Thursday, February 17, 2022

Richard Blank from Costa Rica’s Call Center-The Art and Science of Call Center Success-SCCS-Podcast-Cutter Consulting Group

Running a call center sales team is definitely filled with challenges, but at the same time can be very rewarding. There is no manual for how to win the call center sales game, which is why this podcast exists as your guide. Our goal is to help you overcome challenges, discover new tools, innovate where possible, and hear stories from others who have made it to the top of the call center mountain. Welcome to the scalable call center sales podcast with your host Jason cutter. jason cutter Hey, what's going on? Everybody. Jason cutter here for another episode of the scalable call centers, sales podcast. I am excited. I have the pleasure of having on the show, Richard blank from Costa Rica's call center. He is the guest on the show today. I'm really excited because what he has done with his life and then what he has built in Costa Rica is something amazing to me. He, and he can go into his story as we have this conversation, but essentially years and years ago, he decided to leave the U S go to Costa Rica and then work on developing building and training, just so many reps in a call center space and creating one of the largest call centers there, or maybe the largest call center in central America. And he comes at this from a different perspective than I do where he is looking at it from his time in school and the degrees that he has in communication and Spanish and looking at it from a scientific standpoint about persuasion, sales, moving people forward, and then also leadership building a company, strong corporate culture. And then what he's built there is just amazing as an outsourced BPO call center for his clients, while at the same time, creating something that feels like a family there from what I've seen online and from talking to him. So I'm super excited for him to share the lessons he's learned in all those different aspects and how that can help people who are listening or watching this on their own call center, or if they're looking to outsource and not sure how to pick the right one, maybe this will give you some ideas. Richard, welcome to the scalable call center sales podcast. richard blank Yeah, Jason, I appreciate, it's very nice to meet you for the second time and all of your audience there. Thank you very much for hosting the tonight. jason cutter Yeah, I, I, again, like I said, I am real excited. We connected online and it was a pleasure to chat the first time. And I was like, this is going to be fun. We're going to have a good time. The hardest part is going to be keeping it to any kind of time constraints that we might have collectively on this. So let's dive in. So give, I don't usually do this, but I think some kind of backstory is important to talk about how you got here and then what you focus on. Tell us the story, the brief version of how you and or you made the move to Costa Rica and then what you've built over the time period since you've been there. richard blank It's my favorite story to tell it actually goes as far back as high school. When I was in high school, my best classes were in Spanish class and I was also very active with student government. So I got to practice a lot of public speaking, public relations, and naturally Spanish became my major in college at the university of Arizona. I, by major Spanish and communication with an emphasis in public speaking rhetoric and nonverbal communication. I knew this when I was 18 years old, it's very difficult to be able to choose a career as to say you wanted to do engineering law, being a doctor, some people are set on that. Others really aren't sure. The one thing I knew that would definitely separate me from others was a second language. And I always loved Spanish since I was in Arizona. There was a lot of people to practice. And then in the summer of 2000, when I was 27, I had the opportunity to come down here for just a couple months to do some training. And a friend of mine in college had a call center and just wanted me to assist. I fell in love with it so much. I put myself in storage, all my stuff and decided to stay here. It's been 21 years. I've been in Costa Rica. I was first started off as a English teacher teaching call center structure and how to make a good call. But then I realized, I think I could do it a little bit better. So back in 2008, I started my own center with just one seat. And today at work about 150 seats were very solid. I might not be the largest, but in regards to quality and consistency, I think a lot of my clients would definitely back me up on that. But you do not go into this industry. Jason, if you don't like it, it's very competitive. It's a grind. I saw the art in it. You and I are experts in persuasion. We have very similar traits and there's also trace that you and I teach one another. And so today I'm going to share with you a little bit about what I've done in regards to rhetoric in regards to structure, in regards to conflict management, which have enabled my agents to increase their metrics, increased conversion ratio, reduce attrition, and I've been able to really pack a punch in. This is what of agents that I've trained and onboarded here to Costa Rica salsa. jason cutter I love it. And I think, and I had a feeling this was going to happen because anyone knows my podcasts and conversations. It's, it's more of a conversation it's not structured. I don't try to strangle hold a, the direction going to go. But I had a feeling this is going to be more training session on sales persuasion. And as you said, rhetoric than maybe other things. So let's dive into that. I would love just give you the floor and share what you know, from what you said, especially the part, which