This is the second installment of the conversation I had with Fred.
In Part 2, Fred and I cover:
- More about AI
- Automations, triggers, and workflows
- Efficiency of your activity metrics
- Intelligent retargeting
- How much data is really out there
- Who is really using the phone anymore?
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 the 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.
E139 – Transcript
Jason: Welcome back to the sales experience podcast. Welcome back to part two of the conversation that Fred, Stacy and I had talking about technology. Now if you’re listening to these and you’re not sure if this makes sense for you because you’re a salesperson or a sales manager, you can’t affect the technology being used in your call center or with the marketing department. Makes sure to listen to this. I do my best with the conversation with Fred to find value and find ways that everything that he’s talking about, his focus is applicable to anybody in the org chart from the top down. So make sure to check this out. And here’s part two.
Fred: 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 like that.
Fred: But, so the, the outbound calling AI tools, there are a few, you know, decent tools out there that can be used in certain scenarios. The natural language processing that’s supporting the voice-based tool sets, you know, he’s getting better, uh, you know, the, the accuracy, the ability for it to understand language. And if you think about it in a form of, uh, the English language, there’s something like the average, the average vocabulary is 30,000 plus words every year that we use. Right. You know, and you think about the number of accents that we have in our country. I mean, heck, you can talk about just in your individual city that you bump into or your friends, you know, everything from a Jersey thick accent all the way down to a slow Southern draw. You know, all of these things have to be variables that it can compute.
Fred: So it’s, it’s taking time. Yeah. I don’t believe it’s, it’s, you know, 100% ready for prime time for every use case. So let’s just, you know, step that aside. There are some, but you know, not ever, uh, you know, really where AI becomes powerful is the backend stuff, the RPA, robotics process automation stuff and you know, triggering actions, uh, on the back end. So what I mean by that is in a sales organization, you can start to analyze leveraging AI. You can start to analyze data points and understanding conditions that are likely to create a, uh, or at least give you visibility into someone who’s more likely to purchase your product, right? Yeah. Those types of data analyzations it’s more on the big data side and understanding and correlating different data points back to decision making. I mean, those are the pieces that really today when implemented and done well, you know, can have a huge impact.
Fred: Right. You know, because all of a sudden you can start to narrow that gap down to a finite few that you really should be focused on. And yeah, I think most of us, and especially in B2B, we’ve gotten so much better at understanding how to identify our ideal client, right? What is the right person we should be talking to? But then you can start to correlate not only one is who’s the right person, but who is the most likely person based on data points. And not only that, but not only are they more likely, but when are they likely based on their behaviors. You know, those are the types of tools where I can start to really geek out about, you know, the data science side. But that’s real. That is today. That is being implemented. Not cheap, you know, but, uh, I think as we continue to improve computing power speed, as companies start to productize some of this stuff, it’s going to go downstream. And those are the things that you can start looking at. You should be looking at, especially if you’re any size today.
Jason: Yeah. And, and you know that cost, it’s not cheap, but neither is shotgun blasting. Lots of prospects are having an expensive sales team reaching out and making 200 calls and hoping for five conversations. You know, obviously there’s no magic silver bullet yet, but you know, if you can have a hundred phone calls or 50 phone calls and yield those same results or spend more time in conversations and then with those conversations be armed with better data. That’s where the technology, the AI machine learning the data science really comes in, at least on my experience, where really it can be leveraged and business to business, business to consumer. There’s a lot of creepy ass stuff you can find out about your B to C clients equally as well. That will help you determine if they’re a good client or a buyer, if they’re a good prospect when and then once you know, they are reaching out to your, you’re reaching out to them like some information about them such that you know, you can have a useful conversation.
