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John Ngo | Customer Experience Automation

232: John Ngo: Finding what customers want today

John Ngo Show Notes Page

John Ngo was a first responder, emergency room supervisor and gun battle survivor that learned how to get a small ounce of respect daily. All of his experiences have led him to better understand the power of relationships in the customer experience and finding the balance with automation.

John Ngo was raised in the small town of Menno, with a population of about 800.  Menno is about an hour from Sioux Falls in the South Eastern part of the state. Along with his family, including one older sister, his parents and maternal grandfather, they all had fled the war-torn country of Vietnam in the late 1970’s. His family sought refuge, in Laos, Cambodia and eventually Thailand, where John was born. During this era, many Vietnamese refugees and their families were being held in reeducation camps and waiting for political refugee status in nations that would accept them. Others were being sponsored by organizations in the United States and other countries, and John’s family was one of those sponsored by a Lutheran Church group in Menno South Dakota.

His parents realized quite quickly that unless agriculture or an associated career was what they or their children wanted to do, that opportunities would lie outside of South Dakota. In 1985, the family relocated to the San Francisco Bay Area, and eventually ending up in San Jose, CA.  This was a fortunate circumstance, as San Jose had become a larger melting pot of Vietnamese refugees who had fled the war during that era, and till this day has one of the highest population densities of Vietnamese people. It was also quickly becoming a hub for technology, innovation and growth. It is here that John realized the opportunities were limitless.

John is known for being very direct, and honest, calm and adaptable. His broad background includes, work as a First Responder (EMS), Healthcare Management (UCSF, Stanford), Community Benefit and non-profit work and leading projects in Sports and Technology. John has developed new business lines, turned around underperforming organizations, advocated for improved work cultures, and holding organizations accountable for community benefit.

John currently works in Customer Experience Management at Sun Basket, the leading Healthy Meal Kit company, providing quality, delicious, healthy meals. He also leads a team of professionals who oversee the Mobile App Experience at Levi’s Stadium and works closely with the San Francisco 49er’s Data Analytics and Business Strategy team to ensure the greatest fan experience in all of sports.  He is also Executive Director of a non-profit called Rooms That Rock 4 Chemo, which serves to improve the environments of others who are experiencing difficult life circumstances.

John lives in the San Francisco Bay Area, has three amazing kids, 24, 16, and 14 years of age.  All Boys!

Tweetable Quotes and Mentions

Listen to @surferngo to get over the hump on the @FastLeaderShow Click to Tweet

“The relationship is what builds customer loyalty and brand loyalty.” Click to Tweet

“You’re consistently having to learn from customer interactions and experience to adapt.” Click to Tweet

“A lot of individuals are setup for failure and don’t even know it.” Click to Tweet

“We always want to hit the apex of performance and productivity.” Click to Tweet

“Your entire evolution is a constant learning process.” Click to Tweet

“Learning and leadership are always inseparable.” Click to Tweet

“The day you stop trying to learn is the day you stop being a good leader.” Click to Tweet

“It’s not what we do today, it’s what we leave for tomorrow.” Click to Tweet

“Never stop learning, never stop believing and never stop working.” Click to Tweet

Hump to Get Over

John Ngo was a first responder, emergency room supervisor and gun battle survivor that learned how to get a small ounce of respect daily. All of his experiences have led him to better understand the power of relationships in the customer experience and finding the balance with automation.

Advice for others

Speak with people and not to people.

Holding him back from being an even better leader

There’s only 24 hours in an day and I need more.

Best Leadership Advice

Never stop learning, never stop believing and never stop working.

Secret to Success

I have an incredible patience level but I am extremely calm.

Best tools in business or life

The people around me.

Recommended Reading

The Art of Communicating

Contacting John Ngo

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/jdngo/

email: surferngo [at] icloud.com

Resources and Show Mentions

Call Center Coach

An Even Better Place to Work

Show Transcript: 

[expand title=”Click to access edited transcript”]

232: John Ngo: Finding what customers want today

 

Intro: Welcome to the Fast Leader podcast where we uncover the leadership life hacks that help you to experience breakout performance faster and rocket to success. And now here’s your host customer and employee engagement expert and certified emotional intelligence practitioner, Jim Rembach. 

 

Call Center coach develops and unites the next generation of call center leaders. Through our e-learning and community individuals gain knowledge and skills and the six core competencies that is the blueprint that develops high-performing call center leaders. Successful supervisors do not just happen. So go to callcentercoach.com to learn more about enrollment and download your copy of the Supervisor Success Path e-book now.

 

Jim Rembach:    Okay, Fast Leader legion, today I’m excited because I have somebody on the show today who’s going to help us cut through the hype on chatbots and artificial intelligence. John Ngo, was raised in a small town of Menno. It has a population of 800. Menno is about an hour from Sioux Falls in the southern eastern part of the state of South Dakota. Along with his family including one older sister, his parents and maternal grandfather they all had fled the war-torn country of Vietnam in the late 1970’s. His family sought refuge in Laos, Cambodia and eventually Thailand where John was born. During this era many Vietnamese refugees and their families were being held in reduction camps and waiting for political refugee status in nations that would accept them. Others were being sponsored by organizations in the United States and other countries and John’s family was one of those sponsored by a Lutheran church group in Menno, South Dakota. His parents realized quite quickly that unless agriculture or an associated career was what they wanted, they and their children had to leave South Dakota. In 1985, the family relocated to the San Francisco Bay Area and eventually ended up in San Jose and this was a fortunate circumstance because San Jose had become a larger melting pot of Vietnamese refugees who had fled during that war-torn era and to this day it has one of the highest population densities of Vietnamese people it also quickly became a hub for technology innovation and growth it’s here that John realized the opportunities were limitless.

 

John is known for being very direct and honest, calm and adaptable. His broad background includes work as a first responder as an EMS tech, health care management, community benefit and non-profit work and leading projects in sports and technology. John has developed new business lines, turned around underperforming organizations, advocated for improved work cultures and holding organizations accountable for community benefit. John currently works in customer experience management at Sun Basket, a leading healthy meal kit company providing quality, delicious healthy meals. He also leaves a team of professionals who oversee the mobile app experience at Levi’s Stadium and works closely with the San Francisco 49er’s Data Analytics and Business Strategy team to ensure the greatest fan experience in all of sports. He’s also an executive director of a non-profit called Rooms that Rock for Chemo, which serves to improve the environments of others who are experiencing difficult life

Circumstances. John lives in to the San Francisco Bay Area and has three amazing kids, 24, 16 and 14 years of age and they’re all boys. John Ngo, are you ready to help us get over the hump?

 

John Ngo:        Absolutely. I’m glad to be here today. 

 

Jim Rembach:    I’m glad you’re here. I’ve given my Legion a little bit about you but can you share with your current passion is so that we can get to know you even better?

 

John Ngo:         Absolutely. Right now obviously I work in customer experience with Sun Baskin. Sun Baskin is a leading meal care company and healthy delicious food. My true passions are obviously enabling people to get to where they need to be. So for me it’s my staff, the customer service agents, not only getting them to be amazing agents understanding what their responsibilities are here but to actually teach them and train them to be a great employees. My goal is to have amazing agents that understand how to be professionals. I would like to see them not only be professional and excel and be successful in any job they have here but as we move forward what can make them successful what can move them along their career. My responsibilities are obviously to develop them, create opportunities for them, guide them as well as open up opportunities for them to be leaders in their own right create innovation where they may see fit and actually allow them to grow within our organization and if not outside of organization, so that’s one aspect. 

 

And then I do have a big passion for community benefit. I’ve been working locally recently with a nonprofit that I just take over (4:44 inaudible) quickie meal, and the passion there is to improve general overall spaces, I can go into more detail a bit later, but basically we go in and we work with hospitals, clinics, women’s shelters all different type of environments and we actually improve those environments in terms of physical space, overall appearance, especially when somebody like a young child is going through chemotherapy stare at a white wall for six to eight hours, it could be incredibly scary, cold and just a negative experience and how do we do something about that and so our organization focuses on that. Those are a couple of the passions we have but obviously in the customer experience realm my passion right now is to really create environments that make our agents and our staff successful.

 

Jim Rembach:    I appreciate you sharing that. You and I had the opportunity to talk before our interview about some really interesting impacts associated with that entire development of staff, with that high performance aspect and what does it take to get that as well as balance some things that we need to balance from a cost and expense perspective. And we had talked about this whole shift and pendulum swing, I refer to it as of efficiency versus effectiveness, and right now you’ve gone through a lot of that technological innovation testing and applying and it’s really impacted your workplace in a lot of different ways. So tell us a little bit about what’s happening or what has happened with you and that balance and shift of efficiency and effectiveness?

 

John Ngo:    Sure. Being in the Silicon Valley obviously we’re surrounded by a hub of technology and as a small organization, just about four years old when we started, you go through the whole mom and pop you’re doing everything at hawk you figuring it out as you go implementing software and realizing it’s not what you need. As we’ve started to mature we’ve realized we’ve got really good agents we’ve trained them up we’ve gotten them to a point—but the volume is so significant, how do we reduce the unnecessary use of human interaction and the transactional items that you incur every day?  How can we improve that experience for customers? We want to get back to them as soon as possible if it’s a transactional item that doesn’t require that much human interaction. So there was a lot of push for automation. We’ve done automation, we’ve done chat bots, we’ve done—in California one of our laws requires that if you sign up on online you have to be able to cancel online. So we had to put that into our process and work with our CRM process to make it direct, clear and linear so they didn’t have to go through human. Naturally any subscription service, any organization customer service you want some kind of friction to see, hey, how can we improve? How do we not lose customers? Automation has been really good Artificial intelligence has been really good but in that process we also identify that there’s this apex where you put in all this automation but you’re still not having the amazing customer experience that you wanted because there’s this balance the relationship is what builds customer loyalty, brand loyalty and whatnot. And so identifying at which point that we start to lose that brand loyalty, customer loyalty because the experiences are changing. We might get to certain people faster but those individuals who may not be technologically as savvy or those consumers who actually want to talk to a human being because they want to feel like an important individual and not just a number that’s where we’re trying to identify how we can more quickly during the automation process augment it with human interaction to actually benefit both sides. We get through some of the transactional items but then we go to the escalated portions of a conversation or interaction and they want to then communicate with us, how do we get them to somebody in a very fast efficient way without losing that relationship and balancing that relationship? So chat bots have been fantastic—we started off with meeting it we used it and then we realized maybe the reliance on it or the development of it has caused a loss in some of that relationship and then swinging it back and trying to find that perfect balance. And it’s going to be a constant everyday activity to try to identify, hey, where are we shifting?

 

These type of movements towards one side or another are going to be ongoing. You’re consistently having to learn from all these customer interactions and experiences and just the overall environment to adapt because if we decide we’re comfortable with one set or one direction we’re going to realize that we’re probably out of date within a couple months and we’re going to be chasing something. Our team here especially myself and several other of our staff are constantly looking at the barometer and trying to kind of adjust it accordingly. Making constant daily even adjustments to maximize and get to the point where we feel like we understand what our customers want today, not tomorrow, not yesterday but today. And then kind of predicting what they might do tomorrow. 

 

Jim Rembach:    Thanks for sharing that. As you were talking I started thinking about the traditional aspect of what we do with data in a contact center and to me what you just essentially explain in regards to how you’re leveraging debt is that typically what we do in the contact center is we look at post-mortem data, these are things that already happen they’re dead there’s nothing we can do about that data anymore. And so, okay, we’re going to try to make some adjustments but then again we go back and look at post-mortem data we made a change and then boom this is what happened. But it sounds to me like you’re getting more on the front end of this from a proactive perspective?
And also you’re depth and analytics is something that—a lot of organizations just would love to have available that they don’t, I mean, you’re talking about the work that you’re doing with the San Francisco

49ers and the customer experience and all this data analytic interpretation and then also decision making in order to be proactive and then some futuristic also engagement opportunity. You are having the benefit of proactive analytic management that others just don’t get. What do you see that is done for you where you are today?

 

John Ngo:   Wow, that’s a big question. I mean, when you say what has been done for me, do you want to clarify a little bit more kind of like what are you framing, so I can give you a really good idea. I can tell

You—I didn’t really go into the 49ers, I was talking a lot about Sun Basket, what’s unique when we talk about data analytics and where we’re at, if we want to look at proactive decision making the 49ers is very interesting. I oversee a team of mobile app experience specialists their only responsibility is to—like any other mobile app for people who understand why mobile apps are really out there it’s data. It’s identifying user activity and user sentiment and how they go through the process. Whether they’re using it at a stadium, whether they’re using Facebook, it’s really about that user information and the user activity. In our stadium the 49ers have this application that was developed as an in-house business project it’s now its own company by Jed York and the 49ers partially. What they do is—it goes down to the number of spaces in a parking lot, ordering food to your seat, ordering merchandise to your seat, way finding 600 or more Bluetooth beacons within the stadium. It’s really unique, we can seat in a command center up there in a booth with like 20 high-definition screens and tell you how many people have entered any single gate, any single time real-time and being able to adjust and go like, well clearly we have way too much staff and one entrance we don’t have enough staff another entrance—what’s being underutilized, what’s being ordered, moving inventory, creating this real-time adjustment to current activity. You have a general trend that you can follow year over a year, event over event, but as you look at it in real-time you can make real-time adjustments down to minutes and improve safety. You see volume cruncher you can move security, you can move staffing, you can move a ADA support and you can create environments that are a greater experience, provide a safer environment. You can enjoy the actual event more knowing that you’ll be able to get to your event, see your event do your event. And so that’s kind of the analytic side nobody sees that everybody thinks it’s really cool, you can see replays, you can order food but a lot of it has to do with how do we make that happen smoother without you realizing it and that’s kind of the goal behind that. Back to the question, you were originally posing because I clearly went off on a tangent. 

 

Jim Rembach:    Well I think you did answer it in some ways. For me what I see is that what you just talked about right there and what I hear that you are doing in your contact center is being able to proactively address some systemic problems and close the gap in regards to its solution. Again going back to that typical aspect of a contact center and what we normally do is we look at post-mortem data, we look at the agent and that customer interaction and experience and put way too much responsibility on the agent’s hands. When you look at systems theory, it’s an 80/20 rule and even the 20 is not as much of the agent. What I mean by that is 80% of the problems that exist for a customer are company generated and 20% of the problems are as what remains—and the agent could really only impact about 10% of those because the other 10% is owned by the customer, customers make mistakes. So what I see is that you with the way that you’re approaching data analytics and even BOTS an AI is that you’re proactively managing that systemic issue that causes 80% of the problems and then therefore reducing issues faster.

 

John Ngo:   Correct. Initially when I came on board one of the things you realize very quickly both here at Stanford and most the organizations that I’ve worked at is you get a quick two weeks to evaluate your staff where they’re at what they’re doing how they’re working and quite often you’ll find that majority of your individuals are pretty decent worker. You always have the high performers, you always have people who kind of toe the line barely survived but a lot of those individuals are set up for failure without even knowing it. My belief is that as a leader if you have the training, the support and the guidance and the technology and everything else is set up and you set that up for them and you let them go through their process and you and evaluate them from a blank slate you can say, hey, we’ve get them given them everything to succeed. Historically, what will happen—Stanford’s a great example that was a call center it was a multi clinic facility you had customers who had really—I mean patients, these are cancer patients who are at the tail end of their life having really terrible customer experiences and these agents who have never had an expectation that’s been set so they don’t understand the customer situation they don’t have the right training to do it. So being a new manager in that facility what I was asked to do was to create a pilot project to create improved access to our facility. How do we do that? We did analytics for two full weeks, everybody and every process in every minute of their day for two weeks. What we identified it was a systemic issue of technology, 20 doctors, 20 coordinators, 20 voicemails, nobody gets back to half of the voicemails, half the people don’t check their voicemails and so getting rid of that entire process leveraging the technology that we have in the area of VD and role of our hand groups taking all of our schedulers putting him in a single room cross-training him across all departments within the GI or the clinical services so that any customer any patient who called could schedule with any physician that was available creating this efficiency process. That was a very non-automated, non-AI but it was a systemic change based on just very simple evaluation. I think that’s where some of the failures we believe we have the experience, we believe we have the leadership but we don’t look at the bigger picture and we actually don’t look at what our agents have had to go through prior to our arrivals. So to go back and to go like, hey, everybody gets retrained and customer service everything down to legal documentation to medical documentation and it’s not because they’re ignorant or they don’t know it’s because we have to assume that everybody should be on this level playing field and to create that level playing field. From that level playing field we can then set a very standard expectation and elevate it and grow it so that we can create an environment where our customers are the ones that actually benefit and our agents become professionals in what they do. There are some that won’t, there are some that won’t like the accountability that being able to whisper in an a phone call being able to see how many abandoned calls they have seeing how many they don’t answer seeing how many times they actually pick up the phone some agents won’t like that those agents probably will not remain with the company and that’s just very common. However, for those individuals who do show up to work who do work hard and who want to learn and grow it’s a great opportunity for them to show how incredibly talented they may be and quite often they do they surprised you quite surprised you quite often and show you the incredible skill set that they carry and a lot of it is learned so how do we get them to that point? 

 

John Ngo:   You bring up some really important points in a lot of different ways part of that is culture creation. I think as you are talking I started thinking about creating that type of high performance culture. And in a high performance culture you can’t have people who just want to lay out and be lazy it’s just not going to happen. So when you started also talking about the data and the balance and being able to find that perfect point is that—we talked about in a contact center and you even talk about people who are in the contact that you have to report to is that sometimes we just get so myopic on the numbers, the numbers, the numbers and we forget one vital point and that vital point that you’re saying is….

 

John Ngo: —the relationship. We always want to hit that apex of performance and productivity but in terms of being able to create that relationship no matter where it is whether it’s customer to company, agent to company, agent to customer we really have to focus on—we want to take both artificial chat bot and create the augmented intelligence is kind of where a lot of people are going which is a combination of both. And so to create an environment where we take that data and we actually use it meaningfully and we try to take in a fairly real-time environment and then drive future decision making is, where some baskets headed and I think where a lot of companies are headed, but making a value point that we can never lose sight that that relationship is key still having that contact with that customer in some capacity or that agent or that individual that is what drives that brand loyalty, brand engagement consumer satisfaction.

 

Jim Rembach:    I think that’s part of that pendulum swing not going too far and you talked about that. Been there, done that, realize that point, marked, noted, however, I need to keep measuring it because it may shift. There’s so many different factors especially even in your industry that you’re in when it’s concerned this whole prepackaged meal, you guys take a very unique and interesting approach to the products and services that you offer and I think it’s important to really kind of point that out you kind of briefly touched on it, but really, what is Sun Baskets value proposition?

