Another Cloud Podcast

A podcast designed to bring you stories from the smartest minds in IT, operations and business, and learn how they're using Cloud Technology to improve business and the customer experience.

It’s All about Leadership with Karen Durenberger

with Alex McBratney 

Don't have time to listen? Read the full transcription.

Alex  00:00

Hello, and welcome to another cloud podcast podcast designed to bring you stories from the smartest minds in it, operations and business and learn how they're using cloud technology to improve business and customer experience. All right, well, welcome to another cloud podcast. I'm so excited to have Karen Dern Berg from total expert on the podcast today. She is the VP of customer support. And Karen, great having you on. Thanks for thanks for showing up.


Karen  00:30

Thank you so much, Alex, for having me. I'm super excited to be chatting with you. And looking forward to it. It's an interesting topic and lots to talk about. So yeah, it's gonna be great. Thank you. Yeah,


Alex  00:42

there's never a shortage of things to talk about in customer support customer experience, it's it seems to be the buzzword of the day. Now, you know, 10 years ago, a lot of it was account management. Now it's customer success and customer experience. And so before we dive into all that, I'd like to hear a little bit about what you guys do at Total Expert. And just your your, your roadmap on how you got there, and how your career progressed to where you're at now?


Karen  01:10

Yeah, absolutely. I've been a total expert for it was just two years ago, on May 1, so just hit my two year anniversary. I'm a total expert, provide software. So we're a SaaS company that provides software to the mortgage and financial institutions. So some would call it a CRM, some call it a marketing tool, it's a way to build your business, communicate with your users, your customers, and we are growing rapidly. We probably doubled or more in size since I got here. So fast growth, which is super exciting. And, you know, for my career I started off years ago, first, at very large companies like Honeywell, Bayer, CH Robinson, some more into the larger corporations. And it was a great way to start my career. But as I grew in my career, I decided to kind of try out the more medium size companies really like that. But in the last 1015 years, I've been really focused on startups, and really honed in on support. And just customer focus areas where what you do every day day in and day out, just really matters, right? Yesterday, we celebrated hitting our q1 goals of total expert, and we met all the goals that we set out for our go to market team. And I was talking to the support team this morning about how critical our role is in meeting those goals. You know, it's so easy as a support team, to not understand that you play a part in reaching those goals, because we don't get to sign a piece of paper that says I just closed a deal for a million dollars, right? You don't get to do that you can't hold that piece of paper and feel good about it. We do all of those things behind the scenes that allow our customers to love our product, and to want to grow with our product. And the goals that we met in q1 were largely in part of the growth of our existing customers. And the support team has a huge place in that. And so we spent a lot of time this morning talking about how important it is for us to take a minute and be grateful and to understand the role that we play in that success. Because it's so easy to forget, right? So my heart is really now in the area of managing people that are day to day interacting with customers, making sure that we're providing just an amazing experience, so that they love our product. And when they do have a problem, they can reach out to us and we can solve it for them. And and it's I that's where my heart is. That's what I love to do.


Alex  03:48

Yeah, that's a really good point, you know, and there's a lot to unpack there, right, where you talk about a high growth company, I mean, doubling in size over two years. And to retain customers during that right and to have a good system in place to where a lot of these hyper growth companies, they lose track of what got them there, or they lose that boutique customers White Glove kind of feel, feel to their support. How do you how do you manage within that the last two years to maintain that success and the customer support work?


Karen  04:21

You know, it's, it's not an easy thing to do. But what's been really helpful as as a company, total expert is very focused on the success of the customer. And you can't be successful as an organization, unless the focus is across all departments. I mean, I've worked in a lot of companies that talk about being customer focused, but there's a big difference between talking about it. Right and believing and acting on it. Right. And so one of the reasons I came to total expert it was I was convinced to the Baden Just talk about it. They lived and breathed the customer experience. And it didn't hurt that I had some people that I'd worked with previously that were already here and telling me that yes, that's the way it is. Right? Um, so you know, do we do it right all the time? Of course not. Right? Companies always fail, and we learn from it, and we grow from it. But you know, for me, it's just making sure that all the team members on the support team understand that they are a piece of the puzzle, and that as an organization, we are striving to give the customer the best best experience possible. That doesn't mean that you always say yes, because sometimes the right answer is no. Right? Yeah. And it's not always easy in support, you always want to say yes, and you always want to do it. And when you're selling, you always want to say yes, and when you're in product, you always want to say yes. But if you're going to truly grow at the kind of speed at which we're growing, you have to learn to say no, at the right time, so that you can manage your growth, and manage it in the direction that you're controlling, and not letting the outside sources control you. And that's not an easy thing for a startup to do. Right? 


