For this guest series I have Fred Stacey from Cloud Call Center Search. In this 3-part mini-series we cover a wide range of call center and outsourcing topics, mostly focused around technology.
In Part 1, Fred and I cover:
- Outbound campaigns & TCPA compliance
- What about companies making legitimate calls to people?
- How not to act on LinkedIn
- Artificial Intelligence and the call center tech stack
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Fred Stacey is the General Manager and Co-Founder of Cloud Call Center Search which is a division of Outsource Consultants. Fred has been in the contact center industry for over 25 years, starting out manning the phones as an agent before moving to the operations side where he worked to recover failing call centers and start new ones. During that time he worked in leadership roles, involved in technology acquisitions and center build outs while overseeing the ongoing center operations and selecting future leadership.
Prior to joining Corey Kotlarz to start Cloud Call Center Search, Fred held executive level roles in contact center and debt collections software companies. He has managed every aspect of a software company, from running Europe, Middle East and Asia Pacific operations to co-founding startups where he served as COO. Fred specializes in contact center and debt collections software, selection, business operations and strategy.
As General Manager of Cloud Call Center Search he assists companies in identifying the right technologies for their contact center needs, and is constantly evaluating products from artificial intelligence to workforce optimization – and everything in between.
E138 – Transcript
Jason: Welcome to the sales experience podcast. On today’s episode I have Fred Stacy, Fred, who I’ve known via LinkedIn for quite some time now. He is general manager, co-founder cloud call center search and he has been in the contact center industry for over 25 years. Starting out like a lot of people did. Kind of like myself, you know, Manning the phones as an agent, moving over to the operations side and then just working his way up and focusing on technology and improving. Fred, welcome to the sales experience podcasts.
Fred: Thank you. I appreciate you having me.
Jason: I am really excited because like I said, we have chatted, we’ve talked, we’ve networked, we’ve sent people each other’s way because you know, I’m on the consulting side and a lot of my clients have call centers. They need help. It’s what you do. And so for this second season, super excited that it worked out to have you on here. And so for our conversation, right, like you’re focused on a lot of technology call center implementation, a lot of different things to do. So I wanted to kind of start there obviously in the framework of who knows where this conversation’s going to go, but like if you had to like nail it down to a single piece of technology that could help a contact center, like what you see common among issues, especially if it’s sales related, like what would that be like, what piece of technology would really help?
Fred: You know that’s the funny thing about what I do. There is never one piece of technology. You know the reality is contact centers are different. The market has changed in the seacast space which is like the omnichannel platforms or the telephony along with the other channels in the outbound world. Sales usually, you know sometimes predictive dialer, sometimes power preview but there’s so many moving parts inside a contact center that no one product is the right fit for everybody. No one product is there is no silver bullet.
Jason: Is there any common area like or happens a lot where you like most people are failing or they need something somewhere there one.
Fred: Demons in sales in particular. Let’s talk about that. Cause sales is that the majority of outbound, right? I mean, you know, when we’re talking about a sales contact center, um, you know, a lot of it has, it has a focus on outbound. We’ve all seen the political landscape in the way that they’re, they’re pushing, you know, the TCPA changes and and now stir shaken. That’s probably the biggest gap that I consistently see that technology and consulting practices can help sales organizations solve.
Jason: You’re familiar compliance piece, right?
Fred: The compliance. Yeah, because I mean first of all, you know anytime you make a phone call from any kind of system, you have to follow the compliance. And basically the majority of the people we’re calling are calling to cell phones. So they fall under the TCPA compliant ruling. Same way with text messaging, you know, that falls under TCPA compliance and also to VoIP based phones.
Fred: You know, which if you read the law and follow the compliance, it’s interesting. But basically they’re trying to say if you’re calling somebody who could potentially be charged for that call, it’s illegal to do it from an automated system. So, you know, there’s the compliance pieces, but now, which they’re shaking, we’re, we’re seeing the telcos blocking or marking callers as potential spam or not even letting the calls through or devices like Apple released in its latest updates, the little function, this shut off, you know, potential spammers or unknown colors. The problem is most people don’t even know and they haven’t gone through three exercise of understanding where their phone numbers are at in that, in how the telecoms look at them. So there are technology companies and solutions out there that can help, you know, first of all, if your number, you know, gets marked as spam, if you’re out pulsing numbers, you’re toast. You’re, you’ll be lucky to get a half a percent contact rate, which in the sales world, you know, getting people on the phone is hard enough today, let alone actually significantly reducing your, your likelihood to get somebody to pick up the phone. So I’d say out of everything right now that’s going on in our technology space for sales, that’s probably the biggest gap. And the one that’s kind of easy to solve, but people are just unaware.
