Anne B 0:12
Welcome back to unexpected journey. Today we have Victor Doctor Who is the ce o, a pro Progressio, an organization focused on support of the outsourcing and modern business services industry. Welcome, Victor.
Hi, Anne. It’s nice to be here.
Anne B 0:30
I am so excited to talk to you because you do something that a lot of people do and you are focused on industries, industry trends in well, in an area of the world that I absolutely love, you’re in Poland.
Yes, I am based in Poland. And yes, I do what I do now, since 10 years already.
Anne B 0:54
Wow, you’re giving your age away already this early in the game?
You know, sometimes you have to.
Anne B 1:03
So one of the things that I found interesting about you is that you actually started in this industry. While on the banking side, and you kind of worked your way up before starting Progressio. And you really have been in almost every side of the business. You’ve worked in customer care. You’ve worked in billing collections. You’ve worked in telesales. What area of the house do you think needs the most help from a customer experience? standpoint?
That’s a That’s a good question. But But yes, you’re right. In banking, I started in the late 90s. And, yes, so this is again, talking about the age. But believe me or not, people do still work those who started in 1990s. And yes, this was the beginning of a journey.
Anne B 1:55
We’re both right here. You know,
like dinosaurs. Yeah, like dinosaurs. Yeah, that’s right. But But of course, every time there was a touch to the customer experience or customer care. And to be honest, I think that in every type of job we take, we do touch the customer side, because sometimes this is internal customer, sometimes this is external customer. But we do have those relations, which we need to take care of, we need to you know, develop them, take care of them, and so on and so on. And I remember that in those 90s, when I started in the bank, my role was actually to support the director of the bank, because I was the only person in the bank who spoke English. In that time now, probably, yeah, at that time. Now, most probably more people do so. But this was still like taking care of contact with the other person like being, you know, in the place where you had a contact with either suppliers or clients or co workers or whoever. Yeah, so. So something like that to
Anne B 3:07
you back then to be, you know, to have multiple languages.
Yeah, you know, my parents always wanted me to talk in English. So when I was six years old, that was much earlier than the 90s, then then they started to do that for about No, no, that’s too far away. But I remember that it was a time when in Poland, it wasn’t so obvious to learn English. You know, those were the times when we were taught Russian in our schools. English wasn’t a language number one. But already at that time, my parents thought that this English might be something that I may use later on. And that’s how this education started. And it was easier than to get the job, especially in the institutions or in the organizations where those contracts with foreign with foreigners was in place. So I’m very, very much glad that my parents invested in this education, English education.
Anne B 4:04
They saw the future.
Yeah, probably. Yeah.
Anne B 4:09
So, you know, now that you were there, what do you think is the biggest need of customer experience in those areas?
I think that the biggest need is to understand the client, whoever the client is, and sometimes it is not so obvious. Because, you know, the customer service departments when they work, they usually work with the scripts. So they are not very much focused on the real needs of the client on the second, let’s say part of the line. Yeah, they just follow the script, they answer they go with with this, what they are told by their management or by the best practices of the company, and so on and so on. But I guess that the biggest challenge is to really understand who is contacting you and why and to like, start this empathy to really understand This, this person you are talking to, to provide the required answer or to guide that person to achieve this what this person wants to achieve. And then it doesn’t matter if those are banking services, telco services, if this is the, I don’t know, collection, control inquiry, if this is some kind of financial topics, and so on, and so on. So I believe that we are now in such times that this empathy in contacting of a second person is like the number one need, which we need to take care of, and to work outside of a script, which Norman Norman, the call contact center departments are used to do? So for the last probably 3040 years?
Anne B 5:43
Yeah, but, but I mean, thinking about that, though, whose job? Is it to know the customer? Is it the company’s job to know the customer? Or is it the agent’s job to know the customer? Who’s calling in?
That’s a very, very good question, to be honest, because the simple answer is that probably both, so the company should know who the client or who the customer of the company is, and just create a customer service environment to be supportive to the customer. But the role of the agent who is on the front line of the first line of contact with with the customer is to even know the customer better to
Anne B 6:25
do that. How do they do that? If they if they’re not trained?
