Keith Pearce Show Notes Page
Keith Pearce was a young manager working for a company that was in decline while living in Europe. He was given the corporate script to read as he told employees they no longer had a job. He practiced his speech and then he had to look people in the eye. That’s when his plan required a change.
Keith was born in Colorado Springs, CO the son of a career Air Force officer – and raised with the dual identities of a southerner from his father’s roots in North Central Florida and a New England identity from his mother’s roots in Boston. The youngest of 3, the values of family first, serving others, supporting those less fortunate and hard work were consistent themes of the Pearce household. This showed up in the form of weekend chores, a home environment run with military discipline, and sports and work participation from very early ages. At 13, Keith had his first job bussing tables at Perkins Restaurant. He’s lived in eleven different states and two different countries from his upbringing and career.
For over twenty years Keith Pearce has pursued a passion for customer service and technology — working in multiple facets of the service industry to help companies realize the benefits of great service. At Siemens, he worked in sales and marketing to grow the market for its call center solutions. At start-up SpeechWorks, he helped create the initial market for speech recognition software, working in business consulting and marketing. While at contact center software leader Genesys, Keith ran EMEA marketing from Paris, France before leading the company’s solution and corporate marketing functions.
In his current role as Vice President of Product Marketing at Salesforce, he continues to pursue his passion for the service industry, and the service trailblazers who work in it, by emphasizing the opportunity for business leaders to connect with their customers in a whole new way — while creating awareness for the company’s leading Service Cloud solution. He is a frequent speaker, blogger and commentator on how technology is changing the way companies and their customers communicate.
Keith holds degrees from the University of Florida and Georgetown University. He lives in Moraga, CA with his wife, a kindergarten teacher, and two boys, ages 13 and 16. The legacy he is proud to leave behind is consistent with what he enjoyed from his early upbringing: serve others, leaves things better than you found them, be kind, show compassion, be a global citizen and, more than anything, stay humble.
Tweetable Quotes and Mentions
“There’s various ways people can serve; we’re working in customer service.” -Keith Pearce Click to Tweet
“The fundamental thing in business is serve customers.” -Keith Pearce Click to Tweet
“Bells and whistles can only appease for so long.” -Keith Pearce Click to Tweet
“For a company to differentiate itself, it isn’t by bells and whistles.” -Keith Pearce Click to Tweet
“It’s very hard to beat a great and consistent customer experience.” -Keith Pearce Click to Tweet
“Get into a relationship thinking about long-term value for both.” -Keith Pearce Click to Tweet
“Products are customized with services and elevated to experiences.” -Keith Pearce Click to Tweet
“How do you communicate change in different terms than your own narrative?” -Keith Pearce Click to Tweet
“Sometimes there’s no good way to deliver bad news.” -Keith Pearce Click to Tweet
“We fall into patterns as people and look up, and something tragic happens.” -Keith Pearce Click to Tweet
“You’re serving people, not a machine or computer.” -Keith Pearce Click to Tweet
“You get closer to having it figured out by taking someone else’s perspective.” -Keith Pearce Click to Tweet
“Everyone has something they do better than you.” -Keith Pearce Click to Tweet
“The more you think you’ve got it all figured out, the more trouble you’re in.” -Keith Pearce Click to Tweet
Hump to Get Over
Keith Pearce was a young manager working for a company that was in decline while living in Europe. He was given the corporate script to read as he told employees they no longer had a job. He practiced his speech and then he had to look people in the eye. That’s when his plan required a change.
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email: pistolprce [at] yahoo.com
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Show Transcript:Click to access edited transcript
136: Keith Pearce: That’s probably where I grew up the most
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.
Jim Rembach: Welcome Fast Leader legion. Today’s episode was actually recorded on location at call center weekend Las Vegas. We’re at the Mirage Hotel and had an opportunity to do it in front of a live audience at the event. I hope you enjoy this interview. And now on to the interview with Keith Pearce.
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Okay, Fast Leader legion today I am really excited because I have somebody on the show today who can give us a global perspective of what is like to work in the contact center customer experience space. Keith Pearce was born in Colorado Springs, Colorado. A son of a career Air Force officer and raised with dual identities of a southerner from his father’s roots in North Central Florida and a New England identity from his mother’s roots in Boston. The youngest of 3, the values of family first, serving others, supporting those less fortunate and hard work were consistent themes of the Pearce household. This showed up in the form of weekend chores, a home environment run with military discipline, and sports and work participation from very early ages. At 13, Keith had his first job bussing tables at Perkins Restaurant. He’s lived in eleven different states and two different countries from his upbringing and career.