 

John Ngo:   Sun Basket is actually—it’s a meal kit. There’s a large space, there’s a bunch of other companies, Hello Fresh, Blue Apron, Plated, million different companies it’s a very hot thing right now. The difference is our organization our company wasn’t built on just food it was actually built on health. Our CEO, Adams Zbar went to a physician many years ago and it was told basically you’re pretty unhealthy you need to make a lifestyle change and in doing so he was already an entrepreneur and he was already in a delivery space and he realized that what if we delivered healthy food to people versus just food? It is unique and I enjoy working with it obviously because I enjoyed being healthy. All of our food is measured and evaluated by not only dietitians, nutritionists, we have physicians that are part of a larger platform that we’re pushing which is really—how can food enhance and improve people’s lives? We are one of the only few, if not the only meal kit company that partners with both the American Heart Association, American Cancer Society and the American Diabetes Association. We have meals approved by all three organizations to serve those individuals who suffer from those conditions. I myself I’m on the team that actually looks at food and how it can be treated as a way to improve overall health. I guess in the culture there are now people calls food as medicine, I’m not going to specifically state that’s what it is but we approach it like that. Because the overall effectiveness of healthy eating, clean eating has been shown generally in empirical data. And so, how do we at Sun Basket actually promote that and actually be part of that movement? How do we continually look at different things? We have a large selection of different things that a lot of organizations may not have, pescatarian, vegan, vegetarian we’re sensitive to all the different allergens. It’s a very awesome experience to be part of an organization that’s trying to improve a larger community not just people who enjoy food, people who enjoy health, people who enjoy activity.

 

Jim Rembach:    In addition to me what you’re saying is that you must have an exceptional customer experience because of the exceptional focus that you have on your product mix it kind of be totally disingenuous and it would be incongruent for you not to be able to provide exceptional service when you have such a high standard on food.

 

John Ngo:   Well, I think that we have a very high expectation of our customer service. I will say this, like any other company there are always moments where you’re like we could have done better. We have live with that belief every single day. Where are we? And can we do better? And that drives our leadership team that drives our organization to go like let’s be vigilant in what we do. Let’s push the envelope in our technology but let’s continually re-evaluate ourselves every single day so that we can push that customer experience even further. Whether it’s using automated intelligence and artificial intelligence and automation to reduce the friction required for somebody to deal with something. Get a refund get a credit, how can we make those people that are too busy have a good experience? How can we make those people that are not busy or like just love to have conversation with somebody? How can make their experience better? How do can we make someone who doesn’t want a full meal and just wants a quick salad? We’re constantly looking at that looking at customer ease, customer satisfaction, customers in areas we serve basically all 50 states now. We’ve expanded our distribution centers in the last two years to the entire US. One here, one in Valmayer, Illinois and one in New Jersey so we can serve all parts of the US. And so it’s constantly evolving just like the company. And are we going to find that meal? Just like any other social media platform you can probably Google and find some negative experiences I will say those are probably few and far between and even if they are negative experiences we actually focus on reaching out to those individuals every single contact. When they have a negative experience and they share their sentiment on a social platform we just don’t respond to it we respond and say what can we do to have made that experience better. And we try to improve that experience even in retrospect even after the fact. It’s always an opportunity for us to reach out to a former customer whether they’re with us now whether they’ve left us. I think the last experience you want to have with a company is a positive one. And so we try to have that service recovery in every aspect possible.

 

Jim Rembach:    Well, everything that we’re talking about here as far as focusing on the customer experience focus on food quality all of those things have a whole lot of energy and emotion and excitement around them. One of the things that we look at on the show are quotes to help give us that is that. Is there a quote or two that you like that you can share?

 

John Ngo:   Yeah, There are two quotes, one of which has to do with leadership from the other one which has to do with life. Obviously, one of the quotes that—not obviously but it will be in a minute, 

JFK had this great quote and it was, leadership and learning is indispensable to each other. I think any good leader will understand that—there are some pretty bad leaders but for those who understand that your entire evolution is a constant learning process. From the first job you ever take to the last job you ever have, you don’t know everything and you’ll never know everything. You take every experience that you’ve had and you try to roll it up into the next one and improve upon your interactions, your delivery, your leadership, your strengths, your qualities and how you groom and lead and drive innovation and intelligence and thoughtfulness in other people and you try to make it better. It doesn’t always work it doesn’t always mesh in different industries but learning and leadership are always inseparable. I think the day you stopped trying to learn is probably the day you stop being a good leader. Because at that point you believe that you are all knowledgeable and it will be not a good outcome in the long run. 

 

Now the second quote that I have, which for me it’s a personal quote, it’s a quote that I’ve lived with for a long time which is an act of kindness can change the course of a lifetime. And I don’t know who that author is but that’s kind of how I’ve kind of lived my life and both in a leadership role. Sometimes you have to look beyond what you physically see. Let’s say you have agents who are going through something and they’re difficult life experiences, I’ve gone through difficult life experiences I’m sure you have and I’m sure all of our listeners have, what do you do with that? Like how do you get to that point? It doesn’t take something other than, hey, would you like to talk for a minute? Go ahead and get yourself off the floor and have that five-minute conversation. I am lucky that I have had more than one person in my life basically reach out with an act of kindness unexpected. I believe that every single one of those moments changes some of these life time. It changes how you think it, it changes your belief in value in people and it changes how you approach things. Some people don’t recognize it now they may recognize it later but I think it’s a powerful thing and it leads me to obviously do things like—run this non-profit. 

 

Because for me it’s not what we do today it’s what we leave for tomorrow. Whether I leave a contact center, have I left at better? Can my team operate with self-sufficiency Am I the holder of all the information? I hope not. I hope that I’ve given them my knowledge and my understanding and my decision-making and my justifications and process and in doing so they become owners of that I don’t have to own it. I have to talk to you about it I have to talk to executive leadership about it and own up to numbers whether it’s positive or negative and I have to justify stuff. But I want to believe that within your team as a great leader you should be able to go. I’ve given my team every single ounce available to succeed whether I’m here or not. I could get hit by a car on the way to work. With contact center my team still operate in a pretty good fashion I believe so and I’m confident. That’s what drives me to continuously develop and lead and learn.

 

Jim Rembach:    When you talk about difficult life experiences and that’s one of the things that we all can learn from, of course us as we go through them, but then when others hear about our stories and we share those on the show and talked about getting over a hump. Is there a time where you’ve gotten over the hump that you can share?

 

John Ngo:   Yeah, sure.  I was in my early 20s, I just left EMS doing a like running an ambulance, doing rescues—I had a back injury so I broke my back in two places and that’s why I went into the private sector. When I went into the private sector my first job in the private sector was supervisor in an emergency room in San Francisco, at 23 I believe. As a supervisor at 23 when most you’re nurses are 45, 50, 52, they have actually been in the field for more than 23 years so they’ve had more experience than in years I’ve been born. And as a young manager and as a young leader one of the things that you believe is I have all the education, I understand process, I have this idea of what leading is. You walk into the room and you start to talk to them you start to have these conversations and you’re like, okay, so by the way I need this this and this done. We should have all of this done and you should have your training done and I don’t want you to go for forty hours your time cards off and looking at all those things and you’re talking to these individuals but with no life experience to back you up. And so in that process you get what I would call a revolt, nobody listens nobody cares what you said there’s no value and there’s no depth to your leadership. And I learned this quickly. My leader basically pulled me aside and said don’t tell them what to do show them how much they need you as a supervisor, making sure that I was there all three shifts. I would work double shifts one day come back go 8 hours, work double shifts the next day. Cover shifts in which people were ill or absent. Find innovative ways to staff. Make sure that they have what they need, night shift always gets treated terribly. 

 

So instead of just having that pizza at night during the holiday, what do you do? Go ahead and get things that will show them that you care, that it matters to them. And so what I really did was I sat down with each of them. I also sat down with their union and leadership. I discussed a lot of the information that they had issues with. Whether it’s some language in their union contract. I was present for as much time as humanly possible. I slept in my office at times actually. You work harder than anybody there. You spend more time understanding the situations. You advocate for them with leadership, within reason, and over time what you got was a small ounce of respect daily. They would realize that you were present for them. They would realize that you were going to bat for them and they realize that you understand their circumstances. They’re married with two kids one of which is in school, how can you work around their schedule? How can you be flexible with them? But how can you also drive efficiencies? As time went on and the respect started to grow that’s when you can ask them for things. You can sit there and be like, hey, you know what?

 

I have a real need for overtime next week we’re very short. And it was absolutely, I’ll be more than willing to do it, because you worked with their schedule you understood their life circumstances. And so that hump was probably the most difficult just because I had nothing to go back on I had to build, I had to show and I had to develop the relationships from that standpoint on. After that obviously with some experience there’s a little bit more inherited like belief that he might know what he’s doing. I still think I was probably a terrible leader. I was probably a really bad supervisor for at least the first six months but I think by the time I left which is three years later that I had a fairly decent level of respect within that organization. Because I did actually just switch to another clinic within the same facility I was asked to open up a melanoma clinic as well as run a multi-site multi facility organization.

 

Jim Rembach:    I’m glad you actually got those leadership lessons there because you’ve carried it on to several other places. And the Fast Leader legion continues to wish you the very best. Now before we move on let’s get a quick word from our sponsor. 

 

An even better place to work is an easy-to-use solution that gives you a continuous diagnostic on employee engagement along with integrated activities that will improve employee engagement and leadership skills in everyone. Using this award-winning solution is guaranteed to create motivated, productive and loyal employees who have great work relationships with their colleagues and your customers. To learn more about an even better place to work visit beyondmorale.com/better.

 

Alright, here we go Fast Leader legion it’s time for the Hump day Hoedown. The Hump Day Hoedown is the part of our show where you give us good insights fast. 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. John Ngo, are you ready to hoedown? 

 

John Ngo:   Let’s hoedown. 

 

Jim Rembach:    Alright. What do you think is holding you back from being an even better leader today? 

 

John Ngo:   There’s only 24 hours in a day and I need more. 

 

Jim Rembach:    What is the best leadership advice you have ever received? 

 

John Ngo:   Never stop learning, never stop believing and never stop working. 

 

Jim Rembach:    What is one of your secrets that you believe contributes to your success? 

 

John Ngo:   I believe that I am extremely strong at listening and then identifying and then working within any scenario possible. So I have an incredible patience level but I’m also extremely calm. I’ve been in a gun battle at the clinic that I ran. And literally all I did was walk slowly to the door lock the door and asked everybody to go towards the back and everybody was trying to figure out why I was so calm and I said, it’s glass it’s going to hit me it’s going to hit me and we’re good let’s be safe let’s get to where we need to be and let’s make sure our patients are first priority. That was a very interesting I didn’t get to go into detail about that one but it’s a good story when you ever want to hear. 

 

Jim Rembach:    What is one of your best tools that helps you lead in business or life? 

 

John Ngo:   One of my best tools is the people around me. Leaning on the people I work, leaning on people in your life. Being able to express it to them, express your frustrations and as well as your successes. That’s one of the best things that you can do instead of just harboring and holding it in or just being like does anybody care.

 

Jim Rembach:    And what is one book that you’d recommend to our legion, it could be from any genre.

 

John Ngo:   Okay it’s called, The Art of Communicating it’s by Thich Nhat Hanh, he’s Vietnamese monk, he’s a Zen Buddhist monk and it just really goes through the entire process of communication and how we can do it better. 

 

Jim Rembach:    Okay Fast Leader legion you can find links to that and other bonus information from today’s show by going to fastleader.net/JohnNgo. John, this is my last Hump Day Hoedown question: Imagine you’ve been given the opportunity to go back to the age of 25. And you can take the knowledge and skills that you have now back with you but you can’t take it all, you can only take one thing. So what skill or piece of knowledge would you take back with you and why?

 

John Ngo:   The truth is I probably wouldn’t go back because everything that you experience at 25 would lead you to where you are today, I think that’s one key thing. But if I could, it would be the ability to communicate. I think at 25 I spoke to people and now I think I speak with people. I communicate and listen as well at the same time. I think that’s one of the skill sets that is just developed over time and will continue to develop and has kind of led me to where I am at this moment.

 

Jim Rembach:    John Ngo, 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? 

 

John Ngo:   Yeah, absolutely. You can find me on LinkedIn, I will share all that information. You can always email me, I don’t know if you want me to share it here. You can email me at surferngo@icloud.com and I will be more than happy to answer any questions. I am always available. I love to communicate and share experiences. I think we all get better and we all improve the environments we’re in if we work together in our businesses and then our professional life and personal life. 

 

Jim Rembach:    John Ngo, thank you for sharing your knowledge and wisdom the Fast Leader Legion honors you and thank you for helping us get over the hump. 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. 

 

END OF AUDIO

 

[/expand]

 

Mark Brody | BroHawk Solutions

225: Mark Brody: I focused on everybody being successful

Mark Brody Show Notes Page

Mark Brody was very focused on his team and wanting them to excel. Unfortunately, he realized it was because he wanted to have the recognition for himself and that he was failing to consider the larger ecosystem. In becoming a better leader, he made the mind shift to focus on everybody in the contact center being successful.

Mark Brody was born in the Kansas City area, but grew up primarily in Nashua, NH. His parents have been married for 51 years and he is the oldest of 4 siblings, the youngest of whom is 15 years younger.

He tried to convince his parents to name his youngest sibling “Ooops”, but for some reason, they didn’t think it would go over well. Growing up, Mark was involved in sports, mainly baseball and basketball – his mother wouldn’t sign the permission slip for football as she once told him, Jewish boys don’t play football.

Growing up his family was very involved in local and state politics. It was this heavy involvement in politics that taught him how to develop an opinion and be able to support it with factual data. This is not uncommon for what contact center leaders have had to do when leading teams, projects, or conducting research on process improvements.

Mark first started off in the contact center industry while attending The University of Kansas. He was staying at school for the summer and needed a job. He had applied for and was offered a position mowing lawn or he could accept a position working in an office setting. He chose indoors to avoid the summer heat and began manually dialing directory assistance as part of a skip tracing team for Sallie Mae.

Over the years, Mark has had the privilege of working with great leaders in a variety of collections and customer service verticals including credit cards, contact center outsourcing, auto finance, mortgage servicing, third party collections, and the student loan industry where he has spent about half of his 29-year career. He has worked for such companies as Sallie Mae, Capital One Auto Finance, Metris Companies, United Recovery Systems (now Alltran), and Texas Guaranteed among others.

Mark Brody is now the founder of Brohawk Solutions, LLC, and President of The Austin Contact Center Alliance in Austin, Texas. He is also a board member for The Professional Teleservices Management Association in San Antonio, TX, and on the South-Central Board for PACE. He has written several articles for the Contact Center Pipeline on the topics of leadership and employee engagement.

Mark currently resides in Round Rock, Texas where he lives with his girlfriend, their 8-month old foster daughter, and two fur children. He also has two sons who are currently attending college.

Tweetable Quotes and Mentions

Listen to Mark Brody to get over the hump on the @FastLeaderShow – Click to Tweet

“Employee engagement in the contact center industry is the most critical part of what goes on in a contact center.” – Click to Tweet

“If you’re not engaged with your workforce then everything else is fluff.” – Click to Tweet

“Trying is a mild form of failure.” – Click to Tweet

“For leaders to really understand the employee engagement, they have to look at all aspects of the employee journey.” – Click to Tweet

“What are your frontline leaders doing in order to support the first 30 days of the employee journey?” – Click to Tweet

“What is it that’s going to draw somebody to your contact center over somebody else’s?” – Click to Tweet

“Companies need to understand why employees are even coming in their door.” – Click to Tweet

“Our coaching style may not mesh with somebody’s receipt of information style.” – Click to Tweet

“If we would have thought we knew everything back 10 or 15 years ago, we would have been stuck back 10 or 15 years ago.” – Click to Tweet

“If I close my mind to learning, that’s the only thing that’s going to stop me from becoming a better leader.” – Click to Tweet

“Leadership is not about you. It’s about your team, it’s about the organization, it’s about others.” – Click to Tweet

“Take negativity, chunk it out of your life.” – Click to Tweet

“Focus on the things that are positive and work well in your life, and don’t complain about things.” – Click to Tweet

Hump to Get Over

Mark Brody was very focused on his team and wanting them to excel. Unfortunately, he realized it was because he wanted to have the recognition for himself and that he was failing to consider the larger ecosystem. In becoming a better leader, he made the mind shift to focus on everybody in the contact center being successful.

Advice for others

Allow people to speak and express themselves.

Holding him back from being an even better leader

Nothing. If I close my mind to learning, that’s the only thing that’s going to stop me from becoming a better leader.

Best Leadership Advice

Leadership is not about you. It’s about your team, it’s about the organization, it’s about others.

Secret to Success

I care. I care about seeing others improve, I care about seeing others be successful.

Best tools in business or life

Focus on positive. Take negativity, chunk it out of your life. Focus on the things that are positive and work well in your life, and don’t complain about things.

Recommended Reading

Juggling Elephants Publisher: Portfolio Hardcover

The No Complaining Rule: Positive Ways to Deal with Negativity at Work

The Energy Bus: 10 Rules to Fuel Your Life, Work, and Team with Positive Energy

Contacting Mark Brody

Website: https://brohawksolutions.com/

email: mark [at] brohawksolutions.com

Twitter: https://twitter.com/kujayhawk92

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/mark-brody-cccm-410b003/

Resources and Show Mentions

Call Center Coach

An Even Better Place to Work

 

Show Transcript: 

[expand title=”Click to access edited transcript”]

225: Mark Brody: I focused on everybody being successful

 

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.

 

Call center coach develops and unites the next generation of call center leaders. Through our e-learning and community individuals gain knowledge and skills in the six core competencies that is the blueprint that develops high-performing call center leaders. Successful supervisors do not just happen so go to callcentercoach.com to learn more about enrollment and download your copy of the Supervisor Success Path e-book now.

 

Jim Rembach:     Okay, Fast Leader legion today I’m excited because I have somebody on the show today who is really going to get down into something that oftentimes people just don’t see. Mark Brody was born in the Kansas City area but grew up primarily in Nashua, New Hampshire. His parents have been married for 51 years and he is the oldest of four siblings the youngest of whom is 15 years younger. He tried to convince his parents to name his youngest siblings Oops but some for some reason that didn’t go over very well. Growing up Mark was involved in sports mainly baseball and basketball. His mother wouldn’t sign the permission slip for football as she once told him Jewish boys don’t play football.

Growing up his family was very involved in local and state politics it was this heavy involvement in politics that taught him how to develop an opinion and be able to support it factually with data. This is not uncommon for what contact center leaders have to do when leading teams, projects or conducting research on process improvements. Mark first started off in the context in her industry while attending the University of Kansas. He was staying at school for the summer and needed a job he had applied for and was offered a position mowing lawns or he could accept the position working in an office setting he chose indoors to avoid the summer heat and began manually dialing directory assistance as part of a skip tracing team for Sallie Mae

Over the years Mark has had the privilege of working with great leaders in a variety collections and customer service verticals including credit cards, contact center outsourcing, auto finance, mortgage servicing, third party collections and a student loan industry where he spend about half of his 29 year career. He has worked for such companies as Sallie Mae, Capital One, Auto Finance, Metris Companies, United Recovery systems now Ultron and Texas Guaranteed among others. Mark Brody is now the founder of Bro Hawk Solutions and the president of the Austin Contact Center Alliance in Austin, Texas and he’s also a board member for the professional Teleservices Management Association in San Antonio and on the south-central Board for Pace

He’s written several articles for a contact center pipeline on the topics of leadership and employee engagement. Mark currently resides in Round Rock, Texas where he lives with his girlfriend their eight month old foster daughter and two furred children. He also has two sons who are currently attending college. Mark Brody, are you ready to help us get over the hump? 

