Tag Archives: Call Center Business

Should your call center invest in a cloud contact center?

Categories: Call Center | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How to Get More Business For Your Call Center — Better Training!

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How to Get More Business For Your Call Center — Better Training!

Everybody in India wants to start a call center. But, those that succeed have better training for their workers. But, you might say, “I need BPO clients first before I can think about training, how can I get clients?” You can get call center clients by networking with others who have call center business. You can buy leads from them, or create advertisements visible to those in the West. But, if you don’t provide good service you will get dumped before you know it, and you will be out of business. So, GETTING business is not your problem — keeping it is the problem. Sure, it is hard to think like that when you don’t have business and have never had it, but try to think from the perspective of someone who has tried and failed in the call center industry and learned something! Training is the secret to keeping clients.

Impress people with your training
If you can impress upon prospective clients how well trained and flawless your call center employees really are, they will be more likely to want to sign a contract with you. If you simply hire people off the street and don’t invest in their skills at all, when the critical call comes in from a prospect, you will have no way to impress that person. Conversely, you will be very evasive, and try to sweet talk them. You will try to assure them that everything will be okay if they just sign that contract. This is not a reliable way to gain trust. Gain trust by getting to know people, and let people get to know your staff. Don’t hide your staff — show them off (if they are any good)

Americans are wary of bad service
Americans are so sick and tired of bad service from India. You should be very tuned into this sentiment instead of continuing to ask, “How can I get clients”. If you offered high quality service you would have to fight to get rid of clients. Instead, ask yourself how you can give Americans the best service that they ever had in their life. If you can make that fantasy a reality, then your phone will ring off the hook. Word travels fast.

How do you train people?
Part of the training is for management. Managers at Indian outsourcing companies typically have many unprofessional types of behaviors. They answer the phone saying, “Hello”. Professionals state their name and company name. Only 2% of companies in India have professional sounding answering machines that actually state the name of the company you called (so you don’t have to guess) and make it possible to leave a message. Whether they actually call you back is another story. Training sales staff to actually answer the phone and be able to answer basic sales questions is another matter to consider. But, actually training the workers is harder than you think. You are not American, and you don’t know how Americans like to be talked to! You need to hire someone who specializes in training call center employees to come to your office and give regular training sessions.

That sounds expensive!
Doing business is expensive. Paying salaries, rent, cab fares, utilities and other expenses are not for free. If you are going to pay all of these other costs, invest in training. My guess is that he who invests most in high quality training will probably grab a higher percentage of market share more quickly than any other company. Most companies are not even trying to compete. Americans are less sensitive to price variations as they are to quality variations in companies. Because, if you give them low quality service, then they will lose THEIR clients which will make them go out of business. Americans would rather pay a little more and get better service. I’m not suggesting that you charge double what the others charge in your area, but don’t try to be the cheapest, try to be the best. Sure, offer special sign-up deals for the first three months to get people on board if you need to, but in the long run, focus on quality.

What type of training do people need?
Call center employees need help with pronunciation, clear speaking skills, speaking loud enough but not too loud, and handling difficult situations. You need to be sensitive when there is a problem. You need to be on the side of the person you are talking to and care. You need to be able to explain complicated situations flawlessly to the person on the other end of the phone. Some call center employees can do this, but, many can’t handle even the smallest of complication. Learning American culture and expressions is always helpful. Mastering the art of American small talk is quintessential to success. But, it is the Philippinos who learn these skills almost effortlessly and not the Indians. Why is this? People in the Philippines have excellent interaction skills in general, and they rub off well on Westerners. People in India often just want to make a buck, and don’t want to learn anything about their client or interact with their clients. This attitude is not attractive to Americans and has to change! Otherwise there is no way that you will be successful!

You might also like:

Write professional emails to get more call center clients
http://bpo.123outsource.net/2013/10/02/how-to-gain-more-call-center-clients-write-professional-emails/

Starting a call center? Keep financial backup for 3 months
http://bpo.123outsource.net/2013/09/26/starting-a-call-center-keep-financial-back-up-for-3-months/

How to get more clients for your call center

Categories: Call Center, Popular Posts | Tagged , , , , , | 14 Comments

Getting more clients for your call center part 1
 
Call centers are everywhere!
There are many call centers throughout the world.  The United States and Canada are filled with them.  The Philippines is the most popular outsourcing location for call centers, while Kenya and South Africa offer a good command of British English and are in the same time zone as Europeans.  But… not all call centers are created equal.  Many new companies want more clients, but they don’t know where to start.
 
