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In this episode of the Customer Service Secrets Podcast, Gabe Larsen meets with Randall King from Conduent to teach new CX leaders how to navigate large-scale transformation. Randall’s key to this is continuous learning and adjusting throughout the entire lifespan of the company. Tune in to the full podcast to learn more.
Managing for Results
It can be extremely overwhelming for new CX leaders to manage and lead for long-term success, especially when the ways of the company already seem set in stone. For Randall, it’s imperative that their company is constantly changing and developing new ideas for growth. He tells his team, “Perfection is the enemy of done, and it’s hard to turn a ship that’s not moving.” It’s a CX leader’s job to manage in a way that inspires their team to produce excellent results for both the company and the customer. To do this, Randall suggests not to procrastinate, but to start making necessary changes where needed. “Course correct as you go.” If a company isn’t constantly moving in the upward direction, how can it possibly excel among the competition? The answer is that it can’t. When the company’s doing well and leaders have implemented change, solid routines, and an upbeat environment, it inspires agents to produce better outcomes because they get excited and want to achieve the best results.
Effectively Doing More with Less
Adding value throughout the lifetime of the consumer-brand relationship is essential for As Randall says, doing less with less isn’t true transformation. True transformation happens when leaders are creative and can do more with less, by using talent where found and expounding on new opportunities for growth. To be successful in this mindset, Randall suggests having team meetings often so everyone’s on the same page and all have the information they need to effectively do their jobs.
Managers would be wise to walk a mile in their team’s shoes and the customer’s shoes to get a better scope on how they interact with the company. Doing so identifies areas that need improvement and builds a sense of empathy for both team and customer. For Randall, balance is so important for being an effective leader:
In the grand scheme of things, what matters most? One, that your team’s safe, that they’re motivated and happy and they’re recognized. And that for yourself, that you’re taking the time out of your day to make sure you recognize what matters most.
Leading in a way that encourages a creative environment and finding a good customer, employee, and work balance can really push your team to peak performance.
Emerging Opportunities in CX
As the world is constantly changing, so should your business. New opportunities are always emerging, particularly as the world is enduring a global pandemic. The pandemic has allowed companies to change how they operate and perform with things like working from home, different delivery methods, etc. More employees are working from home and companies, CX-based in particular, are having great success with this. Work from home has broadened the hiring lens on such a huge scale because leaders no longer have to hire locally – they can hire people in different countries who speak other languages and understand specific cultural differences. Taking advantage of opportunities like these is certainly the best way to keep up with the modern customer.
When shopping for any type of new technology, especially a CRM, Jarvis goes back to pen and “The scalability of your cloud solutions and the capabilities, the ability to recruit good talent from anywhere, and perhaps you have seasonality in your business, this has been a real boom to the CX business.”
To learn more about handling transformation like a pro, check out the Customer Service Secrets podcast episode below, and be sure to subscribe for new episodes each Thursday.
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Full Episode Transcript:
Transforming the Customer Experience One Person at a Time with Randall King
Intro Voice: (00:04)
You’re listening to the Customer Service Secrets Podcast by Kustomer.
Gabe Larsen: (00:11)
Welcome everybody to today’s Friday’s LinkedIn Live. We’re excited to get rocking and rolling. You’ve got your host here, Gabe Larsen, and we do have another special guest joining us today, Randall King, who is Group President, Customer Experience Management at Conduent. So Randall, thanks for joining and how are you?
Randall King: (00:32)
I’m doing great, Gabe. Thanks for having me on the show. Really appreciate it.
Gabe Larsen: (00:38)
Yeah, we’ve been chasing down Randall for a little while, but we finally cornered him. Very excited, he’s got a great background. Great experience. Maybe let’s dive into that just to start. Can you tell us just a little bit about your background and what you do over there at Conduent?
Randall King: (00:52)
Well, many, many years, so many years, I won’t even tell you, but many years in operations across most of the industries and today I am the Group President of our Customer Experience Management Solutions for Conduent, which is global, where we have over 35,000 employees who are helping clients and their customers be successful with customer experience. And we’re very excited. It’s a great time.