Mark Brody:    I am ready to help get over the hump. 

Jim Rembach:     I appreciate you being 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?

Mark Brody:    Jim, I am passionate about employee engagement. I think employee engagement in contact centers in the contact center industry is the most critical part of what goes on in a contact center. Forget about the technology forget about the incentives and all the prizes if you’re not engaged with your workforce then everything else is just fluff. I’ll give you an example, a few years ago I worked for an organization and it was a start-up branch of this organization and I knew that culture was going to be the thing that was going to define this. Instead of just bringing people in off the street or bringing people from other departments who seemed to be high performers I brought in people that fit a certain cultural mode that had personalities that we’re going to allow the group to become a cohesive unit a high functioning team and what that resulted in is three consecutive years of zero percent turnover rate. 

Did you know in the contact center industry whether you have a small group or a large group medium-sized group doesn’t matter having a zero percent turnover rate is almost unheard of The way that I work with companies in doing that is I take a look at how engaged they are how engaged leadership is with their employees. Do they create a fun environment? Do they do they create an environment where learning is essential and mistakes are okay? Those types of environments are the ones that that that are definitely the most successful. The conversations that are that are occurring aren’t punitive but they’re coaching and developmental. 

When I work with clients today as part of my company, BroHawk Solutions, I focus on what are the conversations that are occurring within the contact center? How is this resulting in operational excellence in a higher customer experience or a better customer experience that’s where I really focused my efforts on.

Jim Rembach:     You’re talking from a place that I have passions from as well. I became certified as an employee retention specialist. I became certified as a better place to work expert. I became certified in emotional intelligence and because when I was in operations I knew that when my employees were connected and taken care of—that the customer was taken care of—almost by default, it just happen. I would jokingly say that, you know what? We can actually put the survey industry out of business if we just took care of our employees first because we would know that the customers were just needed what they came for. But when you start talking about—you mentioned something about the hiring and on boarding and the selection process there’s a lot of contact centers that do that. They screen a little bit better they try to find the right fit and the reality is I don’t know if any contact center that will sit up and confess that, oh yeah, we hire disengaged employees, nobody does that. Alright so if they’re already engaged when they come in, how do we really keep the engagement?

Mark Brody:    You used a word that was very interesting to me just a second ago the trying, we’re always trying to bring in the best employees. When I was in third party collections people would tell us all the time, well I’m going to try to pay my bill trying whatever and it became a joke because trying is a mild form of failure. If you’re doing is trying to do better than you did the day before and not really taking a look at what were what were the root causes of why someone became disengaged, was it that they that they couldn’t get along with their peers? Were their personality clashes? Was it that the training was just giving them the baseline and the questions that were actually occurring were well above what was occurring during training? Was training long enough? Were the systems confusing? So for leaders to really understand the employee engagement aspect they have to look at all aspects of that employee journey and make sure that they’re hitting on all cylinders during that employee journey.

I started picturing myself going through that agent process. I worked in contact center operations for many years and I’ve been in operations as far as working in them and definitely been in several from a consulting perspective. I started thinking about all of that journey and looking at all of these different touches and interactions that they have with both the company, the systems, and the customer. I started wondering about at what particular point, and maybe it’s all of them, do these agents really start to have areas of struggle? When you start looking at their life and their journey from an ecosystem perspective everything that that they have purview to and that touches them, where do you find most companies struggle the most?

The first 30 days after somebody is released out of training. Because what I found is that a lot of companies will go ahead and do a good to decent job or decent a good job in giving new employees the system knowledge, have them listen to calls that are the typical type of calls that they’re going to be occurring. And then they get to the floor and they have a question and all they hear is cricket’s and they can’t get their questions answered they become disengaged they start making up information. And part of the process is also looking at what the supervisors are doing or the frontline leaders are doing in order to support the first 30 days or 60 days of the employee journey. That’s where people are deciding do I want to stay or do I want to go not to quote the clash or anything but that’s really what they’re thinking. Is this a place that I could see myself three years from now five years from now even at the end of this year based on my initial experience? And that’s where a lot of organizations fall short in the employee journey.

Jim Rembach:     In addition, I think that there has to be a whole lot of humility from an organizational perspective because otherwise you will just live in total denial, it’s not our fault it’s somebody else’s fault. They also will buy into the fact when somebody tells them, oh well I found a better opportunity and that’s why they left. For me it’s like, what even gave you the interest in looking at something else? 

Mark Brody:    Yes, Jim, one of the things that I talk to new hires about and if I go into a company I wanted to sit in on a new higher class and one of the things that I asked them is, why did you come to work here? And it’s amazing how upfront people will be. Sometimes I just wanted to get my foot in the door so I could move somewhere else in the organization. And then they realized that path is a little bit more murky it’s not as easy to get to. Their understanding of why they come into an organization is there’s a mismatch between the HRM recruiting process and when they actually hit the floor. So that on boarding and releasing from training period is most critical. When I was with Capital One I used to go into every single training class, the first week of the training class and I would I would talk to the trainees. We grew from zero to six hundred people within an 18-month period and so we were bringing in some really large classes. 

I would ask everybody, I don’t think anyone woke up this morning stretched, big old stretch and said, if I’m going to make a mistake today I’ll go work at Capital One. And so I asked the same question, is anyone here because they don’t have anything else to do? And this older gentleman, he was probably in his 60s raised his hand, and I said, okay so you have nothing else to do and you just—look, I’m retired I’m 60 something years old I just need to get away from my wife every day so I thought this would be a great place to come. He didn’t come back after lunch but that was his choice not ours because we would have made it a great place for him to be. But if you don’t ask those types of questions you won’t know the answer and leadership won’t have an understanding of why people are even coming in there to work. 

Down here Austin, Texas it’s a very, very competitive market. In polls that we’ve done and surveys that we’ve done with the Austin Contact Center Alliance what we’ve found is that hiring and retention are the top two issues for call centers down here. It used to be that you could bring in a new agent at $13 or $14 an hour and they were happy with it but now Wendy’s is paying $14 an hour and they have flexible schedules. So what is it that it’s going to draw somebody to your contact center over somebody else’s or even fast food or Uber or Lyft or any of these organizations that are out there? And so companies really need to understand why people are even coming in their door. Are they paying the right money so that somebody’s not going to leave for 50 cents an hour? Are you in an area that’s a traffic issue? People will switch jobs because it’s too hard to get there. And so really understanding what people are facing, why they came, what they’re facing and what would allow them to want to stay. 

Jim Rembach:     That’s a really good point. There are a lot of things that we all have to go through in order to show up, just show up. If we make it such an environment by which it’s magnetic, and people would just—hey, they don’t say that thank God it’s Friday they say thank God it’s Monday I get to go back to work I think you could actually make a huge difference. The typical response to that is, wooh, that’s the contact center industry it’s just the nature of the beast I hear that all the time. I think your numbers, when you start talking about three years in a row with no turnover just dispel that crazy myth. So, if you start talking about an industry lift and the difference that could be made, where do you think that greatest opportunity resides?

Mark Brody:     In companies and leadership really understanding the personality types of the people that are coming in and making sure their personality types are a match for their culture I think that’s the biggest lift that a company can invest in. In a company I worked at previously we use personality indicators to, not only look at what the best match was but also how to coach that person once they got in the door because how you and I are as employees may be different than how you and I are as leaders and our coaching style may not mesh well with someone else’s receipt of information style. And so it’s very important for organizations, for leaders, to understand the person that’s coming in and are they going to be the right cultural fit. That’s how I really was able to lead that three years of zero percent turnover. Even when I first came into the organization we were able to reduce turnover by 50 percent within the first year. There’s a lot to be said about culture, about the people that you’re bringing in, making sure that you have the right the right mix of people.

Jim Rembach:     Definitely finding answers to all of these questions and these issues that have been around for decades in this industry and the different personalities and all the nuance it could it could be very frustrating but then also has a lot of inspiration when you have that success and that’s the things that we’d like to look at on the show to give us some inspiration or quotes. Is there a favorite quote that you like that you can share?

Mark Brody:     I wouldn’t necessarily say it’s a quote but more of a mantra that I have and I really look at. When we were kids what was the number one question we had as kids, why? As we got older it wasn’t just much about why but how. Okay, so over the course of our lives learning was a big part of our growth and our development. And I think as leaders when you—why and how did you arrive at new information or new skills? And what are those skills really teaching you? Does that make sense? Never stop learning is really the mantra that I go by and I instill that in people that I work with. 

Jim Rembach:     For me I jokingly say that when I stop learning it’s when the last breath occurs.

Mark Brody:     Exactly, exactly. I tell people all the time, look I’ve been in this industry about 29 years,  even for 20 25 plus as well how the industry was when we first started in the industry versus how it is today it’s night and day. If we would have thought that we knew everything back 10 or 15 years ago then we would have been stuck back 10 or 15 years ago and we wouldn’t have excelled in our careers as we have. 

Jim Rembach:     For me I see that the complexity has really magnified himself. For me when I was in operations we had two channels that we dealt with. We dealt with phone and we dealt with email a little bit of facts because we’re business-to-business. But now it’s been an explosion in channels and a lot of organizations don’t even have visibility into the work that’s happening in a lot of these channels. 

Mark Brody:     Correct. 

Jim Rembach:     Very scary. 

Mark Brody:     Remember it’s about 25 years ago when IVR are really became big and everybody was saying IVR is going to change call centers and there’s never going to be a human interaction anymore. But now there’s more people working in contact centers than ever before. I’ll give you an example, in San Antonio 4% of the population in San Antonio works in a contact center industry, that’s huge, that’s huge.

Jim Rembach:     That’s a lot of people and I think national average in the load percentage points as well but still it represents a very large number of the workforce. So when I start thinking about those years that you’ve had in the industry and years I’ve had man I’ve had a lot of humps to get over especially when we’re referring to dealing with human beings both internally and externally in the organization. I know, and even outside of that, there’s probably humps that you’ve gotten over that really have brought you where you are today and we can learn a lot from. Can you tell us one of those times when you’ve gotten over the hump?

Mark Brody:     I’m going to take this outside of the workplace. I had the opportunity to coach youth sports when my sons were younger. And one of the things as a parent, I say this is as a as a leader also, you become very focused on your team or your child in wanting to see them excel and you forget about the larger ecosystem that’s out there. And so there was one time that I was coaching my younger son in baseball and I thought for sure, if he was in this other position the team would have won the game or something. One of my friends that I was coaching with come over to me he says, your kids good but there’s a lot of other good kids out here and it’s not always about your kid it’s about the team. When I brought that back into the to the workplace and I started taking a look at how I was putting my team on pedestals and not really looking at the—because I wanted the name to be from myself and the recognition to come to me and it wasn’t about me it was about how the organization was successful was more successful when everybody was succeeding when everybody was growing. 

And when I did that when I made that mind shift, it was a hard mind shift, my ability to coach people became a lot more effective because I wasn’t so focused on just the things that they were doing well and discounting the things that they were struggling with. I really dug down more of the root causes of why were they struggling? What is the concept that they didn’t understand? Was it a soft skill that they didn’t feel confident in? And a lot of what goes on in a call center is confidence in knowing where to find information. And so when I focused more on that not just with my team, but holistically within the call center, I really think that that’s really when it flipped for me and I became a much better leader. 

Jim Rembach:     As you were talking I started thinking about for me it’s very similar as well, it was about me and then that didn’t go so well because I kept going down that path and ultimately I had to relinquish those types of controls and relinquish those types of thoughts and those types of behaviors then things started happening that we’re quite different which for me I found they were more rewarding. I think that maybe it’s a maturation process that has to take place and we have to feel some of that pain in order to go over those humps.  I also didn’t realize for me that I had people who were influencing me to do something different and I just didn’t see it at the time. Although when I think about those folks I thought about them as being some of the better leaders that I had the opportunity to interact with. Is there some person that kind of stood out to you? You talked about—you reflecting those things, your friend interjected and it’s something but is there someone who kind of influenced you to help you move down this path?

Mark Brody:    I would say that there was probably a couple of people.  When I was working at Sallie Mae I had a manager that I worked for, I had just graduated from college and you know how new college graduates are—I’m going to go out and I’m going to make a hundred thousand dollars a year and this is back in the early nineties that wasn’t going to happen anyway, you’re lucky to hit $25,000 in a new supervisory role but I was convinced that was going to be my path. I graduated I didn’t need to work there anymore and I had this manager pull me aside and he says, so what are you going to do now that you’ve graduated? I was a history major in college so my real career paths, do I want to go ahead and teach? No. Do I want to work in a museum? No. But what skills do I have? I could research, I was very good at that. When he sat me down and said, look why don’t you go ahead and apply for a leadership position within Sallie Mae, within the center? I think you’d be a great fit for it because you have a way with people you understand technology and you dig deep to try and find the root cause of problems and that’s exactly what we need here. I never realized that working in a call center for the couple years that I was there. And from that point on I’ve been in some sort of leadership position since then, 27 out of 29 years just about. One of my more recent managers brought me in the first day and this is a position that I really wasn’t thinking I was going to take because I was very happy where I was. I went ahead and applied for it I got offered the position. 

The first day my manager brought me in she says, we’re going to be really good coworkers because we think similarly. We’re going to be very good friends because we have a lot of the same interests. We talked a lot between the time that I interviewed and in time I was hired or I started. But she said, you know what? If we go to lunch and I have to come back in the afternoon and terminate you for something I’m going to do it because you have to separate the business from the personal. And so for me that really was a defining moment. Previously I was friends with everybody that I worked with but she really instilled in me that you can be friends you can be friendly but business is business and sometimes as a leader you have to make some tough choices which may not always be popular and sometimes those impact the people that you actually do care about personally as well.

Jim Rembach:     That could be somewhat harsh to hear. I understand where you’re coming from or she was probably coming from, sometimes you do have to take those tough action. However, it’s definitely not something that we look forward to doing.

Mark Brody:    No, as a leader, from a coaching perspective that’s why you coach so you can avoid those types of conversations and that’s why you stay engaged with your employees so that everybody is on the same page as far as what the expectations are and what the expectations aren’t. So when I’m working with companies one of the things that I ask frontline leaders is, does this employee understand what’s expected of them? And are you inspecting what’s expected of them? Do you give them an opportunity to give two way feedback? If those things aren’t in place then those tougher conversations will happen.

Jim Rembach:    Hopefully you’ll be able to continue along the path of developing other leaders like you’ve been developed yourself because being able to have zero percent turnover in contact centers will benefit the entire industry. So the Fast Leader legion wishes you the very best. Now before we move on let’s get a quick word from our sponsor: 

 

An even better place to work is an easy-to-use solution that gives you a continuous diagnostic on employee engagement along with integrated activities that will improve employee engagement and leadership skills in everyone. Using this award winning solutions guaranteed to create motivated, productive and loyal employees who have great work relationships with their colleagues and your customers. To learn more about an even better place to work visit beyondmorale.com/better. 

 

Okay, Fast Leader legion, it’s time for the Hump day Hoedown. Okay Mark, 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 a robust yet rapid responses that are going to help us move onward and upward faster. Mark Brody, are you ready to hoedown?

 

Mark Brody:    I am ready.

Jim Rembach:     Alright. What do you think is holding you back from being an even better leader today?

Mark Brody:    Nothing. Absolutely nothing. If I close my mind to learning that’s the only thing that’s going to stop me from becoming a better leader tomorrow than I am today.

Jim Rembach:     What is the best leadership advice you have ever received? 

Mark Brody:    Its, leadership is not about you it’s about your team it’s about the organization it’s about others.

Jim Rembach:     What is one of your secrets that you believe contributes to your success?

Mark Brody:    I care. I care about seeing others improve. I care about seeing others be successful.

Jim Rembach:     What do you feel is one of your best tools that helps you lead in business or life?

Mark Brody:    Focus on positive. Take negativity chunk it out of your life focus on the things that are positive and that are working well in your life and don’t complain about things.

Jim Rembach:     What would be one book that you’d recommend to our legion, it could be from any genre?

Mark Brody:    There’s actually three books I thought about this, first one is the book called Juggling Elephants, and it’s about time management and organizing your life in a way that the three-ring circus is organized. Two other books by John Gordon. First one is the, No Complaining Rule. The second one is The Energy Bus. Read those three it’ll give you an entirely different perspective on leadership and how to be successful in not only in your own personal life but also in business as well.

Jim Rembach:     Okay, Fast Leader legion you can find links to that and other bonus information from today’s show by going to fastleader.net/markbrody. Okay, Mark, this is my last hump day hoedown question: Imagine you were given the opportunity go back to the age of 25 and you can take the knowledge and skills that you have now back with you. 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?

Mark Brody:    Listen talk less and keep your eyes open. 

Jim Rembach:     Why?

Mark Brody:    That’s it. Why? At the end of the hall when I grew up there was a poster, at the end of my hallway, and it said, it often shows a fine command of language to often say nothing. And so it’s important as a learning leader that you allow people to go ahead and speak and express themselves you’re going to learn more about that person and what motivates them than you will by telling them what you think. 

Jim Rembach:     Mark, 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?

Mark Brody:    You can connect with me on LinkedIn, just search for Mark Brody in Austin Texas. You can go to my website www.brohawksolutions.com or you can go ahead and email me directly at mark@brohawksolutions.com

Jim Rembach:     Mark Brody, 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.

 

END OF AUDIO

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Sean Minter | AmplifAI

220: Sean Minter: They were eager, but didn’t have the tools

Sean Minter Show Notes Page

Sean Minter had a client that was extremely customer experience oriented. But when he observed his staff trying to deliver a great customer experience on his client’s behalf, he realized they were eager but didn’t have the tools to do a good job.

Sean was born in Richmond, Virginia but moved a lot throughout the east coast and Midwest, when we was younger. His father was an engineer and Sean has lived in VA, NJ, OH, FL and TX.  However, once he graduated from college, he stayed in the Dallas area.

As a kid Sean could always be found on the sports field or tinkering on some project.

Ultimately, he graduated with an engineering degree and was recruited to work in telecom networks in Dallas in the mid 90’s. He obtained his Master’s in Business at SMU while in Dallas in the executive nights/weekend program.

He was primarily a technical engineering resource until AT&T recruited him to join their regulatory organization where he spent a lot of time with public utility commissions negotiating and arbitrating the details of the opening of the local telecom markets associated with the Telecom Act of 1996.  After successfully negotiating an agreement for AT&T, he and a fellow colleague at AT&T decided to start one of the first competitive local exchange carriers in Texas called Alt Communications.

ALT Communications grew up and finally merged with Birch Telecom and Value Line Long Distance in 1998.

