Hi Neal, tell us about yourself and share some background about Callzilla (and how you ended up joining Callzilla)
I’m the President and Co-Founder of Callzilla, founded in 2005. Callzilla was created with several ideas in mind: outsourced contact centers operating in Bogota, Colombia could serve the US marketplace well; the nearshore market was a viable concept; a focus on quality and customer experience would be differentiating factors in a BPO’s ability to compete. I also co-created and host a Customer Experience podcast called Fireside Chats without the Fires, which was created at the every beginning of the pandemic in 2005. The podcast has done very well because the CX community is a thriving, evolving group hungry for high-quality content about our industry. I am very proud to have been selected as a member of ICMI’s 2021 Top 25 Thought leaders.
How much has the consumer sentiments changed in the contact center space during 2020 and how is 2021 going to look like?
Customer Rage continues to grow as seen in the 2020 Customer Rage Study conducted by Customer Care Measurement & Consulting (CCMC) – in collaboration with the Center for Services Leadership at the W.P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University and Kraft Heinz. Our obligation as practitioners is to reduce wait times and to resolve the reasons why our customers contact us i.e. ensure greater satisfaction and that we fix the problem. To do so, we need to expand and improve self-service, we need to introduce automation to enable customers to interact with our brands without having to endure long queues, and we have to keep the resolution as the core tenant of what we do; it is not sufficient to just be nice to our customers if we’re not fixing the problem. We must fix the problem and do so at the first time we are contacted, when possible.
Neal’s top KPIs
In your POV, what are the most important KPIs you use to measure customer experience benchmarks?
My favorites center around Voice of Customer: Customer Effort Score, Customer Satisfaction, and Resolution and First Contact Resolution. A shift must also take place to be able to interpret sentiment and words and expressions and convert these into valuable insights.
How much has the role of the CX Executive changed in the social distancing era – what role digital transformation has in this crisis?
Companies must place the customer at the seat of the decision-making table and to that end, the customer is best represented when its ambassador is an executive. Customers must be considered in marketing, sales, IT, operations, finance, supply chain, and HR decisions. Elevating the importance of the customer, for many companies, is in itself a major transformation. Companies that embrace digital, cloud-based tools are best equipped to offer the most appropriate resources at the fingertips of their customers to make customer journey and customer experience the most optimal and most resolution-based as possible.
How is Callzilla transforming the customer experience landscape?
Callzilla has undertaken an important digital transformation to incorporate Quality Management tools and practices, eLearning to facilitate the training of our team members regardless of their location, we’ve enhanced our core contact center platforms to ensure greater omnichannel capabilities including conversational automation (chatbots and voice bots), we’ve shifted every major component of our tech stack and operational tools to the cloud to ensure efficient deployment and administration of these resources, we’ve introduced the use of RPA in back-office processes to make us more agile and how we administer certain resources, and we’ve rebranded and shifted the focus of our program management as a Client Success team focus on, you guessed it, the success of our clients.
What was the biggest lesson you learned in 2020?
No surprises here – the need to be flexible and adapt/evolve to changing times. We learned how to pivot and embrace Work from Home and turn it into the rule rather than the exception. We also understood that what matters most is the relationship; Brands and customers walk a very delicate line every day that must be cared for and reinforced in a very competitive, disposable society that encourages change. The same goes for the relationship with our clients and prospects. And finally, contact centers must have automation tools to create a harmonious ecosystem for customers to interact in the channel or fashion they prefer.
2020 was the year of webinars and online events, what was your favorite one?
I have to put in a shameless plug for the Fireside Chats without the Fires podcast that I host and co-created with Paul Catherall! We had a smashing success with our Customer Service Week series on LinkedIn Live in October, chock full of incredible guest Thought Leaders. I was also privileged to be part of panels put together by Frost & Sullivan, Observe.ai, ICMI, CX World Games/Limetropy, and Uniphore – each of these are organizations that create really amazing CX content. Look for Clubhouse to explode in 2021 as the place to be to interact with CX leaders.
It looks like working from home is going to stay with us for the foreseeable future, how should CX Executives gear up to the changing times?
Correct, WFH is going to be a permanent component of contact center work. CX executives must utilize the appropriate technology to measure productivity and to guarantee security and protection of established consumer data, including PCI Compliance, HIPAA, SOC2, GDPR, and all other states, national, and consumer protection standards. The requires investment in software, hardware, and the correct team members to manage increasingly strict rules.