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.

Leadership & Change Management - Lessons Learned

with Alex McBratney and Aarde Cosseboom

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


Aarde, Dominic, Alex


Alex 00:00

Hello, and welcome to 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 customer experience. All right, well, welcome to another cloud podcast. today. We're excited to have Dominic Macri over at Johnson Controls. He is the director of technical services. Dominic, welcome to the show. Glad to have you one.


Dominic 00:30

Great, to be here. Thank you. Absolutely. And already, of course, my co pilot, as I always like to say, good to see you are well rested after a long weekend.


Aarde 00:39

Yeah, well rested after this. Labor Day weekend, I took an extra day. So I had a four day weekend. Hopefully everyone's pretty well rested. I know it's Tuesday morning for us. But in the podcast world, it's really doesn't it feels like Monday.


Alex 00:55

That's right. That's right. When it finally gets out there, it's another day. So Dominic, typically what we like to do is introduce you give back a little bit of background for the audience on you know, how you your career path, how you got the Johnson Controls what you've been doing there over the last 30 plus years. So why don't you just take a couple minutes and just give us a little background about how you got into this technical services role and what you're doing over there now?


Dominic 01:20

Sure, absolutely. So when I graduated from college, I started as a technician working in the field organization for simplex time recorder. So I was working on fire alarm systems and security systems, doing installations, service, and so on. And then, after a few years, I was given the opportunity to move up into a technical support role, again, at at simplex time recorder. So we're working on providing support to other technicians like like I was previously, then that rolled into another position where we were working on access control and security systems, I became the specialist for that, and for a new product we're introducing. And as that product was released and was successful, we brought in more people, I became a supervisor, then later that became a manager position. And that was at the time that we had a merger between simplex Tammy quarter and Tyco. And then that led to expansion of my role where I became senior manager for the for the tech support team. And then ultimately, around later we were acquired, we actually emerged, Tyco and Johnson Controls. And at that point, my role became more global. So while we always had some sort of an international capability when we were at, you know, previously, when I was in simplex time recorder later, in Tyco, we started getting more and more global, that became even more enhanced with the acquisition with Johnson Controls. So I had multiple team members that were reporting to me, a fairly large sized Technical Support Group Technical Services, actually, because we did support for salespeople prior to the project being awarded, and help them with identifying the correct products to use. Then, during installation, I had team members that would provide installation support. And, and then also post installation service support. And I also had some groups that were in application engineering, that would help ensure that the orders are processed properly, and that the systems are configured to what the customers are looking for. And also would provide programming for those systems to to help the technicians when they're doing installations, to have at least a head start of how the system needs to be programmed and what it needs to do to effectively secure the building. And I also had team members that were responsible for providing training so so my group did a lot of support from the very early stages of the project to well past the end and not coordinating through end of life activities.


Aarde 03:59

Yeah, and you've, been in the industry for, you know, three decades now. So you've seen, you've seen a lot. He talked a little bit about mergers, changes, acquisitions. Talk to us a little bit about that change management as you're leading people through those changes. What was easy, what was hard? How many have you seen in the last 30 years with your company, just very interested in that world? And I'm sure that people who are going through that today with the pandemic, you know, acquiring other companies or being acquired or merging with other companies, they would love some tips and tricks with regards to change management.


