[005] Call Center Leadership, with Fred Stacey

Episode 5 July 21, 2021 00:51:18
[005] Call Center Leadership, with Fred Stacey
Scalable Call Center Sales
[005] Call Center Leadership, with Fred Stacey

Jul 21 2021 | 00:51:18


Show Notes

How do you magnify your leadership role in the Call Center Industry? What constitutes a great-performing team?

Whether it’s inbound or outbound sales, a lack of training and leadership will have a significant impact on your team’s productivity. Simply being able to sell does not imply that you can also teach, motivate, or lead a group. To be a great, positive leader, you’ll always need the correct skills, training, tools, and resources.

In this episode, Fred Stacey from Outsource Consultants, talked about his experiences as he helped failing contact centers recover throughout his 25-year career. We also discussed sales enablement tools and technology, and how they fit into the sales process.

Learn about utilizing technology and tools, successful leadership, training, and management.

Find out if your Sales Operation in Scalable

Buy Selling With Authentic Persuasion: Transform from Order Taker to Quota Breaker

Get help with your sales team

Connect with Jason on LinkedIn

Or go to Jason’s HUB – www.JasonCutter.com

Connect with Fred on LinkedIn

Fred’s Bio
25+ year contact center veteran. Passionate about contact centers (contact centres if you are across the pond) and our industry! Actively creating positive outcomes for the contact center market one partner/one client at a time. Focused on Combining technology within the contact center and outsourcing arenas

Fred’s Links

[00:00:00] Jason: [00:00:00] What’s going on, everybody. Jason here with another episode of the scalable call center sales podcast, as always, I’m super excited by special guest. Today is Fred Stacey from outsource consultants, a BPO advisory firm, a long time listeners of my previous podcast, the authentic persuasion show actually, when it was the sales experience podcast will remember.

[00:00:22] From being a guest on their episode, 1 38 season two, obviously I’ve had other conversations with him since then in various channels. But he’s back because he has over 25 years of call center contact center experience. He’s passionate about call centers and contexts. Then create positive outcomes and grow and scale with technology, with resources and things like that.

[00:00:50]So of course it’s a perfect fit for a show called the scalable call center sales podcast had to have him back. Fred, welcome to the show

[00:00:58] Fred: [00:00:58] thank you, sir. Always a pleasure, man. I’m happy to be back on with you.

[00:01:03] Jason: [00:01:03] So one of the challenges that we have that’s makes this difficult is where do we even start? How do we keep this from being a nine part series about things that could help the call center world and provide value to them where you and I determined would make the most sense was to talk about.

[00:01:22] Leadership. Talk about training, talk about management and talk about the things you’re seeing. So obviously you have a ton of experience. You’re seeing a lot of various companies, various sizes, different industries, different locations around the world. So let’s talk about the leadership dynamic, the common thing that sales teams do.

[00:01:41] And then, we’ll jump off from there.

[00:01:43] Fred: [00:01:43] Sounds like a plan. So dive right in to the meat. Yeah, think this is my number one. I think the number one problem in contact centers whether you’re talking about inbound or outbound sales and quite frankly, it goes up. Every contact center and every industry and every country I’ve ever been in.

[00:02:01]It’s the lack of attention to training and depth and knowledge to the leadership. And in particular, the middle level leader. A lot of people don’t know this about me, but I started out in the sales side. All the contact centers that I started out with was sales.

[00:02:17]And when I started to take over or recover failing centers, Mike first the first thing I did was other than learning the company and the people was to understand. The middle level leaders and move the people out and move right. People in and start developing and training and leading those people because you show me a great performing center and I guarantee they’ve got great middle level floor, lever, level leadership.

[00:02:43] And it’s the biggest gap in every center that I go into that struggle.

[00:02:48] Jason: [00:02:48] So why is that? What is causing that? I almost want to call it a leadership vacuum. Obviously there’s leaders in place, but there’s just that gap. Like you said what are you seeing or what have you historically found is the trigger for that or the cost?

[00:03:03] Fred: [00:03:03] It’s always the same thing. Somebody is successful on the phones and a leadership position that opens and they moved that person. Who’s a successful salesperson. Up to a leadership position. It’s the same thing that happens every single time, but then it’s, there’s nothing afterwards.

[00:03:19]And I love the term vacuum because it’s exactly what happens is they get put in this black hole of here you go lead and they get no tools, no training. No resources, nothing to really help them just because you can sell doesn’t mean, you can actually teach and motivate and lead a team.

[00:03:38]So that’s the number one reason, and it’s not tools, it’s not anything else. It’s the skill sets and the training to become a positive leader for the people that they’re not in charge of.

[00:03:49]Jason: [00:03:49] So going one level deeper. Why is it that you think organizations. Do that they promote somebody, they say, Hey, you’re great at sales.

[00:03:59]Now get this team to be successful just like you. And they leave them at that. Why does that happen?

[00:04:05]Fred: [00:04:05] There’s typically a lack of. Focus on training period anyways, and development. And I think it’s a core fundamental problem. And also historically, now this is changing. But historically we haven’t done a good job in our industry of building positive culture that encourages growth.

