Category Archives: Outsourcing Articles

A story about outsourcing invitations to a bicycle event

Categories: Outsourcing Articles | Leave a comment

Brian was a nice guy. He was a teacher and worked hard organizing his cycling events. He reached out to thousands on Facebook and even had a newsletter that he was constantly adding to. But, it got to be too much for him talking to all of his followers and coordinating events. He needed help. So, he outsourced his content creation to a nearby company. They had access to amazing photos that they could add to his Facebook posts, and had lots of experience. Brian knew he had it made.

His last event had two hundred people coming of all ages and genders to ride through the hills of Los Angeles. Little did he know that with his new found help, he would have even more members. Below is a copy of the message put out on Facebook.

Attention Bikers!
Come to our tour of the Los Angeles Hills. We will be touring scenic areas and then meeting for lunch in Malibu at the Thai Bistro. Bring your friends and family!

So, it was the morning of the 4th. His usual crowd of two hundred bicyclists showed up. But, then there was a very loud sound in the distance. Broom —- Broom — Broom. What was that sound? It sounded like motorcycles in the distance. They were getting closer. They were coming to join the event. Brian was befuddled as to why these motorcycle gangs (with their tattoos and leather jackets) had come to their bicycle event.

ROCCO: Hey, we’re here for the tour of the hills. (he waves his gang of 20 behind him)

COORDINATOR: Oh, we were not expecting motorcyclists to be joining us.

ROCCO: Well, I have my i-phone right here, and on the invitations it says, “Attention Bikers!” We’re bikers.

COORDINATOR: Hmm, we outsourced that to one of those social media companies. They didn’t know that the word cyclist is a person who rides a bicycle while a biker is one who rides a motorcycle. One of those subtle differences in the English language! They hire a lot of Asians who are not completely fluent in English at that company. They’re a nice crowd, but they don’t always understand the nuances of the English language. But, that’s never been a problem so far!

ROCCO: We like subtle nuances, don’t we guys?

GUYS: What?

ROCCO: (yelling) We like subtle nuances, don’t we guys?

GUYS: Yeah! I feel like a nuance right now! I could pick up four of those nuances right now (looking at the lean bikers.)

COORDINATOR: Oh no, they are not nuances, a nuance is a small change in meaning from using a slightly different word.

ROCCO: Oh, well I like that too. Kind of like the difference between a citizen and an associate.

GUYS: Oh, ho ho ho — those cagers.


ROCCO: You see, you lack the linguistic sensitivity to understand our unique biker language.

COORDINATOR? Aparantly so.

ROCCO: This is just a hunch, but I’m picking up vibes that you are not biker friendly.

COORDINATOR: Well, we cater to those who ride motorless bikes — let’s just phrase it that way since we are both into semantics.

ROCCO: Well you can enjoy your semantics and your social media company of morons. We’re going on without you.

COORDINATOR: What a shame!

CYCLIST CROWD: What a relief!

How much do you train a call center worker whose only lasted three months?

Categories: Outsourcing Articles | Leave a comment

Most companies offer lousy service because they don’t train their employees. However, companies that train their workers too much up front may find that their investment goes out the door. Call center workers typically work in a very high stress environment and quit their job within months. According to studies I have read, to get to the top of a company’s food chain, you need to stick to your job for at least fifteen years. How high will you rise in management if you promptly quit every three months?

How much up front training should you give a BPO worker? Or is it better to test people, and make them pay for their own training if they want a chance to work for you? Better yet, maybe the best way to train an employee is a few hours a month on an ongoing course. Perhaps there would be fewer hours of training and more hours of working after an employee has proven themselves over the course of time.

If you put too much training in an employee up front, you lose it when they quit. If you don’t train your employees at all, you lose your customers as they will seek companies with employees that have more than half a brain. There must be a happy medium.

One method is to divide tasks by difficulty. A new employee should only be allowed to do simpler or less critical tasks for the first few months. After they have proven their loyalty, that is when you might train them to do more difficult tasks. On the other hand, what if they are good at simple tasks, but can’t learn well? If you started out by training them in the beginning, you would have data on their learning curve which is a very critical stat to have on an employee.

