Brett Frazer 0:00
If you can bring information, create bridges that can help those relationships between the organization that’s going to make you valuable. It’s also going to expand your awareness of what the impact is of what you’re doing in customer service into those other parts of the business.

Anne B 0:13
Welcome to Unexpected Journey, the show where each week top professionals share work wisdom and life lessons about their careers and what they have learned about human experience in the workplace. I’m your host, Anne Bibb. Today we have Brett Frazer. Brett is a Customer Experience Executive with 25 years of customer experience service delivering world class operations. After spending over a decade at Microsoft in customer service, eight years at Adobe across customer service and organizational development, and seven years leading customer service and experience for Sunbasket. Brett most recently led the engagement consulting services for Arise virtual solutions. He is also Co Founder of Service Matters, and the Five A’s of Successful Customer Engagement Framework, which is currently in development for a book. Join us as we dive deeper into the five A’s of successful customer engagement, and why it’s important and how you can learn more. Before we begin, don’t forget to subscribe and leave your comments below. Now let’s get started.
Hey, everybody, and as we just said, today, we have Brett Frazer and somebody I’ve known for I don’t even know how long anymore we were together at Sutherland a long, long time ago. So we’ve we’ve both kind of gone our separate ways and kind of keep running into each other. That’s just how this industry works. Absolutely.

Brett Frazer 1:51
Absolutely. Lots of lots of interconnectedness across the industry, for sure.

Anne B 1:57
Keep those situations where you like you work together, then you become each other’s client or you become a vendor and then you work together again. And

Brett Frazer 2:07
absolutely, absolutely. It’s good to keep those connections going. So great, great to be here and talking with you and sharing, sharing with your audience. And great to great to see that you’ve developed this this great audience over time and platform for bringing leaders to, to the to the conversation. I

Anne B 2:27
am so glad that you’re here. And talking about unexpected journeys. Yours has been so interesting, and a lot of us do go back and forth between vendors and client side. But you have truly been back and forth back and forth. And so I think that’s one of the interesting things about your unexpected journey and what you’ve done, that you’ve done it more than most of us that I’m really kind of interested to know about how that became was it just was it strategic? Did it just happen? What Yeah.

Brett Frazer 3:08
Yeah, as I look at my journey, you know, I’ve kind of had a few of those unexpected elements. So I, like many of us, I didn’t plan to end up in customer service and support to begin with, I took a job at Microsoft as a temp agent to pay my way through massage therapy school is going to become a sports massage therapist and ended up 12 years later as a regional director for Microsoft, living out in Singapore, having spent a year in China. So this was some very unexpected steps in the journey. And when I was in Singapore and work in customer service and support I was, you know, that was a point in time and we’ve gotten a little better from there. But customer service is quite often seen as the the tail of the dog and kind of found us being pigeon holed in this customer service space and really enjoyed some of the work I was doing leading teams and creating journeys and career paths for my team and and how did you create kind of that structure within an organization. And so it took a bit of a sideways step outside of the Customer Service and Support world and spent four years at Adobe, within their organizational development team in HR, which was a really fascinating and building portion of my career I got to spend time working with I think 13 of the 14 different sub organizations within Adobe at the time and they gave me a really great understanding and exposure beyond the Customer Service and Support world. And really getting a deep into many parts of the organization from legal and procurement through development through marketing, and many others. And so that was a really interesting way of kind of marrying that customer experience with the employee experience and a supercharged way. I got to the end of that period and I’ve missed the customer. As crazy as that sounds, I missed the customer. And that was my first foray into the to provider side and took me to Sutherland and our connection and had the opportunity there working back with Microsoft. So some people I was familiar with, as well as moving into some some other areas of the business. And then the small little food company reached out to me and had this amazing seven year journey experience of bringing this customer service and this employee experience space together at some basket and building and creating a phenomenal customer service team there. And then that came to an end about a year ago. And you talk about connections with people, a friend of mine, who had started his own business, and then sold it on. I reached out and said, Hey, I know you do consulting, what do you have some hours for me as I’m looking for my new position, and we connected and he brought me in and at the end of the first week, he said, No one loves you. Why don’t you just come in and you know, for the next year or so helped me build out the consulting practice here, at arise. And so that was actually the fifth time that he and I have worked together talk about interconnectedness. And, and so yeah, that’s what I’ve been doing, really helping to build a customer engagement consulting practice, and then build out a professional services, set of skills for the company.

Anne B 6:38
What I found very interesting about what you just said, first of all, so many incredible nuggets right there for our, for our listeners, we have listeners from all age groups, and every point in their career. And so I think what has been very interesting about almost all of our guests is that they’ve pointed out the importance of networking. And you just pointed out this somebody throughout the course of your career, you’ve worked with multiple times, and then came to you again, and that networking capacity across the board can come to your benefit and your help. All along your career, whether you’re, you know, down, whether you’re up, no matter what’s going on, you can reach out and say, Hey, guys, I have a question, or I need help. And I think that’s one of the reasons why it’s so important to network horizontally, as well as vertically. And because that individual that you’re talking about, you’ve known them, as you guys have continued to move up throughout your career.

