How to empower Spanish-speaking agents to optimize conversations
With nearly 60 million Spanish speakers in the U.S. and growing, it’s absolutely essential for contact centers to consistently deliver high-performing conversations and excellent customer experiences when communicating with Spanish-speaking consumers. For companies willing to devote the same attention to Spanish speakers that they do to English-speaking customers, the growing number of Spanish-speakers presents a massive opportunity.
In this webinar, Phil Bennett and Aaron Nelson, discuss how contact center teams can empower and support bilingual agents and optimize conversations in Spanish to achieve peak performance.
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Andres Ramirez (00:00):
Welcome everyone. And again, my name is Andres Ramirez. I’m here to, to lead today’s webinar on how to maximize Spanish agent performance. For again, not just agents. I think that agents are vehicle right. Most importantly for your Spanish speaking segment. So we’ll talk a little bit today on some actionable ways to improve your process. I’ll also be introducing two great, great people and leaders in the space that have a lot of experience in managing contact center teams and making them successful both English and Spanish. Right. So we’re gonna be talking a little bit about the differences between the two. Dan is, the man behind current here. Dan, if you could go to the next slide, that’d be great. Great. So just a couple quick notes before we start again Andres Ramirez, I’m a strategic account executive here at Balto and for today’s call, we’re gonna have about 45 minutes.
Andres Ramirez (01:00):
So throughout those 45 minutes, really, this is gonna be very little about Balto more so about, again, those two experts that we have on the call and how they’ve seen success, what challenges they’ve run into in managing Spanish speaking contact center team. So it’s gonna be about 45 minutes and then towards the end, we’ll be doing a Q and a so you can use these two folks as a resource for you all quick reminder to use the Q and A button so that we keep all the questions organized in one place. And then last but not least we will be sending you a recording of this webinar, so you can refer back to it or share it to people that you think would find it relevant slash helpful. Really that’s the main goal here? How can we help you guys improve your operation might be a tall order for just a 45-minute call, but hopefully we’re, getting you guys thinking about things. All right. Next slide.
Andres Ramirez (01:56):
Okay. So for today’s agenda we’re gonna be introducing you to the panelists that we have already. We’re gonna be talking a little bit about why this matters, right? Why are we all here today? We had about 80 registrants. I’m not sure how many are on the call right now. But clearly there’s a drive to improve Spanish CX. So why does this matter? Not just now, but in the future, right? Why is this an important topic to have top of mind for the next 6, 9, 12 months, and then from there, we’ll actually move to the panel discussion. So we have prepared the panelists with some questions for us all to discuss and then Q and a, and then finally a quick little discussion on Balto Spanish. Again, that’s gonna become at the end. So if you wanna hop off before that, that’s totally fine. But we’re just gonna be talking briefly about how Balto has helped English teams and how we’re trying to help Spanish teams in the future. Awesome. So I feel like I’ve been talking way too much so far. Phil, do you mind just taking a second to introduce yourself and then Aaron, if you could go, that’d be great.
Phil Bennett (03:04):
Sure. No problem. Hopefully you can hear me. I had some internet issues there right at the beginning. Hopefully they don’t reoccur, but anyway, my name is Philip Bennett. My title is customer service operations manager, which I always kind of chuckle about because I don’t actually answer to customer service. We don’t do any operations and I actually don’t manage anybody. So it’s completely a bit misleading. The real title would probably be call center technology director, if you really wanted to describe what it is that I do located just outside of El Paso, Texas, that’s where our call center was prior to the pandemic. Now that we’re in the pandemic, we are remote and agents could be sitting anywhere across the country today. We’ve been, I’ve been with empire today since 2016, so six years now. And I’ve been in the industry since 2002.
Phil Bennett (04:01):
So I’ve been around for about 20 years in the industry, built my first call center with a, an online brokerage firm called options express and really enjoy the call center business. The team that I oversee or the team that runs out of our call centers, roughly 200 agents, probably about 40% of those are bilingual Spanish speakers. We don’t get that many Spanish calls for customer service per se, but we do get a lot of Spanish calls on install teams, things like that. So field support runs heavily bilingual, but we can, we certainly have no problem handling the the bilingual customer that might call in would prefer to speak in Spanish.
Andres Ramirez (04:52):
Awesome. Thank you, Phil. And don’t worry, guys, you’ll be hearing a little bit more about Phil’s experience and how he, was able to get to a point where he doesn’t have a problem, what those bilingual agents shortly <laugh> but Aaron to over to you.
