Bringing Departments Together in Harmony with Gabe Larsen

14 min read

Bringing Departments Together in Harmony with Gabe Larsen

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In this episode of the Customer Service Secrets Podcast, Gabe Larsen flies solo as he recounts an interesting leadership phone call, during which he realizes what tools businesses need to be customer focused. He spills the secrets to success you don’t want to miss out on. Listen to the full podcast to learn more!

The Phone Call That Created Change

You know that deeply awkward and cringe-worthy embarrassment you feel for someone who’s being chewed out by another person and there’s nothing you can really do about it? Your demeanor in that moment might be calm but on the inside, alarm bells are going off and your brain’s screaming, “CODE RED! Get out of here!” Well, that’s exactly what Gabe Larsen experienced on a life changing phone call. During this call with leadership at another company, the Operations manager was being uncomfortably rude to the CX leaders and he could tell that compassion had essentially ‘left the chat’ at that point. This phone call led Gabe to realize what needs to change in the CX sphere and how departments can work together internally to become a customer-centric brand.

Tip #1 – Kindness For The Win

Gabe’s first tip to success is showing kindness to people across all departments in the company. When employees are rude to each other, it really slows down productivity and contradicts the company’s culture. This phone call made Gabe realize just how important each department of a company is to the success of the business. The CX team can’t function without the Operations team and vice versa. To harbor a culture of kindness, Gabe reminds listeners that everyone at the company, no matter the department, is ultimately working toward the same goal – making the customers happy and looking toward a better future.

“I realize that sometimes CX leaders probably appear at times to speak a different language than you do…I promise you that they are trying the best they can and they want to partner with you to drive growth for the company.”

Leaders would do well to keep in mind that one team cannot properly function without the help of another team, just as Operations and CX are both key pieces to customer satisfaction.

Tip #2 – It Takes Introspection for Expansion

The next tip Gabe learns from the call is that growth happens when leaders turn their gazes inwards and do some self reflection. Of course no one likes to recognize their own faults, but it’s important for us to do so when we’re looking to grow as human beings. The same can be said for leaders looking to expand their reach and further cement their team’s role in the company.

The first thing leaders should analyze, according to Gabe, is their systems and technologies before starting to criticize their employees. “You can have great people, but man, you don’t have the right process system in place, you won’t win.” People definitely play a massive role in customer success, but if you don’t have the right tools in place beforehand, how can agents make the customer happy? Finding the right interface that consolidates all of the necessary information onto one screen is a sure fire way to make agents more efficient and happy in their roles.

To learn more about Gabe’s secrets to making your business win with the customer, check out the Customer Service Secrets podcast episode below, and be sure to subscribe for new episodes each Thursday.

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Full Episode Transcript:

Bringing Departments Together in Harmony with Gabe Larsen

Intro Voice: (00:04)
You’re listening to the Customer Service Secrets Podcast by Kustomer.

Gabe Larsen: (00:11)
Welcome everybody to the Customer Service Secrets Podcast. You got your host, Gabe Larsen today. Today I am flying solo. One of the first read casts I’ve done, maybe ever, oh my goodness. Shame on me, but wanted to share with you an interesting experience that I had this past week. And hopefully, the experience helped me. I’m hoping that it will ultimately help you. So I was on a call, an external call. This is not internal to Kustomer and I won’t use any names. But there was a couple of lessons learned that I thought might be valuable to share. We were working with an organization that was going through what they wanted to be a customer transformation project. They are growing at scale in the direct to consumer space, a great product. And ultimately are feeling the pains on the customer experience side. And a couple of things happened that was kind of interesting.

