Preparing Customer Service for the Holiday Season, with Ty Givens

Preparing Customer Service for the Holiday Season, with Ty Givens

Preparing Customer Service for the Holiday Season, with Ty Givens

Episode 99

Share Post:

Episode 99

Share Post:

Throughout this episode, Ty walks us through the best approach to handling order delay issues and cancellations in the weeks up to the holiday seasons and beyond. Ty tells us about the importance of honesty when interacting with customers, whether that is through the use of AI, all the way down to notifying customers on delayed parcels.

Episode Summary


CX Collective

CX Collective is a group of experts and advisors to companies that improve and scale their Customer Experience, providing resources, knowledge and proven methodologies that can support and streamline CX. On todays episode we talk about the founder and CEO Ty Givens and her experiences through the years of directing operations in companies such as See’s Candies, Thrive Market, Intuit & Shoedazzle.


Have Conversations

It’s crucial for different departments to communicate and align their goals. Uniting your marketing, sales, support and product team can help decrease your backlogs massively. If marketing has a goal of increasing order volume by 10,000, while the shipping team can only send out 8,000, backlogs will only increase and disrupt the workflow. Ty offers her solution to this problem, ensuring all companies prepare for the weeks to come.

“The head of CX should have standing operational updates with specific and key team members… Understand the marketing objectives alongside the capacity of your fulfillment team and have a plan to proactively communicate with anyone whose order is delayed.”


Artificial Intelligence

What is more important for customers, chatbots being more human? Or being more honest? Ty tells us the secrets to perfecting your AI and ensuring customers get the best service possible, providing a representative if the customer has unanswered questions. In this episode, Ty emphasises the importance of being a user of your own product and understanding the problems from a different perspective.

“Don’t hide that it’s a bot, answer the questions the same way a rep would answer the question, and also have an out. If the customer wants to talk to someone, let them talk to someone… This is how you do it”


To find out more about Ty, check out our full episode – available on all your favourite channels. Now including YouTube!


This article summarises podcast episode 99 “Preparing Customer Service for the Holiday Season” recorded by CX Insider.

Written by Octavian Iotu

Full Episode Transcript


Ty: My most impressive stat is a ten day backlog that we cut down to four hours within two weeks. So the client was actually responding to tickets in the same day. I’ve worked with clients who are family owned businesses, and those are the hardest. A family owned business that’s successful. But the problem in their operations is the people.

Octavian: Oh, that must be difficult yeah.

Ty: It’s like I can lead you to the water.

Adam: Breaking up families?

Ty: Yeah, right. Fire your daughter!

Ty: No way. I would never say that- When I was at a company. We had a backlog. I think it was 14,000 tickets… But this is a story of failure. This isn’t a story of winning. This is a story of failure.

Octavian: On today’s episode of The Insider Podcast, we sit down and talk to Ty Givens, the founder and CEO of The CX Collective, a company that provides implementation advice and services for building and scaling customer experience operations. We’ll be talking about why you need to prepare for holiday seasons to come, the usage of chat bots and AI when handling customer interactions, and going through the incredible work that CX Collective have done with countless companies throughout all industries. Enjoy the episode and if you do subscribe to our channel for CX Insider’s best content, this episode is brought to you by ACF technologies global leaders in customer experience management solutions. Let’s get into the episode. Today. We’ve got a special guest that goes by the name of Ty. Could you tell us a bit about yourself and your career?

Ty: Sure. So my name is Ty Givens and I am founder and CEO of CX Collective. And you can think of us as really it’s almost like dozens of companies can hire me as their head of CX, but more so for the operational aspects. So not running the day to day, giving them the ability to set up the infrastructure for CX, build out their systems and tools, create a training program. And ideally, I hand that off to I shouldn’t say AI because it’s a collective effort. So I have a team with me that helps to actually roll out all of the strategy, because I cannot do that by myself. And anyone who has had the responsibility of building and scaling knows that they can’t do it alone. And finding the right skill sets of the people that you need is very, very challenging. So I’ve kind of put that team together already so that if a company is like, hey, we got to hit the ground running, they call us, we can hit the ground running. We move much faster than a single hire because there’s 3, 4 or 5 of us at some points actually working on the execution of the plan.