Aaron Nelson (05:06):
Yeah, sure. So my name’s Aaron Nelson. I work for a company called progrexion, spelled a little weird with an X in the middle instead of a doubles. We’re the nation’s leading provider of credit repair services. So we help people fix their credit to get into a car home, you know, whatever they’re looking to do with their credit. Trying to make sure I hit all the points here. currently I, run sales strategy for the org. I’m not big on, I’m not big on titles, so I won’t get get into that. But you know, I’ve, I’ve ran our entire call center operation you know, in different capacities up to 1700 agents across seven physical locations prior to the pandemic. You know, we’re similar to Phil. We’re now, you know, post pandemic, we’ve moved to a full, nearly, fully remote model where, I mean, 95% remote.
Aaron Nelson (06:06):
We have a few agents that still like to come in house from time to time, but we’re, we’re mostly remote and, and hire a nationwide for the most part at this point. There’s a few states we’re still restricted in for, for hiring, but we’re moving to a full nationwide model. Let’s see, I’ve been with progrexion for gosh, a good chunk of my life. If I’m being honest, I’m, I’m going on 16 years here while actually just past 16 years in June. Been in the industry about 18 years similar to Phil I think in the call center industry, there’s kind of this saying that, you know, nobody ever, when they were a kid rose their hand and said, I, I wanna be in the call center industry for a living <laugh>, but fell into it and, and kind of got bit by the bug and have loved it.
Aaron Nelson (07:00):
And it’s, there’s always a challenge. There’s never a boring dull moment or a dull day. I never understand when people say, you know, man, the hours at work just dragged on today. I I’ve never had a day like that. <Laugh> so, so it’s high energy. I, you know, I love the industry and, and that’s, what’s kept me in it. I’m trying to see, so, so again, I kind of hit, you know, we had seven, still do have seven physical locations, mostly work at home. Like I said we do one thing that will probably come up at point at one point in this discussion is we run a different model for our call centers, typically in a call center environment, you’re gonna see frontline leader to agent ratios of 20, 25, 30 to one. We, we run 15 to one ratios cuz we’re very highly regulated in the credit repair industry.
Aaron Nelson (07:55):
It’s similar to the, to the financial or FinTech industry. We’ve got a ton of regulations. So we run really tight leadership, low ratios and, and that’s something that another reason we brought Balto in to help us and in terms of Spanish, we’re, we’ve always ran a small Spanish queue for, for years. It’s never been perfect or scalable, but in recent years we’ve recognized the Spanish opportunity specifically in our industry. There are a ton of Spanish speaking people that really, really need help with their credit. And it’s really the next big, you know, market for us to go after. So we’ve, moved to an outsource model and I’ll get into that more later I’m sure. But we currently have a, roughly 50 outsourced bilingual agents that, that run our Spanish queue. So I probably took more time than I should have, but that’s that the high level on me?
Andres Ramirez (08:57):
I mean, that’s totally fine. I could sit here and, and listen to you chat about your history for, you know, 20 minutes Aaron you’re you’re totally good. But one interesting thing that, that you called out there was just how you see the, the growth in the market for your company in the Spanish segment. And that’s something that we will touch on later during the webinar, but also something that ties back well with what I mentioned earlier with, how do we talk about the Spanish segment, not just as something to address now, but opportunities in the future. Right. So appreciate you both giving a little context into, into your experience the context center space Dan, if you go to the next slide.
Andres Ramirez (09:36):
So I think to give further context here, just a bit more why is it important that we focus on this right now and this kind of expands on Aaron’s point in regards to the future of the Spanish speaking market. Next slide, please. Couple of stacks to throw your way here. Right now the Spanish CX is lacking. And the reason that I say that is because through my own personal experience, I, I was born in Venezuela. I’m an immigrant and I came here in the year 2000. So I don’t know if there are any other folks that have a similar story in this webinar, but growing up, I had to help my parents on calls when, whether it be Comcast, whether it be United airlines, whatever it may be just to help them talk English to the agents because the Spanish CX was lacking.
Andres Ramirez (10:24):
It was just, it seemed like it was kind of like a wild, wild west, right. And one of the biggest reasons that we wanted to organize this webinar today, apart from the stats that you see on the screen is that customer experience just cannot be siloed, especially not throughout through language, right? So you can’t have one customer experience for English speaking customers and one Spanish customer experience. Right. We need to kind of break down that wall and take what we learn from each side and see if we can apply it to the other side. Right. so I don’t wanna take up too much time here on this slide, but Aaron and Phil, any thoughts on what you see in front of you so far? Is this worth like, is this, is this impressive to you? Is this what, like when you guys wake up and you see this and you’re like, wow, this is a large market. Is this not that large? What do you think?
