CX Top Tips

051: Paul Cole: Are you firing us as a customer

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Paul Cole Show Notes Page

Paul Cole made repeated attempts trying to engage with his client in better ways of working together to satisfy them and to do right by his company and his people. Leading an outsourced customer care operation, Paul had to make a tough decision to fire his multi-million dollar client that was using their KPIs as a way to penalize and reduce their pricing. Listen to Paul tell how he got over several humps in this story.

Paul is an east coast transplant to Los Angeles that spent his formative years in New England, calling Boston home for  more than 25 years before moving to Paris France for several years.

Being one of 6 children, Pauls‘ self- directed style traces back to the first big hump he faced in life; the untimely death of his father when he was a young teenager.

Paul quickly learned that it was up to him to make the right choices. Having made it through college but lacking true ambition Paul was fortunate to find a mentor and role model in his first job in Market Research who helped instill needed confidence and inspire him to succeed.

Paul has spent the vast majority of his career in the professional services market creating, innovating, scaling, managing and leading large consulting, systems integration and outsourcing businesses. The common thread across the last 30 or so years in these varying roles has always been the focus on the customer as the asset to be nurtured.

Paul also coauthored Customer Connections: New Strategies for Growth, while a partner, starting and scaling CRM solutions at Ernst and Young.

Paul recently made a big career leap (without the parachute) to entrepreneur opting to join a CX software company as President in North America with responsibility for rapidly scaling the 6yr old business in the United States.

Paul is currently the President-North America at inQuba and when not on a plane crossing the globe and enjoying reading historical fictions, Paul is most relaxed behind the lens of a camera and working hard to keep his body and spirit in shape.

Tweetable Quotes and Mentions

Listen to @Paul05006868 and get over the hump on the @FastLeaderShow Click to Tweet

“Seize the day, seize the moment.” -Paul Cole Click to Tweet

“People need to extend themselves.” -Paul Cole Click to Tweet 

“Make yourself known and show up to add value.” -Paul Cole Click to Tweet 

“Put yourself out there and be bold in a positive way.” -Paul Cole Click to Tweet 

“When I grew up…you were presumed stupid until proven otherwise.” -Paul Cole Click to Tweet 

“Leadership requires more finesse these days.” -Paul Cole Click to Tweet 

“Leadership is all about bringing along other people.” -Paul Cole Click to Tweet 

“Your success will come by helping to bring out the best in others.” -Paul Cole Click to Tweet 

“At the end of the day, I stood on principle and I felt good.” -Paul Cole Click to Tweet 

“At the end of the day, it’s reflected in how people behave versus what they say.” -Paul Cole Click to Tweet 

“When you sense there’s an issue, tackle it quickly.” -Paul Cole Click to Tweet 

“When something gets off the rails…be very quick and proactive.” -Paul Cole Click to Tweet 

“Everything that you can control is in the now.” -Paul Cole Click to Tweet 

Hump to Get Over

Paul Cole made repeated attempts trying to engage with his client in better ways of working together to satisfy them and to do right by his company and his people. Leading an outsourced customer care operation, Paul had to make a tough decision to fire his multi-million dollar client that was using their KPIs as a way to penalize and reduce their pricing. Listen to Paul tell how he got over several humps in this story.

Advice for others

If you’re going to show up, make yourself known, and show up to add value.

When you sense there is an issue emerging, you tackle it quickly.

Holding him back from being an even better leader

Funny enough, I think it’s not having enough people to lead at the moment.

Best Leadership Advice Received

Your success will come by bringing out the best in other people.

Secret to Success

Being decisive.

Best tools that helps in business or Life

Reasonably articulate, both in written and public speaking.

Recommended Reading

The Power of Now: A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment

Contacting Paul

email: paul.cole[at]inquba.com

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/paul-cole-6790a42

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Paul05006868/

Resources

54 Emotional Intelligence (EQ) Competencies List: Emotional Intelligence has proven to be the right kind of intelligence to have if you want to move onward and upward faster. Get your free list today.

 


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Click to access edited transcript
051: Paul Cole: Are you firing us as a customer
Intro: Welcome to the Fast Leader Podcast, where we explore convenient yet effective shortcuts that will help you get ahead and move forward faster by becoming a better leader. And now here’s your host, customer and employee engagement expert and certified emotional intelligence practitioner, Jim Rembach.