Brett Frazer 7:50
Absolutely. Networking is a huge element, right? There’s especially when you look out there the job market today, right, people are applying for jobs where there’s hundreds, and sometimes even 1000s of applicants. And if you’ve got that connection through a network, either direct or indirect, we can ask somebody who knows somebody potentially to make an introduction, you know, those are ways that you can get ahead of the rest of the people who are and stand out from that masses, and part of a global mentor initiative. And that’s one of the key things that they teach. And they’re focuses on first generation college graduates, and helping them to kind of navigate that pathway from school, to a career where they don’t have a parent or someone who’s kind of ahead of them. And so, really doing that the first part after kind of the introduction is really establishing the importance of LinkedIn and networking, and really being able to create that ability to expand a network or start a network and expand and network over your career. And really utilize that as a way to help, you know, either now or in the future. And it’s, it’s great, not, as you said, not just to hey, I’m looking for a job, but you’re looking at those communities where you can create a network of connection of cooperation, of hey, I’ve got this question, I’d love to bounce off you. So it’s amazing CX networks and discord. The execs in the know, is a fascinating group, and they’ve got a great note all for their members. You know, there’s many other groups on LinkedIn, etc. But great way to both network for opportunities as well as for helping out and what you’re doing. The other piece that I think and this was part of what I taught when I was in organizational audit at Adobe is looking at the career and if you kind of look at mine is not thinking of your career as a ladder, but thinking of your career as a lattice. Because when you think of a ladder, it’s a very narrow focus and it’s a it’s a win or lose, someone else has to lose or step off in order for you to step up. Whereas if you look at a lattice, there’s so many different directions. means that you can take and go on a ladder so you can move across, to move up, you can do move down to go across to move up, you can move across, you can move straight up. And that approach to kind of thinking of your career gives much more of an expensive opportunity approach than just thinking of that traditional ladder. And when we think of the traditional ladder, it’s wider at the bottom, and now we’re at the top. So it creates this real competition cutting edge type of approach to your career versus more of an expensive opportunist approach.

Anne B 10:28
So, as you have been on both sides of the fence here, and you’ve built customer support and service teams, what are your biggest challenges on either side? Are they the same?

Brett Frazer 10:46
I think the biggest challenge on both sides, when you’re looking at kind of two organizations coming together a provider and a client, thinking of kind of this, the brand as the client is really working together to look for where there’s opportunities to partner together to fit a need, I think, you know, coming into from being a support leader, when people would come to me and be open to understand what is it you’re trying to do and having a conversation to really, truly understand where I’m at, and where I’m trying to get to and seeing if there’s a match, those were the types of conversations that I would then generally engage in whether or not it ended up being a deal or not, those were more likely to engage, when someone just came in and said, Hey, we can do this for you. without truly understanding what my needs were, those were things I was less likely to engage in. And so flipping that and coming on to the other side, that’s really especially in consulting, being the you know, that approach of coming in and really looking to seek to understand potential customers, what is it that they’re struggling with? What is it that they’re trying to achieve? And sometimes even starting with, well, what is it doing really well? Right? Because people love talking about what they’re doing, well, their pride, and they took from that aspect, right? And then you can kind of get a good sense of what’s going on, where they’re where their focuses. And then looking to the point of what’s preventing you from being even better than, right, because we all got skills, we were strengths, and we got weaknesses and opportunities, and coming in and trying to figure out well, how are you really good here, that’s great, how can I help you be even better by providing something either directly in that space, which benefits or looking to always a gap, that if I can just get you to a, from a basic to a standard or from some kind of good to a better space, you don’t have to get to best in class and everything. In fact, I think that’s a losing challenge. If it organizations try to be best in class and world class at everything that they do, that’s really hard to sustain, versus picking the two to three things that you’re going to be absolutely great. And then making sure you don’t have gaps that prevent you from being great in those spaces elsewhere. And so coming from that consultative approach, that’s really where my focus was coming in to, to looking at that, I mean, outside of that there’s challenges around budgets and things that are really outside of their control. If you’re like, Well, I really want to do this engagement, I don’t have the money to do so. And, you know, quarterly profit recording, I think, is one of the things that is just as much of a damage to economies as it is supposed to be a benefit to economies because it really prevents some of that long term planning that organizations know that they can do or could do if they didn’t have to meet this kind quarter’s performance, I think quite often, there’s projects that, you know, could be invested for much better long term investment that never get done, because we’ve got this quarter’s number to meet. And I think that’s definitely a challenge to all of us face on both sides of the of the, of the equation.

Anne B 13:53
So as you’re, whether it’s on a client side, whether you’re the the end client, or whether you are on the vendor side, and you’re, you’re providing the Customer Service and Support team, what do you feel like the entire role that customer service and support team is in really in context of the wider organization,

Brett Frazer 14:19
I really see the Customer Service and Support has two primary functions. And you know, as the owner of it within a brand, you’re there to kind of work with your provider to help you to be successful in that space. And so I look at it from a micro perspective and a macro perspective. The micro perspective of the customer service leader and their job, then working with their partner, if they’re working with an outsourced provider, either a front end service provider or a technology provider, is how do you enable that front end staff to provide the optimal situation or solution for the customer that’s in front of them right now? Right? And so that’s where all that investment around quality frameworks, training content, customer assist tools, providing a single screen support experience for your agents, providing their agent experience that’s all around that mic, that micro element of the interaction that’s happening hundreds of times over and over again, every day, from your agents to your customers. It is key to get that right. The macro element is how you then as a leader, identify what are those trends that are happening across those micro interactions, and be able to work that back into the organization to help to identify where changes can be made within the organization that either eliminate the need for that contact in the first place? Or if it can’t be eliminated? How can you enhance that experience when the contact has to happen?

Anne B 15:58
So we’ve, you and I, we’ve been in this business for a minute. And I think that we’ve both been preaching just that message for a very long time. And we’ve heard the same question again. So I’m gonna ask you the question that I know we’ve both gotten. And that is great. So how do you display the front line? Who let’s all face it? If the front line is not there, answering the call, responding to the email doing the chat, if they’re not there, there’s not a business, there’s not customer service, like, but how do those incredibly valuable team members get that information? To whoever to be able to identify the really important trends to be able to say, I’m getting a phone call from the same person, you know, 600 times a day, I think we have a robo dialer that’s calling in and tying at the time, the phone lines, or, you know, we’ve got a problem. And I think that somebody’s phishing and defrauding your customers, like how how does that come together with all of these valuable team members to be able to actually get that data.

