Michael Pace Show Notes Page
Michael Pace built the first social customer service team and became recognized as an industry expert. He used this fame to launch his own customer experience consultancy and then the reality of running a business that must deliver an exceptional customer experience became his personal challenge.
Michael was born and raised in Sparta, New Jersey. He is the oldest of three, and has a brother and sister, both still living in NJ. He also has five step brothers and sisters, all with loads of kids of their own and he’s an uncle to 12.
Growing up, like George Constanza on Seinfeld, he wanted to be an architect or an engineer. But after seeing all the math he would have to take in college, he switched his major to Sports Management. After college, Michael left for Orlando which was becoming an exciting sports town. But after finding only internships, he landed a role with a travel agency, selling trips to the Bahamas COD (Cash on Delivery for anyone less than 40 years old).
They would hand him a phone book each day, and he would call. He hated this job. It was like “Boiler Room” with corny rebuttals and canned responses. In the late 90’s, he had an opportunity to move back home to NJ and began working at Tiffany & Co. where he discovered that he truly enjoyed helping people and Customer Service.
After a few years with Tiffany & Co., Michael moved to Massachusetts to be with his new wife and started with a new division of Capital One managing the contact center that focused on selling installment loans for elective medical financing. Michael moved into an Operations Program Management role, building out this division’s telephony and case management systems.
Eventually, he took on IT projects and continued to build out Operations. In 2006, he took over all Contact Center activities for the division. In 2008, when the financial markets blew up, Capital One needed to shut down his division.
But as one door closes, another opens, and he had a unique opportunity with Constant Contact to build out the bleeding edge of Customer Service for the SaaS-based newsletter leader. His role encompassed the strategy and analysis for the group, WFM, process management, outsourcer relations, knowledge management teams, and the one of the first social customer service teams.
In 2012, he decided to start his own consultancy, The Pace of Service. Since then he has worked with companies like Citizens Bank, David Yurman, Tory Burch, Blue Nile, Rue La La, Conversocial, and a number of start-ups. He is also the President of the Northeast Contact Center Forum.
Michael is now a single dad to Brayden who loves soccer, especially British Premier League “Futbol”. They live in Foxboro, Massachusetts only a few steps away from Gillette Stadium, even though he is a Dallas Cowboys fan.
Tweetable Quotes and Mentions
Listen to @micpace to get over the hump on the @FastLeaderShow – Click to Tweet
“Successful customers and associates are what make companies widely successful.” – Click to Tweet
“Customer service and experience should be customer centric, right?” – Click to Tweet
“What customers are looking for is to be successful with why they are with you.” – Click to Tweet
“Customer experience is not just about customer service, it’s about all the senses.” – Click to Tweet
“There’s always this mix of both relationship and behaviors going on simultaneously.” – Click to Tweet
“To get people to follow you, it’s more than just actions, you have to build rapport and relationships.” – Click to Tweet
Hump to Get Over
Michael Pace built the first social customer service team and became recognized as an industry expert. He used this fame to launch his own customer experience consultancy and then the reality of running a business that must deliver an exceptional customer experience became his personal challenge.
Advice for others
Help people around you to become more successful.
Holding him back from being an even better leader
Working on my communication. Getting my value proposition clear and succinct.
Best Leadership Advice
You have to be able to build rapport and relationships with people.
Secret to Success
Jack of all trades.
Best tools in business or life
Having great mentors and people to soundboard against.
The 360 Degree Leader: Developing Your Influence from Anywhere in the Organization
Contacting Michael Pace
Resources and Show Mentions
Northeast Contact Center Forum
Show Transcript:Click to access edited transcript
207: Michael Pace: Everybody is going to come to me
Intro: Welcome to the Fast Leader podcast, where we explore convenient yet effective shortcuts that will help you get ahead and move forward faster by becoming a better leader. And now here’s your host, customer and employee engagement expert and certified emotional intelligence practitioner, Jim Rembach.
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Jim Rembach: Okay Fast Leader legion today I’m excited because I have somebody on the show today who has an extensive experience in contact center customer care and we’re going to talk about a little bit more of that external effect of the customer experience and customer success.
