The 2023 Support Driven Leadership Summit was held in Philadelphia from 3 to 4 April. As the premier event for senior leaders in the customer service (CS) and customer experience (CX) industry, it has become the perfect place where like-minded professionals can connect and discuss the latest CX trends and best practices.
At the 2022 leadership summit, which was held in Portland, we conducted a presentation about the prospects of inclusive hiring. This time around we were excited to host an engaging panel discussion about ethical outsourcing.
Support Driven is a renowned online community for professionals, specialists, and leaders in the CS/CX space. Over the years it has established itself as a valuable resource for individuals working in CX, as well as customer-centric companies that are looking to improve the allover experience for their clients.
Putting the focus on ethics
Mari Parker, COO at Boldr, led a discussion that tied ethical outsourcing with a successful customer experience team. Neil Smith (VP of Technical Support at Iterable), David Norton (Head of CX at Floyd), and Travis Brace (Customer Support Manager at Grindr), shared their valuable experience in the panel discussion.
The idea of ethical outsourcing is up for interpretation and is largely based on your belief systems or core values. However, when asked how each would define an ethical outsourcing relationship, their answers were remarkably similar, though unique given how customer support plays a role in their particular company.
David Norton said that it has always been in their interest to partner with an ethical company that shares their views and values. He also points out that it is imperative to create a comfortable environment for your team, because the cost of hiring and sourcing new agents is an unpredictable cost component that can quickly become an expensive exercise. Happy agents make long-serving agents that are good at their job, which makes for happy clients, which means the tickets are less, which brings down the cost per ticket.
In kind, Neil Smith firmly believes that the reason Iterable was able to maintain a 90% on four-year retention metrics is directly linked to the fact that they have created a diverse support team where everyone has a sense of belonging. Their ethical approach to building their teams and developing the individuals within the teams, leads to higher CSAT verticals and satisfied customers. “Iterables values are: Growth Mindset, Balance, Trust, and Humility.” explained Smith. “We fully expect that any vendor we work with, whether a BPO or a tech stack vendor, somewhat aligns with those values. In a BPO relationship, because you’re dealing with people, it becomes more valuable. We’re careful to make sure we are an employee-first organization and our BPO partnership should also encompass that same approach.”
For Travis Brace, the idea of ethics is determined by the extent of inclusivity in CX teams. This is especially true for a company like Grindr, because they have such a particular community base and a set of values that is matched by that community. At Grindr they believe in being authentically inclusive and accepting in all regards, and Travis sees this as a non-negotiable way of working.
It always comes down to the teams and the company’s culture, which ultimately impacts the way they do business and determines who they do business with. It’s more than simply having support teams that follow the sun, or just reducing expenses. Rather, it is about impact sourcing, not focusing on the Bachelor requirement, removing barriers of entry for those in want of opportunity, and encouraging a true application of empathy. The true collaborative nature of a BPO is what sets it apart from others.
The consistent message in the discussion was about achieving a true balance, fair wages, fair hours, and viewing the BPO team as an extension of your own team. Mari Parker brought a crisp and refreshing focus to the notion of ethical outsourcing by encouraging businesses to embrace this philosophy: “If I won’t do this to my own team, I won’t do it to someone else’s team.”
Further leadership discussions
Lance Conzett, Customer Experience Lead at Found, opened up on the thorny issue of company acquisitions and what impact it might have on customer experience teams. Whether an integration or a partnership, CX leaders could find themselves in a difficult situation
“Advocate for your team,” advises Conzett. “They might not have the same level of visibility that you have. Help them land on their feet. Coach them.” He goes on to say that everyone should be cognizant of their own worth during an acquisition and that no one should be afraid to walk away if they feel moved to do so.
The importance of data was highlighted when Kincy Clarke, Bolt’s Director of Support, spoke about where customer support belongs in the customer intelligence cycle. He explained how important it is to evaluate your tech stack, evaluate vendors, and to train your team’s performance. “No one lets the data drive. Leaders drive but to drive effectively you need to know what’s going on in the environment. You have to be data-informed.”
As before, this year’s leadership summit only confirmed that CX is fast becoming one of the deciding factors to a company’s success, especially where client engagement is an integral component to daily business operations.
Not only was the 2023 Support Driven Leadership Summit an immersive experience with loads of takeaways and shared experiences, but it was also a golden opportunity for CX professionals to network and collaborate with peers who care. We are already looking forward to what the 2024 event will hold in store.