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  1. On the English Language, Neutral Accent, and Effective Communication: An In-Depth Guide

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    In a competitive business landscape, effective communication is not only crucial to be understood, relay important messages and make an impact. Communicating in the language that your wider audience can easily understand is a must – to close potential deals and to ride out competition or overcome common business communication challenges.

    Today, the English language is not just one of the most widely used to communicate in the world of commerce. When you have clients who live abroad like the United States, Australia or Great Britain, English is the medium of exchange that entrepreneurs or corporate officials can easily understand. As a universal language, English is also understood and used in various nations even when English is not the official first language used, such as the people in Europe, Asia, Africa, South America, and even China.

    Let’s begin by looking into the brief history of the English language.

    A Very Brief History of the English Language

    English takes its name from “Anglisc”, the language that the Angles spoke.

    The Angles, along with the Jutes and Saxons, were the three Germanic tribes that invaded England way back in 5th century A.D. The arrival of these Germanic tribes prompted the beginning of what we now know as “Old English”, which was spoken from 450-1100 AD.

    The Norman conquest of England, however, spearheaded by William the Conqueror, Duke of Normandy, ushered in the era of “Middle English”, which was widely spoken in England from 1100-1500.

    A phenomenon, “The Great Vowel Shift” occurred during those times and led to the dramatic and radical change in the way words were pronounced. This, and the “English Renaissance”, also referred to as the “Elizabethan Era” or the “Age of Shakespeare”, as a token of honor to the revered monarch and the celebrated writer who lived during that time period, introduced what we now know as “Early Modern English” (1500-1800).

    The invention of the printing press, which helped standardized spelling and grammar, brought forth changes to the way the English language is spoken or used; such eventually continues to be used up to this day. It is now known as the “Late Modern English”(1800-Present).

    The Importance of the English Language

    The English language, widely considered as the language that is probably the richest and the most extensive when it comes to vocabulary, is considered as the world’s “lingua franca”. A number of people have also dubbed it as the “international language”- which is not exactly surprising.

    You can go to any country, on any continent, and you’re very likely to encounter someone who can speak the language. The English language, observers note, serve a purpose: as a common ground, a reaching hand, a connecting bridge between the roughly estimated 7,111 languages that are being spoken in the world at the present.

    The English language’s role in establishing connections and relations cannot be emphasized enough. It is the language of international business and the language of the indispensable computer network that a huge chunk of the entire human population utilizes in their daily lives- the internet.

    Not only that the English language has been described as efficient to use and easy to learn, it is also flexible enough to evolve depending on the geological location where it is being spoken, and dynamic enough to change and adapt notwithstanding the technological advances the civilization is constantly going through.

    Through and through, the massive use of the English language then gave birth to new words and terminologies.

    The Kind of English You Should Learn

    Is there only one kind of English?

    Well – no. Depending on where you are, the way that the English language is used can vary dramatically. The way that words are spelled, for example, American English would spell “color” and “favor” while British English would spell these words as “colour” and “favour”.

    There’s also the difference in how people from both countries would call certain things, a few of which are shown below:

    BRITISHAMERICAN
    AeroplaneAirplane
    AubergineEggplant
    CotCrib
    DustbinGarbage can
    FlatApartment
    FootballSoccer
    MathsMath
    MotorwayExpressway
    PramStroller

    The most distinct and most obvious difference, however, would be the pronunciation of words, which is what usually makes conversation between two people from different nationalities somewhat difficult, even though they are both supposedly using English as a medium of communication. Yet, our example points to only two countries where English is widely used.

    According to the online encyclopedia Wikipedia, in 2015, there were 67 sovereign states and 27 non-sovereign entities were English was an official language. Putting this into perspective, there are currently 195 independent sovereign states. That’s 34.36% of all the officially recognized countries in the world.

    For the sake of further comparison, the French language is official in 29 countries, the Spanish language is official in 20 countries, the German language is official in 6 countries, and Chinese is recognized as the official language for 7 countries, though they are mostly not mutually intelligible.