is interesting. You're talking about conflict management and you're not talking about employee conflict management. You're talking with that perspective person you're working to persuade or move across the finish line and inherently what is place, which is. richard blank Conflict, right? Jason, my good friend, one of the biggest mistakes people make when they go into making phone calls, as they consider themselves a salesperson in my mind, I like to consider myself an educator. No one's ever going to choose to go with you unless you force a hand. So one of the cases that the themes that I have here at my call center is from an educated point of view, make a decision. So as long as I'm able to get thumbs up and move conversations along in 32nd increments, then we're able to push a 10 minute conversation into 20 different confirmations. And then at the end, our percentages usually work to our advantage. A lot of our meetings, we scheduled in a tentative way. And so instead of pen, just in case something comes up, I, I always try to give our potential clients flexibility. So they feel like we always meet them in the middle. I never liked the force of hand. And so the first thing that we do when we make these phone calls, especially for calling business to business, is to give a company named spike. Usually it's one of my favorite techniques. It's one of the first three seconds of the call. You can match what the person says, who answers the call, or you can say it yourself a little bit better than how they do it. You still have your anonymity. It gives them a chance to drop out of a sort of trance that they have when they're just transferring calls or hanging up on calls. And it kind of puts you in a mood. It really sets the pace. Naturally you should be getting the gatekeeper or the filter's name, which is a polite thing to do. You don't want to sidestep people. And why do we do that? When you work in a call center, one of the greatest things you can have is a positive escalation. So when I speak to the first individual who definitely represents that company in the best light, and I get transferred over to somebody before I even start to pitch my company or myself, I mentioned how amazing this individual is. It shows a little bit of class takes you from a half point to about a 3.2, maybe foul line in regards to percentages, but you're making friends. I mean, there's a good chance. You might get passed around three or four times before you got a decision maker. And if you can get those individuals names and those departments, and you use that to the individual you speak to, in my opinion, it definitely buffers and assist you in the beginning of the call. Now here's the million dollar secret. Jason, besides just giving a positive verbal escalation to the client. When I send my follow-up email to them, I will always write those individuals names because when you have a written positive escalation, you and I both know that will separate us from 1000 other people making phone calls there. It's just showing some class. So when they decide to move forward for a followup call or to actually take us into consideration, they're going to see how we work with them prior to any sort of contracts. And so I believe that that's just an excellent way to start off a phone call with very good faith. And it makes you comfortable because you're not handling your way into the call. Those are the sort soft skills that I believe if we have to follow up and make two or three calls to that company, you already have individual's names as you can introduce yourself again. jason cutter Yeah. And I, and I love that. And one of the biggest things I see is that a lot of people view the gatekeeper as a gatekeeper, in a negative terms and a opponent, they have to overcome in order to get to who they want. Right? Like American football. It's like, I got to run through this person to go tackle this other person. It's like, no, like, well, you could, like, you're saying positive escalation, work with that person. Get to know that person. And then when you do move to the next level, refer back to them and appreciate them and recognize them, which I love when you told me this the first time I was like, I see people who just do that. And they don't really label it that way. They don't think about it. But yeah, I mean, when you're simplifying that other person who was the first layer that you spoke to, obviously they report to somebody that other person's going to be happy making that you talked about them, or if you reference them either way and it's, it's going to separate you. richard blank Right. They at least see the difference. They could separate you from someone that's just pushing through. Do you remember the movie wall street when bud was trying to get through to Gordon Gekko, the Santeria where that buddy looked good before walking in, she was very proud of them after all of those, but also they work on your team as long as you're respectful to them and you respect their time and you don't give them any surprises. I think the odds will work in your favor. jason cutter Yeah. And I think one of the big things too, is that if you're selling something right, that actually will benefit somebody else and could help that company or that person that you're trying to speak to. Then there's no reason you can't work with and empower that first person you're chatting with. I don't even want to use the term gatekeeper, but there's no reason you can't work with them to help them help you so that you can help them. Right? If you're selling crap that nobody needs, or you don't think it's actually that valuable, then that's a different game. Right? richard blank Well, I've gotten personal extensions where I can bypass an IVR. I've gotten certain information about someone's birthday and