Gabe Larsen: (01:25)
Yeah. I mean 35,000, that’s nuts. It’s getting up there. That’s definitely a big number. Obviously very busy at work doing what you do. Outside of work, find any time for hobbies, any fun that you can actually find time for?
Randall King: (01:41)
Well, I think you can probably see one of my guitars sliding into the picture here. Yeah. I love to, every chance we get, I’m in a band and we’re not going to have a hit record anytime soon, but we love to gig around the Charlotte area, which is where I’m located, and just have a good time playing and it’s a great stress reliever.
Gabe Larsen: (02:03)
So actually, you do some gigs. You actually get out and do some shows.
Randall King: (02:09)
Yeah. We’ll put it out on the links for the next one out.
Gabe Larsen: (02:14)
I think that’s right. I’m tempted to switch and talk and actually play the video, but maybe we’ll do that next time. I think I had mentioned before, I’ve got my two older boys doing guitar lessons.
Randall King: (02:25)
Gabe Larsen: (02:26)
Something I wish I would have done as a kid, but it’s been fun to kind of do a little bit of jamming if you will, with them.
Randall King: (02:32)
It’s never too late, Gabe.
Gabe Larsen: (02:34)
Randall King: (02:35)
Life-long learners. Right.
Gabe Larsen: (02:37)
I think you have to. Well, let’s dive into the topic at hand. I mean, one of the things I wanted to maybe start with you, Randall, was just, you’ve done so much in customer experience. You’ve seen the movie, so to say, so many times, I think there’s a lot of listeners out there who are starting probably the journey that you’ve been on for a little while now. I’m curious if you went back to that 25 year old self who was trying to kind of get their bearings straight, figure things out, words like transformation, work, things you’ve done, there were things you were wanting to do. What do you think you’d tell that 25 year old?
Randall King: (03:16)
That is such a good question. There are so many things we could probably spend hours on that, but a couple of things that would come to mind, especially related to transforming or doing great things at a company. Number one is, and I tell my team this all the time, perfection is the enemy of done, and it’s hard to turn a ship that’s not moving. Right. So in my career, I’ve had so much more success if you just get underway. And of course, things like agile methodology has really helped with that with sprints, just get out there and get going, course-correct as you go, you’ll learn, you’ll get better. And as you have progress, people get excited, and then they want to achieve more. And before you know it, you’re really driving out some great results.
Gabe Larsen: (04:04)
Yeah. It does seem like, that word. What was that line you said? Can you say that one more time? Perfection –
Randall King: (04:12)
Is the enemy of done. Yeah. Analysis paralysis. [Inaudible] the problem is way too long versus just start improving, get out there, and start getting points on the board.
Gabe Larsen: (04:24)
Yeah. I feel like I’m, I mean, I was actually talking, chatting with someone this morning, actually on my own team. Yeah. I think that we get stuck there. It’s like, I want other people to be so good and it’s like, look, not everybody is great or not everything is working perfectly, but rather than kind of dwell on that, what is the best way we can manage around that and find ways to iterate slowly to obviously [inaudible]? I like that one. So that would be point one. Does anything else come to mind?
Randall King: (04:50)
Well, from a management standpoint or just doing work, especially large-scale work that your management routines, your structure can make all the difference. You can have a great team, but not have great routines to manage by and really get suboptimal results. So I do see teams take that for granted in my experience, and if you’re really managing for results, having great routines with your technology, teammates, HR, finance, et cetera, can make all the difference in a great implementation or a great transformation and those that don’t hit the mark.
Gabe Larsen: (05:29)
Yeah. And these are the different ways of communication, huddles, governance structures, that type of stuff, is that correct?
Randall King: (05:37)
Absolutely. And taking a little time to figure out how you need to spend your time. And what’s most important to ensure that you’re focused on the priorities that matter most is one of those important things you can do and ensuring that you have the routines in place when things aren’t going well, that you can hear it early because the good news is great, but bad news does not get better over time. So the sooner you can engage and course correct, the better, right?
