Tag Archives: Call Center Worker

How to get call center clients by monitoring better!

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The title of this entry should really be about how to keep your clients, but our readers are more concerned with getting clients, so we’ll leave it as is. Those who succeeded in the call center industry insist that trained managers and intricate monitoring systems win the game in the competitive call center industry. Nothing is better than a call center clerk who is being constantly watched and improved upon!

Just for the record, training and coaching needs to happen regularly for all call center agents, no matter what level they are at. Monitoring can key management in to see what individual callers need customized coaching at! Training programs also need to be modified and evolve over time to meet the needs of your staff. Keep track of what parts of the training program worked well, and what needs to be developed upon or changed.

Send them home…
One company I heard of watches their call center workers all day long. The minute they start slipping, they get sent home. You lose your company’s reputation the minute your phone staff starts getting cranky. I know this because I am sometimes forced to work long hours, and we get lots of complaints when I started getting upset with people who are rude to me (which happens regularly.)

Stop bad habits before they start!
Regular monitoring makes it easy to spot bad habits as they are being formed. The minute your call center worker starts getting off on the wrong foot, it’s coaching time! Stop that bad habit right away!

Keep track any way you can
You can track worker performance on paper, on an online database, but don’t do it in your head even if you have a good memory. Technology is not the goal here — keeping top-notch performance through worker tracking is the goal!

Give daily feedback
Workers like feedback if it is genuine and helpful. Be careful with negative comments. Try to phrase things in a way that praises people for what they did right, and makes suggestions for what they could do better!

Not everyone can do monitoring
Someone who is good at calls might not be good at monitoring and vice versa. You need someone anal who likes nit-picking everyone else, and who has the grace and suave to be well received when they start giving commentary. Monitoring is an art that is refined over time, but regardless of how good your training program is, you need to start with the right personality for the job!

Regular rewards boost morale
The call centers that do well have regular rewards. There is the worker of the month reward, and other creative awards that imaginative companies think of. Those who just have their grunt workers clock in and clock out lack the enthusiasm and quality of work that the more thoughtful companies have. This is what top-notch expert call center managers told me in private interviews. Happy workers are born out of a fun and stimulating environment!

Review examples of high quality interactions on tape
If you have an experienced rep who handles themselves gracefully, use particular calls they did as case studies. Sure, this is not Harvard Business School, but case studies can help with studying many subjects at any type of skill level, plus it is fun to see real experts engaged in what they are good at. Personally, I would like to see Donald Trump in action, since I do business for a living!

Have a system for checking on people
Yes, you need the right person to do the checking. But, you also need the right manager managing the monitor. You need a methodical system for checking up on your call center workers. You need to decide how often to check up on people, how often to give feedback to them, and how to handle every common type of difficulty or issue that props up.

Customer feedback is imperative
If you have your customers give any type of feedback on your callers, that can be very helpful. Customers are wary of long and drawn out forms which take a long time to fill out. But, if you can have them answer a few questions over the phone for you, or write a few quick comments in an email, that might be enough to get some insight as to how your call center agents are doing!

Keep score
If you award your callers scores for how good their calls are, they will be able to compare themselves to others, and compare their progress over time. Nothing motivates better than seeing yourself improve in a big way over the course of a few months.

Group meetings are helpful
If a bunch of callers get together with a manager and discuss calling techniques for particular situations, that can be meaningful and helpful as multiple points of view will arise. Callers who regularly attend group meetings do measurably better than those who don’t according to the experts!

Self-assessment is also useful
Many callers find that assessing their own calls is helpful. When they analyze what they did right, and what they had trouble with, it becomes a learning process with good long-term results.

Good luck, and make your BPO call center a learning environment where self-growth and fun is a daily occurrence!

