Tag Archives: Call Center Workers

Who you gonna call – Ghostbusters? Nah. The Philippines!

Categories: Call Center, Popular on Twitter | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Sometimes you get companies that offer inexpensive work, but the quality is not that great. Other times you get expensive work, but the quality is not good enough to merit the price even though it is good. The Philippines is a lucky destination and very popular with call center outsourcers. There, you get people who are super on the phone, and the price is calculated in pennies. I’m exaggerating, but you get the point!

The Philippines has a virtual (no pun intended if you’re hiring a virtual assistant) army of half a million English speaking, highly trained call center workers who are ready for battle. They can do telemarketing, lead generation, technical support, customer care, or just chat with customers. Culturally, they have a very smooth manner over the phone. They don’t get mad at customers like I do, on the other hand their sense of humor isn’t always as good as mine!

It is good to compare. Try people in various different countries. But, when all is said and done, call in the artillery, and find a Filipino Call Center. Caribbean destinations are also known for high quality call centers and they are on American time zones which in addition to great Costa Rican coffee, is another great perk!

(1) If you want a great call center at a great price, consider the Philippines & the Caribbean.
(2) The Philippines is a lucky destination that is popular with outsourcers

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Half a million Filipino call center workers are on American Time

Half a million Filipino call center workers are on American time

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

500,000 Filipinos live on American time! Their bodies are still in the Philippines, but could be said to be emotionally in the United States. They work and sleep on an American time zone. Additionally, they take their vacations when America is on vacation. Imagine celebrating the 4th of July in the Philippines! It sounds dreadful. Next, if disaster hits in a part of America, they become more involved with that snowstorm, power outage, or mud-slide than they would be if a tsunami or hurricane hit their motherland.

There is some sort of an emotional divorce that happens between the call center workers in the Philippines and “regular” folks. They just can’t relate to each other the same way after getting their call center job.

I have personal experience with this type of life. I sometimes will be on the phone with India all night for weeks in a row. I lived in India a few times before as well. But, this didn’t divorce me from our locals here in Los Angeles. I still relate to them the same way I did before. I relate to individuals — or not!

But, I think there is some truth to the fact that the first time in your life that you become immersed in a 2nd culture, a gap is created between you and your countrymen. There is just too much that you become familiar with that they know nothing about. It creates a huge division.

But, there is relief to having what I call a “bicultural gap.” In the Philippines they solve the problem by drinking beer, hard alcohol and consuming vast quantities of fried chicken! Maybe it is not the most healthy way, but they will figure that out when they get into their late thirties and forties!

(1) 500,000 Filipinos live, eat, sleep, and work on American time
(2) Their bodies are in Manila, but emotionally they are in the US #callcenterworkers

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Why your sitar & tabla lessons are the most important training for business

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

I am always being asked how to get more clients for call centers, data entry, and software houses. But, the type of answers people want are what I call, “immediate gratification” type answers. How can I get something now that I may or may not deserve or merit. If I were writing to a Western audience, I would talk about piano or violin lessons, but most of my readers are in India, so let’s talk about the veena, sitar, tabla and tambouras.

When you take music lessons, you learn a whole lot more than just music. You learn discipline (essential for any profession), impeccable timing, listening skills, sensitivity, and how to coordinate with others — especially if playing a raga with a tabla player.

Many times when we call Call centers, we get people who can hardly communicate, if they answer the phone at all. If we email them, the email doesn’t get returned. If you want clients so badly, what prevents you from answering your email? That might be the only medium for communication that someone could use to communicate with you. Additionally, we get the “hard sell” types who want to immediately lock you into a very constrictive contract without evening listening to what your needs are.

Listening skills
Then, the staff at these call centers sometimes speak too softly, or too loudly. If you had a musical background, you would realize right away that their pitch was off tune. Some of them have a pleasant or unpleasant tone. Anybody can notice this, but with a musical background, your brain becomes very much more sensitized to noise. A call center worker might put words together in ways that are hard for the client to understand as well. You will pick up on this much better with a musical background. As I stated earlier, the management also doesn’t always listen to what the client wants. Listening is critical to success in business and you will have a much better listening skills if you took sitar lessons.

