World Cup Showcase for International Business

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World Cup has again captured international attention this year, and featured one of the worst losses in World Cup history (and quite unexpected). Germany appears to be an unstoppable powerhouse in their record eighth World Cup appearance, but Argentina isn’t expected to go down without a fight – despite their scoreless match in full time against the Netherlands. But while many reporters and news stations are speaking on the various soccer statistics, we’re more concerned with another set of metrics there – their business climate. And the countries on the opposite sides of the field are nearly polar opposites in terms of economy.

Ich liebe Deutschland!

World Cup Showcase for International Business

I had the privilege of living in Germany during 2006 (not far from one of the cities hosting the preliminary rounds), and saw the first patriotic surge of the German flag since World War 2 at their World Cup performance. I can testify firsthand after living in Germany, they are well-known for two things – drinking beer and playing soccer. However, I can also testify to their thriving business environment.

Germany Financials

As the leading financial powerhouse of the EU, Germany alone carries over 20% of the EU’s total budget, fully 5% higher (5% of a hundred billion euro budget, no less) than the next country, France. In addition, Germany is ranked in the top 93% of the world for transparency, and has consistently maintained below a 3% inflation rate. They are also ranked in the top 20 (#18) of Heritage Foundation’s Index of Economic Freedom. Finally, Germany has the 4th largest economy in the world, behind US, China, and Japan – in that order.

Day to Day in Germany

The German culture is a very open and honest one that has established aquasi-capitalist system with a socialist undertone, called Social Market Capitalism. This enables more small businesses in a very different way than free market capitalists – by ensuring the social welfare of all citizens, thus enabling them to spend more in small bakeries, eateries, and butchers (yes, real butchers). Trade unions and associations abound, ensuring more than substantial wages. One of the greatest benefits of German culture, however, is the work schedule –10 paid national holidays, and a minimum of 4 weeks of paid leave per year. Unlike many Americans, it’s rare for Germans to work on a holiday, and they actually use their vacation time.

Argentina, the Fiercely Independent!

World Cup Showcase for International Business

Argentina stands as a stark contrast to Germany, while alternatively being very similar. Argentina is the most European among South American countries, and is a very relationship-oriented nation. Unlike Germany’s strong middle class, Argentina’s wealth is less evenly distributed. As recently as a few weeks ago, Argentina has officiallyentered a recession.

While it’s certainly possible they could emerge none worse for the wear, Argentina is presentlyembattled in a legal case concerning debt defaults in2005 and2010. The government has fiercely “protected” many sectors, which has seriously inhibited growth. While tariffs remain high, opening a business is even more cost-inhibitive. The Heritage Foundation has ranked them 166th in the world, out of a total of 178. Pakistan, Sierra Leone, Lebanon, Laos, and Vietnam were all ranked as“freer” in the economic sense of the word.

Economy Aside…

Greater Buenos Aires hosts roughly a third of Argentina’s total population in a thriving, vibrant city. Although the European influence is readily apparent, this nation is steeply rooted in its Latin-American and Indigenous culture. Argentina is also a major exporter of agriculture – especially beef and citrus fruits – and mild weather year round lengthens the growing season considerably.

Culturally, Argentinians have a reputation of being warm and friendly, and the notion of respect dominates much of this country’s behavior. However, corruption has increased significantly in an already corrupt nation. It’s not the citizens – the protests in 2012 were driven by political mishaps and inflation. While the people clearly want change to a true democracy, the politicians and government positions aren’t cooperating.

So…. Who’s Gonna Win?

When it comes to soccer, it’s hard to say who has the edge, though Germany is the heavy favorite. But when it comes to the economy and business culture, Germany is the clear winner for future investment. Their financial strength is one of the highest in Europe, their economic freedom is one of the highest in the world, and the many unions and trade association guarantee a strong middle class. Argentina, on the other hand, struggles with corruption and inflation, and while the people are collectively trying to impose reforms, those in power aren’t listening.

If I were an investor, my money would be on Germany.

 

From the Office to Your Pocket: Phone Call Forwarding Knows No Bounds

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Call centers have advanced substantially since their inception. Leaders have taken a very systematic and strategic approach to refining and making nearly every area increasingly more efficient. Even seemingly insignificant factors like call duration, queue management, peak hours, and the number of keystrokes required to complete a transaction are factored in, and leadership maintains a keen eye on these types of metrics. Collectively, a number of small, key areas dominate the performance of productivity.

Like call forwarding.

Phone Call Forwarding

Image courtesy of Flickr.com

What is Call Forwarding?

Every call center employee utilizes call forwarding, and yet some of the best features go unused. Call forwarding is responsible for the queue, as well as a host of other forwarding features. But it does a lot more than that, especially for managers and owners.

When a customer dials into the main number, it usually is directed to a menu. The menus usually begin along the lines of “Press 1 for English, 2 for Spanish.” After being directed to a language, it may prompt “Press 1 for sales, 2 for customer service. “ After several menus and sub-menus, the call is forwarded to the queue where it belongs.

How do I use it?

Call Forwarding also applies to those who are out of the office, travelling, or otherwise not at their desk. Setting up a find me/follow me is a great solution for effective communication, and be easily enabled or disabled. Find me/follow me options allow forwarding to a specific number, such as a cell phone or home phone. It can be programmed to run in a pre-determined sequence. Moreover, this can ring to more than one person; it can ring to a specific department, and if the call goes unanswered, it transfers to another department after a predetermined amount of rings defined by the user.

Simultaneous ring also provides a value benefit, as it allows multiple phones to ring simultaneously. This is especially helpful for workers who remain on the go and are frequently in and out of the office. Setting up simultaneous ring or find me/follow me requires a user portal, and is very intuitive – it usually only takes a few minutes.

One of the greatest benefits of all, however, is the scalability. Don’t have an entire contact center? No problem – the same software you use for your business now will grow as you grow, and will evolve as your company evolves. This flexibility, in conjunction with the scalability, makes for a lasting business solution that doesn’t require new equipment with incremental growth. The same support you receive with one or two lines is the same you’d expect from a multi-location distribution hub, or a large contact center.

Phone Call Forwarding

Courtesy of Flickr.com

Conclusion

Call forwarding is a topic that isn’t often discussed in business growth, but should be integrated into every unified communications solution – or, for that matter, every business model. Call forwarding is an essential function of a business’s vitality. Often, the ability to reach decision makers, leadership, and sales reps can mean the difference in selling a unit or a customer calling a competitor.

What has been your favorite feature of call forwarding? Comment below with tips for how you’ve successfully grown your business.