Words of Wisdom from the CX Community with Neal Topf and Paul Catherall – E43 1st Half

Episode released on: 11. October 2021

Link to the second half: https://cxgoalkeeper.com/firesidechatwithoutthefires2/

CX Goalkeeper & Fireside Chat Without The Fires E43 1st Half- Words of Wisdom from the CX Community Customer Experience Goals with the CX Goalkeeper

The CX Goalkeeper had a smart discussion with Neal Topf and Paul Catherall.

Neal Topf’s LinkedIn Headline: Customer Experience | Contact Center / Customer Care | Podcast

Paul Catherall’s LinkedIn Headline: Driven with a passion to help people become unstuck | Helping people identify and then solve obstacles

The discussion with Neal and Paul was split in 2 episodes. In this first episode you will learn:

– Customer satisfaction is driven by resolution in the shortest possible time-frame.

– The entrepreneurial operating systems (EOS) helps to improve KPIs every 13 weeks

– The Podcast “Fireside Chat Without The Fires” was the voice of the Customer Experience World Games 2021. A terrific experience!

– These are the 2 biggest learnings from their podcast:

i) You improve the customer experience because it has a direct impact on the financial results of the company.

ii) The kindness of the CX community participating to the podcast is priceless

… and much more

Contact Details:

Paul’s Golden Nugget:

“People forget what you said but they don’t forget how you made them feel.”

“People forget what you said but they don’t forget how you made them feel.” @nealtopf & Paul Catherall @ChatsFires on the CX Goalkeeper Podcast

Neal’s Golden Nugget:

“Automate or don’t exist anymore. Eliminate irritants, create value and waste less value”

“Automate or don’t exist anymore. Eliminate irritants, create value and waste less value” @nealtopf & Paul Catherall @ChatsFires on the CX Goalkeeper Podcast

Thank you, Neal and Paul!

#customerexperience #leadership #customerservice #bpo #podcast #cxgoalkeeper


Gregorio Uglioni 0:00
Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the CX goalkeeper podcast. Your host, Gregorio Uglioni will have small discussions with experts, thought leaders, and friends on customer experience, transformation, innovation and leadership. I hope you will enjoy the next episode.

Ladies and gentleman, my name is Gregorio Uglioni, your host today the CX goalkeeper. I had the great pleasure to interview Paul Catherall and Neal Topf. Yes, these are the two gentlemen from Fireside Chat without the fires. I had really an outstanding discussion with them. It was terrific. And therefore I decided to split it in two episodes. Now I’m going to share the first one and next week the second one, I hope you will enjoy this one. And stay tuned for the next one. Enjoy.

Ladies and gentlemen, this is really a big, big pleasure. I’m not interviewing one but two great people, and in particular, Neil and Paul they are with me from Fireside Chat without Fires. Good evening. Good day. Good morning. How are you?

Neil Topf 1:15
I’m wonderful. I can only speak for this half of the fireside chat. I’m wonderful. And I’m thrilled for you to be back with you. It’s strange for me to say your name Gregorio. Because in my mind when I associate you I just go right to TX goalkeeper, so I have to think for a second to remember. No, no, his name is really as Gregorio but I was thrilled to spend time with you at CES goalkeeper, Gregorio, your wonderful host, and gracious and thank you for having us.

Gregorio Uglioni 1:41
Thank you, Neil. And now I am again, I must ask the question, How are you feeling today?

Paul Catherall 1:50
Gregorio I’m buzzing! What an absolute honor to be part of this podcast. Thank you so so much. And yeah, it’s great. I can’t wait to get stuck into this. Thank you so much for the very kind invite, and and back to what Neil said there you’re you’re a wonderful guy and the work and the content that you’re putting out at the moment. kudos.

Gregorio Uglioni 2:09
Thank you very much. And I think even if we are three, let’s start asking question. Paul you please start introducing yourself?

Paul Catherall 2:19
I can try although I’m not very good at it, to be honest with you. So my name is Paul Catherall A. I’ve got a number of different strings to my bow, I guess I am first than primarily director of customer care with Ultra mobile so I’m responsible for day to day delivery for our customers out there. That includes Ultra mobile and Mint mobile. My other passions include sport, I’m going to be golfing in a number of hours Neil’s sorry if that annoys you, but I’m teeing off in about two hours. Sorry, I can’t wait for that. For that to get annoyed

Neil Topf 2:50
me. No, I mean, I’m envious. I’m not I never know.