Gabe Larsen: (06:04)
Absolutely. I’m thinking of another phrase, your perfection phrase is now making me think of phrases. Somebody once said the people only respect what you inspect, right? Something like that. And I think if you can find those routines and find a way to get organized around it, you don’t get sideswiped. And there’s nothing worse in business than being surprised. Bad surprises. The ones that you’re like, oh my goodness. If I only had a routine to catch that, or if I would have been doing a monthly catch-up with HR, I would have known we were behind on hiring or whatever the problem might be. Have you found that in your role, I mean, there must be so many of those types of routines you need to prioritize? How do you think about priority around stuff like that?
Randall King: (06:54)
Yeah. We actually sit down at least once a quarter, but lately more than that, just given our environment and we review our routines at least monthly lately to make sure that based on what is going on in our business, that we are spending our time correctly. So we are constantly kicking the tires. And by the way, talking to my teammates, my DRS, and theirs about how are things working and getting feedback, because you want to make sure that decisions aren’t being delayed, people are getting what they need and they’re getting the information and context that they need to do their job. So it’s a closed-loop cycle that we do at a minimum quarterly, but most often monthly.
Gabe Larsen: (07:40)
Yeah. I like that. I mean, if you go any longer than that with the amount of change we’re having, it’s kind of like, I felt like, I talk to them once a quarter, but it feels like it’s been a year sometimes. Okay. So you’ve got routines, you’ve got perfection, watch out for too much. Where would you go for number three?
Randall King: (08:00)
Oh, for number three has got to be about balance. When I think about, probably for yourself, you probably have two phones, probably, maybe a couple of iPads, you’ve got a laptop, maybe a desktop.
Gabe Larsen: (08:14)
How do you know so much about me? This is getting creepy.
Randall King: (08:18)
And it’s so true for many. And if you don’t keep your perspective, if you don’t stay balanced, you can get overwhelmed more easily now than I guess, ever with the total connectivity all the time. So I always try to remind myself, especially when you’re in the heat of things, maybe it’s a big conversion or transformation, keep time for yourself because your best self is one that’s balanced and otherwise you become over-reactive or maybe a little too passionate about something. And in the grand scheme of things, what matters most? One, that your team’s safe, that they’re motivated and happy and they’re recognized. And that for yourself, that you’re taking the time out of your day to make sure you recognize what matters most, whether it’s taking a little time with your kids or playing some guitar, hitting a few golf balls, maybe early in the morning, so –
Gabe Larsen: (09:21)
For workaholics like myself who have zero balance in life, any advice on what is it, I mean, it’s just a choice. It’s, I mean, it sounds like you’ve got like the guitar, the band thing, about finding a passion that you actually want. Any words of wisdom for those of us who sorely are very poor at this type of topic?
Randall King: (09:47)
Well, guess what? It all comes back to me around routines. If you actually have the habit built into your calendar, like my team knows between this time if it’s an emergency, I understand, but these are times that are set for me and making sure that I stay focused on other things.
Gabe Larsen: (10:08)
I like that. Yeah, I like that. All right. Well, I appreciate the, again, with the fun and I think illustrious career you’ve had, I think those are wise lessons for those of us and I include myself in that, who are looking to kind of take the same path. Let’s go over to a little more of the CX type of stuff. I love this word, transformation. I think you guys help in your world and your business to help facilitate transformation. You actually run different organizations and companies through transformation. Lessons learned from that, the good, the bad, the ugly that maybe you have experienced.
Randall King: (10:41)
Well, you want to start with the good, let’s start with the good.
Gabe Larsen: (10:44)
Let’s go good first. It’s always good to start with the good.