For over twenty years Keith Pearce has pursued a passion for customer service and technology — working in multiple facets of the service industry to help companies realize the benefits of great service. At Siemens, he worked in sales and marketing to grow the market for its call center solutions. At start-up, SpeechWorks, he helped create the initial market for speech recognition software, working in business consulting and marketing. While at contact center software leader Genesys, Keith ran EMEA marketing from Paris, France before leading the company’s solution and corporate marketing functions.
In his current role as Vice President of Product Marketing at Salesforce, he continues to pursue his passion for the service industry, and the service trailblazers who work in it, by emphasizing the opportunity for business leaders to connect with their customers in a whole new way — while creating awareness for the company’s leading Service Cloud solution. He is a frequent speaker, blogger and commentator on how technology is changing the way companies and their customers communicate. Keith holds degrees from the University of Florida and Georgetown University. He lives in Moraga, CA with his wife, a kindergarten teacher, and two boys, ages 13 and 16. The legacy he is proud to leave behind is consistent with what he enjoyed from his early upbringing: serve others, leave things better than you found them, be kind, show compassion, be a global citizen and, more than anything, stay humble. Keith Pearce, are you ready to help us get over the hump?
Keith Pearce: I am. I’m ready to try this, thank you.
Jim Rembach: I appreciate it your being here. Now, I’ve given our listeners 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.
Keith Pearce: I’m very passionate about this area of customer service, customer experience. I didn’t choose this career deliberately to go into. And as you read my father came from military background up to the ends of my family but there are various ways that you can serve whether it’s support in government in the military or working in this industry, customer service. And for me I just get a lot of pride at helping people it makes us feel good. We help people solve problem speed that—customer service department, retail department anywhere you interact with the customers for me that’s sort of the innate and just what I love to do.
Jim Rembach: Thanks for sharing that. You bring up a really interesting point because oftentimes people are almost ashamed to say that they work in the contact center industry. But based on what you were just saying and even your family upbringing it’s actually a quite noble profession.
Keith Pearce: I think it’s extremely noble. I think it’s kind of interesting with all the pride and innovation to see the companies all of this strategy, all the smart CEO’s the fundamental thing some of the stalwarts in business start as Henry Ford’s and Walden on and on it’s just to serve customers. And that ethos I think we got away from when we rushed to kind of launch new products and you price promotions and things like that sensing how it keeps them around. When they started customer service customer experience did that at one time as a differentiator for business. A lot of people did very well felt the industries innovated with that sort of (5:00 inaudible) what they did.
Jim Rembach: I can only imagine too looking at your background and experience in that when you start talking about products and solutions many years ago it used to be the whole features and benefit things this are our bells and our whistles and when you start looking at the buyer of today, are they still looking for the bells and whistles? Or are they looking for something different?
Keith Pearce: I think they’re looking for the experience, the whole experience and they realize the bells and whistles are—they can only last so long and then sort of piece what they’re looking for. The thing that’s consistently sustainable for company to differentiate itself aren’t bells and whistles—they’ll have the same look for an iPhone since the iPhone watches. If they want a competitive interest rate another bank will have it just literally within days sometimes within hours that’s where technology works best they’re able to do that but it’s very hard to be the great consistent customer experience and if you can deliver on that that differentiate in long term.
Jim Rembach: So there used to be unless we’ve heard—when you’re starting about domestic and international you have that global experience and exposure with what you do, what big differences do you see globally when you start talking about the experience and the service piece?
Keith Pearce: It’s interesting having lived in Europe for almost third of my life and travel a lot there is a change in the dynamic between the company where provider and customer outside the working area context. In some places you have to take all of the wall—so that being a good customer and not just having when can expectations are going to be serve the same way you’re served in U in parts of your Europe for example. Some of that speaks to their culture and the heritage and frankly but—we went to a shop in France people are tripping over themselves to serve you, why? In their society you’re in their home and they’re very proud of what they have. So the greeting that you make to the shopkeeper to acknowledge you’re in their home is really important it diffuses some of the tension a lot of Americans receive when they make bad sounds from the French. And I just know new flat with French If you know how to get service there the best customer experiences and moments I’ve ever had. In France right, and most of the (7:20 inaudible) have a very different view and opinion of that, they’re arrogant, they’re snobs, you’re in their home, you’re in their country if you make some basic efforts to show that you appreciate their things what they’re providing the return you get is just incredible.