anniversary of promotion. So when I do speak to that individual, naturally I have a little bit more Intel where I can congratulate them or sharing their success. And so these individuals are a plethora of information to almost teach you the call, the company culture. So you would know how to almost adjust yourself accordingly in regards to the individuals that you're speaking with. jason cutter I love it. What else is in your repertoire of rhetoric? You know, that you teach your agents that is different than what you see out there. For most people in sales. richard blank I see a lot of similarities, but I think people use it in the wrong way. I think it's very important to use somebody's name, but it can also be an overkill. I was never really into the sir Madam thing. I also very much stress a pronoun because I always believe that you're saying your mind, our it's an excellent way to be able to still capture their attention on a four or five to one basis. When you do a pronoun to a namedrop, usually I believe a name drop is excellent at the beginning of some sort of subject or at the end, when you're doing a tie-down question, asking somebody, if it makes sense, sounds good. Right? You could see doing this correct, Jim. I mean, things like that, we'll be able to help at least keep their information. We do not have the luxury of site we do now on this zoom call. But a lot of the calls, you do not get to see the people that you were speaking on the phone. And so you can't really gauge the reactions. I also believe though, there are certain signs that are a little bit more pure on the felon. Then when you can see somebody's face, I think a lot of people wear masks, not literally, but I think they can like with a suit, you can pretend to be important, but you might not even have a job. So the most important thing to me is that when you were speaking to these people is 100% is to treat them accordingly. These people put their pants on everyday. Like everybody else, they're very busy, but they're also very interested in cling to ideas. And so, as I mentioned before, if you understand their structure and little by little, you are able to get their attention, get a thumbs up, continue moving forward. I think it's great. Jason, where I give the most points on any sort of QA or quality control call. It's not just repeating the information and getting the conversion. If the client says your name, not in the beginning, not in the conclusion, but in the body of the call. That's the sort of connection that you have. And if you can get that sort of connection, that sort of bridge, it's like underhand pitches with wiffle ball. If they're saying your name, you can take your time. You can answer their questions at their pace. You can close the deal. So I think that every time you have to repeat yourself, I think that's your fault. Even if there's a barking dog and their bad cell connection fall on that sword, you don't want to open up sort of rabbit holes or runaway trains. If there's little things, it's more for your clarification. You've been repeated to them. Never say, I'm sorry, never apologize. It's for my clarification. Or you could repeat, confirm, and thank you because a lot of the times Jason agents just by hedging or habits, we'll say great. Okay, wonderful. And a lot of times the answer is not wonderful. So you better be very selective on how you respond to when people are giving you back information and address how long you've been working somewhere, what you're earning people can be sensitive. You just don't know. So a lot of the times I'll just confirm with them on a very neutral way, because that could be a five minute rabbit hole that you got to fix. So I'm extremely selective and careful on how we guide these calls because anybody that's been on a phone call knows what that happened. If it goes to the Raul. jason cutter Yeah. And I truly appreciate, cause I've seen it so many times where you're talking about where people have this standard response or this thing that they say all the time. Awesome, great. And sometimes the answer that they received is not that, and it just indicates the agent, the sales person is not actually listening. They're kind of on autopilot and they're just going through a process. Instead of having that conversation, what do you think is the, how does somebody get to that point? You mentioned a little bit, but where the engagement is there such that, that client, that prospective client or customer is using your name in the middle of the conversation? richard blank First? I think it's a lot to do with dedicated practice. Some people have these natural skills, but I think you really need to listen to yourself and record like a mirror. Like you see how you look with my beard and your beard. Let's go ahead. But you know, a lot of people don't actually record their speech and analyze it. Most people don't like how they sound, but that's what you go. So you got to work with it. So I believe that if you are speaking with sincerity and you, as you say, doing active listening, which could be confirmed. That's why I said, did you say 1, 2, 3? Is that correct? Thank you. That's an excellent way to move them forward, where you are active listening. You brought up a very good point. If they're really not active listening from time to time, you'll hear something in the background. And it's only for like 1, 2, 3 seconds. But if you were zoning out, not paying attention, you might miss that. One thing you heard in the background that could, for example, since people were working from, you can hear dogs in the background, you might hear a child, some people are various with their ears and they can hear music in the background, Jimi Hendrix sort of example. They can tell if someone's cooking in the kitchen, send what you want. But those