Tag Archives: Call Center Work

Should your company have a pre-hiring training program?

Categories: Hiring & Firing | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

You can’t really hire someone based on an interview. Some people are good talkers, but bad workers or vice versa. Talk is cheap, and I really don’t want to hear how well someone talks unless they are going to do call center work. You can test prospective employees out on various projects — that is a good idea. But, what about a training program?

Most people are below standard in what you want to hire them to do. Selecting the best of a pool of below standard people might not be an ideal solution for your company’s hiring needs. It might make sense to put them through some training, and then evaluate them.

Additionally, having a training program allows you to see if people stick with you when you are being demanding on them. It also lets you see if they are capable of taking instruction or learning. Third, you can see if they have a bad attitude before you hire them. Ability is only one metric in hiring people, these other metrics are equally important.

Large companies often spend tremendous amounts of money on analysts to assess the value of their employees. You need to know how good someone is, so you know exactly how much salary to offer them. You can’t really tell that if you just hire them on some basic preliminary tests. Knowing how they learn and if they stick around gives you more data to assess their value to your company.

Evaluating the work of outsourcing companies

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

Evaluating the work of outsourcing companies
People who do analytics analyze various metrics, and might come up with formulas to evaluate market performance, or perhaps the performance of people’s work.  It is sometimes easy to evaluate the work done by a particular company, but there are so many variables, that it is not easy.
Quantity is an easy metric to concern yourself with. If the average employee working on your project at a particular call center can do 30 calls per hour, that is a metric you can use to see how valuable they are.  You might find that one employee averages 25 calls while the other averages 40.  Is one being lazy, or are they more thorough?  Do they spend too much time chatting with clients when they need to move on to the next  customer?  Or is it good to spend a little time being personal.  In this busy world, many people are in such a hurry, that they don’t have time to get to know others or to make small talk.  Many discipline themselves not to make any small talk, but to frantically move on to the next call.
Quality is not such as easy metric to look at.  If you hire a call center (call centre), and they do many calls for you, you have to listen in on their calls, or get feedback from clients as to how good they are. Call center work is actually quite involving.  There is the way a clerk speaks which might be clear, too quiet, or they might have poor pronunciation.  Some clerks don’t answer questions clearly. It is common for call center employees to show empathy if a client has suffered at the hands of the company, while other call center employees behave like they couldn’t care less.  Some employees might suggest solutions to problems, or even be able to talk a client into making an additional purchase.  If you made an evaluation check list, the list might get longer and longer the more you look into these types of issues.
Flexibility — is the company you hired able to adequately handle your changing workload or are they rigid? Do they nickel and dime you too much with hidden charges, or are they accomodating and working for your convenience instead of theirs?
Reliability — Many companies have a very “fluid” workforce. People are being hired and fired regularly, so you are always having to deal with new employees. You might have an old worker you learned to trust, but then they might disappear.  Or, the boss, might allocate his workers to another project leaving your project on the back burner going slowly.  Are there strange things that happen to your account from time to time, or is it always steady?
There are other metrics to think about, but these are some basic ones.  Good luck figuring out how to assess the strength of your outsourcing partners!

(1) Measure the quality & quantity of work done at various outsourcing co’s to compare!
(2) Flexibility & reliability are metrics that are even more important than quality & quantity!
(3) 1 way to compare outsourcing companies is to see how long they keep the same workers!

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How do you train a BPO worker?

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

How do you train a BPO worker?
I have a very small company, and we do tasks very similar to what people in BPO companies do.  We do call center work in small quantities — perhaps an average of two hours a day of outgoing calls, and then we have one dedicated full time incoming phone attendant.  We do about two hours a day of data entry work filling in online forms.  We even do KPO type tasks (we meaning myself individually) such as SEO analytics which includes keyword analysis.  Content writing is another specialty which I personally engage in, etc.
The hard part is how to train others to do all of the 20 types of tasks that I do daily.  Training BPO call center workers is not easy.  The manager has to create a SCRIPT for the call center worker to use when doing outbound calls. 