Yeah, that’s, that’s, of course, a very difficult question to find the simple answer, because, of course, we as people who are on the first line of talking to the clients or customers, we should be all the time trained, trained and developed with our skills, those skills are being changed. The tools are being changed here. Like Tony, who would talk about the chatbots, like probably 15 or 20 years ago, even now, it just didn’t.
Anne B 6:58
That’s like, you know, Back to the Future kind of stuff 10 years ago.
Yeah, exactly. And now, show me the call Contact Center Department doesn’t matter if it’s internal or external, who does not use the chat bots? Yeah, nearly everyone is using it. But the question is, are we using them properly? Are they implemented now?
Anne B 7:18
That’s another show, Victor.
Okay. Let’s, let’s put it back. But coming back to your question, I believe this is my personal belief that we as people who ran a certain job in this case, the customer service job, we should all the time keep on developing our skills. And this is something what I am doing everyday like, I am listening now to 25 different podcasts, you know, so, one, one side is that I am recording podcasts, but the second is that this is all the time keep on learning. And this is like, I want to know, what are the trends? What are the current needs of the clients? What are the accepted behaviors? What are the tools, which can be used, what kind of ways of communication should be used in certain talks, and so on and so on. So I am having on my mobile device, 25 different podcasts, which I am all the time listening to the new episodes. Yeah, and I believe this is something called what should be done a podcast. Show me now, again, podcast a couple of years ago, again, didn’t exist. Yeah. And now we have a source of so many inspiring authors who are sharing their best practices, which you can use for free. Yeah, you don’t even have to buy this kind of training skills or something like that. But of course, the better course, the better organized training is, than the better results you can get. Yeah, because besides the, let’s say, content of training, you get the feeling of a trainer. So somebody who knows how to share the this know how this experience those important things, which are then being used by you.
Anne B 9:13
Okay, so I’ve trained you. I’ve given you all of the tools, you know how to use them. But I haven’t told you that you can do what is necessary to take care of the customer. So, yes, you know how to use the tool, but I won’t let you do it. That’s an entirely different issue.
It is. Yeah, that’s true. But, again, finalizing the training is one thing. To use the skills is a second thing, and to have, let’s say a direction from your company, how to use it and with whom to use it and you know, in which scenarios to use it. is a game that matters.
Anne B 10:01
It’s again another thing, which does tie in to training. But it also ties into, like your corporate vision, how you want to how far you want to go? Do I want to allow my frontline to give whatever credits is necessary in order to make our clients happy? Or do I want to give them a 50? Or a $25? Limit? Or do I want to say absolutely nothing can be credited? What is that boundary that I’m giving them as an extension of our business to be able to give a positive customer experience?
Yeah, those are important, absolutely things. The question is, if this can be regulated somehow, how big trust the employer or the company has, with the agents, with customer service agents, or however we call those people who are on the frontline? How much we believe in them? How much we think that they really understand the needs of the business and the needs of the clients? Yeah. So those are, again, two different things, which, which we need to have in mind, I believe that if we have a team, who we have trained, if we know that they don’t understand the business they are working with, if they understand the needs of the clients who may call with various topics, yeah. Then actually, agents should be allowed to go outside of a script, and suggest really the best solutions for the customer, final customer, but having in mind, the good of the company, which they are representing. Yeah,
Anne B 11:46
absolutely. You just said one of my favorite words, during which one trust. And I think that that’s a really big thing, because that ties, not just into customer experience, that ties into employee experience. And if you don’t have a good employee experience, you can’t have a good customer experience. And we’re hiring employees, shouldn’t we be hiring employees that we feel are good for the role that we can trust and that will trust us?
