Thursday, September 22, 2022

Kevin McDonald Positive Talk Radio full show with special guest Richard Blank Costa Rica's Call Center

The following presentation has brought you by KM, please visit KM for more inform. Now stay right where you are as we present. Welcome to positive talk, radio, evolving ideas, one conversation at a time, great guests, dynamic stories and interviews. Plus new thoughts on a wide range of topics and concepts. I hope that you'll hang with me. Kevin McDonald, my friends. And of course you, as together, we work to understand why we are all. And what we can do to make our world a better place for all of us to be happy, be kind and live in peace together. Yep. That's positive talk radio. Another episode of positive talk radio, we are gonna have an extraordinarily good time. And I hope that you'll stay with us the entire episode, because I've got a guy that is really, really talented in what he does. His name is Richard blank. He is a chief executive officer. He's a CEO. I, I don't get to talk to a lot of CEO. It'll be fun. He's uh, he is a CEO of, uh, Costa Rica's call center, which is a huge call center. And it, uh, he teaches people. That the, the indigenous people down there, how to speak English, how, how to sell, how to do all kinds of stuff. Um, he, his, uh, website Costa Rica's call center. You, he can do just about anything in the service world that you can think of. I was going through it. It's like, wow, they do that. Oh man, they do. They do they from web design to sales, to all kinds of different things. It really is remarkable. So, so Richard blank, how are you, sir? I'm doing great. Thank you so much, Ken, for having me on this show. How in the world did you end up in Costa Rica? Whew. Well, if you can get past your parents' guilt, you can pretty much live anywhere in the world. So that's the first thing, but, uh, no, my story began in Northeast Philadelphia back in 1991. When I graduated Abington high school, I. My favorite class was in Spanish. So I decided to double down on it at the university of Arizona, be a Spanish communication major. And when I was 27, I had a one in a million opportunity to come down here for a couple months to work at my friend's call center. And a couple months turned into four years at his center and 22 years total. In Costa Rica. And so I've been in business for 14 years with my own center and no one really decides to be CEO of a call center. You kind of fall into it, but since English is their second language in Costa Rica, and I found it fascinating, the artist speech I had to dive in and take it on to see what I could do now. I believe that the people that, uh, have had, they grew up with like, not a lot are very gifted and very hardworking human beings. Have you found that to be true with the folks down there? Absolutely. I, I do know that this is a very strict Catholic country, so we're very selective of the campaigns they take. But I, I do know this, that when someone is treated with. And dignity, and they're not treated like a number or expendable you'll get the best out of them. And so that's the sort of positive reinforcement, Kevin, that I've been able to receive this entire time I've been here. Well, and from your bio and from everything that I've, I've read about you, you are a progressive type leader that, that works with people and to get the best out of them and, and to help them to become the best that they can be. And, and that's, that's go ahead. Well, I was gonna say, as a CEO, you have leverage Kevin, you can hire and fire somebody make or break them. And I'm not the kind of guy that would like to embarrass somebody on the floor or make them cry or even make them quit. My goal is to delegate and to find individuals hear that shine. So all I can do is discover ways to promote them and get the best out of them. Of course. Well, I know you say of course, but that is a very enlightened viewpoint. There are a lot of companies that just don't operate that way. There are CEOs that cannot find their way to the employee lunchroom. I'm willing to bet that, you know, your way there, not only that I know everybody's name and besides that, I have a gamification culture here. So I play pinball and PackMan with my people. Kevin, the way that we were raised by our grandparents and parents. Is a certain way. And to me, I wish I could give you a financial tip or trick or a CEO cracked code, but I mentioned that one word it's empathy. And just by going old school with people and not being their best friend, but being someone they respect. And I respect them. There's no reason why we can't have a wonderful working relationship together. And, and I will say this it's very important to know people's names and it's very important to onboard them. And if you do then besides just being a good leader, you're a mentor. You could also be a teacher. And so these are the things, especially in this delicate age of when people are building their careers and their self-confidence that I take it very seriously. It's it's not just giving them a job, Kevin, this is a multi-generational society here. And so a lot of these young men and women could be supporting their families and buying medicine for people. And so I really look at it as more as feeding families. Compared to how much money I'm making. And I can tell you from my experience in, in management, that when you treat people well, you treat people fairly. Uh, they tend to want to stay there. They tend to tell their friends and family, Hey, you should come work where I am. We, we really like it there. And your turnover goes down. Your productivity goes up and your, your company culture becomes a very positive. and there's some people in the United States that still don't get that. I'm glad that you do. That's true. And, and telemarketing and call centers. A lot of your friends and people, you know, do earn a living through customer support. Yes. And you don't need to work at a call center with a predictive dollar in infrastructure to be making prospecting calls for a company or even receiving calls. I find it as an admirable. As long as you're not compromising ethics values of morals or calling Kevin during dinner, that's very not cool. But in Costa Rica, if you're talented, you can actually earn more than most vocations. So I do have people here with law and medical degrees that are actually earning more money here than they would in their selected fields. It it's a it's remarkable, isn't it? Um, it is. I had, um, when I was a general manager of a restaurant in Seattle, mm-hmm we had what we called the Mexican pipeline. Okay. And one of the, one of the guys that was working as a bus boy for me at, for 40 hours a week, and then he had another job working 40 hours a week. And he was a, he had been a principal in Mexico of, of a high school, but he found that to support his. Which is, this goes back to the eighties, but to support his family, he needed to, uh, work a 40 hour job to pay for his living expenses. And then he worked the other job and sent that paycheck home. Okay. So he was actually supporting his mom, his dad, his little sister and stuff, because he could make that here. And, uh, um, and so he worked, they work incredibly hard and, and they're used to working hard and I think that's. that's true. And, and burnout is big in call centers and rotation and attrition. And so once again, I, I make sure that when people are here, they have their job stability and they can recharge their battery. So when they leave the office, they can confront any sort of challenges that they have. So it's a