Dominic 04:38

Sure, I think I was I was very lucky that early on in my career, I had some really good supervisors that I reported to, that laid the foundation and kind of set the stage for how I was going to conduct my leadership for our teams. So one of the things that had happened is, I was very used to getting changes in management out. So I would, my department would report into another group, we moved from service to manufacturing, to quality assurance to r&d. And this was happening every couple years. So even when things, you know, appeared stable, and there weren't a lot of mergers and acquisitions, we still had a lot of changes, because your organization has to change to adapt, and you can't just stay in one particular role, or one particular division, if the business is moving and trying to grow. So one of the things that we also tried to do is we tried to identify best practices, whether it's things that we were doing, and we adopted, or things by other departments that were doing that we wanted to bring that information in. And as we, as the organization grew, and we went from from simplex, to Tyco, to Johnson Controls, the the span of the business was increased each time that we have more opportunity to bring additional information in answers, share those best practices with with other members. So it's identifying what you do well, maintaining that, and then identifying continuously looking for opportunities for improvement. That was one of the things that even though there was mergers, acquisitions and organization changes happening around us, our strength was the the support that we're providing. And that's what was attractive to other businesses or other or the divisions that they wanted to know the things that we're doing well, we needed to keep doing, and the things we needed to change and improve, we needed to adopt those. So I always try to tell my team members that, you know, I'm reporting to a different person, but but you're not, you're, you're still reporting to me, and I'm still gonna provide the same level of leadership that I have throughout. So you just continue to do your job, let me worry about anything that's happening with the organization that we have to make changes or adjustments. And once we figure out what those are what they need to be, I'll be sure to notify the team that these are some things we're gonna do a little differently. So. So that's kind of how I looked at change management, change the things that need to be changed, and holdfast the things that are being that are very effective and been serving you well, because, again, that's kind of the, you know, when you have a merger between two organizations, you want to keep all the strengths and, and we felt that we had some pretty strong processes.


Alex 07:15

Yeah, I like I like that idea of, you know, keeping, keeping things consistent when you can, and bringing in best practices as you're going to different departments are being led by different silos within the company and using those best practices to just to bolster your team. And it seems like a lot of what you did was your you're a little bit of a blocker, right? Keeping all that outside noise away from your team. So they're not getting distracted by like, the different changes happening which any large organization like Johnson Controls, Tyco there's changes, just inevitable is always happening. So be able to shield them from all that distraction, I think is one of the key takeaway to, to managing that change.


Dominic 07:57

Yeah, but that's something I always felt strongly about is that I needed to make their lives easier, that's, that's my role as a leader is to find out what I can do to make their lives better, and how I can shield them from things that that they can be shielded from, so that they can be successful. And, you know, the other thing I, I've always told them is that when we succeed, that's their success. And when we fail, that's my failure. So, you know, not only am I trying to block them from other things, I'm trying to give them the courage to do things differently, to try to adapt and adopt new things, and experiment with them. And don't be afraid, because I've got their back. And I felt that that was an important thing for me to share with them as well.


Aarde 08:44

You talked a little bit about global leadership, you also talked about, we've talked about the size and scale of the organization that was underneath you. And he also talked a little bit about how everyone wore different hats training, onboarding, tech support, I'm sure there was some infusion of QA and development and, you know, tracking of that stuff on the other side, passing information to the engineers to help support the tooling and the systems. So talk to us a little bit about and maybe frame this in a way as if you're helping someone grow their organization, maybe they don't have a global approach. Maybe they don't have size and scale quite yet. Maybe they don't have the complexity that you have with the training, onboarding, tech support. What advice would you give someone to help them get to that level? Well, what are the things to do or things not to do when you're when they're, they've got an executive coming in over to them and saying, you know, we need to go global. We need to have a contact center in the UK or in Ireland like, well, how would you recommend they take the next step?


