BizTech BizTech Podcasts

Ep. 110 AI Overload The Mind-Blowing Ways Artificial Intelligence Elevates CX! Pt. 3/3 With Audra Lindell

March 27, 2024

Subscribe to the Next Level BizTech podcast, so you don’t miss an episode!
Amazon Music | Apple Podcasts | Listen on Spotify | Watch on YouTube

Listen to this episode with our incredible partner, Audra Lindell, from Lucidia IT. You’ll hear from Audra about how she went from being a mechanic and her time in the service to being the CX Practice lead at Lucidia. You’ll hear the depth of how she goes into battle and helps customers scope out projects, leverages all different types of AI and CX technology, and ultimately provides dramatic improvements from what the customers had before.

LuprestoTelarus Hey everybody, welcome back. Today we’re talking about the hot topic that everybody wants to hear about. We’ve got to have AI in the title. Today is AI Overload and the mind-blowing ways that artificial intelligence actually elevates CX, the customer experience. On with us today we have the amazing Audra Lindell fromLucidia IT. Audra, welcome on. Nice to see you, everybody. Audra, we got a lot of stuff to jump in on here, but the first thing I want to talk about for anybody that doesn’t know you, I just, you know, I like hearing about people’s stories. So tell me, did you have a windy path? Did you have a linear path? How’d you get here? Yeah, for sure. So I graduated from Ball State University a long time ago and I graduated in speech communications degree. So I feel like I’m actually using my degree and putting it to use, right? Paid off those student loans. Right after I graduated I left for Seoul, South Korea to teach English for a year and then when I returned I joined the military. So I was a United States military 63 Bravo, which is a mechanic for those of you who are not familiar with that. I served 10 years and while I was also going to Ball State and then after I decided it was time to move on I landed my very first contact center agent job collecting on student loan debt, handling very sensitive financial data. I think that that was probably the hardest job I’ve ever had collecting on student loan debt. From there I became a supervisor in the contact center that I moved on to corporate training. Then I became a director of 85 locations at ITT Technical Institute helping with those students who wanted to take the hybrid approach of attending on campus and online. And then I became a contact center designer for for Connect One and I think that that position really was the pivotal position in my career where I really fell in love with the customer experience with contact center, with supervising, with workforce management, with staffing. My brand image I like to say that Audra Lindell loves contact center more than Cupid loves Valentine’s Day. So as of today I’m about 25 years in the industry which is crazy to think about and over the various roles I really feel like again my speech communications degree is really playing a part in in my experience. Love it. Good stuff. First of all thank you for your service. I love that path right? Fellow Hoosier also so that’s that’s a big deal here. Let’s talk about let’s talk about Lucidia here for a second right? So you have this cool path you’ve seen the progression of technology. For anybody that doesn’t know who Lucidia IT is obviously a great partner of ours right? We appreciate the partnership but but help us understand a little bit about what your role is and who is Lucidia. For sure. So at Lucidia IT I serve as the contact center practice lead or overlay and we have about six pillars we can do business in. So we have about seven account executives. We have a location here in Indiana and we recently launched our Ohio location. Again we’re not restricted by territory which makes it nice we can really really sell anywhere but we can also embed inside of a customer’s business inside of their infrastructure, managed services, cyber security, physical security and then a data center networking. Really the gamut across the board and so where we dive in I’m the UCAS and contact center practice lead so anything voice related anything customer experience. We actually were named Inc 5000 one of the fastest growing companies in the state of Indiana and one really cool thing to note is that we achieved a ranking of 482 out of 7 million applicants. So that positions us very well to when considering IT Lucidia IT as a solution provider. Love it. Huge differentiator. Congrats on that. That’s a hard list. That’s a hard list to get into. Good stuff there. I mean any anything to dive deeper on that just a second before we start talking a little bit about kind of AI and CX anything as you kind of talk to these customers and you do some of these engagements that helps you guys stand out from the competition? I would say where Lucidia is our strength is really the dedication to making sure we’re grabbing those customer requirements. We dive deep, we stay sticky and it’s really it becomes a collaborative decision-making process with the customer very much included from the very beginning until the end of the design and then making sure that we can continue to partner with them in other areas of our business. Love it. Let’s talk about lessons learned here. One of my favorite things I never thought this was definitely not the interest of mine in high school or in college but history right and so I’d like to learn current leaders learn from