Jason: Yeah. And a lot of this is predicated on the kind of robo dialer, scam power stuff being done by let’s say, the bad players in the world who are then triggering these laws to go into effect. And if you happen to be on the good guys side, A. you’re having to deal, like you said, where the Telephany is now blocking things or technology is, you know, even my phone it says spam risk through AT&T it just says, Hey, you know, you may not want to answer this. And especially because all of them are trying to mimic my area code from my phone, which isn’t even where I live anymore. So I know anybody falling from that area code, I don’t know who they are because it’s not where I live. So yeah, for good guy, you’re battling that and then you’re also having to make sure you’re compliant because the last thing you want to do is step in it yourself and then get hit with some trouble.
Fred: Oh yeah. Well, I mean, TCPA fines are anywhere from 500 to 1500 per occurrence, depending on, you know, whether you purposefully did it knowingly violating TCPA or not, and whether they can prove it, you know, and there are people out there that are legitimate, you know, the, all they do is Sue people on TCPA. That’s their whole purpose. That’s how they make all their money. You know, it’s, it’s kinda crazy. Um,
Jason: Yeah, TCPA and do not call like both of those, like if something’s on it, I have seen that happen several times where somebody just got a bank full of phones or cell phones and just waiting for someone to accidentally call.
Fred: Yeah. And you know, I, in all fairness, I started in the industry, you know, in the outbound world and the sales side working on systems that just, you know, called and they would randomly generate phone numbers. There was, nobody was um, you know, opting in to be called the pack then, you know, because there was no regulation. And then I was early in the industry during the first, you know, drop call percentage regulations and all the changes there. And I mean, you know, even to this day, 26 years later, there are still people out there who were swapping their, D.I.D.s every couple of weeks because the telecom companies, you know, recognize and that’s how how it’s done is, is through their aunties. But these individual companies are still trying to do the same stuff, you know, and illegally dialing without the express written consent. And I mean, I don’t blame the regulators.
Fred: What the problem is though, is this impacts directly the legitimate calls. Um, you know, organizations, healthcare, school systems, you know, that they don’t know about the regulations. They don’t look at this stuff. So they’re not aware that their phone numbers are being out pulse to a number that the telecoms for whatever reason have decided is a potential spam. You know. And at that point, what do you do as an individual? I missed, you know, calls from my man. I mean you can think through your scenarios of, of missing critical phone calls from an outbound perspective. But as a business owner, you know, from sales to, you know, follow up support to appointment scheduling, you know, appointment reminders. I mean this, this has a bigger impact than what people realize and you know, specifically in sales, if you don’t get them to pick up, there’s no chance. So yeah, that’s the one piece. It’s a tough one though because may not, there’s so many different solutions out there for different types of companies, integration points, etc.
Jason: Yeah. And obviously we’re nerding out on the legal side. We are rich for some of the people listening. If you’re an owner or a manager of a company, you either know this or you just want to put your head back in the sand and hopefully not have to deal with it. Because I’ve seen both types of owners, the ones who are like, I am tired of paying these fees or I want to make sure the contact rate is better or I don’t care and I don’t want to know about it and just keep running with it. And so, you know, obviously there’s those owners, but for the sales people who might be listening to everyone else or you know, the rest of the sales experience podcast type of listeners. You know, the thing to keep in mind too, and this is, this is what I, I try to impress upon people in contact centers in sales is how do you react when somebody calls you, even if it’s not a spam thing, but you don’t know who it is or when anyone calls you.
Jason: Like how do you react to keep that in mind as you’re making your phone calls and trying to reach out to people. Especially in this, you know, the other, you know, lingo we word is the omnichannel, but it’s like phone calls, emails, messages. Like how can you get ahold of people because of the way that the bad players have done it. You know, there’s now a resistance to just answering your phone at a random call, right? Like, yeah, back in the day when I was a kid, I’m sure you’re the same way. The phone rang. That was exciting. It was somebody you knew it was cool. And then now here we are. Same thing with the door. When somebody used to come to the door, it was exciting. It must be a neighbor or a friend. And then it, you know, people went door knocking and then it’s like, wait, now I don’t want to answer the door. So you’ve got to keep that in mind. If you’re a salesperson is being empathetic to what the other person is thinking and then like, okay, how do I get ahold of them? You know, what makes the most sense? And then how do you obviously leverage technology to make sure that you can do that at scale and you know, and win that,
Fred: yeah, and I, I think, you know, you continue that thought to today’s modern world and I mean, let’s take LinkedIn, uh, one of my favorite, the way you and I, it’s one of my favorite tools, but throughout the last five years it’s, we’ve all been so inundated by how reach that is poorly done by people spamming. I’ll be the first, any of your listeners, if you send me a connection, I’ll likely accept. But if you send me a follow up request that is basically a sales pitch, three pages long, trying to convince me to buy your product, I’m probably going to block you. Um, you know, it’s, it’s that stuff that, you know, it’s forced us all to change. Right. You know, we’ve, I, I’m on the B2B side, you know, as you know, but for the audience, I, you know, I work in technology, so, you know, it’s high end long sales cycles to get in front of somebody in our industry.