[00:04:27]We. When you look at the history of contact centers, we were cost center in everybody’s eyes for the past up until probably, yeah. 10 ish years ago. And I think we talked about this on the other podcast, a little bit about the history of actually this industry starting to get exciting over the last 10 years and really especially the last five, but yeah, we investment in the contact center in the sales end.

[00:04:53] It didn’t matter if it was sales BizDev type of Legion or. Yeah. Or customer service, quite frankly. We just, as an industry, didn’t invest in training and development. Didn’t build good cultures to promote that type of advancement and didn’t give people and build programs around the idea that sure.

[00:05:10] You can start out as an agent, but if you want to grow, here’s your path. We don’t do well at those things. We’re just not good at it.

[00:05:18] Jason: [00:05:18] It’s interesting when you talk about cost center, because that takes me back. Year was 2000. It was between 2000 and 2002. I had my first real job air quotes. I went from the restaurant business to working as a contractor at Microsoft doing tech support.

[00:05:35] So not a Microsoft employee, but a outsourced, but onsite filling up their tubes. And the training I thought was amazing because it was two weeks of training. It was product training. We were learning all the products that we had to support. At a certain level and just being familiar with it, but then we jumped into the cubes and took calls.

[00:05:55] And then that was basically the extent of the training and the supervising and the helping and anything. And the cost center part that always makes me laugh is we’re talking 2000, so it’s a long time. It’s not that long ago, but in that environment, because tech support was viewed as a cost center, we had all the remnants and leftovers.

[00:06:14] Like I had two mismatched monitors that were like 11 inches. I had a keyboard that was missing keys. Like the mouse mostly worked when somebody would get fired, like you’d go scavenge their desk to try to get something slightly better. Weird chairs. Like we were just treated like a cost center.

[00:06:31] And it’s interesting to see that. And then reflect on what you’re saying, where if an organization is treating any of it, even sales okay, you’re a cost center generate sales, but still, we’re just going to try to run it as lean as we can. They’re not putting any of that effort into it.

[00:06:44] Fred: [00:06:44] Yeah. And the human development piece is something, it’s constant.

[00:06:48] You, you have to invest in it and you have to invest in it forever. Natural attrition and what we do and sales, especially in contexts. Natural attrition. There’s always going to be a problem. So investing in those people, it goes back to the old adage. I always loved it. The CFO comes to the CEO and says what, if we invest all this money and they leave and the CEO says what if we don’t and they stay that’s, the challenge is overcoming that mentality.

[00:07:16]Hey, we’re just a cost center. We’ve got to keep our costs as low as possible to drive the best profitability and the oh, and not invest in our people that day and age has gone. You look at the demographics of the gen Z ears. And what they’re going to accept from a company that’s hiring them.

[00:07:33]That if you don’t create some kind of culture that gets people excited to come to work people our age, aren’t going to go sit in a call center. Generally speaking and make outbound sales not unless you pay them really well, right? Or you give them a culture and you give them learning and development, a growth path and invest in them.

[00:07:54] And I think that’s the dynamic that we’re running into right now in our country. Is we in the contact center space historically? Not been great at that.

[00:08:03] Jason: [00:08:03] Yeah. And I think that goes back to your story between the CFO and the CEO is that if you’re not building a good culture, if you’re not providing that support, the long-term, human development side then the people you do hire, attract that are willing to work in your center.

[00:08:21]Are guns perpetuate what you’re mostly afraid of because they’re not going to be very good. You’re not going to help them be better. You’re going to have high turnover and a high cost per acquisition because their selling effectiveness is going to be low, which is then what I think triggers that kind of scarcity mindset from owners and leaders that say we don’t want to invest in our people because they’re just going to leave.

[00:08:43]Then we have such high turnover. It’s the chicken and the egg, because if you invested in. Maybe they would stay, maybe you’d get better people maybe you’d have less of this turnover and the fallout, right?

[00:08:54] Fred: [00:08:54] Yeah. Form better. And all the reasons why we know that investing in people and engagement.

[00:09:00] So why in, I hear everybody talk about customer experience and I know that’s a little sidetrack from sales, but it. Everybody wants to talk about the customer and people are forgetting the agent. The agent experience is more critical in my mind. It always has been cause if you can create a positive environment and especially in sales, there’s a reason why we used to say, and we’d still say smile and dial because the smile is necessary, right.

[00:09:26]They want that passion. You want the engagement and at home, especially in the hybrid world that we live in post COVID. Yeah. She got to figure out a way to engage these people and you have to give them ways to grow as individuals and encourage and invest. Don’t think there’s a choice anymore.

[00:09:46] I think it’s really the days of running boiler room type mentalities with no culture building and no Ew training and no development. I think they’re gone. And if they’re not gone yet, they will.

[00:10:01] Jason: [00:10:01] I and I, you don’t me, you know me well enough to know that I completely agree with you. And unfortunately, I think that’s also inaccurate because I.

[00:10:12] Those shops are always around. I think they find a way to be successful enough and I think they just will. I don’t know why. It just seems like they never go away. And I think for the same reason that the snake oil salesman mode. Which is a term from a long time ago when you know, there’s a whole story behind that, but why that’s just always a thing there’s always, I wouldn’t say it’s a sucker born every minute, but there’s always some population that is okay.

