If you were a customer, would you enjoy calling your company?

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Many companies make the mistake of not putting themselves in the place of the customer. I make the same mistake. Is your company a pleasure to do business with? Is your company a fun place to call?

Most companies who do outsourcing are a nightmare to call. You get bad reps answering the phone, or perhaps nobody answers the phone. The customer has to put in a lot of sweat equity just to talk to someone with a brain who doesn’t try to transfer them.

ME: What city are you located in?

REP: Oh, I will have to transfer you to have that question answered.

ME: You don’t even (cut) They cut me off and transferred me, and now I’m disconnected. I’ll never call that company again.

Yet, my experience above is the norm with Indian companies which is why Indian companies have a horrible reputation and are getting fired left and right so that Romanian, African, Central American and in particular Filipino companies can get their work. If you treat your customers like garbage, YOUR COMPANY will be the one thrown in the trash. The problem in India is that almost every company treats customers like garbage and hence, the whole country of India is being thrown in the trash by Americans who don’t like being treated poorly by customer service.

Why don’t you pretend to be a customer and call your own company. Try to get a job done. See how pleasant and easy it is! You might just learn something!

My guru told me to keep a photo of Facebook under my pillow

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I am a weird person. I pay my psychic big bucks to talk to the spirit of my departed guru and a few other sources of quality spiritual information. But, sometimes I ask my guru business questions. As you know, I am very interested in social media dn invest a lot of time into it. To do well on Facebook I use relevant and high quality photos for each post. I pick the most popular materials and promote them using Facebook’s paid promotion features. I do a lot to make sure my Facebook does well and we get between 3000 and 8000 clicks per month which is unheard of for a business as small as mine.

But, I do mystical things to promote my social media as well. I learned that hanging out at certain cafes, bars, jazz clubs, symphony hall, as well as Facebook headquarters does miracles for my social media. I can multiply my clicks by up to four fold simply by spending time at Facebook headquarters in Menlo park for a few hours.

The problem is that security won’t let me in, or should I say, hasn’t let me in yet. I talked the problem over with my psychic and guru. The suggestion was to put a photo of Facebook headquarters under my pillow. I am not good at photography, but found a great photo online. So, maybe I can get that printed out and nail it to my wall, and put another one under my pillow. I wonder what the results will be. I guess I’ll find out soon.

The moral of the story is that the photo of Facebook headquarters contains the AURA of the place which carries a certain energetic charge that might be helpful. Let’s hope for the best here. In the mean time I’m keeping a photo of Facebook on my computer screen that is visible while I’m working. I have a very wide screen. Maybe that will help. We’ll find out in a day or two. What a great feng-shui experiment!

Which of your employees affect your brand?

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Do you ever think about your brand? You should! Most companies behave as if the salesperson is the only employee that affects their brand reputation. The problem is that your company is like a chain. If there is even a single break in your chain, your whole service falls apart. Therefor, your company has to realize that even one bad employee in some back room that nobody talks to can undermine your whole company.

You need to think about this when hiring new employees. You really need to think about what your standards are. You also need to measure performance metrics in all types of ways. How good is your employee about getting back to people, answering questions, getting things done on time and how sloppy is their work.

You might have a training program before you hire people to make sure they are up to your high standards. That way you can watch them before they actually do anything.

Most outsourcing companies have a few star employees and a whole bunch of nightmares. You need to engineer your company so that customers never have a nightmare. Many companies try to prevent you from talking to the nightmare employees so you won’t know they are there. But, what happens when the good employees are busy and there is nobody else around to talk to. The moral of the story is that you can hide your shameful employees temporarily, but they will get found out one way or another. They will get found out when they answer the phone using poor communication skills. They will get found out when they screw up a critical job and get your entire company fired by an important client. They will get found out when they write a clueless email to a customer.

How can your company grow when your star employees are always busy? Your new clients want good people to handle their case, but there are no good people. So therefor your new clients will go somewhere else and your company will never grow.

To grow your company you need AVAILABILITY of quality workers who interact well with your customers. If you are always running at 105% of capacity, you have no room to grow. You need to hire more good people, and perhaps fire a few of your budget workers who save you a few rupees, but lose you a few million dollars worth of customer loyalty. Do the math!