certain circle. So when they come back to work again, they're ready to go. And. Once again, if, if somebody's having a tough day, I will pull them aside off, off the floor. Um, put a little water on their face and get 'em to relax a little bit and to refocus and reset themselves because you and I have been in those shoes. I never walked in as a sea level executive. I worked in my friend's center for four years, so I got to see the gripes, the good and the bad times, and, and really learn this business from the inside. And. And I got to see what I could do to enhance the experience for the agents and for the clients. And I could grow a lot faster, Kevin, but I'm very selective of the campaigns that come in. I I'd rather fulfill the needs of the agent before the client, because if they're not comfortable with the account, they're just not gonna wanna do it. E exactly. And it's interesting that. Call centers would have, well, actually it makes a lot of sense. The call centers would have a high stress level and a lot of turnover because of that high stress level. And I, I can only imagine what it's like to get on the phone all day, eight hours a day and get hung up on like a bunch and stuff. Does that happen? Well, it really depends on the vertical that you're calling, but I see it as this it's like the gym. When somebody first comes into a call center, you really need the endurance to make 40 hours worth of phone calls a week. It, it could be draining, but when you're used to it, it just seems like a normal day. When you're on a predictive dollar, you have a much higher contact ratio than you would if you were manually dialing, which could be exhausting. But mind you, this English is their second language. They're getting a return on investment of their education. And for me speaking Spanish, it was always stimulating for the jobs I had in the United States prior to Costa Rica. And for them. Once again, they find it enjoyable. And so what I like to do is I put things in perspective. If they're getting yelled at and hung up upon, we need some coaching on that. That really shouldn't be happening that much. And there's other sort of soft skills that we can do to become more diplomatic and strategic to reduce any sort of friction and to move conversations along. But they have to realize that by learning a second language is 10 times harder than what they're about to do and all that dedicated practice they did prior to even working with. Shows. So fear is really a morbid anticipation of something that hasn't happened yet. So if I can properly onboard them, prepare them and give them that support. A lot of what you had mentioned earlier, pretty much gets eliminated. And once again, there are certain soft skills that we can do on the phone to eliminate any sort of cursing and frustration. Now, naturally clients could have questions and they need clarification. And by doing active listening, by using a name. By talking about pronouns to keep their attention by reviewing information with people to show that you are active listening and they don't have to repeat it. There's a very good chance. You can get a first call resolution for less time. And so once again, this is a skill that people can build up and if they just practice it outside of the office, like you and I do with dedicated practice, because you, you make it look. And I make it look easy, but your audience doesn't really see the amount of hours and preparation that we do off camera. And so, as long as people are willing to train and prepare themselves, then it should be very easy. Any sort of job that they go into. How difficult is it to get the lingo of, um, American English from Spanish? The, the words are said differently and stuff. How difficult is it to, to use English as a second language? Well, most of these individuals, once again, have been speaking English since they were very young, but I, I have a trick for that. There there's a couple different things. If they don't know certain slang, instead of saying the beach, you might call it the shore. You know, I need to teach them that, but I would like for them to write out specific words, Phonet. Because they might have issues in regards to their vows, just in regards to the phonetics. I want them to learn how to spell it, but if they want to, you know, give themselves a little cheat sheet on how to pronounce certain words correctly, or my clients will offer us, um, you know, glossary of terms and certain sort of definitions, or even a training manual. To, I guess, onboard them a lot quicker in regards to industries, because we, we're not really the experts. Sometimes we're just doing more of lead generation, like real estate. For an example, these agents might not be real estate brokers, but they can still call people and prospect them without a license legally and be able to transfer the call. So they don't need to walk through escrow in contracts, but there's no reason why they can't ask somebody how many bedrooms they have and what sort of sport court they have in the backyard. And so, as I say before with my client, There needs to be some extreme, realistic expectations on what the agent's capable of doing. And so I just wanna make sure that there's a good. Absolutely. And, you know, I was just thinking to myself, my first job was not in a call center, but I worked for a, uh, insurance guy. Okay. And he wanted me to call for expiration dates. Sure. And I still remember the, the, uh, um, script that I had that. Hi, my name is Kevin McDonald and I'm calling on behalf of Don Kramer, your local farmer's insurance agent. And we would like to know when you are, when you're. Policy is going to expire next time so that we can give you a competitive quote. Can you gimme a date when that's gonna happen? And, uh, and it was, you know, it was fun. I didn't get hung up on a lot, uh, because you know, if you're, I think if you're engaging and, and you've got a smile in your voice, people are willing to listen to you. Have you, has that been your experience? Is that what you teach? No, absolutely. But off the bat, if I could just do a quick QA on what you just gave me, there is your example. First and foremost, you're using a lot of trigger words there to keep their attention. I like how you're playing on the pronouns. You're definitely changing. Certain speed a little bit to capture their attention. I like how you gave yourself the name drop. It was very clear. And so besides even the potential client responding to you yet, obviously I can tell by your tone that the call is nonthreatening. And it seemed to be in very good faith. So, uh, that sort of training that you went through, I think is fantastic. I think you have a structured phone call now talking about smiling on the phone. Sure. Certain people could do things like that. And I also believe in illustrators where your body, there's a congruence, where your audio is matching the visual, where your body could be expressive. When you're speaking. I. Really encourage, uh, tie down and rebuttal questions where you could see if something makes sense or sounds good. Right? A lot of the times on the phone you'll hear a dog in the background because people were working from home. Kevin, so inadvertently and passive aggressively. I'd like to use the me too technique. I'll let you know how much I love. I'll follow it up with a question by asking you the dog's name and then you'll put the dog outside. You'll come back and I'll anchor you in regards to talking about your dog. Usually you'll ask my name again. I'll give a buffer boomerang technique by saying, Hey