[00:10:39] Dealing with that kind of boiler room and some group of people who want to work in that kind of environment. Hopefully it’ll go be less, hopefully the information and transparency age that we’re in. We’ll just continue to make. Less successful, less chances. Obviously, if you’re running a center like that, and you’re listening to this, you’re probably not listening to this kind of a podcast, but if you are in that mode and you want to switch, then obviously it’s about switching that culture.

[00:11:02] It’s about switching things internally. And it’s interesting. You’re talking about that smile and dial. What comes to my mind is I have learned because I’m so sensitive to it. And I can tune in is that if I interact with Salesforce, I know what the company culture is and how the company treats their employees based on how the salesperson treats the customer and interacts and the attitude and what they do and say okay, it’s a reflection, it starts from the top down. And I could literally tell you the attitude of the CEO based on talking to a single Salesforce.

[00:11:37] Fred: [00:11:37] Yeah. I have seen environments where the mid-level leadership can overcome that because they’re really good at motivating and they really do care about them. The adage of people leave, their managers.

[00:11:48]I completely believe in, but you’re right. You can definitely see the top-down dynamics driven all the way down to the salesperson based on the way they communicate and how they move on to the next one, I think is it’s more interesting. It gives you a better insight. Because if they’re just like yeah, you can tell a lot of people can smile and dial and then they hang up the phone and every other word is, a cuss word and, then they go about their day, but there’s no genuine yeah, there’s no genuine engagement in their voice or the way they interact.

[00:12:22]Which always impacts their numbers, especially in phone-based sales, everything’s in the boys. Yeah,

[00:12:29] Jason: [00:12:29] well, which is interesting too, because when I was writing my book and my editor was reading through it, and there’s a part in there where. I share this attitude that I’ve seen. I saw when I had my first sales job with other coworkers, they would do what you said, would they get off the phone?

[00:12:44] And the sentiment is find them flee some and forget it, right? Sell them and then move on. Hope they lose your number. And my editor is like, is that really a thing? Is that an attitude? I’m like, absolutely it is, it can be rough. And obviously that comes internally. And if you’re running an organization, it’s about what you tolerate, don’t you have that culture.

[00:13:03] So we’re talking about that leadership piece. One of the things that strikes me. And I think this is the counter to the law logic of you need to have that in place is something you said, which even made me feel overwhelmed, which is you have to have that in place forever. Like long-term, and I know, from a leadership standpoint, you want to build something and do it and then be able to not have to do it again and again, to have a leadership, human capital development training thing.

[00:13:27] In place forever continue education, leadership, training, and development, like that can feel overwhelming. Do you think that is what kind of gets in the way?

[00:13:36]Fred: [00:13:36] Yeah, I think that’s a piece, right? But it comes down to, build and choosing to build a great long lasting organization or choosing to just build something to make a paycheck.

[00:13:47]There’s difference. Yeah. In the way that you build an organization. I think that, yes, that’s right. That’s part of it. Some of them don’t know how some of them believe that I’d be too expensive. Again I will always say, what’s the alternative then?

[00:14:01] How expensive is it to trip at 110% rate? And that’s, those are, that can really happen and does happen. Yeah. It’s a lack of really looking at the trueness of what are the numbers. What is my attrition? How much is that really costing you? So I’d say it’s a lot of things.

[00:14:20]But yeah. Some of it is definitely, that’s a big fear, but it’s the same thing as building a culture. That’s forever, you don’t just build it once and, walk away from it and say, I’m done, it’s about the behaviors at the leadership level.

[00:14:33] And I do believe that comes from the top down. And a lot of these people, a lot of the ones I know came as entrepreneurs. Without, any reading mentors or leaders, and they built these things by their own hands because they were great salespeople, and they said, I can do this.

[00:14:49] And that’s awesome. They did. But they never developed past. That, I guess mental stage whatever your leadership level for going like Collins in some of the beliefs of different levels of leadership they just never evolved. Yeah.

[00:15:05]Jason: [00:15:05] Yeah. And that’s tough too, because it’s a huge leap.

[00:15:09] There’s big leaps. There’s from sales person. And whether you’re a rockstar or not, but from salesperson to leader to manager, in that realm where you’re leading people and helping them be effective, you’re coaching them, you’re managing them. And then there’s another huge leap from that to business owner sales, operation process, building scalability, putting together all those pieces where instead of just brute force, natural talent selling on what you can.

[00:15:38] So many people I talked to it’s okay, what scripts do you have in place? Let’s look at your comp plan. What is your training like? Oh yeah, we don’t have that. I was like, how do you have this many salespeople? And you don’t have that. It’s like just brute force trying to get through. And I love what you talked about with the development side.

[00:15:53] And I would challenge anyone. Who’s struggling with being able to justify financially investing in the training development, the longterm, especially for the leadership side we’re talking about is to do those calculations. Like you said, of attrition. There’s 2, 1, 2 main ones I talked to people about is that attrition.

[00:16:10] So how much is that costing you in the recruiting and then losing them and then replacing them. And then with that attrition comes the lost opportunity, right? If you have a salesperson and they suck and I give them 10 leads a day for however long, you want to give them leads before you fire them, what could, what are they going to close?