Ty: So I’ve been in CX since I was 18 years old. I started out in fortune 500s. I worked for really large companies, and then I started working for start-ups. And what I loved about start-ups is that there’s uncharted territory. Everything’s raw, open. You can build it. I mean, as long as you mess up fast, right? Because you make that mistake, you fix it, you move on. You’re good. New mistakes. That’s what I would say. Make new mistakes. I loved it, and what I realized is that I think the last start-up that I got hired into build, I went from seven. Well, six. I was number seven, head of CX. To 130 people in nine months. And the team in scale that-.

Adam: Wow

Ty: I know, I know, I still have grey hairs from that. The team that it takes to build and scale that fast it’s significant. And so what I did is the team that works with me at CX Collective are the people who can build and scale that fast with me.

Adam: So an organization may be a startup organization has a business, and they get in touch with you and you guys as a team, as a collective guide them what they should be doing and then help them implement it?

Ty: We can do advisory consulting and or execution. So I listened to- I can’t remember the guy’s name. I would love to give him credit, but I can’t remember his name. But he talked about being in consulting and being in a service business, and how the mistake that a lot of agencies make is you pitch marriage off the back is what he said he’s like. Instead, you shouldn’t try to, you know, pitch that you need to give them something small, which was cool because that is sort of like what we do. So if a startup comes to us most of the time you hear that saying, like, if you find yourself explaining what you are doing or what you’re offering to a group of people who don’t get it, you’re just in the wrong group. It’s kind of like that when a CEO or Co-Founder who is building a unicorn usually and or knows that their product is going to scale, they understand exactly what we’re bringing to the table, because for them, it’s like, I need someone who’s going to come in and build this infrastructure so that when thousands of customers come through the door at once, we’re okay. Yeah, right.

Adam: You get the processes in place ready? Yes. So it’s so it’s scalable because if there’s a problem when there’s 20 customers, how bad is that problem going to be when there’s 2000 customers.

Ty: Exactly, exactly. So for like a CX implementation we usually attract funded startups for that particular program. There’s not a lot of proof of concept because they hear my background, they hear Shoe Dazzle, they hear Thrive Market, they hear See’s Candies, they hear Intuit. All these big companies and or well-known companies that I’ve worked for and they’re like, okay, no, we don’t need anymore. Now where I have to prove a lot is optimization. So optimization is a company that’s already established and they need help. What that looks like to them is long wait times for customer service. Regardless of channel. They may want to introduce a new channel. They may be on antiquated systems, or they may not be able to train everyone to do the job properly. So these are like some of the symptoms of oh shoot, we need to overhaul. Now that particular person will contact us and say, what can you do for me? Because I have all of these problems and I can say, well, we can fix them all, but it’s going to take, you know, six months and they’re like, oh, that’s, that’s too long. I need it done yesterday. Great. So what we do instead is we’ll work on a specific program for them. So we meet with them, we go into their systems, we go into their tools. We put together an entire program and we go, okay, this is yours if you want to execute it. Or you can execute it with us, whichever one you choose. Okay. And then nine times out of ten, actually ten out of ten, they go, yep, you can do it. Because they realize how-

Adam: I’m not surprised, I was going to say that because, you know, a lot of listeners of CX Insider may not realize what ACF, our day jobs is, and our day job is actually looking at CX solutions. One of the biggest challenges is what you’ve just said. You know, people identify, they have a problem. Then someone like us or you or us together come along and go, this is what you can do. This is what you should do. And they’re like, yeah, great. And then you go for all the buying part of it. And then when it comes to implementing it, oh wow. That’s a whole different ball game.

Ty: Nobody wants to do implementation except for us. No, nobody. And that’s the thing like when people say what makes you different? I’m like, we actually do the work. We really do the work. If I suggest something, then we can do it. And if we can’t do it, we know a partner who can do it.

Adam: So you don’t want to just charge a day rate for the next two years.

Ty: Yeah, maybe. I mean, I got to figure out something. I got to figure out something. But it’s weird because it’s fun to me, giving complete solutions. Like we do a lot of helpdesk implementations. And so when you do the helpdesk setup, everyone understands what the product is. Everyone has an idea, of course, they’re being told once you have this solution in all of your problems, go away. You can do reporting, you can do all these things. The number one problem is not how to set up the system, because there are thousands of pages of documentation. The number one question we get is what should we do? And that’s the question we answer. And that’s why our rates are different. Because I’m going, well, I’m not just going to go and configure it for you. I’m going to tell you what it needs to be. I’m going to look at your workflows. We’re going to analyse the workflows. We’re going to create custom dashboards. We’re going to set up your ticket fields. We’re going to write all your macros like literally if you want to get rid of it. CX Collective is where you come. Now at the end we also do the training for the frontline. So we’ll put together a program so that the frontline now knows how to use that system. And that is also a differentiator when working with us.

