[013] Understanding the Customer – It Takes Listening, with Marilyn Soares from Transparent BPO

Episode 13 August 18, 2021 00:41:03
[013] Understanding the Customer – It Takes Listening, with Marilyn Soares from Transparent BPO
Scalable Call Center Sales
[013] Understanding the Customer – It Takes Listening, with Marilyn Soares from Transparent BPO

Aug 18 2021 | 00:41:03


Show Notes

How do you effectively coach your agents? How do you train your team to gain a thorough understanding of the customer?

The purpose is to understand what the customer’s needs are, whether inbound or outbound. You must decide what the greatest product and service to offer, as well as communicate the benefits that it will bring to them.

In this episode, Marilyn Soares from Transparent BPO, and I talk about her experiences in training, staffing, management, and leadership in the company, with her role as the VP of Client Services.

Learn all about the best customer service, inbound and outbound sales, and also about recruiting.

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 Marilyn on LinkedIn

Marilyn‘s Bio
She has been with them for over 6 years and is the VP of Client Services. Her main role involves taking companies that have become clients of Transparent BPO, and ensuring their success, whether it’s customer service, technical support, or sales campaign. Her account management team develops, implements, and continuously improves their client’s call center campaigns.

Marilyn’s Links


Jason: What’s going on everybody so glad that you’re joining us for these scalable call center sales podcast. Once again, we have a great episode and I know I say this all the time. I am excited about this conversation. So today I have Maryland soar is from transparent BPO and she is the VP.

[00:00:21] Of client services. And why does that matter? And why is this going to be such a good episode? Because in that role, what she does is she takes the clients who have signed up with transparent BPO who want their services as an outsource call center provider. And she has to execute on that with her team, which includes training, staffing, management, leadership, and just execution overall of that.

[00:00:47] And one of the things that’s interesting in sales is that sales likes to sell lots of things and then let the rest of the company deal with it. And obviously, if you listen to this show, we talked to Jason Stearns before he’s in the sales side, he’s the one setting up these clients and then Maryland’s executing that.

[00:01:05] And what’s amazing is how well that happens at transparent. And I know this because of the several times I’ve worked with transparent and with Maryland on campaigns. So we’re going to look at this from the back end, from the client side, what that looks like from a sales operation. Part, which I know is important for a lot of people listening, Marilyn, welcome to the scalable call center sales pod.


Marilyn: Thank you, Jason. Pleasure to be here.


Jason: Yeah. So, like I said, I think what’s fun about this is that I have worked with you both as a client and as a customer client and not client. Um, we’re on many different campaigns and I’ve seen you in action. In fact, even met you in person in Billy’s at one of the centers, and I know how important.

[00:01:54] The operation side is a lot of people think of just the sales, but there’s everything that goes into it. And I know that you’ve been doing this for a long time. Let’s start because this is part of what I asked Jason and the other episode about, which is where his kind of role ends on the sales side. And then essentially what would lead into your part?

[00:02:15] Where do you start getting in trouble in these campaigns to ensure they’re successful? On the op side.


Marilyn: Well, you know, right when Jason, you know, sometimes it’s it’s during the sales cycle, you know, with, with our business development teams, so I’m often engaged, right. And then once we know it’s going forward, we’ll.

[00:02:37] Bring in our client services manager, right. We’ll devote, um, a client services manager to be involved with the program from implementation stage. Um, as well as some of our other support roles, you know, our operations team, our training, our QA, you know, we bring all those folks in for the implementation phase.

[00:02:54] And that’s really when the handoff happens and we start to work directly with the client, uh, Jason, you know, business development they’ll stay involved, but, uh, you know, it’ll really transition over to client services and operations.


Jason: And when you’re setting up these campaigns, one of the biggest things I know, especially in talking to Scott Newman as well in that episode was setting it up for success and then insuring it, which I know sometimes the client doesn’t even know it would take to be successful or have everything in place.

[00:03:28] Is there times when you just know it’s not going to be a good fit or are you on the, you know, we, we know how to make this work as long as everyone’s willing to put in the time. Yeah.


Marilyn: I think that the DNA’s really of client and BPO have to align and have to match. And I think we’ve been really fortunate, um, being chosen or choosing, you know, the right clients to work with in terms of setting it up for success.

