CXperts Episode #12: Ben Segal, Senior Director of CX at Pair Eyewear - Scaling a CX team during massive growth
CXperts: Alexander Kvamme meets with Ben Segal, Senior Director of CX at Pair Eyewear to talk about how he is leveraging technology to meet the challenges of high-touch customer experiences and improve the efficiency and quality of customer interactions.
CXperts is a podcast where we dive into the hot topics and trends around customer experience with thought leaders and luminaries from the world’s most recognizable and successful companies and brands.
This week’s episode: Alexander Kvamme meets with Ben Segal, Senior Director of CX at Pair, to talk about how he quickly scaled Pair Eyewear’s CX organization with the help of technology solutions, BPOs, and a great internal team. Ben shares tips on how to start a QA program to improve team performance and discusses the future of customer experience.
Ben is a renowned CX leader with a track record of helping direct-to-consumer companies scale CX with complex operational models. Ben is also a volunteer CX coach at Zendesk for startups.
Pair Eyewear designs and sells glasses with customizable tops that customers can take off, changing their look daily. Since being funded on Shark Tank, Pair Eyewear has seen tremendous growth, with annual revenue growing 10x year over year since 2020. Their team has scaled from five people to over 220 worldwide, 150 of whom are customer experience (CX) team members. To fuel their growth, the company also raised a $60M Series B funding round in 2021.
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Alexander Kvamme 00:27
Okay. Hello, everyone. Welcome to another episode of CXperts, the podcast where we dive into hot topics and trends around customer experience with thought leaders and luminaries from the most recognizable and fastest-growing brands. I'm your host, once again, Alex Kvamme, co-founder and CEO of Pathlight, the performance intelligence platform for managing the productivity of large and growing customer-facing teams. We combine analytics, insights, quality, and now workforce management, as well as employee engagement, into an end-to-end platform to make teams successful.
My guest today is a friend of mine, and a friend of Pathlight's, Ben Segal, senior director of CX at Pair Eyewear. For those who don't know, Pair Eyewear designs and sells glasses with customizable tops. Ben, do you want to give a little flip there?
Ben Segal 01:13
Oh, yeah. Of course. I've got my top on right now. Top's off.
Alexander Kvamme 01:16
There you go.
Ben Segal 01:16
I've got you.
Alexander Kvamme 01:17
So, you can change those tops every day like you change your clothes. You can buy basic frames for $60, and add magnetic top frames for $25. Pair Eyewear has licensing deals with a bunch of cool brands, and companies, and properties, Marvel, Harry Potter, NBA teams, so that you can have branded top frames. Since being funded on Shark Tank, or featured on Shark Tank, Pair Eyewear has seen tremendous growth. Revenue has 10x'd year over year since 2020. The team has scaled from one, to five, to 220. The CX order has made a big part of that scaling, which we'll talk about. To fuel their growth, the company raised a 60 million dollar Series B in 2021.
Ben, I'm super excited to have you. When I think of luminary in CX, you're one of the first people that come to mind. Also, I understand that you recently had your second kid. You're dialing in from parental leave, which I really appreciate. Welcome, Ben, to the podcast.
Ben Segal 02:18
Thank you so much. Great to be here. I've seen some of the recent episodes, too. I was so excited to get to join you here. Thank you so much for having me. I am still in baby world over here, so it's nice to be focused on a little bit of work when I can.
Alexander Kvamme 02:33
The customers you're supporting right now ... What do you think your CSAT rating is right now, across the kids?
Ben Segal 02:40
Oh, boy. Well, the older one probably rates me a little bit higher than the younger one. The younger one's very demanding, very needy. Those bottles, they come quick. They're often, so-
Alexander Kvamme 02:50
Yeah. As I said, I've got a three-year-old and a one-year-old.
The one-year-old, I'm definitely on like a one or two-star CSAT rating right now.
I've got to work on increasing it, but she's demanding.
Ben Segal 03:01
Yeah. You and me both.