[00:16:30] And how much will that make you versus if you give me those 10 leads every day, And I can just crush it, because I know what I’m doing. And you can help someone get there. How much more money is that going to be? Take that difference. Put that into training and development and you’re winning.

[00:16:44] Fred: [00:16:44] Yeah. Absolutely. I would challenge anybody to same. And I think it just comes back to when you’re trying to really understand for yourself where we sit, just keep in mind how many professional coaches and the athletics anywhere. We’re the top player. Yeah. Plain and simple, the best doers are not often the best leaders.

[00:17:04]Especially in sales, I seen it, I’ve very rarely seen top salespeople make the conversion to a top sales leader. It just doesn’t work that way. It’s different mentalities. It takes a lot of investment to shift your behaviors and anybody who’s studied psychology knows.

[00:17:22] Yeah, it’s really hard as an adult to change. We’re really difficult, especially some of the fundamental things and those things that make you great at sales probably make you a sell par if not bad leader. Yeah. And I hate to say it that way, but sometimes a little dose of reality. When you’re trying to figure out and do some work on yourself and your organization, Necessary.

[00:17:46] Jason: [00:17:46] So if you were running an organization now and you have tons of experience in it yourself, be even before doing what you do now, what do you, what would you look for in somebody to move up? I’m just curious what you would say for that.

[00:18:02] Fred: [00:18:02] So are we talking like looking at age,

[00:18:05] Jason: [00:18:05] so you want to have a front line manager, you’re going to move up a salesperson.

[00:18:10]Instead of hiring external, which is another conversation we’ll get happen, but you want to move somebody up. What would you look for? That’s not just, who’s on the top of the leader.

[00:18:18] Fred: [00:18:18] When everybody in their pod team, whatever you want to call it, whenever they need something, they go to an agent.

[00:18:25] Agent, agent training is the number one way that agents learn and improve. And people miss that dynamic because they’re not willing to go spend time on the floor. So I don’t care what role you’re in. Go spend some time on the floor. If you’re looking for a new supervisor, watch your agents ask a couple of them.

[00:18:42] Who do they go to on their team? When they have questions or, they’re having challenges who were the peers that are showing those skillsets already, because there are natural leaders that can be molded and shifted and trained into the next level. They’re already out there on the teams.

[00:19:01]They’re already there. You just have to open up your eyes and be willing to see that. The fact that maybe they’re not the best performer, maybe they’re the worst performer, but they are the one that’s trusted. And trust. In leadership is something, in a person. That’s hard to, and yeah, it’s really hard to teach that.

[00:19:22]Because it’s just something we naturally do. We’re Impathics we show certain dynamics. We listened well and the best salesperson, although we could talk about consultative sales and high-end enterprise and how you have to be a great listener. But at this level, what we’re talking about, on the floor selling, over the phone, typically the best listeners are going to be going to make some of the best leaders.

[00:19:46] Willingness to learn willingness to take criticism willingness to hop in the people that want to get involved in the events, the agents that the wanna participate as part of the organization. You can tell when somebody’s bought in as you’re building out a culture and those are the people you want to build those are the ones you want to hold on.

[00:20:06] And in advance.

[00:20:08] Jason: [00:20:08] Hey, it’s Jason here. We’ll be right back to the podcast in a moment, but first are you ready to help your inside sales team close more deals? In my experience, there’s a certain percentage of your team that acts more like order takers than sales professionals. The first step to creating a scalable sales team is to equip your reps with the right mind.

[00:20:25] And proven strategies to transform them into quota breakers, to build a team of authentic persuaders that will crush their goals, email [email protected] or go to www.cutterconsultinggroup.com. I love it. It’s interesting when you describe it like that, which of course I completely agree. Is the times when I’ve been in so many different centers and just standing there as an observer, some level, like it’s not.

[00:20:51] Team I’m running, I’m either consultant or VP and I’m just observing or I’m helping out where I can. And then literally I can picture the times where I’ve seen everyone turning to a certain rep for help for guidance. What do I do here? How do I do this? Hey, what should I say here? Instead of to their manager, maybe the manager’s busy, right?

[00:21:10] The ratio is what it is. And it’s funny because what you’ve said is it’s not always the top. A lot of times you see who the top rep is, and they may try to ask that person and that person’s just. Whatever, I’m not going to share with you. I don’t care. I’m too busy. They’re closed off. Some kinds of they’re too busy sometimes because they just think they’re way better than everyone else.

[00:21:29] And there, they don’t understand why everyone else can’t see the matrix like them. So they have no patience for people who don’t get it. And then you have that person who wants to help and has the ability to help. And I think it’s interesting too, that dynamic with the worst agent, sometimes it could be the worst.

[00:21:45]And there’s that balance with, if you can’t do teach, but also what I’ve found, which is important thing to be cautious of, for anyone who is looking at this type of person to move up is they also have to have enough skills and know how to close enough deals to meet those numbers, because you, it’s also really tough to teach somebody something that you can’t.

[00:22:05] Yeah. If you haven’t made a million dollars, you’re going to be a terrible coach on how to help somebody make a million dollars. So if you’re a sales rep that you’ve never closed two deals a day, and that’s what it takes, you could put them in charge of people could trust them and their team still will.

