an unheard of luxury.

Other than that, have fun and enjoy your work!

Taking your BPO to the next level

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All of us in business dream of getting to the next level. It is a bit like a video game. We often think that one day something magical will happen and suddenly our number of customers will double and we will need a swanky office downtown with beautiful secretaries. But, in real life, how does it really work?

Growth is never on schedule.
Business is never predictable, especially the BPO business. You might get one or two huge clients overnight that could change everything. Suddenly your call center will go from 20 seats to 60 seats. You won’t have any idea of where those seats are going to go unless you have a way to get flexible office space. You could also lose a few big clients all of a sudden and be demoted back to level 1. Although we can never predict when we will be promoted to the next level, we can build a more solid foundation so we’ll be ready when the promotion comes.

It happened all at once for me.
I remember back in 2002 a psychic friend from meditation was all excited and she said I would have amazing luck with my business and that it would just get better and better. At that point, book sales started to go up, and we started selling a few thousand dollars per month in listings. The very next year in March, we started selling $30,000 a month in advertising and courses. Boy was I excited. I was so happy that I worked 70 hours a week until I burned out and got really tired. At that point, I hired more people to help me clean house and sell products.

Keeping mentally prepared
Some people don’t think big. According to yogic philosophy, everything starts with a thought. The universe started with a thought, airplanes started with a thought, and even lifting your finger starts with a thought. If you think small, or don’t dream about the bigger picture, it may never happen. You need to be mentally accustomed to the idea that you will grow big — it is just that the timing is unpredictable. Think about that car you’ll be driving. Think about how your office and dozens of employees will look. Think of how hard you’ll work and how tired you’ll be until you hire Prashant the trusty right hand man to be your VP. Keep that thought!

But, you also need to be tactically prepared.
If you get that new client who wants 100 seats, you need to know where you are going to put those seats. You need to have some idea of what type of contract you will have with him and how you will select agents. You need to have a lot of the variables worked out in your head. Additionally, day to day good technique and best practices need to be very polished in your business. That way you will know how to train your agents and attain perfect work every time as second nature. If you are in the call center business, you need to be an expert at metrics. If you are in programming, you need to keep an eye on your programmers and see if they finish tasks on time and see if their commenting is clear enough that a new programmer who has never seen the code will understand exactly what is going on. If you do e-marketing outsourcing, you need to be a master of all of the social networks so you can select, train and monitor your workers.

Going to the next level can happen in a moment, however the building up of your skill set happens gradually over time. It is good to always be trying to be at the top of your game. Knowing how to run a successful BPO is different from knowing how to market one. There are dozens of marketing techniques from networking to Linked In, online advertising and more to gaining new clients. If your interaction skills and management skills are top notch, you can attract and keep great clients. However, if your skills are lacking in any facet and you lose clients as fast as you get them, you’ll never make it to the next level. Knowing how to find the right people to help you in marketing and management is also critical. If you are always bogged down all the time with work, you won’t have time to go to the next level. So, think about all of this and then plan for how you will make it to level 2.