Brett Frazer 17:26
So I think there’s a few things that happen that in order to be able to come together, the first element is you’ve got to have a great system that your team is working in that they can easily code, why it is that the customers are contacting. And the key with that easily coded a is making it easy for the agents to do it and very distinct reasons that are understanding the addressable and, you know, we’ve all hopefully seen these, we can have multiple tiers where you have high level code elements, and you’ve got sub levels within them. And sometimes even sub sub levels, right, in order to be able to categorize. There’s great technology out there. And a lot of companies in the space are trying to make that easier through using AI plugins, general AI, etc, to help to do that coding and reduce the effort, the cognitive load on the agents to be able to do that. You also got to be able to really, truly have your agents understand what it is that the customers are doing and what the impact of that is, right. And so I think one of the key things is really establishing not just when you train your agents, not just training them on, here’s the company. And here’s how you support your customers. I think one of the things that I’ve seen that’s been missing, that we ended up putting in place at some basket that made a world of difference in the connections that in the understanding that our agents were having with customers, was training them on how to be a customer, turning them on what the customer experience is, and working in a way that you can actually generate or manufacture an element of empathy for when things go wrong. Can’t fake empathy, but you can actually manufacture it. And the reason why that’s important is because if your people just are okay, here’s a product, and here’s how you support it, and they’re missing the context of what the impact when something goes wrong, then you’re never going to get that connection, the customer is never going to feel that alignment with the agent. And even if the offering that they’re giving is the right offering, it’s sometimes not going to come across as the right offering. And so that context is I think a huge thing to incorporate in your training with your agency is to is to give them that capability of truly understanding what that experience is. And there’s there’s interesting ways that you can work on that experiential piece of being a customer when you do it. If you if you take it on, my recommendation is to build problems in and so that you’re not just sending everyone down the happy customer All right, you’ve got to send some of them down the problem path, so that they can feel and then internalize what that impact is. And then there’s creative ways that you can make that internalization happen. For instance, at some basket, we delivered food to customers, and are outsourced agents that were great. They were nice, they were wonderful people. But there was this disconnect early on between the impact of basket of food showing up and maybe there was a squash that had gone off, or it was missing an apple or something like that. I’m in for our agents,

Anne B 20:37
I just have to stop you there for a second, right, because that’s one, one sentence I never thought that I would ever hear in my entire life is that there was a squash that had gone off. I mean, in my head, I have this vision of a squash just yelling at somebody. So

Brett Frazer 20:57
yes, squash, it had gone bad.

Anne B 21:03
You know, we just have these moments where you’re listening to somebody and you’re like, I know, this is not what they mean. But it’s like a great meme.

Brett Frazer 21:12
English, English English translations wonderful thing. So for them, they could just go down to the corner market and get a replacement for it, they didn’t see what the big problem was. But for a working parent, in a city where it’s a 30 minute drive to the closest grocery store, that was a problem. And so we kind of created an element where they were going to get their basket, and we told them, we’re going to get a gift along with their basket. And, and then for those who ran into a problem, we gave them slightly less of a gift. And so they had an emotional connection to not getting what they expected when this happened. And so that connected to the same emotional connection that a customer had, when they didn’t get the right meal, their basket didn’t show up, they had something that was rotten gone off, or you’re not in their meal. And so there’s ways that you can creatively look to create those connective elements that that then manufacture an empathetic reaction to that situation.

Anne B 22:18
I find this really interesting, because there’s so much talk right now about how AI is going to take our jobs and how AI is going to do this. But I think this is actually a really good situation. And a really good example of how, yes, AI is going to come in, and it is going to have an impact on our life in the world and a lot of jobs. But there are some things that it is not currently able to replace, it cannot empathize. And it’s just we still need that human to be able to understand and listen to and identify human emotion and feelings and then be able to react appropriately to that. And that’s currently not something that AI has the ability to do.

Brett Frazer 23:08
It’s got some really interesting techniques to try and mimic that. But it’s definitely not there in a way that’s that’s truly effective. Today, I was on a webinar recently with Liz Tsai from high operator and we were talking about what do you automate. And when I look at making the decision on what to automate, there are four factors that I look at. One is that it’s got a lot of volume, right? Because there’s no point in trying to automate things that are very low volume. The second one is it’s got to have a repeatable solution to that situation. The third one is that that solution has to have a high acceptance by the customer. And the fourth one is understanding the emotional context of the of the issue that they’re calling about. If you’ve got high volume, a standard solution, and that solution is accepted. If there’s a high emotional context, you don’t want to try and automate it, because that’s when you’re going to start to you know, to create more friction from your customers versus less friction. And so, you know, as you’re looking at that element, I think one piece that is kind of new a lot of people have been looking at the the first three, but that fourth one, I think is not as often considered as it should be, in really making those decisions around what to automate them in where to bring in general AI or or other types of AI because I agree with you, it’s going to happen, there are some amazing things that it can do, there’s going to be things that it will make easier for agents make more seamless for customers in the right context. The second part of your question, right and just like the how do you get the data ready to present out right and that’s that first part is a good system, getting it tag, getting people who truly understand what the impact is so that the information in can be correct because garbage in garbage out right if they don’t have a good solid Understanding, your tagging is bad and your tagging is going to be bad. The second part is how you then set that up with the rest of the organization. The key that allowed me to get this switch at some basket was I stopped talking about customer service data. I started talking about business data.

Anne B 25:19
I started, what’s the difference? Isn’t it all the same?