are the sort of things where you can almost bridge something in common. Like if you are a dog, you can tell someone that you love dogs. A lot of the tech it's called a me too technique. And it's an excellent way to be able to lower defense, slow it down a bit. I also love the fact of the no. Now no technique. I always believe that when you speak to people on the phone, they have conditioned stimulation. Kind of like when you walk into a store and someone asks you would like something, Jason, you're like, no, thank you. Unless you're. So if they say no for an example and oh, here's the thing. If they hang up on you, that's neat. That's over. But if they stay on the line and say, no, they're still kind of in there. So I see that as the first stage of size and strength and strategy, every 30 seconds, they might not say no, but how they respond to you could fluctuate. You've been happy in the beginning of a call yelling at customer service at the end, yelling in the beginning, happy at the end. I mean, things can change. And so I see that in like a boxing round, you know, fires can change. Someone can be very defensive in the beginning, love you at the end. So I gauge people by 32nd slices because you want to look at something long-term for focus group controlled studies. And then you see some sort of inconsistencies. If people do spikes or dips in regards to their pitch, how fast they speak, even answering speed, in my opinion is the greatest TeleSign you can speak. But if someone is a little bit more quiet and a little more reserved, I might follow that up with another question. And so these are the sort of things, in my opinion, that when you are working with people, it can literally give you a 32nd structure to at least know if you need to continue that point or you're able to move forward. Does that make any sort of sense? jason cutter Yeah, no, it does. And I feel like you just did that on me. Yes it does. And I love that about the 32nd. I also really love what you said about listening. When I first started in sales, it was all face-to-face and I was instructed, set a meeting. Don't do anything over the phone. Face-to-face as soon as possible, don't do anything ever over the phone. And then I went from there in to phone only, and I didn't think it was possible. And then I realized that if you just listen, you can also hear what isn't there and you can pick up on a lot of that stuff. And I love what you said. Like if I'm listening to a call and I can hear there in the kitchen, maybe cooking, I could use your me too type technique. And or it will help me understand and know, like if they're busy cooking, I'm going to have to work extra hard. And I might have to work extra fast because there's a clock and a timer that's going to go off when dinner is ready. And I have a limited time and limited attention and I got to go. richard blank But how many calls have they said, they only have 30 seconds. Next thing you know, they're on the phone with you for 10 minutes. So I always believe that nobody guarantees you 10. You need to earn it. Why do I keep saying 30 seconds? Cause that's a way for me to speak you, to speak and have some quiet in the middle. And it's just at least one form of, of back and forth. And it happens 10 to 20 times on a call. That's all. And it's very easy to see if, as I told you before, and you can study speed and pitch and it can be done in any language, Chinese, German, English, Italian, doesn't matter. You can see a fluctuation, a spike or a dip. If they move. If you see anything that is so extreme. My opinion Jason is to ask you a tie-down question. Things make sense. Sounds good. Right? Any more questions may we move forward? And so I believe that you should do at least a minimum of five of the 10 insurance policy tied out questions on a 10 minute phone call, maybe one a minute, maybe two in a minute, just to guarantee that you're with me. Because if you are not with me, I'm not moving forward. And people always wonder why. After a 15 minute phone call, they don't get the appointment. Cause you left one of the doors open. You just did not get that exact answer where you didn't see it. And so I slice and dice this control focused phone call. So at least you have, it's easier to carry 30 seconds and a tiny minute bag. You can't do it. I'll give you a better example. You take a bite, you don't shove a whole pizza in your mouth. You take a sip, you might Chuck, which you know where I'm going with this and you take breaths. Why would you give information like a machine gun? It makes no sense. We are in this attention span of 30 seconds to two minutes. Don't do two minutes. We're not there yet focus on easy thirties. And if you do easy thirties, you might written nine out of 12 rounds. You'll get it. I promise you on that. jason cutter I love it. And I've been a part of longer sales cycle in one call conversations where it's 45 minutes to two hours. And that is a long stretch. But you also have to take it bite by bite, right? Like Thanksgiving dinner. You gotta pace yourself if you, if you want to get through it. So from your perspective, because you've been at this a long time, especially from the studying it and understanding the rhetoric and the, and the, the mental psychology side. What, what, what have you seen in the general public, in consumers, in buyers change over time? Like, is there things that you've noticed significantly from 15, 20 years ago when you started in this realm to what you are teaching your reps to look out for handle or deal with? richard blank It's not their fault, but society has changed to more non-voice people are texting more than calling. In fact, a friend of mine said the other day, I had to text my friend first to let them know I'm calling them. I mean, you and I just call each other, right? That's