Paul Catherall 2:54
And I guess one of our big passions at the moment is I’m I’m really heavily involved in podcasting. I’ve, I’ve got an innate feeling built in me that I want to help people either launch or start or grow either their own podcast or live stream. So in a nutshell, mate, that’s me apart from being dad to wonderful Darcy, who I miss terribly.

Gregorio Uglioni 3:17
Thank you very much, Paul. And my AF. If they ask that it’s Italian from my side, I end over to the President. And in Italy, if you’re speaking about to the president, then it’s the president of soccer team. And, therefore, Neil, could you please introduce yourself?

Neil Topf 3:35
Thank you, of course. My name is Neil top i One of the things I do, I’m the President and co founder of called Callzilla, we are an outsourced contact center provider or some people call us BPO business process outsourcer. We are a US outsourced contact center with operations in what we call near shore of America in Bogota, Colombia. And we have spread from two big sites to work from home as well as during the pandemic. And we’ve learned a lot certainly about that. And we’ll get into that I’m sure later in the podcast. And then I have my other really fun job, which is I get to co create and co host fireside chats about the fires with the smarter of the two of us all, he is a smart one and a loud one. He makes sure that the podcast runs like a Swiss watch. And I just want to make the volume. But it’s a lot of fun to create and collaborate with Paul and that’s that’s one of the joys that we get to look forward to every week.

Gregorio Uglioni 4:37
I think it’s really a great podcast. I will put all the links in the show notes because people our listeners in my also my audience can really get value from your podcasts. But we’re not here to speaking about the podcast itself, perhaps also to start the introduction. Neil, you mentioned something called Callzilla. You’re the president you found that you or you’re a co founder. And it’s really important what I am. In my research, I found out, you were focusing on quality generating consistent, exceptional customer satisfaction and company productivity. Could you please elaborate a bit? How did you came to this idea to create such a big company? Because in the meantime, it’s really a big company.

Neil Topf 5:23
Thank you. Well, it’s, you know, we’re trying to make it big, we’re trying to grow but grow sustainably in a way that we can differentiate ourselves and help our clients. How do we help our clients, we, the objective is to help their customers achieve resolution in as short, a time period as possible. And if we do those two things, I believe we can achieve the third objective, which is satisfaction of some sort. I think if we do those things, we differentiate ourselves, someone has told me there are maybe 70,000 Call centers out in the world, I don’t know if that’s an accurate number, but it sounds good. And I would like to consider that probably 69,700 of them are terrible. And there’s maybe two or 300 that are pretty good, two really good. And I want to be in that upper echelon. That’s what what motivates me. But the big thing you know, and maybe I’m skipping ahead, the thing that fascinates me is to get to figure out and to create, and try to see the crystal ball. By the way, I’m not a magician, I’m not a fortune teller at all. I’m just trying to figure out, you know, where we need to be and how we’re going to be able to help consumers. What are the big things that and I’m going to take this back to six bookkeeper to your chapter in that customer experience three book, one of the things that I love the most is to get rid of what you call in your model. And love this going back to the model, I did some research right before we came back on today, what you call in your model in your chapter in the CX three book, the irritant, get rid of the irritant. And there’s lots of things we’ll delve into, and I’ll stop there. But if we can figure out in our in our customer experience operations, how to get rid of the irritant. And we become a lot more successful.

Gregorio Uglioni 7:11
Thank you very much, Neil. And I can say that it was Sseries number two, Episode 16.9 and not 17. Right, we discussed about contact center about customer service, not being a cost center, but being a value generating customer centric engine. And I really appreciate that you are mentioning that again, I think it’s really the differentiator because companies has not so many contacts with with the customers anymore. And therefore they should we should compensate should leverage what creates value and not what it’s irritating. Now, Paul, you are not in the background. Also, even if you are in my video below us. You don’t need to ensure that everything’s worked properly. The recording is going I try. I’m trying to keep the timing but I’m already sure that we will be we’ll discuss more than half an hour but no problem. You are the Director of Customer Care, Wooster, mobile and means and also them you are mentioning that two topics that’s really important. Please correct me if I’m saying something wrong. So first contact resolution and customer satisfactions really near or a variant of what Neil Neil is telling us, what’s your view on that? What’s differentiate Ultamobile?