To be customer-centric in your contact center you need more than feedback, you need performance management and trusted agent scorecard which is exactly what you get with the award winning External Quality Monitoring program from Customer Relationship Metrics. Get over the hump now by going to customersgradethecall.com/fast and getting a $7500 rapid results package for free.

Jim Rembach: Okay, Fast Leader Legion, today I have somebody on the show who reached out to me because of some of the guest that we have and areas of expertise that we highlight on the show and he himself is a subject matter expert. Paul Cole is an East Coast transplant to Los Angeles that spent his formative years in New England calling Boston home for more than 25 years before moving to Paris, France for several years. Being one of six children, Paul self-directed style traces back to the first big hump he faced in his life, the untimely death of his father when he was young teenager. Paul quickly learn that it was up to him to make the right choices. Having made it to college but lacking true ambition, Paul was fortunate to find a mentor and role model in his first job in market research who helped instill needed confidence and inspire him to succeed.

Paul has spent the vast majority of his career in the professional services market creating, innovating, scaling, managing, and leading a large consulting systems integration and outsourcing businesses. The common thread across the last 30 or so years in the varying roles has always been the focus on the customer. Paul also co-authored Customer Connections New Strategies for growth. Paul recently made a big career leap without the parachute to entrepreneur opting to join InQuba a CX software company as President in North America with responsibility for rapidly scaling the six-year-old business in the United States. When not on the plane crossing the globe enjoying reading historical fictions, Paul is most relaxed behind the lens of a camera and working hard to keep his body and spirit in shape. Paul Cole are you ready to help us get over the hump?

Paul Cole: Sure I am Jim.

Jim Rembach: I’ve given our listeners a little bit about you but can you tell us what your current passion is so that we get to know you better?

Paul Cole: Sure. Aside from the Tetons where I am at the moment skiing, I’d say a more relevant basis, if I was to use one word I’d say growth, I’m about growth, personal growth I’m always curious and trying to learn new things which is reflected in a variety of roles that I’ve played in my professional career. And then I think also just as a discipline in the work that I do for my customers I learned after managing lots of the budgets and P&L’s that what I do get most excited about is really helping companies grow their top line and do a better job of acquiring and developing or retaining the customers.

Jim Rembach: Thanks for sharing that Paul. You and I have had some really good discussions here played and one of the things that have stood out to me when you are speaking is something that you didn’t mention, which is in the past few seconds and that is the word bold ness. And when you start talking about seeking new things and the growth piece sometimes those things can just kind of come to you or you can take a leisurely stroll and obtain those but that isn’t necessarily going to fuel some the significant growth that is possible for a lot of folks, so when you think about boldness incorporated with what you were just saying what comes to mind?

Paul Cole: I know we talked about a little bit about the topics and there is something in there about the code or mantra and I like to say carpe diem, seize the day seize the moment, and I think that is about boldness. I think people need to extend themselves, put themselves out there. Too often in large companies where I’ve operated people will tend to be on the sideline or observers of a process or somebody is taking a position to let somebody else take it even if they feel strongly. I think one of my pieces of advice for young people coming up is, if you’re going to show up make yourself known and show up to add value. And that means putting yourself out there and being bold in a positive way.

Jim Rembach: Definitely. I just had the opportunity to read an article and see Seth Godin do a TedEX speech talking about what we do in regards to education system and what we do in organizations in regards to either nurturing and really was more undermining some of that get yourself out there creative thinking collaboration the boldness piece and we try to get people to comply. It’s fall in line, get on board, it’s you need to buy in—so when you start talking about coaching, other organizations we start talking about, even your own development as you’ve gone along and where you are today, how you combat or balance that out so that the best does come out?

Paul Cole: I think it’s a different world today. I grew up in the little but more of a command-and-control business environment, you’re presumed stupid until proven otherwise, your boss was your boss and you’ve got to follow the lead without question and I think today’s manuals or whatever they come with a point of view, they just accept requests as orders. And so I think the leadership requires more finesse these days in order to get people to do what you want them to do and to have that fit their own idea. I think leadership is all about bringing along other people and getting them on board in a way that motivates them as opposed to dictating that somebody do something as an employee. And that requires you to have more empathy ethic it requires you to know more what motivates people and to get more into the emotional IQ of the situation.