Alexander Kvamme 03:03
So, Ben, you've seen the podcast. You know that we like to keep it super technical for operators, by operators. I want our audience, our listeners, our viewers, to take some of the insights that they can glean from these, and take it straight into their leadership meeting, or their Q4 planning session, or 2023 planning session, what have you, and kind of roll those things out.
Before we do that, let's do a quick review of your background. This is exciting, because you have a super interesting background. I'm just kind of reading off the LinkedIn profile. You spent years in sports. I think mostly customer-facing roles, but across nearly every league. It seems like you maybe were trying to collect them. You know? You were trying to collect, make sure you worked at every single league. You worked for the Patriots, the Bruins, the Yankees, the Mets for quite some time. Then you worked at MSG, Madison Square Garden, Barclays Center, so you got some of that probably live entertainment and other things there.
Then, at some point, you were like, "Oh, gosh. I'm just tired of hanging out with Lady Gaga. I'm going to move into technology and technology customer support." You worked at Freshly, where you had a couple of roles, but you were really focused on infrastructural efficiency in the CX department. You were there for about four and a half years. Then you joined Pair Eyewear about 18 months ago as senior director of customer experience, right when the growth was starting to really, really show up. I guess, of course, your last two roles apply the most to this podcast, but if you just think back to your time in sports and entertainment, what did you take from that experience that kind of helped set you up for success in your current role and current industry?
Ben Segal 05:02
Yeah. Great question. It's always fun when you hear all that stuff read back to you. It's like, "Who did that? I guess I did." You do it day in, day out. You don't realize the resume you start to put together and all the places you worked. I think the biggest thing for me is any negative customer interaction you could possibly have on a call, chat, or email is way less hard than a negative interaction in a venue where that person is standing in front of your face, and you have to solve their problem right there, right then.
I remember a lot of times at Barclays Center when we first opened. It was a brand new building, and they sold tickets on one seating chart. That seating chart didn't actually come to be at construction. Right? You were selling tickets for a brand new building. Imagine night one, opening night, Jay-Z. You spent $1,000 on your two tickets or something, right, to come into this big, big, high level event. You show up, and literally the seat that you have purchased the ticket for does not exist. It is not there. You're going to stand right in front of me. We're looking at it together, and your chair's not there. How do I find a spot for you, and how do I make this better? You're already in the building. Your ticket scanned, and it was a valid ticket. What do I do in that moment?
No matter how many negative interactions you may have on a call, chat, or email, I always think back to those experiences like, "All right, this is good. I have an email. I can think about it. I have a phone call. I can put them on hold. It's a chat. I'll go to another chat. I'll come back to this one. He's going to hold a little bit longer." You can make life a little bit easier. I think that perspective made me coming into the CX world maybe easier than it would've been for someone who hadn't lived in that other space first.
Alexander Kvamme 06:42
So perspective, really, is one of the things you learned. That's great. It's so great learning, too. I think about a kind of similar view, just in general. You know, working in technology and startups is hard. It's stressful. There are some books on stress, because it was a mechanism to avoid lions in the Sahara. I honestly think sometimes to myself, "Well, I'm not running from an apex predator right now."
Ben Segal 07:12
Alexander Kvamme 07:13
"I'm dealing with something over email that's causing my cortisone to rise a little bit."
That's great ... Fast forwarding, now, to your time at Freshly and at Pair Eyewear. Maybe the best way to frame that, I'd love to hear your take on how CX is different across those two companies. Freshly, of course, is subscription food to your door. Right?
Pair Eyewear is eyewear that probably very often involves a prescription and stuff like that. Maybe help paint the picture of what CX was like, both at Freshly, and then kind of the unique challenges that you face at Pair Eyewear.
Ben Segal 08:10
Sure. I think first I want to say, overall, I think CX in general, at both Freshly and Pair, are really good. Right? I'd like to think maybe I had some part of that, but I really like it to feel like we're your friend. We're here to help. If that's our brand voice, or tone, I think that that's a good one for a direct-to-customer company to have. I like the general CX that Freshly still has to this day, and what Pair does. I've definitely seen some differences between how they both operate, and maybe I was unaware coming into Pair.