Paul Catherall 8:38
That that’s a great question, Gregorio because there is, you know, your KPIs that you spoken about, there are probably most KPIs that contact centers or companies used to measure their performance internally, and to a certain extent, externally, I think where we differ, I think it’s wrong, that’s the wrong thing to say, where we differ is that we set increasing goals, not every year, not every two years, we set increasing goals every 13 weeks. So we run a business based on iOS, so it’s the sorry, EOS the the Entrepreneurial Operating System, and that gives us a scorecard every 13 weeks. So what we do is we run all our KPIs for 13 weeks, and then after a certain week period, if they’re increasing, then we increase that goal. That obviously puts more pressure on us internally to deliver it, but it also gives our customers whether that’s voice or email, and improve customer experience, and we have on certain occasions achieved this amazing score in because we have different lines of business within Ultraman we have dedicated our retailer arm for our ultra customers because we go physically into the stores and buy our ultrasounds unlike men, which is available online only. We’ve had 100%, I’ll say that, again, 100% CSAT. For our retailer store line, because our agents there perform at such a higher level, our retailers actually enjoyed calling in speaking to, to it to our frontline agents, which sometimes may not be the case. So I think that’s what differentiates us is that we don’t rest on our laurels. And we’re always looking for ways that we can improve, whether that’s through tools, whether that’s through systems, whether that’s through processes, or in most cases, whether that’s through agent knowledge and scripting, because those, I think sometimes those are the, the elements or parts of an agent’s toolkit that maybe people sometimes overlook, they don’t realize the benefits of improved coaching or, you know, just changing certain things on a script in a scripting basis that will, that will that will really impact customer and agent performance. I’ll give you a real life example, we made some changes only two weeks ago to a certain call disposition. And we’ve seen the past week or 22 Second decrease in that, in that call disposition, which is great, not only from a customer experience, but also from an agent experience. So yeah, hope that helps, Mike.

Gregorio Uglioni 11:19
Yes. And coming back to the highest possible customer satisfaction is the secret that you are paying your customer to give you this rating or agents are saying, I will ever cut in the salary of 20.

Paul Catherall 11:36
It’s probably a mixture of no lower and I’m not gonna I’m not gonna lie. No, we don’t pay our our our customers who are retailers to give us a high? i Yes, it’s a simple yes, no. So we certainly don’t pay him to give us a yes. What we do do though, is we focus meticulously on how our A Cust agents are resolving the customers issues, but also how they’re positioned in the CSAT score and making sure that it’s not just a simple add on that there’s some passion about it. And it’s the customers opportunity to, for us, for them to give us feedback in ways that we can improve. So yeah, and again, we’ve driven that, what over the past month or so when we’ve seen a five 10% increase in their customers who are now responding to our survey as well. So it’s not just simple. There is a tick in the box exercise on the QA form.

Gregorio Uglioni 12:26
And I think this is what what really matters in in our, let’s say in our business. Neil, perhaps one question about your podcast together with with Paul. And I use really objectives that I think that are really exceptional, brilliant, outstanding, because it’s really creating a big, big value. And from the point in time that you started those the collaboration together with the customer experience wargame 2021. Even better, but I don’t know the right words to define that. And why did you decide to support to support a customer experience for me in 2021?

Unknown Speaker 13:08
That’s a great question. I think that when Christopher Christopher has been a friend of the podcast, Chris Brooks, the founder of the CX word games, and we talked about, you know, we kind of saw this and what we don’t want him to tell us a little bit more about and he would tell us and I don’t know if we asked him if we could be involved or he just offered I honestly I don’t remember but the fact that there was a possibility of being associated with it and being involved with a fallen I mean, I’m all correct me if I’m wrong here, but I think we didn’t think twice about it. It was really “can we?”. Yeah, exactly. Great. Exact do it. Yeah, it was a great opportunity. And I think we didn’t exactly know what we were agreeing to when we went into it in a in a good way. But when we got there and realized, wow, we’re going to interview all these amazing people, the captains, the judges, the leaders about them, it was just an amazing experience to see how much went into planning that event. And how much went into participating in the event. I mean, the work that these people did was, was really top notch quality, but more importantly, the Neverland that helped with helping people and helping organizations in in different parts of the world. We met just an outstanding set of people, some of the people we already knew. Some of them, we didn’t know some of them, we get to know a little bit better. And that was just a wonderful opportunity for us. I’m so grateful. You know, it he had we haven’t talked about it. But if we were Christopher Brooks, if you’re hearing this, if you were to offer us again, I think Paul Paul, that I hoped we would both say yes, I think we certainly would, I think you know we just have we enjoyed it that much.