Maybe the training curve should include some up-front training to establish the employee’s learning curve, but heavy duty training should be left for after the employee has stuck around for 120 days.

The cost of losing an employee seems high as you might lose your clients if you keep offering new employees of questionable abilities. It might make sense to invest in the office experience so that people stick around a lot longer. But, that is another story.

When and how you do your training and how much are critical questions to ask. You should ideally experiment on this concept in as many ways as you can think of.

The best tasks to outsource are not critical or time sensitive

Categories: Outsourcing Articles | Leave a comment

Outsource everything!
Some people say, “Outsource everything!” However, if you want quality work done, you can’t really do that. Keep in mind that if you outsource tasks to companies far away, you might not be in constant touch with the workers and you might not even know who is working on your project. If you have something critical, or that requires carefulness or knowledge, you’re in trouble. Imagine that you hire a software company in India to work on your online database. Let’s say that Rahul knows what he is doing and he is the guy assigned to your task. When Rahul quits (and everyone named Rahul who I’ve ever worked with always seems to quit in the middle of a project) then the next guy might not be as good as Rahul.

Let’s say you have some critical phone work to do. If you search the world for that perfect agent, you will waste a lot of time searching only to have them quit at the critical moment. It has happened to me many times.

Another time I outsourced tasks that needed to get done on time. The tasks dragged on and on endlessly and I had to do the work myself when I was very busy. Once again I had made a mistake. So, what is the secret of outsourcing?

Outsourcing time sensitive work doesn’t work!
You can’t outsource work that is time sensitive unless you are absolutely sure that the company you hired will get the work done correctly and on time. That means that if someone quits, that a replacement of equivalent skills will take over. If Rahul knows your site and Rajesh suddenly takes over, even if Rajesh has a few years experience, he doesn’t know your site — so you are in trouble. If you have phone work which has to get done on time and the girl doing the work is sick that week, then you have to do the work yourself. My suggestion is don’t give time sensitive work to others in the first place. Find a very efficient way to do that work yourself.

You also can’t outsource critical work
Let’s say that something can be done at any time, but there will be consequences if the work is done poorly. If you know your work well, but others don’t, there is no way they will do it as well as you can. If you know someone well, and they perform the work almost as well, as well, or better than you can, then you can use them. But, outsourcing to a stranger for critical work is a recipe for disaster. Whomever the BPO company uses for your job will either do a poor job, or if they do a good job they will by definition quit and be replaced by someone who does a bad job. In the long run, the average quality work from outsourcing companies is rarely good. I make it a policy to only use outsourced workers if I have the opportunity to get to know the worker personally. The minute they quit, the entire company starts their reputation all over from scratch with me as I interview the new workers. If I don’t like the new workers, I just fire the entire BPO on the spot! Otherwise my work will be shoddy and who needs that?

Dividing tasks that you thought were a single task is key
I have a task that I call welcome calls. It is very time consuming as my directory has 300 new members per month and I call them all twice. I call people to introduce myself to them, and to get their information straight as well as to see if they have any behavioral characteristics that I like or dislike including how they answer the phone. If they say, “hullo,” I don’t like that, but I do like it if they introduce their company name like a professional. After some long though and a discussion with a friend who runs a social media company, I decided to break my task into pieces. I’m going to have an auto-caller do the initial call so that I get a reading regarding if they answered their phone or not. The auto-call can also instruct them to email me for their password so they can spruce up the info on their listing. The second call will ask them if they want to be on the newsletter. The third call will be by an assistant to fill in whatever info is not yet there. That way I only have to do the fourth call, and I will remove most of the listings with un-filled out information before I do the fourth call which will reduce the quantity of my calling by 70% at least. So, what does this have to do with outsourcing? I can outsource the third call, and automate the other calls. That is a great way to conserve on my labor time.