Alex  06:15

Oh, yeah.


Karen  06:16

 The thing that we have struggled with, but we're getting better at, and I think it's one of the main reasons why we've we've grown at the rate that we have. So


Alex  06:24

 I think that's a that's a great, you know, I guess you can call it, you know, highlight for your executive team to be able to have that focus. And they will not just if you want to say yes to everything, when you're in high growth, startup mode, sales, the sales, people are going to be like, yes, we can do that, yes, we can do that. Bring the developers and we can create that, at some point that doesn't scale. Right. And then you have to start saying no to certain things. But hopefully you're at a point at the company where you have the revenue, you can start saying no to really focus in on where your perfect niches and where you can support the clients the best.


Karen  07:01

I agree. And Alex, I think, you would agree that customers don't necessarily want you to always say yes, they want you to be able to deliver something, right? And if you always say yes, but you can't deliver it, it doesn't matter, right? So be careful about what you're saying yes, to be careful that it's the right direction for the company long term, so that you're actually building a product. That's not only scalable, but that your customer can grow with. Because if you're turning yourself into a custom dev shop as a SaaS company, right, you're never going to see the growth that you want, right? 


Alex  07:43



Karen  07:43

You can't, because now your dev team is just a custom dev shop, and they're doing anything the customer wants. But then your final product, you go to three years down the road, and the product isn't something that you can scale with. And that's a big danger that I think a lot of younger startup companies fall into that trap of wanting so bad to please that first handful of customers that they have, because they're important, right?


Alex  08:08



Karen  08:08

it got you to where you are. But at some point, you have to balance that with deciding what's the future of this company, and then saying no, at the right time, and getting customers to understand that no, is the right and good answer. And not only for us, but for your future as well. And that's kind of where we're at as a company. And it's really been fun to see us transition into that level of, of a maturity. And it's been a, you know, I've seen a lot of change in two years. So that's one of the reasons I like startups, you know, working at Honeywell and those larger companies. It was great experience for me to work with those larger companies. But it's not the same, right? You don't have that sense of growth and challenge of trying to figure out how do I scale a team to double in size in potential euro to how do I hire the right employees? How do I make sure I know what kind of support team we need to build to keep our customers happy? Because every industry is different. Right? Absolutely. And the type of support team you build at one company might not be the right type of support team for another, you know, different company. So understanding who your customer is understanding what kind of support expectations they have. And then hiring the right people, combination of people to make sure that you're supporting customers in the right way. There is no end to challenges and fun.


Alex  09:36

Hopefully, there are good challenges that are that are solvable. I think it's really interesting. I love the career path because you talk about Honeywell and these big enterprise organizations where you've learned so much. It's such a great knowledge base from experience, right? It's all like what you know, now you get to take that to the startup world. And you're at a company that has that's in hyper growth and what I love about the startup companies, and even Even like in my small little business is that as it grows, and as you try to focus, get more laser focus the team grows, everyone matures with the company, have you seen that be part like with with your team and others in the organization as they have to mature with the company?