Randall King: (10:48)
One of the things that really get me excited, when you have the chance to create a new legacy or a new fingerprint to help shape the future to come for some time, it’s really exciting. And then you get these exciting tools. We have RPA and AI and all these great things, but there’s something that must be fundamental in my opinion, to every transformation or change. And that is that you must truly understand how things work. And it’s amazing to me, even for, we’ve had managers that have been enrolled for 20 years or more, but when you really scratch at it and say, “How is the work flowing? What does a customer experience? How does it work? Explain it to me.” And sometimes they struggle. So the very first thing for me that’s good in a transformation is really a chance to back and walk the mile that is your customer.
Randall King: (11:58)
That’s why I’m a big fan of journey mapping. Customer and client journeys are huge wake-up calls when you actually walk that, and I haven’t seen once that we’ve done it, that we didn’t learn and have an epiphany. More doing it on the agent side, on the employee side and you see how they have to do it. So either if you don’t do those things, you end up automating a bad process, which is now maybe even a worse process or you’re spending valuable investment dollars on something that’s truly not going to make a difference when you might find that a policy or a procedure that hasn’t been looked at in 10 years is now no longer relevant. And so there are a lot of easy to me, easy changes that come out, that you can make quick differences and get that momentum and progress we were talking about. And then really challenge the status quo once you really understand what the work results in a client or an agent experience.
Gabe Larsen: (13:01)
Yeah. I liked that, that sometimes there is that low-hanging fruit and the journey map can be so, so powerful. It does seem like we’re often turning to technology very quickly and that can be powerful, but wise words in that. It does almost like a bad process with technology overlaid, does make it [inaudible] process actually. So I’ve lived that one so I can be a witness of it. Okay. So that’s a little bit on the good, where would you go say for the bad and the ugly?
Randall King: (13:30)
All right. Let’s hit the bad and I’ll bridge it from the first one. I once had a leader say to me, very dapper individual. And I was talking to him and he said, “Randall,” I asked him about his job and how things were going. He goes, “Randall. My job is to lead people. I don’t have to understand the work. That’s their responsibility. My job is to lead them.” Do you know what happened? I don’t even have to tell you what happened over the medium term there or short term. I think what’s worse is when you don’t understand the work, that’s a dangerous position for managers. And when you think about the change that’s being built on processes that are not quality, then you’re not going to have sustainable gains and you fool yourself.
Randall King: (14:26)
Just reducing headcount, that’s not transformation. Taking advantage of lower volumes, that’s not transformation. True transformation must be built on truly understanding the work that is being presented to an employee or to a customer and revising that in a way that it actually shapes a better outcome. First of all, for the customer, right? It’s doing more. And if you are going to get efficiencies, it has to be not doing less with less, is doing more with less, and being effective with that. So I think about the pandemic and there are a lot of things and people moving fast and a lot of that created to me, a new paradigm of people finding out how quickly they can move when push comes to shove and creating new capabilities that help customers do there, do or manage their life and that actually ends up being a great outcome for the employees.
Gabe Larsen: (15:31)
Yeah. Yeah. I like how you spun that a little bit. It does seem like we made, we all had to make some tough choices, but that did push us. We were, it stressed our muscles during the pandemic. And I think we did find that we can probably move faster and that would be wise if we could take that forward throughout probably this, quote-unquote, post that then done I think.
Randall King: (15:54)
If you’re doing a transformation every two years, you’ve probably done something wrong, right? I mean, it’s by nature. You need to get at the heart of it to create a journey that lasts.
Gabe Larsen: (16:08)
That’s fair. That’s absolutely right. Then I’m interested. Where do you, did you have an ugly? Where do you go with that one?
Randall King: (16:14)
For me, and this is something I’ve been through multiple times, even when you have a great plan, the culture and communication that surrounds that change can undo or help accelerate or give effort. So you’ve all heard the term do it with me, not to me, but when you’re doing work, it can be very concerning for a lot of the constituents. So what does this mean for me at the end of this? Will I have a job? Do I not? Will my job change? How will it change? And I think companies that do this well from the outset, talk about what is in it for the organization and how that will translate. So maybe you’re going to add automation. Maybe you’re going to be able to lean out some things, but that allows you to redeploy that capacity to drive higher-value work for the client that creates higher value opportunities and maybe higher complexity needs for the organization that you train up for, and they end up with higher-paying jobs as a result. So as long as organizations have a good life learning, kind of a long-term life learning mindset, I think employees can grow with the company through a transformation and having an entire organization pulling for you and helping you challenge the status quo and come up with great ideas or give you feedback is essential to delivering it. But when it does not happen, you can find things falling apart really quickly.