So, what should you ideally outsource?
(1) Research on social media. Finding tweets to retweet or articles to share. You might want to double check their work as they don’t know your industry as well as you do.
(2) Additional information calls. If you have to call your clients for backup information which is not life threatening or time sensitive, that is a great thing to outsource.
(3) Article Writing. If you run a blog, you can accumulate a lot of articles long before you publish them. This is a great task to outsource not only to save you time, but also to have multiple writing styles on your blog which will make it more interesting.
(4) Test sites or experimental programming tasks. If you are hiring a new programming company, if they screw up a test project, you have little to lose, but a lot to gain in price savings if they do a good job. If they screw up your main site, you could be out of business or have many technical glitches or messy code which will haunt you in the long run.
(5) H.R. If you find companies who have access to great workers, they might be able to find you people fast when you are too busy to look. Or, if they are not so responsive, they might waste your time when you don’t even have minutes to waste.
(6) Graphic Design. You can hire more than one company to do a single project. That way you can have choices for which artwork to use, and if one company doesn’t finish on time — fire them!
(7) Programming consultants are good to hire to check up on the quality of code of the programmers you hired in India. You need to know if they are writing clean and efficient code. You’ll never know if you don’t hire an expert although you will get hints when everything they build is broken or breaks easily after the fact.
(8) Social media services are good to hire for mundane work. But for strategical work, it is hard to find a good company. Sometimes you have to be a social media expert yourself. But, for posting, either use an auto-posting system or hire a company who will post your stuff at a reasonable rate. You should do the work yourself to see how long it takes so you can see if they are billing you for four hours for every one hour that you would have used.

6 pitfalls in hiring outsourcing companies that could cost you millions

Categories: Outsourcing Articles | Tagged | Leave a comment

It is easy to interview outsourcing companies. However, there are many things that a client might overlook while hiring a company.

Also See: Outsourcing work for $2 per hour?

(1) You interviewed the salesperson, not the workers
If you hire a company because they did well at the interview, you are missing the point. You are probably interviewing the salesperson who is trained to talk well. He is not the one doing the work and couldn’t care less if the work gets done. If you interview the technical manager, you are beginning to be on the right track. But, the technical manager is also educated and will present himself well, although not quite as colorfully as the animated salesperson. Interview the lowest level workers and see if they seem like functional people. In my experience, 95% of the time, they cannot function in a simple conversation and also cannot do their work even marginally correctly.

(2) You were fooled because the interview went well
Let’s say that you were smart and asked a variety of personality, logical, and technical questions to your new prospective hires and they did well. You still don’t know if they are reliable at getting work done. You don’t know how tightly the company schedules their work and you don’t know who will quit and when. You need to test them out on some smaller projects before giving them a big project to see if they manage their work well. Workers will come and go, but if a technical manager has a handle on his work, you will get consistent results.

Also See:
Good Sign Bad Sign: What to look for in newly hired workers

(3) You were lured in by a low price
If an outsourcing company doesn’t charge enough, you can be absolutely guaranteed that they cannot afford to hire decent workers. If a company hires substandard workers, your work will not be done well, and you can bank on the fact that nobody will care either. Don’t get the lowest price or you will be sorry.

(4) You assumed that because someone charges more that their service is better
Companies that charge more usually, but don’t always deliver more. But, the “what” that they deliver is not necessarily better work. It is more often than not better customer service. Good customer service might make your life more pleasant, but if paired with really horrible outsourced work, you will not be satisfied with the results. Quality work comes first and good customer service is the icing on the cake!

(5) Failure to give two test jobs
If you are an experienced outsourcer, you know that it is imperative that you test out companies before giving them any serious work. But, testing them once is not enough. They are trying on the first test job. You need to see how they function when they are just being themselves. The first test job should be short and test ability, but the second one should be long enough to test their scheduling skills and to see if they meet deadlines on a job that is 10-40 man hours.

(6) You stopped watching & they started slacking
Nobody wants to micromanage others or babysit outsourced workers. But, you need to keep a close eye on them. The problem is that after they gain your trust, you will be tempted to stop watching them. Don’t! The level of scrutiny and intensity in which you watch outsourced workers needs to be high in the beginning, and then go to medium after a while. It is very common for workers to really slack off in their fourth or fifth month. It is also common for workers to slack off right before they quit. That means if you had the same trusted person for two years without issue, they might start slacking off when you least expect it. So keep an eye on them!