Karen  10:16

Oh, absolutely, you know, I have conversations with my team all the time about how you have to stay on your toes, and you have to continue to grow as an individual to keep up with what's happening in the company, the person that you were two years ago, three years ago, you don't want to be that person that doesn't fit anymore. Right. And that's a little bit scary. Because sometimes companies outgrow their people. And sometimes people outgrow the company. I mean, it can go both ways, right? You don't want the company to outgrow you, that means you have to be ultra sensitive, and careful about how the company is growing. And do whatever you have to do to keep up. And sometimes that's really hard. Right? And so, I mean, I'll be honest, we have seen people leave the company. And it happens at every startup, you know, company outgrows them, or they outgrow the company a lot of different reasons why it happens, right? And sometimes people say to me, Well, why are we bringing people in from the outside, we should be growing our own people from inside. I agree with that. And there needs to be career path and growth for people within the company. But at different stages in a startups growth. Sometimes you have to bring in from someone from the outside, who's been there and done that. Because if you haven't been there and done that, and you don't know, I mean, you don't know what you don't know. And you can't take a team and doubling in size, if you have no idea what and what that entails. Yeah, and you don't know how to search for the right tools or the right skill set. Um, sometimes it takes people from the outside that have been there and done that. And it's hard for people to accept that sometimes. But it's all part of a startup and abroad. And I think, you know, at the same time, I've really been able to balance the support team with internal growth. So we've been able to grow people within the team, I've been able to create additional positions within the support team. So there's a career path within the team. But I've also seen people move from support into QA into Customer Success into other areas of the company, because they bring a wealth of knowledge about the product to their customers, that can be a huge benefit to other departments. So you know, as we talked about leadership, I see that as one of my jobs, most important things is creating career paths for people on my team, helping them understand their strengths, and then helping them explore different options. And seeing them get promoted into other positions. There's nothing that makes me happier. Yeah. Right. And people are like, Oh, that's so much work for you. Because now you have to turn around and train more people. And I'm like, yep, I train them and other steal. Right. But that's not a bad thing. Right. as a as a support department, I tell my team all the time, we are an amazing training ground for people in other departments in this company. And we need to embrace that and not fight against it. Right. 


Alex  13:40

Yeah. I mean, it's, in a lot of ways it's fulfilling for one because you're helping others succeed. It's that whole mentor mentee relationship, right. Like if you're a seasoned person in your career, you've been at these big organizations. Now, you can take this recent college grad and say, hey, there's some great career paths here for you to take. This is a is a great, you know, you're on the front lines, as you know, so to speak, as in customer support, taking phone calls, talking with angry customers, but you you'll learn so much that sometimes even the executive level doesn't understand what's going on down at the very bottom, like face to face with these customers. So to have that, you know, that ability to take that with you into other parts of the organization is, is so important. But you mentioned you know, you talked about leadership a lot. So talk a little bit more into like, how you develop those your employees and how you just look at leadership in general.


Karen  14:33

Yeah, you know, I was, I was as I was thinking about having this conversation with you, I was thinking about leadership a little bit and I thought to myself, who in the world am I to be talking about leadership? These people that have written so many wonderful books and have wonderful seminars, and we have PhDs and you know, all respected in the world and, and who am I to be talking about leadership, but then You know, it's such a big topic. And I think you could talk days and days and days about leadership. But the reality with leadership is there's so much to it, that you really have to stop and think about what are the key things about leadership that are important to me? And then how do I display those to my team day in and day out? Right. So I was thinking about that the other day, and I kind of came up with three things that are super important to me, as I think about leadership. One is trust. One is empathy. And one is belief. So those three are to me kind of a cornerstone of leadership. So I can kind of explain to you what I mean, by some about trust, I think you hear a lot of people talk about trust, right? Trust is trust, you've got to have trust on your team, you have to have trust across a company. So a lot of different ways you can build trust, not everyone's good at it, they think they are but not that. I'm, and I build trust a couple of ways, right? When I first started the job, I spend my first 3060 days doing nothing, but listening and watching. Not going to go in and tell someone what they're doing wrong and how to change it. Okay, I have to first learn all of the good things that the team is doing. And all the things are doing right, before I can tell them how we can make it better, right? So I spend a lot of time just listening and watching that alone builds an enormous amount of trust with a team, because they realize that, oh, this person isn't going to come in and just tell us everything we're doing wrong. They're actually listening to what we're saying. So I think that's super important. One thing that's a little bit controversial, and some people don't agree with me is I think one of the really important things about building trust is that we have to be human and authentic. Yeah, the 13. Right. Some people say, Oh, no, good leader. You put on this facade all the time of being a great. I don't believe that, right? Everybody knows you're human. So why pretend you're not because you don't gain any trust with people, if they see you attempting to be this super person all the time, because they know what's not real. Right? So is it okay to have a bad day? Yep. Depends on how you handle yourself. Yes. Your team see that you've had bad bad days to her bad moments. It's okay for the team to see you fail. That's hard for people.


