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Does Poor Leadership Impact The Customer Experience? With Cameron Farrar

Updated: May 17



Juanita Coley: Hey, guys, and welcome back to Call Center Chronicles. I'm super excited to have you with us here today. Man, we've been having such an excellent conversation. Would you guys agree if you're joining in with us alive today, so we're streaming on Facebook, we're streaming on YouTube, LinkedIn, so follow us?


Okay, wherever, alright, and type in the comments, let me know that you're here. Well, let me know where you're joining from, or the organization you're listening in from, we've been having such a good conversation, and you guys have been sending in some great topics.


So, I have an announcement about season two, but I'm going to stay focused. We're going to talk about season one and get through this episode first. And then we'll get into Episode Two at another point in time.


But for right now, I'm super excited about this week's show, because it's titled, does poor leadership impact customer experience?


What you all think? Somebody let me know, what is leadership has to do with the customer experience that we get on the end isn't just about, taking phone calls and making sure that the customer gets their account balance, or they get what they're calling in about, what is leadership has to do with that anyway. So, I want to talk about it. And I want to bring on our guest expert.


Today, Cameron, we met a while back, a long time ago. And he was such an awesome person to work with. But I'm going to bring him on. I'm going to let him introduce himself. And we're going to dive right in because I have a lot of questions.


And you guys already know how the show goes where we ask a question, and it goes into a whole tangent on something else. But that's okay because you all want to know the answers to these questions because you all send me the emails about these questions.


So, I know that you guys want to know. Okay, so without further ado, I am going to welcome Cameron.


Cameron, welcome to the show today. Thank you so much for being here with us.


Cameron Farrar: It's my pleasure. Thank you for having me.


Juanita Coley: Tell us so we were talking earlier. And we were I was like me and Cameron. We've known each other since. What? I don't know. A while. It's been years.


Cameron Farrar: Yes. I would say close to a decade.


Juanita Coley: Yes. Probably about 10 years. That's insane. Tell me, you're recounting about the first time that you've met me.


Cameron Farrar: Yes, I think I had just become, Site Director or taken it over, while Elena was out in England on an assignment. And so, feeling a little overwhelmed. And I would come downstairs every day to walk the call center floor to greet everybody, it was my way of taking the temperature of how all the programs are doing.


And I had to walk by the command center. And I think our first substantive interaction happened, where you and I had a conversation about the business. And I remember walking away going, WOW, she knows her stuff.


And what struck me and what I want to talk about today in terms of leadership, is you had a vision about how things should be and you had an opinion and that's what matters, I think, is that you felt very strongly about how the business should look and feel and run.


And you took your role in that equation there are so many people in the call center that make up the experience. But if everybody has that passion and that degree of dedication, then we're going to be in okay shape. We can fix things right. And I remember walking away going, okay, I'm not alone. I've got a partner and that meant a lot to me.


Juanita Coley: That's awesome Camera and I remember, we would get a lot of visitors in the command center because one just the way we were structured, we were this center focus point. And so, for those of you, we were like this fishbowl. And so, when united would get our optimum, we get new customers or clients, they will bring them by the command center.


So, we were just like this, viewers type of place. And so, people would always walk in, what is it that you guys do? We make sure that the business runs, that calls are getting answered, effectively and efficiently, the lines are up, we play triage to IT.


And so, we had a lot of different roles. And so, it was interesting building that department and running the department and building relationships with, yourself and Elina, and just all of the different people that we had to work with and build relationships, just make sure that we were able to get the job done.


That a whole episode for a whole nether time about building relationships so you can get the job done.


And I think it's something to be said, to build authentic relationships. It's one thing to be kind of like opportunists where you're building a relationship just for the sake of getting done what you need to get done. But building relationships to where 10 years later, I could say Cameron, I got the show you want to come on?


And you're like - ABSOLUTELY.