[00:22:20] So there’s a balance there. Like you have to be careful.

[00:22:23] Fred: [00:22:23] We, yeah. And you don’t want to give off the impression that you’re rewarding somebody that’s terrible. There’s a difference. Those people, you either train out or train out. And the lowest level performers are, I’ve rarely ever found myself looking at those individuals as,

[00:22:37] Jason: [00:22:37] just more of the middle.

[00:22:40]They have some peaks that go up, they go down, they go up. Usually what happens in my experience, they go. And then they get distracted cause they want to help everyone. And then their numbers drop and it’s because they’re not doing their actual job. They’re doing a supervisors. Yeah. Yeah, exactly.

[00:22:56] That’s what happens. All right. So for people tuning in, obviously we’ve been talking, I don’t know what, 20, 25, 30 minutes, if they know your background, like we talked about you’re into call center tech, outsourced options, all these tech things, all we’ve been doing is talking about sales, leadership, training, development, bashing companies, talking about what they should be doing and putting in place.

[00:23:16] And so one of the reasons why is no matter what, which is what we’re gonna talk about next, no matter what. Try you technology try to put in place no matter what tools you try to put in place. If the fundamentals aren’t there, it’s not going to matter. If your people aren’t hiring, if you don’t have the right culture, that’s supportive for what you’re doing.

[00:23:33] If you’re not training people, if you’re not giving them continuous training, you’re not putting the right leaders in place and giving them the tools. And you’re just hoping they all know what to do. There’s not enough tools in the world in my experience, that’s going to fix it. Like me, you could fill my garage with all the fan.

[00:23:50] You could just roll a Snap-on tool truck into the back and load, unload all the tools in the garage. And then hand me the sh a shell of a car and be like, Hey, now turn this into a master. And that will be the giant be a giant waste of your time and your money and my time. It just won’t matter.

[00:24:07] It doesn’t matter what tools you give me. I don’t know what I’m doing. It’s gonna be, yeah.

[00:24:11] Fred: [00:24:11] Yeah. Yeah, you don’t. Yeah. You don’t know how to use it. Not only the fact that you don’t have the core fundamentals, you don’t even have the tires and the frame yet. I mean know.

[00:24:21] Jason: [00:24:21] Yeah. I, yeah, I don’t know what I’m doing.

[00:24:23] I don’t have the training. I don’t have the experience. I don’t know what I’m looking at. It’s just a blob. And so that goes into what we also wanted to chat about is this whole sales enablement. It’s the tools where do those fit in? What are you seeing? When it’s a conversation about the people, when it’s a conversation about the tools, like when an organization maybe, maybe they come to you and say, oh, I need this new thing.

[00:24:48]I knew this new AI tool because that’s going to fix all my problems. When do you go? Okay let’s step back and look at it because maybe it’s not that maybe it is. Where’s that in your experience right now,

[00:25:00] Fred: [00:25:00] when somebody approaches me with the idea of believing that any technology is a silver bullet.

[00:25:06]Guys, that’s always, the first thing is whoa, hold on. Me, I, and hopefully the audience that they see, my history, my experience, I do a lot of work with artificial intelligence. Context and a related technology and and the such I’m a big proponent of it when used properly.

[00:25:25]And it’s not a fixed it never will be no tool in the world will ever solve all your problem. I’ve been approached a few times. Hey, can we turn AI into an automatic sales machine? Can we program artificial intelligence to sell Yeah. That one’s always, and there’s, unfortunately there’s vendors out there trying to spend what they do to be able to they’re inferring that’s what it does.

[00:25:50]It’s not what it does. I, but yeah, to me, it’s all about what are we trying to solve? Is it realistic to expect a technology to solve that? There’s certain fundamental things you have to have, right? You need a system of record. You need your data. You need to track data points and KPIs and performance.

[00:26:07] And some of, as a leader, you ha by getting to know your people. But a lot of the information you need together too, is from data and insights because you can’t trust your instincts for everything. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve made a guess as a leader, especially early in my career, because I thought that’s what, what was going on.

[00:26:26] But when I finally looked at the data. It proved me completely wrong. So data there’s certain pieces you have to have. But when people are believed, these things are silver bullets, or they’re going to fix anything. That’s when I have to take them a step back and say, look, what are we really trying to accomplish here?

[00:26:42] What’s the problem? Where are the pain points? And not that I’m not, I want to help them find technology, but. Yeah. That’s the, it can’t be the driving reason cause they think it’s going to solve everything. Cause then they’re going to implement it and, or never really implement it.

[00:26:58]And it’s going to fail and then it’s going to be an even worse than it.

[00:27:02]Jason: [00:27:02] And that’s interesting that you put that in, which is they don’t buy it or they do buy and then they don’t implement it and they don’t use it. And then they blame the tool. Then they say that tool is broken.

[00:27:12] That didn’t work. It’s that right? It’s again, like you give me some tools in the garage, I’m going to blame the tool and that tool sucks. I need a different tool. It’s yeah, I need the tool that does it. Does it all for me. I need your AI, your car building tool. It’s what I need. Throw you on the spot with a scenario, real world story.