Brett Frazer 25:22
Difference is this isn’t. So when you talk about customer service data, they look at you to fix it. Right? When you look at business data, here’s the reasons people call them for operations problems. Here’s the reasons people call in to logistics problems. Here’s the people call them because of marketing problems. Here’s the reasons people call them because their digital product problems. When you change that nomenclature, and you start presenting it to them as related to business data to their organization. Suddenly, it, they have to have a stake in the ownership. And the way we did that even further, as we started to do that, as I took all of our case, coatings that we’ve had over the years and internally, we went through the process and kind of made a guess. And we said, we think this is an operations problem. This is a logistics problem. This is a product problems is a marketing problem. I then took that set of data and I went with my leaders and the rest of the organization. And I went through the list with them. And I said, Hey, we think this relates to your business. What do you think? And if they said yes, every time they said yes to it, they would take ownership, right in partnership? And that if they said no. And I’d say Well, who do you think it is, and then we’d have a conversation, I’d have them plus the person they said it was, and we’d figure out where it is. And so by making that change, in presenting the data back to them as his, the number of contacts we had, he was the resolution around those he was the satisfaction around those. And here’s the top drivers that we think that there’s an opportunity to, to solve upstream. Or to be able to improve the experience when it comes down like logistics, once it leaves and goes to a third party logistics company, we can’t control that. But there’s things that we could do to improve the experience, how could we do a better job of working with our logistics providers to get real time information of where a package was? So that we knew upfront that something was going to be delayed? How could we inform our customers proactively, rather than wait for it to occur and wait for the day and an odd show up in the customer help with us. So that was a way that we couldn’t eliminate logistics issues, that we could enhance the outcome. But there were elements and looking at logistics perspectives who could say, hey, this carrier in this line is having a much higher default or problem, right? Is there a different carrier that we can move this line this route, etcetera to. And by doing that, we could eliminate some of those by moving between carriers and really looking at zip code based data, and utilizing that data to make intelligent smart decisions on how our logistics teams then work with our carriers and where they put different packages. Even if there might have been a single slight upfront cost. If we could prove that the long term cost because of the delays or things like that outweighed the difference, then we were able to get them to make decisions that were smart for the business for the entire cost customer experience as well as the entire revenue experience.

Anne B 28:25
Reminds me your story there reminds me of a if I can’t Don’t tell me what I can’t do. Let’s figure out what we can do type of situation, I can almost feel being in that situation and the palpable frustration of okay, I understand, we will just make sure I understand there’s a problem here. Let’s figure out what we can do. Because there is a solution. We just need to figure it out.

Brett Frazer 28:55
And I get sometimes, right? I mean, you might bring an element and say, Hey, this is happening in the digital product and the digital product came in, you look at the cost structure and again over a period of time to make that change and the product versus the cost of supporting, right. But then you also have to look at okay, what is the cost of supporting but then is there a cost of attrition, right, and really be able to work together? I think that’s the piece that revenue teams get so much support from data, data scientists data analytics to be able to create these Monday, amazing models. It’s providing that same type of rigor to look at what’s not just the transactional cost, but what’s the long term relational cost that comes out of these pieces and really applying some of that data science to the long term impact for customer service issues of different types so that you can then bring that back into the ROI model of investing in making this this switch, right, especially if you’re in a subscription model, right. There’s a lot of focus around what’s the cost of acquisition, there’s less focus around what’s the cost of retention? And if you’ve got this,

Anne B 30:06
what a great topic. Yep.

Brett Frazer 30:10
And if you’ve got this element where you’ve got a high churn, then your acquisition costs are going to be more because you’re throwing costs into this leaky bucket. Right? And it’s how do you anticipate how do you truly look at the cost of fix the holes in the bucket before you put more people into it? Right, and really kind of making that true distinction of how do you how do you revenue protect that and cost him that investment from your cost of acquisition? By looking at the smart investments in improving the product through this voice of customer data that you’re getting along the way? And then how do you marry that back with what you’re getting in your general customer satisfaction, or NPS scores with things like that, because your data that you’re getting on the product customers who have a problem, hopefully, as a small subset, you’re going to be able to weigh that out and make predictions of only 30 to 50% of people who experience a problem ever actually reaching out to you to then give you an opportunity to resolve it.

Anne B 31:12
So I’ve talked about cost of, of, you know, acquiring customers, or customer acquisition costs, the CAC on on other episodes, what I haven’t talked about, is what you just brought up, and I would love for you to kind of dig in a little deeper than that, is that cost of retention? Basically, keeping your customers? Because you’re absolutely right, it is more expensive to market and get new customers than it is to retain customers. So how, when you’re sitting there looking at that, how do you identify what the cost to retain your customer is in the long run?

Brett Frazer 31:56
So I think so there’s a number of things you take into consideration with it mean one is you’re looking at what’s your defect rate. And so you got to start with what your defect rate is, then you’ve got to look at what defects lead to attrition versus lead to compensation, or lead to reduced usage rates, etc. And so there’s a there’s an element of really being able to get data in behind what’s happening to be able to make a projection on for this particular customer. What’s the likelihood of them running into a problem? What’s the cost likelihood of that problem going to be? And what’s the impact to the long term revenue of that occurring? And then being able to use that as a way to prioritize back onto? Where are the areas that you focus on preventative? And where are the areas that you focus on in the moment, kind of taking care of it and kind of compensation way of, of moving forward. And II both of those have a degradation on your on your revenue and your profit margin. Because if you’re sending out a product that you’re charging $150 for and you make $50 profit on, that you’re averaging $20 of compensation on every interaction, and suddenly your profit margins only $30. And all your projections on that new revenue are off by 60% or 40%. Right? So it’s really been able to look at that and marry that long term cost into the cost of acquisition into then being able to look at what’s the actual long term value I’m going to get out of this customer and those revenue projections.