I remember, thinking back on my Freshly days. We used to look at the number of meals we would ship out, and then how many of those meals would result in a ticket. I remember the last count. It was something like 12% of all meals came back as a ticket. A lot of my thinking going into Pair was plan for a similar ratio. What I found day one at Pair was it was almost like two to one, where every order for glasses was resulting in two+ tickets. My immediate goal was, okay, well let's get that to at least one to one, and let's get better to under one to one, and try to figure out why is this happening.
Pretty soon, I of course realized why it was happening, and that I probably couldn't reduce it much more, because we are so unique. When you go online and you purchase glasses, we need to get your prescription. Maybe you have it. Maybe you don't. If you don't have it, can you give me your doctor's information? I need to go reach out to them to get it for you. If you do have it, did you submit it, or are you just holding onto it for a later date, and you'll send it to me later? Even when you do get it, does it have pupillary distance, or do I have to send you a link to a fun little app to go and measure that, so that we can actually go and produce your glasses?
Not so much with the tops, but every base frame order is going to result in a CX contact, and probably multiple. We're going to have to go back and forth before we can actually process this order that you paid for on a regular Shopify site. Right? Like any other D to C commerce brand. In our world, every person who purchases Pair at some point is going to be interacting with someone on my team, so we're even more important now at Pair than we were at Freshly. I think that's been a unique challenge for me to tackle.
Alexander Kvamme 10:40
That is so interesting, and obviously, it makes sense once you hear it. So not only is CX important at Pair because as the company grows, you're going to see, effectively, a one to one increase in volume.
So many folks in the CX space are thinking about ways, "Hey, how can I reduce the tickets coming in? How can I reduce that number?" The nature of your business and your product at Pair, as you said, "It's a low likelihood that we're going to be able to get it underneath, below, one to one." That's just the way it is. Then you have the stakes of it all. I mean, this is similar to a lot of, I would say, the fintech customers that we work with, where the CX team plays a pivotal part in the customer journey and customer experience.
Obviously, if the glasses don't work for them, they are not going to be happy, and they're not going to buy any top frames. They're not going to buy more frames. They're not going to tell their friends.
Similarly, in the fintech space, if their driver's license upload doesn't work, or the identity verification, or the KYC doesn't work, well, they're not going to be able to borrow money from your application or what have you. It is a critical part of the business.
That also explains the scale that you experience. Right? I think you had told me when you had joined there were about 20 folks on the CX team, and had been one person a year before. Then what did growth look like from that point?
Ben Segal 12:19
From when I joined, April 2021, to now sort of mid 2022, we've gone from about 20 to probably around 150, 160. Somewhere in that ballpark, so a lot of growth in a very short period of time.
Alexander Kvamme 12:34
Obviously, now we understand the model here, that makes tons of sense. You still had to move, go from one, to 20, to 150, 150+, so maybe that's the first kind of topic. It's a popular topic on this podcast, but every business is different, and every company is different, and every company is coming from a different stage. You had to go from 20 to 150 in one year.
How did you do it without the wheels falling off?
Ben Segal 13:04
Not easily. The only thing I can say is I had done it previously at Freshly, so maybe there were mistakes made along that ride that I was able to avoid this time. A couple things that I want to shout out. I had gone through many different BPOs in my time at Freshly. Some good, some not so good. Those are really difficult partnerships to spin up and then have to turn off. Really, really difficult, and a lot of time that goes into it.