It’s about relationships!
BPO Companies typically get business because they have the right contacts. No contacts; No contracts; But, how do you get connections when you don’t know anyone? A call center might know a potential client, or could be referred to a client from someone who knows them.  Often, they will know other people in the business, who give them their overflow or take a commission on BPO business sent their way.  But, what if you are sitting in a building in Navi Mumbai, or Cebu, and you see others succeeding in the call center business when your phone is not ringing with interested prospective clients?
 
How do you get to know people when you don’t know anyone?
We all start out with empty Rolodexes in this life unless we are born into the right family.
But, how many of us are born into a well connected family?  I’m from America which is a meritocracy. Your success is still based heavily on “who you know”, but we generally are not born with good connections like the upper class British or Indian families might have.  We make it based on merit and hustling — otherwise we don’t make it.  Some of us are talented, while others are average but work harder than our competitors.  In America, many of my friends were from affluent families, but didn’t have the drive or dedication to achieve, and they are working for minimum wage in many cases.  By the same token, many people who were raised in slums are now prospering.  So, get out there and hustle and get to know people. You can meet prospects through cold calling, Linked In, networking meetings, or through existing contacts.
 
Getting to know people
If you want to drum up BPO business, you have to contact companies who might be able to use your service, as well as contacting competitors. Competitors might be able to refer you jobs that they don’t want or don’t have time for. They might charge a commission for offering you work. You could get to know agents and brokers as well, but be careful as many of them charge up front and don’t deliver! You can get listed on outsourcing directories and have a broad social media presence as well. In terms of contacting prospective clients, who do you call, when, and where? Pounding the payment is on my perpetual to do list — my company contacts 400 new companies per month every month, on schedule at the beginning of the month whether we need new clients or not, just to keep the momentum going.
 
Email
Email is a wonderful tool, and it has its place in society. It’s a very practical way to contact people who already know you and are happy (smiley face or not) to hear from you.  However, if you send emails to strangers that are trying to sell them something, you will get ignored.  If you use email to contact people, you might get a 0-1% return rate if you offer them some sort of free trial period. If it is just an introduction to your company, you will be ignored 9999 out of 10,000 emails which makes the whole process futile. Writing to a specific contact person and perceptively addressing their unique needs increases the chance of you getting noticed 100 fold!
 
Cold Calling
Calling companies is a royal pain in the neck. It’s often like pulling teeth to reach the decision maker, and each phone call can carve 10 minutes out of your day only to be put on hold and then ultimately rejected.  Phone calls are tedious, so plan on having someone who is patient and dedicated to manning this essential lifeline. On a brighter note, a dedicated caller can realistically reach up to 30 decision makers on a busy day of cold calling.
 
Meeting people’s needs
The mentality that separates a salesman from a pest is their ability to anticipate their prospective client’s needs.  If you call someone trying to force your service down their unwilling throat, you will have wasted your call.  Even if they need your service, they won’t like your style.  If you are polite, make nice conversation, and ask them about their needs, you will get your foot in the door.  My experience has shown that a female with a nice voice, an even nicer personality, and a good technical understanding of call center work will excel at this type of cold-calling.  Gentleness and suave are the keys that open the doors. On the other hand, my personal experience running my own call operations is that a man with a very feminine voice is just as effective as a girl.  My best caller was a guy with a folksy high voice, and everyone liked “her”.  I hired him to offer free listings on one of my directories, and he got seven listings per hour, while the other male caller averaged only four! Of course — everybody thought that he was a she!!!
 
Smoothness and getting to know people
People hire other people they know. Its not about what BPO company you work for, or even what company they work for.  If a person at a particular company likes a person at another company and gets to know them, you establish trust. Trust = Sales or at least has the potential to lead to sales.  People entrust their money to people they like and trust. If your salesgirl cannot only sell, but makes great chit-chat with the decision makers, they will develop a type of relationship with your company.  In five minutes, you went from a non-relationship, to having a warm and fuzzy relationship. You are no longer doing a cold-sell now. You are working in a warm market.  Your sales girl melted the proverbial ice!!! One sales lady conveys such charm, that clients who have never laid eyes on her are regularly sending her flowers. When you interview your salesgirl, ask how many flowers her clients sent her on her last job. There’s your clue as to how successful she will be!
 