Then he decided to attack the next challenge in the telecommunications, broadband. Sean along with a couple of advisers decided to become the largest provider of broadband services in what was then known as the Southwestern Bell Area which consisted of Texas, Oklahoma, Missouri, Arkansas and Kansas. Sean raised over $200m for this venture from VC firms, GE Capital, Lucent and Credit Suisse.  This venture was taken over by Lucent in 2001.

Next Sean decided to take on Voice over IP. He and former executives from IP Communications started Reallinx in Dallas as a nationwide B2B Data Aggregator and VOIP service provider. This company grew and was ultimately acquired by GTT.

In the meantime Sean’s former investors in IP Communications started a Private Equity Firm and bought a BPO called PRC out of South Fl. In the mid-2000s. The company was not doing well so they asked Sean to help out as a consultant. Ultimately, the private equity firm decided to replace the entire executive management team and Sean took over the COO and CIO functions. The company successfully restructured and the new executive team grew the company and ultimately sold it to Alorica.

With the experience he gained, Sean left Alorica and decided there was a better way to supercharge performance for frontline leaders and agents. AmplifAI (Featured in the webinar How to Supercharge Contact Center Agent Performance, Onsite & @Home) was born based on this need. AmplifAI focuses on using data to help drive consistent actions such as coaching from frontline leaders as well as using high-performer behaviors to drive those consistently throughout the organization.

Sean is focused on making sure we develop frontline leaders and employees such that they are productive and can build skills that will last them throughout their careers.

Sean still lives in Dallas with his wife Sarah and his son Lincoln.

Tweetable Quotes and Mentions

Listen to Sean Minter of @amplifAI to get over the hump on the @FastLeaderShow – Click to Tweet

“Everybody can become a high performer in something.” – Click to Tweet

“Management is necessary to understand what you need to do, but leadership is necessary to motivate and develop your people.” – Click to Tweet

“A lot of those fears about AI in many cases are overblown.” – Click to Tweet

“The goal is to identify those people that want to do better and give them the ability to get better.” – Click to Tweet

“Create a plan and methodical process to identity the people that don’t want to get better.” – Click to Tweet

“On a daily basis we create a game plan from every frontline leader.” – Click to Tweet

“Humans are not good at organizing things and using data to create a plan.” – Click to Tweet

“Humans by default are scared of change.” – Click to Tweet

“Change requires you to get out of existing habits and create new habits, which requires a lot of effort.” – Click to Tweet

“A tool is only as good as the people and process that use it.” – Click to Tweet

“Technology is not going to solve your problems unless you adapt its use and drive adoption.” – Click to Tweet

“If you’re focused on customer experience today, you have to live in a world where that translates into an employee experience.” – Click to Tweet

“How your managers talk to your agents, in many ways, is how your agents talk to your customers.” – Click to Tweet

“Anything that requires you to do something, you have to start off by making it simple.” – Click to Tweet

“The first step in any implementation is driving the human interaction.” – Click to Tweet

“The number one reason for attrition is agents don’t get the support they need to become successful.” – Click to Tweet

“We don’t want people who are motivated coming in the door to six months from now leaving because they weren’t supported or helped.” – Click to Tweet

“Nobody comes to work every day to do a bad job.” – Click to Tweet

“You go from good to great by focusing on the details and focusing on the people.” – Click to Tweet

“Focusing on the numbers doesn’t make you go from good to great.” – Click to Tweet

“Ultimately, people drive the numbers.” – Click to Tweet

“If you improve the people and drive that frontline development, that’s what takes you from good to great.” – Click to Tweet

“The complexity of contact centers nowadays is much greater.” – Click to Tweet

“If you have a person that fails it’s probably more your fault than their fault.” – Click to Tweet

[optin-cat id=11101]

Hump to Get Over

Sean Minter had a client that was extremely customer experience oriented. But when he observed his staff trying to deliver a great customer experience on his client’s behalf, he realized they were eager but didn’t have the tools to do a good job.

Advice for others

Focus on always improving and never be happy with where you are in the job you’re in.

Holding him back from being an even better leader

Being able to delegate more and hand things off more.

Best Leadership Advice

Take action as fast as possible to help people be successful.

Secret to Success

I have the ability to talk to and understand every level of an organization.

Recommended Reading

Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap and Others Don’t

Contacting Sean Minter

Website: https://www.amplifai.com/

email: sminter [at] mplifai.com

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/seanminter/

Resources and Show Mentions

How to Supercharge Contact Center Agent Performance, Onsite & @Home

Call Center Coach

An Even Better Place to Work

Show Transcript: 

[expand title=”Click to access edited transcript”]

220: Sean Minter: They were eager, but didn’t have the tools

 

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.

 

Call center coach develops and unites the next generation of call center leaders. Through our e-learning and community individuals gain knowledge and skills in the six core competencies that is the blueprint that develops high-performing call center leaders. Successful supervisors do not just happen so go to callcentercoach.com to learn more about enrollment and download your copy of the Supervisor Success Path e-book now.

 

Okay Fast Leader legion today I’m excited because I have somebody on the show today who’s going to give us a very unique perspective on what it takes in order to be able to help an organization excel. Sean Minter was born in Richmond, Virginia but moved a lot throughout the East Coast and Midwest when he was younger. His father was an engineer and so he lived in Virginia, New Jersey, Ohio, Florida and Texas, However, once he graduated from college he stayed in Dallas. As a kid Shawn could always be found on the sports field or tinkering on some project. Ultimately he graduated with an engineering degree and was recruited to work in telecom networks in Dallas in the mid 90’s. He obtained his master’s in business at SMU while in Dallas in the executive nights and weekend program. He was primarily a technical engineer resource until AT&T recruited him to join their regulatory organization where he spent a lot of time with Public Utility Commission negotiating and arbitrating the details of the opening of the local telecom markets associated with the Telecom Act of 1996.

 

After successfully negotiating an agreement for AT&T, he and a fellow colleague at AT&T decided to start one of the first competitive local exchange carriers in Texas called All Communications. All Communications grew up and finally merged with Birch Telecom and Value Line Long Distance in 1998. Then he decided to attack the next challenge in the telecommunications broadband. That along with a couple of advisers decided to become the largest provider of broadband services in was then known as the Southwestern Bell area which consisted of Texas, Oklahoma, Missouri, Arkansas and Kansas.

 

Sean raised over 200 million for this venture from VC firms, GE Capital, Lucent and Credit Suisse, this venture was taken over by Lucent in 2001. Next Sean decided to take on voice over IP, he and a former executive from IP communication started real links in Dallas as a nationwide B2B data aggregator and VoIP service provider. This company grew and was ultimately acquired by GTT. In the meantime Sean’s former investors in IP Communications started a private equity firm and bought a BPO-PRC out of South

Florida. In the mid-2000s the company was not doing well so they asked Sean to help out as a consultant. Ultimately the private equity firm decided to replace the entire executive management team and Sean took over as the COO and CIO. The company successfully restructured and the new executive team grew the company and ultimately sold it to Alorica. With the experience he gained Sean left the Alorica and decided there was a better way to supercharge performance for frontline leaders and agents. Amplifi was born and based on this need. Amplifi focuses on using data to help drive consistent actions such as coaching from frontline leaders as well as using high performer behaviors to develop those consistently throughout the organization. Sean is focused on making sure we develop frontline leaders and employees such that they are productive and can build skills that will last them throughout their career. Sean still lives in Dallas with his wife Sarah and his son Lincoln. Sean Minter are you ready to help us get over the hump? 

 

Sean Minter:     I am. I am ready.

 

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?

 

Sean Minter:     Sure.  My passion is to really focus on people and help them evolve to the best capability they can get to. Especially the group of people that’s probably the most ignored in most companies which is the frontline leader and the frontline employee who gets limited resources and generates lots of churn because there develop to their full potential. I really believe everybody could become a high performer in something. The goal is to figure out exactly their skill set and create a development plan that helps them get there.

 

Jim Rembach:    As you’re talking I started thinking about that area of an organization which to me when I say contact center when I think contact center it’s gotten to the point to where there’s a contact center in just about every organization of any size whether it’s two people, two hundred, two thousand. I mean we have to be able to support customers in so many different ways. And the importance of that role just with really in the past five years has just exploded, wouldn’t you agree?

 

Sean Minter:     Oh, for sure. That role is your primary contact with clients, your primary contact for acquisition it’s your front-facing company role organization somehow for some reason is the most ignored.

 

Jim Rembach:    Yeah. Talking about that ignored piece is, that’s one reason why I chose to start the academy at call center coach—to develop that frontline leader. Because even when you start referring to, needing to lead that frontline oftentimes what happens is people just take somebody who’s a good individual contributor and put them in charge and responsible for the development of those people that they were once a peer of. That transition requires, from a leading perspective, a whole different set of competencies that you just don’t develop an individual contributor. And you guys helped to accelerate really the overall performance by and by leveraging some of those leadership skills, is that correct?

 

Sean Minter:     One hundred percent. I mean what we want is for frontline leaders to focus on developing their employees. But in many cases in a lot of companies those frontline leaders have to sit on their desk do a lot of administrative work, look at a lot of reporting, do a lot of things that are not really focused on the development side of their job which should be their primary focus. So our goal is to one, reduce all that other stuff they have to do, so they can focus on the development. And two, help them become better developers. Help their managers understand their development skills and needs. So we’re focused on developing them based on data that we have. 

 

Jim Rembach:    For me there’s a big separation. I think oftentimes people get it confused because when I talk about leadership for example people start saying things like, oh, yeah well we give them lean  training, like, that that’s not leadership, that his management. People have a tough time separating the two. Meaning that, I have to manage the frontline and everything that we have to do but then I have to lead as well so there are really two different functions.

 

Sean Minter:     Yeah, 100%. Leading has a lot more detail. I mean, management is necessary to understand what you need to do but leadership is necessary to motivate and develop your people. How you talk to them, how you motivate them, the skills transfer capabilities that you have all that as part of leadership. 

 

Jim Rembach:    So if you start looking at most organizations that you’re getting the opportunity to work with and you think about the whole leadership maturity level, leadership skill level, how do you find that as an enabler or a disabler? 

 

Sean Minter:     Well it’s definitely something that needs to be enabler. But I would say probably in most contact centers it is it is, probably in a scale of 1 to 10, most contact centers are probably sitting at a two or a three. Now like you said, agents have been promoted whether they’re second level management is really focused on developing them or they just get thrown into a fire drill and they have to learn on the job in many cases most of these agents are learning on the job. There’s probably not a preparatory process to prepare them to become leaders, they get thrown in and they get to learn how to do things. Even in that environment, we know that environment is going to be there, so how do we allow these people to be successful in that environment? How do we give them the tools and capabilities knowing the environment they’re in? Changing that environment is a totally different process that requires career pathing and HR and a lot of other capabilities in the backend we’re trying to figure out how to make people who get thrown into that environment successful. 

 

Jim Rembach:    One of the things too is that—with the Amplifi and needless to say you have AI and the name of the company and AI is in your product but in today’s world. A lot of times AI is often met with a whole lot of apprehension and fear because people are thinking that, well it puts my career and my future and my job at risk when you start throwing in AI especially in the contact center space. But that’s not how you’re using it, isn’t it? 

 

Sean Minter:     No. I think a lot of those fears in many cases are probably also overblown. Computers and technology have been automating people’s jobs for 20 years and it’s not going to stop it’s been happening forever. IVR’s have come into place, CRM’s applications to automate processes so that’s been going on for 20 years, I think it just a continuing trend that’s not going to stop and it’s nothing new. AI isn’t making it dramatically different or increasing that trend at all just continues in its current process. What we’re trying to do is use this new technology, really, which is better at understanding data to better understand people’s individual skill sets. What are good at? What are you not good at? How does that compare to high performers? Could we start laying out automatically a career by a skill transfer path or skill development path for each employee so that the managers don’t have to sit at their desk they can focus on doing the skill development and not sit at their desk trying to figure out what should they be doing for everybody. 

 

Jim Rembach:    Yeah, that’s a really interesting. It also have to go back and comment on something you said about the automation of our jobs and that somebody tried to put the hysteria that’s oftentimes in place in perspective and said, hey, the cotton gin took people’s jobs we didn’t have to pick the seed out of the cotton anymore. 

 

Sean Minter:     Yeah, exactly. Now we can focus on making more shirts.

 

Jim Rembach:    I do think though from an individual development perspective, and maybe that’s part of where the gap is concern, is that if I don’t feel like I have the opportunity to be developed or it’s not available to me that’s one thing. But then also it requires the individual to say, hey, I have ownership in this. I have to do what I need to do in order to better myself. And so going back to that thinking about organizations and operations that we work with and when we look at the onboarding and the hiring process and all of that, are organizations doing a good job of identifying people who want to do better at what they’re doing? 

 

Jim Rembach:    Well, I think no matter what in your hiring process you’re always going to have people that want to do better and you’re going to end up with some people that don’t want to do better. So I think that’s just it, that’s just a given, you’ll never be able to get it 100% correct, 100% right. I think the goal though is to identify those people that want to do better and give them the ability to get better versus having them be motivated because they don’t see a path forward for themselves as well as creating a plan and some methodical process to identify the people that don’t want to get better. If you’re consistently giving micro learnings and coaching to everybody, really understanding who’s progressing and who’s not, why are they not progressing and identifying the people that have a will issue versus fixing the skill issues become the become the key. With Amplifi we kind of help fill that gap. We help give consistent recommendations to managers to focus specifically on a personalized basis with each agent. And then the system is going to track those agents performance and it’s going to tell the manager, are these people getting better or not getting better in that way kind of identifies those issues and creates a workflow and creates a plan for you so you don’t to do it on your own.

 

Jim Rembach:    When I start thinking about performance development, going back to my operations days and contact centers I used to see some of the behaviors from a supervisor and team lead perspective, is that at times, say, doing one-on-ones and doing coaching. There are some operations that I was in where we were responsible as frontline supervisors to do some quality work, scoring great calls and we also had a quality team and we would look against the scoring of those and things like that. But I often find that what happen is we had a certain requirement of one-on-one sessions recordings and evaluations that we had to do and it would always get clumped at the last of the month and we would have to pound them out in order to get them done. The whole aspect of developing people kind of fell to the wayside because we were so busy just doing the day-to-day. How do you help fix that problem?

 

Sean Minter:     If you look at it from an Amplifi perspective what we do is on a daily basis we create a game plan for every frontline leader. In today’s game plan here’s the people that need help with specific areas. Here’s the people you coach last week that haven’t gotten better so you should follow up with them. Here’s a group of people that you coach last week and they have done better, so you should go recognize them. So it kind of creates a positive reinforcement as well as a follow-up of previous coaching sessions as well as new coaching sessions and a plan for everybody. You don’t have to sit—humans are not good at organizing things and using data to create a plan. If you give if you give a bunch of reports to ten different people everybody will read those reports and do ten different things because they understand them differently. Our goal is to take that randomness of action out of the contact center there’s no reason for there to be so much randomness in what needs to be done. If you really look at it it’s a process and it shouldn’t be so complicated for team managers, they should just know exactly what needs to be done, who they should follow up with, who they should recognize, who they should touch base with and do skills transfers with. There’s daily action plan of what they should be focused on is something Amplifi gives them.

 

Jim Rembach:    As you’re talking I started also interpreting potential pain because as humans we get into habits. It’s like, hey, what do you mean I’ve always done it this way you want me to do this which is a radical adjustment? What is that transition or onboarding process for the people who are responsible for that performance management? How does that happen?

 

Sean Minter:     Well, humans by default are scared of change because once they get used to doing something change becomes difficult. Primarily because now your brain has to think about what it’s doing whereas before it was kind of in a mode of—for her that is some cognitive ease. When you don’t have to think of something he’s kind of based it on habit your brain has an easier time doing it and it just continues down that path. Change requires you to get out of existing habits and create new habits which requires a lot of effort from the brain’s perspective and make it happen. It usually won’t happen unless leadership requires you to do it. Which is why I know change management is important and nothing happens unless it’s getting inspected by your leaders.

 

Site leaders and second level leaders in contact centers have to be bought into this process of we’re going to improve how our frontline leaders and agents work and we’re going to drive these actions until they become appropriate behaviors for them using the recommendations Amplifi’s providing. A tool is only as good as the people in process that use it. Technology is not going to solve your problems unless you’re going to adapt its use, drive process and then drive people to actually use it and drive adoption. I can give you any system you want unless you’re actually going to use what it asks you to do it’s not going to make a difference.

 

Jim Rembach:    I think that’s a really good point. So I also started thinking about how different cultures you can have different outcomes as well. A lot of companies will say, we decide by numbers we’re all numbers driven. Well, there’s a certain backlash that’s associated if you actually are executing in that way and that is the whole dehumanization component. So if I’m putting in a particular solution where I’m saying that, hey, we’re going to become more efficient, more effective, that could be perceived in a different way versus an organization that doesn’t have that type of culture. When you start looking at ideal success—so I’m looking at Company A Company B Company C, different types of cultures and personalities, what do you say what type of organization typically sees the best gain and impact? What do they look like? 

 

Sean Minter:     I think organizations that truly want a culture of an employee experience and drives employees to be better which they believe that ultimately drives a better customer experience are the best adopted for this. If you’re focused on customer experience today you have to live in a world where that translates into an employee experience. Because if your employees have a good experience they build skills, they build capabilities, they’re going to deliver a better customer experience. If they’re numbers driven and commodity driven they’re going to be focused on productivity metrics and we focused on those types of things. They’re not going to be focused on the soft skills and the relationship skills because higher managers talk to your agents. Higher managers develop an agent in many ways it’s going to higher agents talk to your customers. If you don’t have that internal ability to develop and manage and drive a better employee experience it’s really hard to translate agents into delivering a good customer experience.

 

Jim Rembach:    I’m trying to get an understanding and I’m starting to think about talent to impact. Because I think a lot of companies when they put in solutions they’re like, okay, when am I going to get my return? How long is it going to take? Then you start getting the whole sustainability piece. The fact is I’ve been in the industry for a long time and being in operations I hear some of these things that are essentially promised and I’m like, yeah, right, I don’t believe that hogwash. Give us a sense of reality as far as transformation, change, being able to enable, implement tools, this could be a significant undertaking. Tell me how what how that looks?

 

Sean Minter:     Anything that requires you to do something you have to start off by making it simple. If you make things too complicated people won’t use it. So you’re not going to go in here and change your entire environment day one. Typically in our implementations with Amplifi the first step is just making it easier for managers and agents to see their data and take specific coaching actions irregardless of whether those actions are driving the performance we want, don’t want the performance we want, which behaviors they slept in the appropriate behaviors, those will all come secondary. First we just want them to use to doing a quantity of activity. Are they doing the coaching sessions they should? Once you can drive quantity then Amplifi kind of helps you then focus on, is the quality of my coaching good or not? Now if you’re only going to do one coaching a week and four coaching’s a month the quality of those four coaching is to be honestly is immaterial because you’re just not touching your agents enough. So first step in any implementation is driving the human interaction and get people off their desks, from leaders off their desks, using Amplifi for all their data needs and actual bidding needs and drive some quantity. And what you find is managers and agents actually start liking doing that job better. When they start doing interactions they’re just having more discussions, they’re having more quantity of activity then all the other tools that Amplifi has can be brought. 