Hi, this is Don from ZYX company, we are calling in reference to your account with us … etc.
The script is easy to write, and to say.  The tone of voice that you require for reading the script might require a special personality.  Perhaps a strong man, or a caring woman.  Or, perhaps a tough woman, or a sensitive guy!  The hard part is training them to answer questions. There are so many questions that someone could ask, and how do you train a worker to answer all of the possible questions?  I think that creating an online cheat sheet is super, where all of the answers to common questions are there, and you can search by keyword.  Workers should be trained in the main topics, and be quizzed regularly to make sure they understand things well.
The next question is, how often do you check up on your workers?  Some people get better with experience, while others keep making the same mistakes endlessly no matter how many times you correct them.  There should be periodic checking up on workers, and regular evaluations.  If someone has been on a project for three weeks, and hasn’t mastered the basic questions after receiving regular coaching, maybe it is time to say good bye! On the other hand, perhaps your star employee is having trouble dealing with some of the finer points of answering more subtle or less common questions.  How detail oriented should your staff be before handing a question over to the manager?
If you are training a BPO data entry clerk, it might make sense to show them the process, have them repeat it a few times in your presence, and then to do a few hours on their own, and then have a reevaluation.  Data Entry seems to me to be less involving than call center work because there are no incoming questions — the complexity of the work is hence, more limited which makes it easier.  But, how do you teach a disorganized person good formatting skills?  You are on your own! Good luck!
Training for KPO work is much more sophisticated, and I don’t want to touch that topic today!  Let the folks in Bangalore deal with that — there are so many highly qualified KPO workers there.

Training for Outsourcing Jobs

Categories: Getting a Job | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

We get many people applying for non-existant jobs at our company.  My company consists of myself and one other person. We do all the work. We have no other jobs, and don’t understand why someone is applying for a job, that we never claimed to have?  This clueless behavior is why many are out of work and can’t find any work. Nobody wants to hire someone who can’t think and who wastes others’ time.  Additionally, most of the job applicants can’t spell and are very sloppy in their communication skills. I would never hire anyone to even pour me a cup of coffee if they were sloppy.  So, what is the solution?  Training!
What do you need to know?
To work in outsourcing, there are various types of skills you need to know.  For call center work, you need to be able to speak clearly and listen well. For data entry work, you need to have good English skills and good formatting skills.  If you don’t know how words are spelled, you will not be able to correct other people’s errors when transcribing data.  In data entry, you might have a hand written document and type the information into a database.  You are expected to format addresses correctly and find errors in spelling. If you can’t spell yourself, how can you possibly find errors in other people’s spelling? 
Catching errors
You might need to notice inconsistancies in data too as a data entry clerk.  If you are looking at addresses and you realize that the zip code (PIN code) is from Delhi, yet the rest of the address seems to be in Cochi, Kerela, you just caught an error. A good data entry clerk is watchful and sharp and can catch mistakes with ease. Sometimes, the name of a neighborhood might erroneously be put in the city field.  In India, addresses often include names of areas like Jayanagar, or Shivaji-nagar.  If the database you are using has a separate field for city and street address, you need to make sure the right information is in the right place.  What if the name of the road is all mushed together?  Springhillroad for example. Do you know when the names should be separated and when they should be together?  Sometimes you need to google this information.  Should Shivaji-nagar have a hyphen, or be separate words? Maybe it should all be one long word.  As a data entry clerk you have to be sharply aware of these issues and have a way of solving them, otherwise you will be the most mediocre data entry keyer in the industry.
If you live in India, the king of the outsourcing industry, you will have no lack of schools for many different outsourcing professions.  Just look in the local classified section of your local newspaper and you will find dozens of schools that will teach you how to work at a call center, data entry company, or medical transcriptioning.  Rather than bothering hundreds of companies for a job when you are not qualified, you are advised to get highly trained so that you are an asset, and not a liability.  Companies in the West want to outsource to save money, but if there are multitudes of errors in the work produced, the errors will cost the companies more money than they are saving.  Many companies that outsourced to the Philippines, or India found that the error rate was sometimes so high, that they were willing to pay ten times as much to have companies in America do the work for them.  On the other hand, if you can provide faster and better service in India, than any American company can provide, you will make a handsome living in the long run.  In the long run quality of work, and good customer service will win you high paying work and steady work as well.