Free samples
Many people are stingy and selfish and don’t want to give away even a minute of their time for free. But, if you are starting out, you have to establish a reputation. If nobody knows you, then the only fast way to GET people to know you is to offer a few hours of work at either no cost, or at a reduced cost if the person will commit to a contract once they are satisfied.  If you have a star employee who will impress your potential clients, you will gain many others from offering free work. Not all of them will hire you. But, always remember that business is about relationships, ideally long term ones. If you sacrificed a few hours of a star employee’s time, but got a client who stuck with you for twenty years and referred you to ten other companies who used you, do you feel that your sacrifice was worth it? You give away a penny, and get a million in return. I like that exchange very much.

Have a professional web site
People judge a book by its cover and a web site by its professionalism. A professional web site that clearly states all of your specialties and contact information will attract business, especially if it is easy to find on Google. Please see our article about having a professional web site for your business.

Pay-Per-Click
An astute web marketer will be an expert at using pay-per-click programs. Google’s adwords is the most effective in this category. Pick the keywords and keyword variations that are well targeted to your business and geographical terms mixed with professional terms, i.e. “Bangalore Web Design”. Twitter, Facebook, and Linked-In also have PPC programs that can help you grow your social media presence quickly and effectively providing that you have popular content. Going to a $100 party wearing a $3 shirt is the equivalent of spending hundreds promoting poorly written blogs or web pages. Write good content and promote it using PPC. However, you should track your results and terminate promotions that don’t yield positive results. Using PPC involves a lot of trial and error, so try many approaches and keep your eyes open. Please read our article on Pay-Per-Click promotion of call centers.

Summary
Hire a nice girl who makes smooth conversation, knows her technical stuff, and can anticipate her prospective client’s needs.  Get to know companies and offer them a certain amount of free work if you think they are serious. That way, they will be confident about working with you in the future since they had a good experience with your company.  On the other hand, if you hire the worst staff, your free sample will just be a waste, because nobody wants to work with a rotten bunch of employees!!

Stay tuned for part 2 of getting call center work.  You will see a completely different point of view on marketing in that blog entry.

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You might also like:

How to get more clients for your call center (compilation)
http://bpo.123outsource.net/2015/08/20/how-to-get-more-clients-for-your-bpo-or-call-center-compilation/

How to get clients for call center — contracts!
http://bpo.123outsource.net/2013/04/05/how-to-get-clients-for-call-centers-contracts/

Marketing your BPO from A to Z
http://bpo.123outsource.net/2016/05/22/marketing-your-bpo-outsourcing-firm-from-a-to-z/

How to find clients for call centers — good salespeople
http://bpo.123outsource.net/2013/04/08/how-to-find-clients-for-call-centers-good-salespeople/

How to get more clients for your call center — get an agent!
http://bpo.123outsource.net/2013/09/14/how-to-get-more-clients-for-your-call-center-get-an-agent/

How to get more clients for your call center using Pay-Per-Click
http://bpo.123outsource.net/2013/08/01/how-to-gain-clients-for-your-call-center-pay-per-click/

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Tweets:
(a) When it comes to business, it is about who you know.
How well do you know yourself?
(b) In business it is about who you know. How well do you hustle to get to know new people?
(c) In business, it is not who you know — it is who knows you and thinks highly of you.
(d) Get to know prospective clients by calling them.
Interact with existing clients by emailing them.
(e) Emailing prospective clients has a really low response rate. Ask your Nigerian uncle. Try cold-calling prospects.

(f) Hire the right girl to talk to decision makers & they will develop a warm & fuzzy relationship w/your company.
(g) 1 sales lady conveys such charm: clients who’ve never seen her regularly send her flowers.
(h) When u interview a salesgirl, ask how many flowers her clients sent her on her last job. There’s your clue as to how successful she will be!
(i) The best things in life are free. Give a free sample to a prospect, do great work, and win a client!

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How to Start an Outsourcing Company

Categories: Outsourcing Articles, Popular Posts | Tagged , , , , | 3 Comments

How to start an outsourcing company

To start a BPO, Call Center, or Data Entry outsourcing company, you will need a lot of skills.

Be an expert in your field
You need to be an expert at your field, so that you can supervise work and know who to hire. If you know nothing about data entry, and have no clients, nobody will hire you, because you don’t know anything. People want to hire responsible experts, so if you are not an expert, please become one.