Anne B 33:39
There has been, especially over the last few years since the pandemic, you know, is customer service, should it be a cost center? Or should it be a profit center? And curious, what is your perspective on that?

Brett Frazer 33:57
Okay, so I don’t think it should be either. Oh, all right, let’s go. We’ve always kind of had this element of customer service as a cost center, right? And when it’s a cost center, it’s how do you how do you reduce the cost as much as possible? We’ve all been there. We’ve been in those budget meetings, where it’s how many how are you going to cut your costs this year? Right. And that’s such a painful place to be in. Because you’re under pressure, you have to make decisions. And somewhere somewhere down the line, you’re going to have to make a choice, which is going to sacrifice the experience for the customer or the employee and an employee, if you do it for them that’s going to have a relation on impact to the customer. And that’s not a fun place to be in. Right. So last few years is you know, how do you turn into a revenue center or profit center? Not every contact center has the opportunity to do that. Right? Not every content center on every company has the ability for a customer service interaction to be able to lead into an upsell or cross sell. That that can truly show well this is revenue that comes through a profit that comes through the Customer Center, where I believe every customer center customer service and support organization has is to create value for the organization. And so where I focus on is how do you transition from a cost center to a value center. And, and there’s four ways that I think that organizations can bring into a value center. And a few years ago, the the gentleman who was the co founder of Sun basket, reached out to me, he was creating a new organization. And he’s like, Hey, I need some help to set up a Customer Service and Support Team. And I was working with a board, an ex colleague of mine that I’ve worked with at some Microsoft, again, networking, who had the skill set that he needed. And I said, Yeah, I’ll help you. But the first thing you got to let me do is hire someone who’s going to do this on a day to day basis, I can’t run this for your existing organization and set up for this one at the same time. And so we created a framework around that element that led to how do you get to the end of that interaction, that engagement with the customer that you set up so that the organization can create value back into the company. And so happy to start with the back end of that. And then we can talk about the rest of it later. The four areas that I think contact centers have an opportunity to create value back into the organization. The first one is simple, it’s that if there is an opportunity to upsell or cross sell, or in a customer success base to create a renewal opportunity. So that’s that’s the first one. And that’s obvious. That’s where revenue and profit can come into play. There’s two things for that. One is if you’re putting good customer service agents in, and then you’re asking them to be good salespeople, sometimes that’s not a great mix. So then how do you create an enablement that you can get those people who can be good customer service people to have a higher success and likelihood of being able to get that value in the sale. And that’s where the rest of the framework comes into play. We’ll touch back to that later. The other three areas where I truly believe and I know because we did this at some basket that you can bring value back into the organization are at the end of the contact, where you set up the first things right, you know what to ask for an action. What actions that the company knows that if a customer does this action will lead to higher stickability higher profit, higher long term value. And that can be ranges from things like downloading an app. Right? If you know that your customers who interact with you through the app versus the web page are 40% more likely to be a long term, value customer. And you’re able to then push that information to your agent, whether the customers download the app or not. They haven’t. Hey, just while you’re here, our customers who use our app, let us know that I have a much better experience with that company, I noticed that you haven’t done so yet, is that something I can help you with today? Right. And if you can get them to do that, then you’re creating that value for the organization. Your product team, digital product team is in the process of creating a new think of feature and they need customer input, right? They go out and they spend, and they spend money to get these customers to come in and give them feedback around their features. We’ve already got these customers talking to you. Right, you can harvest those customers in the right way to be able to say, hey, and our development team is about to release a new product or a new feature. And they’ve got two final designs they’re working on, they’re looking for insight for customers just like you would you be willing to give 30 minutes of your time to chat with

Anne B 38:46
such an underutilized? Total right there. Right.

Brett Frazer 38:50
So there’s all these different types of actions that a customer can take, that if you’ve got if your marketing team or your product team or you know, is really looking at these things and can identify, if this happens, then they’re more likely to do this, then we can use that customer service call to create a prompt that action and that investment will that cost that you suddenly had for servicing the customer. So many times valuable. So that second one is an ask for action. The third one is ask for information. Similarly to like the development team going out and spending money to get people to look at, look at function. Marketing teams do this all the time, they go out and they do market research that they’re paying for to get information from customers on this. Would you like this? So would you like that? Right? Same type of thing you could in this. And thanks for your time. Good. I’m glad we got that sorted out just while we’re chatting here. Our marketing team is really interested about to do something new and they learn to sit down and understand information from customers like you on whether this or that would be preferable. If you had the choice, what would you take and you set that up in your CRM so you can then feed Get back into your marketing team every week, or your product team or your development team, whomever it is, that’s going out there. Now, that’s not going to stop them from going out and getting information from elsewhere. But it can reduce the cost that they’re having to spend, right, because all of a sudden, you’re giving them your, you know, from your hundreds or 1000s of contacts, you’re bringing five or 10% of those is going to make an impact. The last ask is for awareness. Right. And this again, quite often for supporting marketing teams, hey, I know you don’t always open the emails you get from us either. And I always open the email to get from us to something really special that’s coming out in the next email. And I highly encourage you to look at it your marketing team spends a lot of investment and getting this information out there. How can you help to increase the open rates, we did this at some basket, we increase the open rates by 40% 40%.

We did an AV test on customers that we targeted a group of customers we targeted versus customers that we didn’t. And in that group those when we just asked that one question at the end of it, we saw a 40% increase in open rates. So those are the four areas that I think that every customer service has the opportunity, or at least three of them, if you don’t have that revenue opportunity. So at least three ways that you can create value from your contact center back into the organization, I

Anne B 41:22
happen to know that you and an ex colleague from Microsoft, you co created this customer engagement framework that aligns with the value centered philosophy that you were talking about earlier. I would really love it, if you are, are open to it, if you would share more about that framework with our audience. Absolutely.