All of your employees affect your brand — especially the worst ones!

Your brand will last as long as your worst employee stays hidden. The minute he/she is discovered — you’re fired!

The best way to improve your customer service

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The best way to improve your customer service is to write blogs about customer service. Every time you write a blog, you will have an “ah-ha” moment where you suddenly identify what you are doing wrong. Then, you can fix the problem. Awareness is the solution. Another solution is to read blogs that other people wrote about customer service. Finally, pretend to be your own customer and see how good or bad your own customer service is at your company.

You can talk directly with your customers or employees about how your customer service is. You never know where you are going to learn about what you are doing right or wrong.

The biggest thing you should be aware of is not your efficiency, but the customer experience you generate. Do you give people memorable and wonderful experiences, or are you a pain in the neck to get anything done with?

2017 Review of Ananda Church of Self Realization

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My experience with Ananda — a hostile outcasting
It all started in 2010 when I asked, “May I have permission to mediate?” and I was told, “Why would we not grant you such permission?” I told them of an experience where I was sitting silently in a zen meditation hall and thrown out for no reason by three girls I had never met before. The felt they couldn’t practice their standing meditation if I was quietly sitting there. I had no idea this would happen at this seemingly harmless venue.

I have never been a member of the Ananda Church of Self Realization. However, starting in 2010 I became a regular visitor to their Nevada City, CA retreat center. My permission to meditate and visit on their premises was revoked in a very hostile “unspiritual” and unbrotherly way on January 18th, 2017 by Krishna-das who is a very devoted volunteer at the front desk and long-term member of their community of 800 people who live on an 800 acre piece of land in the mountains of Nevada County.

Krishna-das informed me that his dismissal of me was not on his own initiative, but because the others in charge insisted upon it because they are fearful of strangers on their property as they have had many robberies, etc. Additionally, he did not like it when I complained of people harrassing me on his property. Krishna-das feels that his guests have the right to harrass me all they like and I should just tolerate. I feel that I should have the right to complain about harrassment and that they should either knock it off or tolerate my complaining and my talking back to the harrassers? Who should be tolerant then? Me, them, both, or neither? Basically I am required to tolerate endless headaches, but they do not feel they should tolerate my mere presense. It just doesn’t sound very “spiritual.”

Ananda Village used to be deeply spiritual for decades, but since their guru’s death in 2013 it has devolved into a venue where management makes money from people on retreats while stifling those who want to engage in spiritual practice.

What Ananda Village meant spiritually to me
The commentary below is based partly on my ability to see and sense spiritual entities and my experience with particular spirits of deceased gurus. The Ananda village retreat center or spiritual center is a very spiritually charged venue. The Master or Guru Kriyananda was of the highest of spiritual calibre and impregnated the land with a deeply spiritual vibration with the help of many of his sincere devotees and the spirits of the other deceased gurus in his lineage. During my visits to this location, I felt the presence of various spirits of the deceased gurus channel divine grace to me. The visits were mainly from Lahiri during the earlier years and then after Kriyananda died, I received visits from his spirit where he would sit next to me in spirit form and channel to me during my meditations in their shrine which I am very appreciative of. It is because of this intimate care that I was willing to drive eight hours and pay expensive hotel bills to visit Ananda Village and NOT due to the hospitality of the living humans who ran the place.

The basis for my conflict with Ananda Village management
Although I visit several times a year for several days at a time, and have done so for seven years (which totals about 100 days on the property in total) I was seen as a stranger, unwelcomed guest, or even a threat despite the fact that I have had permission to be there and meditate. The people who didn’t want me there included the yoga instructor, the manager, and guests who are new and walk around like they own the place. Management instructed guests to harrass those they didn’t recognize and ask, “May I help you?” The phase, “May I help you” is sometimes used as a sincere way to approach someone who is clearly lost and clearly needs help. However, I knew the place better than these help offerers did, and knew my way around. I was harrassed on my way to the water fountain, on my way to the bathrooom and on my way to meditation. It is hard to keep a composed state of mind when so many people around you say, “May I help you” when they really mean, “You seem like an unknown and therefor potentially threatening person to me — and therefore, it is my business to know what you are doing here.” I had to explain that I had permission to meditate there and that I did not like being constantly badgered. I also turned the tables on these busy-bodies and explained, “No, I don’t need help, but do you need help? You look like you need help?” My objection to being routinely harrassed, and the management’s objection to having strangers around led to my permission to meditate being revoked. The guests were so paranoid of strangers that my quiet and innocuous presence was more than they could handle.