Dominic 09:53

So, again, I think you have a strong foundation, one of the things that I tried to do with organization was built it. So it would be scalable. So that we had some techniques that we use, we adopted knowledge centered support very early. Back in 97, we actually started started doing that, when it was knowledge centered support, now it's knowledge centered service. But we adopted those principles that we would capture information, try to capture it live during our communication, because that's where we're going to get the the details of the particular issues that are coming in. We we added that to our knowledge, or our I'm sorry, our call tracking system, so that we could identify the knowledge that we are sharing with individual colors, and being able to track that over time. And also identify the number of times that we're using a specific piece of information for all of our colors. So we could see it from from both directions, both on the individual basis, and then larger scale. So when we did that, that allowed us to scale up and to add additional members of our team to match our call volumes. So you're always looking at trying to, if you look at the how you set up a context center, and you're using like curling tables, and you're, it's basically a neat curve that, you know, at certain points, adding one or two more staff people is going to improve your performance. And then once you hit that knee, the top part of the curve, then you could add four or five people and you're not going to add any more performance, maybe you're going to move your service level up slightly, but your cost is also getting out of whack. So you know, as a manager, that you know the management part of the business, you try to keep your costs at an effective level. So that that's what you present back to the business. Like, you know, here are some of the key metrics that we're going to measure. And this is how we're going to decide that it's time to add additional staff. So So that's how we handle just the day to day interaction, just the team as it is, when you're looking at them adding in other other departments and other groups, which is what we did, we had contact centers that were already established in other areas that now had to roll into my management. But one of the things in that situation is you've got to identify what they do well, and and what they do that needs improvement. And you can't do that instantly, it's not a snapshot, you've got to evaluate it, you've got to talk with the folks, you've got to understand how they operate, why they operate, because what they're doing, there's probably a good reason for it. And the way they're doing things is probably something that that market requires, for example, our team that I had in Australia, New Zealand, the way they approach the market was different than what we do in North America. And it was by necessity it was that's what the market was demanding. They do. So they provided their service a little differently. They were more on site commissioning, were in North America, we were more, you know, we were just phone support, basically, or email support were folks who just reach out to us, but they would hardly ever see us. That's not how we're doing and some other areas. So if I went in there and said, Oh, that's wrong, because the way we do it in North America is this way, I would have completely scrambled the organization. So. So if you have an existing one, identify the things that are doing well, which was a lot. And one of the things that we were doing as best practices that that they could start adopting. And one of those was they weren't used. They weren't like capturing their cases. So we asked them to start doing case management to start doing knowledge management, integrating that together. And that was an improvement that we can make there. I had another experience where I was starting a new organization in India where we had a new contact center that we're putting in there. So that was the ground up. And the the best thing I could say there is identify resources that you're going to have at your disposal. There's going to be r&d staff, there's going to be IT staff, there's going to be HR staff, they're all familiar with the culture so that you don't make missteps. And they can provide guidance, because culture is a huge part of this, you know, the technically what we're trying to do. That's, that's the easy part. Dealing with differences, how people perceive different things, is where some of the challenge comes in. And just being able to adopt, again, the best practices for that region, it may not match exactly what we do in North America or even Australia, but it will work in the in the in the area. And and provide the same or better level of support that we're trying to do on a global basis because we're leveraging the strengths of each individual area, the people that are available that we can hire and and ideally bring in the best people you can sounds silly. But even if that means that there's some additional costs associated with it. So for example, one of the things that we did when we started the group in India was we were having them match the day shift of of North America, which means because the timezone differences are working at night, but because some of the best candidates that we had, were also female, we needed to make sure that we had I met the security needs of that region. So India does require that we have security and actually travel arrangements from portal to portal, we bring them from their home to work and then back again, and make sure that their security there for them. So I wanted to make sure that we're getting the best. And that included a diverse group of individuals. And once we got them together and working well, it was a very strong organization, we had very low attrition, because we did the groundwork to kind of build in a good team that worked well together that had the right attitude, had great capabilities, and so on. So so those are the kinds of things that I would share with folks, be mindful of the culture, be mindful of things you do well, and identify things that could be improved based on your expertise. But don't just make changes for change sake, identify the things that are going to work in those individual markets.