[00:27:34] What you’ve got, where somebody did that. I’m just curious of an example where someone’s at, I’m looking for the silver bullet and then you uncovered what it was. And I’m curious, like what kind of examples would be what it was instead they were looking for X you’re, like, no, either this technology or you need to do these other things first.

[00:27:53] Do you have anything? Yeah.

[00:27:55]Fred: [00:27:55] I can’t say specific names for obvious can definitely talk through, it’s a common thing over the last couple of years to have someone approach us regarding artificial intelligence. Believing that artificial intelligence was the salt.

[00:28:10] That was the, the end all be all that was going to fix all our problems. Getting in diving in and understanding the stack, seeing that their CRM was 20 years old and it had been iterated multiple times and they built it themselves and they had no data or, normalized data or structured data to really train the technology off of and then their omni-channel platform.

[00:28:33] Wasn’t omni-channel it was. Voice only it was an old Avaya premise-based system or an old Cisco and some instances, or, even not old, some of them, I’ve been updated more recently to a more late later version of a premise based platform. But nonetheless, the data wasn’t there the fundamentals weren’t there, , yeah.

[00:28:56] They even get to the point where other than simplify FAQ’s for an AI bot would have been logical. And in that case, there’s nothing wrong with, artificial intelligence over the last five years has come a long way. The NLP NLU engines have the speed at which they’re improving.

[00:29:12] Amazing. Some of the accuracy rates are getting to where I really feel strongly about the platforms. And there’s nothing wrong with solving. What, from a customer experience should be solved by a self service tool. That’s leveraging AI. But that’s different from a deployment perspective than trying to go out to Watson IBM Watson hire, and spend a million dollars on developer.

[00:29:36] When you don’t even have the data set to properly train it. And you haven’t been building out the rest of your pieces, your fundamental stack to get there. Here’s the big difference, right? What you have to deploy when that happens. Like I said, there’s great tools out there. They’re really cost-effective to deploy simple FAQ type bot technology.

[00:29:55]It’s just knowing and understanding what you have, where you’re heading, what can we sell today? What do we really need to implement? Yeah. And work forward from there. You can’t change the dynamics of what they currently have.

[00:30:09] Jason: [00:30:09] Yeah. And I love that example too, because I see that where a lot of people want to go light years ahead of where they’re at.

[00:30:17] And sometimes it’s good in some categories where it’s good to, leap over some steps, leap over some generations of tech. Sometimes you that’s way too much. You’ve just got to take it bit by bit, right? Like you’re not going to go from a premise-based phone system and a really old, archaic CRM.

[00:30:33] Into the latest, greatest of both not gracefully, it’s going to be difficult for everybody in the organization and, integration wise. Sometimes it’s just phases.

[00:30:43] Fred: [00:30:43] Yeah. Yeah. Sometimes, you got to pull the bandaid off sooner or later though. These companies that.

[00:30:48]Putting these band-aids on sooner or later, the dam is going to break, you only get 10 and 10 toes sooner or later, it’s going to break on ya. And you got to start doing, some of those things, right?

[00:31:01] Jason: [00:31:01] Yeah. Yeah. And I’ve had some clients like that where they’re tired of trying to hide.

[00:31:06] The dam in place and it’s we gotta go. Cause they’ve been upgrading, updating some old CRM, some old phone system, and it’s yeah, it’s, you’re spending more time and money to fix it and keep it alive. Then just switching over. And there’s that sunk cost fallacy. It’s like we spent so much money on it.

[00:31:23] We can’t move on and let go, new things are going to be expensive, but you do some math on it and eventually it’ll work out. So let’s shift gears one more time. Cause I want to talk about the. People’s side again, but also what you’re seeing on, like the recruiting, the hiring the workplace environment.

[00:31:42] Here we are recording this in June 20, 21 year over a year, approaching a year and a half since this pandemic environment work from home scattering call centers, which was never thought to ever be possible at scale for most organizations. For most everybody, they didn’t have a choice. And then now it’s a hybrid.

[00:32:03] People are coming back. Some people aren’t making people come back. But then you have this recruiting challenge, which is a lot of people aren’t incentivized to, not necessarily work because of stimulus money. And then you’ve got call centers trying to hire, what are you seeing in the landscape right now?

[00:32:18] What are the channels? Or what are the successful companies that you’re seeing in the U S around the country, around the world doing that’s working to keep and fill their centers.

[00:32:32] Fred: [00:32:32] Timely conversation, right? This is it’s absolutely impacting every single BPO within the U S that hasn’t done the things we talked about initially.

[00:32:43]What are the companies doing right? That aren’t having a problem with attrition and are having a problem, finding new employees. It’s exactly what we talked about. They create a great culture. They don’t necessarily always pay the best. They bring in the right people.

[00:32:57]They give them growth paths. They do all the things necessary to create engagement by the employees. The ones that don’t that are just simply trying to race to the top, have to pay them enough money to match the unemployment check. That’s a never ending battle, right?

[00:33:14]Sometimes you have to do things to get to. Sometimes you do have to put your finger in the hole in the dam, right? I talked to you, you have to that’s business that’s life. You just got to wrap it up and rub some dirt on it and get back in the game. But yeah, it’s in reality though, you’re not focused on fixing the core fundamentals of, cultural.