previous leaders learn from Julius Caesar I mean it goes back and back and back right so if you just look back let’s look back five years ten years fifteen years some of those key lessons that you’ve kind of brought with you into this role now. Absolutely. So I would say anytime I think about gathering requirements for a customer I always know basic phone usage, ACD routing, reports, recording those all come into play. I think a very very important lesson I learned I showed up on site I delivered agent training I reported back to my boss at the end of the day and I said hey everything went great I’ll be back on site tomorrow to deliver supervisor training showed up the next day and you take supervisors who’ve been on a solution even just for a year they know the reports they run every day they know exactly how to conduct their business the performance management and how to manage their team. We trained them on the reports we started training them they you know they had attended the agent training the previous day so they felt really comfortable but today we’re training them on how to do their job every day as a supervisor and report data can be similar but sometimes when you start talking about naming convention and I was pulling this report yesterday and now I’m pulling a different report in a different solution and the data elements don’t match up and I can’t customize my data I’m exporting it into pivot tables it’s just not working for me so I saw great stress and it was a challenge so from that day forward I always when it comes to gathering requirements during the discovery phase I will ask for the reports that those supervisors are running today currently and then I send those to the providers or the solution suppliers that they’re considering so that we can do a match so that when that supervisor walks into that office the day they transition they already know the reports they’re going to run and they’re set up for success so that was a very huge lesson and challenging for sure but it stayed with me. Yeah and they feel like they they were she listened oh my gosh they understand us they got our requirements because I think customers are sometimes so used to I’m gonna have to repeat this a lot of times at the vendors but when they see the solution actually gets built right that’s a smooth process because of your efforts which they right you know keeps them coming back right well and we really start in my opinion your transformation starts or your onboarding really starts the day you decide to consider a new solution for your your customer base your internal customer base your teams you need to get them excited at that point they really should be involved in the entire process versus coming in oh hey guys we changed their new solution today yeah yeah that goes well yeah so report that that report comparison and I would say going back to I think you’re about to maybe ask me this question but really what makes us stand out with suppliers is they they now know to expect that level of data from us yeah yeah that that does fine tune kind of you know what are suppliers expecting they know what it’s going to be like so you form a tighter relationship with the suppliers that you know when you trust right so that kind of things yeah 100% all right let’s talk about I mean we’re talking about AI we’re talking about elevating CX right with some of these great tools and technologies that we didn’t have in years past so let’s start this off maybe with a big challenge so what’s a big challenge that you see in in the customer experience today and then maybe the value in how you help solve that okay so going back to my days as mechanic in the United States Army I do these things called customer tune-ups right you take your car in for a tune-up why would you not take your customer experience in for the same type of tune-up so I always challenge my customers when’s the last time you called into your IVR and tested that inbound phone number so my many reviews consisted or consist of atLucidia IT really testing all of the channels to make sure what we’re watching for response times phone calls you’re probably waiting in queue average speed of answer for 2023 was 28 seconds so a lot of customers have a challenge meeting that average speed of answer but I’m also looking for response times if you are offering an email channel on your on your websites customer facing make sure that you’re setting that expectation of when can Josh expect to hear back from you especially because email volumes can change and then really connecting that email experience with that voice so if I call into your contact center do you know that I’ve sent an email so really connecting that that Omni channel customer experience so what I’m looking for during this video reviews or response times email response times and really setting those clear expectations and then menu options I can’t tell you how many times I call in after hours and you’re offering or the customers are offering the option to speak with an agent if agents are available 24 7 that’s great or if you are outsourcing that and you do have someone available otherwise my encouragement or my best practices to make sure that you’re removing that option from the menu I would say from a biggest challenge right now it’s probably staffing and response times and then making sure that you your channels are connected yeah I’ve always loved this a partner taught me this years and years and years ago and