Kevin, that's an excellent question. My name is Richard blank. So at least I'll repeat it to show active listening and send it back to you in a positive. And so these are sort of structures that once you see it, you don't unsee it three weeks. It becomes habit. You're not being slick and clever. You're just being tructure. And there is this way to manipulate a conversation in order to match somebody's rate and pitch to see if they have a spike or a dip as a tell sign to ask them a question. And I also believe in studying people's answering speeds because that is something that's subconscious. You can always manipulate your tone rate and pitch. And my suggestion in which you have in abundance, your pitch should, or your tone should always be consistent and it should be confident. And em, You usually mirror image somebody's rate and their pitch to see if they have a question. And I also believe in stacking open ended questions. Like I could describe all the three or four things my company does, or the insurance company that you represented does, but I'd like to not do desert pitching Kevin, because a lot of people just do four, five minute runs. When you do desert pitching, there's no Oasis. You gotta let the people drink and rest for a minute. So anytime you give a list of something, you should almost serve it like a dessert tray where you show it, wait for a positive reinforcement. And then at the end you could say, Hey, Kevin, I'm sure you like, at least. So at least you're raking it. And then throughout the conversation, you could almost say, Hey, since you still have me on the phone at the conclusion of the call, you did mention, you're like, Hey, what about B, C or D? You said you like D again, I just raped you. I love repeating information in military alphabet because Memorial day just happened. We all know someone that's served and we're extremely. Of the United States military. And then finally, if I may make a huge suggestion that if there is a gatekeeper or an assistant of yours, and I get transferred to you, when I'm speaking to this individual, I'm gonna give the gift of a positive escalation. I'm gonna let you know how amazing your assistant was. I'm gonna do it verbally. And then when I write you an email, I'm gonna mention it written. So when I happen to call your company back in this individual answers, they're gonna say Richard, in the last five years, I've been here. You're the first person I ever wrote about me. So obviously this Richard circle is gonna add some sort of momentum and show. Very good faith prior to any sort of contracts. Good Lord. I had no idea how complicated this whole whole system is. And, but at the end of the day, when somebody gets trained, like you're talking about, they can do anything and go anywhere and sell anything. And because they get it, they, they understand how it all. Well, just like you see in the movies of the Wolf of wall street, Glen Gary, Glen Ross, or the closing scenes in boiler room, that's only a specific vertical, that's a certain sort of assertiveness that sometimes the not fit every profile agent that we have here. So I, I, I do appreciate the compliment, but if I may, I never forced a hand. What I like to do is from an educated point of. People make a decision, if anything, and nothing. My good friend, you and I are gonna go to the distance. I'll go 15 rounds. They'll at least hear me the whole way. And then they're able to make a decision. I rarely get hung up on in the middle. Um, but the most important thing once again, is to do active listening. And through deductive reasoning, I can share with you my expertise to see if it fits. And unfortunately, there are some times, and I can give you three quick examples where as much as they want to give me the business, I can't take it. I'm not 24 7, so I don't do graveyard. We don't speak Chinese or other sort of languages. I'll take Portuguese, Spanish and English. That's what I'll do. But if I can't speak the language or understand the. I'm uncomfortable with that. That's difficult for me. And the third thing that I have to turn down accounts is I can't match the rates on offshore call centers in India and the Philippines Costa Rica is central America. We're nearshore, and we're the most expensive in central America, uh, company such as Amazon, HP until an org or here. So expecting a Costa Rica to work for a dollar an hour, as much as I could offer to 'em no one's gonna take it. So the clients have to be very realistic when I'm forthright with. And give them sort of feedback. They might not want to hear it, but they're respect me for telling it well. And, but the proof, as they say is in the pudding and your, your, your company is very successful. And, uh, and you're picky at the same time, which is really cool. Um, because you wanna, you wanna do right for people rather than just take their money. I wanna do right. For me. I don't want to compromise my ethics or values and morals to earn a. And I wanna make my family proud. And so I do reject more than I accept. And as much as I'd like to grow a lot faster, I kind of like my slow and steady it's it's given me peace of mind in allowing me to sleep at night. Exactly and, and you're growing it enough that you can have a bunch of games that we're gonna talk about here in just a minute. But, uh, um, I, I wanted to, to ask you, because I believe that at least in, in the United States, actually listening is a lost art. And a lot of, I was a sales manager for a long time. Mm-hmm and I had sales guys that I would go on calls with and they would be, we would be talking to the owner of the re. And he, and the sales guy would ask a question. The owner would answer the question, but I could see it in the sales guy's eyes that he was thinking of a rebuttal to what he was going to say next, rather than listening to the concerns of the person he was talking to and directly addressing those concerns, he was thinking about, okay, what am I gonna say next to? And so he didn't even listen to him. Yeah. So he would respond in a way that was completely different than. The, um, owner of the restaurant was trying to get out of them. And so I would have to take 'em aside and say, you need to stop. You need to listen because listening is how you find out what the customer needs, how they, how you can best serve them. Mm-hmm and what it is within your power to do for them once you know what they want. But if you don't listen, you'll never know what they want. That was my philosophy. Is that do, would you, can I, can I come work? Let me share some visuals with you and absolutely you can definitely come work with me. Never for me. Oh, you know what I mean? You're my main man. You're starting with me starting center division one. um, this is what happens. My good friend. And you, and you saw it yourself. They're too well rehearsed. They're too commercialized. They're a print. They're not a painting. They're not raw. There's no essence to. What got them into this in the first place. They they're a character. They're not in character. And so that's a shame because they have such potential and the moment that they can put their checkbook away and just start speaking with this individual at this restaurant or wherever else, that's how you're going to get the sale. And I was mentioning before with the me too techniques, speaking about dogs and stuff. That's usually when I can anchor in and speak to somebody from the noises in the background from a child or music or a dog, that's when I know I got, because we can actually have a real conversation that's outside of what you and