[00:33:35] Agent engagement, growth giving them reasons why they should be passionate about working with you and why they should tell their friends to come work with them. Then the you’re going to continue to run into this problem and the dynamics of the stigma. They’re going to go away, but I don’t think it’s going to fix the core problem.

[00:33:53]I think we’ve all experienced it, restaurants. We love all of a sudden, they’re not seating people or not accepting reservations because they don’t want your business or because their state’s not open up. It’s because they can’t find staff. And it’s going to be this way and every type of public service where the employee level.

[00:34:13]Pay is around that same kind of area. And the fascinating thing I think is in the contact centers, we’ve seen two exits those people because of stimulus, right? And then the top end we had people that jobs went away during the pandemic, and now they’re coming back. Now that things are opening back up or they’re heading out to chase after their, whatever their degree was.

[00:34:35] So the top end of the spectrum is leaving the contact center audience. And then you’ve got these people in the middle and then you’ve got this new dynamic of the. Gen Z ears wanting to all be entrepreneurs and the younger generation doesn’t want to work for anybody. And they especially don’t want to work for anybody that they don’t believe in the same vision or don’t have the same kind of a focus on growth and development and all those things.

[00:35:00]I, and if you mind, wants to make a living off of trading crypto that’s a pretty common thing. When I talk to people in the younger generations is they want to do something else. They don’t want to work a job. So there’s a new dynamic coming up in our culture here in the U S now this is mostly a us dynamic, the first party companies right now haven’t been impacted as much. Because they’ve got culture, they can pay more, they, they’re not being forced by the the, in the outsourcing world to have 8% margins or whatever the average rate and outsourcing is. Somewhere around there, right?

[00:35:36] Seven to 8%, the great ones run just over double digits. So the first parties have more money. They have better cultures. They invest in more training historically, and I’m generalizing, right? That’s not always the case. There are some great BPO’s out there that do excellent at building those things, but that’s the dynamic that is correct.

[00:35:56]Pretty I would say it’s impacting first party companies and contact centers and their sales teams directly, but not near as much as it is the BPO in the outsourcing market. So the dynamics of that is that those jobs, sooner or later, if they’re being, if they’re hard to fill those are gonna be pushed to near shore, right?

[00:36:15]Logically it’ll be pushed out of the U S and once companies get comfortable in budget lines of $15 an hour, as opposed to $30 an hour, it’s going to be really hard to convince them, to bring those jobs back. Yeah. The labor issue in the states is we’re watching it very closely and having a lot of conversations about this because.

[00:36:36]The dynamics of supply and demand are only natural. And because of the because of this, as these holiday seasons start to come up, the supplies are going to get super than it’ll be interesting to see the dynamics, but yeah, think this is longer term than just. Because of the stimulus.

[00:36:54] Right.

[00:36:56] Jason: [00:36:56] I agree. I think what you said is that because of the pandemic, because of the constricting, companies cutting back, people becoming unemployed, the stimulus triggering it. But also like you said, like positions that are gone temporary, long-term, think about restaurants, call centers, where people say, okay, I just going to do something else.

[00:37:14] I’m going to take this as the opportunity. To reinvent myself, go a different path, go down something, go after something I wanted instead, or I thought about and then it’s just that vacuum again of the personnel that are available. And I love what you said, tying it back to the culture, which is strong cultures, mission, vision, something you’re moving for.

[00:37:35] First-party companies, people who are the direct company selling to the clients, not an outsourced third party, obviously it’s a little bit easier, but still amazing. Done wrong at scale. From what I’ve seen is they still don’t have a strong culture that attracts people and keeps them, but that is the solution, right?

[00:37:53] Because then again, it’s not about pay it’s about the culture. It’s about people wanting to work there. It’s not always about needing to make the most amount of money it’s being part of something that people want to be a part of and look forward to being a part of and not dread on Sunday night.

[00:38:07] Thinking about Monday morning, you can do a lot of those things with color. And not just money and, getting the right people engaged and then keeping them right. I think a lot of organizations don’t wouldn’t necessarily have a labor problem. Long-term right. Not talking, the restrictions, the constriction that we have right now they wouldn’t have a labor problem if they had a better retention rate because they wouldn’t need to be filling so many seats.

[00:38:32] They didn’t lose so many people. And then it would just take a lot of that weight off, right? When you hire 10 people and you lose nine of them in the first 60 days, That puts a lot of pressure on recruiting and that makes the pool very small. Versus you hire 10, maybe you keep six in sales. That’s great.

[00:38:50] Do that a few times now you’re full and then you’re rocking and rolling.

[00:38:54] Fred: [00:38:54] Yeah. Interesting dynamic too. I was talking with another person and I’ll challenge you. I asked you you’ve seen this dynamic, but the fact that we pushed everybody to home the fact that the agents no longer get the same engagement level with their peers.

[00:39:07]Part of the reason people work in contact centers and stay there is because they love the people they work with. They’ve got their friends and all you have to do is go to a break room and inside a physical contact center in, a captive center. And you can see people really have great relationships and deep and wide.