Aarde 15:55

Yeah, that's, great advice. And Alice, I'll toss it over to you. But before that, I'll share a little story. I was doing some consulting and helping some people break into the European markets. And being culturally Deaf is not not good. Doing a cookie cutter, you know, worked in North America, just let's copy and paste and do it in another region, you can alienate a lot of the locals or the people who are potentially customers of your brand. And one of the examples here was that, we found that as this organization grew into Europe, the the Germans, the German speaking, customers would prefer very fast handling time. So efficiency was extremely important to them, they would like to get on the call, get the answer and get off not a lot of small talk just much like what they do in their engineering world. They like everything done and measured and perfectly synchronized. Whereas the, the, the Italian and French markets are a little bit more laissez faire, they would love to have a conversation with you have that small talk, that's a part of them doing business is the small talk. So the handle time for those types of conversations were longer, same exact intent, same exact everything same process for the agents to do the actions on the other side. But we saw talk time for Germany very short, and talk time for Italy and France very long, we couldn't hold them to the same standards, you couldn't say, you know, hey, this region, you have to perform the same way that this other region does. So you have to really understand the culture and why things are happening. And go beyond just looking at KPIs and metrics.


Dominic 17:48

Yes, exactly. That's, that's kind of my experience as well. You can't just that's not all cookie cutter, you have to take the the the cultural and traditional backgrounds into account.


Alex 18:00

Yeah, I think you know, so it's just a thoughtful approach to leadership as well, right, not just taking your, your thought and just pushing it on everybody else. But you're really taking a thoughtful approach to making sure that you're aligning with their culture with the way they do things. And still, like you said earlier, taking the best practices and or maybe offering some best practices on what you do in North America that could work here and getting them and collaborating to see, you know, how we can drive other efficiencies. What I find interesting, Dominic, is that, because you've been in this industry for so long, and you've written the mergers and acquisitions up to Johnson Controls, is how you've seen technology play a role. You mentioned like the you know, the, the curve with the knee and you hit a certain spot where throwing more people at it doesn't add more efficiency just adds more cost. And you get a very tiny bit where have you seen technology play a role in kind of getting past that need that that nice spot to drive efficiency?


Dominic 19:02

So one of the things I mentioned earlier is that we're an early adopter of knowledge centered service. And that's one of the things that allows us to scale and and maintain a very high level of accuracy and consistency and the support we provide. So So that's something that I can't emphasize enough, with a with a knowledge centered approach. you're capturing information. And this is an experience that, you know, each time it's a new entry into knowledge base, it's a new experience, no one else has seen this before. Now you're documenting it for the first time. And then that makes it available for reuse. And it's great to be able to use that internally. And we took advantage of that quite a bit, where we identified different ways that people can have issues with our products, whether it was self inflicted, because they didn't follow the installation instructions or they missed, you know, some subtle nuance, or it was a design issue or manufacturing issue that we had to get on top of and those We would identify them, we would, we would follow them to closure. And then whatever the result was, whether it was a changing out a circuit board or changing how the system was programmed or even, we would recommend change to a manual or coverage in training, whatever that was, we would document that information and make that available. So it was great to allow us to scale up and bring in new team members. And one of the challenges to that is, if you have somebody that's got 2030 years experience, and they've seen a lot of things, and they know how to do a lot of things, it's when you just try to introduce knowledge centered service, it's very difficult because they feel that the their value to the organization is that they've memorized all that stuff. And they kept it up here. And they could they could draw on at any particular time. But what we have to do is we have to convince them that, you know, here's the vision of where we're trying to go, we're trying to establish a vision that whoever calls us and whoever takes the call, whether you're on vacation, and somebody else is filling in, they have access to all that same information that they can share that with the with the caller, and help them get the resolution as quickly as possible. And that the value to the knowledge engineer, right, who put up until this point, up until we adopted the Knowledge Center, the service model, we were just relying on their availability, and being able to route the calls to them. Now, that's no longer the case. Now they document that information, they put it down, which frees them up for the next thing, something that maybe they haven't experienced before. But now that they know how to how to capture that and put it into a a quality article that can be reused by others. Now it does a couple things. First of all, it stops the path that's worn out to your door, where everybody else is like for the first time, they really have to walk over and ask you how to do that. And then it also, you know allows that to be critiqued and improved over time. I don't know how many times when I was a support specialist that I put something that absolutely knew this was this was correct. This was the reason why this problem happened. And over time, we found out Oh, it looks like that. But it was actually something a little different. So now, my team members can look at that article that I created a year ago and say now let's just let's just edit it modestly and make these couple changes, then suddenly, it's a much better shared article that allowed us to bring in folks that didn't have any product experience when I was setting up that that new team in India, they never really saw the product before, they didn't have any experience to draw upon. But we showed them how to operate the systems, we put them through some basic training on the panels and so on our products, but then show them how to use the tool to find the information. And if it's a well structured article, it's very, very quick that you'll be able to see that yeah, this is this is the problem you're telling me about. And this is what it's going to take to resolve. And so that's the, that's the big change in technology that I saw that I thought was was tremendous. That allowed us to do that. And I also mentioned that we integrated it with our case management system. So we have a case management session system, issue management, escalation, management and knowledge management we had all tied together. And they all kind of worked out from each other. So if we, if we had a case, that became an incident, because now this is a a one to many type of thing, like okay, the thing reporting is something that could affect multiple customers. So we should probably get ahead of the curve right now and start working on that. Then once we've confirmed that it's something that is wrong, that needs to be addressed, it becomes an escalation. And then like I said before, once we once we get to the point where now we resolve that, we feed that information back into the knowledge tool. And now we've got a closed loop from beginning to end, we knew what happened, why it happened, and what it took to resolve it. And that becomes instantly available. And then taking that knowledge and making that available to your customer, which was another tremendous thing that we have a website that allows the customer to log in and do their own searches. So is like, you know, Google Search specific to our products. And they can look up any of that information on a 24 by seven basis. So now that takes some of the pressure off of me having a a multi shift organization where we could still have our main hours of operation, but on weekends, holidays, you know, times where maybe the lead person is out sick. You know, somebody can can find this information on their own, whether it's internally or even more importantly, our external customers.