Michael Pace was born and raised in Sparta, New Jersey. He’s the oldest of three and has a brother and sister both still living in New Jersey. He also has five-step for others and sisters all with loads of kids of their own and he’s an uncle to 12. Growing up like George Costanza on Seinfeld he wanted to be an architect or an engineer but after seeing all the math he would have to take in college he switched his major to sports management. After college Michael left for Orlando which was becoming an exciting sports town but after finding only internships he landed a role with the travel agency selling trips to the Bahamas, cod cash-on-delivery, for anyone less than 40 years old. They would hand him a phone book each day and he would call. He hated that job and it was like a boiler room with corny rebuttals and can responses.
In the late 1990s he had an opportunity to move back home to New Jersey and began working at Tiffany & Company where he discovered that he truly enjoyed helping people and customer service. After a few years with Tiffany and company Michael moved to Massachusetts to be with his new wife and started with a new division of Capital One managing the contact center that focused on selling installment loans for elective medical financing. Michael moved into the operations program management role and build out the entire division’s telephony and case management systems. Eventually he took on IT projects and continued to build out operations and in 2006 he took over the entire contact center activity for the division. But in 2008 with the financial markets blew up Capital One needed to shut down that division. As one door closes another door opens and he had the unique opportunity to work with Constant Contact to build out a bleeding edge customer service for the SAS based newsletter leader. His role encompassed the strategy and analysis for the group workforce management, process management, outsourcer relationships, knowledge management teams, and one of the first social customer service teams.
In 2012 he decided to start his own consultancy the Pace of Service, since then he’s worked with companies like Citizens Bank, David Yurman, Tony Burch, Blue Nile, Rue La La, Comper Social and a number of startups and he’s also the president of the Northeast contact center forum. Michael is now a single dad to a 14 year old boy Braden who loves soccer especially the British Premier League. They live in Foxboro, Massachusetts only a few steps away from Gillette Stadium even though he’s a Dallas Cowboys fan. Michael, are you ready to help us get over the hump?
Michael Pace: I am ready to get help you get you over the hump, yes.
Jim Rembach: I’m glad you’re here. Now I’ve given my Legion a little bit about you but can you tell us what your current passion is so that we can get to know you even better?
Michael Pace: Sure I’m pretty fortunate guy. I get to wake up each day envisioning how I can help, create environments and journeys and actions for companies customers. I truly believe successful customers and associates are what make companies wildly successful. So my goal is to help make your company’s customers more successful and that’s how I believe I help make you more successful.
Jim Rembach: Okay, so when you say that I start thinking of viewpoints and filters and perceptions and to me I start thinking of that that concept of outside in, is that really what you’re talking about?
Michael Pace: Yes. I think customer service and experiences should be customer centric. Whether you’re talking about a new world of subscriptions and SAS a lot of that is about customer success. When you’re talking about retail, which I do a lot of work, banking any industry insurance, healthcare, what customers are looking for is to be successful either the task or the part of the relationship or why they’re with you. They’re looking for how can they navigate your website successfully. They’re looking for how can they complete a transaction successfully. They’re looking for how can they build their relationship with you more successfully. Some people think of it as sometimes it’s a little bit of a customer effort score and how easy it is for you to use a company. I think that’s part of success but it’s not the whole piece but it’s a big piece or how well you’re able to absorb or use loyalty programs and such that’s a part of customer success. It’s a slightly different way of looking at things like customer satisfaction and customer effort score or it’s a little bit more of pulling in relationship goals or how you feel about a company but also baking in behavioral results as well.
Jim Rembach: Okay, so I think now we’re hearing a lot of information around people talking about motion. For me as you were talking about that I started thinking about that whole emotion component that customer success piece. So when you start looking at some—the measurements and metrics you have to question whether or not they’re capturing that appropriately when you start looking at it from a marketing perspective in addition to a service perspective I start thinking about all kinds of different things. I think ultimately in order for us to really detect, investigate, and interpret all of that we need to have some systems and frameworks and you started talking about a couple different aspects of this. When you’re referring to an organization working with and helping an organization, how do you essentially categorize these things so that you can move forward?