[00:03:56] Some clients come to us and they already have a success. Campaign a successful program. They may be running it at other sites with other BPOs. Some clients may come to us and they’re only doing it in house and it’s their first time outsourcing or not even having in-house groups. So we’ve done it every which way.

[00:04:12] And we can bring lots of ideas to the table, right. Or we can ask a lot of questions right. About how the clients do it, um, today. But you know, I think one of the things. Maybe sets us apart is we are not shy. We really like to learn a lot about what our client’s needs are and then offer our guidance, our opinion, our experience, right.

[00:04:32] We we’ve had the opportunity. A lot of, a lot of us in that transparent BPO have worked in this industry for a really long time. We’ve seen a lot of great practices, best practices, right. And so, you know, we’d like to come to new engagements with ideas, so we’re not shy.


Jason: Yeah, that makes total sense. Well, and I can, I know that that really helps a lot in everything that people do, no matter what their industry is, where if, once you have enough at bats, you see enough examples, you’ve gone through enough experiences, uh, either clients or campaigns or environments, then you know what to look for and how to set it up for success and, and mitigate things.

[00:05:11] I think one of the fascinating things about. Transparent is the initial DNA I know was more heavy on the customer service, uh, support side. Right. And then I know over time, what always happens is people probably wanted you guys to do more sales campaigns and that kind of filtered in there. What do you think is the biggest challenge with running the sales campaigns for clients versus the other one?

[00:05:41] Well,


Marilyn: I think that transparent PPO actually does have some roots in sales, um, way back in 2009. And I do as well. And a lot of our team members do so, you know, I think that. We’ve done a lot of standalone sales programs, and then we’ve done a lot of care programs, but more and more what’s happening now is even the care programs, customer service.

[00:06:03] Um, there’s an element of sales to them, right? Whether you’re closing on a reservation or upselling a companion product, or, you know, maybe booking, um, You know, an excursion for example, and, and travel. So I think even on our traditional inbound customer service programs, we’re seeing more and more sales goals, you know, kind of slide in there.

[00:06:26] So, you know, and I, I think that’s helped us be successful, right? Because, you know, in the outbound sales environment, you know, sales is a bit tougher, um, layer it onto an inbound, you know, and the DNA’s kind of the same. And really some of the approaches are the same to the behavioral approach, right? To how you coach your agents, how you develop your team, how you manage the processes that you use, you know, it can be the same, whether it’s an inbound or outbound sales program.


Jason: Yeah. So speaking of which, so the inbound versus the outbound, what are the main differences or how do you, especially on the leadership side, how do you handle those different.


Marilyn: Well, I think on an inbound sales program, you know, you have. More of an opportunity there there’s more trust there that’s established, right?

[00:07:15] That the customer’s calling you. And so it’s a little bit easier, I think. And you can develop trust and a relationship with the caller or the customer a little bit more quickly versus an outbound. You know, you really have to develop a relationship and engage with the customer, but I think it all boils down to a lot of similarities, right?

[00:07:34] Goal is to understand what the customer’s needs are, right? Whether they’re calling you or you’re calling them, right. So you need to do a lot of listening and then you need to determine what’s the best product. What’s the best service, what’s the best offer. And to present that to your client, you know, and share the value proposition, you know, the benefits that it’s going to bring to the consumer.

[00:07:53] A lot of those do align, but you know, I’ll get outbound could be more challenging because they’re not expecting your call. They, they, you know, were inbound, you know, they’re looking online, they’re looking at something they’re calling to ask more questions or they’re calling to just frankly order. Right.

[00:08:07] So you have, you have a different consumer mindset.


Jason: Yeah. Inbound in sales is whether it’s care or it’s, it’s actual sales. Uh, obviously easier because they’re taking the first step and you’re not even to convince them. Take the initiative versus the outbound, which is definitely a different, a different beast, if you will.

[00:08:27] So in thinking about it, obviously one of the aspects that’s hitting everybody right now, uh, you know, year and a half ish after the pandemic started is recruiting and filling seats for campaigns, which I know that’s one of the things that, you know, has benefited transparent as being. Other countries being able to pull in those resources.

[00:08:50] So not looking at the recruiting so much, but the onboarding, what have you done and put in place, or you see as like really successful onboarding that you guys have been able to do at scale? Because that’s one thing where onboarding and then training a lot of companies, just aren’t building a scalable machine.