Alex 24:28

I think that's great. It I was gonna bring you in rd because your line of work and your support is much less technical than what Dominic has with what they're supporting. So how do you already like how do you see the difference playing out you see lot of similarities, even though Dominic's is very technically driven with the systems that they're deploying and the people that are calling in for support?


Aarde 24:52

Yeah, good question. And in the retail world, it's less technical, so it's less technical support. We still get the same repetitive questions day in and day out, that eventually need to be published as self service FAQ articles. It's basically the same type of content, except it's less steps. So instead of it being a 10 step process to resolve whatever the issue is, it's really just a, here's, here's the answer. And we, we find that we have very similar issues with people who've been there forever who know it like the back of their hand, we call tribal knowledge. And there is, it's, it's hard to get them to take the time to put that content down. So that it can be digestible for not only their peers, but also for self service articles in that double loose double loop approval process, it's hard to convince them to do that for a couple reasons. One, they don't see a lot of value on it immediately, there's no instant reward. Like if you were to write a health sweet article, there isn't a, you know, wow, I just helped three people, it's, it takes time for people to find that article to adjust the article to respond to it, maybe add comments if you allow public comments. And then they also have to maintain it. So another downfall is if they were to put content out there, in the KCS model, people may critique or change, or comment on it, and they have to almost moderate that. And that to them that feels a little bit like a burden. So it's hard to get people, especially the tribal knowledge, or chiefs knowledge chiefs, as we call them, to really take the time to digest information, write it down, publish it. But once you do, once you start, start getting that with probably your more senior people, then it starts to become a snowball effect, then everyone goes to that area, then everyone uses that as a resource snowball effect in a very positive way. So Dominic, tell us a little bit about how you from a change management management standpoint, how do you get your team to go from no KCS, or no knowledge centered support or service to at least a little bit to hopefully, you know, thriving? And that's where they turn to? If they don't know something? They look it up? If it's not there, they add it? How do you change the culture of the team to get them there?