Robberies at Ananda
Later on, it was explained to me that there were many robberies in the area. A contractor was robbed. The showerhouse was used by local vagrants, and other items had been stolen in the village. Management’s solution to the problem was to train people to go around and say, “May I help you” to those who were unfamiliar. I feel this practice is harrassment and extremely upsetting. It is also insincere. If you want to appoint a few people with security capacities and have them verify people’s identity to make sure they are welcomed there — that is called being professional. To go around bugging people who just want to meditate is extremely annoying, and led me to be unfriendly and mistrustful. Additionally, the occurange of robberies is a symptom of an underlying poor spiritual health. Those with bad karma tend to get robbed frequently. Those with bad karma who don’t lock their doors get robbed even more. I found out my rear door had been left unlocked for a month while I parked with my expensive laptop in the back in San Francisco, Los Angeles and other dangerous areas. However, I was not robbed. Does that mean I have good karma or am I just plain lucky?

An atmosphere of mistrust
I later found out that my mistrust of others on that venue was based on me picking up the vibes of the others who were there. This happened subconsciously. Ananda village used to be a place of joy (incidentally, Ananda is Hindi for Joy). The people I saw there before the Guru’s death in April 2013 were spiritual, happy, friendly, and wonderful. Immediately after Kriyananda died, the atmosphere changed. There were more robberies, more fear, more paranoia, more hostility, more harrassment, etc. It is highly likely that drug use (mostly marijuana) on the part of management and guests contributes to their sense of paranoia as that is a common side effect of long term marijuana use. It seems that the vibration of the guru positively affected the group and that the minute he died, the group had no more positive source of positivity except for sources that could be inhaled.

How Ananda went downhill – empty meditation halls
There used to be group meditation several times a week. Now, I never see a group meditating. There used to be more individuals meditating. Now, I see an average of one person per day in Lahiri Shrine and only Yoga lessons going on in the larger mediation hall. There used to be very fascinating spiritual talks on a regular basis. As of 2016 and 2017, I see only Yoga lessons going on and nothing of any spiritual merit. People used to be more friendly, now there is more hatred.

Kriyanandas mission was spiritual, but the current management is only about money
I call their venue an ashram. Ashram is a Hindi word that basically means a place where people go to meditate which might be something of a monastery. My understanding of the intrinsic purpose of an ashram is to promote the practice of spirituality. Swami Kriyananda’s guru was Yogananda. Yogananda came from India to live in the United States for the sole purpose of spreading spirituality in the West. Kriyananda (born James Donald Walters) is unique as he was the only American to ever become a spiritual guru of the highest calibre. Kriyananda got many Americans who knew nothing of spirituality to meditate and understand deeper spiritual concepts. Even after his physical death, his spirit continues to be a huge benefit to select individuals who meditate by channeling divine grace. What Kriyananda and Yogananda are trying to do (spreading spirituality in the West) is exactly what Ananda Village in its current management is trying to stifle. Ananda Village wants to get rid of people who want to mediate and keep only those who pay them money for retreat programs.

The yoga class from hell
During my visits to Ananda village from 2010 to 2013 I saw many interesting classes, lectures, and talks going on. I walked into a few and was fascinated. People were discussing the yugas, past lives, gurus, handling loss in our lives in a spiritual way, and more. I felt that those at Ananda Village were kind and welcoming at that time. I foolishly stumbled into a yoga class. I was curious because I saw photos of the yoga teacher all over the property. He informed me that these people were paying big bucks to be there and that I would have to leave. I complied immediately and said I was sorry. An hour later, the manager Timothy disrupted my meditation to give me a thirty minute lecture about how people are paying a lot of money for yoga here and that I cannot walk into a yoga class. I said, no problem, but you don’t need to disturb my meditation to tell me this. I was told not to do it once, how many more times do you need to say this.