Octavian: So clearly ty and her team over at collective have been very busy. But what the last few months of the year looking like for companies and their holiday preparations.

Ty: Right now, we’re getting ready to go into that spot where people are going to find out what they don’t know about being ready for the holidays, and that is when we’re clutch players at that point because, you know, effectively you can’t hire more people that fast unless you started our program weeks ago, which if you’re not doing that, then you’re probably a little bit behind the eight ball. So now we’re just looking at efficiencies. What can we do on the systems front to hopefully deflect? What kind of plans can we make for make goods / offers. How can you get ahead of communicating anything that could potentially happen as a part of the holiday season to people so that they’re not contacting you? And then the infamous backlog, because, you know, the holidays, while it feels like, you know, you’ve gotten through it as of December 25th, the reality is that right after that is when everything really hits the fan. You got that kind of lull between Christmas and the New Year, and then once everybody gets back to business, that’s when you’re going to get hit with returns and all sorts of things. So like having a plan for what happens after is a big deal too. So we’re usually we have like an early summer kind of spike. It gets a little bit quiet. And then right around here, probably top of November, people are going to be like, hey, so look. We didn’t get this set up and we need help. And can you do it yesterday? And so the reality is that we can because we can move fast. There are things that we can do on a week that could take some other teams a month. Right. It’s just about how quickly do you want to move, what do you need. And then we slot it in, but we’re small, so I won’t take on more clients than we can handle.

Adam: Do you have like a specialist? Kind of. I know you mentioned about start ups being great for you, but do you have a certain sector like is it retail for example.

Ty: Well, retail. Yes. Because it’s- I don’t want to say it’s easy because I know anybody who’s in retail is going to be like it’s not easy, but it is for us because there’s there just things that you know. Right. So what website are you using? What return product are you using? There are just certain things that we know how to set up those policies. Your returns, your exchange, like those things are really small, but they actually end up being a really big deal. Because once you are the one who has to set the policy, you realize that there’s too many options for you to figure out what is right if you’re not experienced in it. Right? But we have worked with SAAS like was a client very early on. They’re now at thousands of agents. When I worked with them, they had hundreds of agents and that was a few years back. All industries, they have a LMS, customizable LMS system. They’ve been a client for the last five years. Wow. We run the gamut like we’re very agnostic and we try to stay in the middle. And because we actually go into each company to understand what they do, how they do it, it allows us the opportunity to really run the gamut as far as the clientele is concerned.

Octavian: So I want to talk about your team a little bit because we mentioned it a lot. You guys are hard working. How do you actually choose the team that works with you? How have you chosen them?

Ty: So my first time adding someone to the team was actually a friend of mine. She and I had worked together. We’ve been friends for almost 20 years. We worked together and she’s in training and I needed some help with documentation. So she started out really early, and then the next person that I hired who was like a specialized in not talking about like an assistant was a lady who was a CX strategist. She’s very well versed in like, here are your recommendations. Here’s what you need to do. I found a few people who are really good at being like, here’s what you need to do. The challenge that I had is the execution because we execute. So I can’t hand you a plan, and then you do the plan and it doesn’t work. You’re like, sorry. You’re like, oh, you didn’t do it right. We actually implement the plan for you. So what I found was the best fit is someone who had previously and I mean previously, as in the role before, managed and run teams at least in director level and was kind of pivoting into trying to figure out what they want to do next because they’re so fresh off of being inside of a company that the execution is in them. Right. And if they’re at director level, they’re used to carrying out the recommendations and they can make some decisions too. So I found that someone fresh from actually being in a corporate or team environment was the best fit for the type of work that we do, and that’s who we have now.

Octavian: So Ty has worked with many organizations and clients through her years of running the collective, but a main problem she might find is that employee acceptance of new implementation. But how does Ty deal with this?

Ty: I have learned to detach myself from the people part, and I live just in the space of here’s what I think would be best, and here’s the outcome I see for you. But at the end of the day, it’s your choice. Because I’ve worked with clients who are family owned businesses and those are the hardest. A family owned business that’s successful. But the problem in their operations is the people.

Octavian: Oh, that must be difficult yeah.

Ty: It’s like I can lead you to the water.

Adam: Breaking up families?