Alex  17:35



Karen  17:37

Yeah, I mean, I feel all the time and I don't hide it with my team. I'm very transparent about things. I might say that I wish I'd said different things or things that I did, or the ways in which I behaved which I wish I'd done differently. Okay, that I reacted to something that I wish I could take back and do differently, or things that I just plain fail that I did, I made a bad decision. Right? We all do it. So why pretend we don't. And if we can be authentic with our team, and they can see us being human. What that allows is they can then learn how to take a failure and fix it, how to admit it, how to embrace it, how to learn from it, right? And to me, that builds more trust than trying to be the superhuman that everyone else can't keep up with. It's exhausting to try to.


Alex  18:39

Yeah, to be the actor all day long and try to put this persona out, because they're, you know, a lot of times it even goes back to insecurities, right? Where you have these really badass brash personalities that hide behind that gruffness, where anyone you know, pushes up against what I say. You'll Shame on them, right?



 Yeah! And I just I don't in my entire career of having so many different bosses and watching so many, quote leaders. And in my opinion, I've maybe had a handful of bosses my entire career that I truly thought were good leaders. And I've had a lot of bosses. But those are some of the things I learned, right. I didn't respect bosses that weren't authentic and human. Because eventually I didn't trust what they were doing or what they were seeing, because I wasn't really sure if what was coming out of their mouth was actually true or not. Right. So that to me is really important. I mean, when someone does something great on your team, if you're a good leader, you are making sure that they get all the credit in the world for what they did. Right. But if someone on your team makes a mistake, that's on you. Yeah, you don't ever throw a team member on To the bus when they make a mistake, right? But how often do you see leaders taking credit for the great things their team is doing. But then when someone makes a mistake, and they're first to point the finger and throw them under the bus, it's should be the opposite. Right? We should be making sure that the people when they're doing good things are getting all the credit in the world where they deserve it. But when the team fails, that's, that's on the leader. I mean, that's, that's on me. And I'm very clear with my team that that's the case.


Alex  20:31

Yeah, and if you see that example, all the time in sports, where coaches will fall on the sword, you know, and ultimately, they as they should, because they're the leaders of the leader of the team. And it's like you some point, something went wrong at some point that can always point back to the coach or to that boss or to, you know, to that leader and, and absolutely give the team credit when they do well, because they executed on what the leaders teaching them and trying to get them to do. So yeah, I think, you know, overarching all three of those a trust, empathy and belief, I think, builds so much respect. And once people respect you, as a boss, they'll do things. They'll go above and beyond. Oh, absolutely. I have had employees say to me, so many times, I would do anything for you. Because I know you'll do anything for me. Right? Yeah. And that's a really simple statement to make. But it speaks volumes about the level of trust that they have. And as a result of the trust, the willingness that they have to go beyond expectations when needed. Right? Because they want to please, they want to do a good job. They're willing to go over and above, and maybe even do something uncomfortable, because they've seen you do it for them. Yeah. And that's, that's what it's all about in my book. Right? I just That to me is huge. So let's talk about empathy a little bit, because I've had some really interesting conversations with people empathy, right?  Empathy's it's an interesting one, because can you learn it? Is it and you know, is it I think some personalities have inherent empathy. As an interesting, I'd love to hear you dive in.



I think there are some people in this world, no matter how hard they try them, they'll never be empathetic. It's just, it's just not a part of who they are. I think they can try to become more sensitive to it. But I think you're either born with a certain sense of ability to be empathetic, or you're not right. And I think if you're born with that ability, you can definitely grow it and learn to manage it. And you really use it in in purposeful, good ways. You can also use empathy in destructive ways. So as a leader, empathy is an interesting one. Because to me, empathy is balancing accountability and empathy, right? And people say, Well, no, you got to have one or the other. You're either holding people accountable, or you're empathetic. I'm like, No, no, no. The two can go together and neat, though, together, right? Because if you're just empathetic all the time, you just slip your way. And you always have million excuses, right? People can't do things that that's destructive. But if all you know how to do is hold people accountable in unfair ways, without having any sense of empathy, that's just as destructive, right? So if you're going to hold people accountable, the first thing you have to do is make sure that they have a clear idea of what's expected of them. If you're going to hold people accountable, but you haven't set clear expectations, shame on you as a leader, right? Because how can they be held accountable when they don't know what they're being held accountable to? It is not just about verbalizing what they're being held accountable to. It's making sure that they have the right tools and the means by which to accomplish those goals. Right. And as a leader, that's your job to make that happen. Right? 