you know I said what are some great tips that you have and he said when every time I walk into any business anywhere I look over the counter I see what kind of phone they have I gather a little knowledge about it but you’re really taking that I mean it it’s such a valuable thing because I don’t know that the customers their job is to just go ah this isn’t working like help me fix it and they don’t understand the why but you’re just going in and dialing in and combing through the IVR and going and I think when you bring that data back that’s such a more valuable conversation for the customer and has to help you just stand out because you’ve done things that others and sometimes they don’t know that they’re disconnecting calls or their lines are ringing a fast busy because they don’t have reports right so I think it’s just we our job really is to provide insight and sometimes it helps us helps us open the door to accounts where we don’t have relationships and we’re just saying hey we want to make sure that you understand when we called your phone number at this time of day the call is disconnected it routed to a fast busy signal and so many times they’ve just thanked us for bringing that to their attention yeah I love that awesome strategy all right so so this part I mean I want to talk about I call this segment surprising wins so I like to hear when we get into the weeds in a deal you know the tech stack they had before versus the tech stack they had after and I think when we get into customer engagements sometimes the information that we get it’s exactly that’s the situation we find and then other times it just ends up completely different so walk us through one of those where you had a surprising win what was that journey like how did it start and kind of where did that go yeah for sure I would say that the NCAA win indeed came as a great surprise for our team again that started with existing relationships in the pillars that I previously mentioned atLucidia IT and so we played a significant role in their transformation again getting them excited having that starting the conversation of your currently on this solution and you’d like to consider moving to to a different solution we found ourselves sitting at the table at the time we weren’t the partner record for their existing solution so we served as their consultant right sitting at the table I actually prepped their my competitor for the presentation really staying seated in that trusted advisor position to make sure that we’d gathered the requirements and they brought in four vendors to start with again their competitor their current provider and then we brought in three different ones that really met the requirements I love on-site demonstrations I just think that that’s where it’s at you you can really begin their team starts to trust the account executive their product so it really allows for a deeper dive conversation during the on-site presentation we immediately offer a feedback session to make sure hey how did that go my analogy is everybody probably listening is bought a new house when you walk through that front door what’s the first thing you ask yourself as you toured could I live here can I live here and so my encouragement whenever I’m working with a customer and we’re showing prospective vendors is can you live here is it easy to navigate does it meet your requirements what are your points of friction so we conducted feedback sessions they took four vendors and immediately down selected to two for about four weeks we teetered with between those two vendors so I had to find a way to help really finalize that decision again saying you know seated in that trusted advisor position so I introduced something called workshops it’s similar to a proof of concept or proof of value but not but you’re not really testing everything you’re testing those top priority requirements that are a must-have so we tested we conducted reporting workshops with each one of the down select vendors and then we we also had a workshop around quality again making sure that we take that deep dive because you can export a call recording everybody can say yeah we can run reports but what again what does that output of the reports look like and can I use that to manage my team on a day-to-day basis so the result of those two workshops help them down select the final vendor love it yeah I love the love the detail there I think sometimes as you get into these the customers just don’t know what what journey or what it is to expect they don’t know the exercise so it’s awesome to kind of see that exercise that you run them through and then obviously you know it’s it’s it’s kind of circular in value you get to see how much value you got to get out of this and how much they got and what that did for the relationship and then you can kind of go all right cool let’s go do it again right that worked really well awesome stuff but you nailed it I mean I think that that just the surprise we like birthday surprises right we like surprise wins but the surprise one is really a reminder that success does lie in the details and the attention to detail which my drill sergeant for sure taught me I do not know I will find out yeah yeah great answer yeah never there’s there’s always a way to find out even if you don’t know that’s okay but you can figure it out all right let’s talk a little about AI so so we talk a lot about the product ization of AI and I think if you’re outside looking in it kind