Ty: Yeah right, fire your daughter! Like. No way. I would never say that. Yeah, yeah. Well, you know, here’s the best that we’re going to get with what you have. The the other thing is that and I’ve actually one of my team members said you’re not firm enough with the clients. And I said, no, what I understand is if a person is CEO of a company, I can’t come in and tell that person that they’re doing something wrong. They don’t want to hear that they’ve poured everything into it. So what I do is I’m like, well, let’s, you know, I’ll tell them, here’s what I think. But the best time to actually implement that change is after they run into the thing, the very thing that you told them you could have helped them avoid. Once they do that, then they’ll be able to trust you a little bit more in pushing the agenda as far as like what needs to get done. But the people piece is always a challenge because you’re not turning a speedboat in a lot of situations, you’re turning a cruise ship. So optimizing takes far longer than implementation. With implementation. I mean, we can do it in six weeks and I’m talking end to end full training program. You can go to market and be fine and scale, right. But if you’re doing an optimization, it could take up to six months because we are not just setting up the new, but we’re trying to undo the old. And right now one of our clients is they’ve been around for probably 30 some odd years now. I’m thinking, and the team there is super capable, but we can’t just go in and like, pull the rug out. We’ve got to take time to help them understand these new systems, how they’re going to use it, the old to the new. And everything has to kind of be a very gradual change. Otherwise you’ll have disgruntled employees. And I don’t want that. I don’t want anyone to say, you don’t want that. Yeah. Like, you know what I mean? They helped, but everyone quit. I mean, that doesn’t really work.

Adam: Yeah. And people aren’t offering a good customer experience if they’re not happy.

Ty: True. Very true. Very.

Adam: You miserable. If you’re miserable in your job, you’re like, I don’t even want to speak to this person on the phone or on live chat or whatever it is. I don’t want to be here.

Ty: Right? Exactly. When I was on the phones, I was a terrible rep. And maybe that’s why I know how to treat people now.

Adam: I was going to actually ask that. Because you said that you obviously worked in customer experience for a long time. What made you create CX Collective? What were you doing? And then did you just- you didn’t just go one day from being employed to suddenly starting a business?

Ty: Almost. And I’ll tell you why. Almost. I never worked as hard as I did for the last start-up. The sad part is that I think the CEO there would probably snicker at that if he heard it, because he’s kind of kind of cuckoo. But I mean, he likes that. He likes to be like, yeah, you work so hard. Like, look at your hair falling out. They’re kind of weird, like, I don’t… That’s not my thing. But anyway, I worked at this company and I was so stressed that I had, like, developed cystic acne and my hair, literally started to fall out, and I was gaining weight. And like, you could just look at my eyes and see, like they were sunken in, like I was just a shell of myself because. I was trying so hard to uphold so many things. And when you work in an environment where no one really understands what you do, that’s a common thing for leaders, is working in an environment where they’re at the head of their department, but nobody really understands the things that they’re dealing with. And from the outside, everything looks simple. And I ended up leaving there because I literally couldn’t take it anymore. And I decided that I was never going to work that hard for another company. I would only work that hard for myself.

Ty: And so I actually started CX Collective, but I started it as the Workforce Pro in 2016 because I have a background in workforce management, which is like people operations and planning, you guys know. But that’s my background. And so I thought like, oh yeah, I’ll start this, this, this agency, I’ll sell my skill set and I’ll put up a website and then everyone’s going to be like, yes, let me work with her. And so nothing happened for a very long time. My website just got to the point where it’s kind of decent, but even still, people still say if they don’t understand our world, they go, what exactly do you do? So that still happens. So anyway, I started it because I love what I do, but there were parts of it that I wanted to leave behind. And because integrity is so important to me, I wanted to be able to choose the clients that we worked with. And I wanted to be able to say no when my ethics were compromised. And that’s what CX Collective allows, is that we don’t have to do any type of work that we don’t feel comfortable doing. We don’t have to be a part of any program where there’s any deceit or lies, or we don’t have to deal with any of those things. And when you’re an employee-

Adam: That’s a brilliant place to be. Yeah.

Ty: You know, a lot of times they want you to kind of turn a blind eye or, you know, they preach customer centric outside, but inside it’s not really that way. I wanted to be in environments where that was real and true. If a client is not customer centric, they probably shouldn’t even call us because we’re never going to be on your on your side to do anything unethical. We’re not going to be deceitful. All we’re going to do is really try to deliver the best experience for your customers within your budget. So yeah, that’s why I left. Haven’t looked back.

Adam: It makes sense. Health is wealth at the end of the day. And you seem very happy now. So it sounds like it was a good decision.