Gregorio Uglioni 14:44
Neil, I think we can test now because he’s saying that so Christopher Brooks is saying that he’s following my podcast. We will see if he will reply to this request. No practice. Exactly. And now I think I fully agree with you and for I’m thinking about charity and supporting others, I was part of the customer experience WarGames, 2021. I was in one outstanding team, we didn’t win. But the idea is not to win, or we all want together, being able to improve to help these discharges and improve the experience of the people collaborating and working with disabilities with discharges.

Neil Topf 15:23
That may add one more thing, sorry, this this poll, like you and I haven’t talked about this, but this this kind of recently occurred to me is that we were in the podcast, we were interviewing many of the authors, the contributing authors to the customer experience to rebook almost kind of in parallel at the same approximate time as the customer experience more games was going on. And I think there was some overlap between authors and participants, but also that community, quite heavily. I think, European focus in a great way. It was just a very interesting timing of all of these things. And I think it made it that much more enjoyable to be able to see, well, we just read this person’s chapter. And here they are participating in the games, or this person who is an author is also connected to these people. And they participate in this organization, and they live in this country. And they’re friends and they connect to get on LinkedIn. It was a very, very connected environment. And, again, something to to just to really enjoy.

Paul Catherall 16:24
Yeah, absolutely. It was a great experience to be on Grigori. And so this is how it were, for my memory is never the best. However, I do remember this. So Mr. Brooks was a guest on our podcast. And after we recorded the podcast, we got to start talking a little bit more in detail about the customer experience World Games. And it was actually Christopher that said, I’d love to get you guys on it was he? He mentioned it. And while Neil and I were over the moon, I don’t think either of us thought it was ever going to come true. And then well, we you won’t be told honestly, what he’s such a genuine guy that he said, Right? We’re doing it. And I think it’s just an amazing, yes. It’s an amazing experience. It’s an amazing, I guess, body of work that’s been done at the moment, right. But ultimately, the the CX world has a lot to be thankful for, for Mr. Brooks, in terms of creating that, you know, it’s just, it’s just a great, great thing to be up and running. And I never thought that I you know, a Welsh lad from a small town in, in north Wales would ever be part of something. So global, I guess. So yeah, I’m very proud that I’m very humbled to be part of that.

Gregorio Uglioni 17:37
I think what you’re saying I can only confirm it, I am sure that next year, I will participate again, because it’s really an outstanding opportunity, also to refresh the connection within the customer experience community. And it’s really a great community to learn about customer experience. And the most important is to help also other other people coming back to your podcasts, your you mentioned, some of your guests, and you’re really outstanding guests and quite a lot of discussions. And I think we are all CX professionals who are also working in the customer experience field, and perhaps also to to show the importance of podcasting and listening to podcast create podcast. Let’s start with Neil, what is the biggest learning that he with in your last, let’s say, roughly two years or three years, being part of the podcast, fires, chat without the fires?