Aaron Nelson (11:16):
Yeah, I mean, for me, it speaks to kind of what I already mentioned, which is, I mean, we’ve, we’ve been fortunate as a company in that we’ve, we’ve had just crazy exponential growth for, for years in recent years, it’s slowed down for us. And so like any company we’re looking at, what’s the next big market. And for, for us, again, we’ve always dabbled in Spanish. But when we did, you know, we had Bain and company and McKenzie, a bunch of big name, you know different consulting firms come in and do studies on our market. And by far, the obvious, next big market for us to tap into is, Spanish. So these numbers don’t surprise me. They, they encourage me and excite me and, and just back up, you know, where the direction we’re already moving.
Andres Ramirez (12:09):
Phil Bennett (12:11):
Yeah. I’d say as a non-Spanish speaker, it, it concerns me just to touch, but then I’ve been living in El Paso for almost 20 years now, or for over 20 years now. So to, to me, it doesn’t surprise me, the, the trends I think are obvious. And, and I think all you have to do is just sort of pay attention to the way demographics are changing. Sure. You know, not only in this area, but in, in other areas surrounding that this is definitely going to be a way that we’re going to need to service our customers going forward. There’s just no question about it.
Andres Ramirez (12:45):
Yeah. And, and I think one, one thing you guys are both ahead of the curve on this. Maybe I’m a little bit behind, but what I found surprising about this was the 1.7 trillion purchasing power of Spanish speakers in the us right now. Right? So to your guys’ point, this is Spanish speaking is the future, right? As far as growth goes, but right now that is a purchasing power. And I think like, that’s why this is not only a market opportunity for the future, but a market necessity almost. Right. simply because that’s how big the customer segment is for a lot of companies out there. Dan, if you can go to the next slide. So without further ado, let’s get to the good stuff. Right. let’s start talking about these questions that we have prepared for Aaron and Phil. So, first one in what ways do you see customer experiences differ from Spanish speaking customers compared with English speaking customers? I know that I shared my anecdote if you will. But I’m sure you guys have seen it, I guess in a little bit more broader level what those differences might be.
Phil Bennett (13:48):
I’ll chime in with one thing, one of the biggest difficulties and, and it creates the experience. So the experience for an English speaking customer, they enter the queue, they talk to a native English speaker on the other end of the phone. Everything is in English. if you, if you have Spanish speakers running, you know, working on your queues, a lot of times the, the, you know, the materials that they’re working with and interacting with, unless they go through and they translate them, you know, the, the CRM is in English. You know, all the tools that they use are in English. So they have to be, you know, very, very fluent in both languages in order to provide a good experience. Otherwise it’s a, you know, a slower experience, a more clunky experience for, for the customer on the other end. And, and, you know, it doesn’t really help that the speaker can speak in Spanish if, if they still have difficulty you know getting the point across or, or literally translating the materials that they’re working in and, and using into Spanish before they convey it to the customer. So, you know, it, it can make it much more difficult. In most cases, the Spanish conversations take longer than English conversations. And, and that’s not, that’s not good from a customer experience standpoint for the Spanish customer coming in.
Aaron Nelson (15:21):
Yeah. I, I mean, my feedback is almost identical to Phil’s. I’ll just echo what you said there. I mean, it, we, for our company, I can tell you, I was just looking at some stats before this call. And on, on average, our handle time on Spanish calls is roughly four minutes longer than English calls, which may not seem like a lot, but in the call center industry, when you’re talking about average handle time on all calls, four minutes is sizeable from, from a staffing perspective. I mean, from a customer experience perspective, and a lot of that’s what Phil hit on something we’ve dealt with, you know, with our C Phil mentioned CRM. I mean, we have our own custom, in-house grown proprietary CRM that we’ve developed over the last 20 years. We’re currently transitioning to Salesforce, although we’ve been doing that for two years and we’re still nowhere near done.
Aaron Nelson (16:20):
So <laugh> yeah. Another 10 years to go, right? Yeah, yeah, no kidding. But, but that’s a whole nother story, but, but with our in-house CRM, I mean, it’s 24 million lines of PHP code. So going into that and translating it all to Spanish may seem simple, but it, but it’s not. So we’ve had to provide, we have a pre professional translating service that we use that translates our scripts into the, you know, the best possible form of Spanish for us. Yeah. But our Spanish speaking agents are having to rely on, you know, it’s kind of archaic PDF versions of the script that are translated into Spanish. And then another big thing that we run into is again, cause we’re so highly regulated. We have a lot of different legal disclosures and things that we have to read. There’s a good chunk of time where due to the laws, even though our conversation would be in Spanish, we would still have to read those disclosures to callers in English, which makes no sense.