I will even say that we are not hiring employees, we are hiring people who become our employees. Yeah. And, and every person is different. So okay, we have some standards, we have certain nationalities, we have certain cultural, cultural religions, whatever. So there are some things which can be applied to any of us. But at the end of the day, each of us is different. And we need at the companies need to understand the nature of each employee separately. We cannot be just put in one bucket here like, Okay, so now we here we have agents. But not every agent is the same. We have different environment where we are coming from, we have different, let’s say, even understanding of this what our employers are sharing with us. Yeah, so sometimes we need to spend more time to explain some stuff to our employees, then with the other team members. Yeah, so So this is something what is extremely difficult for the employers, for the team leaders, for the supervisors or for the top management to build this, let’s say people culture within the companies how to create a good teams of people who are our employees.
Anne B 13:43
I absolutely agree. And I think that that is such an important thing. And that ties into everything that you do with those employees from the moment that they interview with you that they go through the onboarding, that they go through training, everything has an impact, and then all of that feeds into everything that we were talking about previously, which is that interaction that the customer has on the phone. So it’s really interesting how that holistic thread that inner it’s like the butterfly wing and how it can cause a hurricane on the other side of the world. That little interaction that you can have with that person from that first moment of interview, and how it can interfere impact, a phone call six months down the road.
Yeah, definitely from the onboarding process you already show to an employee, how you are treating that employee. So you’re showing how this employee should treat the client or the customer at the very end. So you’re giving some kind of direction, some kind of a good advices some kind of advisory what you expect from an employee and then this should be repeated with the with the relations with the final customer. So if the, if the employee is treated properly is educated properly is having a clear line how to grow within the business? Those are the things which this employee will share further with the final clients or customers.
Anne B 15:25
Fantastic. What, Victor, I’d like to take this moment just to let everybody kind of get to know you a little bit better. Have you ever played a game called this or that?
I don’t think so.
Anne B 15:40
It is not painful, I assure you. So it’s where I give you two words or two phrases and you pick one. Okay. You pick the one that resonates with you the most and you tell me why. Okay, good. So, the first things first one salad or sandwich?
salad or sandwich? Yes. Sandwich. Why? Why? Okay, that’s a small story. Whenever I go to any visits to my either potential clients, or I am visiting my existing clients or I am just going to some kind of a new places after a long journey to that place. My favorite place to go. Is subway.
Anne B 16:26
yes, what I buy your sandwich. So this is like my welcome to the City. Welcome to the place where I go, because I am usually quite hungry after a long journey. And this is the this is what I what I started how it started. I have no idea. But I can say that anywhere I go. I find this subway cafe or Subway restaurant, however it is called. And I buy your sandwich.
Anne B 16:52
Do you hear that Subway we need to see if you can sponsor pro Progressio? Because he goes to you everywhere he goes.
Yeah, I bought so far so many sandwiches over there. They could they could become a sponsor? There you
Anne B 17:06
go. All right, how about physical work, or mental work?
That’s a tough one. And it is really hard to provide a good answer because I believe personally that there should be a combination or both. Yeah. So it is not enough just to focus on on the physical part of our development or how we feel how we grow and so on. And also from the mental side, I believe we it needs to go in part. So I personally spent every day on some kind of a small exercises, I am not a big sports guy or whatever like that. But I do like to have some kind of a small activities, I always take care of how many steps I take during the day, and so on and so on. But at the same time, I am all the time thinking about my mind. So about my approach to life, I am all the time educating my kids that okay, everything what we have we have in our heads, if you want to achieve something you can do that. It is just the way how you think you can do it. So I believe this is both but probably more important is this mental one. So how what we have in our heads, not in our muscles.
Anne B 18:23
And sometimes I don’t know about you, but sometimes depending on what I’m working on, if it’s something really hard and really in depth, I can be much more exhausted after a hard day of mental work, then a day of bike riding or a day at the gym, like that mental work can be physically exhausting,
or definitely it creates this kind of situation that especially when you are working really hard on something quote is like completely new, or you are working under a big pressure of time and you need to develop some kind of creative ideas. So then you can be much more tired than after an hour in the gym.
Anne B 19:06
All right, this last one, it is the most important one and is going to give people a real view into who Victor is. So I’m setting the stage that this is this is the really this is the one that is most important. Are you ready Victor?
Go ahead. Should
Anne B 19:25
Batman or Superman?
