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Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Important answers to your questions

Top of the morning everyone!  I'm Donna J Jodhan at the business desk and I am delighted to be here with you to open up our e-bag.  This week I am going to do something a  bit different and that is:  I am going to print a response to one of our articles awhile back where we discussed the topic of long distance companies not giving the full picture when they advertise their services.  In so many words, a bit of false advertising.  We have received hundreds of responses on this topic but this email that we received aptly sums up the general feeling out there.  So, I will print this response first  before continuing on.  Thank you anonymous for your email.
Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "Those problematic call centers in India":

I so agree with this article. Just now, I use pennytalk to call my family in Europe. Over and over I get charged a connection fee without ever talking to someone. If I try to contact the customer service line I am either placed on hold forever or, I get someone who cannot even understand my phone number properly. Congress needs to do something about these companies. It is time we all stop using phone companies that route their calls through India. I will start using the internet phone companies either or which also gives you lots of free minutes. Everybody should know about these websites and with VoipStund you can even connect your call from your landline through your computer.

Posted by Anonymous to - From the Business Desk 
Question from Kevin Street:  What are your thoughts about services for seniors?  I mean, do you think that companies are doing enough to cater to their needs?
Answer:  Kevin, I do and I don't and I will explain.  So many times when I go shopping I happen to see seniors and persons who are disabled in some way asking for help at the service desk and more often than not, these consumers are made to wait and wait for service.  Sometimes you get a smart customer service rep who goes out of their way to help but for the most part I do not see it and what concerns me is that our population is a rapidly aging one but the majority of the companies out there still don't seem to realize this.  I would like to see more and more companies pay more attention to servicing the needs of seniors and consumers with special needs and if they fail to do so then some sort of legislation should be passed to penalize them if they fail to comply.  The travel industry has been hammered over the past year with lawsuits from various organizations representing persons with disabilities and I hope that this serves to be a wake-up call.  In addition, Target has been in the news within the last few months for not making their websites more accessible to persons with special needs.  The time has come for all companies to realize that they really do not have any choice in the matter.
Question from Nancy Francona:  I work for a large company and I agree with them resourcing their call centers to India.  What gives you the right to criticize them?
Answer:  Nancy,  I do believe that it is anyone's right to criticize this and I as a special needs consultant who is blind is in a good position to impart some very important truths to our readers.  True it is that many large corporations are telling the rest of the world that they have a legitimate right to outsource their call centers to India in order to reduce their overhead costs and this is true but there is another important side to this coin.  By outsourcing their call centers to India, companies have effectively taken away jobs from hundreds of thousands of North Americans who have depended on these jobs to do such things as:  Supplement their incomes, make incomes in fields where high degrees of technical skill are not needed, work at jobs that allow them flexibility, work at jobs where barriers are not as difficult because of their respective disabilities.  True it is that these companies are helping themselves but in doing so they have dealt a huge blow to our economy and in addition, they are now employing call center reps who are not able to provide adequate service in English because their first language is not English.  They have difficulty speaking English, they have difficulty understanding English, and most of the companies who have relocated their call centers to India seem to have forgotten to train their new workers in the areas of phone courtesy, product knowledge, and service savvy.  So at the end of the day, who is the winner?  Maybe these large corporations but certainly not the average North American consumer.
Question from Aldo Marino:  Donna, as an author of several books, can you tell us what sort of pitfalls we should try to avoid if we are thinking of writing a book?
Answer:  Aldo, Here are my handful of tips for what they are worth:
Choose a topic that you are knowledgeable on.  Choose a topic that you feel that others would like to read about.  Choose which type of consumers you would like to sell your book to.  Choose a market that is real, has real demand, and has real consumers.  Decide which type of book you would like to produce; i.e an e book or a hard copy book.  Do your research when choosing the publisher that you choose.  There are hundreds of online publishers out there just waiting to offer you their services but there is one important thing to know about these types of publishers:  They do not help you with the marketing of your book.  They take your money, slap a book together for you in their format which is often less than satisfactory, and they offer you all kinds of so-call marketing packages which are often nothing but ploys to get you to spend more money.  Many experts would tell you that these online publishers are just lazy companies after a quick buck.  In essence, they are only print on demand companies and they take most of your revenues leaving you with precious little profit at the end of the day.  If you want to print a hard copy, then there is much more work for you to think about.
Question from Greg Frank:  What advice can you give to someone who is being bullied in the workplace?
Answer:  Greg,bullying is becoming more and more of an issue in the workplace and the quickest piece of advice that I can give to anyone is to report it to your manager.  That is, if you have not already done so.  You may first want to start with talking to the one that is bullying you and see if this helps and if it does not then go to your manager.  If this does not help, then go to your HR manager.  Bullying is a very serious matter and as I said before, a growing problem not only in the workplace but also in the schoolyard.
I am out of time for this week but please keep your questions coming.
At the business desk, I'm Donna J Jodhan wishing you a great day.


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