Get clients
How do you get clients?  Many people tell me they want to start a 20 seater BPO, but they are asking me how to get clients.  My advise is start with one seat, and then when you get more clients, get more seats.  The clients come before the seats.  No clients = being out of business. If you are asking me how to get business, you are really in trouble, because I am not in the call center business — I’m in the directory business with 10 years of experience.

Contact other call centers or data entry companies and see if they have any advice or overflow.
Contact call centers or other outsourcing outfits in America by phone and ask them if they need your services.
Contact companies in India by phone and ask if they need your services. Create a beautiful website and advertise on web directories
Facebook can sometimes be a great way to market a business too, as it is a way to network with more and more computer literate people.

Have a decisive offering
If you want to create a call center, but don’t know what you are offering, you will sound uneducated to your potential clients.  Figure out what types of services you offer, and then figure out what type of price categories to assign your various services. My advice is focus on being flexible and helpful if you want to attract lots of business. The other call centers are rigid, and half of them want to cheat their new clients. In the long run, the helpful and responsible companies win the game!

Free trials – am I crazy?
If you want to offer people free trials, thats even better.  Many companies will be skeptical about using a new outsourcing company who they never heard of before.  If you have an amateurish phone manner, they will question whether you even are a business, or some unemployed guy who is desperate for work.  If you offer a few hours of free trial work, so that the client company can test you out and get comfortable with you, you might win over some good long term contracts.

Short contracts or no contracts
Established call centers have a reputation and contacts. They can demand six month contracts for at least three seats and get away with it. If you are starting off, its best to let companies try you out for a short time and see if they like you.  It will be hard to get long
contracts when nobody has ever heard of you before.

Equipment?
This is not my industry, so you have to ask other local call centers what they use.  You need good computers and good phone connections for all of your seats. You will need to ask local utility companies what type of connections they can offer and how reliable they are. VoIP is popular these days, but thats all I know.

A place of business
If you have no clients, and want to get a 15 seater office, how do you intend to pay salaries and rent for fifteen people, when you have not a single client, and no knowledge of how to get a client.  Find a real estate broker, and find a small place to start off in while you get your business acumen  in ship shape condition.  Start small and learn the business is you are starting a BPO

How do I start a call center or outsourcing business?
Have a database of people in the area who can work part time.  Lots of ladies with kids don’t want a full time job.  Interview these people, make sure they can function well, and try them out on small projects. While you are doing your outreach calls, you will hopefully get a few contracts.  Hire these part time folks when you have work, and if the work dries up, they can go back home to their family life.  They can be your “on call” staff members.  One week you might be very busy, and the next week you might have hardly any work at all.  Once you develop some long term clients who are comfortable with you and your services, then you will have regular work, and can think about that 15 seater office.  Don’t jump ahead of yourself though.

Training?
Being a small company doesn’t mean you are worse than anyone else. You might have less resources, but you might have more caring!  If you have a system of overseeing your workers and coaching them so they can be their best, you might really impress your clients.  Obviously, you should start out with workers who have good skills, but refining their skills, and customizing their skills to the needs of specific clients will win you tremendous popularity and customer loyalty. You have to be on top of your workers, or they will not function optimally, and you will lose your business.

Where do I advertise my company?
Advertise on www.123outsource.net.  We offer free and paid advertising for all types of outsourcing companies.  Advertise in our Call Center, BPO, Data Entry, Software, or any other category.

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You might also like:

How to start an outsourcing company — 2016 version
http://bpo.123outsource.net/2015/12/29/how-to-start-an-outsourcing-company-2016/

Marketing your BPO outsourcing firm from A to Z
http://bpo.123outsource.net/2016/05/22/marketing-your-bpo-outsourcing-firm-from-a-to-z/

Compilation of best posts about how to get clients for your BPO
http://bpo.123outsource.net/2015/08/20/how-to-get-more-clients-for-your-bpo-or-call-center-compilation/

Marketing your outsourcing company
http://bpo.123outsource.net/2010/11/24/marketing-your-outsourcing-company/

How to get clients for your call center — CONTRACTS
http://bpo.123outsource.net/2013/04/05/how-to-get-clients-for-call-centers-contracts/

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Don’t expect to get paid more due to your GPS coordinates

Categories: America, Of Interest | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment

Don’t expect to get paid more because you were born in a particular country. Americans feel that they intrinsically deserve more money for doing certain tasks. Americans also feel that because the cost of living is higher in the United States, that therefor, they should get paid more.The truth is actually very interesting. America is actually one of the most efficient countries on earth. You get more land per dollar than almost anywhere else on the planet. It is cheaper to purchase a house in Oregon than it is to buy an equally sized house in Pune. A laptop in America costs less than the same laptop in Mumbai. America is not more expensive, except for labor and healthcare. Additionally, an apartment in an expensive part of Los Angeles is $2000 per month for what you might be able to get in Tennessee for $350. Costs in America really vary, so we can’t generalize about what “costs” are in America.