Marilyn: Well, I don’t want to completely leave out the screening process or the interview process, because I think that there’s just a couple of elements there that are really impactful to the, to the remainder. Right? So the onboarding process, and there’s just two things that, that I think. Recently set us apart.

[00:09:27] Right. We ensuring that you choose the right candidates. Right. So we do some really great, um, skills testing, personality testing, right. And that helps us figure out where’s this person going to be most successful. Are they going to be more successful on the sales side or the service side? So I don’t want to shortchange it.

[00:09:44] Because that really helps in the onboarding process. And then I think that the other, um, step that we take is during the interview process is ensuring that the candidates, the agents understand what a day in the life looks like. Right. Because if you set that expectation from the beginning, then once you’re in the training class and you’re onboarding right.

[00:10:03] They already understand what the role is all about. You know, the last thing that you want as you go through one week, two week, three weeks of training. And during the nesting phase say they raised their hand and say, this isn’t for me. Right. So we try to get that out of the way as best we can. But then in the onboarding process, we’ve got several different phases to training.

[00:10:19] Um, we’ve got our phase one training and that’s a week long training class. I know BPO’s that don’t take quite as long, but we place a lot of value in phase one training. That’s where they really learn everything about transparent BPO. They really get immersed in our culture and our values. And that’s really important to, to us because our I’m sure you’ve probably heard it, um, on Scott’s session perhaps, but our core values really are our guiding principle.

[00:10:43] Um, whether you’re a brand new employee at the agent level or, or, you know, management. So we get them through the phase one training, and then we go into phase two, which is our client training. We’d love to partner with our clients. Um, so, you know, for new initiatives where we’re implementing with a new client, we really rely on the client resources, right?

[00:11:02] We want them to have. So train the trainers. We welcome them, you know, to our sites, to come train, um, to participate with us, maybe they’ll train and we’ll observe, and then we’ll train and they’ll observe, right. There’s lots of different ways to do it. Um, enter them pandemic. We couldn’t do a lot of that.

[00:11:18] So we’ve even done some virtual training. So that’s phase two we’ll train clients program. Often our clients come to us with a well-prepared training program, a training curriculum on their LMS. Um, we often look at it, take a review through it to make sure that, um, especially if they have an outsourced or if they haven’t gone outside of the U S right.

[00:11:39] We take a look at that and, and offer any suggestions just to make sure that it applies really to. The agents and believes, right. And sometimes we’ll do some pre-training if it’s, um, a service or a product that maybe our agent base isn’t quite familiar with. We’ll take the time before the program training to get our agents acclimated a little bit of a culturization.

[00:12:00] Training. So that’s phase two and then phase three is when they go live. Right. And they do that in a nesting environment. We have higher ratioed, um, team lead support for our agents in the nesting phase. And that’s really just to help them get their feet wet, get the marbles out of their mouth and really get accustomed to the, to the environment.

[00:12:19] And then eventually they move on to full production.


Jason: I love it. Well, and I appreciate what you said about the recruiting and the staffing side. I think it’s always valuable if you’re starting a recruiting process and you have various options in the company, the direction somebody could go, whether it’s more sales or more service, more care, more backend operations, then you can.

[00:12:43] Yeah, bring in that applicant and then figure out the best direction for them to go with, uh, which that testing is great for sticking on that part. You said you, you give them a taste of a day in a life. How do you guys do that? Do you do some shadowing or do you just give them a presentation about. We


Marilyn: tell them a lot about the role we do, let them listen to sample call recordings.

[00:13:05] They can shadow and really what we’ve started doing. And we haven’t always done this and maybe we won’t always do it because we’re always looking for, you know, what works with us and, and refining our processes. But currently our operations managers are involved in the interview process, right? Our recruiting team.

[00:13:21] They do a great job. Um, but we like to bring them over to our operations team. Again, walk through the program in greater detail. That’s where they can do a little bit of shadowing. Show them the floor, answer any questions and really let them see what it’s like to be a part of that program. And that’s done with our operations managers.


Jason: Got, I love it. Um, I know early on in my hiring career, I didn’t realize that I just assumed based on the job description, the interview, people would just understand. And I, a feeling when someone starts and sometimes. A day in, they realize, wait, I didn’t realize it was this. I don’t know how they didn’t realize it, but they didn’t.