Jim Rembach: For me, I’m certified in emotional intelligence and the whole employee engagement piece and the leadership is important component and when you start thinking about a client-vendor relationship I’ve heard where you think about the EMEA market specifically there’s a whole different way that business is done that is absolutely more heavy on the relationship than we experience here tell us more about that?
Keith Pearce: I think back to the culture and the heritage I think that general statement but you know Americans are—maybe our geography, we’re engage in shorter relationship it seems like just want to move from one to another quickly. In Europe, my experience is they have eager relationships for longer amount of time because it’s harder to really make a relationship and then have one that is more sustained. And I think that’s the way they view customer relationship as well once you have a customer that’s like a member of the family you treat them with all the dignity sickled with that all the respect, courtesy and openness. Whereas in the American side at least in perspective it’s more of what are you trying to get out of a relationship? What are you finding? And often those conditions are I think it’s just fin the meaning in a relationship and next to sustainable.
Jim Rembach: So when you start thinking about overall value on both sides of the purchase, whether it’s the client’s side and the actual vendor side and the relationship being such an important component. When you start thinking about the differences globally, what can we learn here in the States that others are doing in order to help us get more value out of the relationship that we have with our vendors?
Keith Pearce: Yeah, I think it’s probably the move from sort of transactional—what can I sell you now? How can I move to the other—you don’t have to look very far in the last couple of months to see what kind of trouble like can be things in you name it. Companies like Uber reputations they have where they’re going to exploit the customer somehow and that might not be overt initially that might be something you have to dig for but that kind of bad behavior just kind of has a way of coming on the roost just like. So, I think if you begin a relationship thinking about long term value of creation for both in that how do I transact? How do I sell you the next thing till I’ve really deliver for what I set? How do I perform my promise as a vendor for a client? For me those are the kind of relationship customers are looking for today what they’re willing to pay more for. It doesn’t only show up on the Balance Sheet on the first quarter or the second quarter in the first year than long term. It’s interesting if (10:27 inaudible)their business model hasn’t change in a long time, put customers first do everything you can to serve the customer, probably read the books about the things they do it’s just old fashioned ethos. It’s moving into the digital, yes, but people still hang on premium for goods there and probably stay because of that service and that relationship.
Jim Rembach: If you’re going to give somebody some advice who was looking for a solution and they have a mindset like, hey, I’m going to look and have everybody just kind of compete and bid against each other, who would you tell that type of person?
Keith Pearce: I think it depends on the industry that you’re in but I just don’t think you’re setting yourself up for long term value of creation or gain if you do that, If you’re engaged in that kind of transaction. It depends on the industry but if you’re trying to sell a commodity then maybe that makes sense. As long as (11:20 inaudible) it doesn’t matter where they comes from that’s being (11:23 inaudible). Try to sell something that’s got value and background and has a service background. We’re in an experience economy where goods and products are customized and services and I think they’re elevated to experiences. That doesn’t translate across every industry but in main stream industry is where the goods are very hard to distinguish from each other this is so easy to replicate it but it’s the overall experience (11:49 inaudible).
Jim Rembach: So when you start thinking about when you came onboard with Salesforce you inherited quite (11:56 inaudible) and so when you look at all of the things that you had in front of you what was the thing that you actually addressed first?
Keith Pearce: We’re still addressing it’s the awareness that Salesforce has a service solution. Salesforce by our name we’re synonymous with sales. And the company starts 17 years ago as a cloud base provider, an Internet service for sales persons. Our sales people maintain our contact list within our forecast, grow the pipeline identify leads in that system. That suppose something is challenge whenever there’s opportunity because it’s not a name in the name and we do service and we’re not going to change the name of the service force right away. So that’s the biggest challenge how do you take a company that’s known for Salesforce automation, that does great things around marketing and elevate this great service solution that we have that not enough people of those bounds are using.
Jim Rembach: Oftentimes, they talk about the disconnect between sales and service in organization a situations where—this is just an example, sales roll a promise and then services unable to deliver and the marketing messages is very convoluting. So when you start thinking about your relationship with your sales organization, how do you create a tighter bond and bridge to let you have more success?