 

A few months later to say, okay, now let’s focus on the quality. We have consistent repetition of quantities of coaching’s going on, now let’s focus on individual team leaders who’s good at coaching in what areas but is not coaching in what areas. Well, behaviors, do somebody need help? Does somebody need help in? So all these details of exactly understanding and frontline leaders, their skill sets, what they’re good at in developing their coaching skills all that comes into place kind of on a secondary basis, post initial implementation. Even during the implementation you kind of focus in a couple of different areas. Some of our clients will focus on the onboarding process first. So new hire agents that have just gotten off the floor in their nesting process how do we get them on boarded and up to scale faster versus existing agents and production. So Amplifi works in both scenarios. We work with clients to be able to drive onboard agents faster and better as well as taking existing in production environment improve performance and skills within there. That’s also an area that we can kind of break things down and start in this very specific place before we move everywhere across the organization. 

 

Jim Rembach:    As you’re sitting here you’re talking about this front line, I won’t say micro level, I start wandering I’m like, okay, here’s a guy who was part of the whole telecom act and was in networks and did telecom then moved on and took advantage of some opportunities that existed with broadband then moved over to voice over IP, how the heck did you get focused on the front line? 

 

Sean Minter:     Well, I think that’s from my experience of PRC. Being kind of an engineering mindset, I easily identify problems that are that are consistent across large organizations and then the goal is their solution. To be honest with you until about seven or eight years ago Amplifi couldn’t exists. All the new capabilities that have been available from a technology perspective in the cloud, with the Amazon Cloud and then Microsoft cloud and their API’s and their AI capabilities and everything else that they provide, allows Amplifi to be a solution today. Whereas when I was running a BPO ten years ago I couldn’t done this because those technologies just were not available. Now having that technology available lets us create a solution for this problem that everybody knows exists. You talk to anybody that runs a contact center and you ask them, is this a problem? Every single person that you talk to says this is a problem. Everybody has this problem of frontline leadership, of consistent agent development, of how do you drive that in a consistent manner. The only way to do it is to use the data you’re already generating to figure these solutions out, and that’s what Amplifi helps companies work. 

 

Jim Rembach:    But as you’re talking though I’m sitting here and also thinking from some people’s perspective they’re like, hey, my turnover rate is 50% why would I have asked that much effort and activity in these people when they’re only going to  be here for another six eight months twelve months, why would I do that? 

 

Sean Minter:      To be honest with you from our experience in working with clients as we’ve seen where we’ve been able to identify team leaders’ skill gaps such that you can easily identify team leaders are going to drive four to five more attrition on their teams or such team leaders that aren’t. Because the number one reason for attrition is—now agents don’t get the support they need to become successful, they become demotivated, they’d start doing the minimum possible, their performance starts going down, I don’t think anybody gets hired to do a job and comes into training their first day to go into production to do a bad job. Nobody’s sitting there their first day thinking I’m just going to come here, I’m going to do training, I’m just going to  go do a bad job. I think that becomes an environment that we end up living in. Our goal is to get rid of that environment. We don’t want people who are motivated coming in the door to six months from now leaving because they weren’t supported or helped even though they wanted to. There might be a small percentage of people that don’t care but I do believe everybody that once comes to work every day wants to do a good job. Nobody comes to work every day to do to do a bad job.

 

Jim Rembach:    It’s funny to say that. I always talk about how when we refer to this whole burnout and turnover issue that, not just the contact center deals with, everybody who has frontline employees that they’re responsible for deals with is that, you didn’t hire them already burnt out so how did they get that way? 

 

Sean Minter:     Exactly. 

 

Jim Rembach:    Okay, when we’re starting to talk about this though, I mean, this is an easy stuff. There’s a whole lot of, talking about motivation, inspiration, all those things that have to happen in order for you to go through this transformation process. One of the things that inspires us on the show is quotes. So we love hearing quotes from our guests with some of their favorites. Is there one or two that you can share that you like?

 

Sean Minter:     I think I just quoted one of them. One of my most important quotes is, people just don’t want to come to work to do a bad job and it is our job as leaders to figure out. I think some of these also stuff that comes from the book, Good to Great. How do you really go from good to great? You go from good to great by focusing on the details and focusing on the people. Focusing on the number it doesn’t make you go from good to great because ultimately people drive the numbers. If you focus on people if you improve the people you drive that employee frontline development that’s what takes you from good to great. Focusing on numbers doesn’t change behavior what it does is it actually focus on changing numbers. 

 

Jim Rembach:    Yeah, I think focusing on numbers gives you some short-term potential impacts that could be positive but long-term they could be very negative. 

 

Sean Minter:     One hundred percent. The number are the output I’m not saying you shouldn’t focus on numbers the numbers are the output of the inputs which are how are we doing with our people actually doing their jobs? If the people do their jobs better the numbers will automatically get better. You can always make short-term adjustments by making numbers better by just cutting your top bottom 20% of your agents. By default makes your numbers better but now you have created a different problem for the business. So focusing on numbers and short-term gains may get you the short-term gains but is not a consistent process that you can scale with. 

 

Jim Rembach:    That’s for certain. Okay, so when we’re but when we’re talking about you getting to the point to where we are, we talked about that transition going from networks now going to focus in on the frontline as I’m sure there are a lot of humps that you had to get over that really taught you some very valuable lessons. Is there particular story that you can share with us?

 

Sean Minter:     Sure. One of my primary learnings in the contact centers was when I was actually in—and I learned almost everything I need to know about contracts centers from being in the sites, listening to the site directors, understanding their day-to-day work, really being in the sites and I seeing the amount of effort they have to go through to do the work that they need to do. I was in one of my sites in North Carolina back in the mid 2000’s, we had a client that was extremely customer-experience oriented. Very hard on making sure we’re driving on the right customer experience. Obviously, being very dedicated to their customers to make sure we were doing the right things for them. And what I found was I had team leaders and frontline leaders and site directors that were very wanting to do a good job, they were very motivated to do a good job but they did not have the tools to do a good job. So leaving that experience and coming back my thought process was is, how can I enable this group of people that is very motivated that wants to do a good job but just does not have the tools to be able to get there? You can always throw people at it. If you wanted to do what Amplifi does manually you can throw layers of quality people, you can throw layers of reporting people, you can do layers of lots of people that can do some of this activity but the problem is in most organizations you don’t have the ability to throw those people at it. So, ultimately I think in the many cases what I found was giving these people access to tools, giving these people access to stuff, helped and enable them at all levels do their jobs better. 

 

Jim Rembach:    When I start looking at the things that you’re focusing in on and I know—talking about growing the business and being able to impact more of these organizations with higher performing front lines, when you start looking at one of your goals that you have, what would it be? 

 

Sean Minter:     Well, one of our goals is really focus on two things. Really, it’s the frontline leader but trying to focus is for a frontline leader. It is how do we make the frontline leader more effective by having them spend more time their agents less than their desks? And two, how do we also identify the skill gaps? I think one other issue that most contact centers have that most people don’t think of is they think their frontline leaders, who are responsible for doing 80 to 90% of the skill development and coaching of their agents are experts at everything they should be able to do that skills transfer. If they aren’t experts at it, the complexity of the contact centers nowadays is much greater because with automation and self-service and apps and everything like that going on in the world, the easy stuff is get is the stuff that gets automated. That means a contact center continues to get the harder work. The agents continue to get the more complex calls. That means the managers have to be able, and in the world of universal agent, omni-channel environment, phone, email chat, being able to do everything, how do we expect these frontline leaders to be able to be experts at everything? How do we give them the tools to be able to do skills transfers of them being experts in everything?

Jim Rembach:    And the Fast Leader Legion wishes you the very best. Now before we move on let’s get a quick word from our sponsor.

 

An even better place to work is an easy-to-use solution that gives you a continuous diagnostic on employee engagement along with integrated activities that will improve employee engagement and leadership skills in everyone. Using this award winning solutions guaranteed to create motivated, productive and loyal employees who have great work relationships with their colleagues and your customers. To learn more about an even better place to work visit beyondmorale.com/better. 

 

Okay, Fast Leader legion it’s time for the Hump day Hoedown. Okay Sean, 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 a robust yet rapid responses that are going to help us move onward and upward faster. Sean Minter, are you ready to hoedown?

 

Sean Minter:     I am ready to hoedown. 

 

Jim Rembach:    Alright, so what do you think is holding you back from being an even better leader today?

 

Sean Minter:     For me I believe my challenge is also kind of being too much in the details. At the level that I’m at now being able to delegate more, being able to hand things off more. That’s a challenge for any person in any leadership level and that’s a challenge everybody has to address. But not micromanaging, delegating, and then focusing on building skills and strove numbers is probably one of the one of the challenges every leader has. 

 

Jim Rembach:    What is the best leadership advice you have ever received? 

 

Sean Minter:     I think the best leadership advice I’ve ever received, and this may be sort of kind of a counterintuitive to what we just talked about, once I understand what a person’s skillset is or isn’t if I believe they’re in the right job or not I need to take action as fast as possible to help them be successful. If have a person that fails, it’s probably more your fault than their fault. It’s your job either develop them or move them into a place where they can be successful. So failure is typically the managers’ responsibilities. Anybody under them is typically their responsibility. 

 

Jim Rembach:    So what do you feel is one of your secrets that helps you lead in business or life?

 

Sean Minter:     I think one of my secrets in business and life is that I have the ability to associate and understand and talk to every level of an organization. I can sit with agents and team managers and have discussions about their problems and I can sit with CEOs of Fortune 500 companies and talk about their issues. I can go out and raise money from venture capital guys and have discussions with them that are relevant. So being able to kind of work across all the levels and understand people, engage with people, build rapport with people at all the different levels is one of my skills. 

 

Jim Rembach:    What would be one book that you recommend to our legion, it could be from any genre? 

 

Sean Minter:     I think the book we just discussed earlier, Good to Great has done a lot of tools for leadership. A lot of tools sort of figuring out how to move away from average and really focus on getting significantly better. I would recommend that book to everybody.

 

Jim Rembach:    Okay, Fast Leader Legion you can find links to that and other bonus information from today’s show by going too fastleader.net/Sean Minter. Okay, Sean, this is my last Hump Day Hoedown question: Imagine you’ve been given the opportunity to take all the skills and knowledge that you have back with you and go back to the age of 25 and make some changes. But you can’t take everything, you can only choose one, what skill or piece of knowledge would you take back with you and why?

 

Sean Minter:     The skill or knowledge I would take back with me would be to focus on always be improving and never just being happy with where you are in the job you’re in. No matter what you’re doing, even if you’re a high performer I think humans just have the innate view of sort of being happy with being in a situation they’re in, instead of always be looking at improving. I’ve learned that over the years but I wish I’d learned that when I was significantly younger. Because when you’re younger your ability to impact your future is much greater than when you get older.

 

Jim Rembach:    Sean 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? 

 

Sean Minter:     Sure. The best way to connect with me would be on Twitter, @SeanMinter, smentoramplifi.com or just amlifi.com, you can get to me also. 

 

Jim Rembach:    Sean Minter, 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 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 a fastleader.net so we can help you move onward and upward faster.

 

END OF AUDIO

 

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Michael Pace | Customer Experience

207: Michael Pace: Everybody is going to come to me

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.

Recommended Reading

The 360 Degree Leader: Developing Your Influence from Anywhere in the Organization

Contacting Michael Pace

Website: https://thepaceofservice.com/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/micpace

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/pacemichael/

Resources and Show Mentions

Northeast Contact Center Forum

Call Center Coach

An Even Better Place to Work

 

Show Transcript: 

[expand title=”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.

 

Call center coach develops and unites the next generation of call center leaders. Through our e-learning and community individuals gain knowledge and skills in the six core competencies that is the blueprint that develops high-performing call center leaders. Successful supervisors do not just happen so go to callcentercoach.com to learn more about enrollment and download your copy of the Supervisor Success Path e-book now.

 

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. 

 

An even better place to work is an easy-to-use solution that gives you a continuous diagnostic on employee engagement along with integrated activities that will improve employee engagement and leadership skills in everyone. Using this award-winning solution is guaranteed to create motivated, productive and loyal employees who have great work relationships with their colleagues and your customers. To learn more about an even better place to work visit beyondmorale.com/better. 

 

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. 

 

END OF AUDIO 

 

[/expand]

 

leadership-podcast-matt-beckwith-fastleadershow

204: Matt Beckwith: I almost left the contact center

Matt Beckwith Show Notes Page

Matt Beckwith considered leaving his contact center job because he felt bogged down by the things he didn’t like about the job. He almost left, and then his boss asked him some very insightful questions that helped him find clarity almost instantly.

Matt Beckwith grew up in the central valley California cities of Fresno and Stockton. He and his identical twin brother were in the middle of the pack of four other brothers and a sister, all from his parents’ other marriages.

Matt’s parents were both self-employed and taught all their children the value of hard work but begged them not to go into business for themselves. Matt’s mother was an employment consultant, his father was a private substance abuse counselor, and they would share lessons about business, finance, and customer service. Matt was very young when his mother taught him the law of supply and demand and how a natural market could set the price for a product.

Matt worked in restaurants early in his life and very much enjoyed the fast-paced hectic world of full-service restaurants. But the restaurant life was not for him and he set out to start a career.

Nearly 25 years ago, Matt was newly married and scored an interview at the local pencil factory. The babysitter arrived late, which caused Matt to arrive late to his appointment. They would not allow him to interview. He sulked for a while before learning that the phone company was hiring directory assistance operators. Having always been fascinated with the history of the telephone, Matt jumped at the chance and within a few weeks he had started his new job as a 411 operator.

Matt spent just one year as a 411 operator before moving on to another company (at a time when it was considered crazy to leave the phone company) where he quickly started to take on training and supervisory roles. Matt has spent the years since then leading customer service and sales contact centers in various industries, from banking to healthcare to pest control.

He is currently the Contact Center Director for Clark Pest Control, one of the largest and most successful pest control companies in the US. Matt is a proud contact center geek and enjoys connecting with other contact center leaders all over the world. He is a 2018 ICMI featured contributor and Call Center Demo speaker and panelist, and Frost & Sullivan conference advisory board member and panelist. Matt also serves on the steering committee for the Northern California Contact Center Association and writes the blog, contactcentergeek.com.

Matt is an avid cyclist and part-time runner, who recently completed his first marathon. He is also an active board member for the San Joaquin Bike Coalition.

Matt and his lovely wife, Dawn, live in beautiful Stockton, California. Together, they are most proud of the job they did raising their two amazing daughters, Emily and Makenzy. Makenzy is a second-year business student at San Jose State University and Emily and her husband Garrett have given Matt and Dawn the greatest gifts they could have ever asked for, two wonderful grandchildren, Avery and Maverick.

Tweetable Quotes and Mentions

Listen to @mattbikewith to get over the hump on the @FastLeaderShow – Click to Tweet

“We have to do more outreach as an industry to get people to want to work in a contact center.” – Click to Tweet 

“Like with any technology, it just makes challenges we’ve had in the past, bigger.” – Click to Tweet 

“There’s more scale today and there’s more at stake.” – Click to Tweet 

“We are the most customer-friendly organization I have seen in my entire life.” – Click to Tweet 

“We can get even better than we are today if we look at it holistically.” – Click to Tweet 

“It’s about taking those inputs from the outside and synthesizing them for our own customer base.” – Click to Tweet 

“To a fault, we think of our self as the customer. That’s a trap.” – Click to Tweet 

“We start learning and creating real innovation by looking outside of our business.” – Click to Tweet 

“Don’t tell me who you are, show me who you are.” @mattbikewith @FastLeaderShow – Click to Tweet 

“The things you think are the biggest issues today, in another month or year, you’re not going to think that.” – Click to Tweet 

Hump to Get Over

Matt Beckwith considered leaving his contact center job because he felt bogged down by the things he didn’t like about the job. He almost left, and then his boss asked him some very insightful questions that helped him find clarity almost instantly.

Advice for others

Let go. Live in the moment. The things you think are the biggest issues today, in another month or year, you’re not going to think that.

Holding him back from being an even better leader

Doubt and fear. Less than it was yesterday.

Best Leadership Advice

It will always be about your people. Nothing matters before your people.

Secret to Success

Life is too much fun and leave to chance – plan it out. I plan my week, I plan my month, I plan my year.

Best tools in business or life

Manager tools podcast.

Recommended Reading

Freakonomics [Revised and Expanded]: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything

Contacting Matt Beckwith

Website: https://contactcentergeek.com/

Website: https://www.mattbeckwith.com/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/mattbikewith

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/matthewbeckwith/

Resources and Show Mentions

Call Center Coach

An Even Better Place to Work

Show Transcript:

[expand title=”Click to access edited transcript”]

204: Matt Beckwith: I almost left the contact center

 

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.

 

Call center coach develops and unites the next generation of call center leaders. Through our e-learning and community individuals gain knowledge and skills in the six core competencies that is the blueprint that develops high-performing call center leaders. Successful supervisors do not just happen so go to callcentercoach.com to learn more about enrollment and download your copy of the Supervisor Success Path e-book now.

 

Jim Rembach:    Okay, Fast Leader legion today I’m excited because I have somebody on the show today who can really give us some insight into accidents and why they should happen. Matt Beckwith grew up in Central Valley California cities of Fresno and Stockton.  He and his identical twin brother were in the middle of the pack of four brothers and sisters all from actually and a sister all from his parents other marriages. Matt’s parents were both self-employed and taught all their children the value of hard work but begged them not to go into business for themselves. Matt’s mother was an employment consultant and his father was a private substance abuse counselor and they would share lessons about business, finance and customer service.

 

Matt was very young when his mother taught him the law of supply and demand and how a natural market had set the price for a product. Matt worked in restaurants early in his life and very much enjoyed the fast-paced hectic world of full service restaurants but the restaurant life was not for him. He set out to start a career nearly 25 years ago Matt was newly married and scored an interview with the local pencil factory the babysitter arrived late which caused Matt to arrive late to his appointment they would not allow him to even interview him. He soaked for a while before learning that the phone company was hiring directory assistance operators. Having always been fascinated with the history of the telephone Matt jumped at the chance and within a few weeks he had started his new job as a 4 1 1 operator. 

 

Matt spent just one year as a 4 1 1 operator before moving on other company opportunities. So he quickly learned to take training and supervisory roles. Matt has spent the years since then leading customer service and sales contact centers in various industries from banking to health care to pest control. He’s currently the contact center director for Clark pest control one of the largest and most successful pest control companies in the United States. Matt is a proud contact center geek and enjoys connecting with other contact center leaders all over the world. He is a 2018 ICMI feature contributor and call center demo speaker and panelists and Frost & Sullivan conference advisory board member and panelist. Matt also serves on the steering committee for the Northern California contact center association and writes the blog contactcentergeek.com. 