Ananda Village allows misuse of the property for financial gain
The point here is that Ananda Village is using the property to make money teaching yoga and having retreats. The manager Timothy has no knowledge about the spiritual process nor does he meditate. It is also likely (although I have no proof) that many residents there engage in the use of marijuana as that is common in the area and I can tell by how people behave that they are on drugs. My guru from Sri Ram Chandra Mission claims that it is not proper dharma for a spiritual institution to make any money from the sale of services and that all income must be from donations. I did not understand the rule twenty years ago when it was taught to me. However, now I realize that the sale of services can lead a spiritual group to give up spiritual practices alltogether in order to engage purely in money making endeavors. It seems that the staff at Ananda are middle-class people who are glorified squatters. They do a few hours of volunteer work in exchange for the right to live and eat for free in an idyllic setting. Whether this group is a cult or not is subject to a debate that I cannot join as I don’t know them well enough to comment. But, there is a control structure where the top of the totempole can do corrupt and unethical things like (like outcasting quite people who meditate like me.) Additionally, the yoga teacher is getting free rent for a yoga studio which would cost him at least $7000 per month if he were in an urban area. The staff are taking advantage of the fact that nobody with any integrity is in charge and using the venue for their own purely selfish purposes.

My solution for Ananda Village
The current management at Ananda Village operates under the guise of spirituality while in reality, they don’t meditate much, if at all, and don’t value the spiritual process at all as an entity (since their guru died — it used to be the opposite until April 2013.) The management needs to be completely replaced.

1. The new management should be comprised of people who maintain a daily spiritual practice and exist to help others develop a spiritual practice and learn about spirituality from classes, talks, books, etc. I do not object to Buddhist monks from Burma or Thailand, etc., providing they speak decent English and understand the ideology of Kriya Yoga and Raja Yoga which is similar but not the same as Buddhist ideology.

2. Hatha yoga should NOT be taught at all, especially not for money at the venue.Having Hatha yoga or any activity that is not purely spiritual detracts from the vibration of the place.

3. Hatha yoga must NOT be practiced in the meditation halls ever. Doing any activity other than meditation in a meditation hall or even NEAR a meditation hall can erode the spiritual sanctity and vibration of the place. This is exactly what happened in the big meditation hall near the dining area which is a disaster. I won’t even meditate in that room as the vibration is so mundane.

4. Construction of new and small meditation halls the same size or slightly larger than the Lahiri Shrine should be built around the pond as that is a quiet and tranquil area with a deep spiritual vibration.

5. There should be regular satsangh (group meditation) every morning and evening at set times. My guru says the most auspicious time to meditate is at dawn and dusk. But, I’ll settle for twice a day.

6. There should be regular spiritual classes for those at different levels. Beginners should have introductary classes while advanced people should not be bored with content that is below their level as they would by definition seek the opportunity to develop a wider and deeper knowledge of spiritual concepts.

7. An outreach program should be established to attract locals to come and learn to meditate. Ananda Village only seeks those from other states to come on expensive retreats. I am asking for them to abandon this and turn their retreat center into an ashram for those near and far to come and enjoy the unique spiritual vibration that I used to drive eight hours to benefit from. There is no place as blessed as this land and no management as horrible as the current one who in my opinion has hijacked the property from its rightful custodian who unfortunately is dead. Hopefully, a rightious person will avail who can take over this “has been” of a spiritual group and turn it around.

Related and helpful links

Wikipedia’s page on James Donald Walters AKA Swami Kriyananda
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kriyananda

Wikipedia’s page on Yogananda
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paramahansa_Yogananda

Self-Realization Fellowship (created by Yogananda where Kriyananda started out and was outcasted from.)
https://www.yogananda-srf.org/

Ananda Church of Self-Realization
https://www.ananda.org/

Cult news accuses the Ananda Church of Realization

How to protect sensitive data when outsourcing.

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How to Protect Sensitive Data When Outsourcing

Outsourcing becomes a viable option if a company is to remain competitive, retain its profits and keep its dynamism. It allows a business to subcontract parts of its services or offerings to specialized professionals. Outsourcing offers many benefits to include: cost-cutting leading to money savings, increased efficiency and even reduction in labor costs.

But, outsourcing has its drawbacks, too not least of which is sensitive data that might be compromised when you decide to subcontract parts of your company’s functions outside of your organization. In fact, IBM estimates that a data breach can actually cost an American company $3.5 m. Protecting data that is available to workers when outsourcing is a great challenge that many owners and managers seriously have to think about.