Brett Frazer 41:48
So first of all, I kind of mentioned earlier, Adam DEVAR, who was the co founder of Sun basket, were the founder of Sun basket, he created a a new company, a FinTech company called Hamsa. Hunter pay at the time. And so he was looking to create this customer success organization. And so I reached out to an ex colleague of mine by the name of John who, John and I work together at Microsoft and actually did an assignment in Shanghai. And the company Hamzah pay was set up to work between companies in China and the rest of the world to work on a payment system, like the Pay Pal for business was the concept. And so he had the knowledge skill set, from being in customer success, after we kind of finished our time and Shanghai state and the customer service side of things, he moved into customer success, and had done a lot of work in that space. And he had this he’s got this amazing ability to create energy. And he also had, you know, has Chinese language, he’s originally from Taiwan. And so he had all these structure and being able to be able to set up the success and be able to bring the cultural alignment, the language capability, the customer success, aspect, etc. And I’ve been playing around with this framework a little bit at some basket. But this gave us an opportunity to really sandbox and work and kind of flush this out and create this element for it. And so what we ended up creating was called the five A’s of successful customer engagement. And the philosophy was kind of looking at what had been happening in the customer service world over the past years, with really this cost center focus. And, you know, I gotta be honest, I was part of it. I remember back in the days at Microsoft, we started doing time and motion studies, right, and when which the time and motion study is you basically look at a process from end to end. And the idea of it is to try to figure out, well, what’s wasted time, right? And where can we remove time and reduce the handle time, in this case, in a customer site contact that, you know, kind of gotten rid of all the fluffy stuff and moved on. And, and the problem with those types of things is, is it’s done from this logic mindset. Right? And so it’s a, if this happens logically, what’s the next thing that’s needed in order to move process down? And so what I found through doing that is most organizations who kind of focus their intent in our purposes, to assist the customer. And if we’ve got this upsell or cross sell vendor, ask them for something. Right? So there’s really two ways that we’re going on. And what I’ve realized and kind of experienced through my time at Microsoft and Adobe, and working with Sutherland with still with Microsoft and with Postmates. And then at some basket was back to that point we talked about earlier of empathy and emotion. A lot of times when customers come into a problem, they’re not in a logic state. They’re in an emotive state. And if you start to go directly into a logic, then you’re going to lose it. So we’ve all experienced the situation. Cool, and you get through to a customer service representative. Someone like me and say hi, and this is Brett, how can I help you today? And you say, Brett, this is my problem. This is the impact. This is what’s happened. This is the frustration. This is how I want it solved. Right? And can I have your email address please?

Anne B 45:14
Hello, I just shared a problem with you.

Brett Frazer 45:16
Exactly right, one or two.

Anne B 45:20
Me as a human. Exactly.

Brett Frazer 45:22
Right. But you’ve experienced that we’ve all probably on that, you know that everyone listening has probably experienced that situation. And that’s also the other piece is they ask for your email address your account number. And sometimes you’ve already entered that in the phone. Right. So that’s what makes it even worse. If you get that situation, you’ve had to give your information and then you’re asked for that again. But logically, that is the next best thing that an agent needs in order to be able to move you on. But the customer is not in a logic space. So one or two things generally happens at that point, that step to go from, what’s your problem to give me information was intended to reduce the handle time. But one of two things generally happens either, like you said, No, wait a minute, Brett, you didn’t hear me. And you retell your story with more information, more more emotion. Or you begrudgingly give me your email address, but you emotionally distance yourself further away from me, I knew this was going to be a hassle, it’s just been confirmed, this is going to be a hassle. This is going to be a fight, no matter what I asked for, it’s not going to be what I want. And so it starts to distance and it goes against what customer service is, therefore, which is creating good experiences in a way that helps the company in the long term. Right. So that doesn’t help the customer in the long term. So the first step, first a in this step is acknowledgement. Right? It’s a knowledge thing, you acknowledging you as who you are as a customer in relation to the company, acknowledging the problem, and that that problem is a problem to you. What many of us have pet peeves and pet peeve? phrases in the customer service? Well, what’s what’s your pet peeve phrase that you hear when in customer service interactions?

Anne B 47:05
My pet peeve in customer service situations is probably when they put you on hold and keep coming back to you. And they’re like, it’ll be just a minute, and then it’s like, 10 minutes. I’ll be right back. I’ll be right back. Yeah, like, just tell me, just tell me,

Brett Frazer 47:25
it’s gonna take 10 to 15 minutes gonna take 10

Anne B 47:27
minutes to can you call me back, I’m okay with as long as it takes. But don’t tell me you’re going to be back in 60 seconds, and then be back in 20. Because then I feel like you’ve forgotten about me, and went and took a lunch break and extra lunch break. And, you know, are just like sitting there. Which is probably not true, you’re probably stressing completely, because you know that I’m getting irate and upset, your age T is going off rail, and you’re afraid you’re gonna lose your job. While at the same time, I just want to know somebody’s still there.

Brett Frazer 48:05
I get that one as well. One of the other ones is at the end of the contact, especially if they haven’t given you help. Is there anything else I can help you with today?