In music, you have to play a sequence of notes, with sensitivity in a particular rhythm. Emails are similar. They need to be answered in a time sensitive way. You can not wait three weeks to get back to someone about a time sensitive issue and then say, “oh sorry”. If the tabla player plays 12 beats and then you have to play a few notes immediately afterwards — this is very similar to what happens in the world of business. Your client might send you a process that has to be begun on Tuesday morning at 5am. What if three hours after a process is started, you need to inspect a critical piece of work to see if the project is going as planned, and you miss that precise window of time? If you are not paying attention, you miss critical deadlines and get lose your clients. A few veena lessons will teach you about timing!

In business, analytics is very important. Knowing what the most important task to do at a particular time when you have limited resources. Sensitivity can help you notice more, and a lot faster. You will also notice a lot more details about what you are doing, and what is flawed and what needs to be fixed. Higher level business-people are much more refined in all aspects of their work.

Most companies have managers who are either unavailable, or who have trouble giving accurate answers to questions. In music, if there is even one flaw, the entire song, piece or raga can be ruined. In business, if you give wrong answers, your sale can be ruined. This type of accuracy training or discipline is irreplaceable and comes from studying music. Sure, business school can teach you a lot of principles, but tabla lessons teach you a sense of accuracy that can be transposed into any profession!

Clasically trained musicians make higher incomes!
If you look at people who are classical musicians in the United States, their average income is in the top 1-5%. They average around US$120,000 per year in income. People who just want quick bucks generally make around 15-40% of that amount. The discipline of classical music translates into good study skills which once again translates into higher level jobs and higher sensitivity in business skills. Sensitivity training is everything and your tamboura lessons will really help with this.

The moral of this blog is — think of your clients as tabla players. After they play their beats, you have to chime in!

(1) Classically trained musicians make higher incomes if they pursue professions
(2) The discipline of classical music translates into better study skills = higher income

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The back burner strategy for outsourcing

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

I don’t see BPO companies who think like this. Most BPO companies have really obtuse pricing strategies. It is too bad, because they would be able to grow more, and pinpoint what their clients want with a bit more innovation in their pricing strategy.

Imagine that you are an outsourcing company. Imagine that you have four employees that do a type of task. Perhaps they are call center workers, or perhaps programmers. Programmers are a better example since they often do a few hours a week for one client and a few hours for another client. But, the type of work they do is immaterial. The point is that in any given type of shop environment, you might have certain workers who are just busy all the time, and others who might have free time. Or, you might want to hire someone new, but don’t have enough work to keep them busy full time. So, what do you do?

My suggestion is NOT to have a flat labor rate. The rate for labor should depend on:

(1) Which employee is assigned to a particular account

(2) How busy that employee has been during the previous quarter.

If they were really busy, then you raise their hourly rate by several percent each quarter they were booked up, until you reach an equilibrium.

(3) Charge based on the time sensitivity of the job.

Front Burner Jobs
Let’s say that you have three rates for each employee. Let’s say that Mary’s time will be billed at $100 per hour. However, if you have a rush job, Mary will put you first — no matter what. Since other people will be delayed, it is only natural that you would have to bill more for the rush job. “Front Burner” or rush jobs might be billed at $130 per hour for example. In real life, perhaps only $115 or $120. You should taylor your rate so that 15-25% of any employees monthly labor consists of “Front Burner” jobs.

Back Burner Jobs
On the other hand, what if a client wants you to work for cheap, but doesn’t care when you get the project done. In such a case, you could charge them $60 per hour for Mary’s work. However, Mary would only work on your job when she has no more medium burner or front burner jobs to do. You might be waiting for months to get even one hour of Mary’s time. The problem is that your client might LEAVE if nothing gets done on their project for months.