What types of tasks are good to outsource

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There are countless tweets on this topic. Apparently this type of tweet gets clicked on. It is general, practical and fun.
I always say that you should make it a practice to outsource tasks that meet the following criteria:

(1) Repetitive Tasks where the directions are not too complicated
(2) Tasks that are not time sensitive (unless your service provider is very punctual)
(3) Tasks that are not too critical (unless you know your service provider well & they are reliable

If you are testing out a new company, the sad thing is that you just can’t or shouldn’t trust them. Never trust strangers. Don’t trust your friends either, but that is a different story. If I go to a new massage place, I only commit to one hour. What if I don’t like them? Usually I am not that impressed with their English, or ability to dig down into those stiff muscles of mine. If I’m trying out a new call center worker, what if people don’t like them? What if they don’t get anything done on time? What if they don’t follow directions. Don’t give critical tasks to those until they have a proven track record with you for six months. Yes — six months. Don’t take liberties. They might quit on a whim. People who don’t own their own company tend to lack the type of work ethic and attention to consequences that I have which is why I do a lot of my own “busy-work.” Once you have found an individual or company to be reliable, then you can give them any type of task which you found they can handle.

My problem is that most of my tasks require a lot of specific knowledge, or are time sensitive, or are too small in weekly hours to outsource. I prefer to outsource tasks like long lists of people who all need to be reminded about the same thing. I might have a list of 3000 people who all need to hear the same message. I just outsourced that to a young lady who is doing a super job of it. Everybody likes her including me!

Personally, I think it is a good idea to test out ten companies before you actually hire one for regular work. Most companies are not that great. If you try ten out, perhaps you will find a few that you like, and then keep the ones with the best personalities (who also deliver reliable results.) What I learned about business is that in the long run, meaningful personal bonds translate into happy and long lasting business relationships! Don’t overlook the human side of your business!

(1) meaningful personal bonds translate into happy and long lasting business relationships! Don’t overlook the human side of your business!
(2) Tasks that are good to outsource = repetitive or tasks that the provider specializes in.

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Are callers in India more sincere?

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Are callers at a call center in India more sincere than U.S. call center workers? Many of them are educated, and eager to please. They use false names if their call center asks them to, but many have a positive way of looking at it. “I think people in the U.S. are very busy, and they just want to make sure they get good customer service. If they hear someone with a foreign accent, they are not sure. If they have one problem with a caller from another company, they do not want to hear from another caller in India,” says one call center worker in Delhi. “I do not feel that I am being false. I am being myself, but with a name that people in the U.S. can relate to,” says Robin, whose real name is Lakshmi. “I am sincere about my work, and want to give great customer service.” Robin’s call center in India is one of the very best and most sought-after.

Call center workers at this call center in India are certainly less cynical about their lives than their U.S. counterparts, and they take work seriously. Having worked as a caller for high-end fundraising in the U.S., and having supervised numerous callers recently from time to time, I can tell you that American call center workers after a while will say almost anything to those they are calling. They will be friendly, get the credit card number, then hang up and at break time often complain about the people they called. Those who feel bad about themselves and do not like their jobs are not sincere. For example, they will sound like a Democrat on one call, and talk Republican on another, and generally try to fit in with what the caller chats about just to get along. If someone makes a comment on a presidential candidate, they will agree–not matter what they think–to make people think they are talking to a fellow American with the same values. Many are just so involved in the daily grind that they do not have any hope anymore about the political scene and life in the U.S. in general. Is this any better than using a false name?

However, U.S. callers communicate well. They provide reliable customer service, if that is the kind of call they are making. They are fluent in English, and compared to workers in a call center in India, they create a better impression that a situation will be resolved– whether they believe that or not. If call center workers in India do not know whether the situation will be resolved, they may not say that it will be.

Is this better or worse for the U.S. consumer? Is it bad customer service to be honest?

Maybe yes.