Jim Rembach: There’s another word that you had said for me that kind of stood out and that is finesse. For me, when I start thinking about a lot of senior-level leaders and organizations and a lot of some of those folks who have some of those bright ideas but yet need a lot of the support, they need a lot of other people in order to round out and have some of that occur finesse doesn’t come to mind. I start thinking finesse, they know whole lot of finesse there, I start thinking legalities and legal teams and lawyers—not a whole lot of finesse there. So, when you start talking about finesse, how do you nurture finesse?

Paul Cole: I think again it comes down to your success will come by helping to make bring out the best in other people and helping them be successful. I think it’s a little bit of a leap of faith, I think business is business it’s transactional, money changing hands it’s great commercial high pressure it’s intense, but within that I think there’s an opportunity to distinguish the how you do what you do and the way in which you do inspire and cultivate and nurture people. And I think in today’s world that really gets recognized, that’s how you end up getting followers. It’s not through brute force anymore, it’s through bringing people along and collaborating with them and connecting with people on many different levels. I think that was a big lesson learned for me, I was a bit of a bull in the china shop for the first 15,20 years, climb the corporate ladder, take no prisoners, get ahead, be decisive, be quick without as much attention to all the corresponding impacts that it had on people, without a lot of reflections. Maybe it’s just maturity and age but as I look back I think that piece of finesse added to the drive and the boldness when you put those two things together you have are really strong formula for success.

Jim Rembach: I started thinking about kind of putting a signature mark to that saying back to buy wisdom. And we have to go through our life experiences in order for those things to occur and see that clarity and so that means there’s a lot of humps that we have to get over before those things can occur. And one of the beauties about the show is that guest share their stories on one they’ve had to get over a hump and hopefully we can learn from those too. Can you think about a time where you had to do just that and it helped gain you that wisdom, can you share that story?

Paul Cole: Well I think you know probably the hump is a metaphor for just challenge and unexpected events that one has to deal with on a daily basis and I guess they can be speedbump so that they can fit mountains in terms of the size of the hump. Probably one that comes to me is the difficult decision I made to fire a customer. Being a customer guy that doesn’t sound like the most obvious or comfortable thing to do. We were managing an outsource customer care operation and despite repeated attempts on our part to engage the client in better ways of working together to satisfy them and also give us a little bit better predictability and motivation internally we just couldn’t get there, we felt that they were using the KPI’s as not just as a stick but as a way to invoke penalties to reduce their pricing, that’s a difficult conversation to have.

In fact the client at the end of the conversation finally had asked me, “Are you firing us as a customer?” No one’s ever fired us. I said, “You choose who you do business with and how you want to do this and I think we just are not in a position to be able to satisfy the way you want to do business and it’s also not consistent personally with the values that we applied how we do business. And so, we negotiated that reasonably, amiable separation, but that was very difficult to do but I think my team stood back and watched that and I earned some respect for that because I was protecting them. I felt that this was a nearly abusive kind of relationship and it wasn’t satisfying us and it was creating attrition issues and adding too much stress. And I had to make a difficult economic decision, I gave up multiple seven figures of revenue millions per year and which was going to hurt me because I had to go out and find a way to replace that.
It required a lot of thought but at the end of the day I stood on principle and I felt very good about the decision.

Jim Rembach: Thanks for sharing story and I would dare to say that there’s probably a lot of folks at that story resonated with. For me, there’s some that I wanted to but there’s that financial decision all these other things that scare you not to do that but unfortunately it is the right thing to do because of all the things that you had talked about. I can only imagine like you were mentioning how the employees saw that happen and what it actually meant to them because you just made them more valued than what that dollar that was coming in.

Paul Cole: It wasn’t the outcome that I had wanted or I think the client had wanted so in some ways we didn’t get over the hump necessarily but I felt good about we had exhausted the avenues that we had pursue to try to come up with a better compromise and it just wasn’t in the cards and so we acknowledged that and we moved on. Ultimately the team felt pretty good about that and we did replace the revenue and we went forward.