I were even talking about initially. And so if they can find that sort of me too, Then a they'll be more active listening, then they can reduce any sort of friction and be a lot more comfortable to speak with them. But no, I do agree that they should be planning their rebuttals ahead, but they're, they're doing more acting. They're not reacting. So I think once again, that has to do a lot more with dedicated practice. It's not about memorizing your script. It's about when to use it and how to use. And so as much as they're trying to impress you, they're depressing you by seeing that they're too stiff. And that bothers me. I, I think people should sway with the wind a little bit, and sometimes things happen naturally. And instead of making 100 phone calls a day, why aren't you and I making 89? So we can be on the phone for an extra three to five minutes to look up a website to compliment an anniversary or promotion, or just to talk. Just just to see if I can get the pass to pitch in order to suggest my services. And so they have those skills, but right now people are more non-voice omnichannel. They're doing things through chat, through email support and the challenges that they would have. My good friend is that when you don't speak to somebody on the phone, you're reducing the chances of a client retention. You're not able to upsell somebody, forget getting a referral, an even worse case scenario where let's say you're losing the client or their competition is getting, if they're willing to give you an exit interview and tell you areas in which you could improve or how your competition was able to earn your business, I sometimes find those calls to be even more valuable than closing a deal with that client. Oh exactly. Well, at the, at the, at its. Sure. This is all about relationships has to be, and it is amazing to me. How, in 30 seconds, you can build a relationship or begin a relationship with somebody to keep them on the phone. Cuz that, that, how do you teach them? How do you teach your, your, your folks? To start building that relationship right away. That is why you have the best podcast. You literally are asking me some of my really is this underhand whiffle ball pitches. You're just giving me the best questions I'll give you. I'll give you a wonderful technique that I do. I call it the company name, spike. This is your. Not even 30 seconds. It could be the first three seconds of a call. Let me give you an example. You have positive talk radio, right? And I'm calling your company and somebody answers the phone. They're like, hello, it's Kathy positive talk radio. I'm not gonna ask Kathy Al she's doing or even to speak to you yet. I'm going to utilize anonymity just for my opening, not the whole call cuz that's shady, but I will say, Hey, how's positive, tall radio. Doing. So, what I'm doing is I'm saying the name of your company better than your person did and they're gonna realize that I could be a mystery shopper, your best friend or your best client. So obviously they're gonna answer me. We're doing great. And that's usually when they ask my first buffer boomerang question, who are you? I'm gonna go, Kathy. That's an excellent question. My name is Richard blank, and then we're gonna have a nice conversation. I'm gonna let them know that I'm gonna give them a positive. When I do get transferred to speak with you, we spoke about that earlier. And so all I'm doing is using my first couple seconds to say something that you are familiar with. I said it better than you cuz you know, I'm gonna say it better than you and I'm gonna use this anonymity cuz most of the time when they start asking how Kathy is doing or being able to speak to you directly, usually they say we're good, thanks. Or no thank you. Or what he is selling. I'm not doing any of that. I'm immediately showing good faith and I'm taking it from certain percentages of a half point shot to not even a three point shot. Now it's like foul shot percentages. I'm not guaranteeing you a hundred percent, but what I can do is increase your percentages of prolonging a conversation because no one's going to ever give you 10 minutes. Gavin, you know this? No, you're lucky if you get 30 seconds. So my opinion is to keep buying. And if you're capable of doing that by some due diligence, if you mention pinball machines on my phone call calling me, unless I got something to do, it's really yours to lose. I will literally give you five minutes to pitch me because it showed that you took a couple extra seconds like you did prior to this podcast. You're telling me all this stuff you researched about me. I can't thank you enough. That's the sort of thing as a CEO of a company that will give you the pass to pitch, and I will let you do it because you just showed that extra effort, do that in an email template, do that in a voicemail that you're leaving, just make it custom made. And if you just take that one extra thing that, you know, the company loves so much, it may buy you. and that will buy you success at the same time. That's true because, because the more that you build a relationship with somebody and, and, and treat them like a, a real person, the, the one I always hate is when I get a, um, um, telemarketing call. And the first thing that happens is I pick up the. There's a delay now I've realized that that delay is because it's an automated, uh, dialing, right? That's correct. Predictive dialer. Mm-hmm yes. And so they wait until you pick up and say hello before it actually connects to a human being. Am I correct? In that? It can be, there could be some latency. I'd have to really look into that through the it department, but sometimes it's seamless where you can't tell. And it's an immediate, but, um, no, and, and really that predicted dollar is amazing because it really gives you all of the information about the person with whom you're calling. And at the end, you get to do a disposition report so quickly, you can just do a dropdown and explain what happened on the call. And so what happens there is that these agents are literally able to have. Full hours worth of talk time, minus any sort of wrap up or CRM time. But, um, you know, that's something regarding the center. I don't know. A lot of the times they'd like to do these voicemail drops and then you would have to opt in that you're interested to speak with somebody legally to talk to them. That could be a pain as well. And you know, I, I have somewhat empathy towards these agents making these calls. It depends, you know, a lot of times they'll tell me that. Car warranty is expiring, but guess what? Champ? I haven't lived in the United States for 22 years. So obviously I don't have a car warranty expiring. So that upsets me a little bit. But if I get somebody on the phone and it's something I may qualify for, like telecom, for an example, and I compare rates, I'll listen to them pitch and with their permission. I'm gonna ask to do a QC on them. A quality control. We do 22 KPIs, which are key performance indicators, and we can gauge a call through the questioning and the answering. But I usually look more for soft skills when they do name draws, positive, escalations, military, alphabet, rebuttals, and things like that. And so when I'll speak with somebody, I'll, you know, let them qualify me, send me info and maybe set up an appointment. But I ask them if they have a couple. Because I'd like to give them some professional feedback, and I'm not saying your tone was this, or your tone was that I will literally restructure their arguments and explain to them open, ended to close ended questions