A Back Burner Contract Idea
So, you need a CONTRACT where you guarantee the client a certain amount of work that you will get done. In exchange for offering a low price, you need to get flexibility from the client in exchange. I feel this is fair. After all, if the client needs your company to be flexible by doing a rush job, you charge them more, right? Let’s say that the client has a job that is 200 hours of labor to complete. Let’s say that the client is willing to give you up to a year to accomplish this task, but you can go as fast as you want. However, the client wants to make sure that you are not completely slacking off, otherwise there is no point in assigning this project to you. So, you can have a contract that states that you will do at least 15 hours of work per month on their contract, but you can do as much as 100 hours per work on the job too if you like.

The Next Issue – WHO will be working on the Back Burner Job?
Back Burner jobs are perfect if you have an employee who is no longer in demand. If your previous star employee only has an average of 20 hours per week of billable work, and you don’t want to fire them, then a back burner job would cover your costs to keep that employee around. On the other hand, what if you never know which of your employees will have time to work on a project? Whichever has extra time on their hands would be perfect for that back burner project. On a brigher note, if your company is growing, your new employee might have very few paying jobs to keep him busy, so a back burner job would be great for the first few months until you can dump some high paying work on him. The problem is, that your client might like Mary to be doing the work, and if Mary gets busy, the client might not like it if John (the new guy) starts picking up where Mary left off. After all John is new and might not be any good. If you write a contract, you have to specify WHO is authorized to do the work on a particular project, or at least what skill level of people. Certain BPO jobs require a specific skill level after all.

It is complicated having different employees all with differing hourly rates, and then to add the complexity of billing based on time sensitivity. However, this way you can deliver optimal results to your clients and be more popular. To me, it makes sense if a company aims for having 10-20% of their total work being back burner work. Why? This way you have plenty of time to accept rush jobs, so you don’t keep your paying customers waiting… Think about it.

Many BPO companies will take on a new client and promise to get their project done fast. Then, they will get a much bigger client, and put the smaller client on the back burner without consent. This is a dirty business technique used by so many programming houses. They basically ruin the schedule of the smaller company, and lose them as a client. Then, the big client might dump the BPO company as well, leaving them with NO clients. It is much better to just keep time commitments by charging people enough to warrant overtime pay, and the hassle of an uneven schedule.

The end!

Casual day at a call center in India!