    To become an effective communicator that could be easily understood, however, there is one method that has been proven to be one of the most efficient- speaking with a “neutral accent”.

    Neutral Accent

    Ever wonder why news anchors seem to speak in the same way? Why do news hosts all seem to have the same cadence and tone? That is because they are utilizing standard broadcasting English.

    An accent-less, neutral enunciation of words give out something that sounds smooth and refined – an almost flawless delivery that could be understood by viewers, even those who might be from different nationalities.

    There are, however, a few important factors that come to play in determining whether an accent can be considered neutral or not, and they include but are not limited to:

    • Generally and easily understandable, regardless of the type of English the listener is accustomed to.
    • Relatively, if not completely, devoid of any regionalisms, and is, therefore,
    • Not distinguishable as originating from any specific place or country.

    A neutral accent is as universal as you can get when it comes to the English language. There are to using a neutral accent. Butt how exactly does one acquire itt? While there are courses that offer lessons to learn the skill, there is no reason at all that it cannot be learnt at the comfort of your own home.

    The first and easiest way to learn neutral accent would be to through watching and listening to people who speaks and uses the “neutral accent”. When you watch Harry Potter or Game of Thrones, soon you’ll be able to acquire the ability to speak in a general British accent. The internet is a minefield of information and resources – utilize it.

    The next step, obviously, would be to practice what you learned. Practice ceaselessly what you learned and over time you will be fluently speaking the accent.

    Conversing to another person who uses the neutral access is another great way to train acclimate yourself to this method of speech.

    Take a newspaper, an article, a text book, or any kind of reading material and read it out loud. Record your voice so you could determine the things that you need to change and improve on.

    Moderate your speed. Do not speak too fast. Take your time with each word, and enunciate them clearly. Open your mouth wide when you speak, and take periodic stops for air so as not to appear out of breath.

    Another simple trick would be to incorporate tongue twisters in your training. This helps to stretch and exercise muscles that are necessary for speech. Tongue twisters are known for being a fun way to gaining clearer pronunciation and fluency in any given language.

    Remember that the dictionary is your friend. Especially if English isn’t your primary language, your pronunciation of certain words and terminologies might be affected by what is called the mother tongue influence.

    If unsure, never be embarrassed to ask the dictionary for help, or to even look up the proper pronunciation online. The first step in correcting a mistake is in being acknowledging that it exists in the first place. There should be no shame in learning.

    Last Words

    The English language is undoubtedly one of the most influential and widely used languages in the world right now. For a language that originated from what could be considered as a relatively small part of the globe, it has come a long, long way indeed.

    And to a lot of people in this day and age, English is not just a means to communicate- it’s a key to opening doors and opportunities. Who’s to argue that it’s not? From movies to newspapers, to blogs and articles on the web- the English language is everywhere.

    It would be not such a leap of faith to say that its relevance and prominence is there to stay. So, to communicate using the English language is not only a convenient knack anymore, but has turned into a necessary skill in order to gain considerable advantage in many aspects of life.

  2. Why Choose Big Outsource vs. Upwork vs. Freelancer

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    When looking for cost-efficient voice service solutions, many businesses rely on Philippine-based call centers to answer their customer support needs. However, for startups and entrepreneurs which lack financial resources, outsourcing call agent work to freelancers and source some work through online platforms seem the more obvious action.

    Although the cost of outsourcing to BPO companies in the Philippines is not as expensive as hiring an in-house call center team, tapping the freelance market for call center agents is all the rage of late, citing lack of financial resources among the main reasons.

    Hiring an in-house team or getting a freelance agent for your business to handle your processes and customer care transactions remain debatable up to this day. Are freelancers dependable? On the other hand, is it still justifiable to outsource if the business merely need a portion of the comprehensive customer solution that the more established call center firms offer?

    In this blog post, let’s find out by comparing and contrasting freelance agents versus call centers in the Philippines. More particularly, we’ll look into reliability, management, skills and expenses.