Fred: Even with my experience, you know, my speaking engagements, all the things I do for content creation, it’s really hard even for me, you know, because of everything that’s happened over the last five years of the spammers and the people abusing it. I used to be get excited when I’d get a new connection request. Right now, I don’t always get to them. You know, it’s changed my behavior even for somebody who’s very active, you know, in, in LinkedIn and, and social media in general. But it’s forced me to change my behaviors. So you’re right. I mean you gotta think about, you know, what’s your audience is experiencing, build a relationship. I mean stop spamming there. He goes, I, I’m off.
Jason: No, but I completely agree. And obviously business to business, business to consumer, whatever it is. I mean it’s the same kind of focus and same strategies, whether it is, cause it’s still like, you know, a better term for it and I haven’t fully adopted it, but it’s, it’s human to human, right? Like some people say it’s not B to B, it’s not B to C, it’s H to H it’s one human to another. So whether it’s LinkedIn or it’s phone calls, emails, texts, whatever that is. But I’m the same way. I accept almost pretty much every LinkedIn requests. But over the past year specifically, I just see some come over and I go, I know if I accept this, I know what’s going to happen next. I know either they want to sell me leads, which I get a lot of, or they want to help me grow my consulting business on LinkedIn and find me more appointments and contacts. And I know literally they’re just going to go right into that mode. And that’s their goal. Which again, I can appreciate if I have that problem. If I don’t have that problem, I don’t want to engage. But if I do, you know, I want to have a resource. So yeah, that’s the balance.
Fred: Yeah. And I, you know, I try my best to respond to people. I mean, cause we’re in this business, right? You know, we’ve got sales development reps that, that do outreach and we do it ourselves. And I mean I get it, but do it right. You know, take a little time, read my profile and understand at least where, you know, it looks like we’ve got a connection. Try to build a relationship. I mean let’s state a little bit, you know, try to throw a ring on it. I don’t know, but exactly. I mean nonetheless we go down that tangent.
Jason: Let’s stick, let’s stick with technology. Cause I think most people could probably empathize with that if they’re anywhere online and you know, they’re going to be hit up on that side too. So one question that I had and one thing you know, I’m not, I know a lot about it, but you’re obviously on the forefront and your, you know, on the emerging side is where do you see tools like AI coming into making impacts? Let’s say let’s, you know, sticking with sales, but with a sales contact center,
Fred: it’s always interesting. You would be surprised how many people call me up and say, you know, Fred, I need an AI strategy. It’s such a buzz word right now, but everybody’s talking about it. So I mean it’s, it’s valid, right? It is a valid buzzword. It’s not like social media management. Back in the 10 years ago when we first started talking about it, until we realized that, you know, five agents were actually gonna use it. AI has, has a broad, deep and wide application in everything. So let’s talk about sales-based use of AI. So first of all, the voice-based tools out there that are essentially bots for outbound. There are a few tools that in a very simplistic environment actually have some functionality, but very rarely do they leverage AI. So, you know, I recently wrote, I don’t know if you’ve got a chance to read this on AI versus automation. You know, there’s, there’s a lot of this going on in our space right now where people are passing logic based automations as AI. Um, you know, the biggest variable you want to look at and just recognize it’s not that logic based automations don’t have places, right. You know, they do. They’re very, very useful. We’ve been doing if then statements for 20 plus years and with basic AVRs all the way through NLP engines and that’s natural language processing for the audience in case they don’t nerd out on this stuff.
Jason: That’s it for part one of my conversation with Fred Stacey, if you want to check out all of Fred’s links prior to the end of the three-part series, go to cutterconsultinggroup.com/podcast, find the episode, find the transcripts and all of Fred’s links there. And as always, keep in mind that everything in life is sales and people remember the experience you gave them.