Alex  24:11




And if you have no empathy, you lose that human side. And that's where you start to erode that trust, and belief and everything else. Right. So for me the challenge every day is balancing, holding people accountable. I have been very empathetic with life, and work and stress and people's emotions. We're human. Yeah, right. And when people see that you are sensitive and understanding and empathetic of them. It's amazing how their behavior changes, right? Mm hmm. To me, it's a it's a huge balance. So I had a conversation the other day with someone who was telling me about an individual that they work with. And this individual is a is a leader in their organization has a big team of people working under him. And he made the statement the other day that I purposely do not invest time in getting to know my staff, because it makes firing them harder.


Alex  25:37

That's a lot to unpack.



I know, when she first told me that I was like, I didn't have any words, I just, my brain just was like spinning, right? Because there's so many things about that statement that are wrong, right?


Alex  25:59

Is there some growth opportunities for that person?



Oh, my goodness. I mean, and the sad thing is, there are a lot of leaders in organizations like that. But what that statement tells me is number one, I care more about myself than anyone else. Loud and clear. That's what that statement says. It also says, I'm not going to invest any of my time getting to know you, because I don't care about your career, I care about what you're going to do for me. And if I have to fire you one day, I want to make sure it's as pink less as possible. So if I don't get to know you, then it's easier to fire you. 


Alex  26:39



Karen  26:41

There are so many things wrong with that statement that I had to just like, think about it for a couple of days.  


Alex  26:48

Probably took you back a little bit. And what how many people? Are they firing? I mean, usually people either quit or get promoted or move somewhere else in the org. But like, if you're firing that much, then there's some other issues going on.


Karen  27:03

Did you do it? I mean, I I worked with someone years ago, who literally told me I enjoy firing people.


Alex  27:09

Oh, my goodness.


Karen  27:10

And I was like, I don't know how any human being can enjoy firing anyone. Right? Yeah, they're a person. They have bills. They have a family. They have feelings. Yeah. But yeah, I mean, they literally said, I enjoy it, I get a rush from firing people. I'm like, yeah, you need to get out of this job. You know, that's where, you know, no sense of accountability, no sense of empathy. Just come on people. I mean, talk about lack of leadership skills. The scary thing to me is these other types of people, companies continue to promote into leadership positions. To me, that's not that person's fault. That's a fault of the company.


Alex  27:59

Do you think it has to do with just the way people look at leadership, and they've always seen the, the command and control style from the, you know, mid century, all the way up through now, right? Where it's, you have to be strong, and you have to be discipline, and you have to like, crack the whip? And I think that still permeates culture, to where, like...



I do think it does. And I think it's also because we have this misguided idea that if someone is good at their present job, then they're going to be a good leader. And that's so not true. Right? So hey, so and so's a really good customer success manager. So let's make them a manager of a team of customer success managers are, so and so's a really good developer. So let's make them the director of this development team. Just because you're good at your present job, the best on the team, doesn't mean you're the best pick to manage or lead that team. It's a whole different skill set. But I think most companies, they just don't think that way. They don't value good leaders enough to take the time to really figure out if someone's going to be the right leader or not.


Alex  29:21

I see that I see it all the time. And you know, we work with a lot of companies and their sales departments and what not. And you see, oh, we're gonna take the best sales rep and throw them as a sales manager because clearly they can recreate whatever they were as a salesperson to the next to their team. And that always very rarely works. And usually it's the mediocre salesperson that's a great manager, because they're more, you know, whatever skills or whatever it is, you know, 


Karen  29:47

It's true


Alex  29:47

I mean, I look at most of the support teams that I've managed. Most of the people on my team today and another teams have been more technical than I am I'm not the most technical personality. But I don't need to be the most technical person on the team. We may be supporting a product, and I need to have a team of technical people. But I don't need to be the most technical person on the team to be able to lead the team in the right way. It's a different skill set. But I think a lot of organizations just for some reason they missed that piece. Maybe because the people that are picking who the next leaders are bad leaders themselves, so they don't know.  It just snowballs. So one of the questions I have now, because we talked about these leadership qualities. And now it's well, how do you hire for that? How do you hire for the people that you want? You want someone that has empathy? You want someone that, you can build trust with or that seems trustworthy? So it's like, how do you wrap that into the hiring process and the interview process? And the Find out