    Upwork Vs. Freelancer

    Websites like Upwork and Freelancer, currently two of the most popular and active freelancing websites in the world, allow you to outsource one-off jobs to freelancers. Currently the largest freelancing site in the world, the rebranded Upwork boasts its over 12 million freelancers registered with it, as well as 5 million clients. Annually, there are some 3 million jobs posted at the site. Meanwhile, Freelancer has more than 21 million users worldwide with a Best Employment Website award for two consecutive years, 2015 and 2016.

    How Upwork Works

    Clients post their projects on the website which Upwork then matches with a list of freelancers with the right specialization in that particular field of work. This is a boon for clients looking for fast and easy way to search for available remote staff. This then eases clients the tedious effort of sifting through the millions of freelancers registered on the website.

    To help clients choose the right talent, Upwork provides on the freelancer’s profile the skills and the percentage of projects completed, and sometimes the amount of money they earned through the platform. This way, the client can review and make comparisons of their chosen freelancers’ profile and credentials. Client can also conduct an interview to the freelancer personally before making their choice.

    File sharing and various forms of communications are just a few of the tools the website provide clients, as well as let clients prepare invoice and process payments. One thing to love about the website is the Upwork Protection, which guarantees that clients won’t have to pay for assignments they did not authorize or commission the worker to do. By opting the premium subscription, clients receive hand-picked freelancer profiles as well as the service of a dedicated manager.

    Is Upwork Worth It?

    Registering an account at the freelance website is easy, which makes it not surprising at all why there are a lot of freelancers on the platform. Here is where some of the complaints emerge that only a certain percentage of the remote workers there are really experts on what they do. There are not a few complaints from clients that they ended up hiring freelance talent who don’t have the right set of skills for their project.

    So if you’ll go use Upwork to look for people, make sure to search and comb the freelance talent market well to find the right person or project that fit their bill.

    How Freelancer Works

    Clients use the website to post their projects and jobs for free, in which they have the option to invite freelancers to bid on the project or look at freelance workers’ profiles themselves and make an offer to the ones that meet the requirements. At the site, users respond in real time, and projects usually get bidders in a matter of minutes.

    For the bidding process, clients are free to select which of the freelancers got the best ‘technical’ bid or the ones with the ‘best’ quote for the job. This could mean going with a freelance worker who has higher rates and skills that are a much better fit for a particular project.

    Once the project has been awarded to a freelancer, the two parties can communicate constantly through the website to discuss the particulars of the project and to set the expectations that each will make sure happen. Freelancers can allow users to chat, share files, and collaborate while on the go.

    When it comes to paying the freelancer, the client only need to pay once the project is done and the freelancer has completed all the requirements of the assignment. For projects with complex requirements that may mean the freelancer will be getting his payment at the end of the project, the client and the freelancer can discuss about breaking it down into smaller projects. Payment can be arranged based on the milestones and goals they achieve. The website, which uses highly secured encrypted state-of-the-art system, makes sure that payments are secure. The website’s support is also available round the clock.

    Is Freelancer Worth it?

    Here are some of the complaints clients who tried Freelancer have: a) you spend already even before engaging with a freelancer; and, b) issues with billing, (e.g., being billed twice for creating a duplicate milestone), among others. Freelancers who use the website, meanwhile, encounter similar problems, who complained about missing milestones and money. Clients and freelancers want the website to resolve these discrepancies.

    Should Clients Use These Services

    The number of technical issues both clients and freelancers complained about and face demand to be addressed by the website. Bids are limited, too, so if you are a freelancer, you are only allowed up to 10 bids at the same time, which discourages some freelancers from using the website.

    Upwork offer clients with plenty of options and it has a more diverse category of talents and projects and offers free membership. If you are a freelancer, please be guided that you need to know that there are minimal amount to pay whenever you bid on a project.

    Why Outsource Call Center Work to Big Outsource

    This time, let’s find out by faring freelancers against Big Outsource in terms of reliability, management, and expenses.