Jim Rembach: I think that the key is to regain our focus on what’s next instead of what’s behind and sometimes that’s difficult to do. So, when you started thinking about the actual interaction where that moment came and it was that client finally coming to that self-realization, “Are you firing me?” What was the dialogue that occurred?

Paul Cole: I think the tendency at that point for big corporations is to almost kind of fall back into legal mode, because you’re talking about contracts, you’re talking about lots of money and there’s a lot of terms and conditions of the contract. I think the other thing that I felt pretty good about was we were able to avoid all of those typical traps that you’ll fall in the separation when neither side is thrilled with what you’ve got to do to get it done. So, we just maintained dialogue, I try to keep it as professional as possible I try to say, “Okay, let’s make this easy for both of us as we can let’s put it on a time schedule that works for you, let’s remain true to the spirit of the contract in terms of delivering the KPI’s as best we can. In the meantime, we had a heavy oversight of our people and trying to keep them motivated once they learned that the business was going to go away so you have to make sure the transition is smooth, people don’t drop the ball.” And I just think we paid attention to those details and again it was probably professionalism on both sides thankfully. When it came down to this decision ultimately I think we both did the right thing and I’m glad for that.

Jim Rembach: You said something about the ‘spirit of the contract’ I’ve had those words used against me which were basically—take all of your clothes off cause I want every stitch. And it’s in the spirit of the contract, so those words bring a chill down my neck.

Paul Cole: Likewise, this was a client who in their earlier days was using the word partner, you are our partner, and those words get cast around quite casually. When you think partner you think two-way, you think give and get, you think collaborative and this relationship was anything but that. They would couched it all and they’re—you’re our strategic partners, why are we having this difficult conversations about behaviors? Yeah, so, spirit, you know, partner—Yeah, at the end of the day it’s reflected how people actually behave versus what they say.

Jim Rembach: Yeah, I think that behavior component is really key. My 12-year-old daughter, I unfortunately mentioned to her, “I know you’re not saying anything but when you’re turning your head away from me and you’re rolling your eyes to the top your head, I know what you’re saying inside.” So, I know Paul that going through that process, I’m sure it wasn’t a quick and easy decision but when you start thinking about growing into that and also how that affected many other decisions you’ve made since then, what is one particular conclusion that you wish you came to faster?

Paul Cole: When you sense that there’s an issue emerging, you tackle it more quickly. I think we allowed ourselves to continue to believe that this would resolve itself, that the relationship would get itself on track if we just continue to do what we thought was the right thing. So, I think it’s a matter of being sensitive to when something gets off the rails and being very quick and proactive and trying to take that on not let things develop to the point where it becomes a crisis. I think that’s a conclusion it would’ve reached. We may have ended up with the same outcome but I think had we may be moved a little faster, a little earlier with a little bit more decisiveness that perhaps we could’ve avoided that outcome.

Jim Rembach: Thanks for sharing that, and I think that’s also one of the things that we try to accomplish on the fast leader shows that people can use the experiences of others. They can hear about these things and hopefully not let things linger because when you have situations like that that are just negative, they become toxic over time and knowing and being confident on how to address that sooner in making the right decision at a better time instead of a later time could help us all, that’s for sure.

Paul Cole: They get speaks to your use of the word ‘bold’ in the beginning of our interview, I think it’s a different illustration of boldness. Going through those uncomfortable moments but going through them nonetheless in order to try to resolve the issues expediently and early on.

Jim Rembach: You talked about the work that you’re doing with this organization you are now part of and everything—being an author we even talked about a couple of other things that you’re working on, but if you started looking at all of the things that you have on your plate and where you’re headed, what are some your goals?

Paul Cole: In the immediate future, I’ve come out of the big corporate world where I was probably always viewed as an entrepreneur and now I’ve stepped out and I’ve taken that leap, maybe without a parachute, into true start up or I’d like to say scale up but still very, very entrepreneurial environment in taking a company that existed in another part of the world and trying to ramped it up quickly here in the US. So, I’m excited about that challenge what comes with that is the recognition that I have to do a lot of things that haven’t done for years. I’m the chief cook, bottle washer and everything at the moment but it’s exhilarating in that it’s—I’m free to make those decisions. I’m working with a great team in South Africa with a great product and I think for me it’s just about executing on all the things I think I’ve learned over the last 35 years and applying that in a very hands-on manner. I think in three or four years from now I can stand back and look that we actually, really built a powerhouse CX platform company in the US, and that will be something I’ll be very proud of.