Aaron Nelson (17:20):
But yeah, due to certain state laws, we had to do it that way. That’s recently changed. So now we’re translating a lot of our legal disclosures into Spanish and everything, but the, the long-term goal is to get our complete CRM in Spanish for our, our bilingual agents. But that also comes with, you know, when we, this slide talks about the customer experience, another thing for age, for Spanish speaking people is the website experience and translating the entire website and client site when they sign up with us into Spanish, that’s a huge undertaking and, and something that’s going on right now. So, so yeah, it’s, it’s the, the only other point I would make that really affects the customer experience, I think for Spanish, outside of just the, the longer talk times and everything is also longer hold times, I would say for most companies, mine included. I wish it wasn’t the case. It’s just to crappier experience because there’s less bilingual agents, therefore it’s harder to staff those queues of customers experience longer hold times. They also experience more transfers if they call in and happen to get an English speaking person and they, then they have to transfer it to a Spanish speaking person. It’s just, it can be a clunky experience, you know, between the IVR and auto attendant transfers all of it.
Andres Ramirez (18:45):
And I think you mentioned a couple of important things there. I think number one, the one that was most surprising to me was that there are outside factors that actually make the Spanish experience worse. Like for example, like different states, having those laws that you have to say it in English. Yeah. Even though someone might not even understand. Right. what, what they’re saying, right. That that’s one and then also number two, the entire CX experience of, okay, it’s not just voice, but it’s also chat. It’s also website, it’s also the, the email campaign as well. Right. I know we’re talk, we’re talking about voice today, but let’s not forget that voice is a small piece of that puzzle. Right. so that, so that was really interesting. Let’s move on to the second question, Dan, and I think this would be a a good way to kind of break down a little bit more detail, what those challenges and hurdles are that you guys kind of mentioned high level.
Andres Ramirez (19:34):
Right. So what challenges, difficulties or hurdles do bilingual agents experience when serving Spanish speaking customers? And I think now would be a good idea or would be a good time to focus on maybe a couple of like those external ones that folks may not be aware of such as like those laws but also, maybe in your own experience from working with your own teams. Right. What were some of the challenges that you guys faced apart from the ones that you may have mentioned already? And how did you overcome those? Or did you overcome those? What was the effect there?
Aaron Nelson (20:06):
Sure. I, I mean, I can chime in, I, I think we, we probably, some of these questions kind of merged together. I think we both totally mentioned some stuff on the last slide that, that speaks to this one thing I haven’t talked about that was specific to our business, that a challenge we ran into with our agents with, with Spanish was we’re a fully commissioned environment. Which, which is good. I mean, we have untapped commission, I I’ve got sales agents that make six figures and don’t even blink twice, you know? So, so it’s a good opportunity, but we had a hard time at first staffing our Spanish queue because the experience for our agents was something I already talked about. The calls are longer in general. So, and, there’s a lot of specific terms for our industry legal que terms that are specific to credit repair that are hard to translate into Spanish.
Aaron Nelson (21:02):
And so it, it led to these longer calls, more difficult, I would say calls just because of the, you know, trying to translate some of the more technical stuff into Spanish. And because we’re a fully commissioned environment, longer calls means less sales opportunities, less at bats and therefore less money <laugh> for yeah. For the sales agent and that’s their bottom line. That’s why they’re here, you know? So, so we’ve had to make adjustments to our commission structure and plans and, and how we pay on Spanish. We’ve had to incentivize to, to move agents that you, you know, to the Spanish queue that, that are bilingual. And that’s one of the reasons we ultimately ended up moving to a fully outsourced model for Spanish speakers also, cuz it’s harder to hire, you know, bilingual people. There’s less of them out there. So we’ve had to go to kind of nearshore offshore you know, some call centers in Mexico and, and whatnot, where, where Spanish is the primary language to really staff those queues and get people that are, are motivated to want to, to take those calls.
Andres Ramirez (22:11):
I picked up one key thing there, but Phil go ahead.