    Equipment reliability

    Home-based agents must ensure for themselves internet connection and own call center setup, which don’t assure reliability because you are not completely sure the agent’s computer is solely dedicated for call center work. Call Center firms like Big Outsource, on the other hand, invest for state-of-the-art communications technologies.

    Not just updated regularly and backed up, voice-based equipment are maintained by a dedicated IT experts. By investing in sophisticated equipment, infrastructure maintenance and security solutions, Big Outsource want to assure clients that call operations are handled unhampered. Clients’ sensitive data are also kept safe from any form of intrusion.

    Employee Management

    Most freelancers juggle multiple call center responsibilities from multiple employers. This is one of the pitfalls that Big Outsource want to avoid. Our call center agents are assigned to one specific account and work as a team that is led by a designated leader. There is regular monitoring of calls and staff are provide sufficient trainings, workshops, and leadership seminars so they are ready for any levels of agent works while upholding in them a sense of teamwork.

    Reasonable Expense

    Outsourcing to a call center firm can seem steeper by comparison to hiring people from Freelancer or Upwork, however they are actually reasonable. The service quality and partnership longevity you get from hiring Big Outsource far outweigh hiring a freelance or remote agent. When you partner with a call center firm, you pay not only for your agent’s salary, but also for the space, benefits and compensation.

    By compensating your employees well and offering benefits package to employees can translate to motivated agents who will perform their best for their clients. In addition, it also saves clients from additional expenses brought about by frequent employee turnover.

    After All, It’s Your Choice

    There are clear practical advantages and disadvantages to consider when looking for agents from freelancer platforms and outsourcing to a call center.

    When you look for the right freelancer for the job, pay attention to the effort you might consume looking for one. Then there is also the need to ensure clear communication between the client and the freelancer so that the requirements of the project are well understood by both parties. Each party must also know each other’s capabilities, limitations, and expectations.

    In sum, hiring freelancers for single, one-off projects or short contracts can be a great option for you. However, forming an outsourcing partnership with a call center firm is the best solution for you if you need long-term business continuity, security and reliability.

    Having your own dependable call center team is best implemented with the right strategies and resources. Not only you’ll be able to slash the cost of your call center operations, outsourcing to a call center firm can help you achieve your company’s productivity objectives.

  3. Dirt Cheap Outsourcing vs. Premium Outsourcing

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    In their desire to cut expenses on their operations, U.S. based Company signed up Company Y as an outsourced firm to take care of their non-core operations – ranging from customer service and accounting back office tasks. Company Y is based somewhere in India and offers a very low price for their outsourcing services. Not long until six months pass, U.S based Company decided to axe the outsourcing contract after careful consideration of the outcome of their partnership on account of volumes of issues U.S. based Company suffered from outsourcing to a cheap outsourcing provider.

    Company X is only one of the many companies who have suffered from setbacks of getting the service of dirt cheap outsourcing companies. For the sake of the uninitiated, dirt cheap is often defined as the rate of the service an outsourcing company in low cost country charge a client, which can go five or more times lower than the usual rate to outsource to a high-end service provider..

    For example, outsourcing a visual design or graphic design can be quite costly when done by a reputable digital agency but the cost can go a lot cheaper when the project is entrusted to a dirt cheap company. Do you consider a web design for only less than $100 very cheap? Yes? A wise move?

    We’ll sure say no when you will be paying for another set of contractor to re-do the unfinished business or redesign a sloppy website design done the dirt cheap way!

    Well, of course you can encounter a few success stories pointing they have been at the receiving end of successful outsourcing partnership with companies offering quite expensive and cheap services. Their ratio is significantly smaller over the massive number of complaints about the terrible experiences of clients with dirt cheap outsourcing service, however.