 

Matt is an avid cyclist and part-time runner who recently completed his first marathon. He is also an active board member for the San Joaquin Bike Coalition. Matt and his lovely wife Dawn live in beautiful

Stockton California together they’re most proud of the job they did raising their two amazing daughters Emily and Mackenzie. Mackenzie is a second year business student at San Jose State University and Emily and her husband Garrett have given Matt and Dawn the greatest gift they could have ever done and that is two wonderful grandchildren, Avery and Maverick. Matt Beckwith are you ready to help us get over the hump?

 

Matt Beckwith:    Yes, I am Jim.

 

Jim Rembach:    Matt, I’m glad you’re here. Now get in 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?

 

Matt Beckwith:    My passion tend to hover around a few things at any one time but lately my mind’s been set on my grandkids a lot because my youngest grandkid turns one this very weekend so we’re very excited about that and in my day job life super excited that our company’s moving forward with focusing all of our efforts around true customer experience transformation and that’s a buzz term but actually doing the hard work to look to see how the entire company impacts the customer and that’s that gets me up every morning and it’s on my brain when I go to bed every night. 

 

Jim Rembach:    Talking about that on the brain every night, you and I had the opportunity to chat prior to recording and we started talking about how you and I and probably many people kind of have found the contact center as a career by default. And I would dare to say too when you start looking at the proliferation of the whole context center and customer centric focus for a lot of companies that has been by default but now they’re being more intentional. For us as people who’ve been around for a long time I think we kind of owe it to both ourselves and the industry to kind of make this a destination point because things are getting so complex that we need an entire skill lift to occur and that the context center could be a lifelong career. 

 

Matt Beckwith:    Yeah, absolutely. There’s so many of us, as you and I were talking about before, that as we go to industry events or we go to conferences and we speak to other people so many people’s stories are the same they started off in industry A and somehow they ended up in this and they look back after 20 years and they consider it an accident and I wonder too what that is going to look like for the next generation of leaders or next generation of customers and employees if we don’t do something to change the intentionality. If we start driving this as a career choice truly as a career choice around full cycle customer experience with all the exciting changes in technology especially we have to do more outreach as an industry as leaders to get people to want to do this. I’d love to go to college campuses in hear students say I want to get into customer experience work I want to work in a contact center because there’s a lifelong career ahead of that. I think we could do a lot better certainly for our future generations if more people intentionally—think of all the amazing things we’ve done by accidentally getting here, wow, and think of the power if we were intentionally getting here.

 

Jim Rembach:    I think that’s a great point. I think when you and I kind of said there was a little bit of a difference from your path because you kind of had this fascination of being an operator but for me I think operator will head a little bit different context you know way back then. However, it did get you into being someone who is actually leading an entire context operation for a lot of different industries. So, tell us a little bit about how all of that took place? I kind of read a little bit in the bio but, how did you actually really get interested in being an operator?

 

Matt Beckwith:    Well, the funny thing is my first call center job was a 411 operator but my first experience with an operator, my mother who believed in teaching my brothers and I how to be physically sound my twin brother and I got our first checking account I think at 13 years old a checking and a savings account she was a co-signer, and when there was a problem with our account or we had a question we called the bank and back then it’s a bank that’s become a big National Bank but I called the number that was on my statement that came in the mail and at that time it went to the bank but shortly after that I called that same number and it went to something that I could tell was not the bank and I learned about this and they called themselves the operator but they answered my questions. I was fascinated because I was a teenager and I thought they’re on the phone all day that’s what I wanted that was I how I equated it. What’s a customer first customer second the first is they sit on the phone all day and so here I was a very young teenager I might have been 13 and thought there’s a job where people are on the phone talking to people that’s the job that I want. It was always on the back of my mind like I said, I wanted a good work for a pencil factory I often wondered what my life would be like if I went to work for that pencil factory. But I got that 411 job and that started my career and sometimes it is dumb luck that happened but thankfully it did. 

 

Jim Rembach:    For myself there was a local 411 company it was actually an outsource for 411 company that therefore sold their services back to the carriers one of the things that I always found interesting about that particular 411 center is it kind of was a training ground for all of the other contact centers in the area. They would have people come in and for them, I think their turnover and tenure was really high but for us it was like a huge benefit because, I mean I wasn’t in that space, how did it differ from North Carolina which is where I was to California when you start looking at that type of business?

 

Matt Beckwith:    Well first I would say the times must have been different. Because I can tell you as much as I’m a contact center geek today I’ve always been a telephone company geek so I’ve always studied of history around the telephone company and the telephone but when I was in 411 the Public Utilities Commission didn’t allow for outsource 411 in fact the very first national outsource 411 was a company called Tell Me which eventually became 8855 Tell Me, they were the first national one. But back when I did it 25 years ago it was only in California. The Public Utility Commission only allowed Pacific Bell to do that and how different was it? We were not a feeding ground. I was the first person hired in that building that was not related to a phone company employee in the history of that building. I also was part of the team that transition from massive paper books that had listings to computers. And when the phone company decided to go to computers they didn’t buy computers they built computers. And because it’s the bureaucratic red tape phone company they didn’t build QWERTY keyboards they built keyboards that were three inches high and the letters went ABCDEFG on the top row they worked a regular QWERTY keyboard. So I remember complaining that when I went home to my typewriter it affected my ability to type. 

 

Jim Rembach:    There was zero innovation it was a couple years after and I continued to follow that industry for many years, there was a couple years after that they starting to become a competitive landscape certainly the ubiquity of cellphones and there was companies jumping in on that market when I was there only 411 was considered public utility and only the local telephone company was allowed to provide it. 

 

Matt Beckwith:    That’s really interesting because for me that starts resonating. I think I remember reading a story about this type of outsourced versus handled by the actual company. Something that happened in Connecticut where the state legislation that actually instituted a new law that said, you must provide it and you can’t outsource it anymore and that was a big buzz and that was probably ten years ago or more. I guess the whole regulation by state can make things dramatically different on how that service was actually delivered. I think it’s a great—to me that’s one of the things I think you were talking about connecting with other people within the industry, it’s amazing to me to see how much we do have in common but yet how much we do differ and that when we come together in that community and share these stories. Much like, hey, by default you came into the contact center somewhat but I was full default you mean I was retail and I actually had double majored in finance and real estate I wanted to be an investment banker well when I graduated in a recession they weren’t hiring people with my degree and so I needed to, like your parents taught you. I came from a blue-collar family myself, my dad actually overhauled aircraft engines for small aviation and my mother was a shop clerk taking care of invoices and fulfillment requests and all those kind of things and that’s where I came from. So it was like, hey, you need to support yourself so I had to find a job. I found a job working with a company in retail and for them they actually auto zone Auto Parts that does well in a recession so they were growing like crazy because people don’t sell cars or buy cars they work on cars during that time. And with that company found my way into the contact center and so it’s kind of like, hey that’s how strange these things happen. But when we start looking at the commonalities and the differences also you’re seeing more and more that being part of the association, but when you start talking about people seeing things and things differing where do you see most organizations from a contact center perspective differing a lot more so than being similar?

 

Jim Rembach:    I think we could talk for a week everybody does it the same but I think now everybody’s trying to find and certainly my involvement with our association our association is unique across most of the local associations across the country in that nearly half of our members are public employees so

Federal government or state of California government we call them the alphabet soup because they all go by these two letter N acronyms but they all for us because half our membership are public and half of them are private employers we still see this wide chasm of organizations that are trying to reinvent something maybe it’s because we’re in California and the mega centers are gone from California they’ve been gone for many years so you don’t have 300 400 seat centers anymore but you have organizations that are trying to do interesting things as its to recruiting we know the entire country’s in a tight labor market Northern California is feeling that  ten fold so how companies are going around getting better candidates how companies are retaining people how pay is changing in California. Thankfully with our association you see a lot of sharing you don’t see a lot of competitors in the same industry so then that allows for tons of sharing. You see public employee call centers public institutions sharing best practices with private companies. I say that the greatest area of innovation that we see amongst our members are around automation and AI and bots it’s the same stuff we hear across the country but on a much smaller scale because these might be smaller organizations or smaller departments. 

 

Matt Beckwith:    Well I think that’s a really interesting point. When you start talking about the whole labor aspects of where we are in this industry, I don’t think that’s going to change because even if we come into a scenario where we have more potential job candidates I think we’re going to run into because of those bots and AI and things of that nature that we’re going to have a skill issue  finding people that are able to come into an environment that is more complex than it once was because of all of those self-serve options doing what we need them to do handle the simple stuff. 

 

Jim Rembach:    However, when you start looking at the whole multi-channel aspects of a contact center now where I’m handling so many different types of interactions is that the entire door and windows are being open to the organization so people can contact us any way they want anytime they want and we have to be available to serve that. So again it goes back to that skill I think we’re going to see more and more folks being able to handle multiple types of interactions that we’re looking for to hire, an you do five different things at one time? 

 

Matt Beckwith:    Yeah, and that reminds me there’s a watermark for people like you and I that have been in this industry for a long time and that that watermark or that tree ring as I like to think of it is when IVR self-service took off. The reason that that’s a watermark is we were all managing. If we were managing budgets then we cared about average handle time more than anything and that’s how we staffed and all of a sudden we created this new whiz-bang technology at the time that happened I worked for a credit card company and we put together a pretty rudimentary IVR but it played your account balance right away, what did that do that chipped away at your basic call that was going to be 40 seconds anyway? And that began the challenge that we still think today which is that took away the easier casts from all of your agents which meant your average handle time wound up but your calls went down and as your business grew your calls went up to make up for that and you still have this same budget where you were working on a, I don’t know three minute handle time but even that handle time must exist cause 40 second calls are gone that happened in the early 90s and it’s happening again today but it’s happening today at a much different scale. I think back then the labor market at least in California was different what that meant was it was a made budgets type. Today it makes the labor market even tighter because of what you said then we have a skills gap it’s same verse song when I said we’ve been down this road before but it’s just magnified because of technology.

 

Jim Rembach:    I really like the way that you explained that talking about the watermark thing and that makes total sense and when that happened, and I even see it happening still today with other channels. For an organization the whole aspect of visibility was a significant issue so when it came to budget time, and I’m looking at the workload that we have to support in the contact center, if I didn’t have visibility into all of the things that you were referring to there and now all the visibility into the work that I have to do both on phone and off phone it all becomes part of my staffing model I am going to be totally wrong side and I’m not going to properly pitch the business need in order to be able to execute on that whole customer centricity thing. Because—okay, so now I have to do a better job of communicating across the entire organization, well how does that happen? It’s not smoke it has to be intentional it has to be managed. Same thing with all these different customer service channels who’s going to manage that bot being a good bot? Otherwise it’s going to be like that first IVR that rolled out, many of that have rolled out since it is not designed well it’s not constantly managed it’s not going to do its job. So the work I think is shifting but it’s still an important thing when you start looking at visibility. Do organizations have visibility into all of these channels and all of their off phone activity so that they’re doing a good job of being able to transform and be customer-centric?

 

Matt Beckwith:    Yeah, absolutely. It will be I think like with any technology it just makes the challenges that we’ve had in the past bigger. It may not make them all go away it just creates—I think there’s more there’s more scale today and there’s more at stake. Certainly in California you talk to any leaders no matter what industry you’re in it’s about the tight labor market and then that just makes it like I said 10 times harder. 

 

Jim Rembach:    Okay, so talking specifically about Clark you mentioned the transformation that you guys are going through and you said you’re excited to see that. Most often that doesn’t happen with a flick of the switch I mean there’s something that happens and then it’s like, okay, we’ve made the decision we’re now going to be intentional we’re now going to move this forward. When did you see or could you tell, without giving any trade secrets, when that was going to happen it was going to flip it was going to start being intentional? 

 

Matt Beckwith:    Well, I’ll tell you I totally agree with you it’s never a switch and it wasn’t for us either it’s been very intentional. I am insanely proud to work for the organization where I work. We are family owned and operated still. Mr. Clark who found the business almost 70 years ago up until just a few months ago came to work every single day. His two grown sons run the business but he set the standard in 1950 being one man with one truck servicing customers. We are the most customer friendly organization I have ever worked for or seen in my entire life and when it comes to now focusing on a true cx-focus and true transformation it’s really now connecting all of the dots that want to be. So, for us we have leaders across the business that are eager to find out how do we better fine tune our voice of the customer? How do we go truly end-to-end and look at every single point along that journey? And so we’ve acknowledged that over the last couple of years that if we’re going to continue to grow we are going to focus on this and call it out specifically but so much of the work Jim we have already been doing. And so we have an incredible foundation I’m lucky because I’m involved in an organization that doesn’t have a lot of—there’s a lot of low-hanging fruit but that’s also makes it kind of challenging but we have an amazing foundation. For us it was about just acknowledging to everybody that there’s work to be done that we could get even better than we are today if we look at it holistically and every single thing that a customer goes through from the very beginning. From pre-acquisition to acquisition to service to even off-boarding and I think that’s where we are today. 

 

Jim Rembach:    One of the things when you start talking about the legacy of the organization and being able to refer back to many of the things that you’ve always have done is you start thinking about, okay, how are we getting creative and doing things new and not using some of that past history to drive some of our decisions? In other words, hey, we take what was good and what got us here and we continue to amplify that however we know we need to pivot and shift so that we don’t get disrupted. And so how are you bringing that into the business?

 

Matt Beckwith:    Well for one I consider myself a professional customer more so than I consider myself a professional customer service leader because I’ve been a professional customer since I was about nine years old I’ve always been that that person. My wife will sometimes look at me when I say something to her, she’ll notice I’ll take a quick note about something. I don’t have to go to contact centers I don’t have to go to pest control companies to learn about delivering amazing service there’s experiences in hospitals, there’s experienced in schools, there’s experience in restaurants, there’s experience at the deli that’s down the street from our corporate office they treat us amazingly well. The owner of that deli has taught me things about customer experience and it’s about taking those inputs from the outside and synthesizing them to say, what does that mean for our customer base? And socializing them amongst the rest of our leaders getting some buy-in and how does that translate into a project or something that we can try. 

 

One of the things I think is customer service leaders do to a fault is we think about our self as the customer, how would I view this? That’s a trap. Because I am literally one tiny, I’m not even a persona I’m a fraction of a persona, I care about what happens to much wider swaths of customers. Going to our local deli near the corporate office that has fed us very well and there’s lots of big catering jobs they’ve done some things and we think how do we apply that? How do we apply what they’ve done? And so we talk about those things all the time. We don’t say that we’re chasing the standard of the best pest control company because quite frankly we believe we’re one of them. But how do we chase USAA as it comes to customer facing technology? How do we match Chick-fil-a when it comes to service at the drive-thru? How do we match this deli when it comes to pricing options? And things like that. And that’s where I think we start learning and creating real innovation by looking outside of our business. 

 

Jim Rembach:    I think that’s a great point. Too many times I see where organizations stay within their own four walls and try to ideate and do that and it just doesn’t work you end up being a little bit better than you already are and you can’t afford that these days. Okay, so what we’ve been talking about here when you start talking about career when you start talking about finding right candidates when you start talking about change and all it’s just loaded with a whole lot of anxiety and emotion. One of the things that we do on the show is we look at quotes to help us stay pointed in the right direction, is there a quote or two that you’d like that you can share?

 

Matt Beckwith:    I’ve got two, two that rule my life. The first one by the great American writer, Ralph Waldo Emerson, who you are speaks so loudly I can’t hear a word that you’re saying.  Jim that’s been my favorite quote my entire life and I’m not exaggerating I still get chills when I say it. That drives who I am as a leader that drives who I am as a contact center professional. Who you are speak so loudly I can’t hear a word that you’re saying, don’t tell me who you are show me who you are. The second one that has been a lot of fun throughout my life is from the tennis great, Martina Navratilova, the moment of victory is much too short to live for that and nothing else. Talk about journey that’s what that quote means and I think about that all the time just because I wanted something or we had a success the journey matters just as much. 

 

Jim Rembach:    Thanks for sharing those. It’s kind of really interesting that you said that Emerson quote that it gave you a chill because when you said it did it to me too. I wonder if any of our listeners the same thing happen? Because that has so much depth to it, thanks for sharing them I appreciate that and I matter of fact when we get done here that quote is going to go up on the wall for my kids to see, I appreciate that. 

 

Matt Beckwith:    Thanks.

 

Jim Rembach:    So when we start talking about you know that career path when we start talking about having kids, grandkids all of that stuff you mentioned that you’re too young to have grandkids and for me I think I’m on the opposite end of that if I ever have grandkids that come shoot man I hope I’m still being able to move around and interact with them. When we start talking about all of those paths that we end up taking and where they take us there’s a lot of homes that we have to get over, is there a time where you’ve gotten over the hump that you can share with us?

 

Matt Beckwith:    Yeah, I’ll tell you, I’ve managed contact centers for so many years but there’s one moment where I almost took a detour and left if not for the sage wisdom of one of my best bosses of all time. My story’s not that dissimilar from anybody else that’s done this line of work. I was managing a large contact center in the banking industry and I just found myself bogged down by the things that I didn’t sign up for. Managing, leaves of absence a law changes or personnel issues even though they weren’t any more or less than any other contact center my size it just felt like that had the lion’s share of my mental space rather than the exciting innovative things that we wanted to do. And an opportunity came up for me to move into a completely different side of the business supporting our operational accounting group they wanted somebody that was not an accountant they wanted somebody with operations experience that could translate some of the financial stuff between operations and finance. 

 

The business partner I had worked with for many years created this new position for me and we had been talking to my manager at the time and my managers said I will support you a thousand percent if you want to move into this role but then he taught, his name is John Green, he taught me what we now called the John Green lesson the John Green diaper rule actually. He said, “Matt you love your children”, my children were much younger than they are today they were actually children not adults, and he said, “you always talk about your children you love raising your kids” and said, “You love every part of it?” And I said, “of course I love every part of it my daughters are my life.” He said, “You love those dirty diapers?” And I said, “No, not particularly.” He thought about the middle of the night dirty diapers, I said, “No, not particularly,” He said, “How does that change the overall love of your children?” I said, “Not one iota.” And then as wise as he is he just sat there and looked at me and I got it instantly. Sometimes you got to change dirty diapers and over that weekend after we talked about it I made the decision to not pursue that accounting role. And that was 13 years ago and I look back now, I still stay in contact with that former manager in fact the group of his direct reports he had a group of VPs that we’ve all stayed together very close we’re called the Green Team and we talked pretty regularly and get together when we can and we always talk about that John Green diaper rule amongst the other things we learned from him, and I think I would not be talking to you right now Jim I wouldn’t have the fun that I’ve had I wouldn’t have met the people I’ve had I wouldn’t have made the impact that I’ve made if he put me in an office and put me on spreadsheets in an adding machine 13 years ago. I lived that lesson every day and I’ve had employees they’re frustrated in a moment they want to they want a big drastic change, I support change, I tell them about the John Green diaper rule. 