Oh Jesus. Batman or Superman? Yes. That’s I wasn’t expecting this kind of question.
Anne B 19:39
Well, that’s why it’s there.
Okay, if I were to choose probably a red Tiger because this is in the in the logo of my of my company and the tiger means that and the red Tiger means that I want to be aggressive in this what I’m doing but from the from the positive point of view, and this red means that this is like really The good target to go forward. So having that in mind, probably more red is in the Superman rather than in Batman? And I guess that’s, that’s really a tough question. I don’t have any super skills inside of my sets site, so probably not Superman rather rather than Batman because he was a real man using various tools or gadgets, and not having a super views or strength or something like that. So looking at that site, I am not a very special person with a special skills rather all of them I have learned, or I have found out how to use them. So from that perspective, probably Batman is closer to to this work, or who I am and what I am doing. Because those are not miracles, those are all things which are, which could be learned by anyone. So it just a matter of time, probably how to develop certain skills inside of you.
Anne B 21:07
I would disagree with that Victor, knowing you as I do, and how long I have, I would say you are not to sound like Liam Neeson, a very special man with a very special set of skills. So on that note, heading back into our questions, you, as we said, analyze industry trends, I would love to hear your perspective on what we shouldn’t be expecting in 2023.
That’s a That’s a good question. And probably if I if I had this glass ball, I could see everything inside,
Anne B 21:42
I know it’s behind the curtain, go ahead, pull it out.
I will still leave it behind the curtain. But anyway, I think that this next year probably is not going to be a year of huge changes. So that’s my first answer. The second thing is that there are a lot of voices on the market that one day the artificial intelligence are the bots will have a much bigger impact on the customer experience area, or customer service areas than they have at the moment. But I don’t think it will still happen next year. Of course, we do have more tools, they are let’s see, if we can say some more ways are more useful. Yeah, they are added to various areas of our life. But they are still not on such a level to replace the human relation human to human relation. And certainly they are much less empathic than than we as humans are. So I believe that next year, we will still be developing the artificial intelligence and the bots. But they will work next to us, not not replacing us as people. So that’s one thing. Second thing is that probably the work is going still to become more smaller place than than it was this year, or the previous year or two years behind, because every year is the word becomes smaller look like we know each other for how long for a couple of months, probably a year or maybe a little bit.
Anne B 23:21
At least a year and a half or so.
Yeah. Okay. Look at a year and a half. And I think like it was a yesterday year or something like that. So this these times between people is much shorter, and it will be shorter still. Yeah. So and this is not because that we are it is easier to fly or travel or something like that. But this technology which is all around us, and this openness on other people makes us to create stronger, let’s say links to each other, and, and is making the world much easier to have new friends to find new business to get new stuff all around you. So, I guess that this word is still going to be much smaller place than it is at the moment, but from the positive point of view, it is not that we will be too crowded, even though there are over a billion of us already are in the in the world. So so this is it. And and what else? I think that from the outsourcing perspective, we will have another step to outsourcing. So I believe that outsourcing will become more and more popular than it was already so far. We are as businesses analyzing very much all of our costs, which we need to have in our businesses. And it looks like that because of this knowledge about the world about who can supply you what that and this technology which stands behind is that we will be much more open to use the outsourcers There are more of them, they are more skilled, there are much better, they are very much oriented on target. And they are just providing a good type of work. My To be honest, a couple of years ago, I my knowledge about the outsourcing destinations worldwide was from a perspective where I am sitting, like now in here was like zero. I thought that there was India, I thought that there was an Eastern Europe. And there was a little bit in Mexico. Yeah. How my knowledge was long. Because now from the perspective of time, I can see that on every continent in our world, we do have outsourcers providing any type of service you are requiring. The question is to know them, what they are good at, where to find them, how to talk to them, and so on and so on. But you can have a good outsourcer just next door, just next street, or you can have 2000 kilometers away from you. But still in the same timezone. Like you are in the middle of states, probably the best destination for the nearshoring, or outsourcing for the United States is now Mexico, Panama Colombia, or this kind of destinations, they are still nearly in the same time zone, oh, I have
Anne B 26:22
hundreds of outsourcers either within my exact time zone, or one hour ahead, or within two hours behind. It’s amazing because of everything in my town. And even in Canada. Yeah, so and that’s one of the beauties of you know, what I’ve been able to do and help organizations and outsourcers move to 35 different countries, and slowly, continuously more is that we’ve been able to see what you just said, they’re everywhere.