Protect Data Internally
Before even subcontracting work, it is imperative to take a closer look at your own data protection and security. Investigate possible loopholes and address these concerns accordingly. Data should be grouped as general or that which can be shared among workers and sensitive or restricted, accessible only to people with credentials and privileges. There should be security software in place that can monitor how data is accessed to avoid identity theft and information leakages. Log records can also be generated periodically to ensure that only authorized persons access classified data.

Scout for an Outsourcing Vendor
Once this is sorted and a solid data protection is in place, it is time to look for an outsourcing vendor. You can do this by formulating a terms of reference outlining objectives, expected output, expertise needed, budget and monitoring instruments.

Check Candidates
As soon as you receive proposals for the work you intend to outsource, pay special attention to how bidders or applicants propose to handle data protection. You might want to include an NDA clause. It is also possible to second your own employee to work with your subcontractor to ensure that data privileges are not abused. He/she will serve as a counterbalance mechanism.

If a vendor has its pool of employees, it is highly recommended to grant data access privileges to 1-2 persons only. Check if the provider has technology or software in place that handles the flow and process of data. Things like having a dedicated server, IPs and LANs are helpful in data protection. Other additional controls include video control systems for employees, security badges and limited access to data rooms.

If handled properly, outsourcing can provide real benefits to the company without risking sensitive data that will be detrimental to the health of the business. After all, an outsourcing provider is there to sustain their business and by ensuring data protection, their reputation as reliable and trustworthy vendors can only benefit their enterprise making it a win-win situation for both parties.

Blogging & Writing while you are feeling the inspiration

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I tend to focus on what needs to be done. I tend to do tasks in a concentrated way. I’ll do emails daily, but other tasks I’ll do for several days at a time until done, and then on to the next thing. But, with blogging, it makes more sense to write the blog at the moment you get the inspiration instead of waiting. You can always write your ideas down on a list and write the actual blogs later. But, there is a flow in writing, and if you do something else while you are inspired to write, you might not get that inspiration back during the time you scheduled to write.

My main flaw is that I’ll try to do writing for four days in a row and get very burned out. I crank out a lot of articles, some of which are interesting, but it is too much. Writing might be better done a little bit every day instead of in a huge clump.

My guru is also upset with my meditation habits as I will go on vacation for a week and meditate for four hours a day, and ignore my meditation for the most part while I’m at home.

Sticking to busy daily habits where I’ll do a little bit of ten tasks every day is too confusing to me. I feel I can’t concentrate on anything if I do too much, but maybe it’s a good way to stay in a writing mood every day…

The types of clients you get at a call center

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People who work at call centers get all types of clients. Some are a pleasure, while others are just plain difficult or traumatizing. Here is an itemization of the types of clients you might bump into at a call center.

In a Hurry
Some clients are in a hurry and want to get off the phone as fast as possible. Some refuse to answer critical questions and ask you to call them back.

Refusal to Talk
Others just don’t want to talk to you. Perhaps they are busy or just don’t like you. Many won’t even listen to why you are calling, they just don’t want to talk.

Angry
Some clients are just angry. They might be angry at your company, or angry in general. It is easy to get angry clients when something happened to their phone service, their computer, internet, credit card or their account with your company.

Overly Talkative
Some customers just won’t shut up. They keep talking and talking. Any question you ask that requires a one word answer or a quick sentence ends up with minutes of rambling most of which is completely irrelevant to the question at hand.

Annoyed
Customers are often annoyed if they have to call in to a call center. Being put on hold, or talking to an automated attendant can be enraging. If the process could just be more simple!

Engaging
This type of customer also talks a lot, but they interact with you in a meaningful way that you migth actually enjoy!

If you can think of any other types of call center clients, please write a comment to this blog!

If you work at a call center, should you be “too nice” to clients?

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One lady who worked at a call center was too nice to the customers. She gave them discounts when they had a problem. She was very patient to them when they were mean. She pulled strings in their favor. He colleagues criticized her for being too nice. But, at the end of the day her negative minded co-workers quit or got fired fast, and she lasted.