Octavian: Congratulations on that as well, because that must have been a scary shift from working at that start up to creating your own business. I wanted to ask you, what is an improvement that you’re most proud of when it’s come to all of the different work you’ve done at CX collective?

Ty: So my favourite projects are backlogs, like cutting down backlogs. And the reason why is because when I was at a company, we had a backlog, I think it was 14,000 tickets, which is like- right. But this is a story of failure. This isn’t a story of winning. This is a story of failure. And I- so 14,000 tickets, the opportunities there were one we should have. I feel like I should have been firmer with marketing about what we could do. But again, the company wasn’t really about actually delivering the experience. The company was about getting the business. So we got the business. But we also couldn’t keep up with the workload no matter what. We were hiring 30 people a week. We couldn’t keep up. So my boss’ brother was chief of staff and he actually, like, turned off phones and decided to like, do a massive message to customers. Just saying we’ll just take care of it because there’s nothing else we can do because we’re just completely slammed. Like, I felt like I failed in that, because the fact that I’m so customer centric made me not be able to say, I’m just going to mass email a bunch of people. I’m thinking everybody deserves a reply. Like, that’s my mindset, right?

Adam: You want to personalize it. And make it unique to them.

Ty: Yes, right? Because I feel like we messed up in a lot of ways. So we should have taken ownership, but my plan would have taken much longer. What he did was faster. Yes, there was some pushback, but guess what? At the end of the day it was done. So now what I do is with backlogs. One, I work a lot on preventing backlogs. That’s the biggest key and that’s what we try to help our clients do. But secondly, once it hits, I have a strategy that we’ve put together that goes over all of the things to consider so that you can knock out your low hanging fruit, and you can estimate the number of hours you’re going to need and about how long you’ll be in backlog. So going through that experience, we will put together a full program and basically pull the client out of backlog. So my most impressive stat is a ten day backlog that we cut down to four hours within two weeks. So the client was actually responding to tickets in the same day. That’s probably my favourite. So if a company contacts us and was like, it’s like we can’t get our tickets, I’m like, oh yes, like those are fun to me because I-

Adam: Can fix this.

Ty: Yeah.

Octavian: With the holiday season coming up, companies can become slightly disjointed, with minimal communications between the different sectors such as product team, marketing team and operations. Ty is here to tell us ways that can be optimized when all departments strive towards a shared goal for the months to come.

Ty: A couple of things I’ve learned. This is more for the retail space is conversations with marketing around like what are their plans? Right. Because CX is in the middle of the business no matter what. Like although, you know, when people look at customer service, they’re often the lowest on the totem pole. That’s just the reality. The only thing below us is shipping and that sucks. But that’s the reality, right? Like we should be all equal. But that’s not how it goes. But the one department in the company who has to know pretty much how everything’s functioning is CX they’re in the centre of everything, every decision that every department makes hits CX. So let’s say like we started talking about holiday readiness in August and we were saying, listen, go to your marketing people, decision makers and ask them, what are their plans? What are they trying to increase order volume to. And this is more of a retail thing. I might have mentioned that, but just want to make sure… How many orders are they looking to put out, when are they going to be offering discounts, incentives, etcetera? Have you guys tested those discount codes? Because that could be a big volume driver that’s not unnecessary and you’ll have that information. Then the next thing you want to do is you want to go to the fulfillment team or the operations team, and you want to say, okay, so how many orders can you guys pack each day? Because marketing might have a goal of increasing order volume by 10,000, but the shipping team can only send out 8000. So literally every day you’re going to backlogged.

Adam: There’s a problem.

Ty: Right? And they may not even be talking to each other because they have separate objectives. But at the end of the day, that complaint is going to hit CX. So, understand the capacity of your fulfillment team and then have a plan where you can proactively communicate to anyone whose order is delayed, because as long as you’re going out and telling them they’re not going to come to you. And that’s a small thing, but it goes a long way. Also, find out from fulfillment. How often are you guys going to ship? Are you closing down on the weekends? Are you guys running weekends? What is your capacity? If we get behind, how are you going to catch up? Have those conversations and they should do that daily, especially Black Friday on every day. We should know what’s happening. The next thing you want to do is talk to the product team or whoever’s in charge of your inventory, because one of the things we used to do is- this is a good thing about the crazy company. That’s another fun thing about being on your own. You can be honest. So the inventory, we had lots of products and there are some that are just big sellers, right? So the question was how many do we have? How often are you going to be ordering, and at what point are we going to show out of stock. Because I’d rather show out of stock when there’s 200 left and we wow, 200 customers, then show out of stock when we’ve oversold by 200, and now we have to contact 200 and say sorry. You know what I mean?