    Disadvantages of Dirt Cheap Outsourcing

    Yes, you can save a lot with this type of outsourcing service. And yes you can score reliable people working for a very low price – but everything is up to chance and this type of risk is a no-no in running a company. The following are the potential risks that companies might encounter upon working with dirt cheap outsourcing services:

    • Sloppy Works – Let face it, we get what we paid for. So if you paid under $5 for a logo design work, don’t be surprised to get an amateurish, sloppy design. Sure, you may shout and hate the virtual worker all you want but that’s not going to change everything unless you change ship asap to a provider of high quality output.
    • Copycat Works – Related to the No. 1 risk but even more sinister as this involves you possibly facing court hearings, Yes, your enthusiasm in getting the work done for a cheap price might eventually cost you legal issues. Since the service rate is very cheap, outsourced workers have limited budget to conduct copyright or trademark research. Thus, the tendency is for them to use available materials and alas, some of those may actually already have copyright owners.
    • Communication Woes – Offshore companies usually employ workers with English as their second language. Some cheap offshore companies cannot provide programs that can enhance the communication proficiency skills of their employees so much so of their customers’ culture. The downside of this is that when workers are given complex and complicated instructions, hardly there is understanding or a complete grasp of the instructions. This, in turn, could affect how they perform their tasks, which can lead to an outcome that is detached from their clients’ expectations.
    • More Time Wasted – There are offshore companies that employ remote staff, who may be working either at home or coffee shops. The setup leaves workers unmonitored and distracted if they do not have a feasible environment for working. While there are honest and efficient workers who can thrive in such setup, there are some who are inefficient and can a sloppy output due to their work environment.
    • More Revision – Since the outcome of work often go unsatisfactory with cheap outsourcing service, clients seek a couple revisions even for a single task, which can cause delay as against the projected deadline of a project. Also, some dirt cheap companies set off limits with regard to the allowable number of revision request to justify the cheap rate. As a result, the client has no choice but to accept the final revision regardless of the quality made or else they have to make new order.

    Advantages of Premium Outsourcing

    Furthermore, companies can enjoy significant benefits by getting the service of premium outsourcing companies. These benefits include the following:

    • Competent Workers – Premium outsourcing companies not only scout and recruit high-level staff, they have the capability to provide trainings to their workers in relation to the requirements of their clients.
    • Contingency Ready – Since they charge higher for their services, premium outsourcing companies would never let their reputation go downhill. Part of their resolve is to ensure they have contingency plans set to ensure that any risk of unexpected issues are covered.
    • Guaranteed High Quality – From headhunting to recruitment, premium outsourcing companies look for the cream of the crop of the workforce to provide their clients. Hires are not only selected based on their skillsets and qualifications, but also how they can confidently meet the required educational and trainings.
    • Efficient workers – Premium outsourcing companies have the means, technology and the system to monitor their workers perform their work for their clients. Programs to ensure workers are motivated and works efficiently are also implemented, apart from the above average salary and compensation given them.

    A Few More Thoughts

    To avoid common outsourcing disasters, it is highly recommended that companies don’t get tempted by the ground zero rates offered by dirt cheap outsourcing companies. While it is also true that some outsourcing firms that offer higher premiums do not deliver either, here is where you should consider well your options.

    Let’s do the math. When you compare the price set by premium companies with their service, you can still find that they charge you higher because you are eased with the worries of having to pay the stipulated basic salary and compensation packages that you would otherwise pay when you hire a local worker or an agency based in your country.

    Investing in a premium outsourcing company based in the Philippines with a solid reputation, you can still save more than half the amount that you will pay an in-house employee or team.

    Is premium outsourcing service expensive? Yes, but it is worth the price. This will have to depend on how you maximize and optimize your use of outsourcing to get the best value out of your investment.

    Discussing the benefits of employing premium outsourcing service can be endless yet the advantages presented above are enough for now to make you consider outsourcing with common sense.

    At Big Outsource we offer premium services for any of your outsourcing work needs without compromising quality. We understand the value of work needed for the value of your money.