Right towards the end of my time at Freshly, I was pretty dead set that I had found what I think is one of the best BPOs in the industry today. It's called Awesome OS out in the Philippines. They have a great office in Davao and in Manila. A lot of my team had flown out there to actually be with them, and see them, and train them. We really treat them just like they were on our own team. When I was having my initial conversations with Pair, the fact that they said, "Hey. Look, we just scaled really quickly. We had this one person, Emily, about a few months ago. We had to grow really fast. We partnered with this company, Awesome OS, and we have our first 20 with them." Immediately, to me, I was like, "We're good. Okay, we found good people, and we have 20 there. I know a lot of the people over there. If we need to scale that team up, I'm in good shape."
We also had a few remote in the US, mostly based in and around Nashville. The original first hire in CX at Pair Eyewear, Emily, was from Nashville, and knew that there was a great CX culture in that city, and that we could find good talent there. We started hiring without an office, just remote. I thought to myself, "Okay. At Freshly, we had an internal team that we scaled in Phoenix. I can look at Nashville just like my Phoenix, and see if I can scale that internal team up, continue to grow with Awesome OS."
I always like to have two BPOs, if possible, so that you can sort of manage both against each other, and for redundancy. If one goes down, you're not shutting down shop. I was looking for a second BPO partner, which we found in Hire Horatio in the Dominican Republic. With the two BPOs, and the internal team, I thought we had a really good spot to start, and that we can grow three separately and not have to throw 100 people immediately at this. Right? You had a class of five to 10 at Awesome OS, had a class of five to 10 at the DR, and try to hire five internal. Those are sort of three different work streams. At the end of it, you wind up with 25, 30 more people on the team. You can do that seemingly easily without trying to sink them hiring 25 or 30 all at one time.
Alexander Kvamme 15:44
You embrace BPOs very early. Well, before your time when you joined Pair, but then you really doubled down on that.
I think what I heard in that answer was a lot of hard won experience. Right? Having two BPOs, not just one, and then adding that third stream of internal. Actually, I'm curious. From your perspective, why is it important to also have an internal team? Why not go just 100% outsourced?
Ben Segal 16:19
I can see where some companies will want to do that, because why would you spend the money on an internal team if you can get productivity out of the BPOs? Why not have a third BPO? Why does it have to be internal? In my opinion, I really value an internal core base that understands the product, understands the consumer you're selling to, and the geography of where we are, where we live. If they really get that well, those are the best people to handle escalations, maybe quality assurance. Maybe get on the phone with a VIP, or an investor. Something like that. If you don't have that core team, it's really hard. It doesn't feel like there's a backbone that the BPOs can lean on.
It's my experience that the BPOs wind up asking a lot of questions. They're like, "How do I do this? How do I do that? Am I allowed to do this? Am I allowed to do that?" If you don't have that core internal team, they're going to wind up all coming to you. Right? As the one main CX leader, or two main CX leaders. That gets really, really difficult, because then your entire job is basically handling inbound fire from your BPO teams all day long, asking different questions, asking for clarification here or there. Your whole role is just to manage them. I think it works better if you have a core internal team that really knows your business inside and out, that works for the business, and they can help manage the BPOs for you and handle those things like escalations, online engagement. Maybe you don't trust the BPOs with handling your social media accounts, QA. You name it. There's a bunch of things an internal team can do that sort of oversee the BPOs and ensure that they're doing the right job.
Alexander Kvamme 18:06
We've heard about the benefits of this strategy. Obviously there's a cost efficiency to be gained. There's a redundancy. You've got some built in productivity management by having multiple BPOs kind of going head to head, but you're also supplanting. You're also augmenting with an internal team for escalations, VIP, but also it sounds effectively like team lead like activities as well.
That's on the benefits side. The cost, or at least the operational cost, is instead of managing one org, you're managing three. Right? You're managing three different things. How did you think about addressing that cost, or that challenge, to make sure that you are successfully managing these three different groups?
Ben Segal 18:58
The key here is finding great leaders who can step up and fill those roles. Very, very early on, even back in my Freshly days with Awesome OS, we vetted like five people first to decide who would be our account manager. Who's the person at Awesome OS who is then going to be sort of your on the ground leader of all of Awesome OS as that continues to grow? If you don't find that strong person right up front, the whole thing doesn't work. Every BPO will change what it is. Whether it's a supervisor or an account manager, you name what it is, but they're really an operator on the ground holding the rest of the team accountable.