 

Jim Rembach:    Thanks for sharing that Matt that was an excellent story and thanks to having more John Green’s into our life that can help us really provide some clarity we would definitely need that. Okay, everybody we’re talking with Matt Beckwith of Clark Pest Control and we’re going to break for a little bit of an announcement from one of our sponsors and we’ll be right back to do the hump day hoedown. 

 

An even better place to work is an easy-to-use solution that gives you a continuous diagnostic on employee engagement along with integrated activities that will improve employee engagement and leadership skills in everyone. Using this award-winning solution is guaranteed to create motivated, productive and loyal employees who have great work relationships with their colleagues and your customers. To learn more about an even better place to work visit beyondmorale.com/better. 

 

Jim Rembach:     Alright, here we go Fast Leader Legion it’s time to do the Hump day Hoedown. Okay, Matt, the Hump day Hoedown is a part of our show where you give us good insights fast. We’ll ask you several questions but your job is to give us robust and rapid responses that are going to help us move onward and upward faster. Matt Beckwith, are you ready to hoedown? 

 

Matt Beckwith:    Heck, yes.

 

Jim Rembach:    Alright so here we go. What do you think it’s holding you back from being an even better leader today?

 

Matt Beckwith:    We’ll Jim, although it’s less than it was yesterday and less than the day before that it still is doubt and fear doubt and fear and I tell myself every day less than it was yesterday but it’s doubt and fear.

 

Jim Rembach:    What is the best leadership advice you have ever received?

 

Matt Beckwith:    It has always been and always will be about your people. Nothing matters before your people.

 

Jim Rembach:    What is one of your secrets that you believe contributes your success?

 

Matt Beckwith:    Something my mother and my father taught me, life is too much fun and too short to leave to chance plan it out. I plan my week I plan my month I plan my year and I spend a lot of time after those reviewing what I just did to help me plan the next week, month, or year. 

 

Jim Rembach:    What do you feel is one of your best tools that helps you lead in business or life?

 

Matt Beckwith:    Absolutely without a doubt nearly 15 years ago I stumbled across manager tools the free podcast to help you be a better leader and still to this day how I learned how to do coaching one-on-one and feedback that helps me be a better leader every single day and I still rely on manager tools every day in my life.

 

Jim Rembach:    What would be one book that you’d recommend to our legion, it can be from any genre?

 

Matt Beckwith:    Well we’ve all read the same contact center books we’ve all read the same customer service books but I’ve been saying for many years the single greatest book that every contact center leader should read is the great Freakonomics by Levitt and Dubner that groundbreaking book is just a bunch of their case studies but the reason it’s the best book for contact center professionals is it helps you separate the difference between causal and correlation and in our business every time we make a change in one place we think it caused a change in the other place and you spend time reading Freakonomics in the follow-up books you’ll understand causality and correlation much better.

 

Jim Rembach:    Okay, Fast Leader legion you can find links to that and other bonus information from today’s show by going to fastleader.net/mattbeckwith. Okay, Matt, this is my last Hump Day Hoedown question:  Imagine you were given the opportunity to go back to the age of 25. And you have been given a chance to take the knowledge and skills that you have now back with you 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? 

 

Matt Beckwith:    This is your hardest question isn’t it? The only thing that I would take back is that skill to be able to let go, live in the moment let go the things that you think are the biggest issues today I promise you in another week or month or a year you’re not going to think that. Life is short let go and go home early every now and then. 

 

Jim Rembach:    Matt it was an honor to spent time with you today, can you please share the fast leader Legion how they can connect with you?

 

Matt Beckwith:    Absolutely, thanks Jim, I’m all over the place but probably the best way is go to my blog it’s Contactcentergeek.com there’s links to where you’ll find me on LinkedIn and Twitter. I spend more time on Twitter today @MattBeckwith than anywhere else. Start at contactcentergeek.com you’ll see my thoughts on leading contact centers and also links to find everywhere else where I’m at online.

 

Jim Rembach:    Matt Beckwith, thank you for sharing your knowledge and wisdom the Fast Leader legion honors you and thank 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. 

 

END OF AUDIO 

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Dan Gengiss Winning at Social Customer Care

200: Dan Gingiss: There’s really only one thing to do here

Dan Gingiss Show Notes Page

Before becoming a social media expert, Dan Gingiss decided to join a friend in taking the GMAT. On standardized tests he typically does better on the math side and struggles on the verbal side. But during the test Dan got stumped on a question that caused him to not complete the math portion of the exam. That left him with only one choice.

Dan Gingiss was born and raised in the suburbs of Chicago, meaning he had to declare at birth whether he was going to root for the Cubs or the White Sox (Cubs all the way!). His parents are happily retired; his older brother spent decades as a newspaper reporter and now works for a Senator; and his younger sister is a PR executive.

Dan’s parents always pushed him to be successful but in a fair and nurturing way – “A’s, B’s, and C’s are your problem; D’s and F’s are our problem” was a favorite refrain of Dan’s dad. And he was also constantly encouraged to try new things, be it different types of international cuisine or school subjects meant only to broaden one’s thinking (like art history and music). This created an open-mindedness in Dan that has served him well in his career, as he is often referred to as an “idea man” and always enjoys considering new ideas from others.

After graduating from the University of Pennsylvania with a degree in Psychology and Communications, Dan naturally turned to marketing (Really, it was anything but natural. He had no idea what he wanted to do, but in hindsight, marketing is the perfect combination of psychology and communications). He worked as a product manager at The Danbury Mint, a direct-to-consumer collectibles company. His focus was on sports and automotive collectibles, and he quickly learned the ins and outs of direct mail, newspapers, and magazines.

He decided to apply to business school (more on that later) and at the Kellogg School of Management, he took his first marketing class and finally learned that what he had been doing for four years had names, frameworks, and structure behind it. Post-Kellogg he spent some time at a B2B financial services company, then nearly 10 years at Discover Card – where he played a key role in them winning their first-ever J.D. Power Award for Customer Satisfaction, one of Dan’s proudest achievements. After stints at Humana and McDonald’s, Dan decided once again to try something new and joined a marketing technology startup called Persado.

In Dan’s “spare time,” he has taken his love for customer experience to the stage in keynote speeches, to the airwaves with his Experience This! Podcast, and to the bookshelves with his book, Winning at Social Customer Care: How Top Brands Create Engaging Experiences on Social Media.

Dan still lives in Chicago with his two kids and one cat, and is hoping for another Cubs World Series Championship soon!

Tweetable Quotes and Mentions

Listen to @dgingiss to get over the hump on the @FastLeaderShow – Click to Tweet

“There’s no longer any such thing as an off-line customer experience.” – Click to Tweet 

“Companies have to be aware of everything going on in the customer experience, whether it’s online or off-line.” – Click to Tweet 

“The thing with digital and social together is that the only constant is change.” – Click to Tweet 

“Technology plays a roll but humans play the most important role.” – Click to Tweet 

“You don’t have to be in every channel, you just have to be where your customers need you.” – Click to Tweet 

“Social media transferred the power from the company to the consumer.” – Click to Tweet 

“It not that the customer’s always right, but we should always hear the customer.” – Click to Tweet 

“AI, machine learning and chatbots are becoming part of the experience, how do we maintain a human element in that?” – Click to Tweet 

“The best use-case for bots is helping agents.” – Click to Tweet 

“You can learn anything from anyone and in particular you can probably learn the most from the frontline.” – Click to Tweet 

“There’s usually a solution out there, you just have to look for it and you have to be open-minded.” – Click to Tweet 

“Everybody’s valuable, try to figure out the strengths of the team.” – Click to Tweet 

“One of the toughest advancements in a company is to become a manager of people.” – Click to Tweet 

Hump to Get Over

Before becoming a social media expert, Dan Gingiss decided to join a friend in taking the GMAT. On standardized tests he typically does better on the math side and struggles on the verbal side. But during the test Dan got stumped on a question that caused him to not complete the math portion of the exam. That left him with only one choice.

Advice for others

Lead people to open your career opportunities.

Holding him back from being an even better leader

Having the leadership to lead leaders.

Best Leadership Advice

You can learn from anyone. Everyone in the company plays an important role so stay open minded-

Secret to Success

A sense of humor and a laid-back attitude.

Best tools in business or life

People leadership.

Recommended Reading

Winning at Social Customer Care: How Top Brands Create Engaging Experiences on Social Media

Never Lose a Customer Again: Turn Any Sale into Lifelong Loyalty in 100 Days

Contacting Dan Gingiss

Website: https://www.winningatsocial.com/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/dgingiss

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/dangingiss/

Resources and Show Mentions

Call Center Coach

How Leaders Can Best Lead Leaders

Show Transcript: 

[expand title=”Click to access edited transcript”]

200: Dan Gingiss: There’s really only one thing to do here

 

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.

 

Call center coach develops and unites the next generation of call center leaders. Through our e-learning and community individuals gain knowledge and skills in the six core competencies that is the blueprint that develops high-performing call center leaders. Successful supervisors do not just happen so go to callcentercoach.com to learn more about enrollment and download your copy of the Supervisor Success Path e-book now.

 

Jim Rembach:   Okay Fast Leader legion today I’m excited because I have somebody on the on the show today who actually brings in some childhood memories for me and then also ideas about the future and what it can be. Dan Gingiss was born and raised in the suburbs of Chicago meaning he had to declare at birth whether he was going to root for the Cubs or the White Sox and he says Cubs all the way and I’m a White Sox fan. His parents are happily retired. His older brothers spent decades as a newspaper reporter and now works for a senator and his younger sister is a PR executive. Dan’s parents always pushed him to be successful but in a fair and nurturing way. A’s B’s and C’s are your problem D’s and F’s are our problem was a favorite refrain from Dan’s dad and he was also constantly encouraged to try new things be at different types of international cuisine or school subjects meant only to broaden one’s thinking like art, history and music. This created an open-mindedness and Dan that has served him well in his career as he is often referred to as an idea man and always enjoys considering new ideas from others.

 

After graduating from the University of Pennsylvania with a degree in psychology and communications Dan naturally turned to marketing. Really it was anything but natural he had no idea what he wanted to do but in hindsight marketing is the perfect combination of psychology and communication. He worked as a product manager at the Danbury Mint a direct-to-consumer collectibles company. His focus was on sports and automotive electable and he quickly learned the ins and outs of direct mail newspapers and magazines. He decided to apply to business school at the Kellogg School of Management and he took his first marketing class and finally learned that what he had been doing for years had names, frameworks and structure behind it. 

 

Post Kellogg he spent some time at a b2b financial services company then nearly 10 years at Discover Card where he played a key role in them and then winning their first ever JD power award for customer satisfaction one of Dan’s proudest achievements. After stints at Humana and McDonald’s, Dan decided once again to try something new and joined a marketing technology startup called Persado. In Dan’s spare time he has taken his love of customer experience to the stage and keynote speeches to the air waves with his experience this podcast and to the bookshelves with his book winning at social customer care, How Top Brands Create Engaging Experiences on Social Media. Dan still lives in Chicago with his two kids and one cat and is hoping for another Cubs World Series championship soon. Back to the south side Dan, but Dan Gingiss are you ready to help us get over the hump?

 

Dan Gingiss:      I am thank you for that great intro and very excited to be here.

 

Jim Rembach:     I’m glad you’re here. Now I’ve given my Legion a little bit about you but could you tell us what your current passion is so that we can get to know you even better?

 

Dan Gingiss:      Absolutely. My current passion is the connection between customer experience and social media. These are two of the things that I really love and I think they have a very circular relationship. What I mean by that is that there’s no longer any such thing as an offline customer experience. If you think about it we used to get on an airplane and sit down in our seats and mind our own business and now all sorts of stuff happens on an airplane that the world sees because somebody’s taking a video of it and sharing it live on Twitter. So what that means for companies is that we have to be aware of everything that’s going on in the customer experience whether it’s online or offline once the beginning of the experience the middle or the end and we have to be ready for that experience to come online and be shown front of the world. You have to ask yourself is this an experience that I want shown to the rest of the world? Is it one that I’m proud of and that will make my company look really good? Or is it something that I probably would not like shared? And then the flip side of that which is really what my book is about is how companies respond once those experiences are shared on social media because that moment becomes a key point back into the customer experience that’s why it’s circular. Is that when people come to social media and share complain maybe compliment ask questions what a company does next is really, really critical to how people think about them both the person that is posting and all the people that are their followers and friends that are sort of watching the conversation as it’s going on. 

 

Jim Rembach:      Okay, I appreciate you sharing that. And as you’re talking I really started thinking about even though you’re kind of talking about an entity the company the organization really what I’m hearing is a whole lot of personal touch points personal interaction points emotion transparency the whole lot of things were just kind of running through my head and then I started thinking about really the appearance or the perception of where we are with this whole social aspect of the marketplace in the business of society. It seems like, hey we’ve been doing this for a while, smartphones have been around for decade or more and the whole video capabilities and sharing capabilities and we even talked just a moment ago about how even on LinkedIn I’m seeing so much more video just within the past couple months I’ve ever seen and it’s just like, hey we’ve been doing this for a while. However, when we start thinking about the marketplace b2b b2c where do you kind of feel that we are as far as a maturation level is concerned? Are we at the beginning are we at the middle where do you think we are? 

 

Dan Gingiss:      Well the thing with digital and social together is that the only constant is change. It moves so fast that it’s almost impossible to become totally mature at it which is why I stopped anybody that refers to me or anybody else is the social media experts, I don’t believe that exists that you can’t be an expert because tomorrow your expertise is on a date. Just look at especially Facebook how often they’re changing their algorithm or they’re adding new ad units or they’re changing the experience in some way it’s always changing multiple times a year. So I think the technology certainly maturing what a lot of companies that I am seeing are finally starting to figure out is that technology plays a role but humans play the most important role. You mentioned those words, empathy and understanding and a human element that to me is the part that we cannot miss as this technology gets really good. Great example would be chat BOTS. Chat BOTS can have a very positive role particularly for questions to a call center or a contact center that are fairly common or frankly could be answered via Google. I worked at McDonald’s for a little while when people said how many calories are in a Big Mac? That’s a factual question that you don’t really need a human to answer so a BOTS great. But the bots can’t answer really complex questions about a credit card charge that you want to dispute because X Y & Z happened and this product didn’t show up and this person did this and whatever you get these issues that people have with your service that are just simply too complex to be talking to a computer not to mention that most people want to talk to a human. Even in social media the expectation is that it’s not the brand writing back to you it’s a person at the brand writing back to you. That’s why you see so many companies the agents sign either their name or their initials at the end of even a tweet because it’s to indicate to you I am a person I’m not a robot I’m not an ivory tower that is responding to you I’m a person. I think that to me is the piece that is maybe conflicting with this matter with this maturation because of course human capital is the most expensive. It’s a lot easier for us to just put technology and to do stuff that the humans were doing before but that alters the experience in a way that I don’t think is positive. 

 

Jim Rembach:      What you’re saying is something that even from me from a personal perspective I kind of see play out so if I’m looking for a particular product or service or something of that nature and I get the appearance that essentially they don’t want me to have a communication or connection with them via voice so it’s other words you fill out this form you can’t find any type of contact number you don’t see a whole lot of interaction and dialogue there’s not a lot of openness in regards to contact us and how to contact us and they really force you down a particular channel or you can’t make that human connection I abandon it. 

 

Dan Gingiss:      Yeah, a lot of people do. I get asked the question all the time what channel should I be in in social media? And the answer is what channels are your customers in. You don’t have to be in every channel you just have to be where your customers need you and when you look at it that way it’s a lot less overwhelming. The other thing that I always recommend to your point is these digital channels should not be treated differently from the way we’ve always treated a phone channel. You just pointed out some companies hide the phone number how about companies that let the phone ring off the hook? Or they put you on hold for two hours? These are the worst experiences that we have so why would we let a tweet go unanswered? It’s the same thing as letting the phone ring off the hook. Why would we not even respond to an email? Or not be there when somebody initiates a chat with us? It’s the same concept it’s just transferred into a digital state. I think that what’s happened is as these digital channels have come online they’ve ended up creating more and more silos in the contact center. The companies that are figuring it out are starting to put them back together again. So social media especially, you read about this in my book is that the social customer care team sometimes isn’t even located in the call center it’s so removed from the call center. But then how does that help them access customer files and FA cues and all of the great training that is put together for contact center employees if they don’t have access to that? How are they able to do an effective job as somebody on the phone? 

 

Jim Rembach:     That’s a really good point. I think from what I’ve seen is that a lot of that issue has come from a couple different perspectives and one of the major perspectives is that the technologies that have currently been in place to support all of these customer interactions have not been integrated to that particular level. So it’s been that, hey, this is my channel for this, this is my channel for that and so on and so forth. However w going to a lot of the industry events that I go to and a lot of the technology vendors that I actually analyze is that we’re seeing that change quite quickly they’re finally coming to the realization that the customer themselves is what I really need to be focusing in on supporting and not the channel and that the customer happens to be going through. It’s a very different shift from a mindset perspective as well as from a technology and programming perspective so going back to that whole change thing you were talking about I think the changes are even going to be more rapid like you were talking about like who’s going to be an expert at this? I think the whole channel management interaction management all of those things is really going to shift quite substantially within the next couple years and I think you might find that some of these companies who have been struggling with this digital transformation have been struggling with being able to provide an experience across multiple channels they’ll now be unable to do that. 

 

Dan Gingiss:      Yeah, you hit the nail on the head and I actually credit social media for this. What social media did was it transferred the power from the company to the consumer. For years and years and years the companies held all the cards. Even in marketing I love to say that—one of the things that made me fall in love with social media’s is the first marketing channel, and I’ve worked in almost every marketing channel there is, it’s the first one where people can talk back to you. You can’t talk back to a billboard can’t talk back to a TV commercial can’t talk back to a direct mail piece but all of a sudden somebody puts a Facebook ad in front of you and you are able to comment, post, complain, put a picture, respond in any way and that completely changed things because it shifted all of the power over to the consumer. And as we look at customer experience and all of the things that we’re trying to do it’s for that consumer and so I do think it’s a positive change. It took a big disrupter which turned out to be sort of a combination of Facebook and Twitter in order to do that but I do think now we’re headed in the right direction. It’s not that the customer’s always right that was the old mantra but it is that we always should hear the customer. The customer is our most valuable asset because without any customers or clients if you’re b2b you don’t have any business. 

 

Jim Rembach:     Yeah. And I think that’s the ultimate no finality right there. In a book you basically are laying out a roadmap for organizations to be able to do a significantly better job of serving customers via that social channel. You go as simplistic as just explaining what a customer experience is what that’s like and what the role is and oftentimes social media we don’t often hear about the whole social customer care component but there’s a lot of solutions that will help with the whole interaction management as well as the whole research and discovery component in that response piece. You even have some case studies in the book like with Delta Airlines and a couple others put together really well however for me I always like going to the back to the book because that’s kind of where it summarizes some things and I do that rather quickly when I go through and read a book. You talk about the future of social customer care and that the marketing of customer service and talking about what’s next. You even said yourself you don’t like people talking about being an expert in this because it’s changing so rapidly. However, I’m going to put you on the spot Dan, talking about the future where do you kind of see things heading?