Sometimes a good call center strategy or business strategy is not about what gets you ahead, or even what makes you money. What is important is keeping your employees on board, keeping your customers and staying in business. In the long run, if you are still there, that is half the game.

If you are too nice to clients, in the long run they will probably stay with you for years. Companies that are successful normally have a huge base of clients who are loyal to them in the long run. Whatever you lose by giving an unwarrented discount is small compared to what you gain by keeping a client for ten years. Getting new clients is costly, but retaining old ones has been found to be a better investment. Some people say that getting a new client costs six times more than maintaining existing ties. So, it pays to keep who you have before you go spending a mint on marketing for new clients!

Call center hiring strategy: Pleasant vs. Knowledgable?

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If you have a call center, you’ll be very popular if you have pleasant people answer the phone. If you have had a rough day and you talk to a jerk on the phone, it can set you off your edge very easily. One mean person on the phone can ruin your day if you are sensitive. But, pleasant people don’t always have the skills to handle people’s business problems.

Smart people like computer programmers, technical agents, and senior business people have great skills. But, they are not always patient, kind, or empathetic.

So, how do you have that perfect mix of capable vs. pleasant workers? One call center client threatened to shoot themselves if they were put on hold once more. But, what if you had a pleasant person to babysit the client instead of putting them on hold. Yes, that is expensive, but would it make a difference? It probably would and might even be worth the cost if the clients are paying decent money for your service. Instead of talking to a robot, imagine being able to talk to a very pleasant person who could make small talk and route you to the correct person when they were ready. Your call might take equally long, but it would be much more pleasant.

On the other hand, what if you trained your most pleasant people to be technically saavy. Would it be possible? They might be able to learn light technical tasks in a few months, and it might be worth it if they stuck around. Could you also train your geeky people to be more personable? That might be a little more difficult. But, you might take the edge off their geeky behavior with some one-on-one smoothness training.

Having the perfect staff is a combination of good hiring, balance, and molding your staff to be the way you want them. In my opinion, instead of training people all at once, staff members should get two or three hours of training each week to kee them growing at all times. If you train them all in the beginning and they quit, you’ve lost a lot of ground which is why spreading it out makes sense.

How can a call center agent show compassion when their life is hell?

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If you have ever stepped into a call center, you will notice that human beings are attached to computers and machines like slaves. It is sort of like the Chinatown analagy where indentured servants are chained to a stove cooking kung-pao chicken all day long. How depressing — but, easy on the pao please!

The air in call centers isn’t so fresh, and there is noise and stress from nearby work stations. People work like sardines with tiny desks stacked next to each other. Bathroom breaks are not so easy to get either. On top of that you have to deal with irate clients on a regular basis and deal with annoying situations like credit cards that have been turned off, computers that won’t turn on, etc. It just seems like pure hell. No wonder the attrition rate is so high.

The problem is that big call center managers aren’t very creative people. I think they would benefit from reading my blog as well since I offer creative solutions to not so creative problems. If people live in slave-like conditions, how can they possibly stay on the job for more than four months or show compassion? The answer is they can’t. And the solution is to solve all of the hellish conditions one demon at a time.

1. Bathroom breaks
Call center agents should have a more flexible shift where they can take bathroom breaks whenever they like so long as they login the hours they were away from their post (AKA login how long the ball was away from the chain.)

2. Snooze breaks
Nothing beats a good snooze. You feel so much better afterwards. But, should your boss determine when you snooze, or your body? Your body has different needs on different days, so having a six and a half minute snooze at 3pm every Thursday might not be the solution. The freedom of choosing when to snooze is half the victory. There should also be snooze rooms where you can get a comfortable place to lie down in a quiet environment, perhaps with water sounds.

3. Air
I have a heart problem, so air is particularly critical to me. But, normal humans don’t feel good when they are around bad air. It makes more sense to be in a forest or near the beach to get clean air. And call centers have the freedom to be where they like.

4. Mean managers
Call centers can have certain managers who specialize in metrics, and analysis, and others who specialize in interacting with the workers in a way that doesn’t rub anyone the wrong way. “Your metrics are down 10% today Jose! But, I’m sure you’ll get the calls per hour metric back up, won’t you? — no pressure!”