that's how you and I spoke the first time unfortunate. And it's not a bad habit. It's just a habit. And they're into this. So I'm trying to debrief them on non-voice and making it more voice. Here's a good thing for you. I always believe that someone that's bilingual bears the mark of higher education, Jason. So these individuals that I have here even prior to working one day with them, show me extreme structure, discipline, and some maturity because they learned a second language. I really focus on at the source because they might have limited vocabulary and they can express themselves. But as I mentioned before, rabbit holes, I'll give you the best example. I don't really like to use the word help on the phone that someone we're macho, man, we might get defensive on it. Someone might not like that word. So I find words like assist guide, lend a hand, even a lot more effective. It reduces any sort of ego defense mechanism, any sort of reaction. I think you move forward about two steps because he chose proper vocabulary and it increases over vocabulary. And so every day my agents are learning half a dozen, a dozen new words that are applicable to their calendar just on their own personal interest. Is it I'm not really micromanaging them. And even though I grew up in the seventies and eighties, I know we had to write our own papers and stuff like that. I just don't want them to lose the art of speech. I just don't want them to see automatic word suggestions and just clicking on it. I really want them to see the Renaissance side to this persuasion and phone calls that we do. Like I still, Jason, I still believe that it's an art form. That's why I love it so much. I, you know, if you can create something from nothing like our friendship and how it's going to continue things like this can happen every day. And I also believe that anybody that does this for a living really that the potential is limitless. How about this? I'm extremely selective of the campaigns that come in here. Jason, my dad told me he's proud of the new business I get. But twice as proud of the business, I turned away I'm in a strict Catholic country. These kids need to go home and tell their parents what they do for a living. So they need to be able to represent certain companies in a certain way. And so that's why the script being able to fulfill a client's needs that the vocabulary and the profile is something that I'm able to do. Then everybody is comfortable enough to move forward. jason cutter Yeah. And, and I agree. I mean, a lot of people don't realize the power in the words that they use and how it just can make things more challenging in a sales role or in a service role. I remember the, one of the first jobs I had professional job was at Microsoft doing tech support. And they were like, don't say problem, right? When, when you take a call, they w what, what's your problem? What problem are you having? Like, what's the issue? What's the challenge. Tell me about your situation. Right? Like diffuse it without saying these like kind of combative words, same thing with sales, right? Like it's not sign the contract. Right. It's fill out the form or, you know, finish this paperwork. So I love that you're teaching them that. And obviously as a English, maybe as a second language, it's even more challenging because the, you know, the, the volume of words is gonna be less. But in fact, your teaching is great. So let's transition because of. richard blank Yeah, go ahead. I've done with my agents. It's not cheating, but if they have a difficult time pronouncing a word, I make them learn how to spell it, but they're allowed to write it out phonetically because the bowels is really what hurts them. And so as long as they can say it properly, still learn the pocket. We're good to go. So yeah, maybe on a script, they might convert five words into, however, it makes sense to them, which is fine by me. jason cutter I do the same thing sometimes with my podcast and guests names and companies and stuff like that, just so I make sure I say it. Right. So, and I'm still working. I'm still working on English. I, I, I am not bilingual. I'm still figuring this one out. So one of the things you said, which I think is a great transition to the other part, that I really want to get insights from me because I appreciate and respect what you've built is where you talked about the fact that you're in another country, you've built a call center. You've built something that a lot of people aspire to have and, or want to utilize as an outsource. And they're not sure where to go. That, you know, feels like a, a good legitimate partner. And I love the part that you said kind of in passing, but I really want to re-emphasize it. And restate it is that your in a mostly Catholic country, the agents in your office that work for you have to go home and either tell their friends, tell their family and feel good about what they do, such that if they're going to be selling something, and if they're going to be saying something, it has to be appropriate and accurate and truthful and done in the right way, which again, in the U S we don't have that. There's no standard moral, ethical thing that everyone's holding each other accountable to. Like you have there, which is fascinating, different way, how you develop that. richard blank Well, that's how we were raised. That's how we were raised. And in fact, I wanted to talk to you about that. A lot of people asked me about attrition rate, and what's our biggest challenge. It's more of a natural attrition. Jason I'll lose people. Amazon's here. Concentric conversion sites will be cost centers. And so I might lose them for location with their home boyfriend, girlfriend working their schedule differences. So they have flexibility. But the one thing that people will