[00:13:59] And then made that recruiting process, more inclusive of them, understanding everything that’s going to be involved, such that they can make that decision and know this is going to be a good.


Marilyn: Right. It’s important, you know, it helps them make the right decision that it’s the right fit for them. It helps us, um, and you know, certainly minimizes early attrition, you know, that, that we’ve seen in the classroom or early into production.


Jason: Yeah. And I think for anybody listening to this, if you have a sales operation and you have that attrition early on, especially. In the training environment where people aren’t making it through, then my experience is that a lot of that could point to not setting the right expectations, maybe not picking the right people or setting the right expectations in that.

[00:14:49] For sure. So, and then you said about the onboarding, which I liked and where you have the culture portion, right? Like teaching them about the company, the core values. What does that look look like? Cause you said that’s a week long. So it was a lot of like meeting with people who are coming in and sharing training, talking to other people.

[00:15:10] What are some basic,


Marilyn: a couple of basics. Um, we do have folks come in and meet the team. Um, vice president of operations will come in say hello. We also, um, have recently put up, um, a lot of videos from many of our leaders within the organization. And you know, I’m going to go off on a little bit of a sidebar here, but one of the things that I think.

[00:15:35] Underestimated is when an agent is coming on to transparent BPO or any contact center out there. They don’t understand what they’re embarking on. Right. Often it’s, it’s a new job for many of them they’re entering the workforce. They’re entering the business world. I don’t think that they realize what they’ve stumbled on.

[00:15:50] And, um, I was asked to. Speak a little bit to a video clip, right? That’s played for every new hire candidate, as many of our other folks on the team do. And you know, that’s really my message to them. Um, you can take the, this isn’t just a job. It really can be a career. And, you know, I give them just my history, my, you know, my story, right.

[00:16:11] My evolution through this, I didn’t think it was going to be a permanent career. Right. When I started many, many years ago on the phones in their seat. Right. And so I just give them, offer them that perspective. Um, but we do a lot of that. We do a lot of videos. We have guest speakers who come in and then there’s just a lot of learning about the company, but we like to make it fun.

[00:16:29] Um, we like to keep it light, so it, it’s a really great new hire training curriculum that we’ve put together


Jason: well, and I think that’s very ambitious and amazing that you guys do a week long. Obviously that’s a great way to set it up and investing a lot, a lot of organizations either can’t or don’t want to spend that much time, but no matter what, again, for anyone listening to it, Or watching this, make sure you’re doing some bit of that.

[00:16:54] There’s a lot of organizations out there who don’t focus on the cultural integration of the organization and onboarding people as a part of the company, as a part of the family. And then that foundation isn’t set and then whatever you put on top of that as can be shaped. Yeah, well said. Okay. So, um, and training, and then they’re getting the information and I think that’s so important, obviously for your side, you’re dealing with clients who are doing the training, but then you guys are providing that training to a point where then they’re ready to go into the nest and that high ratio.

[00:17:31] What are some of the KPIs, some of the metrics you’re looking for that lets you know, an agent is going to be successful. In those phases. I don’t know if in the phase one, the culture of the phase two, the training, the phase three, if you track KPIs and metrics throughout those to know if somebody is on the right path.

[00:17:52] We


Marilyn: do. Yeah. We’re always tracking KPIs from, from the start. You know, I think that you want to introduce KPIs to the agents early, but you also want to do it the right way. Um, you don’t want to put too much pressure on them to achieve. Often there can be a lot of KPIs, right? Whether it’s quality related productivity related, you know, conversion rate or, um, and you want the agents to develop the right skills.

[00:18:18] So not putting too much pressure to do it quickly or to do it without really learning the quality aspect of it is important. So we kind of provide a glide path, you know, for each KPI, um, so that they can really learn how to do things the right way, but we are always looking.


Jason: Do you have any KPIs in that, um, that phase one about the company.

[00:18:41] Anything you’re doing to track. They’re


Marilyn: not, not really well, you know, um, punctuality, attendance, right. Participation. Right. But not, not so not really as measurable as you might think, you know, we don’t, we don’t track, you know, how, how much they participate in that sort of thing. Um, but, but, but that’s a good indicator.