of looks like okay everybody’s talking about they have some component of AI and so I mean from from your perspective as a partner right where you are required to understand and know and what supplier does what and what tool and what spot is this a dial pad is this a whoever you know Von it you know whatever right right tool right spot sure what do you think the channel if the folks on the channel for suppliers are listening what do you think that the channel can do better and the product ization of of AI over time in this gold rush for me I would I would tell you a story of again I was at converge one and I’ve really been on one product I would say for the the length of my 24 years now having been at Lucidia for three knowing that there are 211 different phone solutions customers can choose from I remember the very first time I saw wrap-up code assignment automatically assigned based on the conversation the agent had with the customer versus an agent choosing from over 175 configured wrap-up codes to assign the right wrap-up code so I think from a channel perspective really making sure that we’re trained I don’t know that there’s a way that we can be trained on all 211 but making sure that we really understand the difference we understand when AI works it works well when it creates customer friction where there’s tuning involved really just making sure that we’re all up to speed because obviously technology is constantly evolving so I think from a channel perspective just making sure that you’re getting in front of us and keeping us up to speed so if you think about AI does you know I this is a I don’t know this is a little bit of a like a religious stance conversation I guess but does AI standalone as a platform does it always end up being a feature of an existing product that we know and understand that gets matured over time and iterated on and gets better and better what you read on that yeah I think it can be both for just knowing and again a great example I think Sam Nelson is doing a great job at Polaris making sure that we understand where we can take a product and overlay it maybe we’re not looking to do a rip and replace but we can take one solution and and I’ll just call it one specifically that makes the most sense here is level AI having been a quality manager I would come into work and I would have a plan for my day listen to five call recordings for these five agents once a week and everybody else had a different plan for my day I can put level AI on top of my current contact center solution and listen to over like 100% of my calls can be coached real time which is again best practices if I coach and if I listen to a call from Monday and I coach agent on Friday that calls already passed right so I think the shift there as a standalone product is the ability to to add on a product like level AI when it’s included again you take five nines IVA and customer calls in I had a customer they literally took 12 months to train their their agents well can you imagine what happens with attrition over a 12 month period but if you have kind of that that IVA and that nests next best action you’re going to short your training time hopefully reduce attrition by quite a bit so again I think just going back to your original question Josh both standalone and both both included are very successful ways to approach yeah I think it’s a great point too and I mean if you think about what we’re trying to do is as you know people that are trying to sell technology solutions here we do need both because it just it all comes down to what the customers buying cycle is maybe they’re not ready to do a full rip maybe they’ve just gotten embedded into a tech stack that they didn’t love and they need that stand-alone yeah you’re right I mean good good message both both is a good answer there for sure good let’s talk about risks let’s say I’m an organization and I go robots aren’t gonna take our job this is fine it’s a it’s another you know I’ve been through a bunch of paradigm shifts what’s the risk to me as an org if I’m a if I’m a business out there listening to this and I don’t embrace and adopt these in some capacity what do I miss out on or what happens well and and so I’ll take it I think again just as we’re talking about really gathering those requirements some customers aren’t ready for it either they think they are but in my opinion when AI works it works great when it doesn’t I think I already said this but it causes customer friction and that’s because some customers have what I would call kind of a more traditional client tell they want when that call rings they want it to go straight to somebody to answer right they don’t want any of the in between I think solutions risk and so that was more of a risk for the customers if they try it and it doesn’t work the risk to providers if they aren’t heading in that direction or at least providing some portion of AI they risk being left behind by competitors again my my wrap-up code scenario or use case again having been on one platform and then moving and seeing another platform do it so differently and remove the the manual action and really deliver an efficiency that that’s the risk to providers not moving in that direction yeah you know it’s you bring up a good point I was on a was on a discovery call yesterday super modernized customer super sharp and was looking at some of the pricing of adding you know adding kind of a you know some of the co-pilot licensing that Microsoft