Keith Pearce: Yeah, it’s now in Australia but it is it’s all about customer success. What we’re selling is a subscription it’s not like a subscription of a magazine. If the customers like they can cancel the subscription so that business model requires you to make customers successful for their own. So, that for me is part of real compelling nature of foul economics but also putting customers at the center breaking out that wall. There’s a paragon we’ve talked about earlier, I don’t have the name of the company that was selling accounts to customer they didn’t know I have, why? Because it worked and the shareholders wanted to see more cross central activity, you know exactly what we’re talking about and it’s time we need to know. So short term gain, yeah, they knock down the stock price? Yeah, did that make some people a couple more hundred million dollars (13:56 inaudible)? Sure (13:59 inaudible) and a bunch of sold accounts to customer if they didn’t know they had one they didn’t know they want. So, their transformation is hard with learn in line with sales and service where it’s not about what did I sell it’s like how can I provide value in a relationship and how do we grow that together at the time.
Jim Rembach: So when you start thinking about your role within Salesforce as an organization and what you’re trying to do as service cloud and you look at the competitive landscape, which like you were saying is kind of hard to tell your solution providers from one to the next, what about Salesforce from a culture-perspective and a relationship-perspective sets you apart from the rest?
Keith Pearce: It’s the ethos of customer success. When you come to our bench, yes, there’s the grandstanding every company does having their evangelist talking about where the technology is going, we do that great, but everything we deal is constant the customer talking about how to use it. So we go and qualify the little amount about having a customer sort of bouncing for it and talking about how they’re using it how it’s saving the money or how investment and that’s I think a reflection of that model of customer’s success. You don’t have that if you don’t have this ethos of make every customer successful. And you don’t have to come to work every day thinking about how we’re going to make customer satisfied. We hear that a lot that and that clings on a different meaning when someone will turn you off like that.
Jim Rembach: So when we start talking about this industry that we’re in, when we start talking about the buy- sell the vendor relationship climate all those things there’s a lot of passion with that. One of the things we look at on the show are quotes because a lot of times they can kind of give us the energy, is there a quote that you can share?
Keith Pearce: Yeah, it’s interesting you ask that because I didn’t workshop living in the side that the workshop session it falls on Tuesday, the day we’re together now. I use this quote from Socrates of ancient Greece which is—the secret of change is to focus all of your energy not on fighting the old but on building the new. That’s one that have meaning to me on my personal level, business relationship level where we talked about before but also in the context of where the system is going and change. If you think about change in those terms I’d say a long time ago and still just down until today.
Jim Rembach: Definitely it carries on for and will forever till the ends of days as they say. I started looking at your background a look at the companies that you work with the moving around you had a whole lot of experiences for certain but you’ve also had probably a lot of humps to get over. Is there one that you could share with us?
Keith Pearce: Yeah. I think about when I was in Europe and I was working for a company that was in decline and was clear to everyone. And so that isn’t always a pretty environment to walk and do every day when you know you got to make tough decisions. At a fairly young age where I have to make tough decisions about who’s going to be on the team moving forward and who wasn’t? The way people embrace change or don’t can create challenges from end at such fairly young man at that time. That learning from how you communicate change and put them in context for people in different terms than what is your own (17:24 inaudible) You want to practice you’re own speech and this is going to be the best case for everyone is that it doesn’t always translate, it’s doesn’t always flow over say that sort of step out of your shoes and think of that from other people’s perspective helps me pack it down. And sometimes there is no way to deliver good news but now I think seeing change from other people’s perspective than your own. You get the script from the company to read and yet when you’re looking somebody in the eye you have to tell them this stuff as exactly as it was that’s when you can grow up and that’s when you really get humbled about change.
Jim Rembach: So when you start thinking about those times are really, like you said they are really challenging, but can you think about one of those interactions that kind of stands out with you that you could share with us?
Keith Pearce: Yeah, I think part of the downsizing and having to tell people they don’t have a job anymore. In European context there’s a different, there’s an informant from my—sense versus this decision the company has made there’s not so much from recognition with that. So, I think in going through that and having to have those conversations with people and helping people understand how their talents and skills quite outside of where they were already. I went from—I’m going to start with this script and everything else will be great to really help and understand if a person will when everyone I was talking to how this would impact them and how their skills will be used in another places and ways. And it just getting beyond the whole (19:03 inaudible) and having human conversations and human interactions and taken off the blinders if you will and looking people in the eye and having emotional intelligence. That’s where I grieve the most beside understanding self-awareness it isn’t about me it’s about them, so how do I put myself in that point.
Jim Rembach: I think you bring up an interesting point because I know for me I haven’t had those conversations before knowing that I was probably one of those that was going to be affected as well. When you start thinking about making that separation and also deviating from the script in order to get real inhuman, how do you know when to do that?