not leave here is forced attrition. I rarely fire somebody. I mean, if someone's not doing well, I'll try to two or three times help them and get them focused. But for the most part, I know their names. I walk my roads, I break bread with them. I have the greatest arcade in central America with pinball Pac-Man and jukeboxes. So instead of bringing them to my office and grilling them about something, we go downstairs and we play some pinball and pack manna for 15 minutes, I will train you there because I believe in gamification I recess was the best class. We all know that. And so I think if someone can hang out with their boss and talk about telemarketing calls while playing Pac-Man, I think we're gonna win. We're really going to win. And so that's how I focus on that sort of culture here, because Costa Rica has a mixed of different types of call centers. I personally chose to do it one sort of way, and I believe Jason, that's why I'm in my 14th year of business, not the largest, not the smallest, but I've got a really good reputation here. And people know, at least that I care about them and proprietor before making a single phone call for my company, I will give them at least two hours worth of soft skills training. So hands-on actively involved. And I like it that way. I'm from Philadelphia. I have things to teach them and share with that. And if they're able to incorporate that, I think we're really unstoppable. jason cutter I feel like I'm going to ask a question where we both already know the answer, but I just got to ask anyway, do you think that's possible in the U S or anywhere, you know, coming at it from your approach and building it and just setting up the corporate culture in that kind of way. richard blank It's capable everywhere. My friend, yeah. I've seen a thousand places you'd be proud of and others that you just wouldn't want to walk into. Jason, [inaudible] a coach of a sports team. It's an amazing teacher. Not every teacher is good. There's always a few and proof is in the pudding. I'm in one of the most competitive industries period. And the fact that I was able to last this long, everybody's got the same equipment. We all share the same people. I mean, it's just, what do you do differently? What I do differently is I dress for the people that come here. I write for them. I talk to my clients. I that's, what we were raised to do. That is what business is. That is how you're supposed to do it old school way. So can you have it in the United States? Sure. But I think you need to be selected, or maybe you're going to be finding people, Jason, that didn't have a good coach teacher, parent, or best friend. And really all of a sudden meets a winner. Like you, someone that can really back up what he does. And so from there, you get humble. You relax and you restart again. These kids are young. They're 24 years old. They're having fun. They're going out and in their party. And they should, but just like holding cloth field, they need the G the choose youth or adulthood. And so I want them to enjoy both, but I don't want them coming in drunk the next day. I want them showing up on time. I want them doing their job, but I want them to have fun and live their life. And I think there's a wonderful way to have that balance. And if I can show up every day and I can still have fun, they can too. And that's including two hours in the gym in the morning and stuff like that. So take it by a case by case basis. I tell you a secret. When people come in, they fill out a resonating with me. They always put in the flowers and the greatest person that you want to hire. But I asked him a question, Jason, first, I want to see how they write in English. But my question is, give me a coming of age moment. And they say, what does coming of age mean? Then I have to explain it to them. And then they'll tell me the first time they hit a home run and beat up the bully, got on a date, got an a in class and you really get to see something about somebody. So then when I hire them and I walked the rows and I see in Rica, I go, what's up ACE. Cause you know, you've got a good test score. You know, what's up killer. You know, you start finding out certain things about them to motivate them on a rainy Wednesday. If they're not feeling well. Yeah. There's certain things. It's not like guilting them, but there might be some things to motivate them. If they have children, they take care of their parents. If they have big plans, I want to be wind in that sales. They need to, at least when they're with me get better. That is my goal. jason cutter I love it. When, so you talked about, there's no forced attrition, don't fire people. How do you approach? Cause you told me this when we spoke before some, some of it when somebody's not performing, not so much in the role, because then that's a skill, maybe a training, maybe a will thing, but more like they're coming in late or they're not showing up or they're not being a good teammate or employee w you know, fit in the culture. Maybe something's happened there, maybe partying too much and just kind of neglecting what they do. How do you focus on that? What do you do to help them select which path they want to go on? richard blank If they, the moment they walk in my doors, I'm accountable for them. Okay. But if they're not here, I can't help them. If they don't get up on time or come to work on time, you're, you're tying my hands. We follow all Costa Rican, labor laws for their salary, their benefits, everything. And so if they show up late, there's literally nothing I can do. It's a strike against them. Legally, if there are certain things in house while they, if they show up on time, great kids love him to death, but his numbers aren't so good. I'll take a couple steps backwards. I will first do some role-playing