Adam: Yeah, your brand’s not going to do very well if you let down 200 people.

Ty: Exactly. And then for your best sellers, you really need to know a comparable product so that if you’re out of that one, you can say, well, we don’t have that, but we have this. So those are like just little tidbits. You have that together. You have a proactive plan of all of your make goods. You decide what work the temporary team is going to do, because there’s going to be some things that you can have new people do, some things that only the team will do. Know what those things are? Make sure that your helpdesk can divide that work up appropriately, and then you need to put together your training documentation so that the people who come in can actually either go through an e-learning or whatever you’re providing. Maybe it’s just a piece of paper online or whatever, but make sure that they understand how to perform whatever work they need to perform.

Adam: You’re mentioning there, which seems so obvious and so simple when you talk about it like you just said about find out the information, how many things can you pack and how many things can you send? How many of these things have you got in stock? How do you recommend organizations actually communicate between themselves? Because generally businesses are quite siloed, aren’t they? You’ve got the marketing team, you’ve got the sales team, you’ve got the support team, the contact center. How do you advise a big organization to actually take down those barriers?

Ty: Yeah. So the head of CX or whoever they designate, but should have standing operational updates with specific and key team members. And that’s what I used to do. I had my time with product so that I could understand what was happening inventory wise, and I would take that and give that to the managers. The managers would disseminate that information. I had an ops manager on my team, and she actually would be the one that would liaise with the warehouse. So she would bring me that information, and then I would talk to marketing myself, and then they would bring me that information. I also had a spreadsheet that marketing kept up with that showed like order volume every day. So I knew what they were expecting, and I also knew what fulfillment was able to do, so I was able to get ahead of that. So I think that because there are like, you know, we have we have staff meetings and things like that. But a lot of times the staff meetings, especially if you’re talking executive level, it’s going to be very high level. It’s not going to be very tactical. Yeah. So you have to have the person, because CX a lot of it is tactical. You hear a lot of thought leaders talk about like creating the best customer experience. And everything sounds lofty and beautiful.

Ty: But at the end of the day, answer people’s questions on time and accurately. Don’t lie to them. Do what you say you’re going to do. And those are the simple things. But believe it or not, that’s actually the hardest thing to do. Because you’re getting into people’s feelings and emotions and things like that. Build a relationship. There was a guy on my team. He actually created a role for himself where he would test all of the marketing emails, and it was almost like one of those things where it was like, why didn’t anyone think of this before? Of course, we need to test all marketing emails and it cut down on volume. Significant just from him running the test or even reviewing the marketing copy because marketing is about the sale. Once they bring the person in, it’s up to you to retain and keep them and make them happy no matter what marketing says. So we actually would review the messages and be like, no, this is what customers are going to say, can we change this? And it started to actually, you know, I mean, now that I think about it, maybe that’s why I was stressed out all the time. I was trying to fix things, but yeah, it was-

Adam: Spinning too many plates.

Ty: Yeah, yeah. But you know what? Like when you’re about the customer, I’m a I’m a customer. You’re a customer. We’re all customers. So one thing that every business has in common is customers. Every business has customers. So at the end of the day, it’s that person who is calling you to complain about something that is enabling you to even be here and within CX, we have to make very clear to people who are supporting customers that it’s important to show them happy stats too, because remember, they’re only used to talking to people when they’re upset. So from the perspective of the customers hate us. And it’s like, actually, no, we’ve got 100,000 customers, but we get contacted by 2000 a day and that’s because they have an issue. So you have to give them big picture. Otherwise they’re like, what are we doing here?

Adam: There’s a brand in the UK called Specsavers sell glasses and they changed. One of the things they changed about 18 months ago was one of the key things that they measure is actually smiles. If they, if they get a customer like, you know, you get the surveys and you get questionnaires, the only question they ask is simply, did we make you smile? Oh, I love that. Because the truth is, if you make someone smile, they will have enjoyed it at some point. They must have done. That’s true. And you’re right. It’s important to inform contact centers and stuff of what’s going right because it’s a difficult job.

Ty: It’s hard. Yeah.