Dominic 27:31

Yeah, so so one of the things that we had to do this multiple times as we added new groups into the organization, is that you have to establish the vision, like what what's in it for me, right? So for every member, it's a burden, right? What they were doing is they could just answer questions off the top of their head, and they didn't have to write it down. They didn't have to search and find it's like, I already know the answer, why do I have to go through the motions to identify that which article I used and attach it to the case and go through all the records, it's gonna take me longer, it's more work, it's not. So you have to establish the vision of, you know, what we're trying to what we're trying to accomplish. And what we're trying to do is that, you know, this is kind of like the inside joke, we're trying to work ourselves out of a job by making it so that people don't need to contact us because the information is already readily at their fingertips, they said, Don't worry, they're constantly making new products, there's always new things to learn. So we'll never completely be successful at working yourselves out of a job. But we can make it easier for our customers. And by doing making it easier for customers, we're also making it easier for our co employees. So that our, you know, our co workers can, you know, generate generate the knowledge and benefit from having an available to them. But they also, you know, as I mentioned, you're gonna have some folks that want to keep that information close to the vest, and they don't want to share it, because they see that that's taking away some of their power. And then you have others that immediately catch on to the vision and they say, you know, I understand it makes perfect sense. You know, if I do this, I won't have people constantly, you know, interrupting me while I'm trying to support somebody, you know, coming over and asking me a question that, you know, I that's where I just told somebody the answer, you know, five minutes ago. So you those folks catch on really quickly. And those ones I usually target as my champions, because those folks tend to be experienced, they tend to be well respected within the organization. And now they understand what we're trying to get at and understand that this is not taking power away from this is actually giving them new superpowers that they don't even know they had, or that were even available to them. So now you have your peer team working with each other, helping to coach and convince others that might be more skeptical that this is okay, and good thing and maybe provide some examples directly on support that they're doing because it's one thing for me to say, Oh, this doesn't make your life easier. It's gonna make everybody but if your champions are able to do that directly with their peers, On a lunch breaks, you know, coming in or going back from meetings and stuff like that. That's how you build that that grassroots kind of thing where, you know, kind of working from top down saying, this is great, this is why we want to do this. And it's also from the ground up, because you've got the buy in where folks see the value of it, and they help you. So that's kind of the way I try to manage change management. It's not, it's not a one direction thing, you have to do a multi pronged approach to be successful.


Aarde 30:29

totally makes sense. I'm gonna change gears just a little bit, because you mentioned something earlier on it, it sparked an area that we can go into, you talked about your latency and you talked about kind of W FM workforce management and scheduling and to a certain scale, you know, the curve kind of flattens out. Talk to us a little bit about and a lot of the people who are listening in may not have a W FM tool or workforce management tool or now And nowadays they call it w em or engagement management. They may not have a tool, they may be using an antiquated Excel doc or you know, bathroom napkin math to try to figure out how many calls will come in? How what would you recommend for someone to scale that area of the business? How important is it? You know, should they hire one person that oversees it that hire a team of people? Should there be analysts because it's very numbers, heavy and KPI heavy with handle time and service level? All these different KPIs? But what would you recommend for someone who's trying to start out in that world?