and certain sort of vocabulary that I think would be more diplomatic and change the tone a little bit. And I know that they're listening because they will repeat back to me or even ask me, follow up questions on some of these skills. And thank me for that. And even send me a personal email to thank me for that. Now, what am I doing this for? I'm paying it forward because there are a lot of times I was having weird days and someone would just take my call to warm me up and say, go Richard, go. Even though I'm not gonna buy from you, but I like you, but I think you're great. And hang in there and I know what that's like. And I will sometimes reset them and ask them to re, could you please repeat that sentence for me again? You went too fast. I couldn't hear you. Was it 1, 2, 3, or ABC? And so I'm telling them to relax and calm down because you sound great. I just can't understand you. And once they do, and once they give a perfect pitch, then I'm proud of them. And that's just, as I mentioned before, just paying it. Well, and it's because she, I have to ask. What motivated you to get into this business and to, and to really study it the way that you have so that you could pay it forward and impart your employees with some real success strategies, as well as your customers and your clients. They receive results because of the style with which you make the calls and the style with which you do. So what motivat, what, what, what makes you different than everybody else that I've. Well, the first thing is I wanted to find a job, so I didn't have to move back to the states. I live in paradise I was gonna, I was almost gonna paint shells on the beach if I had to. Yeah, but do they have snakes there? excuse me. Do they have snakes there? Oh, they most certainly do. Oh, then I can't go. I'm sorry. I would wear big rubber boots if you're treking out into the rainforest. But, uh, no, I think most places you'll be safe, but you know, where I really saw it is once again, for those four years in my late twenties, when I was sitting with the Costa Rican Ticos at the call center, as much as I was amazed by their bilingual abilities conversations and positive escalations, I saw the tough side of the job I really did. And I needed to. Once again, find a way to make it efficient, but not to have them burned out and to keep their dignity. And so I really took it from the area of the language aspect. I really do encourage them to study the thesaurus. So instead of using words like help, they can use guide, assist and lend to hand instead of telling somebody, excuse me, could you repeat that for my clarification? For my edification, Kevin, was it 1, 2, 3, or ABC? I teach 'em the fall on certain swords on a call. And so once again, if I can assist them in teaching them what the north American market is like, what our genres are, certain vocabulary, certain style. And I mean, if they wanna learn bad words, I'll teach 'em bad words, but that doesn't help anybody. I, I want them to be prepared so they could walk into a board room and properly represent themselves in their company. And that's been my goal. And through these years I've seen some incredible people and, and you're gonna love this. The most I'll hire people with experience. They come in they're hot shots. Sometimes they could be cancers. It depends on the person. I like the person more. That's got no experience at a call center. I mean, they're brilliant college educated bilingual, the whole shit bank. They just don't know what a phone system is or a headset who cares. I can teach that an hour, but I love the fact that I could mold somebody and I can show them certain skills. And as long as they're coachable and they show up on time pen, the ready I am the first. To put, win in their sales and find as many ways as I can to promote them. And I'll delegate, even though they're not a supervisor, I'll let them write a script. I'll let them do a training class. They can pull their hall of fame, call out and talk about it with 15 people. Why not to practice their public speaking, you know? And, and I always love making suggestions cuz no one makes a perfect phone call. So I don't think you're getting away with it. I will definitely find something to make a suggestion on. And these are just building their own self reli. And self confidence. And I love seeing that with the people that work here with me. Are you doing any public speaking and doing this? Do you have any idea how much, how much in demand you would be across this country? If you were to, uh, put together a, a, a program and to become a public speaker, you could be filthy rich. Thank you. My friend, I have no seminar. I don't have a book. The fact that you even mentioned my company. Thank you very much. I'm doing this today. Just to share ideas. We're good friends. I'm adding wind in your sales as your mind. And if I ever did decide to do that, would it be lucrative short would, but I'm always concerned about the artist that's commissioned compared to painting on their own. When you are paid to do something, it, you might lose. A little bit of what got you to where you wanted to be in the first place. That, so I'll definitely listen to all offers, but today, once again, I'm not selling anything. All I wanna do is share these ideas and give you my best. And as long as I can keep this sort of frame of mind, this natural, raw, pure Richard, then I, I think you'll be getting the best performances out of. I, I couldn't agree more. I am just thoroughly enjoying this conversation. Me too. Uh, good time. you? You're you're, you're an amazing guy and you're also a fun loving guy, uh, because you've got one of the largest, uh, if not the largest, um, jukebox and, um, pinball collections in all of central America. Forget my business. That's what I'm proud of. People say, if you could go back and talk to your 14 year old self and tell 'em what you do, I'd be in, you got pinball machines. , you know, be the first question I'd ask myself. Yes, yes, yes I do. And it's, it's an obsession of mine and people have no idea the treasures that they have that are in their bodegas. And so all the time I will be driving a couple hours. To kick a tire or two on an old jukebox or an old retro arcade machine, or especially a pinball machine. And for a couple hundred hours, I'm driving back in 1961 re Cola Regis that's in min condition. And so one man's trash is another man's treasure. And if that's the way it is, call me Oscar, the grouch I'll take as much trash as you got. And as long as I have the space for it and my wife doesn't get angry, I'll be grabbing as many machines as I can. I, I currently have 13 pinball. Six ju boxes, five retro machines and an air hockey table. And as I mentioned before, these machines are older than the agents. I have an area Kevin, where people can, it's a neutral environment where people can meet others from other campaigns. They can let off steam, they can recharge their batteries. I haven't even seen people fall in love by the Backman machine and it, and it gives somebody the chance to hang out with the Hefe in a neutral environment where we're just having. So when people are best friends and you mentioned this earlier, attrition goes down, people want to come to work. And I really believe that a gamification company culture is imperative. Not Xbox, not, not placing. You can do that at home. Do like you, did you, before this podcast, you told me that you bought the thing. You always wanted an old retro machine with the main ator and 3000 games. And we're talking about how much fun we're having you deserve. And