You might also like:

Judge a book by its cover: Judge a company by its office

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

Which countries are the best to outsource particular tasks to?

The on hold message

Categories: Outsourcing Articles | Leave a comment

What’s your on hold message? How is it helping you?
Don’t let your on hold messages be friendlier than you are.
It’s difficult when you’re competing against an artificial version of you.

(1a) If you make your on hold messages evil, then by the time you pick up the phone they’ll want to marry you compared to what they’ve been enduring on hold.

“Your call isn’t very important to us. We know your time isn’t valuable, so rest assured that someone will be with you with we fricken get around to it.”

We realize that being on hold may be boring. But, I assure you that you’re having a better time than I am. After all, I’m just a dumb machine. Would you like some on hold music, or would you prefer to listen to this rant. Enjoy this on hold message until it repeats endlessly and makes a wormhole in your head.

I know you’re on hold. So, I’m going to talk about the same things I would if I thought I had hung up, but hadn’t.
Hmmm. Is that website still down? Why’s my internet? Oh, that last customer was such an idiot. Oh, and her voice was like fingernails on a blackboard. She sounded eighty years old, and fat. Her husband must have divorced her the minute he married her. I could practically smell her breath over the phone. I really have to pee. (customer’s voice) “So go to the restroom.” Oh, are you still there? Did you hear all that? Oh my God I can’t believe I didn’t hang up? (customer’s voice) “I only heard the part about your homosexual tendencies.” (rep’s voice) “Oh my God, you heard what I was thinking too?” (customer’s voice) “I read minds. But, in your case, I just browsed.” We here at XYZ Outsourcing believe that talking about our personal lives is entertaining for customers. Please don’t let this detract from your perception of our professionalism — or our sexuality.

The world’s longest drum solo would be the worst possible way to torture your clients.

The most important factor for creating leads for your outsourcing company.

Categories: Outsourcing Articles | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Companies that do B2B have a very different attitude than those who do B2C. Unfortunately, this attitude is not a good one. When I personally call outsourcing companies, they rarely answer their phone. If they do answer, it is usually a lower level employee who doesn’t communicate well, or who doesn’t know anything. Most companies out there only want large customers and don’t want to bother with small companies like mine. The general attitude of outsourcing companies out there is — we want more money, but we don’t even want our existing customers. In the real world, you can’t make money without having customers.

“We chase projects — not dollars”
One company told me that they chased projects, not dollars. Unfortunately later on I realized that they enjoy projects, but hate customers. I think I need a company that chases customers, not dollars, but finishes projects on time. Hmm.

A seamless experience
What gets B2C companies business should be considered in the B2B world. B2C companies thrive when they offer a seamless, glitch-free, teflon, no friction customer experience. Amazon‘s 1 click ordering is an example of how the most thoughtful professionals handle this concept. Most outsourcing companies out there offer maximum friction and dysfunction at every step of the process not to mention talking to (or being brushed off by) anti-social people who may or may not be responsible enough to complete your work to your satisfaction.

How to create that experience
The process of finding qualified leads is up to a good marketing department. You need to find people who are in high positions in companies who hire programmers, data entry clerks, call center agents, etc. Once you have found them, the key is to not ruin what comes next. Is your website informative? Does it make it easy to know what you do, and all of your specialties such as chat support, SMS messaging, and technical support for HP products? Or does your site just ramble on about how you offer the highest quality of BPO services, and refuse to let people know what those mystical BPO services are? Many companies out there just ramble on for paragraphs about how they adhere to the highest of standards, but don’t mention anything specific that would make me want to hire their company. Your site needs to have a very elaborate services page, FAQ page, contact us page with all applicable contact numbers, contact forms, email address(es), phone numbers that go to people who actually answer their phones, as well as photos of your staff, building, and perhaps a map of your location so people can mentally place you.

The next step is being personal
These days, people normally visit your web site or social media sites to size you up. If you pay special attention to both, then you will have made a good impression on your leads. The next step is to actually talk to people. If you make it easy to talk to an informative human being, and make it easy for people to get their work done with you, you will be on the right track.