[00:18:58] Right. And, and we have a nice handoff from our training team to our, um, nesting team then over to our production teams. So we do. Keep track of how the agents are progressing and share strengths and areas of opportunity so that when they kind of move on to that next phase, there’s some continuity and, you know, the receiving team leader, let’s say, you know, kind of gets a glimpse into their journey and sees what they may have struggled with so they can help them along the way, a little bit.

[00:19:27] Hey, it’s


Jason: 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.

[00:19:44] 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. So on this training topic, here’s one of the biggest things I see with company. Is that they don’t have scalable training systems, meaning that what they’ve got is they’ve got a trainer or trainers who have all the knowledge in their head, maybe some slides on their computer and their training, what they think is best.

[00:20:18] And then if that trainer were to disappear tomorrow, Then no one would have an idea of how to train. Now, obviously I know that’s not your with transparent. I know there’s a whole training team and a whole training. Where do you find the balance between that? Which is here’s a structured training system.

[00:20:35] Here’s an LMS platform. Here’s what you’re going to go through videos. And then the human element of the trainer, like, you know, how much in the classroom, if that makes sense of it’s scalable, but then it’s also perfect.


Marilyn: Well, we do a combination. We definitely have both self-paced and instructor led training curriculums, and I don’t think you’d want to do just one or the other.

[00:21:00] Right. It’s definitely good to have a blend. Um, often we’re using our clients, right? W what’s worked for them. What’s tried and true. Um, and so we’ll adopt that and we’ll implement that. Um, we often have, you know, depending on the size of the program and how often we’re training we’ll have, um, more than one teacher.

[00:21:16] Devoted to the program so that we have a backup trainer or during busy season, you know, we can support multiple classes, but we, we are very much an advocate of some, some self pace online. And then, um, instructor. Yeah.


Jason: Yeah, I think that’s great. I mean, obviously there’s no right mix, but I do think that some mix of that is good from what I’ve seen, which is again, there’s, there’s the structure things where, you know, no matter what, each time they’re going to watch this video or listen to this and they’re going to get the same content, no matter what.

[00:21:48] And then there’s the instructor, because most people aren’t going to be able to sit here. Eight hours a day, self-paced online training and then come out the other end effective. They might go through it, but will they actually absorb what they need to absorb, which is usually


Marilyn: okay. Yeah, making it as interactive as, as possible, um, is important.

[00:22:09] And then we have tollgates, you know, throughout to at different intervals throughout the training, just to make sure that the knowledge retention is there. What does


Jason: that look like? What do you mean? A toll gate,


Marilyn: um, assessments throughout to ensure that they are, uh, learning the content as intended and, um, retaining and they’ll need to pass certain tailgates before graduate.

[00:22:31] Okay.


Jason: And if they don’t, is there some measure of where they repeat a section or they have to restart over? Yeah,


Marilyn: I think it would depend generally. They, they wouldn’t be so much as to have to start with a new class, but it gives our trainers, instructors the opportunity to meet with them on the side and help them fill in any gaps that they might be struggling with.


Jason: I love it. I think that’s great. And, and even if, again, it doesn’t have a consequence, like what you’re saying, but it just helps make sure that that gap is filled. Um, I think there’s a lot. Yeah. That would help a lot of training programs if they did that, versus just, I taught you this, I’m assuming, you know it now let’s jump on the phones and get going.

[00:23:09] So, one part that I know from your company, especially in the last two conversations is that technology is a huge piece. I mean, I didn’t realize it, but when I was there working with one of the teams a few years ago, like the dialer, the phone system, everything was actually built. Basically for the company and then became its own machine, if you will, where does that fit in on your side?

[00:23:37] Right. So you’re on the, you know, the client services, obviously there’s the VP of operations, which is, you know, handling all that. But where does the technology piece come in? And maybe it’s a, you know, the question is more of where do you start making requests or where does the team say, Hey, we need something new, um, to help out versus.

[00:23:58] Okay. We just need to get better at what we do. Like where does that blend of like the technology and the human aspect of the product?


Marilyn: Hmm. Okay. Well, from a technology standpoint, you’re right. We do have a solution that, um, that was born, you know, within the founders of transparent BPO. And it’s now standalone.

[00:24:17] Sometimes we use that, but we really evaluate the needs of the program before making a recommendation on which type of solution to stand up. And many of our clients come to us with the platform and the solution already in place. So we’re kind of hanging off of their technology. So from that perspective, you know, we’re very well familiar with a lot of the leaders in the industry, uh, for calling platforms.