Outsourcing to a Call Center in India: Benefits and Caveats

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“So my message is simple. It is time to stop rewarding businesses that ship jobs overseas, and start rewarding companies that create jobs right here in America. Send me these tax reforms, and I will sign them right away.” Barack Obama, January, 2012

Will Barack Obama be re-elected, and will he actually do something to make outsourcing less feasible for U.S. businesses? Will he tax outsourcing in some way? Will he give tax breaks to companies that hire U.S. workers to do jobs that we are currently outsourcing, and would this make outsourcing to a call center in India, for example, less attractive? In such a future, what would be the best way for a business to save money? Predictably, President Obama himself is reported to save money in his campaigns by outsourcing to foreign call centers, and many companies–even the traditionally “American” General Electric–send jobs abroad. Wind farms and get more than 50% of their materials and products from overseas manufacturers, and many industries outsource portions of their needs or daily work. Obama has said again and again that he wants to create “jobs that pay well and can’t be outsourced,” but are there such jobs, and is outsourcing detrimental to the U.S. economy–or to our sense of satisfaction with customer service and our material lives? Does outsourcing to India create unhappy consumers? Or is outsourcing here to stay?

According to a 2010 survey of consumers, the Contact Center Satisfaction Index, many unhappy consumers felt that when their customer service calls were outsourced to countries where the callers cannot manage well in English, the issues were not resolved or they had to speak with multiple representatives because the call center representatives are not as knowledgeable or well-trained as call center workers in the U.S. That perception is slowly changing, and in 2012, it seems outsourcing is here to stay. In fact, in July, the Senate killed an anti-outsourcing bill which would have given companies a 20% tax credit for moving work back to the U.S. rather than extending tax credits for moving work out of the U.S.

After the U.S., India is the country with the largest English-speaking population in the world. The average call center worker in India is also better educated than the U.S. call-center worker who gets $8 an hour and works from home. Since 2010, for example, there are more than 60,000 workers in the U.S. doing calling from home, but the cost of hiring U.S. firms that take customer service calls from home is still not comparable to outsourcing to a call center in Bangalore, for instance, where workers are generally young and well-educated. The average call center worker in Bangalore can live on about $300 a month, so the amount you will pay a call center in Bangalore is still less than hiring workers in the U.S.: wages in India are 80% lower than for their U.S. counterparts. Furthermore, workers at the best call centers in India undergo extensive training to become part of a call center staff. For weeks, they attend trainings, learn how to speak using a neutral accent, and learn how to engage a person on the phone; then, they continue their training after being hired. Call centers we spoke with in Bangalore, for instance, are also training managers better, and looking at retention of successful employees.

The benefits of outsourcing to a reputable call center in Bangalore, for instance, are legendary: reports from companies like Chase about how they saved 50% by outsourcing to India put the stamp of approval on the practice of outsourcing to a call center. Also, in 2012, telecommunications costs and equipment make it cost-effective for a call center in India to handle a volume of calls for less. India is expected to earn almost $20 billion in call center business in 2012, and call centers in Bangalore may reap up to one third of that amount. Call centers in Bangalore are training their callers to answer the phone in a professional manner, and to understand and use American idioms and accents, which creates outsourcing success. “Not only will you save money,” says one CEO, “but you have the opportunity to get to know how another culture works. And it is far better than you may think.”

Some fear that if Obama changes the tax structure, the pros and cons may become more even. Outsourcing success may look different: instead of outsourcing to a call center in Bangalore, XYZ Company in Los Angeles may choose to outsource to U.S.companies that hire at-home workers. There was no noise in Congress this past month, however, about anything remotely to do with outsourcing, and tax cuts will be dealt with in November. But considering the fact that the U.S. Postal Service is losing $25 million a day, for example, there are other issues the U.S. has to deal with and other sources of unhappy consumers. The record shows that outsourcing to India is much more of a help to the economy than a hindrance. Call centers with the highest number of workers who are proficient in English get and retain more business from overseas, and according to one Yahoo survey, 80% of businesses say that outsourcing to a call center is a benefit. “Of course,” says one CEO,” you have to create a good working relationship with a call center, and that starts with the very first phone call.”