Anne B 48:13
I’ve got another one. You’re gonna get a survey. Can you give it a five? Like, fight telling me I’m gonna get a survey? Yeah, but I hate it. My

Brett Frazer 48:28
pet peeve. And I totally understand why people say my pet peeve is in that moment in that you’ve just told me what’s going on? Right? What’s happened to you? My pet peeve phrase is not a problem. Because what a minute, if it wasn’t a problem, you wouldn’t be talking to me in the first place. Right? So that not a problem while the intent is to give assurance and to give him an element of credibility or that I’m here actually can have the exact opposite effect by just disregarding and discrediting everything that you’ve talked about talked about. And so that element of acknowledging you acknowledging who you are as a company, or customer to the company, and acknowledging the problem, on to you is clear. And that’s what that acknowledgment phases, and it can be quick, it can be easy. And as a new customer, I can totally understand why not having this occur. As you expect it is frustrating, and I can hear that today. I’m here to help. Right? I’m here to help can be a number of different ways to bridge into the next piece. So that first one is is acknowledge. The second step is align and align it has got a few different elements to it. The first one is you want to make sure that you’re truly aligning on what is occurred because sometimes they don’t give you enough information or what you need in order to understand and so that gives an opportunity to just ask a couple of questions. I can understand why that’s frustrating to you. And as a couple of questions, I just love to ask just to make sure that I’m fully have all the picture here before we start talking have fought. Right. So that’s one way that you can do on the line, it gives you the opportunity to go into questions. The second is if you’ve given me the solution that you want, upfront, and I ignore that, and then I come with my solution and the assist stage, and it’s not what you asked for, you’re going to wait and say, Wait a minute, no, I asked for this. That alignment stage gives you the opportunity to do one of two things to see that gives you opportunity to say, I can understand your frustration, and I heard that you said you want to get a refund, if you’re able to do it, that’s, that’s likely some I’m absolutely going to be able to help you out with today. Right, if you know that that’s a path you can do. If it’s something you know you can’t do, then you try to realign on what the actual outcome is, rather than the path because customers will quite often come to us with solutions that are just a path where there’s an actual better outcome. Right. So if I know that the outcome is that you want to get power of your spending money quicker, and you’re on a subscription, and your next billing cycle is tomorrow. And so and I know you said you wanted a refund, I may not be able to give you a refund today, but I can absolutely give you a credit. And I see your next bill is due tomorrow. And that gives you your purchasing power back even quicker than if I was going to be able to give you a refund, because that takes three to five days, can we talk about how that credit works? Right, you’re realigning towards what the outcome is that they’re looking for, rather than the path to get there. Right. And so those first two steps are going to set up for once you get to the assist, if you do those first two steps really well, then the customer is more likely to be happy with the solution that you give them.

Anne B 51:33
So acknowledge and align. And already you’re seeing an improvement already. Now, after those,

Brett Frazer 51:42
yeah, the acknowledged piece really comes into satisfaction, what you’re creating that connection with humans, the Align piece kind of relates to effort, right. And it also sets up if your capability to be more likely to have an inc higher resolution. So three KPIs and the first three, customer satisfaction and customer effort. And first and resolution. From me, you go on to assist, and we all go to the steps that don’t need to go into that. But now you’re generally setting your agent up for a better chance to provide the right situation or assist, because they’ve truly acknowledged the other line, they know what it is, they’re looking at outcome rather than the path. So

Anne B 52:21
you’re basically with assist, you’re changing the way that they assist in how they’re looking at the assistance. Absolutely. Now,

Brett Frazer 52:28
if you stop there, you’re a great cost center. But you’re also leaving value on the table. Now many companies that I’ve seen or experienced in the past with this assistant asked focus, if they’ve got an upsell or cross sell is you’ve just solved that problem. And now I say, Oh, and by the way, well, I’ve got you did you know that we also have x, right. And they’re trying to now get something back from they’re trying to sell you a new product, and upsell or cross sell. Now if you’ve got an amazing salesperson, great, that can work, but that to the point we talked about earlier, you’re most likely hiring people because they’re great customer service people. And selling isn’t an easy thing for them to do. So you want to set it up for them to success in a way that makes that ask easy. In the way that you do that as you bridge between the assist and the ask, with advice. I’ve now just solved the problem for you. I’m in a situation where I can give you something that you weren’t expecting. Right. And there’s ways you can do that you can look at your organization, you’re looking at your customer flow, you can look at what you know what you know about customers. If a customer has this problem, 30% of the time, they have this problem next, and you can set up and say and just to let you know, before we go today, sometimes about 30% of the time a customer has had that problem we’ve just fixed for you actually goes on to experience this other problem, I’d love to give you a little bit of insight. So you don’t experience that. It’s good for the customer. It’s also good for you because you’re suddenly saving you’re diverting that cost. If you can see that there haven’t used a particular function like the customers bought a product, and they’re only using 20% of the product. Hey, by the way, I just let you know that there’s some really cool features that we see that you know, that I noticed that you haven’t used yet. Right? Are you aware of those? Right? It could be an offering, like, with some basket, we saw breakfasts where we saw different things from a different part. And if I could see their customer ordered that I could talk about that and potentially expose that in something that they weren’t aware of, or give them some insight and that could be valuable for them. But it also could lead to a sale and we value the company without even putting that mask into every context and it has an opportunity to really if you dig into this and really look at your structure, look to understand those things about where your customer is in their lifecycle. What are things that are valuable and advice that you can give them the lifecycle. Then you can look at how do you prop that up. And this is where it becomes interesting is how the name this is a great use from technology and AI. How can you use the system data to be able to push a suggest general recommendation to your agent to give him that moment that’s contextual. So that advice, then sets you up for the ask you can do the whole first are those four? Right? If you get to the advice stage and they’re still in a negative sentiment, don’t push your agents to ask. Right? There’s 100%, you have to ask them every call, or your QA is gonna go down. Now

Anne B 55:23
that’s the end there, therein lies my pet peeve, right. Like, don’t don’t do the ask. Yeah.