Neil Topf 18:34
I love this question. So it’s such an opportunity to interact with thought leaders. And some of the thought leaders we’d know ahead of time, some of them we meet for the first time there. And sometimes we’re humans, right, you have an impression of people that you’d maybe you see in their photo on LinkedIn, or you read their thing on LinkedIn, or you know, you’ve seen them on a webinar or something like this, it’s easy to make a very quick judgment. And I admit, I fit in this one, I’m not sure about this person, that person is really smart. But not so nice. This one’s going to be really boring. And what we’ve learned is the judgment don’t judge because once we come on and hit the record button, it comes alive. And everyone shines in their own unique way. Some some of the guests are incredibly expressive. Some of them are incredibly brilliant. Some of them are so brilliant, but not as articulate and fun. Anyway, it’s a mix of personalities. And bottom line is we’ve learned a lot. I don’t always agree personally, with the things that each of the guests say. Sometimes I express that disagreement, sometimes I just keep it to myself, and that’s okay. What I have learned and this is kind of, you know, just thinking out loud, so I, Paul and I are both in the contact center portion of customer experience. And we get we’re at the intersection of so many different theories of practices of ideas of research, but we’re on the frontline. We Live this every day, there are some of our guests that are not living this every day. They’re writing about it. They’re asking the people that are on the frontlines every day. So they, they have a different perspective than us. Not better, not worse. Different. That’s okay. For me, the greatest thing that I’m focusing on right now in this particular moment in time, and I don’t want to hear anyone tell me anymore, you should you have to you must this, this, this this? I don’t want to hear it. I don’t want to hear it. What I want to hear is, really, if we do this, how do we connect this activity to the business? It makes sure that whatever the activity is, makes sense for the business. I think in our CX community, we don’t always connect the two. I think in our CX May, there are individuals that don’t know how to connect the two and that’s an opportunity for us. But these two have to be linked together. I’d wrap this this answer up with one final kind of thought, which is, we just recently interviewed a person in author named Rashad Tabak while we interviewed him just a few days ago, if the podcast is not yet published, and want a guy to challenge our thoughts, in many things, I’m thinking we have to connect the CX thing to the business. But he’s telling us don’t manage by spreadsheet, killing company to start managing by spreadsheet. And so again, like I have my world changed, thinking this way. And then that way, the podcast is a beautiful way to be challenged every single week by different people with different thoughts, and different perspectives. That’s one of the things I love about it.

Gregorio Uglioni 21:45
Thank you. I’m looking forward to listen to this to this podcast. And basically what you’re saying is strongly linked to what Gary Vaynerchuk is saying that he will never bring his company public because then he will have shareholders and he needs to deliver on what quarterly basis and he wants to deliver on the long term for sure he created his business he can decide is the owner is accountable for that. But I think this this way of thinking it’s outstanding. Now coming to you Paul, what’s what’s your, your biggest learning come from the podcast

Neil Topf 22:19
I can’t wait to hear this response. I’m excited because it’s I’m really curious to know what that

Unknown Speaker 22:24
thing well, don’t don’t be that excited, because more or less, I was gonna say what Neil was gonna say word for word. So I be going, Oh, my God, what am I gonna say now? So yeah, I 100%. With with everything that Neil said is, you can’t sometimes help. But think what people are going to be like before you meet them. And I’ve had my opinion changed of so many people for the better. Just being being able to host and co host and co-create the podcast. I think as well, the biggest learning for me is just the kindness of I want to say the CX community. But I think I put a broader spin on that. In people in general, you know, we ask them to come on to the podcast, we ask them to do some pre work. We take up 30-40, maybe sometimes an hour of their time every Friday. And they do it willingly. And they come on and they share valuable content and valuable insight. And not once has anybody said we’ll do it, we’ll do it at a cost. We’ll charge you and it has to be about us. Nobody has come on and said that nobody has demanded that we put that picture on the on the on the podcast artwork, for example. Nobody said you have to promote our business, you have to promote our book. It’s all been done from the kindness of people’s hearts. And I think Gregorio that really is That’s priceless, right? And for me, that’s why I enjoy it. I don’t enjoy it. That’s wrong. I love it. I’m very, very thankful of Neil, really to get me involved and to be part of this, you know, this this CX community. If I’d never started the podcast, I’d have never met you, for example, Gregorio, right. And, you know, I’ve been very, very lucky. I’ve met some of my CX CX heroes, I’ve met people who have expanded my mind in terms of way of thinking, Yes, Rishard was a wonderful guest. But also I’d like to call out, Jess Jess Noble was the first one who, who really, for me made the penny drop about CX and business right up until then it was all kind of we have to improve we have to improve CX why? Because it’s better customer experience. Right? That makes sense, right? But it wasn’t until we met with Jess and Jess when you need to improve customer experience because it has an impact on the bottom dollar and this is why and it was then for me that was like, Ah, I got it. And that definitely for me has been one of the biggest learnings. So yeah, there you go.

Gregorio Uglioni 24:57
If you enjoyed this episode, please share it with word of mouth Subscribe it share it until the next episode please don’t forget we are not in a b2b or b2c business we are in a human to human environment Thank you

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