[00:39:23] And that’s why I think the hybrid model is going to win. Is that in the end there has to be an environment where the agents get to engage with each other. Because I’ve heard of companies doing surveys of saying we’re never putting a center back, or we’re never bringing people back into the office and we’re closing down our offices and the actual survey results were 50 50.

[00:39:43]50 of them, 50% of them were unhappy with the idea of not having an office to go back into for one primary driver, which was loneliness. They no longer get those spirits now. Opening back up, and people are able to go out and do things and engage in social environments. Maybe that dynamic a lesson.

[00:40:03]But I do I’ve spent enough time in contact centers all over the world. And I think no matter where you’re at the, one of the truths is that agents love working with their peers and create relationships that go beyond just the work. And that’s why they stay. And. Yeah. , so I think the hybrid model wins and how that looks and how you roll people in and out and get them to work with their people that motivate them.

[00:40:27]Those are the dynamics that we’re, we can leverage some technology to try to drive the right behaviors. But move to a hybrid. I think it’s necessary. Especially in the dynamics of a context center, because a sales team feeding off each other, you can’t replicate that at home.

[00:40:43]You can do all the dashboards and gamification you want, which is all necessary. Yeah, and pieces and tools, but you can’t replicate the hum of a well-performing sales center when people are closing deals, getting other people excited, you can’t replicate that you just can’t at home.

[00:41:03] Jason: [00:41:03] No. And the other part that you can’t well, you can, but it’s really hard.

[00:41:07] You have to be very intentional to replicate, which is the random sharing of knowledge and best practices. That just occurs over cubicle walls or on a sales floor of any type, it could be a car dealership, but the, oh, I just heard them say that as a response to an objection. Let me try that myself.

[00:41:28] Oh, that worked really well. Let me add that to my toolbox and that kind of stuff is hard to do at scale. Remote where everyone is on their own little island. You can do some stuff, but it’s really hard to that random occurrence and what you’re talking about with the dynamics and the hum and the relationships in the break room, that’s the culture, right?

[00:41:47] So when the culture is strong, people want to be around each other. And what I have found is the stronger, the culture of the stronger the bond within the team. The closer the team feels and everyone going the right direction. Cause I’ve seen some teams that are very close, but in a mutiny kind of way, which is not the kind of close team you want, but they’re close and everyone’s going in the right direction when change happens, when things need to happen.

[00:42:10] Like a change in any way then everyone’s okay, let’s stick it out. W let’s go together. And I think that’s what I saw a lot with contact center sales teams, where they had a strong culture. Everyone went remote, everyone banded together and said, we’ll get through this together. This is great. And then the ones with a weak culture, everyone dispersed, and it was like, this sucks.

[00:42:28] This is miserable. I’m not going to log in. I’m taking a nap. I’m not making calls. Like then you see that kind of disconnected thing because the culture wasn’t strong. Yeah, that’s fascinating. It’s interesting to see, especially that hybrid model where people are coming in, people are staying home. It’s split there’s this coming and going.

[00:42:44] And then how do you create that? The break room shatter when half the team is there and half the team isn’t who, which leaders are there. And then, who’s going to learn from who and how do you make sure everyone’s up to speed and even more challenging is how do you make sure that when you tell somebody on the floor, something that’s important, you also need to tell the remote team that day.

[00:43:05]And not leave them out.

[00:43:07] Fred: [00:43:07] Yeah. And then included. And I would argue not even that, not that it has to be that day, that it has to be that moment, and you have to have ways to ensure to build into their, at home process that they’re looking at a channel notification and LMS.

[00:43:24]And there are tools out there that do a really good job of applying gamification social interactions into learning management. So there are you’re right. There are tools that you can use, but if you don’t create the right environment to encourage and engage and yeah,

[00:43:41] Jason: [00:43:41] Yeah, and it’s tough.

[00:43:42]And it’s really about being intentional. You have to intentionally remember to do this and be here and do that and set this up and create this. You have to be very intentional and very focused, just like you should be anyway. But a lot of times in a contact center just get lazy because everything’s right there in front of you.

[00:43:58] And so it’s real easy. Cause you can see it, you can manage it. You can deal with. You can go out there and talk with people. Fred, thanks for coming on the show. Thanks for being a part of this new podcast. Obviously you come from a current world where you’re helping with outsource AI technology, call, center resources, all of that great stuff.

[00:44:15] We spent most of our time talking about anything, but technology, people can find you it’s really easy and go LinkedIn, find Fred Stacy, you just. S T a C E Y. So they can find you there. Also the main website for you guys is outsource-consultants.com. You’re always putting out a lot of content.

[00:44:34] You’re on a lot of other podcasts. There’s some great podcasts Nobel business podcasts that you were just on. And you’re talking more on the technology piece. So if they want to hear Fred Stacy and action nerding out on the tech side and the solution side, go find that since we were talking about the people side.

[00:44:49]But once again, Fred, thanks for coming on the podcast. I appreciate it. And and all the stuff you shared.

[00:44:56] Fred: [00:44:56] As always my pleasure enjoying the conversation.

[00:45:00] Jason: [00:45:00] All right, take care. Thanks everyone for tuning in. I’ll catch you on the next episode,

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