Michael Pace: For years marketing has had the quote-unquote funnel. So where people think about the awareness the consideration the intent hopefully there is a purchase period at the bottom of that funnel some folks have come along and say, we should be flipping the funnel and at the bottom of that funnel should be things like support and loyalty and advocacy programs. Looking at it almost like an hourglass instead of a funnel and that is about the customer’s entire journey the customer experience is not just customer service it’s about all the senses coming together. Things like customer support and customer success are a huge piece of that of that journey. But you can’t neglect a lot of the marketing pieces and you can’t neglect the further down the road things like loyalty and advocacy programs they’re all interconnected. But you also need to take it from a customer centric point of view, customers don’t see your company as—here’s company A and here’s company A’s marketing department and here’s company A’s customer service department and here’s their loyalty program they’re just company A that’s all they are. We have too many companies to kind of keep in mind to kind of segregate them out that way and such. Companies from a larger holistic standpoint—how do I help make them more successful in traversing that entire marketing funnel/hourglass type of thing? How is it easy for them to come into your company get to know your company have expectations set for your company making the purchase easier? How do you make the adoption of your product or service happen faster at higher value? How do you support them when things go wrong? How do you recover for when things go wrong? How do you create that immense loyalty and advocacy? Like I said there’s an emotional piece of it and how you feel about a company but there’s also a lot of it that’s behavioral.
We’ll throw a quick example out to make that a little bit clearer, so I have a particular cable company, if they looked at me behaviorally would think I am an incredible customer. I have all the phone bundles and super highest Internet and what-have-you. I feel like I am just held hostage to them every single day. Now, they think of me as an amazing customer but a slightly opposite end of that think about like Pandora, who doesn’t like Pandora everyone likes Pandora it’s like your own personal radio station, will I promote Pandora? Sure, I probably promote Pandora. But I don’t pay for their service and honestly I probably remember I have it on my phone or on my Alexa maybe once or twice a year, I totally forget it, but as you mentioned before I was a single dad and I go to Costco every two weeks I have no business being at Costco every two weeks I love Costco I think it’s an amazing company I love what they do kind of for their associates I love how I feel when I walk out of there at least feel like I got a great deal I’m a successful shopper and behaviorally I go there way too often. They’re in my champion kind of quadrant there when you’re thinking about things. So there’s always this mix of both relationship and behaviors going on simultaneously.
Jim Rembach: When I started thinking about some of the aspects of being able to understand that customer to a certain degree and being able to interpret and therefore make some types of decisions and some changes, I started thinking about one of the things that we often have trouble with when we start looking at determining and interpreting all of these things and that is we’ve really only know our own lens and purview. To me when you start thinking about some of these things it’s like, look an organization internally just can’t do. Where do you help organizations to understand that, look you’re good at understanding this because an extensive operational background, systems background all of that. It’s like, okay, you guys understand this but the information that you’re trying to seek here or the answers that you’re trying to get or what you’re attempting to do you don’t have good interpretation of that and that needs to be handled here, how do you go through that?
Michael Pace: You look at customer journeys, I think it’s becoming a more popular trend for organizations who understand the paths their customers go down too frequently they look at it in terms of only of their processes. Let me give you an example, like the travel industry, if you were to book travel you’ll go to a website and you will go through their process of searching and booking and eventually maybe even putting some things onto your iPhone or android phone for easier booking stuff later on or reminders what have you. And then you go on your trip, if I only looked at the customer journey through the lens of my travel company I would only be thinking about how they interact with like my website or how they interact with my payment system or were they able to download their tickets at the end of the event but in real life think about your actual journey that booking piece is only a part of things. You’re researching the location when you were booking you might be even researching the types of cars or flights the map locations of things, how you’re going to get from one place to another? When you get down to your, say you’re going to like Orlando for an example and it personally happened to me recently, I got down to Orlando and I got to the car rental place and it was all booked and all that stuff was easy and I know super easy to book and I got down to the car agency and I sat there was nobody in any line to the left of me or to the of me and it was about two or three people in front of me and I was there for 50 minutes and all I kept thinking during this entire time was, you were stopping me from getting to my vacation you are the conduit to my vacation you’re just not renting me a car your purpose your why is to help me go vacation have a great time and such. That’s where you can see late, the customer journey isn’t just linear to your individual processes it’s multi-dimensional and layered upon how a customer sees things. Having a customer be successful in our trip analogy here it’s about their entire vacation being successful. Even though you just might be the booking agent you are the conduit to that vacation there’s lots of aspects that are peripheral but or just as important to that customer for them to have a, if it is a successful vacation or a successful trip or successful working with your SAS marketing systems or whatever it can be.
Jim Rembach: I know when you start talking with this broader customer experience in the whole frustration that can be created from it both internally and externally there’s a lot of ways that we need to really focus. One of the things that we use on the show are quotes to help us focus. Is there a quote or two that you like that you can share?