Ty: My last call that I did as a rep before I went into workforce management, I was in my role for a whopping six months. I was 18 years old, 19. I just turned 19. I started when I was 18. The guy told me that I needed to go home and start all over again because my attitude was horrible and he was right. He was right because I was at the end of my my line, so to speak. I was getting ready to not have to do this kind of work anymore. And I was so young in my career that I didn’t understand why people were calling, because they were missing pins out of their order. I didn’t think that that was a big deal because like, what do I know? And and that’s also another thing where when we’re creating training programs, we try to help people understand what they’re doing and why they’re doing it, not just how to do it, because you can teach them how all day long. But if they lack that bridge, then-

Adam: They need to see it from the client’s side, don’t they?

Ty: They have to.

Adam: But the basics are the hardest to implement. But they can make the biggest difference. But even just seeing it from the customer’s side and understanding it may not be a big deal to you because you’ve had 500 people tell you about their missing pen. Yep. But to that person, is their missing pen exactly. It’s their problem.

Ty: Yes, matters. It matters. And like when we write our documentation, like there’s a part where at the top of it, I’m like, I need to understand what we’re doing, why we’re doing it. Because I need this to translate to the front line. When they read this process, doc, they should understand what they’re doing, why they’re doing it. What scenarios does this apply before they even start? Because if we go straight into here’s how you do it, they’re missing so much context. They’re missing so much context. And CX you’re teaching people a lot of times it’s their first job in any type of corporate setting. So you’re almost teaching them how to be adults at work, and you’re teaching them how to be employees. And the critical thinking part, I think a lot of people kind of throw out the door. They turn you into a button pressing robot, but being a button pressing robot, unless that’s what you like to do, it’s not going to actually scale you. It’s not going to prepare you for the next level. You have to be thinking outside of that.

Octavian: Call centers are the face of a company, with the sales representatives dictating the emotions that a customer will have after an interaction. So why is a role with such importance so undervalued when employees are being paid? And what is the future of sales looking like?

Ty: The reason why the pay is so low is because because of the lack of efficiency. So if you’re throwing people at the problem, you can’t pay a decent wage to people to press the button every day. But if you can incorporate AI and systems and have a lot of things flow on their own, then by the time it gets to a person, they’re handling the grey area things, and that requires a lot of thinking and decision making. You will have less people, but you’re able to pay a higher wage.

Octavian: So we’ve spoken about integration and the benefits this could bring to employees. But what about the customers? Because according to Forbes, nearly 50% of UK customers prefer person to chat bots, some even getting aggravated at the use of AI. So what can be done about this? Do companies need to make are more human, or is there something else that consumers might value more?

Ty: You know, I don’t know about making it more human as opposed to just being honest. So for example, if I have a question and I go to a website and there’s a chat bot there, I don’t care if it’s a chat bot, if I get the right answer, I care that it’s a chat bot if I don’t get the right answer and I have a hard time getting to a person who can give me an answer, that’s where the frustration comes in at. What happens is that companies forget that particular aspect of it, a lot of people don’t drink their own Kool-Aid. They’re not users of their product. They’re not users of their customer experience. They’re on one side of it going, let me save a dollar per contact by doing this. But they don’t realize what that experience does. When we do chat bots, we don’t hide that it’s a bot, and we answer the questions the same way that a rep would answer the question. And we also have an out. If you want to talk to someone, you can talk to someone. This is how you do it.

Octavian: That’s the most important thing. Yeah. The fact that you actually have an option that says, okay, if this hasn’t answered it, you can actually talk to a person because there’s been so many scenarios where I might have been talking to some chat bot. Sometimes they work, sometimes they work, but if they don’t, and there’s just absolutely no option to actually talk to someone, it irritates you so much just having to find it on the website, like scrolling down, googling it. Yeah.

Ty: If you get stuck in an IVR, if you have to call in and they have you on this continuous loop, I had an experience. I mean, Microsoft’s a ginormous company and I get why they have so much gatekeeping, but I got stuck in their IVR loop, and I was very frustrated by that because I’m like, who tested this thing? No one can get through and it’s telling me to sign into my account, but I’m locked out of my account so.

Adam: When people don’t test broken IVR loops. They’re so common it’s terrible. It’s the same as broken links on emails from marketing and stuff. It’s unacceptable.

Ty: It is. It is.

Ty: You have to test. That’s the thing. Like become the customer. Imagine what it’s like for one second, take off the hat that you’re on the inside. Imagine that you have this problem. Or some of our clients like to hire their customers, because when you hire the customer, they understand things from a different perspective than what’s happening on the inside.