I think that if an environment creates a game environment where people can play, they will become that much closer. And so I, I really, really stand behind that and play with each other. And, and there one is shooting, uh, the pinball or the others are watching and, and everybody's laughing and you're having a Coke or whatever it is. I got enough games where everyone can play. No one's waiting. unless they want to and put their quarter on the Marqui. Oh, no, no, no. Everyone's. And, and so how much space now the games are actually at the facility, is that right? Yes. I got some in my own home where I have a private man cave, but the majority of my machines are here on the first floor. It's kind of funny. I got my air hockey table. That's in my training room. It's so loud that I had to take the plastic pucks and they got these now more of like a rubber sort of puck mm-hmm and with the Wildcat 1 25, you can create these really smooth surfaces. And so literally I had to put the air Hawk in there, cuz it is so loud. People are screaming. So when there's not glasses, Doors are shut. You see people sitting in the chairs, watching that, that that's really where our tournaments happen. And it's, uh, it's amazing because the littlest, smallest Asian we have has got the greatest skills and until we stop those shots. And so, um, I love it. It's fun. And people stay later after their shift or they'll come a little bit earlier to just hang out. And, um, obviously we're doing something. Obviously because your, your company's growing, but you see, but even if your company wasn't growing, you're doing things the right way. You're doing things the way I think that they should be done, because I, I believe that we are all one, that we are all connected, that we are all the same, regardless, whether you're the CEO or the dishwasher, or the general manager or the cook. Um, you've all got a different job, but you we're all human being. And we all have the same wants and needs and desires, and we all wanna be fed. We all want to have a house. We all want to have a beautiful wife, unless it's a beautiful husband and, and, uh, and, and all of that. So, you know, but that's, that's, we're really simple people. Um, when, when, and it doesn't take a lot to make us happy. No, it really doesn't. And, and I also follow all the Costa Rican labor laws here. I, I am a guest in this country. And I wanna make sure that we do things correctly and that everyone gets their full salary and benefits. And as I mentioned before, my main goal is to feed families. And so once again, by being embraced here, learning their language, learning the culture, learning the traditions, it made this sort of transition for being an expat. The last two decades. Very. And I could recommend it to anybody, my main suggestion before going abroad. And, and this is very interesting that a lot of the things that you and I hold dear in the United States and people hold to such high esteem really don't make a difference when you leave the country. And so a lot of the stuff that might make you important back home doesn't work here. And what I realized quickly is that people will really judge you by your essence, really who you are. So when I was able to show that I learned their language and I understand their culture and that I do respect the fact that I'm a guest. Once again, this positive reinforcement was just an abundance where I realized that was at the right place. It's amazing. I I've talked to a lot of people that have traveled internationally. I haven't had the ability to, yet. I plan on doing it at one point in time, me, but I will, I don't think I'm not gonna no. But what they tell me is that when you leave this country and you go elsewhere, mm-hmm, people who have nothing. And I mean, nothing mm-hmm can still be happy. Absolutely. Doesn't take a car. Doesn't take, you know, a lot of money. Uh, they've got water, they've got food, they've got a roof over their head. They've got family and they're happy. And I, I think we've, you've been gone a while. I think we've lost that we've lost touch with that in this country. And I would hope to get it back. They also have faith. They have faith in themselves. They have faith in their family and they have spiritual faith. And I like things like that. And I believe that everybody in the world has that in common. It doesn't matter your culture, religion, your language, your skin color, or whatever. No, there, there a smile is universal. And when people offer food and share things like that's universal, too. and in this culture, you cannot turn down a second plate of food as an so just be prepared to eat and be prepared to be taken very well cared of, and also have the pleasure of reciprocating that as well. And so I've seen that as part of this culture, but no, the, the United States is fine. We have this, I just think people need to slow down. Calm down a little bit and just get back to the basics, get back. As I mentioned, the way that we were raised by our parents and grandparents, and if we can get back to that sort of simple sort of mind frame and, and communication, people have much more, uh, effective and fulfilling relationships. What what's happening is people are texting too much and they're not calling. Or they're not seeing one another, because it may be COVID people got isolated and it's not easy. It's really, the tough road is to get back into that. The easy way is just to keep doing what you're doing, but the, but the more challenging way is to walk next door to your neighbors and to say hello, or to make that extra effort to not break a plan and to see your friends or to do a follow up email or phone call for courtesy. And not be latent about it because people are expecting that. And so as long as you can do those sort of things on a daily basis, it won't pile up. You won't forget about it and you'll be invited to a lot of parties and events because you're showing interest in that sort of relationship. Absolutely. Yeah. I asked my youngest son when he was, uh, 18, 19. This is about 10 years ago, but he, he was to the, he was so good at texting that he could in class have his phone in his pocket and be able to text without looking at the, the number, the, uh, uh, letters as to what he was. I mean, he was so gifted at texting. He did it so much. So I asked him one day, I said, so. Don't you find that texting takes away from the personal attention of having a conversation with somebody. And he said, no, I'm fine with texting besides I can talk to five girls at the same time when I'm texting. And I can't do that when I'm on the phone. So it's like, well, okay, but what's your son's name? The Fs . That sounds great. Five girls at the same time. He's remember our generat. Oh, yeah. We had to call people's homes to ask permission to speak to our friends. Yes, we did. Cuz dad would pick up the phone and it would be like, who's this that's right. Oh, you know, can I talk to Lisa please? Uh, you know, and uh, but nowadays none of that's, but I think you're right. We've lost a human touch and we, and it would be great to get that human touch back. I gotta ask you in Costa Rico, what's the homeless situation like. It's there. Uh, and I, I see it a lot in, in San Jose, but really what I see is it's more of somebody that's lost their way. It's usually a young man or a young woman that might be indulging. too much. Wow. Yes. And so that's what I see. And so, but other areas where yes, it is a third world country. And I have seen individuals out there asking for Le most asking for OS from people. And you can tell