When I hire for the support team, it's really important to me that I hire people with the right heart, right? You got to be customer focused, you have to have empathy, you have to have patience. Yeah, you have to be technical enough to be able to support the product, but you, your heart, and your thought process has to be in the right place. Right? When you're in support. People don't call you because they're calling you to tell you how happy they are with something they're calling because something's wrong. Right? You constantly dealing with people who are unhappy about something, something's broken, something's not working, right, they can't figure something out. And they're impatient. And so you have to have the right personality. But when I'm hiring for the team, whether I'm looking for a leader on the team, or or a tier one support person doesn't matter. I am looking for someone with patience, empathy, and drive. And sometimes it's hard to find the combination of those things, I can teach the technical, if you have the technical mindset, I can teach you the product. And I can teach you the technical troubleshooting skill set. But I can't teach you to be empathetic if you don't have an empathy bone in your body. Right. I also try really hard to bring a lot of diversity to my team. And I don't mean diversity in the standard. Right now. I'm talking about diversity and skill set, diversity, and about process diversity and background. Because I want the team to challenge each other every day. Because when you build a team of a lot of the same people with the same strengths and the same weaknesses and the same personalities, you get scale really fast, and it gets boring. And I want people to challenge each other every day. It's okay to disagree. I want you to disagree. I want people to challenge me. So I'm going to hire people that I think are better than me. I'm not, I'm not scared of that. I'm not afraid of bringing people in that are better than me. If they take over my job someday. I'm okay with that. But I'm, you know, a lot of people hire people that are never going to be a threat to them. Because that's more comfortable. Yeah. But that's wrong. Because if you hire people that are better than you, your team is just going to be that much better. Right? And if you're threatened by that, well, then you know that that's that's a whole different issue.


Alex  33:28

Yeah, it's very narrow minded, right? To think that.



Very narrow minded. Do you care about the growth of your team? And and how well you can support your customers? Or do you care more about your pride, and you looking good to somebody else? I care about how we support our customers, and if that means bringing in the best people that might make me look bad?


Alex  33:54



Karen  33:55

I'm okay with that. 


Alex  33:56

Well, usually, I can't imagine that you bring in a rockstar person, they're gonna look to you say, Wow, you found a really a gem here. And Sally or Joe, as they're crushing it, we have a spot for them as a, you know, to get promoted somewhere else. You know, typically, you're not seeing them replace your job. Very rarely,



That's how you need to look at it right? Instead of looking at it as a threat, look at it as something that's really positive for the company.


Alex  34:22




Don't worry about the rest, right? You just got to let your pride and all that just go. Yeah. Um,


Alex  34:35

I was gonna say so one of our guests at Brett Frazier over at Sun basket, they do delivery. He was talking about how they help create empathy for their support team, that they hadn't go through the whole process of what it's like to get a basket delivered. And they inserted problems into that experiment. So people had a great experience. Some people had a horrible experience, but they Got to see what customers have a chance to go through? How, if any, or how, like, how do you create that it's a, it's trickier with your products that because it's not a, b, b to c, but how can you help create empathy for, for the support?


Karen  35:15

You know, it's a little trickier, but we're in the mortgage and banking industry. So most of us have a bank account somewhere. Most of us, not everyone, but many of us have a mortgage. So we've been through the process of trying to get a loan and closing on the house and all the ins and outs and craziness of that. And you know, you have bank accounts and checking accounts and savings accounts. And then you've got your bank reaching out to you trying to get you to give you a loan or credit card or all these other services, right. So everyone really in our company has a taste of what our customers are doing. It's not a thing. I mean, you don't get a new mortgage every day. But you've likely been through the process. And most of us have had a bad experience somewhere along the way in that process, right. But we do sometimes take people and send them out on a test. Yeah, open up a an account here, do this, do that. And we literally put them to the process and let them experience what it's like when it goes wrong. Yeah. Yeah. So you can help build empathy that way. But you know, for me, it's just listening to the person. Mm hmm. Understanding that, you know, a lot of the people that we are dealing with our loan officers, right, okay, loan officers don't get paid if they don't close on loans. So I remind my team all the time, if the customer seems stressed, or it seems like it's super urgent, and you're wondering why it seems so urgent, remember, never forget, the tried to feed their family. And if they something goes wrong, and they miss out on this opportunity, they're missing out on a paycheck. So this is not just a basket of apples that doesn't show up on the door. Right? This is this is a paycheck, this is their livelihood. Yeah. So when you stop and you think about it, that way, it becomes a little bit more. And then we all always remind each other. Remember, the last time you called your cable company, and we're


Alex  37:33

Always looking for company.