But now I will tell you something, that they are everywhere. But there is no single place, even in internet, when you can find information about all of them, where they are, what they do, how they work, what they are good at, and so on and so on. I know that there are a couple of web pages, which are trying to do some kind of catalogs of such organizations, but this is still not in place. Yeah. So if somebody is looking for an outsourcer, this is still difficult to find information about the proper one, where to find such company, why they are good at something, what is the reference list, and so on and so on. So I believe that this is not a target for next year, but probably next couple of years that we as an industry should work on having a short way to find a proper business partners, especially in the customer service area, or customer experience area, and, and so on and so on. So this is a long term work, still probably not going to happen next year.
Anne B 28:04
Yeah. And you’re right, there are several different organizations that are trying to build those lists. But they’re just I wouldn’t even say a quarter percent of all of the outsources that are in the world right now.
It is yeah, I fully agree. There are a lot of associations, there are a lot of chambers, and so on and so on. And they do have fantastic group of people and companies, but they are usually original, they are usually oriented on a certain territory, or something like that. There is still a lack of such a really global player who might take care of it.
Anne B 28:44
So you know, in those situation, usually, it is the outsourcer that has to pay to be on the list. And then the customer gets free access to the list. Do you think that that’s why those lists are struggling to grow?
Maybe? And I think yes, especially from the perspective if you are a smaller player. Yeah. So sometimes you can be a good player, but small one, and with a limited budget, just to pay to be on such list and so on and so on. But my personal view is that to be visible to be more visible, worldwide. We need to be visible in internet. Yeah, and how to be visible internet, you can become a member of whatever page and just be over the listed over there. But certainly it is easier to find you if you are sharing your best practices if you are sharing a content because this is liked by Google or by any searching devices. Yeah. If you show your person as being an expert in a certain area, then if somebody is looking for this kind of information, sooner or later, we’ll come to your will find you. Yeah, we’ll just have it easier to find somebody it who knows answers to certain areas. So my personal advice to any any service supplier is share your know how to share your knowledge, don’t worry that it is going to be copied. It is not because this is only you who know how to implement those things, to be live to be used properly by your clients, and so on and so on. I personally share a lot of what I am doing, and I don’t care if somebody is going to copy that. If yes, that’s even better. Because somebody thought I’m doing some kind of a good job. Yeah. So. And still it is not stopping me to grow my business to grow the list of the companies who are working with me, because they trust me they know, I know, something. They know, I am a reliable person, and I am not behind any big walls or whatever like that. Yeah. Why not to do it?
Anne B 30:55
So you mentioned AI, how do you see AI factoring into 2023 for the outsourcers,
probably it is going to be used much more often probably, it is going to take care of more processes than it did so far. But as I said, I am not expecting a revolution in that I am rather expecting that there will be more players to try to work with AI, they will allow AI to be used on certain different levels of their business activities. But I am not thinking that this is going to be a dramatic change within the next few months.
Anne B 31:34
Do you think it’s more of like a 2024, boom, or 2025?
I’d rather think that this is rather those two, three years, still, first of all, to have the quantity of companies who already are within AI, let’s say and if you don’t mind, because they will make sure that this is the good way to go for they will see that this AI is really helpful. And is not like only a cost element in the budget, that it is really good at doing a good job. And you can see the results of it. You know, now we are in such a times where already there were a couple of investments in AI, but where they already calculated that it was a well spent money. Do people see that there is a return on investment in this kind of technology or approach or enviornment I believe this is still too early to have this kind of analysis. But once we will have the full analysis that there is a return on investment on AI, I am more than showed that then companies will spend much more money on that and have the AI present in in much more areas of the business they are running, which they are running at the moment.