5. Mean clients
If you figure out who the mean clients are and funnel them to someone who is better able to deal with them, your other agents won’t quit so often. Just one mean client per day can set off call center agents who I know!

6. Task shuffling
If you do call work all day long that can drive a person crazy. It is better to mix it up with data entry, writing, or some other task. It might be harder to find people who can do a good job on more than one task, but it would keep them around more. Being on the phone more than four hours a day in the long run drives me crazy which is why I limit my personal call work to 20 hours a week no matter what!

7. Stressful environment
It is obvious that a call center is the most stressful environment known to man-kind (or Manila-kind as the case may be.) To counteract that stress, why not have a call center in the most de-stressing environment like a beach. Instead of a huge office, why not have high-tech huts on an abandoned beach somewhere. You get clean air, relaxation, and a great environment. Agents could live in units near work and walk to work. And if they quit, they could go back to the city or wherever else they want. Doing the same thing in a forest or prairie makes equal sense.

It is much easier to show compassion if you have suffered in your past. But, being in an unbearable environment doesn’t enhance your ability to be kind to others. That is why a good environment, and a good system of taking breaks and dealing with others is imperative!

Learning about Western culture at an Indian call center

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How can you learn a culture without living in it I ask? I remember as a child growing up in Massachusetts, my only impression of Indians were from movies. I saw mysterious guys in turbans playing the flute and charming snakes. They had great accents and were fun to watch — a bit scary too. But, in real life there are only a few snake charmers in India and the rest are not like this. India is a complicated country with regions, castes, personalities, some lack personality too, classes, neighborhoods, etc. You cannot put a finger on the Indian personality, although there are some common themes and some common inept behavior.

For Indians to understand Australians, Americans and Brits seems equally daunting. How can you sit in Noida and have a crash course in what English speaking Westerners were like.

One lady was told that Australians are dim-witted, heavy drinking racists. How can you reduce the fourth largest country in the world in such a demeaning and simplistic way? I met tons of Australians in America, Taiwan, Europe and Singapore. I found them to be the most friendly, exciting, wonderful people anywhere, and I love their accent. Some of them drink heavily, but I didn’t meet the drinkers so much as I met cool people who were educated and fun! Describing an entire culture using over-simplified terms doesn’t educate a call center worker, it misinforms them. It might be better to depict a culture in terms of common behavioral themes. In high school there are the jocks, the geeks, the nerds, the cool guys, the average kids, etc. There is not just one type, and not everybody fits into the common types either.

Another lady was told that Americans are 90% big hearted while the other 10% are just down-right brilliant. I have lived my entire life in America with extended trips to India and Taiwan. I will tell you that ounce per ounce, perhaps there is more compassion (a Hindu virtue) here in America than there is in India. But, there are lots of underachievers here, dumb people, short-tempered folks, as well as some scarily brilliant people. Despite America’s stupidities, our country finds a way to have our businesses function and that is why we are more successful than most other countries who just can’t get it together.

The way to learn a culture is to live in it. If you have serious call center reps who you intend to keep for a long time and pay well, they should live in America, Australia, or whatever country they are going to cater to. The more countries you visit, the more you learn about culture, especially if you interact with the locals over a long period of time. Or you could hang around with Americans in India which is easier. The type of Americans who come to India are not always representative of the norm. Especially when you see white girls named Sally traipsing around town wearing a silk mysore sari. It might make more sense to import a good cross-section of Americans so you can feel the culture in a more well-rounded way.

Another way to learn culture for call center work is to see how various cultures handle various types of problems. Dating, marriage, education, work and various problems are handled differently in different cultures and by different individuals. So, seeing many examples of how people in Texas handle having their credit card turned off might be a more helpful cultural education rather than being told that Texans like everything big, yee-haw!!!

From my western perspective, I would say that the biggest flaws of Indians are their insensitivity to others as well as their incessant desire to nag others. Westerners don’t like nagging too much, loud noises are not appreciated (such as your screaming kids) and a refusal to solve problems is another things Westerners don’t like. Even if you have never met an American or Ozzie in your life, if you are attentive to being considerate, control loud noises, and solve problems quickly and effectively which might involve triple checking your work, oh, and don’t nag, you might be very appreciated by the average westerner — but, no guarantees. And one more thing — please hold….