Karen  37:37

 I should have picked something else. That's terrible. Good.



Example, you know, the last time your internet went down, or the last time you tried to have your groceries delivered, and you got somebody else's groceries, I mean, everyone's got examples of terrible experiences, right? Just put yourself in somebody else's shoes, right? Just listen, I think so often, we try to solve the problem before we stop and just listen. And if you do that, you just annoying the customer more, just give them a chance to just get it out. Right? Say what they need to say. I always say to the team soccer bar, follow me, okay? Because once they're done, then they'll take a deep breath. And you'll know when it's the opportunity in the right moment for you to say, Okay, now let's try to figure out how we can help how we can get you to a better place. But if you interrupt them, when they're in the middle of trying to tell you how miserable they are, they're not going to hear anything you say,


Alex  38:41

Always get more upset



 So you know, we help each other we listen to we, we quality check tickets, we code around it. We talk about different scenarios. You just got to hire the right people. Because if you hire the right people, they're already good at that. 


Alex  39:02




Empathy thing.


Alex  39:04

Yeah, I think there's so much to hire the right people if it's tough. Yeah. And there's just so much psychology around is communication. Right? And if you heard a great communicator, that like 90% of the battle is done. Right? Because we know how to do work with people, people oriented people. So go ahead. I was gonna say the last bullet on your leadership. You know, the three, your three tiers of leadership was the belief side belief, yes. I don't want to I don't want to. I want to see, like, my belief



A little bit. People would say, Well, what do you mean by belief? For me, it's believing in your people. Right? building your people up helping them see their talents, before they even recognize it in themselves. Right? So we talked a little bit earlier about giving them opportunities to shine so that other departments can see the goodness in them so that when an opening comes up in another department, they're like plucking rod out of us working. Right. And I love it when that happens. Yeah, part of it is because I key them up into certain meetings and certain certain events where they can shine and show their stuff and, and that's one of the people on the tier one team actually got a QA position, good for him. He just absolutely blew everyone away. And they're like, we need him on our team. And I'm like, whoa, hold on.


Alex  40:34

Give me some time.


Karen  40:35

Yeah, but one of the earliest lessons I learned really early in my career, I was probably early 20s. I mean, literally, second job in my career. Yeah, probably 21 years old. no idea who I was no idea what my talents were no idea if I even had any talents, shy, quiet, reserved. I just wanted to crawl in a hole and no one to see me. Right. And, you know, I told you earlier, there are probably a handful of people that I consider to be really good leaders that I've had as bosses over the years. And my boss at that time was one of those people. I was very fortunate to have him as a boss that early in my career. Yeah, no, I was thinking back the other day about what he did for me back then. And it took me many years to realize what he had done and the impact that it had on my life. So he used to say things to me like he Karen, when you're a manager, XYZ. Hey, Karen, when you get into management, ABC, hey, Karen, hey, care. first couple of times, he said it. I kind of snickered and laughed and said, I'm never gonna manage. I mean, I couldn't imagine manager people, right. 21 years old, shy and quiet. Not a chance. But he saw something in me that I I did not see in myself. Yeah. And he kept saying it. For three years, he would keep saying, hey, Karen, when you're in management, think about this. Karen, when you interview people someday, and you're in charge of a team, if you hire the right person, 50% of the time, remember, you'll be doing good. And I said, well, that can't be true. Right. But he kept saying, and I never really thought about it that much. But later on in my career, I look back at that experience. And I realize how much that shaped my psyche, yes, the way that I viewed myself. And I didn't even realize what's happening. Right? I mean, I owe a lot to him.


Alex  42:47

Yeah, it's like the self talk.