Assessing the value of the quality you receive in #callcenter work is hard

Categories: Call Center, Management | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Assessing the value of the quality you receive in #callcenter work is hard

Imagine that you are hiring call centers to do work for you. How do you assess the workers? How do you assess the company as a whole? Each person has unique skills and will be put through different situations. One person might be more efficient at their work (more calls / hour) while another person might be better at calming down complicated situations! Some people are just pleasant to talk to — efficient or not, and might gain your company popularity. A few workers might
give wrong answers to questions, or just make things up — imagine what that can do to your reputation. Everyone is different and it is not always to easy to figure out who is ideal for your needs.

There are factors that I am thinking of that you might not be thinking of. How fast will the worker quit? If you train someone to do your work, and you invested a lot of time in them, it is expensive if they quit. Imagine investing $1000 of your time in someone just to have them quit three weeks later. How can you predict who will quit and who won’t?

When you tally up the scores of all of the people you are comparing, give points for efficiency, and points for how they make people feel. Subtract points for unreliable behaviors. If you are picky, one small goof and you are fired. Most employers have a longer string than that, but you have to figure out how much incompetency you can handle, because there is a lot of it out there!

When assessing the value of the company as a whole, after going through five or more workers, you will get a sense of the quality standards of the company. In my opinion, you are as good as your worst employee. But, on the other hand if you have a few great ones to make up for the bad ones, it somewhat compensates!

(1) If you have a few star employees to make up for the duds, it somewhat compensates!
(2) Imagine that you are hiring call centers to do work for you. How do you assess the workers?
(3) One #callcenter employee might be more efficient while another might be more pleasant to talk with!
(4) Imagine investing $1000 of your time training someone who quits 3 weeks later?
(5) When you tally up the score, give points for efficiency, pleasantness & deduct for mistakes!
(6) When assessing the value of a company as a whole, try out 5 or more workers; get an average score!

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Philippines is #2 in non-voice outsourcing?

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

Philippines is #2 in non-voice based outsourcing?

2011 was a special year for the Philippines.  They passed India to become the #1 country in call center outsourcing (voice-supported outsourcing).  But, the Philippines is #2 now in non-voice services according to bpooutcomes.com.
Many companies are pleased with their outsourcing ventures with the Philippines, and there are many advantages.  But there are disadvantages in outsourcing to the Philippines that you might not think of.  Corruption, bureaucracy, poor infrastructure, abject poverty, and a suceptability to natural disasters!
When companies outsource, they might be making an equation regarding, how the language skills of the employees are, cost, ease of communication, level of experience and technical saavy.  But, how many companies integrate the possibility of a severe tsunami, flood, hurricane, or other disaster into the picture.  It is so unpredictable, that even if you do take these factors into consideration, you will not know how to weight them.
Look at what happened in Thailand a few months ago.  Everything was fine, and then they had a horrible flood in July 2011 along the Mekong and Chao Phraya rivers.  Can you imagine if you give all of your call center work to a company near a river in Asia, and then all of a sudden, your workers have to take an inflatable boat to work — assuming work is still there?   I worry about this too!
Putting aside these risks that are hard to evaluate, the Philippines has a great work force of friendly people with superb English language and cultural skills.  So, don’t worry, be happy… and take your altimeter with you when you visit your prospective call centers in the Philippines. Remember that high ground needs to be on the requirement list!

(1) 2011 was the year that Philippines passed India to become #1 in Call Center Outsourcing
(2) Disadvantages in outsourcing to the Philippines: Corruption, bureaucracy, poor infrastructure, natural disasters!
(3) If you outsource to SE Asia, if there is a flood, your workers might need an inflatable boat 2go 2work!

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