Dominic 31:38

Sure. So it's really going to depend on the scale. So the the size of my organization was 65 members. And in any particular context center, I probably had no more than 20 at any given time. And we had multiple centers. So we had, you know, seven centers from around the world. What we were doing is I used Erling. And there were, there were some Erling tools there that there probably still is, I don't, I don't use them now, because I've already got the information worked out. But to get started early, and could give you a good idea of what your service level will be based on some either known or some suspected metrics in terms of the handle time, the talk time, The after call work time, you start loading that information pin. And you can identify how many agents you need to have to meet a certain target level. So ours was we're trying to meet a 80% service level within 30 seconds, then I know a lot of places might use 20 seconds, but our ACD system was set up around 32nd increments. So I forget, we'll just we'll just go with that. So you use that to give yourself a good estimate, based on the best information you have available. If you have a really good phone records, you could see how long some of the the top times how many calls are coming in. And when your peak calls, we had a double hump, which is probably not unusual, where we don't get very many calls in the early morning. But as it starts approaching lunchtime, it's a peak and then we hit a low during lunch breaks. Because you know, not only are we taking lunch breaks, but so our customers, and then right after lunch, I want to get right back up to it and we start picking up around one, two o'clock, and then it starts to tail off towards the end of the day. So what I did is you can't efficiently staff to those peaks, you have to go just a little level below. And because you're gonna be driving your costs up and those other parts of the day, you're going to have a lot of downtime, then you're not you're so you're constantly hiring, you're gonna have a lot of idle agents just you know, playing, playing solitaire on the computers, you don't want that. So you want to be engaged, you want to be challenged. And there are going to be times during the day where you can't handle everything. And you have to have an overflow mechanism, we had something that would route the caller to, to phone mail to give them a message and they can leave a message for us for a callback, then that works as long as as soon as we get done with a call, we would take that message and call them back. If we weren't calling back until hours later, then it wouldn't be very effective. So you have to kind of you know, adjust for the technology you have available in your phone system. To manage that. The phone system will give you tremendous amount of information that you could use to determine how to shift your staffing, how to change behaviors within the wider organization. For example, when we had new product development meetings, I would ask the project manager to schedule them in the early part of the day or the later part of the day. Try not to do it right in the middle of the day. Because we're we're going to impact our customers. If we if we tend those meetings and that we really want to attend those meetings, we want to be part of the new product introduction team and be able to share that but I think it's extremely valuable information of issues that have happened with previous products and what we can do to avoid those Future product. So, again, using continuous improvement in new product development, that's I think that's a key, our feedback mechanism is big on that. So so those are the types of things we would do, then I would run reports, and for a lot of us, I was doing it myself. And in retrospect, I probably should have shared this with more of my team members. So they had a better handle on how to capture this information and how to deal with it. Ultimately, I think a large organization would probably have some dedicated staff that's looking at those types of things, running those metric reports. Sometimes there, there can be reports that are run real time, you can have some graphical displays that will show what's going on, we had that in our contact center, we could see how many calls are in the queue waiting, how many people are on active calls, how many are on after call work. And if the supervisor saw that the calls were starting to stack up, we saw a lot, a lot of folks and after call work, we might poke them gently to say, you know, could you finish that up and try to get to this as quickly as possible. So you make those adjustments, that if they weren't aware that the calls were waiting, they might take a little more time to do a really, really good job on creating a perfect article, where, you know, sometimes, you know, perfect is the enemy of the good, you have to go with as good. And as you capture information. And then we work to perfect it later. You know, so, so you have to make those kinds of calls. But but that's based on observing information, all the data that you have available, looking at historic reports, looking at real time reports, making adjustments on the fly. So that's, that's what I recommend folks do is just look at that capture information, get a good understanding of it yourself. And then as soon as you can, if you have the ability and the luxury to have other team members that can take this on as a full time job do that, because spreading that information out just makes it better for the whole organization.


Alex 36:51

Yeah, really, I mean, it really sounds like that balancing act, right, you talked about that double hump. And you can't just staff for the whole day so that those two humps are perfectly allocated for because you have all that downtime. But I also think like as you're using that downtime, it's a good chance to, you know, bring up the leadership and others right and have them to build out that knowledge base and continue to do other things during that downtime. But I like to call overflow call, but now at the technology of these phones in the in the systems are available with the auto callbacks, and the customers can request, you know, call me back in 15 minutes or leave your number. So it makes it a lot easier. And the customer knows that. Okay, I was heard even though they could speak with anyone, I'm going to get a call back within X amount of time, I don't think you've I don't think it diminishes the customer experience by having something like that.