Keith Pearce: I think for me it was just framed around what do people really want to do? It’s interesting people will follow patterns. We look up something tragic happens, a job lost is a tragic event it was like a death. Having a conversation around—is this what you decide yourself to do when you’re growing up? Is this what you really want to do? It’s interesting because you have some transform analysis of people where they realize, you know what I’ve got no (20:19 inaudible) I got no pattern the passions not there never really was it was there and it’s gone. So where is the passion? In all of those things that made people feel fulfilled and happy and gratified I found a line to what their passionate about doing. Sometimes you can make it really good living like that or sometimes you have to make a lifestyle change those are some of the conversations that I went through. And probably some of the proudest things that I’ve done because humans and the people’s reaction always been where I—is most passionate about as far right now in this industry is observe people not observe machine or computer. When you can be instrumental on how can somebody find that true and event that maybe didn’t plan for and then you can see them just grow and foster and (21:11 inaudible) that’s great and got a lot of pride (21:15 inaudible)
Jim Rembach: For me as a parent of three kids I can also connect that to home as well. I like to see that type of growth and people spread their wings and being able to exceed their own expectation and help them do that and find myself doing the same thing for my kids. So when you start looking at all of the things that you have on your plate, of course make sure that this brand as far as the service cloud get its identity that you’re trying to get it to have, and them also family, you got the boys, wife, I know you have to travel in ton trying do what you’re doing, what’s one of your goals?
Keith Pearce: My primary goal is to be a good father, be a good son, be a good husband and a brother because I have brother and sister and uncle and try to live my life as a model to the people that need me for support. Everyone has different stage in life where they’re dealing with different things. By now I’m dealing with my parents getting elderly. All our lives they’ve been who we turn to where this people that are in my age back in—probably right there, that they were your support and it’s an interesting thing and that changes in you become support to them. So that’s one of my goals, how do I do that and maintain the balance I need to give the most to my immediate family as well and to my job as well. Well as everyone is here my wife and my family it’s not a long time been it’s patterned how we work and how to be a useful person.
Jim Rembach: And the And the Fast Leader legion wishes you the very best. Now let’s hear a quick word from our sponsor:
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Alright here we go Fast Leader legion it’s time for the Hump Day Hoedown. Okay, Keith, our 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 move us onward and upward faster. Keith Peirce, are you ready to hoedown?
Keith Pearce: Let’s do it.
Jim Rembach: Alright. What do think is holding you back from being an even better leader today?
Keith Pearce: More self-awareness.
Jim Rembach: What is the best leadership advice you have ever received?
Keith Pearce: Work hard.
Jim Rembach: What is one of your secrets that you believe contributes to your success?
Keith Pearce: Also work hard.
Jim Rembach: What do you feel is one of your best tools that helps you lead in business or life?
Keith Pearce: Listening.
Jim Rembach: What would be one book, and it would be from any genre that you’d recommend to our legion?
Keith Pearce: Team of Rivals by Doris Kearns Goodwin.
Jim Rembach: Okay, Fast Leader listeners you could find links to that and other bonus information from today’s show by going to fastleader.net/Keith Pearce. Okay, Keith, this is my last hump day hold on question. Imagine you were given the opportunity to go back to the age of 25 and you’ve been given the opportunity 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?
Keith Pearce: I think it would be learning to listen instead of waiting to talk and learning to understand the point of view before we express our own.
Jim Rembach: Why, why did you learn that one?
Keith Pearce: I think when you’re at that age you think you got it all figured out. I’ve got kids, believe me, it’s not just 25, one who’s 16 he said he had all figured it out and we’re all the same way when we were that age. But the irony is you get closer to having it figure it out by taking someone else’s perspective and letting them from your own. That was the book that I’ve read, Team of Rivals with Abraham Lincoln’s cabinet. Can you imagine today the President’s cabinet are diverse? And I mean diverse in the sense that we think about today but in terms of party affiliation, religious beliefs I can go on and on completely mix that and everyone said you’re crazy. But the genius of Lincoln was he said, I could take something from each one of you and (25:51 inaudible) in context that’s so warm, can you imagine? So that for me is—the more experience I get and the older I get the more I realize everyone has something they do better than you. And the more you can cut if off (26:48 inaudible) in the more trouble you’re in.
Jim Rembach: Keith, 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?
Keith Pearce: Sure, they can connect with me on LinkedIn, Keith Pearce, Twitter@pistolprce
Jim Rembach: Keith Pearce, 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