Brett Frazer 55:31
So the ask is when you’ve got the sentiment, right, and again, you know, there’s some amazing tools out there that are real time looking at sentiment. And they can give you that really that thumbs up and say, Hey, your customers in a positive mood, and we’ve got an invalid or irrelevant ask, go ahead and ask this question. Or, you know, Hey, you did a good job. But your customer is not open for an ask right now, go ahead and end the call. Right, and that real time system, copilots, whatever you want to call them, can be amazing functionality and tools that that prompt and give your agent, that ability to be able to flex contextually in the moment,

Anne B 56:06
Brett, for those individuals that are wanting to get to grow their career and customer service, because you’ve been in customer service a long time. And you’ve worked your way up, right? Like, what is your advice to these individuals? Because the last 20 years, you and I have watched it change dramatically. So what is your advice to that individual that is listening right now? Go ahead, and I’m going to give the floor to you to talk directly to them, what is your advice to them over the course of their career, things that they can should maybe even shouldn’t do, to continue their journey in the growth of their career in customer service.

Brett Frazer 56:49
So there’s, there’s two things that I’m going to suggest one is find a portion of the job that’s different from what you’re doing today that you’re passionate about. And get curious ask for the ability to get assigned, look for the ability to, you know, to be involved in those types of things. You know, as a frontline agent, you know, my first opportunities were being able to help from a quality assurance perspective, right. And Microsoft had this wonderful thing of giving acting jobs, I should have had a Screen Actors Guild card, I had like six different acting jobs in my career at Microsoft, my each one of those gave me an opportunity to kind of step beyond what I was doing. I didn’t actually get paid extra at the time, but it gave me the experience to them. When that opportunity opened up, I was the first candidate to be able to do it. So you know, find out what you’re interested in, you know, there’s a huge amount of areas within customer service from being a lead. So being able to be a mentor for other customer service agents and escalation agent. And being able to be in the quality team being able to be in the training team being in the Tools team in the recording team. Workforce Management, find an element that just is kind of akin to something you want to be interested in, do your own research, go out there, LinkedIn learnings, got some fantastic courses, Coursera, Udemy, all these types of places, find some areas, show that initiative, bring it back into your management team and talk to them about hey, this is what I’m interested in. This is what I’ve learned by myself, I’d love to be able to give an opportunity to bring this into the business, right and see where and how I can help. Even if it’s just for a project, right, I’d love to get that experience and that exposure. The second element is find another part of the organization that fascinates you, and learn about that part of the organization. Again, reach out, see if there’s things you can learn from from them, find them, you know, somebody even at a peer level that you can talk with and see what’s going on, see what’s interesting or important. Because if you can bring information, create bridges that can help those relationships between the organization that’s going to make you valuable, it’s also going to expand your awareness of what the impact is of what you’re doing in customer service into those other parts of the business. So that would be my two recommendations.

Anne B 59:07
Excellent. And I know that you have an event coming up in November, I’m not sure who exactly it’s targeted to but I’m gonna give you a moment here to to tell me who, you know, why would somebody want to reach out to you? How could they reach out to you? And maybe tell everybody a little bit about that event?

Brett Frazer 59:30
Absolutely. So I’m in the process of taking that framework that we talked about the five A’s and building a book, I’ve made some really good progress on the book. So far. What I’m in the process of doing is working with organizations to be able to get some case studies, not necessarily about putting the entire framework in place, unless someone’s really interested in doing that happy to work through that. But really looking and taking a deeper dive into the five A’s framework with a number of of organizations together and really through the element of being able to get some feedback count what resonates, what doesn’t, what potentially, we should look out to adjust as we present this, but also an ability for an organization to take a portion of the framework and go back and apply it in their business make a small little change in the organization or the way that they do business. And over a 12 week period, record those KPIs that are related to the framework, and just see what that impact is, and the opportunity to bring that back in as an explanatory case study into the into the book that we’re creating. So if you’re interested in being part of that, it’s I’m going to have one potentially too, limiting it to eight participants, because you get beyond that, and it’s really hard to collaborate. But we’ll be limited to about eight participants. So if you’re interested in being part of that, the first one I’m targeting for November, the ninth, feel free to reach out to me on LinkedIn, and a team will magically, LinkedIn through the below, I’d be happy to get you the details and, and discuss that further with you. Or if you just want to set up a one on one talking about the framework. And if you have interested in that, or just connecting and chat about this wonderful industry of customer and employee experience that we’re upon.

Anne B 1:01:13
Absolutely. And I would encourage anyone else that is looking to grow their career as as Brett said earlier, he is a member of several mentorship groups. He I’ve known many people that have reached out to him just to talk, introduce themselves. He’s a friendly fellow people kind of like him a little bit. So just go ahead and reach out to him and let him know that you saw him on unexpected journey. And that you want to chat about what he said today. And I’m pretty sure he’ll he’ll say hello back. So also when his book comes out, mentioned unexpected journey, and maybe he’ll send you a signed copy. Who knows? Who knows? Brett, thank you so much for being here today. I can’t wait to talk to you again next year after the book is out and really go into deep dive about how it went the rest of the process and and that you’ve probably a number one best seller by then.

Brett Frazer 1:02:17
Thank you very much. And yeah, we’ll talk about the Unexpected Journey of the book at that point.

Anne B 1:02:22
Sounds good. Thanks, everybody. See you again next week. As we wrap up the episode, we would like to take this time to thank you for joining us this week on unexpected journey. Our guest information will be linked in the episode description along with a link to our hosts website, and and our sponsors websites, remote, ethos, and your Please don’t forget to like, subscribe and share on your favorite podcast app and on our YouTube channel so that you never miss an episode and we can continue to bring them to you. Let us know your thoughts on what we discussed in the comment section. And once again, thanks for joining us. We hope to see you again next time on Unexpected Journey

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