That’s all for now. I’ll leave the rest to your imagination.

Should you outsource your printing to a single vendor or multiple vendors?

Categories: Outsourcing Articles | Tagged , | Leave a comment

The decision to in-house or outsource your work is one that many companies make. Both have complications, and both are tough decisions. But, if you outsource, then the question is how many outsourcing companies to hire? If you are in the printing business, you might find one company that does a good job with your business cards, and another who is better at pamphlets. A third company might be more expensive, but good at short turnaround for books. In my opinion, it is better to have many outsourcing companies on payroll. Use the better ones more, but keep in touch with a few others that function as your backups. In business – you always need backups and multiple backups are necessary since people retire, quit, go out of business, are busy, end up in a hospital, screw up, or might even cheat you.

The Single Vendor Approach
If you outsource to a single vendor, you would only need one or two pickups of orders (possibly done online) and only one or two drop offs of work per day. Your work would be mixed in with their other clients’ work, and completed at their various facilities, or perhaps at a single relatively nearby facility.

The Multi-Vendor Approach
If you hire several vendors, you can optimize by hiring the best vendor for each specific task you have. Additionally, some vendors as I mentioned above might be better at short orders while others might specialize in low prices with less favorable delivery terms.

Brokering your work
If you hire a broker to figure out how to get your work done, then they worry about who to hire. Since they specialize in outsourcing work, they might be better at it than you.

Managing Vendor
There are other vendors who would hire a third party, but manage the work done at that other company’s facility.

Dedicated Vendor
You can also hire a vendor that has particular staff members designated to working only for you. This has higher fixed costs, but they take care of the staffing, training, machines, and all you have to do is to supply orders. Having dedicated employees is very popular in call center and software development outsourcing. It is common for a US company to hire five programmers in Noida, India who work for an IT staffing outsourcing firm to work on a project for them.

The Mixed Approach
You could have all the machinery you need in-house, but in limited supply. You could do whatever work you have time for yourself. But, whatever overflow you get, you could outsource to one or more vendors. Additionaly, if your equipment breaks, you would already have your outsourcing partners in action. In business, it is very important to already have a long lasting relationship with someone when you need their help in an emergency.

Gaining new clients and nurturing them correctly

Categories: Outsourcing Articles, Semi-Popular | Tagged | Leave a comment

Everybody in the outsourcing world wants more clients. But, they don’t always take the right steps to gain or keep those clients. In fact, in my experience, they do a perfect job at alienating clients from start to finish. It is as if they don’t want clients. Maybe when they way they want clients, they mean they want money without the hassle of the client. In the real world, money comes after you satisfied a client, not before.

I wrote other blog entries about how to effectively use your web site and social media to turn your leads into clients. I explained how a professional staff specializing in answering the phone can save you from losing more than half of your qualified leads. But, there is more…

Price Breaks
Many companies set their prices high so they can make a decent profit margin. This is a mistake when trying to get new clients, especially B2B clients who can become long term income producers. The main fact to understand is that gaining a new client is difficult, but their long term value can be in the millions. The key is to get them on board. If you lose the millions so you can make a few extra thousand in the next month, you missed the point. Give people lower prices in the beginning so you can get them on board. Once they are satisfied, then you can charge them a moderate price. Don’t try to gauge people though. You can lose very loyal clients by overcharging, so be very sensitive to the type of bills you are sending out at all times.

Problem Solving
Most outsourcing companies have the big boss who handles all problems. The problem is that the problem solver is generally not available to solve problems, and doing a hundred other things at the same time if they are even in the office which is another problem. It is easier if readily accessible employees are trained to solve commonly occurring problems. If a customer can get their problem solved easily, they will be less likely to leave. Even if the employee solves a simple problem in a way that is not beneficial for the company, at least the customer will be happy they didn’t end up with a splitting headache. Empower your employees to solve problems (unless they are a problem employee.)

Are their risks associated with your company?
Does your company have a BBB rating? Do you have testimonials from satisfied clients? What type of 3rd party credibility do you have? You need to make sure that prospective clients have an easy time finding unbiased 3rd party information about your company. They are not going to believe what you say about your company because you are a salesperson.