Octavian: Thank you to everyone for listening. I’ve been Octavian and I hope you’ve enjoyed the discussion. Let us know what you think of this episode by carrying on the conversation on LinkedIn at CX Insider Podcast. This episode is brought to you by ACF technologies. Global leaders in customer experience management solutions. Let’s get into some quick fire questions. If you could live anywhere outside of America, where would it be?

Ty: Probably London.

Octavian: London? Is it not too busy for you?

Ty: It’s not too busy. I like the weather. I know that’s weird for people to hear, but I like the weather. And when I went there, the pace of life, the environment was just very laid back. And I was like, oh, if I was to go anywhere, really? Yeah, it was 2011. I mean, I’m talking about a long time ago, but it was so chill.

Adam: Yeah London is cool.

Ty: Yeah.

Octavian: Do you prefer films or series?

Ty: Oh, series, especially ones based on books. Yeah.

Octavian: Have you got any recommendations for our listeners?

Ty: Yes. “You”, if you haven’t seen “You”.

Octavian: Oh yeah.

Ty: Yeah.

Ty: It’s the most bonkers thing on planet Earth, but I, I love it because I read two of the books. I don’t know if there’s any more, but I read two of the books. Yeah. Then the series was so well done that.

Octavian: It’s crazy the ending season as well.

Adam: I haven’t seen this. Hang on a minute.

Octavian: I’ll try to not spoil anything.

Ty: Oh, you have to watch!

Adam: I’ll tell you what. I will watch that.

Octavian: That. Do you love or hate roller coasters?

Ty: Well, I love them, except they give me a headache. Ever since I was 21, I could no longer ride roller coasters. But I used to really, really, really love getting on the roller coasters. But now.

Octavian: Has it changed now?

Ty: Yeah, because like the massive headache that I get across here, I can’t function. So it’s kind of a bummer just, you know, but if I, if I didn’t have that…

Adam: Let’s say you’re stuck in like, Groundhog Day.

Ty: Okay?

Adam: You see that movie did. Let’s say you have to like, I don’t know, you have to go to the same restaurant every day. What restaurant are you picking? What kind of meal you picking?

Ty: One question. Will I gain weight if I eat it?

Adam: No, no.

Adam: No, of course not. It’s Groundhog day. You start the same way every day. Just go back to normal.

Ty: So this is what life should be about. I’m going to go to Mastro’s every single day and I’m just going to eat. It’s a steakhouse, but I won’t always eat steak because I can go every day. So that’s the win, right? So some days it’ll be salmon.

Adam: That’s the win. That’s why I started with the Groundhog Day thing. You don’t have to worry about calories or anything like that. You can eat your favourite meal and then the next day you just reset.

Ty: Would I would.

Ty: So definitely probably on day one I would have to have the porterhouse. But then for dessert I’d have the butter cake. Since I don’t gain weight. This is wonderful. And then, you know, the next day I’ll get something different. I could, you know, I could do that.

Adam: Fair play.

Octavian: You’ve got so much going on with your work, your career. What drives you when you’re not working? What are your passions that keep you going? You know.

Ty: Um, I’m like, when am I not working? Um, you know, I’m going to say, like, the people around me, right? Yeah. I’m surrounded by a lot of love, and I’m grateful for that. I think that I am able to keep going because of that. Right. Like my my grandmother, she passed in 2021. That was the hardest thing. But I feel her around me all the time and I’m blessed. My granddad’s 92, he’s lives like seven minutes away. My mom is five minutes away.

Octavian: Wow. You’re very close to your family.

Ty: Yeah, they’re right here.

Ty: You know, my boyfriend’s here with me most of the time, so I’m surrounded by, like, a lot of love. And he motivates me to, like, get out and, like, go to the gym and do things. So I’ve kind of gotten into hot yoga, which has been a lot of fun. And I think that that’s really what just keeps me going, being around people who don’t care about the work that I do. Once I had an experience with a former boss, not the same person, but a former boss, and I told her that I couldn’t make a meeting because I was going to my niece’s performance at school. My niece was ten years old at the time, and she goes, I can’t believe that you’re not going to go to a company wide meeting to go to your niece’s program. We’ve all missed events for our kids, and that’s not your child. And I said, well, all of you guys are adults and you’ve made your decision and I’ve made mine right? So for me, it’s about at the end of the day, I work is what I do, but like, I’m an auntie, I’m a daughter. You know, all of these other things that don’t have anything to do with my work, but they make me who I am.

Adam: It’s important to live as well.

Octavian: It’s so important.