Michael Pace: Yeah, I think my focus code is pretty focused. My quote is from Mahatma Gandhi its, action expresses priorities, it’s simple. I like this quote because when you think about customer service all the best customer experience is having common is, they make the quality of the experience the priority. If you are constantly balancing the cost of your experience or risk management of your experience even the timetable of your experience, if you think of the quadruple constraints of any project or initiative, if it’s not clear that the quality of the experience is the most important thing it will never show so your actions expresses priorities.
Jim Rembach: That’s a good quote. I try to also talk about how those actions and the interpretation piece on the other side especially with my kids—like, what do you think that they’re thinking about you now that you’ve done that?—trying to create that awareness. Okay, talked about your transition and going through and being in the boiler room and being with the Capital One the financial blow up and all these things you’ve had, quite an interesting journey, I’m sure there was a lot of humps that you’ve had to get over. Is there one particular story that you can share with us where we can learn?
Michael Pace: Sure. In 2012, like I said, it was for Constant Contact to help build the world’s kind of first scalable social customer service teams and leveraging communities for customer service. Constant Contact was amazing in letting me go all over the country and even to China to evangelize how we built these out in the scale that we created and where this was going to. Social media now is pretty ubiquitous in our lives, even in 2012 it wasn’t that way I think my head got a little full of itself. I’m going to conferences I’m speaking in front of hundreds of people and I’m having dozens of people come up to me afterwards and—oh, I’d love to understand how to do this—and…So in 2012, I went off on my own and built the Pace of Service and I thought everybody is going to come to me because nobody else is doing this yet and they need it. It was just massively humbling to learn how to be the janitor, the marketing guy, the sales guy, the accountant everything that goes into being the owner of an individual consultancy and such. I could do the execution stuff blindfolded it seemed like but it was all the kind of all the other pieces that became involved and understanding kind of how to get your own company off the ground and make it successful that was my hump. I’d say where the getting over the hump piece was a little bit of the understanding like here’s how my pipeline needs to look, here’s the things I need to do early on whether it’s in social or blog writing or doing interviews like this that start piling up and start building a relationship with individuals to create that trust that enables me to become an organization. Most of the times I do fairly long sense of organizations typically eight months to a year. A lot of times I’m working as an interim director or vice president or something along those kind of lines while I’m going through a transition or where why you’re looking to build out what your eventual experience. That was probably my biggest hump that was it was tough.
Jim Rembach: Okay, so I have to ask you, with that humbling experience and into that there’s a whole lot of anxiety there’s a whole lot of things that come in—doubt, so it’s like, okay turn around I need to go back. You didn’t. What does that mean?
Michael Pace: What does that mean? Don’t get me wrong. I do think the full-time world—it’s not a grass is greener and the consultancy world versus the full-time world it’s just two different kinds of grass. I enjoy both. There is definitely something—maybe that’s probably why a lot of my consultant opportunities last for eight months to a year. Where I actually get to do things like develop associates for a period of time and afterwards I usually continue to mentor them. Or what build out larger infrastructures for them that are a little bit longer lasting then some initial short-term.
Jim Rembach: I think one of the things that you kind of what you were talking about and as you were explaining all these different aspects and all—we have the internal, the external the outside in, the inside—this is not simple stuff what we’re talking about here. To me it’s like congruent in regards to talking about that a whole long term. We’re talking about transformations here we’re not talking about fixing something that’s broken and this being up and going in a week or two it’s much longer in nature than that.
Michael Pace: Yes. I think one of the lesser known and least utilized competencies or disciplines out there is change management. Not the source code change management but how do you help people go through that up-and-down curve some people call it the curve of despair and the valley of the spare through that and come out up on top, how do you help them become aware of the change and have the desire or need for the change how to get through have the ability to get through how do you reinforce any successful—I think consultant needs to be a change management agent first and foremost. You can’t just come in here and say, here’s what I think you should do go by there’s a lot more process and discipline that’s associated with it.
Jim Rembach: Well and I think that goes for that internal person too. I think when you start talking about change in today’s environment and world I think that’s really that primary competency is that. It’s not managing the customer experience per se, I think it’s change management to be more customer center.
Michael Pace: Yeah. You can imply a lot of those change management competencies, obviously, like you said to your customer. If you’re going to change your website or change your process or change whatever. You’re looking for the adoption of that change. Not only you’re looking for the adoption of that change you’re looking for the adoption at that change at the highest velocity and value as possible. So the analogy I’ll use here is, you download a new iPhone app, if it isn’t intuitive or instructional and easy to use what ends or valuable. What ends up happening? It just becomes this app that you never use on your phone again. But if you find an app where it’s easy to use, understandable, you understand what that change means you understand that the value that that change provides, and if you can get that change that value add velocity it becomes much more useful, and for lack of a better term, successful, like we talked about earlier.