Phil Bennett (22:15):
No, I was gonna say we actually have the opposite problem. Mm-Hmm <affirmative> being located in El Paso, Spanish speaking is native to probably, oh, I wanna say 75% of the population in, El Paso. But one of the things that you get is can they, you know, can they handle themselves on the phone in a professional manner using proper Spanish? And, and so this becomes an issue as well. We literally have to give our agents a test to make sure that they can, you know, respond properly when asked, not just with basic, you know, street Spanish that, that they grew up with, but you know, much more formal Spanish because, you know, accents are very different. I don’t know if you’ve ever you know, living in El Paso, one of the most unique experiences for me was going to Miami because Miami has an extremely high Cuban population.
Phil Bennett (23:16):
Yeah. The accents are completely different. Yeah. You just, you, you can’t under, you know, and, and, and I’m, I’m just like, man, I can’t understand. So you have to be careful, you know, the fact that accents affect English speakers, they, they affect foreign language speakers as well. You have to make sure that, you know, you’re, you’re understood. And so, you know, things like that, people don’t really think about, but you, you really do have to take them into account in, vetting your team, even if, if they do speak Spanish when, when you hire them. So, you know, it’s not always as easy as you might think.
Andres Ramirez (23:50):
Yeah. That’s an excellent point. Phil I’m, I’m Venezuelan. I speak Spanish fluently and there’s still times that I can’t understand like a Cuban or Puerto Rican accent. It’s insane. Right. And I think that’s a good call out because I think when people say Spanish, they, it’s kind of like a monolith, right. When it’s not, and it’s not just a different, it’s not like a Southern twang. It’s not just that it’s literally like people cutting off half of the word in how they talk. Right.
Phil Bennett (24:16):
Well, I’ll give you a great anecdote on this. And, and this has actually affected me directly. My wife is from county Waterford Ireland. And the first time I went over to meet the family I’d never been to Ireland. She was a, I knew Irish people, but you know, most of them, I didn’t have any problem understanding, but, but you know, we, we were visiting her friends and, and we walked out of somebody’s house and she looked at me and she said, you know, why are you being such a jerk? And I said, I’m not. And she says, you’re not talking to them. And I said, I don’t understand them. I said, I understand every single word they’ve said, I just don’t understand the way they’re saying it because the slang is different the way people talk is different. And literally trying to, to fathom that just to this day, there’s times that I’ll get into conversations over there and, and I’ll just get lost about halfway through. Totally. Because you know, the things that they’re saying, I’m like, yeah, I understand what you’re saying. I just don’t understand the way you’re, you know? Yeah. I don’t understand what you mean. So yeah. It can be very interesting. Be an interesting challenge.
Andres Ramirez (25:20):
I got, I got a good chat from Elena Lozada who says it’s not just the accent, but the dialect and that’s spot on. Oh yes. That that’s a hundred percent spot on. One thing that Aaron mentioned that I think segueways well to the next question, is that kind of tight rope that you have to walk between the employee experience and the customer experience. Right. Because as Aaron mentioned, you know, he wants to expand that the Spanish support team, right. At the same time, Spanish agents don’t wanna take Spanish calls because they take longer and then it hits their wallet. Right. so my question to you guys would be, how does your team support bilingual agents to ensure their success?
Aaron Nelson (26:02):
Well, I kind of already mentioned the, the first major change we had to make was in the commission structure itself.
Andres Ramirez (26:09):
Aaron Nelson (26:11):
We had to do the math and say, okay, Spanish calls take longer. Here’s the difference on the average handle time, here’s how that translates into dollars per sale and pay for it. And and, and again, it’s, it’s worth it. It impacts we run on a CPA model. So it does impact our CPAs, but it’s the next big market. And if we want to continue growing, it’s worth every penny, you know, tenfold. Right. So, so that was a very early on change. We had to make the, the other changes, I would say, you know, when I, I, when I first looked at this question, how does your team support bilingual language or, or bilingual agents to ensure their success? When I first saw my knee jerk reaction was we don’t do enough. <Laugh> that? I mean, just being Frank, that that’s probably not what I should reveal, but that that’s the honest answer is we don’t do enough.