Making it easy
Is it easy for new clients to get a job done at your company? Do they have to call ten times to reach you once? Do you have complicated contracts that you force them to sign? Or, do you just make it easy to start with easy terms and flexible options? If you make life easy for your clients, they will make like easy for your wallet. It’s a simple rule of business!

Joining a Parade of Outsourcing for Small Businesses

Categories: Outsourcing Articles | Tagged , | Leave a comment

In the past, it was almost exclusively large businesses that went overseas to capitalize on the abundance of inexpensive labor. These days through new technology and resources, anyone can do it. You don’t even need to be in business to hire a freelancer in a foreign country.

If your main office is in Topeka, Kansas, you are no longer forced to hire someone in your city, state or even your country. You can hire someone in Noida to build your new app. Then, you can hire someone else in Manila to do the phone calls necessary to find leads for your app. And finally, you can hire someone in Minsk to clean up the mess your Indian programmers created when creating the app (assuming you hired the wrong ones, and most novices do!)

Freelance sites
You can query all types of freelance sites to find people. Odesk is a popular service because they have satisfaction reviews for all of the service providers listed. You can’t get away with cheating your clients or delivering shoddy work on Odesk. After you have been in outsourcing long enough, you will realize that the #1 considerations is not price, not convenience, not personability, and not even punctuality — it is finding someone who will get the job done correctly. Most outsourcing companies hire incompetent staff members who screw everything up that they touch! Odesk eliminates a lot of that risk. There are other sites like Freelancer and Guru which also publish reviews.

Company directories like
You can also hire companies to help you out. Although the quality of the reviews is better for the freelancer sites, for larger jobs or longer term work, you might be better off hiring a larger outsourcing company. is a great place to find software developers, call center companies, data entry, medical billing, and more. There are other call center and web design directories out there. However, those other directories are not as adament as about keeping their information up to date, and about putting quality providers near the top of the search results!

Here is what my buddy says
I have not personally hired freelancers outside of the USA, however, my friend does this all the time. He is always bragging about how he hired someone to do phone calls for $2.70 per hour in the Philippines or how he found a great PHP programmer in Argentina who works for $15 per hour. In real life, the average call center freelancer makes around US$4.00 per hour and the average overseas programmer makes around US$15 in India and around US$20-30 in Eastern Europe. Prices vary according to how good the freelancer is and market rates, currency exchange rates, etc.

American freelancers do not benefit from this
It is hard for an American to compete against someone charging US$5 per hour for freelance work. However, people will hire Americans at American wages if you offer a higher quality of service. Perhaps you are better at answering tough questions in an intelligent way. Or perhaps you make the customers feel more at home with you. American programmers are normally a lot more efficient, easy to communicate with, and use best practices more effectively than their overseas conterparts which is why the average software development freelancer in the USA charges about US$70 per hour while in India it is only $15. Despite how difficult it is for Americans to compete, it is very difficult to hire Americans. I personally find most Americans to be very stubborn, unreliable, and uncooperative. Maybe Americans don’t need work which forces employers to look East to Manila!

How is the outsourcing landscape transforming?

Categories: Outsourcing Articles | Tagged , | Leave a comment

The outsourcing landscape and terrain is evolving as we speak. But, is it changing for the better? There are several factors to consider.

(1) Outsourcing providers are gaining skill at fulfilling their customers’ needs as the industry matures.

(2) There are more companies out there in more countries competing for outsourcing revenue giving the customer more choices.

(3) Rules and laws concerning outsourcing will continue to change. Obama might make it more difficult to outsource which could cause a huge disruption in the market. Regulation in the United States for example could cause a decrease in outsourcing.

(4) More companies are expected to take an interest in outsourcing as time goes on and the overall industry is growing worldwide.

Politicians often talk about protecting American jobs by regulating outsourcing. However, by protecting American jobs you are shooting other American companies in the foot who need services. If you cannot find quality services in the United States for an affordable price, you are forced to outsource overseas. But, if there are laws restricting overseas outsourcing, American companies doing the hiring will suffer and their overall growth will be dampered. Job protection helps those with jobs but harms businesses and end-consumers.