Dominic 37:43

Then the other thing that's really, really important is I mean that the contact center environment is a metric rich environment. There's, there's measurements of you know, workforce management, that you know, schedule adherence, and those are all things that we would do, you know, after call work time, and keeping track of that, and all those other things are great for that. But the most important thing is the customer's view of it, right? So you have to survey your customers, you have to identify, what are their pain points? What did they recognize from the support that you're providing? What are the things you're doing really well, what are the things that need to be improved, and even if there's things that they wanted to reduce the whole time, but you know, that, you know, sometimes their calls come in during that peak, and you're not staffed for the peak your staff for, you know, the the median, you know, the you know, that at some point that's going to happen is that it's an acceptable level, or is it unacceptable, and it's only through the expectations of your your callers, what they expect from you, which is going to be driven by what they expect from others, your peers in the business and other companies, but also their expectations of what you've done in the past. So that's why I look at service level, first contact resolution customers set, there's a lot of metrics, but those three are the main drivers. Not necessarily in that order, the order can change based on your customer set. And your expectations. This is a new customer, they want customer set to be as high as possible. One of the drivers for customer set is going to be first contact resolution because you know, my experiences from product support. And people will understand that a product is going to have an issue that there's gonna be something you know, they're complicated, there's a lot of things that can go wrong. And they'll accept that as long as you can get them to a reasonable fix as quickly as possible. You know, don't drag this on don't take don't don't guess, you know, just make sure you have the answer. So that's one of the things we drove really hard towards making sure we had good accurate articles that would fix the problems as quickly as efficiently as possible. And so the first contact resolution drives customer set. But if the customers take a long time to get you, you take a lot of time to get to your customers. You have them on hold, listen to music in the background. They're not going to happy with you. So you have to make sure you have enough People available to handle their calls, you know, as quickly as possible, as quickly as feasible anyway. So that's why service level is kind of a key thing, you know, you're always gonna have those, those times where the calls are going to go, they're gonna have to leave the phone, mail message, or you might not get to them as quickly as you'd like. But if you can get that target, you know, with ours, 80% 30 seconds, you can, you can hit that, you're generally going to have a little bit higher customer satisfaction. And the way we did our surveys is we didn't just blanket surveys to everybody, all of our customers, we were specific to the customers that contacted us last week. And then we would do that for a few weeks. And when we had a statistically significant amount of replies, you know, where we would get a margin of error plus or minus 5%. Sorry, okay, we're good, we could end the survey at this point. And I can report the results. So customers that first contact resolution, I always use the customer numbers when I'm reporting to management. Even though I had metrics that allowed me to get close to it, I could anticipate what a first contact resolution case looks like. And I can measure how many we have in a particular day. So my report will tell me where we're on 82%. But our customer satisfaction surveys which show those 84%. So as long as it's within a few percentage points, my method of measuring is probably as good as anything. And but the important thing is the customer's reactions to what they're telling us. And that's what we'd go by.


Aarde 41:27

Yeah, we were talking with someone on the podcast earlier, and they equated the contact center, at least all the KPIs and metrics to kind of like a baseball team, where you've got on base on base percentage, rb eyes era is all the pitching metrics, and you really have to pay attention to it. But I remember vividly that the person we had on said, doesn't matter unless you get more runs than your opponent. So it doesn't really matter. And then to the day, at least in customer service, unless you're actually providing a good customer experience.


Dominic 42:02

It's that customer satisfaction. That's That's the key. So you get that you've got a winning team.


Aarde 42:09

Yep, exactly. Well, Dominic, it's been a pleasure to have you on the show. today. We're running a little short on time, but you definitely hold the record for the most years, 32 years at a single individual company in this world. So you definitely know your stuff. I could talk to you forever about KCS and operations. But we do have to wrap it up there. I want to thank you for joining us in this on our show on our podcast. And Alex. Thanks again for being our co host and being the CO pilot or I guess I'm your co pilot. Thanks again, everyone who's listening and have a great day.


Dominic 42:46

Thanks for having me, guys. Have a great day.


Alex 42:48

Thank you, Dominic. 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.