Interview with Ty Givens
strategic guidance played an integral part in the global success of Thrive Market and ShoeDazzle. Givens is known for her ability to save client’s millions in revenue, improve call answer rates by over 40% and increase productivity by over 30%. She is a trusted advisor to many high profile clients within the e-commerce, healthcare, and retail space making her one of the most sought-after strategists for contact centers.
Hi Ty! What was the inspiration behind you founding your own company? How did you begin to build a client base and recruit such high-profile clients?
That's a really good question. I was inspired to start The Workforce Pro after having worked in quite a few startups that had limited resources but wanted to deliver a best in class, high touch, white glove customer experience. To do that, you need a few different roles within the team and that extends from having a great support team.
The Workforce Pro ended up being my answer to the gap that I saw in other customer experience teams, especially for startups and younger companies. When you have a team of ten and someone says that you need a quality person and you need a workforce management person and you need a trainer, most people ask "Why do I need all of those people?".It really depends on how quickly you're planning to scale and grow.
We offer all of those solutions in a shared resource environment and that gives the client a 60% ROI. It's really a no-brainer to work with us because we focus on only on results. My ability to work with higher profile clients comes from the work that I've done with some of the companies that I was employed with, and the relationships that I built along the way.
It's been an honour actually to be referred to companies, such as Thrive Cosmetics. I was referred to them from someone who I'd worked with previously who knew what I was able to deliver. That, for me, is the biggest honour to have someone say to another, if you have this problem I know someone who can fix and solve it and they're really great. Then I get to meet them and do what I do best.
Your work with ShoeDazzle and Thrive Market is very impressive. Tell us about some of the strategies you implemented in their global successes.
Shoe Dazzle and Thrive Market are two really well known companies that are doing fantastically well with their customer base and they're both subscription services. When I worked for Shoe Dazzle, I joined at a time when their model had just recently changed, they had just eliminated the subscription model.
While I was there [with Shoe Dazzle], I was part of the group that helped to bring back the VIP service, which was essentially the subscription model again, but at a lower price point. I was with them for a year and about six months in, we learnt about the acquisition with Just Fab.
Along with my team, I helped to transition the support team from Los Angeles to two different offshore locations. We did that within a 90 day time-frame without any international travel and the company is doing really well under Just Fab today.
With Thrive Market, I was the seventh person to join the customer service team and I was brought in to lead and grow the team. I helped to scale that team from seven to nearly 130 people within one year. We moved locations twice (that was totally transparent to the customer). We ensured fast response times.
We did at one point have challenges with long wait times because we were getting so much volume, but it was a team effort to bring that down. I think that when I look back at Thrive, one of the biggest wins for me was the ability to be able to scale that team. I didn't do it alone, but the ability to scale that team was a huge accomplishment for me. When I think about both of those companies, I'm so honoured to be a part of that story and to have been able to jump in and help them deliver the experiences that they deliver today.
What areas of improvement do you focus on to save your clients millions?
The name of my business is actually the foundation of everything that we do and all of the processes are rooted in workforce management. Workforce management is the process of forecasting your workload, estimating the number of people that you'll need to actually do the work, getting those people scheduled, and getting them in the right place at the right time. Then it also includes tracking, reporting and analysis.
When I was 19 years old, I had a boss his name is Jasen. I don't think he would mind me saying his name, he was very instrumental in my growth. I remember talking to Jason about a change that I wanted to make. What's funny is, I don't remember the change but I remember being 19 and I remember calling him and saying I think if we make this change it'll be a win. I think it was about training one group on something that would take 30 minutes and the return on investment was a two FTE savings.
Jasen told me to reach out to the director which felt scary to me, and he said to talk to her about it because that's a huge savings and he let me take the lead on that and I'm forever grateful because they taught me a lot. I was in a workforce management role at the time and so I actually used those same theories and practices.
If we make one change to a process, how much can we save when we do that. When I'm working with my clients, I'm always looking at ways to increase productivity, to reduce the manual effort, and to increase customer loyalty. That's the foundation of every single thing that we do.
Customer experience jobs are often difficult and some times thankless. How you do guide your clients to address their CX departments?
Sometimes customer service can feel like a thankless job and it is very difficult. It's difficult because you're dealing with people and when you deal with people you deal with emotions, and when you talk about emotions there's very little to no logic involved in that type of space. You have to have high emotional intelligence in order to work in customer service and be successful.
Here are some tips I give my clients: create a separate but equal space for your customer experience team. I recommend this because in some cases your customer experience group is non-exempt. If they're non-exempt then especially if they're in California, there are very strict labour laws when they have to take a break and for how long, things like that.
When you have a group of non-exempt employees or hourly employees who are witnessing the privilege of the exempt employee, that could be a bit of a challenge, even though the exempted employee gets calls on weekends and calls at night, and they're expected to work off the clock, even though the non-exempt person doesn't see this, it still creates a stigma.
I wanted to create a separate space, with the same amenities but where the non-exempt team is around other non-exempt people all day and they don't feel like they're missing out on anything. I do recommend that space be shared in some way so that they can still converse with and interact with other members of the company.
The other thing is to create a listening system. One way I do this is through an internal knowledge base, where employees can submit their ideas. They roll up to the leadership team, the leadership team is then accountable for actually providing feedback on or even helping to implement some of these ideas. There should also be company town halls, so that there's an all inclusive environment, places and times to celebrate your team, and to also hear opportunities for improvement.
How does your virtual, on-shore CX team provide a high touch, white glove service to your clients?
put together the model for my CX team [based on my needs when running contact centers]. I don't know why out-sourcers charge so much, but I do know that we offer a different approach. You can think of it as white label service. If you work with us as your customer experience team, your customer has no idea that they're not talking to someone physically in your building, or who is not employed by you.
We focus on fast response times, because this is key and accurate response times, because that matters the most. We focus on those two things because we don't charge our customers for time. We only charge them by the ticket, that means that if we don't resolve the customer's issue really well the first time and they write back with more questions, we eat the cost because you're not paying for time. That's our skin in the game: to make sure that we are delivering for you the best experience. In order to keep costs down, we're a virtual team.
We are all located in Los Angeles [California] and I know you're thinking it's expensive to operate in Los Angeles. It doesn't have to be. My team is trained to deliver more than just exceptional service, they're trained to look at the opportunities to improve with every engagement that we receive. If someone writes in about a concern or a question that they have, that should be part of FAQs or a helpdesk and we make it a part of that. That's a part of our process is to continuously look, learn, listen and improve. When we do that, we've seen one of our clients receive less than 1% contacts from their paying customer base.