offers and just some of the simple things that he needed to write you know write me a report on XYZ blah blah blah he said for my seat you know I bought a multitude of these licenses the second thing came out I bolted it right on top of my e5s and from that one that one thing that one thing that I had it do that the effectiveness and the value of that project that it did for me paid for this thing for the next 24 months so I think it’s such a different it seems like such a different way where people are like oh this is a new thing it’s an increased cost this is so different and thankfully in our favor where people we don’t have to tell people no no this is important it’s important and they see cost optimization and they see you know pick a pick a reason to buy it seems like there’s a lot of that that’s here in these offerings well and it might even increase brand loyalty if I call in and an agent really needs to take that full two-minute after call work time versus that wrap-up code automatically assigned to that call of course we want to make sure that it’s correct right listen to the summary that that’s really an ROI because I am then getting on the phone with that next customer reducing wait times increasing my service levels so yeah bring up a good point final couple questions here so I’m a partner I’m listening to this I’m excited maybe I’m not into this tech area but maybe you’ve got me excited to move into this tech area what what advice do you have for the partners what do they start what should they do you know imagine yourself before you got into this space and you want to get into this space sure I would say a lot of the suppliers now are vendors they offer a free proof of concept so I would say test it try it try it on for size I mean all of us have taken a picture of somebody at a party we like their dress and then we’ve scanned it into Amazon the very first time you did it it might have scared you but then now you’re constantly saying hey where can I buy this product I think the same is true for AI everybody’s talking about it it’s the buzz what does it really look like and really how does it fit into your organization because again going back to my previous use case some customers want to use it they think they want to use it but it doesn’t fit so I think you really need to determine your strategy for where AI fits within your customer database and then you’re you’re training your your team as well all right final thoughts we look at our crystal balls we look we look into the future so let’s think about the customer experience right where do you see I mean there’s so much tech here where do you see the customer experience heading in the next few years innovations just this is you tell us anything you think the future is going to be well I’m gonna if you were a crystal ball I’m gonna put my wish in I would love the future of AI I mean based on the conversation we’re having today you can tell I gather a ton of requirements we do side-by-side shadowing sessions remote sessions we’re really making sure that we understand every single use case for a customer who might be considering transitioning to a new platform but what that also means is I’m taking all of those requirements and then I’m mapping them out so if you’ve ever responded to an RFP you know that there’s a bullet point of hey we want all of these things I work a lot with Megan Ty and Michael Ballinger and Jason Lowe to say okay here’s my next RFP what are the best partners to introduce and respond with I want that to be automated I should I would love to just type in all of my customer requirements and say Audra these four oops just threw my microphone these four providers or suppliers would be your best fit because right now sometimes it’s a trial and error sending the RFP to say hey can you do this you know do offer this feature set so for me personally that that’s what I would love and then I was even thinking I love to design videos but sometimes aligning those connectors are just a little tedious takes a lot of time what if I as the designers contact center and designer could actually speak my options customer calls into the toll-free number here are the menu options here’s where the call routes and it’s kind of designing it automatically in the background so that’s the next challenge for somebody some vendor on listening to this call to do just that but I think really the future of contact center I recently had a conference call and there was a halo I think that that’s how they’re gonna refer to it but I was basically on a zoom call and I could see the lady transporting the speaker transporting from country to country and she was like visiting these rooms a holograph I guess so I think well right now we hear folks say I don’t want to talk to anybody there’s a generation and that we don’t want to call we just want to text we want to use your web chat but I think the more personalized we can make that experience the more we can know why a customer is calling and make sure that they’re not repeating themselves that’s really the future of contact center that that personalization the efficiency gain for the team and the customer love it okay that wraps us up I’m out of questions Audra you crushed it thank you so much for coming on I did it okay very good awesome all right well until next time Audra Lindell Lucidia IT I’m your host JoshLupresto SVP of sales engineering atTelarus this has been next level biz tech go like and subscribe