Jim Rembach: Most definitely. Okay, so we’re glad you didn’t turn back and the Fast Leader Legion continue to wish the very best.
Michael Pace: Now before we move on, let’s get a quick word from our sponsor.
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Jim Rembach: Alright, here we go Fast Leader Legion it’s time to do the Hump day Hoedown. Okay, Michael, the Hump day Hoedown is a part of our show where you give us good insights fast. So I’m going to ask you several questions and your job is to give us robust yet rapid responses that are going to help us move onward and upward faster. Michael Pace, are you ready to hoedown?
Michael Pace: I am ready to hoedown. I will not also say that one of my development opportunities is to be more succinct than faster, so this will be a good test of my skills here.
Jim Rembach: Sounds good. What do you think is holding you back from being an even better leader today?
Michael Pace: What hold me back is—I’d say I am still constantly working on my communication. Still constantly working on my public speaking so working on getting my value proposition clear and succinct as I just mentioned earlier.
Jim Rembach: What is the best leadership advice you have ever received?
Michael Pace: Best leadership advice I ever received—one of my earlier manager told me, you are all business all the time. To get people to follow you and such it’s more than just actions you got to be able to build rapport build relationships with people. Focus more of your time on building relationships than the actions that you want to take.
Jim Rembach: What is one of your secrets that you believe contributes to your success?
Michael Pace: One of my secrets—I am jack of all trades, master of none. I could do project management, process management, change management, community management, I could do workforce management there’s all these kinds of management’s I could do but I would probably say I am not the best at any one of them in particular.
Jim Rembach: What do you feel is one of your best tools that helps you lead in business or life best tools so it’s less of tools?
Michael Pace: Best tools—it’s less of tools, but like I’d say, I have a great mentors and great people to sound board against. Whether it’s you have an idea or you have a passion or so you can bound things against, it’s far the reason why I love the NECCF it’s a community of customer service leaders from all over New England and he can just bounce things off and have those pure relations.
Jim Rembach: What would be one book that you’d recommend to our Legion and it could be from any genre?
Michael Pace: Okay, there’s a lot of great books but somebody was asking me about this recently and yeah I know you are a passionate man about a pivotal role in customer organizations, the supervisor. I think the best book I’ve ever read for supervisors is called the 360-degree Leader. It’s a great book it talks about both leadership leading up leading down leading sideways. It’s such an important thing for supervisors to be able to do is manage up to their managers and directors and obviously their associates and all those different peer groups that they interact with. So while there’s a lot of fantastic books I’m going to pick one, 360 degree Leader.
Jim Rembach: I appreciate that. Okay, Fast Leader legion you can find links to that and other bonus information from today’s show by going to fastleader.net/MichaelPace. Okay, Michael, this is my last Hump Day Hoedown question: Imagine you were given the opportunity to take your knowledge and skills back with you to going back to the age of 25. But you can’t take everything back you can only choose one. What skill or piece of knowledge would you take back with you and why?
Michael Pace: Going back to 25 I was a young and stupid and energetic at that point in time. What skill? Like I said I would probably go back to understanding how to kind of build and foster great relationships with people. Part of that would some of the coaching and managing people’s skills that I’ve developed. Again, I guess similar to how I think about the Pace of Service, helping people around me become more successful. I think at the time being 25 it was just how fast can I go forward.
Jim Rembach: Michael, it was an honor to spend time with you today, can you please share with the Fast Leader Legion how they can connect with you?
Michael Pace: Sure. They can connect with me at the paceofservice.com, obviously, also on LinkedIn. If you live or work in the Northeast feel free to join or come to one of the Northeast contact center forum events, I’m the president there and always at those events. You can go to any ccf.org for more information about that as well. You can always reach me on Twitter, @MicPace.
Jim Rembach: Michael Pace, thank you for sharing your knowledge and wisdom the Fast Leader Legion honors you and thanks you for helping us get over the hump. Woot! Woot!
Thank you for joining me on the Fast Leader show today. For recaps links from every show, special offers and access to download and subscribe, if you haven’t already, head on over the fastleader.net so we can help you move onward and upward faster.
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