Karen  42:49

Yeah, and I wish that he was still alive. I mean, he used to still send me Christmas cards every year until he passed away a couple of years ago, we stayed in touch for years and years, and years and years and years. Um, but what I learned from that is what you say, and the words that you use matters. Right? It matters so much. And if you want to be a good leader, you better be very mindful of what you're seeing how you're seeing it and the words that you're using. Because you can either use your words to tear someone down, or you can use your words to build them up in ways that you don't even realize you're doing. Right. That's where people's careers sometimes start and take off is because of things that continue to say, and feed into them where they started to believe in themselves. And I have seen many people throughout my career, do things that they came back later and said to me, I have no idea I was good at that. I had no idea that I had that capability. Or I had no idea that I I could do that I have no idea I could get up in front of a group of people and speak. Right. I have no idea I could manage people. And it's because people don't always see their own strengths. Yeah. And as a leader, it's your job to help them see that.


Alex  44:20

Yeah, I see that I see that so much. And just parenting. I mean, Oh, it's so true. And, you know, especially, you know, speaking into them when you go to college, or when you become a lawyer, you know, kind of those things like oh, yeah, helps them dream big, right? Because, yes, and it's so silly that you see the strengths that they don't see we all have our own our own insecurities. And we see ourselves through our reality but parents and others see completely differently through their reality, which is typically positive. Yeah, 



it's it's true at home and it's true at work. You know, you don't ever want to talk about your employer. Like 30 year, kids, but there are a lot of parallels, you know, to the responsibility that you have as a leader, towards the people that you have on your team. And I take that responsibility really seriously. Right. And that doesn't mean that I'm not going to be authentic, that doesn't mean that I'm not going to try not to let them see that I fail or have a bad day or say something I wish I'd said different. Because as a parent, you also don't have to be perfect in front of your children. They have to learn how to fight by seeing you fight, you know what I mean? It's okay for them to see that relationships aren't perfect all the time, that you can work it out and talk it out. Right. Same with your employees.


Alex  45:48

Yeah, we talked about accountability and all that, you know, like, you can have empathy, they made a mistake, but there's still accountability that comes with it. So you're gonna, you know, be grounded for the day or whatever it might be this ways it might be, hey, like, this was a mistake. You know, but here's how, here's how we're going to fix it. Here's what it remains to be accountable. You know, and part of this than just learning like raising their hand, hey, I made a mistake that's taking ownership and accountability right there.



And you can very quickly tell how much trust you built with the team, with how quickly and willing people are to come forth when they make a mistake. If you don't have a whole lot of trust, people are gonna like sweep it under the rug and hope you don't notice, right? But when you can get your team to the point where they they made a mistake, and they recognize it. And they come to you immediately and say, This is what I did. I need help fixing it, what do we do next? Because they know that you're going to take that opportunity and how we're going to fix it together. And I'm not going to throw you under the bus in front of anyone else or upper management, I'm getting in to take the way to this mistake, and then we're going to learn from it. Right. And when people are at that comfort level, you can tell. And it doesn't mean that they'll just make mistakes, right and left, because they know you're gonna forgive them. That's not true. I mean, they still are horrified that they made the mistake, because part of that trust and relationship is that they want to do a good job, right? They care about doing a good job, right? You're gonna have mistakes made by people that don't care way more often. Because they don't care.


Alex  47:34

 Right? Yeah, absolutely. 


Karen  47:38

Right. And then they're not going to tell you about it because they don't care. 


Alex  47:41

Yeah, exactly. And you want to get those are the people you want to fire. 


Karen  47:48

The people you don't want to get to know. 


Alex  47:49

this time has absolutely flown by. And we can see we could talk another hour about this stuff. But I want to read respectful of your time for the day, and get get us through the week. But thank you so much for being on this podcast. I love that we just took a deep dive into leadership because it it goes over no matter what career path you're on, whatever, whether it's customer service, customer success, you know, CEOs, this is a very good subject to touch on, I think you've brought some great, I love the three the three bullets that you have on trust, empathy and belief. So thank you so much for joining. 


Karen  48:25

Absolutely. Thank you so much for having me.


Alex  48:27

 Well, that wraps up the show for today. Thanks for joining. And don't forget to join us next week as we bring another guest in to talk about the trends around cloud contact center and customer experience. Also, you can find us at Adler,, LinkedIn, or your favorite podcast platform. We'll see you next week on another cloud podcast.