India’s situation
India is famous for outsourcing. But, unfortunately due to the negligent behavior of managers and poor service at many companies, the market is turning away from India for a lot of outsourcing services. Eastern Europe is taking over a lot of the programming outsourcing while the Philippines has drained more than two-thirds of India’s former call center revenue. India is still #1 in the outsourcing world, but if their sloppy unprofessional behavior continues, they are likely to continue sliding downhill in the outsourcing world as other countries gain ground.

As technology continues to evolve, and human culture adapts to the evolution, we will see an increasingly mobile workforce and more remote workers who are likely to be outsourced from foreign countries. Cloud technology is a very common type of technology which aids mobility. You can access your information from an i-phone on a desert island with the cloud and conduct your meetings from a pool overlooking the ocean there if you desire!

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

Categories: BPO, Outsourcing Articles, Popular Posts | Tagged , | Leave a comment

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.

You might also like:

Six problems that only individuals working in a BPO would understand

Business quotes that will inspire you

The pen is mightier than the sword, but is blogging mightier than flogging?

Jeremy’s 11 tips for better business decision making

Did you tell the applicant what they can get from the job?

A company has a board of directors, so why shouldn’t you?

9 insane things stress can do to your business

Hiring difficult personality types

What’s the difference between getting business advice from a millionaire and a billionaire?


The million dollar outsourcing query call

Categories: Outsourcing Articles | Tagged | Leave a comment

The trick question – what city are you in?
We’ve all heard of the TV show from the 1970’s — The Million Dollar Man. He can jump twenty feet in the air, put his first through a brick wall, and run faster than a car. But, what about a million dollar call? I call outsourcing companies daily, and am astounded that not a single one handles themselves completely professionally over the phone. There are always aspects of professional etiquette that even the highest class of outsourcers miss. People answer the phone saying, “Hello” instead of stating their name for one. At other companies they transfer you the minute you ask a tricky question such as, “What city is your company in?” That question is too difficult for the caliber of employees that they hire. After you get transfered, you get put on hold for long periods of time, or disconnected. In the best case scenario you talk to some other moron who hasn’t a clue how to answer your PhD level question and requests to transfer you to yet another imbecile. The transferring never ends as there are no intelligent people who are available at many of the larger companies.

How much business do you lose per year?
As an outsourcing company, you should be aware that high profile prospective customers could call you at any time. If they talk to someone who is an idiot, or doesn’t have proper phone etiquette, you could lose that prospect. If they are a customer and get put on hold too many times, you could very easily lose that customer for good. My question is, what is the cost of having good phone service, and what is the cost of having bad phone service? If you lose a 1 million dollar contract because someone untrained answered your phone, the cost of your bad worker is the profit on that 1 million which could easily be $50,000. I’m sure that the cost of hiring someone decent to answer your phone who has half a brain would be a lot less than $50,000 in India or the Philippines. In real life, you probably lose a lot of smaller clients who might have jobs for US$20,000 per year. In the course of a year, you might lose several million in revenue from new prospective clients due to your bad phone staff.

Use a contact form
My suggestion is that if you can’t have someone good answer your phone, don’t have a phone number. Use a contact form on your website. It is hard to have someone answering calls eight hours a day, or 24 hours if you cater to overseas clients. It is easier to have them fill out a form, and much more respectable too. It is better to not have a phone number rather than having a numskull answer your phone. At, we call all companies on our directory. If they have unacceptable people answering their phones, we will remove them from the directory without a second thought. However, if they have a contact form and no phone number, we will keep them at the bottom of the list which is mildly better than being removed.

Don’t allow certain people to answer the phone.
Have only designated people answer your phone. In India, most people (99.9%) lack proper phone manners. Have an American or British friend train six of your staff members to answer the phone and don’t let anyone else touch the phone without a substantial penalty. Additionally, train your phone staff to answer basic questions about your company so they don’t have to transfer the call. They should know simple things like what your company does, where they are located, what they charge for various services, etc. You can write all of this information down on a cheat sheet to make the task simpler.

Good luck!