Aaron Nelson (27:03):
We’re pivoting though. And that’s where all of this work, you know, before agents had to translate the script on the fly. Now we’ve at least provided professionally translated versions of the script. Again, it’s not ideal cuz it’s not right there in the CRM. Like the English script is they have to have on a second monitor, you know, a PDF version of the script, but at least it’s in Spanish now. And the longer term work is, like I said, a full kind of redo of our CRM fully translated into Spanish as well as our, our client site and everything. Cuz our agents will use our website to, you know, walk people through. If they have questions, wanna see testimonials about our service, et cetera. Mm-Hmm <affirmative> and when it’s in English, it’s just, it’s clunky. It doesn’t really work. So, so, so that again, we don’t do enough, but we’re pivoting and doing much more than we ever have and have big plans to do more and more in the future
Andres Ramirez (28:02):
That that’s why you’re on this webinar. Right. Because you guys are pivoting. Right. I think you mentioned something interesting there about the commission structure being different, right. So if I understand correctly, your Spanish agents have a different commission structure than your English agents. Right. which I think contests in a good way, my earlier point about becoming un-siloed, right? There’s more nuanced to that, right? Because you can’t just treat it as it’s interesting. Like you wanna build a holistic strategy for a customer experience at the same time, you have to respect that English, the English process might be different than the Spanish process and accommodate for that. Right. really, really smart of you guys to do that. What about you? Well,
Aaron Nelson (28:42):
And, and our hope is as we transition the CRM and get some of these other tools, potentially Balto Spanish in place that, that handle time difference between a Spanish and English call will come down and you know, who knows how much, but if we could close the gap completely great. We would love to do that.
Phil Bennett (29:03):
Yeah. I, I definitely agree with that. I mean, first of all, I agree that we probably don’t do enough to support the agents. You know, I was laughing because that was the first thought that came to, to my head as well. But the same time, you know, you have to recognize that they are two different channels, two different processes basically. And, and you do have to treat them differently. We incent our agents more once they pass the test and can start taking Spanish calls. So if they’re not in a commission role, that that’s the way we do it, they, they make more per hour and you know, so that, that’s one way that you, you start the process, but that doesn’t actually support the agent. It simply incentivizes the the agent to, to, you know, reach out for it. But the other things that you have to take into account the Q and a process has to be done differently because, you know, re remember when you listen to the phone calls, you have to have somebody that can understand the phone call.
Phil Bennett (30:00):
So you have to have Spanish speakers doing your Q&A for your, your Spanish speaking teams. So you have to make sure that the alignment is the same, that you know, that they’re being held accountable to the same, the same metric and the same things. One metric that, that we’re we hold them less accountable for is actually average handle time because we, unfortunately, I, it’s not my favorite metric in the call center, but a lot of call centers do it. And we are one of them. We, we believe that, you know, average handle time is a metric that we need to be watching because, you know, time is money. I mean, and, and the longer the phone call, the longer it takes, but, you know Spanish speakers, we do know those calls take longer. And so, you know, they are not held to as tight a, an average handle time because of that.
Phil Bennett (30:49):
So, you know, there are things that you can do. And again, you know, as we translate things for them into Spanish, and it will be a long time before it will be our CRM, because ours is, not one that, you know, it is, it’s very old, it’s actually quite outdated. And, and so it’s not going to be real easy to, you know, do translations there. The best will be able to do is scripts and things like that. Mm-Hmm <affirmative>, and, and so, you know, those are kind of the things that you have to do, and if you really want them to give, you know, topnotch service because the truth of the matter is, you know, the customer experience starts with the agent experience and the better the agent experience is the easier it is for them for that to come through in the call and make a better customer experience for the customer itself.
Andres Ramirez (31:44):
So I, I heard an interesting equation the other day from a guy on, on LinkedIn called David Powers. He has a great podcast CX caffeinated or caffeinated CX, some, something like that. Mm-Hmm <affirmative> and the equation is E ex employee experience equals CX customer experience squared. Right? So if you lower the barriers to success for those employees, you’re gonna improve your customer experience exponentially, right? Yes. because the customer experience starts with your employees, it starts with your agents, they’re typically the first or second line of interaction, right. So if you make their jobs easy for them and you make it easy for them to succeed, you make ’em happy, your customer experience is gonna improve. Right. Just yeah,
Phil Bennett (32:31):
Go ahead. Yeah. I was gonna say, just as an aside, I just wanna point out that I consider my, my agents to be one of my customers. And so, yeah, I try to serve. So as far as I’m concerned in the call center, we have numerous customers. We have the people that call us to do business, but we also have our agents. We have our supervisors, we have the people that consume the data we produce, they’re all agents and we need to, we need to service or they’re all customers. They, we need to service all of them because we’re all interacting with them. And the better that we can do that, you know, the more seamless that true experience becomes.