with them in my office. If they just sit there and reading it for me, I will see Jason stand up immediately holding the left. Use your right hand when you're talking, don't look to me. Cause you can't see me in the call pace when you're walking. So you might breathe a little bit more point you, some illustrators, things like that. So if anything of nothing, I might not do like a golf swing. I can't change the whole stroke, but if the kid stands up, he might have more energy. If he's holding his script in one hand and using an illustrator and the right, he might be a little more expressive. Blood might be flowing. I don't know, but there might be some simple adjustments into speaking, louder, speaking, faster, slower. Here's another good thing. Military alphabet. It's very consistent. And also a lot of the times you'll speak to people that have served in the military. So it's just an excellent way for you to connect and show respect. And so I'd rather work around this side because I'm going to say something a Benja, but if I break you, you're working in Amazon the next day and you'll, and I just wasted 60 days, 30 days, 15 days of an investment in somebody, they have options. It's a sellers market. And so I think the best thing for us to do is to find that sweet spot right in the middle. Usually most of the time it's pronunciation or it's an onboarding with a brand new campaign, it's very rarely a CRM system or something like that. So that's usually the biggest challenge that we have there. Oh, one last thing. I also believe Jason on right bus right seat. That could be the most amazing agent for one campaign, but can't put the puck in the net on another. So I always believe in Wrightbus right seat. So Jason, it just might not be the best campaign for them. So at least I take that into consideration before making any serious internal movement. jason cutter I love that. And I think that, you know, Jim Collins, good to great, you know, just make sure you got the right people on the bus. If you do then find the best seat for them. If they're the wrong person for the boss, not a cultural fit, not, you know, going where the company's going. That's a different conversation. And I appreciate what you have in Costa Rica, which a lot of people might not do here, which is if they're late or they're absent, there's the labor law rules. It's not you, you're not the bad guy. You're not the bad cop. That's enforcing these things. It just is. And they've made that decision, which then puts the responsibility on them, which people who are late or don't show up, they don't want to be held responsible, but welcome to life. richard blank And it happens. And a lot of the times they don't give you a two weeks notice. Sometimes people just leave. And so what do you do? The best thing is no surprises. I'll call my client. I let them know what's happening and I'll make suggestions. Most of the time it works itself out. I, I like people that like me and I want someone to be here that wants to be here. If somebody doesn't want to be here, it's better off that. I just replace you and wish you well. jason cutter So I know that one of the other things that's really important to you, which has set you up for success with your agents is the technical side of it. Because here's one of the things I know with running call centers and having clients that have tele sales roles of any size is that technical issues, computer glitches, internet problems, problems at one desk. And then what does the agent do? And their lost productivity and morale and, you know, just being frustrated, upset, what do you do? Or how have you set that up for success in your center? Because again, I see this as almost a universal thing where just technical problems and companies may or may not proactively deal with it. richard blank We have a huge challenge. Now, Jason regards to COVID because working from home agents have three immediate challenges, internet redundancy, electricity, my generator, and onsite it support. I was expecting shenanigans and a lot of downtime, right? When this thing happened. And of course there's a future, but, but now for the most part, besides just missing my agents, not being here in the comradery and that sort of thing, no, their productivity has been phenomenal. Thankfully Costa Rica has a very good infrastructure. So we haven't seen that sort of disruption like I've seen in certain other countries where people are working from home. In addition, we do require that our agents do have a specific working environment at home that is up to speed. So legally they can represent our clients and work with us from there in that environment when they were on site. And let's say, it's a tendency to count. We would usually have three or four additional computers in case one goes down. Another one jumps on it. If a work from home agent has any sort of issues with their computer, with the internet electricity, we're so centrally located, they could be here on a computer within a half an hour turnkey, ready to go. So they'd be good to go as well. Haven't really seen too much, very aware, but as I said before, you know, the main thing that individuals don't have is just the sort of comradery that they have. There's a lot of isolation, but now their productivity is fantastic. I, I really don't have a complaint on that. jason cutter I, I, I appreciate that redundancy and those kinds of parameters in place, which just set them, man, you up for success. Last question I am super curious about, and I always love to find out from people like yourself who are leading centers and have been through a lot, you know, over the career, where do you see the future for call centers, especially in terms of what you said of the tendency of people to want to go more? No, non-voice at least in the beginning. And