[00:24:41] Um, so often it’s not too much of a learn for us. Um, but if we’re standing up a solution. That would start pretty quickly, right? Once we learn the needs of the program and the solution that we’re going to stand up, then we would really be engaging with our programming team, our it team, right. To get all that technology ready.

[00:24:59] Uh, client services has a pretty big role in that piece, right? Because we kind of know what the agent experience needs to look like. And, and, you know, we’ll give those requests onto our programmers to our, it is so they can make sure that the screens pop at the right time and all the right information is showing.

[00:25:15] Because that’s, you know, one of the keys to success is making sure that your agents are really well equipped with everything that they need to do the job. You want it to run very smoothly. And, um, you want that agent user interface and that agent experience to be very, very seamless. I don’t know if that answers your question though.


Jason: It does. And I think where that goes to and what I’ve seen with both transparent and then with other successful organizations in general, is the technology facilitating the conversation. Obviously the whole point is you need the humans on the phone to interact with other humans and in some way buying or, you know, care programs.

[00:25:55] Um, and then the technology should just be. What’s wrapped all around that to facilitate it. Like you said, with the screens pumping with the right information, with everything being available with the technology, doing what it’s supposed to, so that that person can. Do what they need. And then even like the technology that was discussed in the other one, which is your, you know, the noise canceling kind of, uh, calling platform that many people are using internally just to help with us, you know, work from home environment and all the other noises that happen.


Marilyn: Right, right. Yeah. The, um, work secure suite that we have, um, it’s a couple of different elements that, um, we’ve implemented and the audio is one of them, for sure. Right. You really want to have a nice, clear conversation, um, with, with a consumer that you don’t want them to hear a lot of background noise.

[00:26:45] And what’s great about that. Is it cancels out the noise in my environment or our agent’s environment, but it also screens out the noise on the consumer side. So if there’s a lot of background noise, if they’re driving in a car. It actually screens that out as well.


Jason: Hmm. That’s great. I mean, it makes it easier for you to hear them and obviously less miscommunication, less challenges, uh, with the caller side.

[00:27:09] So. One thing I know. And this is a, I’ll say a softball question. Cause I already know somewhat of the answer from your side. One of the challenges that organizations have that they don’t always realize they have is a leadership development problem. Um, the classic in sales is, oh, you’re really good in sales.

[00:27:28] I need a team lead. Congratulations. You’re now a team lead. Good luck. Hopefully you know what you’re doing? Oh. And maybe you still have to be on the phone. And hopefully you can get the team to do it. Oh, we need a manager. Oh, you’re pretty good. Why don’t you be a manager? Good luck. Uh, and don’t screw this up.

[00:27:45] Um, that’s generally what’s done in sales and not effectively. Um, how do you, or how have you, or what do you have in place to address that of creating leaders, creating a pipeline of leaders for now down the road, ensuring people are growing as leaders as even their own campaigns grow different between 20 people in a campaign and a hundred people and being a manager of a 20 person versus a a hundred percent required.

[00:28:13] Different leadership skills.


Marilyn: Yeah, a very, very important aspect to, to focus on for sure. And one that we don’t take for granted, um, having solid bench strength is really important to be able to, to help support the growth of the program. Uh, we call it rising stars. I’m glad you asked, um, rising stars. We do it several times a year, and that’s really where we identify our next level talent.

[00:28:35] Um, identifying our agents who are ready. To work towards the next level of team lead and then team leads working towards the next level of ops managers. So it’s been a great program. We are actually building out something called transparent BPO VPO university, and that is, um, it’s going to take rising stars to a whole nother level.

[00:28:55] Um, it allows our employees to do some self study and kind of prepare themselves with some basic basic courses, if you will, and then kind of move into, um, more of a. A formal curriculum, um, in the rising stars program,


Jason: in that program, the rising stars in particular, the current one in place. Is there a goal, you know, is there a focus for people?

[00:29:17] Like, is there an outcome. Yeah, I think people too,


Marilyn: there are, we’re getting them ready for the next level. And so they’ll go through many different tracks throughout the rising stars program. And often many of them are run on the weekends. Um, and our, our director of training and leadership conducts them.