Aaron Nelson (33:09):
Yeah. Spot on their agents are internal customers. And I know we need to move on and go to the next question quickly. There’s just 20 seconds worth of something I think is worth sharing on this, which is one thing that wasn’t a hundred percent because of Spanish, but Spanish definitely helped push us this way is to give our agents a better experience. Knowing these calls are longer. And our calls even in English are already generally longer than most call centers. We don’t run schedule adherence in our call center, we move to a CFT or customer facing model mm-hmm <affirmative>, which is we require 80% of our agents time to be customer facing, which means either available to take a call or on a call, the other 20% of the time. We don’t care. You can be on break lunch, going to the bathroom in a coaching. We don’t care when you do it, how you do it, you have 20% of your day to manage as you please
Andres Ramirez (34:06):
Definitely have some questions on that, but you’re right. We do have to move on. So maybe move that to the, to the QA. That’s an excellent point though. As a reminder guys, if anyone has any questions, please put ’em in the QA channel, and then I’ll be sure to touch on them in a couple of minutes here. So very briefly how do you structure your team to best accommodate inbound or up on calls for Spanish speaking customers? And if you guys could, if most people do like a press two for Spanish, right? They, they set up that different queue. Is there anything different that you guys do? And it’s okay if there’s not.
Aaron Nelson (34:41):
Nothing’s super special there, no, we have an IDR prompt, like a press two option, and then dedicated we have internal transfer VDN that all our agents know. So if they happen to get a Spanish call, they can transfer it to the Spanish queue. But I mean, yeah, nothing, nothing too crazy outside of the norm for us.
Phil Bennett (35:00):
Yeah. Same, same with us. The one thing I will say is that, you know, the entire teams from top to bottom from leadership to bottom are all bilingual. Right. And can all, you know, equally communicate in both languages. And that, that goes in our call center, that goes right up to, to the most senior management. I, I don’t know about everybody. I, I’m not fluent in Spanish, but probably most of the people in senior management in the call center are as well. So we do make sure that, you know, they are supported by people who will understand not only what they’re going through, but also, you know, the, some of the difficulties that they face as far as, you know, even, even to, using, you know, Spanish English words in the Spanish phrases and things like that, that happen in, in bilingual you know, situations. So it makes it a lot easier for, for them to, you know, fit in, I would say.
Andres Ramirez (35:58):
Yeah. Yeah, totally. So it sounds like you guys do have a good grasp of, of how to, manage that. Right. and I did get a question that I’ll, that I’ll share a little bit later, but Dan, if you can go to, yes. I know that this is something that we kind of already talked about. What future opportunities do you see within the Spanish speaking market? I think I’m gonna shift this a little bit just for the sake of time and hopefully make it a little bit more helpful for everyone in the audience, if you’re a director or if you’re a manager or maybe even potentially a VP at a contact center right now, and you see the opportunity in the Spanish speaking market, but maybe your company doesn’t, how would you go about, or how did you guys go about if you did kind of moving the wheel on that, right. Kind of shifting the mindset and helping folks understand the, the opportunity in this market.
Aaron Nelson (36:50):
I mean, the first word that comes to my mind is data, at least for my company, that data talks. So just running the data from speech analytics, data on how many Spanish callers we get to, like I said, we had big companies like Bain McKenzie and company come in and do studies on our market. And the data showed Spanish is the next horizon, if you will. <Laugh> and that’s, that’s what really moved it for us was the data to keep it short and simple.
Phil Bennett (37:22):
Yeah. I’d have to say I was lucky when I got here, we were already doing it, so I didn’t have to sell it. Now, I will say that there have been a lot of things that I have had to sell over the years. And the only thing that I can tell you when doing it is, you know, I do a mixture of working, you know out in the open and also behind the scenes. So, you know, I I’m out there proselytizing about the things that, you know, the areas we need to be moving in to stay relevant. Sure. And, and that’s really a very critical role for somebody in the who’s in the, you know, design side of the call center, because, you know, we’re not trying to be relevant for today. We’re trying to be relevant for five years from now, six, 10 years from now.
Phil Bennett (38:08):
And so you have to be a little bit of a futurist, I would say you have to be able to kind of see where the market is, is moving towards the, the different channels that are gaining ascendancy. And, and then you have to, you know, work both behind the scenes and, you know, indirectly trying to sell that sort of thing. So behind the scenes, I would find products that will fit my needs for English speaking. Mm-Hmm <affirmative>, but might be able to be expanded to Spanish, you know, the Spanish queue. The problem really is it isn’t a big enough portion of the call center for us to be bringing in strictly Spanish, you know labeled and Spanish language products per se. But if you can find something that you can bring in that will fit your needs that has the capability on the, on it, then it’s definitely the, the far superior product to, to be pushing. And then you can say, you can go back and say, Hey, not only have I been talking about it, but guess what, we now have the ability to, to, you know, really expand on that and support it. And, you know, we’d really like to get it a test going for it. Right. And a lot of times you can really move the needle that way.