Gabe Larsen: (01:15)
Number one was I, and maybe I’ll start like this. I want to ask a favor, I want to ask a favor to all operations professionals out there. If you don’t mind me saying, please, please try to be nice to your CX and CS leaders. During this conversation that I referenced previously, the ops manager was, might be a little strong, but borderline, verbally abusive. I know that’s maybe too… It was inappropriate. It felt awkward for all of us and I wasn’t even with the company, but the exchange between that ops manager and the customer service leader was disappointing. And I hate to see that happen as I believe both people want the best for the company. Now look at ops leaders. I realized that CX leaders don’t understand all the systems like you do and sometimes think that the latest technology will solve all their problems. I realize that CX leaders probably realize the difficulty of connecting all the systems in the CX tech stack.

Gabe Larsen: (02:46)
I realize that sometimes CX leaders probably appear at times to speak a different language than you do. But with all of that said, I promise you that they are trying the best they can, and they want to partner with you to drive growth for the company. So maybe, just maybe try and be a little bit nicer in your next conversation. Now I’m not saying that it doesn’t go for the other side in this particular instance. I don’t know the history of it, but in this particular instance, it seemed like the ops leader was being pretty rough, but I’d give the same words of warning to customer service leaders. Sometimes ops leaders may not speak the same language, but I promise you they want to achieve the same goals. So give them the benefit of the doubt.

Gabe Larsen: (03:36)
In addition, I’ve had conversations, that was point one. And I think it’s something we all need to remember. I mean, we cannot be successful as customer service leaders, as customer experience leaders, without the technology and operations team. And whether that’s finding a common language or partnering, we just have to find a way. They can’t be successful with us and we can’t be successful with them. So finding a way to create that common dialogue and reach a common goal is just so important. So that was point number one.

Gabe Larsen: (04:06)
Now point number two, was the structure and the process that we experienced in talking to this company. And I wanted to just pick that because I think so many of us are experiencing some of these pains and it’s just no wonder we’re having a difficult time delivering the experience that we and our customers expect.

Gabe Larsen: (04:29)
And I wanted to highlight just some of these, you won’t be able to visualize this and I did actually, someone handed me kind of a customer journey map, but I’m going to walk you through some of the challenges that this team was facing in delivering the customer experience. So hopefully you can at least visualize some things I talked about. So imagine a customer, that customer can reach out typically via email, but there is a chat functionality and phone. So it’s kind of a three channel approach. Most of the time it’s email and agents would go into a shared inbox and they typically would flag different tickets for customer service inquiries that they wanted to inquire about or potentially solve. These are mostly about orders, about a physical product item. In order to understand that particular item, this is where the daisy chain of complexity really started.

Gabe Larsen: (05:24)
The shared inbox isn’t great. I think we all know that. We’ve experienced that if you’re a smaller company. It’s just the way I think most of us go out and it does create agent collisions and this company had it. One agent comes in, flags an email, then a phone call comes in, goes to a different agent. Agent collision happens, different customer results. Agents fight, you know the spiel there. But in this particular instance, an agent would flag an email and then try to see if they could figure out what was going on with that order. And this is where I felt the frustration going on. So there were mainly three systems that they were really playing with. And then there were two different teams that they were interacting with. So they would typically start with NetSuite and there, they would review the customer history in the order.

Gabe Larsen: (06:11)
If the order was already sent, they would typically interact with this fulfillment team and see if they could pull it back in. If it wasn’t already sent, they could then in that suite, potentially find some of the information they needed. If they actually needed to understand a refund or potentially lock in a refund, they would have to take the PO information that was only in NetSuite and bring it over into Shopify. And then in Shopify, they could understand what type of refund was possible, what was actually happening on the order history. And then they could bring that information manually back into NetSuite with notes and kind of use the different notes field. Ultimately, if something was going to happen, they would, meaning like they needed to refund something or they needed to get something out, they would go into a system called Return Rabbit. And that’s where all the return processes took place and happened. Ultimately without information, they would go back into the email, respond to the customer, mark it done, categorize it away and be done. The poor agents depend on email. If it’s an email ticket, and I watched an agent do this. Yeah. It took a long time. Kind of a, and the biggest thing is, I don’t know how this scales. I mean, I talked to multiple people and I’m just like, wait a minute. So Netflix has, Netflix, excuse me. NetSuite has this, I was just watching Netflix, NetSuite has this and okay and then you go into Shopify and then you use notes and then the notes are kind of what we carry across the different things.