Fred: Yeah, absolutely. And that’s an interesting, that kind of ties in some additional things. Uh, you know, talking about the consumer side, you know, some of the things that we’re doing today is that we are in, companies are already doing this, so this shouldn’t be a shock. But to some people it will be, you know, you can actually analyze and connect the on web browsing different details about them as they’re going through it and connect that to the color. Now we’re, we’re all trying to understand is how do we use this ethically and, and how do we use it in the best way to benefit our client. And some of the things I’ve seen that, that do exceptional at that is, you know, if somebody comes to, let’s use a travel site, somebody comes to a travel site and they’re browsing and they’re looking for their perfect flight, their trip, their hotel room, and all of a sudden they hit a point where they just get frustrated or you know, they just decide they’re going to call.
Fred: Right. Connecting that data back and delivering that information to the customer, providing the or to the agent, providing the agent with the right information that can best serve that customer quickly and effortless. Leslie is really, that’s something that is ethical and it’s, it’s providing a big value to the client, right? Because then the customer, you know, doesn’t have to explain this is what I’m looking for, these are my budgets, you know, all this stuff. All of a sudden the agent has visibility into everything that person was just browsing. Although at first you’re like, Oh my God, they had my browsing history. No, they have your local, your history of that particular website tied back to your phone call and then delivering that information to your agent and then layering on top AI to say, you know, what is the best way to get them to what they need and you know. What are the next best steps, right?
Jason: What are the next best steps, right? Yeah. And that’s where like I have this conversation a lot, which is, you know, there’s that balance and people want to be upset about their privacy. Yeah. Everything is enabled on your phone. Even if people realize and know that their phone is listening to them or their, their smart speaker, their, you know, their Alexa, their Google, whatever, like all of that is listening and they’re doing it anyway. It’s like people want to be upset, but then they really like the convenience for the same reason where, you know, if you call, let’s say you call a call center, you call for help or or whatever, call your bank and then literally like you have to give them your information and then they transfer you and then you have to give your information. Again, nobody wants to do that.
Jason: They want their information to go and they just want to be able to have one conversation. It’s the same thing, like there’s a weird over underwear. It’s like, you know, you’re almost okay with, you know, Amazon showing you suggestions based on stuff that you weren’t looking at on Amazon because a, okay, that’s just convenient and that saves me a step. And people, you know, they want to claim it’s a big deal but then they don’t. And so contact centers, same thing. It’s like what data do you have? How can you use it for good and not for evil obviously. Right,
Fred: Right. Absolutely. You know, and it’s, everything we do is tracked and for the most part and whether we like it or not, you know, as we continue to move down the path of IOT and you know, we continue to improve, you know, satellite coverage and, and 5g and how that’s gonna impact us. And, um, you know, a, all these things are just going to continue to drive more and more datasets. And that’s why, you know, it’s funny if you look at today, and I’ve talked to quite a few people about this today, modern business, whether they’re building a widget or whether they’re building software or they’re cutting hair, we’re all getting to the point where in order to be in business, you have to be a development company of some kind. Because whether it’s data scientists, leveraging all that information, building your website, integrating it to your CRM, you know, getting all those data points out.
Fred: You can’t really operate a decent sized business today of any kind or shape without being in development. And you know, part of that is, you know, just this gathering of gads of data. I mean, you know, it’s ridiculous how much is out there on each of us and even those of us that know and even if you want to try to protect your, you know, your data, you’re only going to get to a certain extent. Yeah. Again, as long as the companies use it ethically though I don’t see a problem with it. But we’re getting way off track.
Jason: Yeah, no, no, no. So I mean I think that’s interesting, right? I mean, you know, obviously for salespeople this thing, it’s not too relevant to that except what data you have available. But kind of tying in the technology piece. The other part, and I get this a lot and I see this a lot at various levels of sales organization, some of it’s, you know, lower entry level, high volume sales calls, maybe outbound, B to C or inbound contact center, customer service or even higher end B to B. The question I get a lot or I see a lot is the fear around AI and how it’s going to replace sales reps or contact center people and the types of people who are worried about losing their job to technology. Right? So when, when the robots take over to a certain extent, not full on mode, but like as the, as the robots get better at it in your short side, like as obviously long long term, we don’t know. Yeah. At this point right now or coming up soon. Who are the people, let’s say in a sales role that could be replaced or should be concerned? Let’s start with that first question and then I have a couple.