Andres Ramirez (39:21):
I think that makes sense, right? Like looking for a holistic solution that could help, not just one team, but potentially two down the line. I know that we’re coming up on time here and I definitely wanna get to the questions that have been asked. So one from Elena how do you manage when the initial agent doesn’t speak Spanish and they need to communicate and they need to transfer the customer. How does your team manage that?
Aaron Nelson (39:45):
I’ll keep it short and simple. Ours is very archaic right now. We have a simple, you know, one line sentence that we’ve translated from, know, from English into Spanish that our English speaking agents can read. You know, is execution on reading that saying, you know, trying to translate, Hey, I need to transfer you to someone that can speak Spanish. Is the execution perfect? No, that’s actually something that we were hoping Balto with Spanish can eventually help us with is a live prompt for something like that.
Phil Bennett (40:19):
Mm-Hmm <affirmative>, I would say exactly the same thing. And, and in fact, you know, that does open up some opportunities because we were just talking the other day on a call that, that we, we don’t currently have Balto for Spanish yet because you’re just releasing it now. And so, you know, one of the supervisors said, you know, we don’t have Balto to, to work with our Spanish agents. You know, how, how are we going to do this, you know, this new process. And one of the best things I was able to say was, Hey, guess what, you know, we are going to be able to have Balto do that sort of thing. So, you know, but that is definitely the case, you know?
Andres Ramirez (40:59):
Totally. And I think that, that, I’m glad you brought that up, Phil, because I think it, it wraps up well with this next question from Nancy who asked this for Aaron, but I’ll ask this for for Phil as well. What did your call centers use before Baltimore? What motivated you to change? Aaron, if you could take that first, that’d be great.
Aaron Nelson (41:20):
Yeah. So the short answer on what we used before, so was nothing <laugh>. I mean, we had a script and we had training and we had job aids and, and answer deck, you know, or a, or a knowledge base, you know, like you typically see in a call center. So they could go to get answers to the most commonly asked questions. And, but outside of that, really nothing, what motivated us to get into something like Balto was, you know, we’re always trying to be on the cutting edge of what’s new and the best and brightest out there. And we, we try to go to different, you know, contact center conferences and whatnot each year. And if any of you have ever been to a call center conference recently, AI is almost all, anyone talks about <laugh>. And so we started doing research into different companies.
Aaron Nelson (42:11):
We vetted a few out you know, some of Balto’s competitors as well. And Balto just seemed to be the most simple for the agent to use the, you know, the, the most easy to implement, you know, in terms of our dev environment and technology. And and yeah, just the demos seem much more impressive than what we saw from the others. So we were looking for something like that and luckily landed on, on, and, you know, we’re still in the process of implementing, but we’re, we’re very hopeful for what it’s gonna do for us,
Andres Ramirez (42:48):
Phil. I apologize. I know you’re gonna be singing our praises from the rooftops, but given the time constraint, I’m gonna have to cut you short there. I apologize. It’s okay. But this is a good segue, right? Appreciate everything you said, Aaron. If you could go to the next slide, Dan, I know that we’re at time here. So just one quick thing to add a lot of the conversation today, revolve around how do we equip our agents to provide the best possible experience? Because there are a lot of things outside of our control, right? That affect Spanish speaking customers. There’s a lot of things within our control, right? So how do we focus on that? Balto has released Spanish functionality for realtime guidance. And what this means is that we’re actively listening in on every call and helping Spanish agents provide the best CX, whether that be improving customer scores excuse me, CSAT scores, or improving conversion for your organization, right. Helping them guide be guided towards a successful call on every single call. So next slide, please. Dan, if there is any interest from you guys to learn more, you’re more than welcome to, to reach out to me directly. You should be getting information via email otherwise really appreciate you all making time for joining us today. And thank you, Aaron. Thank you, Phil. For, I don’t know about anyone else, but making me feel a lot smarter about this and learning so much today really appreciate it.
Aaron Nelson (44:15):
Absolutely. Thank you. Thanks for having us. Yeah. All right.
Andres Ramirez (44:18):
Appreciate. Thanks everyone. Have a great day. Thank
Aaron Nelson (44:20):
You. Yep. Thank you.