[00:29:36] She kind of orchestrates the entire program, but we bring in other folks in the organization, client services, managers, operations managers, our it folks, right. As instructors right. To, to actually participate and share the knowledge and run through, um, some of the curriculum throughout the rising stars program.

[00:29:53] And then at the end there’s graduation ceremony, and those folks are then certified. They’ve gone through rising stars. So when an opportunity arises, they will already kind of check the box and they’ve gone through that additional trying to get them ready.


Jason: Got it. So what I love about. What you just said at the end is it’s not that, Hey, we need a team lead next week.

[00:30:14] So we’re going to put you through this thing. It’s people who have identified themselves or been identified as potential leaders and people who want to go down this path are essentially going through. Getting ready and then the opportunities come up, theoretically. Hopefully that’s the way to, I’m sure.

[00:30:31] There’s some times where they’re probably part way through and you’re like, yeah, uh, we’re going to need this person sooner than we thought. Um, but I love the proactive approach. Most of the time in sales and sales leadership, it’s very reactive. We need a new team lead Monday. So who do we have? We can do that.


Marilyn: Yeah. And do you know those agents, um, as they grow to the new roles, they may stay with their program, but they may also, there may be other programs that have the needs. So, so they definitely cross over different programs, but the fundamentals of the training are about this.


Jason: Yeah, well, and what I love that I experienced when I was in Belize a couple of years ago in your center was that I was there for two weeks, with a weekend in the middle.

[00:31:13] And the people who had were in the rising stars program and they were talking about it and they, they had to go in on sat, not had to, but they had their Saturday session when they were going in the weekend. How they talked about it, different how they looked forward to it. And then Monday, like how they, you know, what they were sharing with me from it and where it was this different, special thing where it was like an opportunity and just developing.

[00:31:40] And obviously it’s not for everybody, not everyone wants to move up or be a leader or take on more responsibility. But for those that did. Yeah. They, they spoke about it differently. They


Marilyn: do. Yeah. They really do love it. They do, they work hard and they celebrate together and then they’ve got their cohort of, you know, folks who they’ve gone through with it’s a great bonding experience.

[00:32:00] Yeah.


Jason: I love it. So if we’re talking about the sales operation, one other category that I’m fascinated to hear how you handle this, because. You have a, let’s just say a ton of different campaigns done a ton of different programs, even in a campaign. Maybe there’s a sales side, there’s a service, you know, care side is the matter of compensation plans and how to incentivize people for the right actions.

[00:32:27] And behaviors is always the challenge in an organization. Aren’t careful. They go for the simple, big numbers, more sales, more cases resolved, and they leave out some important parts that, you know, when humans left to their own devices, we’ll just try to win the game no matter how you play it. And of course, uh, I know that you guys have it structured and obviously we’re talking about a lot of different things, but what are some lessons you’ve learned or can share with organizations about the compensation side, specifically on the sales?

[00:32:58] Aspects of campaigns.


Marilyn: Well, I think you do need a balanced approach. Like you said, um, you don’t want to just put all, all the money, all the compensation towards that one goal. Right? And like you said, there’ll be left to their own devices and figure out one way or another to, to achieve it. So it’s gotta be balanced.

[00:33:14] Um, we often build in a couple of different components, quality score. Almost always a component to achieving bonus. Right. And it may be a gatekeeper, right. So you have to achieve your quality score in order to even qualify to receive compensation. Uh, we may have a schedule adherence aspect as well. And then it’s the KPI, you know, the, whether it’s conversion or whether it’s.

[00:33:37] Handle time or a combination of both. And you could put different weights on them. I guess if you asked her what, what are some things that we’ve learned along the way aside from, you know, the obvious of what we’ve just discussed? I think, um, you don’t want to make it kind of an either or so you’ll earn X dollars.

[00:33:52] If you hit this metric and X dollars, if you earn this metric, you don’t want them to give up one for the other, right? So you want it, you want it to be balanced rather than either, or somebody might say, well, it’s going to be a lot easier for me to beat my handle time. Then it is my conversion. So I’m not going to worry so much about that conversion number.

[00:34:08] And I’m just going to, I’m just going to have focused on productivity of my calls, efficiency and speed. Right. So balance all the way and making them attainable. Right. There’s nothing more demoralizing. To have goals that are just out of reach. So, you know, making sure that a good percentage of the agents are able to achieve them or all of them are with, with that help and development.