Anne B 32:51
I agree. I think that the return on investment is going to be huge. When it’s good enough to be able to implement across multiple organizations.
Yes, but you need to do it wise it is not. You know, okay, if somebody has millions on the on the bank account, it is quite easy to spend them on some kind of a fancy AI tools. Yeah, the question is, do the companies really need
Anne B 33:15
to? Yeah, exactly. That’s it, why just put a fancy tool in place just to put a fancy tool in place. You have to do it in a way that you’re going to be able to reduce your spend overall and get a huge return for that AI.
Yeah, yeah, exactly. You need to first understand your processes and understand your clients, your investors here, whoever from every touch every site of your business. And then step by step, try to optimize this what you are doing AI is can be used for optimization of the business on various levels here various layers, and so on and so on. But you need to do it wise to spend money. It’s easy. Yeah. What to spend it what
Anne B 33:58
is easy, I’m familiar.
Yeah, but to spend it. Probably it is not as easy.
Anne B 34:05
My kids need to learn the wise lesson.
Each of us need Yes.
Anne B 34:11
So what do you what are your suggestions? What do CEOs need to be prepared for going into 2023? What is your advice to them as they’re listening today?
Listening is a good word. I believe that we should this is basic thing we should more listen than just talk. My work what I do for the last 10 years it’s more listening than talking even though I talk a lot Yeah, but but it’s still more listening and more observing and more finding out what are the real needs of the of people of companies who I am talking to. So I believe that in customer service nature it is to provide the best possible service to your clients to your customer. And how to do it is to know your customer and your client. So I believe the CEOs should We very much open on this what the clients and customers are telling us. Sometimes it may be nice, it might not be nice things which which we hear Yeah, or which we listen to. But still, this is something what can make us to think how to change our business, or how to grow our business, or how to develop our business to be more in line with the expectations of our final clients. So more listening, more understanding, and more going outside of a script. So I already said that it is not enough to have a perfect script to follow. When you answer the phone, sometimes it is good to ask a human to human question and to find out where you are, what do you really need? How can I help you? This is this first simple question, which we hear calling to any call contact center. How can I help you? Yeah, but not as a phrase from the script. But But a question from a real human. So I guess that that would be my advice.
Anne B 36:06
Well, thank you so much for joining us today, Victor. It has always it’s always fun and great to talk to you. But it’s really a pleasure to have you on the show today. How why? Well two questions, why would someone reach out to you? And then two, how would they reach out to you?
Thank you very much for inviting me it was really a pleasure to to have this chance. And I’m so happy that we had already a couple of charts earlier on face to face in Las Vegas for example or having it online but answering to your questions. So why if somebody is interested in the outsourcing in the modern business services industry, especially in Europe, so I am the person who can deliver a lot of information from from that area, we run here the business media which are very much focused on on those subjects we are running business club where we have members from this industry and we are everyday analyzing the other reports, trends, whatever is happening within this industry. So if somebody is interested in that then then I am probably quite a good source of information and with the number of answers which I can provide and how to do it. Probably the easiest way is to go to LinkedIn to my LinkedIn profile because I am over there. I am quite active on the on the LinkedIn every day so every day I post something I read a lot over there and certainly it is very easy to find me over there.
Anne B 37:38
And Victor has his own podcast which we will be linking in the description of ours as well. He is is while we are weekly I believe us your is daily correct
the daily one is the Polish daily one is the polish so probably the listeners of your podcast are not so much familiar with the
Anne B 37:58
witch you know, we never know we don’t know who we’re gonna get.
We never know but he has the Polish one is very frequent one within the last three years I have recorded 752 episodes. So that was quite quite a lot. But I do have an English one which is called Good morning BSS wealth and this one is like weekly or bi weekly depends on the on the topics or on the people who I am inviting to those stocks.
Anne B 38:22
Okay, wonderful. So again, I will link that below will provide links to Victor’s LinkedIn and his website as well. Thank you, Victor. It has always a pleasure and we will see everybody next week. Thank you all very much.