  4. How to Achieve Scalability and Capture Cost Savings Opportunity with Big Outsource Solutions

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    Done right, outsourcing can help a business achieve its strategic objectives. However, some fail to see nor make the most out of their outsourcing investments. One reason: lack of understanding on how outsourcing can help grow their business.

    Sometimes, however, the fault lies in the outsourcing partner for not being transparent with their clients. Some overpromise the fruits clients will reap out of signing up an outsourcing contract, for instance.

    Can outsourcing really help companies achieve scalability and cost savings?

    What is Outsourcing

    So. Let’s be clear what outsourcing is and why.

    Outsourcing is when you let a third party (outside) company do the work instead of doing it in-house, for a fraction of the cost to pay a local worker.

    Some examples include: creating webpages or social media posts, taking inbound and outbound calls, hiring a digital marketing agency to handle your SEO, transcription and blog writing needs albeit the staff is doing the tasks remotely.

    When you are in Australia and you’re outsourcing some of your noncore business functions to a Filipino remote worker, the cost of getting the job done on time and quality at a minimal cost trumps other disadvantages one can think of against this solution.

    And whether you’re a startup founder or the CEO of an established company, you can get a lot of advantages out of outsourcing your business processes.

    Enter Big Outsource

    Like many outsourcing companies offering various services to companies in the U.S., Europe, and Australia, Big Outsource has been in the business for nearly a decade. WIth its expertise, technology and processes, it has been helping companies achieve growth through remote staff leasing, project-based outsourcing, and more that Big Outsource offers.

    Through outsourcing, companies achieve cost savings, which can be helpful for companies in improving capacity. Big Outsource ensures that even without a large number of new staff physically present beside you, its call center operators can conduct sales and other customer care services to reach your potential clients.

    Achieving scalability through outsourcing also means having an increased number of your fixed overhead without investing in development costs for noncore functions of your business nor leasing a large commercial space.

    Achieving Scalability through Outsourced Solution

    The outsourcing solutions Big Outsource offers to companies – whether startup or established ones – are designed to help their clients leverage outsourcing to scale.

    Take Dedicated Staffing, for instance. This solution suits small or medium companies with limited inhouse staff or team of experts for various aspects of the company. This is a cost-effective way to gain instant scale in areas like social media management, websiite management, call center support, or administrative processes where it would be costly or difficult to expand quickly.

    Project-based outsourcing is another solution offered by Big Outsource. To help our cilents scall faster, we encourage them to tap into the expertise of your outsourced staff that your own business lacks. We tell clients that Big Outsource hire applicants with hundreds of hours-experience and with the expertise, and that our clients can gain access to these expertise fast. it is too costly to get your inhouse team trained to be experts on a particular area but through outsourcing, you have a ready source of these expertise.

    At Big Outsource, we help our clients discover productivity issues that may be slowing down scalability internally. But since we respect that our clients want to create long-term value in their business and to satisfy their clients, we honestly tell them the importance of outsourcing their non-core business processes. Outsourcing the core business is risky and disruptions can bring companies down. So many real life business stories come to mind, such as Dell’s outsourcing story. The tech giant outsourced its core production in Asia but this came at a huge, huge price – unknowingly for this company, it was investing for the debut of new batch of competition.

    By outsourcing, you skipped some of the messy phases in development, such as trial-and-error learning that your service provider had already underwent to build the products you’re renting or buying from them. Outsourcing then lets you smartly skip th edevelopment costs and tap directly into systems in business that are already proven.

    Another way Big Outsource help our clients achieve scalability is through benefits derived from the investments we made out of enrolling our staff to trainings to keep them experts in their area of expertise.

    Lastly, the business of Big Outsource has been around for nearly a decade. This only proves we are still around over the last years of existence, which proves our reliability to continue to grow and mature over time.

    Finally, don’t just outsource without understanding the real cost of outsourcing, its advantages and requirements to succeed. If outsourcing will not lower your real cost, drop immediately any plan you have.

    For more ideas on outsourcing your business with us, inquire here.

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