that this individual might be a senior citizen or have a handicap. Or something that's not drug or bad habit related. And a lot of people, including myself, not just give money, but then all of a sudden you ask, is there something that you need specifically? I need some sneakers, I need a jacket. I need something. You get that for them. It's not like a one and a done, like in my neighborhood, there was a corner and there was, there was Donna Katia. She must have been at least 75 years old. And this woman was out there every day, sweetest woman. And she was literally. Almost supporting her family. I didn't ask too many questions, but this woman was out there asking for money and saying, you know, blessings for people. And she was very smart. She remembered people's names too. And so when I would see her, I would give something. And then when Christmastime came along, I asked if there was something specific. She mentioned the sneakers for, you know, a grandchild and I, and I got that for her. And so, um, there's certain ways to do it. Like I'll give somebody money on the corner if they're juggling knives or doing some sort of acrobatic event. Yeah, sure. I'll give you a couple dollars. But then when you see somebody every day and you realize they're part of your community, it's, it's something where people want to take care of them. It's interesting how neighbors will talk about this individual that you saw and they start learning about them. And so this is a culture that really likes to take care of their own. And I've seen on the side, like if you walk past the banana plantation, they'll be a worker there and you're just walking and he's like, Hey, would you like a few bananas? You know, it's just, people are always sharing and they're always, um, Once again, trying to make people feel welcome, but I don't see it that bad. I don't see really tent encampments here. We just see certain packets of the city that might have individuals, as I've mentioned that have lost their way. We have, we have those encampments here. Now and, uh, and it's, it's a, it is a big problem here and it's because we, as a people, don't take care of each other as, as well as we should. Um, and, and there is some drug abuse and there is some, you know, uh, stuff like that, but, uh, it's interesting that if that people will, you know, give you a banana, if you're, if you're down there or whatever, and I, I think, I think it's great. And I, and I really applaud you for doing, for working the way you're working and doing what you're doing. It is really outstanding. I would say, by the way, we're talking with. Richard blank. He is the CEO of coast Costa Marika's call center. They do everything under the sun, from web design to everything else. You can go to, uh, Costa Rica call and you can get all the information about Richard, his team, the folks that are there, because I'll, I'll tell you I I'm. I am as a human and, and by the way, you're one of the most human people. By the way that's a, that's a huge compliment. Uh, you're one of the most human people that I've ever met. Thank you. I really appreciate you. And would you, would you come back so that we can have more of a conversation about other stuff and, and more about this? Anytime I'd love to be a guest that comes back a reoccurring guest on a TV show. So it's like Larry from three's company, you gotta have neon on a couple scenes. I definitely love to come back. Absolutely because the. The way that you word things, the way that you respect people and stuff is it can be really helpful and energizing to other people who may want to do the same thing, but just don't know how well let's break those stereotypes. A CEO can be one that's empathetic. Someone can take the chance and move abroad, but I make it look easy. My good friend, I started my business at 35. I wish I was a teenager. That was a whiz kid or a genius in my twenties. But I'll be forthright with you after working at my friend's call center for four years, I learned the business, but I wasn't matured enough. It took me till my mid thirties to have impulse control maturity and enough money saved where I was respons. For those contracts and job stability. And also, I didn't take a loan now. I don't have a partner. I don't pay interest. I did slow and study. I first started renting a seat at a opened air blended call center. Then after a couple years, I rented space and built out 150 seats and bought the equipment. After six years, I saved enough money to purchase and build my 300 seat center. So it's more of the tortoise, not the. It's grandma telling me if you can't pay for it in cash, don't do it. And it's also me saving enough acorns for the winter. So I could weather storms. I wish it was bells and whistles and shortcuts and exciting, but it's not, it's being very responsible and taking your time and just making sure that you are fulfilling the needs of these agents by giving them their job stability. And in this industry, that's so competitive, especially against. The best thing that I can do once again, is as you say, just have these sort of ethics and put my best foot forward and you don't owe anybody any money. And which means that your business is growing slower, but it. In order, you know, sometimes in, as you know, sometimes in order to get really RevD up and to really take out a big loan and then grow it and stuff you may have to, at one point in time, compromise your ethics and to do things that you don't otherwise wouldn't otherwise do because of you're chasing the almighty dollar. At that point, you don't have to do that. So it makes it, it must be really free. To be able to be an employer of 300 plus people and their families and by, uh, jute boxes and, and, and, uh, and things, and to, and to have a, a happy, a happy life, even if you're not a multimillionaire or a billionaire. Well, it made the most sense. I wanted to sleep at night and imagine if I lost an account, I don't want to be pissed off on the floor. And then, you know, stressing about it. And it was very simple. As long as I was making my margins renting this seat made sense. Then after you got to four dozen agents, it doesn't make sense to spend five grand a month to some guy when I could have my own place and buy the equipment and build it out. And instead of buying brand new, you know, computers can be excellent secondhand. And a lot of the call centers were going out of business. So they bought it new. I pretty much got it with the wrapping on it, even though it's secondhand, it's not out of the store, but it's pretty much brand new. With the furniture. And also since I am a guest here and you look at me in my suit, there's a very good chance and might charge 20% more. So I'd have local representatives for me with connections that would go and get me the best prices and bring me things. So you gotta build a team around you. You can't do it all on your own, and you gotta trust people to represent you and to speak for you. And have I been disappointed a few times, but I've also been amazed. By some people that have been with me over a decade and have grown with my company. I have two people with me that have been with me over 10 years. One is my chief technical officer, another one's my floor manager. And I wouldn't have it any other way. I could bring someone in with 10 times the amount of experience, no way these people wore my stripes. They walked with me, they know my culture. I will allow them to learn, facilitate their on the job training. As long as it takes, I'll bringing specialists for the it depart. But there's no way I'm gonna bring in a, a, a general manager or supervisor from another call center. No way they need to earn their stripes. They need to work with me for a little while and have the respect of the agents. If not, it's just definitely not gonna work out. And have I said, we experienced that never. I never brought in an outside supervisor. Everything is always promoted from. That it's the only way to go, especially if you've got a unique culture, because you're gonna have somebody that comes in that is, comes from a different style of culture. And they're going to try and change that culture that has been so successful. And that would you you'd probably have a, like 20. 