[00:34:32] Right. But sure there should be greater rewards for the top performers. So everybody’s striving to continually improve


Jason: makes sense. Which, and again, this is the part with your experience and how long you’ve been doing that. In these type of industries with campaigns of all different types is learning those lessons and figuring out the best practices and figuring out how to set the game up so that the teams can win from the agents up to the leaders, because it’s really about building that game.

[00:35:06] Right. It’s putting all the rules in place. So someone, yeah. What’s expected and then how to win. And then what they’ll get when they win, like sitting down and playing monopoly where there’s clear rules and everyone knows what actions you can do and what you can’t. And then what the results are. Versus everyone’s sitting down to play monopoly with no rules in place or one role, which is just to get all the money.

[00:35:27] And it’s like, How are we going to do that? And what does it take? You usually learn those ones, the challenging ways, and then you figure out how to structure it.


Marilyn: I think what you learn on one program can often apply to others. So we’d like to think we have it figured out and ensure that, you know, the, the playing the rules are fair and, and, you know, also.

[00:35:48] I haven’t glide paths into success as well. So you wouldn’t give a new agent the same goals of, you know, to achieve compensation that you would experienced agents, right? You want them to build that confidence as they go. You don’t want them to, you know, again, be demoralized. So there’s, it’s a bit of a balancing act and we’re always looking.

[00:36:05] And changing up our compensation, um, if goals change or if the program changes right, you, you may run into a time where things become more challenging for one reason or another, that are not within the agent’s control. You know, it’s important to pay attention to that. Otherwise they won’t achieve goals and it’s not their fault and you don’t want them to suffer with their, with their wallet.

[00:36:25] So we pay close attention to that as well.


Jason: For sure. Again. So you’ve been in this industry, and again, you mentioned it earlier, we didn’t go into much of your background, but when you first started in sales, I mean, you were an agent in a desk and then worked up, up and around all of this whole industry and in various ways, what do you see as your success or the key to your success?

[00:36:54] For building these scalable call center and or sales operations, like your keys to your success, like, and how you’ve gotten to here and, you know, building.


Marilyn: Well, I think it starts with the right people, right? I think that we have a team and I’ve, I’ve been fortunate enough to be surrounded by folks who have a passion for this industry and have a passion for performance and achieving success.

[00:37:21] Right. We’re always looking for ways to improve and to be better. You know, we talked a little bit about KPI, achievement and attainment and. We’re often competing with other contact centers throughout the globe and getting those vendor comparisons kind of comparing, you know, seeing the vendor comps where you stand among your peers out there, I think is very important.

[00:37:44] Um, and that’s something that I think that’s always helped me and helped us, right. To kind of know where you stand. We’ll never rest on our laurels. Right. I think when you have the right people and everyone is passionate about performance, if you’re on top, you’re just looking for ways to be better. Right.

[00:37:58] If you’re not on top of you’re looking for ways to really catch up with that champion. So I’d say that’s one perspective.


Jason: I love it. I think that’s great. Well, and I, I think there’s that both those parts, right. Is having a good team being surrounded by good people, you know, peers in the organization, as well as the team underneath you.

[00:38:16] And then having those KPIs. The targets and knowing where you want to grow and, or that, and I know this from Scott, is that just constant improvement, constant at your own game, not just against competitors or in the landscape, but how do you just constantly get better? The important thing for you guys? So I know as we wrap up here that the best place for people to go is transparent BPM.

[00:38:44] Website, there’s a lot of resources on there, you know, what should people go there and find? And what if they’re interested in potentially talking to you guys about some programs? Yeah, I would


Marilyn: love to hear from you just a transparent bpo.com. You can reach out to us through our business development team.

[00:39:00] There’s lots of information on the website. You can look at case studies, podcasts like this and other information in client testimonials. You can, there’s a wealth of information on the website. Um, so that would be great.


Jason: I love it. Well, Marilyn, I appreciate it as, as I predicted and I knew, I knew this was going to be great and valuable, especially from the operation side, which again, most organizations, they just want to do the sales and they don’t want to necessarily think about or invest in all of the parts that take for it to be successful.

[00:39:30] So thank you for being here and sharing and. You know, giving so much insight into what’s made you guys successful. So I appreciate it.


Marilyn: Anytime. Jason, thank you.

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