Fred: Let’s, let’s start with that one. So first of all, anybody who’s making any appointment reminder calls, scheduling, you know, follow up basic things, those are already going away of AI. Uh, or even just voice response, you know, automatic texting responses, different digital media. Those, those have all gone. Um, the, the contact center market, we’ve seen that going for a while now. That’s nothing new. Um, you know, the, the stuff that is changing is the tier one, you know, the renewals, you know, those types of engagements that are lighter touch, those are definitely going to be moving towards AI, you know, less complexities, more automation, more digital content driven, you know, text messages for renewals. You know, and, and you know, the funny thing is that like PCI compliance, people are actually more comfortable entering their credit card information through, you know, their device than they are talking to a human.
Fred: So there’s, there’s been signs of, um, better collection rates in the debt collection market. You know, and nobody really wants to talk to a human when it comes to that because, you know, you’re embarrassed because you got, you’re in a bad situation, um, no matter. You know what I mean? People get there all the time, right. You know, no one wants to talk to a human in those scenarios. So, you know, as far as overall though, the voice isn’t going anywhere. This idea of, you know, we’re every call center agent is gonna lose their job. It’s just not true.
Jason: And that nobody’s going to want to call into a contact center, have a contact center called them, and that they’re just going to want to do it online or on their phone or with a chatbot or fill out a form on a webpage and buy everything. That way. I completely agree with you. Like that will never go right. Now we can change the expectation could change, you know, kind of like let’s say automobiles for example. So people still go into dealerships every single day to buy a car. Now what’s changed is the information that most of them or all of them have access to, most of them leverage, which is now it’s an even playing field because they know as much as that dealer about the car and the price and what to you know, what to expect, but they still going in for the experience and they still going to buy it that way. Very few people will buy a car online, sight unseen and have it ordered and then delivered in the same way that you’re not going to get away from phones. And so people who are good at the phones and or running companies where it’s a contact center, inbound, outbound, B to C, B2B like that won’t change no matter what the complaint might be about millennials or generation Y or anything like that about they don’t want to talk to anybody. That’s a big generality. That is inappropriate.
Fred: Yeah, absolutely. And actually, even in cars, you know, it’s funny that, um, you know, I didn’t realize it, but have you seen the Taoglas towers with the cars on every row?
Jason: The vending machines, right? Yeah.
Fred: Yeah. I don’t remember what the company’s name is, but they’re trying to turn that environment into an order your test drive, you know, they deliver, you test drive, you decide if you want to buy. Everything’s digital from there on out. I mean, there’s no question, you know, my kids who are 24 and 21, you know, they don’t make a lot of phone calls. Right. You know, they won’t even call their debt. You know, I get text messages and Snapchats and that’s the way we communicate. Yeah. It’s all right. You know, but still to this day, if a problem gets serious, you know, and, and they know that it’s going to be complex, they’re going to pick up the phone and call still.
Fred: Right. So the reality is is that’s not going to go away. I think the point you made of the expectations has clearly changed. So if you can self-service everything basic, you know, fundamental tier one, you know, renewals, basic stuff like that, you’re going to do it online or through an app or however, you know, you’re, that particular company allows you to have your digital journey. But if you’ve got a problem on your phone, on your bill, if you’ve got, you know, a serious problem that you know, you know, is needs to be resolved right now or is complex, the automatic assumption is that the only way they’re going to get it resolved quickly is to make a phone call.
Jason: That’s it for part two of this three part series with Fred and I. Again, if you want to check out Fred’s links, find his information, find these speeches, presentations he’s done, and his content online, go to cutterconsultinggroup.com you can go to the podcast page, find this episode, his links as well as a full transcript of this episode. And as always, keep in mind that everything in life is sales and people remember the experience you gave them.