Gabe Larsen: (18:00)
Yeah. It seems like now more than ever, people want to be part of it, they want to feel like they’re part of jt, they want to understand more. You hear that line sometimes. It’s not what you do, it’s why you do it. And it’s a harder thing to explain, but I think if you don’t bring those people along in that transformation journey, it can get pretty ugly, pretty fast.
Randall King: (18:19)
And one of our last transformations, Gabe, I didn’t even have, we actually were so mindful of making sure we have every, from frontline to middle-management up engaged, but also generational views. Make sure we have millennials in here. Make sure we have the right lenses that help us as part of the team create this, and then you get the buy-in and that perspective is so advantageous when you’re looking to drive.
Gabe Larsen: (18:45)
I don’t know if it’s even possible to go without them, it’s like a leader isn’t a leader if there are no followers. I want to get one more thing before I let you get back to your day job. A lot of stuff going on in this space. A lot of interesting things in CX in general, we talked a little bit about the pandemic. I think it put pressure on this space to really drive that as a differentiator. I think we’ve always said CX could be a differentiator. I think in a lot of ways that now really is. Things that are exciting to you, trends you’re seeing in the market. Does anything come to mind in that space?
Randall King: (19:18)
Oh, for sure. And you took the words right out of my mouth. CX is a differentiator and we’re seeing it time and time again, especially even more so I guess, through the pandemic. But there are three big things I see, and I’m sure there’s more, but number one, game change is cloud. When you look at scalability and what’s going on with a cloud, like a contact center as a service or experience as a service, I think of my days when we were implementing like a new IVR or a new CTI and all of the things desktops, how complex that was with on-premise solutions. Now, it’s about connecting to a wide array of solutions that is there waiting on you. Now, and as a result, there’s so much great innovation going into a space that allows companies to innovate and add new capabilities regularly to a cloud solution that you just tap into. And by the way, if you’re a small business or middle-market, that was, getting at those capabilities were probably difficult from a capital expense standpoint and getting all that implemented for say, maybe 10 head counter or a hundred, but now with the cloud capability, whether it’s 10 or 10 thousand, it’s there. And I think that’s such a big boom to the CX capability for driving all kinds of experience. Omni-channel, multi-channel customers everywhere.
Gabe Larsen: (21:01)
I don’t think I realize, I mean, I assume there were a lot of companies maybe doing on print solutions pre-pandemic, but it was fascinating to watch. I have friends, you mentioned like contact center as a service, that there was way more than I thought. And to see these companies [inaudilbe] it out, but to find their way into the cloud where they’ve been on-prem and then to hear some of that, wow. This is so much more advanced, so much faster. It moves, that kind of speed that we went through with the pandemic, I think that’s going to have such an after effect that we’re just starting to see. I agree a hundred percent. So cloud’s, number one, you said you had a couple more. What’s number two?
Randall King: (21:42)
Number two, coming out of the pandemic for sure, working from home in the CX space. I mean, this has been huge. One, where you have access to talent now, you’re not tethered to a certain site or a certain city. Now you can, with the scalability of your cloud solutions and the capabilities, the ability to recruit good talent from anywhere, and perhaps you have seasonality in your business, this has been a real boom to the CX business in general, whether you’re talking voice chat, email, SMS, texting, social media, the ability to get access to talent. And then that talent, I think really appreciates the fact that there’s no paying for parking, commuting. Like it doesn’t always work out that way, but it’s hard to ignore the work from home trend and what it’s been meaning to our company and CX overall.