Categories: Call Center, Humor | Tagged , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Casual Day in an Indian Call Center
This is my sense of humor I guess.  My favorite show is Outsourced which takes a deeper look at the many issues effecting the lives of call center workers in India as well as Americans living in India. I relate to this because I have spent many months in India and have gone through all of the cultural issues, dyssentary, monsoons, etc.
My skit idea is that the manager of an Indian call center named John wants his employees to become more comfortable with the American culture, so he calls America and asks his manager what to do.  The senior manager, Chuck in California says that they should do things like Americans do.  Have an office party once in a while, have casual Friday, have personal days, and do as many things as they can like people do in America.
So, John decides to have casual Friday.  I am thinking of Rajiv Gidwani from Outsourced reluctantly saying, “Okay workers, listen up… today we will be having casual Friday, I personally don’t like the idea, but I was talked into it by our senior manager”. The real life Rajiv hates anything casual and loves the corporate power image with suits and formality.  So, John tells the workers, that they can dress how they like:  in jeans or casual clothing, and that they can even bring their animals to work, since thats what many companies in California allow!  In California, in some of the film industry offices, people will bring dogs to work for example. 
Finally, casual Friday comes after a long 96 hours of waiting!
Anita brings her Chihuahua.  Naren brings his pet rat.  Girish brings a baby cat.  Manish brings a peacock.  Sanjiv brings a monkey. Santosh brings a cow.  And Nuntheny brings the baby elephant from aunty’s temple down the street.  John says, I’m so happy that you are adapting to our American ways.  It makes  much more relaxing atmosphere when you bring your pets, doesn’t it?  The workers agree. 
But, John becomes disturbed at the type of animals that were brought in.  They don’t seem like “pets”. 
John: Anita, I love your little dog, he is so cute…., but Naren.. a rat?  A rat is not a pet.
Naren: For me its  a pet.  We have so many of them in India and they are so cute with their little beady eyes.
John: A peacock?  Don’t those belong outside?  Don’t they make this loud hooping sound any time there is noise?
Manish:  Oh, he is our family pet, and after all, today is casual Friday, so we must bring our pets.  I love Sally my peacock.  Sally… don’t listen to what John has to say, he doesn’t understand you!
John: Sanjiv, I love your monkey, but monkeys are mischevious animals. 
Sanjiv:  No, not my monkey, he is wonderful. He never misbehaves.  By the way John?  That banana on your desk?  Its not going to last long, better put it in a drawer.
John: Nuntheny, I love your mini elephant.  He is so….
Nuntheny: He? He… is NOT a he… its a She
John:  Oh, I’m sorry. 
Nuntheny:  You should be!  How would you like it if people mistook you for a lady?   There there Laxmi, John didn’t really mean what he said. You’re a real lady… here…have a banana… Good girl.
John:  Hmmm, this attempt at learning American culture is not working out as I expected. I was thinking more along the lines of dogs and maybe a cat here or there.  Perhaps a hampster.
Nuntheny:  Well, in India we have different types of pets.
John:  Anyway, break is over its time for work.
—— TRUMPET sound….  MOOOOOO….  woof ..woof…woof.  hoo-hoo-hoo-hoo-hoo-hoo-hoo…

John calling Chuck:  Chuck… these Americanization ideas like casual Friday? 
Chuck:  How is it going?  I love casual Friday
John:  It’s not working as planned.  When they are making calls, they can’t hear the customers with all the trumpeting sounds of the elephant, the moo sounds, and the peacock starts hooting every time there is a sudden sound.
Chuck:  Oh my god, it sounds like a zoo!
John:  Yes, thats the word I was looking for. 
Chuck:  Hmmm.  Lets change the plan a bit. We’ll have Sari Thursdays and Jeans Fridays.  That way we can have the best of both cultures without all of the sound effects.
John:  Yes Chuck  (trumpet sound of elephant), I am hearing you (bark bark)… trying to hear you…I’m not sure how good I would look in a sari though. Thats my only concern.
Chuck: Don’t worry John, ONE SIZE FITS ALL!!!!

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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!

(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!

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When you hire call center workers: have an overseas friend evalutate them

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

Are you in the Philippines or India? Do you hire call center workers who seem great by your standards. Well, guess what? Your standards don’t matter! It is the standards of the people wherever you are calling or receiving calls from that matter.

Are you doing incoming calls from Canada? You better have a friend in Canada who puts in his 2 Canadian Cents worth telling you what he thinks of your new call center employee. Getting calls from Delhi? Well, you had better ask some Delhi-ites what they think. After all, their standards are a bit different than standards in other parts of India, right?

Get workers who are attractive to your audience. This is not rocket science, but you do have to ask around and keep your eyes open. In the long run, the call centers that win are the ones that go overboard to please their clients. Do you try to please your clients? If so, how much do you try to please your clients? Are there a few MORE things you could do to please your clients? How often do you talk to your clients to ask them if there is anything else that you can do?

If it were me, I would run my call center workers one by one through a set of demanding people in various parts of the world. I would write down all opinions from all of my “judges”. It is so funny, because these days there are reality shows throughout the world where people will get up and sing before judges, or cook before judges. Each judge has something to say.

The sauce was too strong, and the cucumbers didn’t seem like they were “part” of the dish — they seemed like something you just threw in.

You can put your call center workers before judges and get critiques… That is easier than having your client tell you that you are fired because HIS customers didn’t like your new guy or your new girl. Think ahead and scrutinize your people — or someone else will.

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