And I think that's something to be said about been building genuine relationships. And being a leader that takes ownership, one of the things that you said that stuck out to me is that I had this vision. And I had one boss who used to say, he was awesome and amazing, he used to say success rises and falls on leadership, which is, we know that comes from, I can't remember the book right now but it's a book that, that comes from someone else that it comes from, but he's to say it all the time, he introduced me to that.


And I believe that that's so true success rises and falls on leadership. And so, when we succeed, great, that's leadership when we fail, great or not great, that's leadership, as well as so we have to figure out what's important? What are the business's goals and objectives beyond metrics?


Beyond metrics, and that's what I was concerned about in the command center, beyond just the metrics, service level ASA, things like that. What is United Healthcare’s, because that's where we were at, helping people live healthier lives. That's our mission. And that's what our culture says.


So, how do we do that? How do we embody that culture? Even though we have metrics that we have to meet, how do I help people live healthier lives? And that is not only the customer that's calling in for customer support, but that's even my agents. How do I make sure that they have flexible shifts, or they have the type of work-life balance that helps them to live a healthier life? And so yes, I am super passionate about Call Center Operations, workforce management.


I like to say I'm, the Disney of call centers, I, When I think of call centers, I see the stars, the rainbows, and all the fun stuff. That's me. I don't know why I'm kind of quirky like that. But I love it.


Cameron Farrar: It's a world unto itself.


Juanita Coley: It is, it is its discipline, for sure. So, tell us a little bit more about you, Camera. So, you've moved on from United Healthcare. I've moved on from United Healthcare. Tell me what you've been doing, catch us up.


Cameron Farrar: Yes. So, I loved United Healthcare, great leaders, great experience, great mission. And what happened was our division was sold to another worldwide contact center company TTEC, a lot of people know about that. And so, we moved over there. And I went from kind of my multi-hat role to focused on process improvement for the healthcare vertical as TTEC expanded their footprint in that market area in healthcare.


And so, I spent about 18 months doing that great company, they invested in their employees invested in me. They sent me to Villanova University to get my Lean Six Sigma Black Belt. So that was a wonderful, great department over there. Good leadership. So, that was a great story.


I had an opportunity and I took it and went to Everise, and ran their training and quality team for the United States under Paul Szymanski and Dave Palmer, he's now the CEO of that worldwide company. So worked with them in that and since then, I decided to take a break from the call center industry and completely left that went on into an unrelated industry, and now I've decided to open my shop back up.


So, I'm working independently as a consultant and I'm working on improving the employee experience and helping companies not just with their process improvement in terms of getting things done, but their process with their people.


So, that people find meaning at work, find a home, and can thrive and grow. Because ultimately, if they feel the freedom to spend more than a third of their life at work, and it's meaningful, they're going to have a successful company on their hands.


Juanita Coley: Your career has been amazing. But one thing, one thing that stood out to me when you were at United Healthcare is process improvement. And that's where I had the most interaction with you was process improvement, the change management and you were instrumental, you see, I got to put all the syllables in there, okay. Instrumental to helping us to implement playbooks. You remember, when we rolled out playbooks? My gosh, it was like, why, Lord? Why did I think I could do this?


Cameron Farrar: It's so complex, especially when you think of, okay, so at that time, we had probably about 10,000 seats all together across the United States, and to do anything and not miss a phone call, not drop a phone call, not interrupt the business, deliver great service, even though you have massive changes going, just moving the site location, that was another thing we had to do together, make sure that happens smoothly, implementing brand new performance management systems, doing cutovers, and IT all the data centers had to get cut over and not miss a phone call. And that process is a team effort.


Juanita Coley: My gosh, I remember those cutover calls at 3 am and being on those calls. When I was talking to get the cash to the episode with Ebony, I was talking with Ebony I was saying, Ebony, do you remember all of this stuff that we used to do together in the call center? And she was like, do I?


My god, it was so many cutovers and move insights that I was like, is the backup ACD working? And do they have this, you know, logins and all those good things? And I think that is what people don't see when they think about leadership. So, the topic of this episode, is, does poor leadership impact the customer experience?


Think about it, if we weren't making sure that we had redundancies to our cutover plans, and we had a rollback plan.