Gabe Larsen: (22:48)
Where do you feel, I mean, certainly there’s still a debate out there. Some companies, they still want people to come back. Other companies are loosening that, allowing people, not initially your own experience, but from a market, do you think different verticals will take different approaches? Do you think whether people like it or not that the remote at-home work is here to stay? Any prediction on the future?
Randall King: (23:13)
I’m going to look into my crystal ball, but definitely, the pendulum will come back from probably where it is, but it’s not going to go all the way back to where it was. I think it is here. There’s a different mix. However, that doesn’t mean that certain types of organizations or businesses, or transactions are good for work from home. But I think the flexibility around work from home has created a lot more scalability and opportunity for a lot of the clients and people dealing in CX for sure.
Gabe Larsen: (23:48)
Yeah. It’s interesting to watch some of the tusslings that’s happening. But I like your point. No matter what, I don’t know if it’s going back to the way it was. How different will it be? I guess time will only tell. Oh, okay. Number three on that list. It sounds like you have one more on there.
Randall King: (24:04)
Well, the last one, I still remember, Gabe, sitting in a chair and being in our financial planning position for an upcoming year, looking at my budget. I’m like, what is this? What are we doing? And someone says, “Look, all these calls should be automated. We should treat every call as a defect.” And this is going to go by the wayside with full digitization of everything. And you know what? Bologna. That didn’t happen. In fact, where we saw more digital engagement, we saw more calls! People are more engaged in the business and [inaudible] and the nature of these calls may have changed from what’s my balance to, I don’t recognize this transaction. What is this? Or I just got married. And so I am extremely excited about the future of CX as a differentiator, all the things we just said. We’re seeing more interest in higher complexity advisory capabilities that are brought to customers at their convenience, the way they want it on their hours versus traditional brick and mortar hours, for example. Like 10 years ago, would you have been thinking, “I’ll just hit my video chat and I’ll talk to my doctor or a registered nurse so they can prescribe me something,”? Or do I have to make it – you can go down the list and I am so excited about the opportunity for CX as it expands its capabilities and technology expand. But so does the use cases for how people go in and connect with each other. And I think it’s a huge market and really exciting for at least my business.
Gabe Larsen: (26:02)
Yeah, no, it does seem like there are crazy amounts of change and buckle-up. I think it’ll be a pretty fun ride. We obviously hit a lot. I want to look to wrap here, Randall. We might have to bring you back to kind of dive into some of these things into a little more detail, but we’ll leave you alone for the next little bit. But a lot of people who are just trying to start their journey, that’s kind of where we started with that question about talking about your 25 year old self, but we jumped into lessons learned on transformation and then also things about the future. Anything you’d kind of want to leave behind or that summary statement as we look to wrap today, for those of us who are more at the beginning of our journey, looking for that idea of transforming our business?
Randall King: (26:44)
Well, number one, I want to say in summary, thank you. Thank you Gabe for having me on and number two, thank you to all the great CX teammates all around the world. They’re doing such a great job every day, making a difference in the lives of our customers. And it’s a great value proposition for the different clients and that they are adding so much value every day to the lives of so many. So number one, a big thank you to all of our CX teammates. Number two is that the sky’s the limit. I look around every day and there’s all this innovation coming in about new ways to connect and add that value. I just, I really can’t say enough how excited I am about the future of CX and where it’s going.
Gabe Larsen: (27:38)
And look, we have a chance to be at the forefront of that. And I think to take advantage a lot of the technology. So Randall, really appreciate the time. I think a lot of great information for our audience. We’ll make sure we put a couple of these things in the show notes. If someone wanted to continue the dialogue, maybe get to know you, what’s the best way to do that?
Randall King: (27:56)
I’ll tell you what, I’ll give you a link that you can put in your show notes and we’ll have it out there, but I can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Gabe Larsen: (28:07)
Awesome. Awesome. Again, really appreciate you taking the time, Randall. For the audience, thanks for joining, and have a fantastic day.
Randall King: (28:14)
Exit Voice: (28:21)
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