The most important factor in outsourcing success is the relationship you establish with the call center in India. One quarter of all outsourcing relationships fail in the first two years, according to Dun and Bradstreet. The key to any outsourcing success or any successful contract with another business is the relationship itself. Strike up a conversation with the call center management on the phone, and be sure there is clear communication. Read our Sept 29 blog. If you can develop and nurture a heart-to-heart and head-to-head communication with a call center in India, it makes sense to give them some work. After all, it is a call center! So call them, try to have a conversation, and see what develops.

Improving your credibility at a call center

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Improving your credibility at a call center

How to acquire clients for call centers
If you want overseas clients to trust you when you work at or run an Indian or Filipino Call Center, then you need credibility.  If you speak English like someone who has never set foot on American soil, but claim to be in Newark, NJ, who will believe you? We may be bad at math in the United States, but we are not complete fools.    If you are going to fake an American location, then you should be really sound like an Indian who has lived in the United States for a few years, and that will only be possible if you have been working with Americans for many years.  In fact — if you are that good at American English, nobody will question your location in the first place!

Verifying information looks professional
Another issues is presentation.  A guy called me from India trying to tell me that there was something wrong with my computer. He couldn’t tell me which MSN office informed him of the problem with my computer, nor could he tell me my full name or address.  He butchered my first name, and had no clue as to what my other personal information was.  If he had clearly announced who he was, his company name and location, and asked to speak to me, then he would have established some credibility. The next step would be to verify my address, so that he could be sure that my address was the one with the allegedly “infected” computer.  The third verification should have been to ask how many computers were in the house, so he could isolate which one had trouble.  If someone in Pune could accurately tell me what is wrong with my computer in Los Angeles (and be correct about it) without ever having met me, I would be very impressed.

Your phone # should match your claimed location
If you are claiming that your company is in Brooklyn, NY, you should ideallly NOT have a Marathi phone number.  Instead, you should have a phone number that is from New York City — preferably in the 718 area code.  Phone numbers can be bought and sold, so there is no excuse not to have a vanity number!

Long speeches without allowing questions doesn’t work
I had a call center worker call me and he went rambling on for almost two minutes without letting me get a word in edgewise. In fact, he took offense and raised his voice at me when I tried to ask a question. You would gain the good graces of prospective clients better if you engage them in a well rehearsed dance of dialogue.  You ask a question, they answer, then they ask a question, and then you answer. People feel happier when they are a PART of the conversation and not just a sound board.

Seeing if your prospect is interested is a good approach
Many Indians will just push their product on anyone without bothering to see if the person is interested or not.  People can be very pushy in India, and Americans don’t like this at all.  It is polite to first verify if the person at the end of the line is interested in talking to you about your offer or proposal before going on.  It might be good to start with a speech that quickly announces the dangers of not having your product, and THEN ask if the prospect is interested…


Call Center Worker — Hi this is Jack from Computer Verify in Brooklyn, NY.  May I speak to John Doe please?
Prospect — Yes, this is John
Call Center Worker — John, are you still residing at 10 Hill Street, Los Angeles, CA 90001?
Prospect — Yes, I am still at that address.
Call Center Worker — We have been informed by Mictosoft that a computer at your address has been infected with spyware which can eventually render your computer disfunctional.  Would you be interested in learning how to protect your computer from this type of danger?
Prospect — Gee, that is interesting, my computer runs just find and I have virus protection. Are you sure you have the correct address?
Call Center Worker — Yes, it says 10 Hill Street… But, there was no apartment number.
Prospect — Hmmm. Interesting.  And which local Microsoft office told you that my computer has a problem?
Call Center Worker — The offer that reported to us is located in Sunnyside, IL — they may have obtained this information from a third party.

I recently had a very similar conversation with a call center worker, however he was unable to answer any of my questions, yet I couldn’t get him to stop talking — how annoying!

So, the bottom line is — if you want to know how to get call center clients or find call center clients — develop practices that boost your credibility!

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

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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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