then ultimately it needs to be a voice conversation if it's a considered purchase, but where do you see that going? What are you forecasting and thinking? I need to prepare my agents, my center, my technology for. richard blank This is what I do know. How many times have you been on an IVR where you have to answer questions by pressing buttons, putting in your relation and stuff? I hit zero. I just want to talk to somebody I'll literally rather speak to an airline reservation agent than do it online. I know might be a little more money. I like to talk to people if something specific banking or any sort of real estate or so I want to talk to somebody. And so I believe that there will be a certain section that will be just non-voice. And you can just enter information with chat or fill out a form. But a lot of my clients, even with inbound, they received more phone calls than they do emails for support. There will still be people. There will still be a huge amount of people that want to speak to somebody that might even think that they're, you know, resolution could be even faster by speaking to somebody, they can almost escalate it and maybe have some answers to, and to reduce their stress. The worst thing to ever do is not know. And even if somebody doesn't have the answer for you, but they still show empathy, walk you through it, help you through it. I don't have a problem with that. So in the future, I still believe that AI will handle some of this stuff, but I always believe that they will be a need for live call center agents. jason cutter I couldn't agree more, especially for things that are complex, things that people want help for. I do that same thing. I either press zero or when it's asking me to explain my problem, I just keep yelling agent or customer service. Like I just want to talk to a person. I just want to, before we get you there, what is your issue? No, like literally, no, I don't want to play this game. Just get me to an adult. richard blank And then what happens when you finally get somebody on the phone? Now you're elevated, you're screaming, you're upset. It's not good. You could really avoid. That. jason cutter Makes sense. And I see that and I see a lot of companies where they're trying to go completely non-voice because that's more scalable in their opinion. They don't have to deal with people in call centers and, and, and all of that stuff. That's involved with humans, but you know, what segment of your population and consumers are you disregarding? Because they still want to talk to someone or they want to buy a house and they don't want to go through a web form to get a mortgage. Right? richard blank I believe in retention, I think the more that you could speak to somebody, not only can you save them, there's a very good chance. You might upsell them. You might get a referral out of them. So I believe that you're reducing any sort of value that you have in this potential client of yours by just doing something non-voice, it's very informal. It's very cold. I just find it to be almost to be quite honest with you when salting, especially if I'm giving somebody the business, I expect some sort of quality of service, especially in the beginning of the relationship. jason cutter Yeah. I think those companies default end up being order taking and, or commodity where you could take it or leave it because what was the interaction? What was the real value? Because if it's all self-serve, why do I really need you? So she wants them done. richard blank And then your agents that are, as I'd mentioned before, receiving these calls, they're already starting off with like an 8, 9, 10 code red level. So I want to start off with somebody like that. So I think it would make your agents jobs and performance much better. jason cutter Yeah. I love it. I think that's a great place to, and again, Richard, I appreciate you coming on here and sharing all this again, from a different perspective from the rhetoric analytical side, and then what you're doing with your agents, for people who want to find out more, the best place I know for them to find you, your company, more details. See the pictures, see the pictures of the, the pinball arcade room, which before we chatted the first time I was looking at, so you can go to Costa Rica's with an ass call Costa Rica's call a link in the show notes. Also, you have a Facebook group for that as well. So that will be in the show notes as well, so that people can find you look at that, research it and see, okay, what is somebody doing there that's successful. And for anybody looking to outsource and looking for a partner, depending on what they're looking for could be a great fit. richard blank Jason, what about your, what about your audience that comes to Costa Rica? I mean, this is, I got to twist their arm to come visit me at least come visit me and walk around my center. You'll see what it's like. And then from an educated point of view, your audience make a final. jason cutter And I know that our goal, you and I, because you invited me. I think the second podcast, the follow-up event that we're going to do is a live in person, recording zoom business, rock Rocky, to scalable call center sales, to round two with Richard blank, it will be in person for sure. So I will take you up on that. richard blank I look forward. jason cutter To, that'll be a blast again, Richard, thanks for coming on the show. I appreciate all of that. And that's it for this episode. Thank you everybody for tuning in and we'll catch you on the next episode of the scalable call center sales podcast. Speaker 0 Did you get some inspirations of ways to help your call center sales team win bigger, stronger, and faster? Hope you are fired up to scale your sales operations. 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