Jim Rembach: And the Fast Leader Legion wishes you the very best. Now, before we move on, let’s get a quick words from our sponsor.

Getting maximum contact center agent performance is impossible unless your customers involved in grading and coaching agents. So make it simple for you and customers with the award winning External Quality Monitoring program from Customer Relationship Metrics. Get over the hump now by going to www.customergradethecall.com/fast and getting your $7,500 rapid results package for free.

Alright here we go Fast Leader Legion it’s time for the Hump Day Hoedown. Okay Paul, the Hump Day Hoedown is the part of our show where you give us good insights fast. So, I’m going to ask you several questions and your job is to give us robust yet rapid responses that are going to help us move onward and upward faster. Paul Cole, are you ready to hoedown?

Paul Cole: Let’s go for it.

Jim Rembach: Alright. What do you think is holding you back from being an even better leader today?

Paul Cole: It’s not having enough people to lead at the moment.

Jim Rembach: What is the best leadership advice you have received?

Paul Cole: Probably something along the lines that your success will come by bringing out the best in other people.

Jim Rembach: What is one of your secrets that you believe contributes to your success?

Paul Cole: Being decisive.

Jim Rembach: What do you feel is one of your best tools that helps you lead in business or life?

Paul Cole: I would say other people have noted that I am reasonably articulate both in the written word and in public speaking and I think in the world of SMS and so forth, in today’s world being articulate and being able to communicate effectively is a good tool to have.

Jim Rembach: What would be one book from any genre that you’d recommend to our listeners?

Paul Cole: I’m not that big of a self-help type guy but there is a book that I do have dog-eared all over the place and it’s by a guy named Eckhart Tolle it’s called, The Power of Now, it’s a very simple premise, it’s past had already occurred you can’t lament it it’s gone, the future happened yet so I stress out about it, everything that you can control is in the now. I think it’s a very good kind of practical set of guidelines for not getting too caught up in things you can’t control.

Jim Rembach: Okay, Fast Leader Legion, you can find links to that and other bonus information from today show by going to fastleader.net/Paul Cole. Okay, Paul this is my last Hump Day Hoedown question: Imagine you were given the opportunity to go back to the age 25 and you have been given the opportunity to take the knowledge and skills that you have now back with you but you can’t take everything so what one piece of knowledge or skill would you take back with you and why?

Paul Cole: It’s funny the name of your program Fast Leader, it’s a little bit ironic because I think I’ve always prided myself and be viewed as a fast leader, decisive, impatient, want to get to the answer straight, you know, the distance between two points straight line, and it generates a lot of positive outcomes but sometimes it can make you put blinders on and not be sensitive to all the things that are happening around you. I don’t know if a 25-year-old you’re generally mature enough to have the presence of mind to say, “I’m going to be a fast leader but I’m also going to be a thoughtful leader. And I think if I were to go back and say, what would I adjust on the margin, it would probably be bringing more reflection and thoughtfulness into my fast leader mentality.

Jim Rembach: Thanks for sharing that Paul, you bring up exactly what you’re trying to accomplish. So, that concept of fast and quick is what a lot of people resonate with but the fact is that, it’s what you just said, you need to grow into that will help you move onward and upward faster. Paul it was an honor to spend time with you today, can you please share the fast leader legion how they can connect with you?

Paul Cole: You can reach me at Paul.ColeInQuba.com or certainly I am out there on LinkedIn, I’m also a member of the CXPA.

Jim Rembach: Paul Cole, thank you for sharing your knowledge and wisdom the Fast Leader Legion honors you and thanks you for helping us get over the hump. Woot! Woot!

Thank you for joining me on the Fast Leader Show today. For recaps, links from every show, special offers and access to download and subscribe, if you haven’t already, head on over the www.fastleader.net so we can help you move onward and upward faster.

END OF AUDIO

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