 

Dan Gingiss:      Well, there’s no question again the technology is having a big impact and so AI and machine learning and chat BOTS are becoming part of the experience. And the question is going to be how do we maintain a human element in that? Let me tell you a quick story, I was asked to present to a company’s client council so I was invited to speak and they wanted me to talk about customer experience and particularly about social care and the coordinator asked me to bring a good example of a chat bot in Facebook messenger and I sort of laughed because I told him I thought that might be an oxymoron but I would do my best. I went to find one and I ended up landing on one, by the way one thing you should know about me is with both of the podcasts that I’ve done I like to highlight the positive so I like to highlight brands that do things well I don’t like to talk negatively about brands that are failing because there’s enough people out there doing that, so I’m going to keep the brand silent here but you probably figure it out. This was actually a company that Mark Zuckerberg held up at the F8 conference as being one of the leaders in chat bot technology within Facebook messenger, it was one of the first brands to be on Facebook messenger. So I said, well if Mark thinks it’s good and I might as well I might as well believe that and take a look. It’s a retailer and I basically went through the process of ordering and it’s basically hand-holding you through what is essentially a website experience it’s just asking you questions like, what sort of product do you want? How much do you want to spend? Etc. etc. well it asks me, when I would like the product delivered? And this was a gift for somebody and it gave me three dates and none of those dates were correct because actually I wanted the product delivered when I was giving the speech and the speech was two weeks out. And so I didn’t know what to do because the bot’s giving me three dates and none of them are right and I can’t see anything else so I type help. And it responds back and it says, oh, are you looking for customer service? I said yes I am. So far so good. Then the bot responds that it says well customer service is closed. I’m like, awesome, terrific. Right after that about five seconds later a live agent pops on and says, hi, I’m Samantha how can I help you? And I said, I thought customer service was closed, who are you? And in response to that response both Samantha and the bots start talking to me. The whole thing starts as a pretty decent experience holding my hand through an ordering process and then completely devolves into chaos simply because of one step which was that date that I couldn’t figure out and now all of a sudden I’ve got an experience that’s laughable that I can talk about on stage. The challenge is that there’s a lot at stake here and there’s a lot of pieces to the experience. In this particular case it was about, how does the bot hand off to the human in a seamless way? Obviously the bots should have known that customer service was open once I said I wanted customer service it should have said, sure let me introduce you to Samantha the bot shuts up Samantha helps me and we move about our way and that’s got to be totally seamless. This was not seamless and I’m afraid as I look at more and more examples that’s the norm so far we’re having a very difficult time. What if the agent wants to send it back to the bot and how does that work etc. etc. that I think is we’re a long way from figuring out how that experience is really nice. 

 

Jim Rembach:     I think you bring up a really interesting point is that there’s a lot of different capabilities of chat bot technologies and different generations of chat bot technologies and the majority of them right now are very much rules based and driven. In other words if the customer says this, this is my response, and I go to access this information for a customer service hours and it’s more like a hard-coded scenario. Now, they may lay over some natural language processing and some other things on that and try to make it a better and more realistic experience but for many them they’re falling back to that coding and if it’s not coded well if the tool does not have the ability to do some of that sensitivity transfer capabilities like, hey, if I get a confusion of a particular point don’t make it difficult on the customer immediately go out, there’s a whole lot of different technologies out there and I think that’s where we are right now. We’re going to see a whole lot of consolidation all kinds of uplift with the different AI technologies and some of the companies that are going to have some of the better tools are going to win with that whole chat bot experience. It’s not it’s not as simple as it seems when we start talking about AI also when you’re referring to the uniqueness of a company’s particular products like, hey, we have branded products that  have these names and maybe refer to a couple different things. I feel the pain that you were talking about in that customer experience and I think we’re going to see more and more of that it’s going to be more and more prevalent for sure. 

 

Dan Gingiss:      Even if you roll it back just a little bit further the whole reason why companies are focused on this may be the wrong reason. A lot of companies are looking at it as a cost savings measure if we can get the humans out of the way it’s going to cost us less to service people. To me that’s exactly the wrong way to look at it. What bots should be able to do they should be able to take away some cost for the questions that are easily answerable but I think the best use case for bots actually is helping agents be smarter. Imagine an agent that’s sitting next to IBM’s Watson that’s got the answer to every question or Google is got the answer to every question in the world plus everything that’s ever happened on that customers account and it’s right there it doesn’t have to be searched it doesn’t have to be scanned that could make agents much stronger at being human and doing the things that we need them to do that the machines can’t do. 

 

Jim Rembach:     That is actually the best case right now especially when you started talking about the whole complexity issue that is the best way to be able to support a customer interaction by deploying in that fashion. Okay, so what we’re talking about here the whole disruption being disrupted being a disruptor rapid change all of those things it’s just riddled with a whole lot of anxiety and emotion. And one of the things that we look at on the show to help keep us focused hopefully and grounded and pointed in the right direction are quotes, is there a quote or two that you like that you can share? 

 

Dan Gingiss:      Well Jim, I’m not sure you’re going to like this one because I’m actually going to provide a quote from the World Series champion, Chicago Cubs manager Joe Madden, who I believe is going to eventually retire from baseball and become a business consultant because most of his quotes about baseball are amazingly applicative to business. And my favorite one of his is only three words I was hoping I might set the record on your show for the shortest quote his quote is, Do simple better.  And what he’s talking about in baseball of course is running hard to first base on every hit—the simple six four three double play should always be made not dropping the ball out of your glove. It’s when you do the simple things right then there creates some space to make mistakes on the more complicated things. But I take do simple better and I look at it from a customer experience perspective and it is almost always the answer to the question whatever the question is it is do it more simply and it’s going to be a better customer experience. So that’s one that I come back to all the time and I love sharing examples of doing simple better. One that I just experienced that I loved, I was in this restaurant that had two different parts there was a pizza side of the restaurant like a more Italian side and so two different seating areas and they were separated by these two swinging doors back and forth doors. And I’m watching this because there’s tons of people going back and forth between these doors there’s customers, there’s waiters with big trays of food and what is astounding to me is no one’s running into each other I’m like, why is this working so well? I go up and I look at the doors and normally when you come to any sort of door you see one of two words you see push or pull and you also know that most people screw that up or many people do they’re two very similar words they both start with PU—you’re pulling this door like why doesn’t worry because it says push these two doors did not say push and pull one of them said yes and the other one said no. And it was so simple that no one had to think, they actually didn’t even have to break strive in which door to go through and not one person messed it up. I thought that was a great example of do simple better because what’s simpler than yes and no. And yet the first time I’ve ever seen doors labeled yes and no because millions and millions and millions of doors are still labeled push and pull. 

 

Jim Rembach:     I think that’s a great example. I do have to get props the only issue that I have with Joe Madden is that he’s on the wrong side of town. 

 

Dan Gingiss:      Fair enough. 

 

Jim Rembach:     Okay, so he talked about that whole childhood memory thing and I got to bring it up. Growing up in the South Side of Chicago, Gingiss Formal wear was the place where everybody went and got their tuxedos and I have three brothers, my older brothers are six and seven years older than me and I remember getting fitted at Gingiss Formal wear, what’s the relationship? 

 

Dan Gingiss:      So you are actually—all the interviews I’ve done you’re the first person to ask me that, so thank you for that. So Gingiss formal wear was a formal wear rental and retail shop at its peak it had about I think it’s about 250 stores throughout the US. It was actually founded by my grandfather and then run by my dad who was the president from 1971 to the late 80s. I was always a very popular kid around prom time in high school I don’t know why, maybe not as much with the girls as I want to do but the guy certainly wanted to get to know me, but, yeah it was really interesting to sort of watch this family business now it was sold before I was old enough to be in the workforce. Certainly a lot of the things that I have learned about business and still use today are things that I learned from watching my dad. 

 

Jim Rembach:     I know when you start talking about having that influence as far as from your dad, when you start thinking about the executive level, which is where he was, and that actual frontline level how much do you remember or recall your dad being able to really give you an understanding of the frontline instead of the executive view? 

 

Dan Gingiss:      I’m glad you asked that because that’s one of the key things that’s probably the best leadership advice I’ve ever received which is you can learn anything from anyone and in particular you can probably learn the most from the frontline. So two things that my dad did, one that remember because I saw him do and then one that he’s told me about. The one that I remember is he walked into his office every single morning and he walked by every person’s desk and said good morning. Even as the company grew even if it took him 15 minutes when he walked in the door he made the rounds every morning to go say good morning to people. He knew everybody’s name they knew his name and I think that was a really great personal touch. But the story that he tells me that always sticks out is that there was a plant on the west side of Chicago where they cleaned all of the garments, because there’s a rental business, and so it was out of the downtown area, and he would go visit the plants and obviously he talked to the plant management and what-have-you but he always made sure to go down to the floor and talk to the guys operating the press machines and all these things. 

 

What he tells me is he remembers this one guy that’s operating this machine and he’s sweating like crazy and he starts talking to him and the guy tells him that the air conditioners broken. And my dad says, really how long’s the air conditioner broken? And he said, it’s been broken for months and the manager of the place didn’t want to tell his management because he knew it would be an expense and all that sort of stuff. And my dad said, I would have never known that the air conditioner was broken or that my employees were uncomfortable because of it had I not talked to this guy because management wasn’t going to tell me that and I thought that was really,  really important that I’ve always tried to make sure whether it’s a secretary or somebody who’s just a junior entry level person I’ve always taken a lot of time especially discover to mentor folks right out of college and people who are just starting off in their career and sometimes need advice even on what to wear to work w simple questions like that nobody tells you. And so I’ve always really tried to value—when I have younger people work for me I always make sure they know that I think their opinions just as important as anybody else’s opinion. I’ve found many people are shy about sharing their opinion. One of the things that I learned that I thought was super important is about understanding the people all the way down to the customer-facing level.

 

Jim Rembach:     I think that’s a great story. I love the part that you even shared about your own personal experience and making sure that you’re expanding yourself meaning that w you’re giving that coaching and that mentoring to the next generation and that’s something that I think we all have to focus in on continually doing. Even if we’re an emerging leader we’re a new leader there’s still—even yet a younger generation out there that could learn from you.

 

Dan Gingiss:      There always will be.

 

Jim Rembach:     Always. Alright, so when we start talking about this whole transition—talking about to the university, going to McDonald’s working—all these different things and even where you are today Dan Gingiss:      I’m sure there’s humps that you personally have had to get over that taught you a lot, can you share one of those stories with us so that we can learn? 

Yeah, so I was thinking about what story to share here and I wanted to pick one again that I’ve never shared on an interview because I thought it’d be interesting and hopefully people can learn something from it. So you mentioned in my intro that I went to business school that wasn’t really on my to-do list either. I was really enjoying my job at the Danbury Mint I was learning a lot I love the people I love the products and it was just fun. But there was a young woman in my apartment building who I actually went to college with and we became good friends in the apartment building and she decided to take the

GMAT. And so I said, alright well I’ll take the GMAT with you good idea, sometimes you just need a little nudge and so she’s the nudge, and I’m studying for the GMAT and for whatever reason and it’s always been a little strange to me because I’ve always enjoyed writing and spelling and grammar and all this but in standardized tests I always do better on the math side, not sure why, so I’m taking these practice tests on the GMAT and I’m crushing the math side like near-perfect scores on the math and I just have like ooover confidence on the math side and the verbal side I’m struggling and I just like I hate the reading comprehension stuff and reading these boring passages falling asleep and then not being able to answer the questions and all it is just a struggle and a struggle. And so my total score ends up pretty good very good but it’s miss weighted because it’s just so heavy math and then the verbal kind of picks up the rear. 

 

One of the things they tell you before you take the GMAT, I think this is true the LSAT and other standardized test is that there’s often test questions that don’t count they’re sort of testing for future versions of the test to see how people answer and how hard they are and whatever. So I go in on the day of the GMAT and the math side is first, I’m going in there with all this confidence, about halfway through I hit a question and the thing is just driving me crazy and it’s multiple choice so I’m sitting there calculating I cannot come up with even one of the answers in the multiple choice and I’m sitting but not only that I like I never lost my confidence I was like I’m come crushing this question. The question took me at least a half an hour and I don’t know to this day whether I got the question right I’m pretty confident that it was a test question that didn’t count because I’ve never seen this format before. Well, PS I didn’t actually finish the math section on the GMAT. And so we take the break and I’m like this is disaster this is like that was the section I was supposed to ace and now it’s the hardest section I’m dead I’m not going to business school this is over. 

 

And I just sort of sat there and—you know you mentioned the word bootstrapping it was like I just sort of sat down and I was like, well there’s really only one thing to do here I got to crush the verbal section I’ve never done it before her and it’s my Achilles heel but I got to just pick myself back up and I got to go do this. And I ended up having my best verbal score I’ve ever had and my total score while not as high as I would have liked it to be and not as high as my practice tests was high enough to get into Kellogg. And what I learned from that is that there’s usually a solution out there you just have to look for it and you have to be open-minded. And again you in my intro you mentioned that I’m often referred to as the idea man, I love throwing ideas up against the wall a lot of them don’t stick a lot of them are crazy and outlandish but I believe that that spurs on a different way of thinking that sometimes it’s just the nugget that you need to lead to that great idea. And I lean back on the GMAT story just because it was one of those scenarios where I was sitting there for a few minutes thinking I’m just doomed there’s no answer I’m finished and ultimately there was an answer it was that I had to dig a little bit deeper and I had to just spend a little bit more time paying a little bit more attention to those passages that were boring and read them and get them done. I think the fact that I was able to do it convinced me that this concept of always looking for a solution even when one doesn’t seem to exist is the right strategy.

 

Jim Rembach:     Well thanks for sharing that story and I’m glad you were able to regroup so darn quickly. I think that in itself is maybe a little bit hard wiring that came from the Gingis lineage somewhere. 

 

Dan Gingiss:      Maybe you’ll see. 

 

Jim Rembach:     Hopefully you’re passing that on to your kids. Exactly. Okay, so when I look at—the book, when I talk about your consultative work your speaking   you’re doing a lot of different things but if you talk about one goal, what would it?

 

Dan Gingiss:      Ironically the goal I would say is to figure out what I want to be when I grow up. Because I do a lot of things on the side that are separate from my job but there are things that I’m interested in and passionate about I don’t know whether eventually I make a career out of that or not but one of the things I’ve also learned is you should follow your passion. Because when you’re doing things that are fun that you’re passionate about you do a good job with them and they make you happy. And that all said I was never one of those people to like write down a five or ten year plan for my career I don’t know why it just never felt comfortable to me, and so I still don’t have one. I think that my goal is to really figure out like, okay, I’m sort of in the middle of my career right now I’ve been working for twenty years and although early retirement definitely sounds great I’m not sure that it’s happening so that goal really is like, what do I want to do where I can show up to work every day and have fun and be passionate and love what I do? It’s like—I forget what the quote is, but basically, do what you love and love what you do, it is basically what I think and that’s my goal. 

 

Jim Rembach:     And the Fast Leader legion wishes you the very best. Alright, here we go Fast Leader legion it’s time for the Hump Day Hoedown. Okay, Dan, 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 but your job is to give us a robust yet rapid responses that are going to help us move onward and upward faster. Dan Gingiss, are you ready to hoedown? 

 

Dan Gingiss:      I am ready. 

 

Jim Rembach:     Okay, what do you think is holding you back from being an even better leader today?

 

Dan Gingiss:      I’m going to give you this link to include in your show notes there’s a great article recently called How Leaders Can Best Lead Leaders and it felt like it was talking to me in terms of the things that I want from a leader being empowered focusing on what leaders are good at believing in them to lead etc. I think the thing that would make me an even better leader is having the leadership to lead leaders both as myself but also the people above me. Finding the right people above me to help lead the leader that is Dan. 

 

Jim Rembach:     You had mentioned it before but I’ll ask again, what is the best leadership advice you’ve ever received?

 

Dan Gingiss:      I think the best leadership advice is that you can learn from anyone and everyone in the company plays a role an important role, whether they’re at the bottom of the org chart or all the way up at CEO and so make sure that you stay open-minded to learn from everyone. 

 

Jim Rembach:     What is one of your secrets that you believe contributes to your success?

 

Dan Gingiss:      I think a sense of humor and a laid-back attitude especially at work. When work gets stressful it’s no fun and I always try to create a fun atmosphere for my teams and be laid-back enough to allow people to do their thing but also hold them accountable for accomplishments. 

 

Jim Rembach:     What is one of your best tools that helps lead you in business or life?

 

Dan Gingiss:      I would say people leadership. I consider it one of my strengths and I think if you talk to people that have worked for me at every job that I’ve had they would say that I was a one of the bosses they really liked. And again it’s about understanding that everybody’s different on a team everybody has different skills everybody likes to work differently but that everybody’s valuable and figuring out how to really take advantage of the strengths of the team. 

 

Jim Rembach:     What would be one book that you’d recommend to our legion it could be from any genre, of course we’re going to put a link to Social Customer Care on your show notes page as well. 

 

Yeah, I’d actually like to throw out my podcast partners new book, Joey Coleman wrote a book called, Never Lose a Customer Again, and as we’ve been talking about my passion for customer experience I think that this book does a great, great job of identifying some of the key reasons why customers or clients leave companies usually very early on in the relationship and how to stop that from happening. So I think it’s very practical guide good read and Joey’s just a great guy.

 

Jim Rembach:     Okay, Fast Leader legion you can find links to that and other bonus information from today’s show by going to fastleader.net/Dan Gingiss. Okay, Dan, this is my last hump day hump day hoedown question: Imagine you were given the opportunity go back to the age 25 and you can take the knowledge and skills that you have now back with you but you can’t take everything you can only choose one. What skill or piece of knowledge would you take back with you and why?

 

Dan Gingiss:      Very quickly before I answer that question. I once went to bartending school and I just wanted to do it for fun but when I went to go get my first bartending job I ran into a problem which was that bartending jobs were really only available for people who had been bartenders before which begs the question of, well then how do you ever become a bartender? So the thing that I would take back is people leadership skills. Because that’s a very similar thing one of the toughest advancements in a company is to become a manager of people because usually they’re looking for people who have managed people and so how do you ever get to be a manager if you haven’t managed people? And so I was lucky enough to manage people on my very first job but I didn’t really know what I was doing I sort of went with what seemed right and I think now with 20 years of experience I would take that back and be an even better people leader.

 

Jim Rembach:     Dan it was not her to spend time with you today, can you please share with the Fast Leader Legion how they can connect with you?

 

Dan Gingiss:      Absolutely. I am very active on Twitter @DGingiss that’s you can also hit me on LinkedIn, my website is winning @social.com and definitely come listen to us on the Experience This Show, we have a great time it’s a super fun show and I promise you’ll learn something to be able to bring back to your business.

 

Dan Gingiss 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. 

 

END OF AUDIO 

 

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