Moreover, American workers typically produce a lot more output per hour than people do in most other countries. Countries like Norway, Japan, Korea, Singapore, and the United States produce a lot of output per-capita. People at Indian BPO companies typically get less done per hour and make more mistakes that require redoing the same task multiple times.

My findings are that many Americans merit more money for particular tasks than overseas counterparts because of better skills, more efficient output, and better communication skills. The fact that it is more expensive here has nothing to do with anything.

On the other hand, Filipino call center workers are nicer and smoother than their American counterparts and can get done roughly as much work as well. Over time, the Philippines has been gaining market share for call center business and their wages have not been going down. You are worth what you are worth, so leave your GPS coordinates out of it!

Your GPS doesn’t determine what our BPO is worth!

Tweets:
(1) Just because you live in America, it doesn’t mean you deserve to get paid more.
(2) Americans get paid MORE per hour AND the cost of land and food are LESS in the US too!

You might also like:

Outsourcing Obamacare
http://bpo.123outsource.net/2014/01/14/outsourcing-obama-care/

Rates for Office Space around the world compared
http://bpo.123outsource.net/2013/12/19/rates-for-office-space-around-the-world-compared/

How many people should answer your phones?

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

Philosophers have been asking this question for ages. How many people should you hire to answer your business lines? What do you think Socrates would say?

Socrates – First of all, I need to tell you that my time machine is parked in the back, and I can’t spend too long here, because I have things to do back in ancient Greece. You understand, right?

Business owner – Okay: How many people should be trained to answer my phones?

Socrates – What do you have to lose if you don’t answer a phone call?
Business owner – Potentially, I could lose a million dollar sale.

Socrates – Wow, I am in the wrong business. What is it that you do again?

Business owner – I am in the call center business. We are very good on the phone handling our clients’ customers. However, when clients call us about OUR service, we seem to never be able to answer the phone. How ironic. A call center that can’t find a way to answer their own phone! It sounds like good material for a Seinfeld episode.

Socrates – Hmmm. You mean you use those little plastic devices with the wires, and you can talk to people across the world. I never could figure out how those worked. We didn’t have them in my time in ancient Greece you know. We just yelled really loud when we wanted to communicate with someone far away — or sent a messenger. To answer your question, it is that important that you answer your phone, so you don’t lose any sales, I would recommend this philosophy:

Train a dozen people to answer phones. Train them everything they need to know to answer many different types of questions. It doesn’t matter if they ever use their skills or not. The point is that they will be ready, just in case the phone rings with that million dollar client. It is sort of like a security system in your modern houses. In ancient Greece we just bought a mean looking dog to scare away burglers. But, in your world, you need an electronic security system with motion detectors. The system very rarely gets put to use, but when it does, you save yourself from losing all of your priceless art work, jewelry, etc. If you find that some of the lucky dozen are not so good at phone answering, then you narrow it down to a few. But, take the training seriously, because you can lose clients that would revolutionize your business. And it’s not only about the money, it is about prestige as well. What if you got a famous multi-national company on board? You could brag about it to all of your other prospective clients (whose calls you are currently failing to answer) and impress them.

Business owner – That sounds like a great philosophy of business. You are right when you said you are in the wrong business. You should open a messenger service back in ancient Greece. You will become the richest philosopher in all of the Mediterranian. You will accumulate so much money that you have time to be idle all day long and entertain yourself by asking your students ridiculous and meaningless questions.

Socrates – That is an interesting point you make — because, that is what I am doing all day long right now on a philospher’s salary — and loving it too I might add.

Business owner — Well, if I took your advice and hired people to answer the phone, I would accumulate so much business that we wouldn’t know how to handle it. And, we would be so busy that we wouldn’t have time to answer the phone — which incidentally is exactly the position that we are in right now!

You might also like:

Call centers who don’t answer their phone
http://bpo.123outsource.net/2013/10/08/call-centers-who-dont-answer-their-phone/

Better training for call center workers
http://bpo.123outsource.net/2013/10/05/how-to-get-more-business-for-your-call-center-better-training/