289 people at your house the day after you hired that guy, saying, get rid of that guy. We can do, you know, it, it it's, it's just amazing. So I, Richard, I really appreciate your time today and it's, it's been awesome. And I gotta, I gotta tell you I'm my team is growing as well, and I I've got a, uh, Young lady that we just, that we just hired. She's an assistant. She's just dynamite and you're right. You have to have the right people and slow and steady. So what is her name? Your new assistant. Her name is de. Well, Demi's getting a positive escalation, cuz I'm sure she's doing an excellent job. Oh, she's fabulous. As a matter of fact, the ending that you're about to, uh, um, watch she did yesterday and ful and Demi. All right. She's she's. She's awesome. So, and we, we appreciate having her and I, I subscribe to your philosophy of management and management style and company culture and philosophy. I, I, I tell you, I wish I would be sitting at If we were in the same room, I'd be sitting at your feet, we'd be high fiving, each other, and telling each other how great we are. But my good friend water seeks its own level. That's why, when I first started watching your podcast, it inspired me enough to write you. Here we are. And mind you, this, there were a couple times back and forth because of scheduling conflicts and stuff. It was a mutual goal of ours was to get on a show together and to share ideas. And we fulfilled that today. And so I am very humble and I'm very thankful for your time and your audience is time as well. We will do this again. Oh yeah, because we, we got more to say and I sounds more, I really, I really appreciate. You you coming here and again, Richard blank has been our guest go to Costa Rica, call If you need remote services, he can provide you with all kinds of stuff. So it's just, I so much that, that I can't, I can't describe it all. So it's just really good. And by the way, thank you. You, you watched some of my, some of my other podcasts. You're good. You're addicting. And I can't wait to put this episode on my Facebook page with 98,000 Ticos. They're gonna love to meet you. I've I'm humbled. Thank you so much. I, I, I really appreciate the time that you've spent with me and the, and thank God. There are people out there like you, that's all. I gotta say, you too fell. That's why we're together. And we're gonna keep on grow. absolutely. And thank you, Richard, and stay right where you are. I've gotta do this and I'll be right back. Hey, thanks for enjoying this episode all the way to the end. Please give us a like, and subscribe to this channel. This has been a production of positive talk Please visit our website, oddly name positive talk, for more details about us and our mission, which is to provide great positive programming designed to inspire us. I'm Kevin McDonald's and I'm proud of these shows. And I truly hope that you'll like them and share them with friends and family. So on behalf of our entire team, remember be kind to one another because each other's always. Positive Talk Radio has accepted Richard Blank's invitation to join the audience for a solid discussion regarding taking a chance by moving abroad and starting a company from scratch in Costa Rica. Kevin McDonald discusses with Richard advanced telemarketing strategy, conflict management, interpersonal soft skills, customer support, rhetoric, gamification, employee motivation and phonetic micro expression reading. Positive Talk Radio with Kevin McDonald "Evolving Ideas One Conversation At A Time" Positive Talk Radio podcast was originally started in 2003 by Kevin McDonald and friends on KKNW 1150 AM in Seattle with great guests, dynamic stories and interviews, plus new thoughts on a wide range of topics. The concept is to provide positive informative content designed to educate, entertain, empower and inspire all who listen Our content includes positive thoughts and idea's and is truly unique in the podcast industry and now again on KKNW 1150 AM on Monday's at 9 and Wednesdays at 4 pm pacific. Kevin McDonald - Creator and Host. Born and raised in Seattle, Washington. This jovial fun loving man experienced life in a big way from star athlete, to actor, Voice Actor, Restaurateur, Sales and Sales Management, Transit Operator, Audio Producer, Talk Show Host, Creative Consultant, Motivational Leader and current podcast creator. (My Independence Report) Who’s mission is to Declare Our Freedom From Hate, Division and Fear, featuring positive motivational guest, music interviews and fun episodes. KM is the parent site for, Positive Talk Radio. We are a live podcast/ Video cast that focuses on todays life challenges. In addition we are able to produce audio/ video products for other companies and people looking to find a voice in the crowded world of podcast journalism Richard’s journey in the call center space is filled with twists and turns. When he was 27 years old, he relocated to Costa Rica to train employees for one of the larger call centers in San Jose. With a mix of motivational public speaking style backed by tactful and appropriate rhetoric, Richard shared his knowledge and trained over 10 000 bilingual telemarketers. Richard Blank has the largest collection of restored American Pinball machines and antique Rockola Jukeboxes in Central America making gamification a strong part of CCC culture.Richard Blank is the Chief Executive Officer for Costa Rica’s Call Center since 2008. Mr. Richard Blank holds a bachelors degree in Communication and Spanish from the University of Arizona and a certificate of language proficiency from the University of Sevilla, Spain. A Keynote speaker for Philadelphia's Abington High School 68th National Honors Society induction ceremony. Giving back to Abington Senior High School is very important to Mr. Blank. As such, he endows a scholarship each year for students that plan on majoring in a world language at the university level. Costa Rica’s Call Center (CCC) is a state of the art BPO telemarketing outsource company located in the capital city of San Jose, Costa Rica. Our main focus has been, and will always be to personally train each and every Central America call center agent so that we may offer the highest quality of outbound and inbound telemarketing solutions and bilingual customer service to small and medium sized international companies, entrepreneurs as well as fortune 500 companies. We encourage you to visit one of our call centers on your next personal vacation or business trip to Central America’s paradise, Costa Rica. While you are here, we would recommend taking an extra day of your trip to visit breathtaking virgin beaches, play golf next to the ocean, try your luck at deep sea fishing, explore tropical jungles, climb volcanos or just relax in natural hot springs. Come and see for yourself why call center outsourcing in Costa Rica is a perfect solution for your growing company and a powerhouse in the BPO industry.