Gabe Larsen: (08:07)
And then we go to Return Rabbit and then Return Rabbit puts us back into NetSuite. And then you go here and I’m just like, is this documented? Because I can’t follow this. My heart just went out for the agents. It just went out for the agents. The people who are trying to deliver great customer experience and it’s like, we’re not making it very easy for them to do that. But also in addition to that, this is back to that point that I brought up earlier, the conversation between the CX leader and the ops person, this is not a problem that can be solved just by an ops person. This cannot just be solved by a CX person. You really need the combination to come together and see if they can map this out in a way that doesn’t feel so disjointed. So we talked about a couple of key problems here.

Gabe Larsen: (09:03)
One is ultimately, it’s just kind of a Frankenstack, to have this many systems all play small roles is something that’s just not going to be scalable for an organization. And then maybe an obvious point, but finding an ability to bring that into one system so that an agent can do everything in one screen, there’s got to be a goal to really deliver that personalized experience. Like I said, it kind of worked out on email, but if a phone call came in and they had to run that daisy chain of activities, it didn’t work quite as well. So one point was just this, too many systems. With too many systems though, too much siloed data. Part of it is here, part of it there and part of it over here. How can we, you may need all those systems.

Gabe Larsen: (10:01)
Sometimes you don’t. Sometimes you can consolidate, but oftentimes you do potentially need those systems, but making it easy for the agent, with a system to interface with that, then the data then flows from all those different systems into that can really be a huge differentiator to really drive that customer experience. Because you saw that as you saw that phone call, come in, person doesn’t know anything about them. And then they try to go find something about them and it takes a while. You could just see that time ticking and ultimately the customer experience and customer engagement, I think, dropping down. So how do you do that? How do you bring together an interface for an agent that is centralized and consolidated? That’s scalable, that’s certainly data-driven and supports all of those different channels? And I think that’s the challenge that presents itself to the modern customer experience that these companies who really want to differentiate themselves are faced with. Hopefully that paints a little bit of a picture.

Gabe Larsen: (11:06)
Some people say, “Hey, why is it so hard? I mean, why is it so hard personally, but why is it so hard to deliver a great customer experience?” I mean, don’t people want to do that? I mean, don’t agents want to do it? Don’t companies want to do that? Yes they do. But the Frankenstack doesn’t allow them to do it and it’s a task, but that realization is not often in the people, you’ve got to start with the process and the systems, and then you have the people. You can have great people, but man, you don’t have the right process system in place, you won’t win it. So I thought it was an interesting conversation that I thought I’d share a little bit with you and summarize with this.

Gabe Larsen: (11:53)
Number one. As I said before, this is a goal, a great customer experience that I think operations and CX have. So please give each other the benefit of the doubt. Number two, you have to understand that current state and the mess that you may, maybe not, you may not be here, but many of us are. You have to understand the current state of where you are, that Frankenstack, some of the challenges, the process, the data integrity, the siloed information, the disparate information, the routing, the shared inbox and the challenge that comes with agent collision. If you can wrap your head around that, then you can project. Then you can sit down with that partner, not an enemy, but a partner. And you can start to visualize a future state that puts the customer at the center. Not your problems at the center, not your systems at the center, but your customer at the center. And then the systems become a place to enable that, something that becomes scalable. So that as you add more agents, you can ultimately deliver that customer experience across the globe, across industries, across whatever that big growth trajectory may be for you. So that’s all I have today. Always fun catching up and with that, have a fantastic day.

Exit Voice: (13:11)
Thank you for listening. Make sure you’re subscribed to hear more customer service secrets.

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