I think the same thing is true for the internal team. Before we really started to grow that team, we found someone. Her name is Andrea. She's been our incredible really manager, leader, whatever you want to call her, on the ground in Nashville overseeing the internal team, and then reporting up to me and an associate director. If you don't have that strong person there, it doesn't work. Same with the other BPO as well. Once you have that, it does feel like you're just managing one. You have these three people who report into you, and really manage the teams below them. It works quite well.
I don't see the three as separate. I think that's big too. It is just one team. We're all in the same Slack. We're on the same Slack channels. We're following the same rules. I don't differentiate between the two BPOs or the internal team. We're all just CX. We do have these three legs of CX, and they're headed up by really, really strong leaders. Without those strong leaders in place, I don't think it would work.
Alexander Kvamme 20:49
The solution is really scaling through management. I think that was a really great piece of advice for our audience, which is even simply this idea of vetting your account manager, and choosing your account manager. I don't think that's a normal process. I think you just kind of assume you're going to get what you're going to get, and if it's really bad you'll complain and maybe get a new one.
Interviewing your account manager, site manager, or what have you, so that you do have someone super strong who can represent that group. Then you are managing, as you said, more managing a team of three than a team of 150.
Ben Segal 21:28
100%, yeah. Even back in Freshly days, that account manager, we wound up flying him to New York. Spending the day with us in New York, then going to Maryland, seeing the kitchens. Then flying to Phoenix, meeting the team out there. Then finishing his trip around the world, going back to the Philippines. That sort of relationship was invaluable. I'm still friends with him today, and we still talk. I think that's what made the whole partnership work well.
I knew that if Pair was going to succeed the same way that our team at Freshly did, we needed that strong leader on the ground. I believe we found her, and she's really, really incredible. We trust her. She's made this whole thing seem easy to me. I'm sure it’s not easy to her on the ground. The way she reports up to us is like, "Hey, I've got this under control. We're good," and she does. It works.
Alexander Kvamme 22:19
That's great. Obviously, there's a challenge of just going from 20 to 150, but the other challenge is this CX motion, or how you support your customers and your product. I'm going to guess, if I were to rank kind of complexity across Awesome OS' customers or something like that, this is going to be more on the complex side. Right? Not only do you have this one to one order to contact ratio, but also there's kind of a medical component. You know? There's obviously some education there. There's interacting with doctors, and that kind of thing, as well as the standard kind of supply chain, and 3PL, and the folks actually making the frames. You obviously need to get training really right, right, in order to be successful here. How did you think about making sure that these folks were ramped quickly and effectively?
Ben Segal 23:24
One of the first things, when I came in here, Emily was really doing all the training herself. I noticed that. She's incredibly good. She understands glasses inside and out, and could look at a prescription, rip it apart upside, and downside, left side, right side. She understands it inside and out and can really distill that well. Again, that would be a full-time job. Especially knowing the scale we were about to go through, I didn't know if that was going to be possible.
I made it a point to, of course, bring on a tool like Lessonly to start to build out what training could look like, and have a hub of information in one place, not in these separate docs all over the place where who knows who's hearing what from who. Sort of manage that, and then bring in someone who knows Lessonly inside and out, has built training teams before. I hired that person, and a second to that person. There's actually two now that do training full-time at Pair, and sort of own Lessonly, own continuing education, and ensure that we're getting it right. We do keep that still in-house. I don't train the trainers with Awesome OS or Hire Horatio.
We do the onboarding. We do the training. I think that that's really important too. A lot of times I know the BPOs will be like, "Just train us. We'll take it from here, and we'll go." That doesn't always work, and it's not that they don't know what they're doing well. It's just there's a lot of questions that come up, and how can we expect someone that we just trained on it to be able to answer those questions? I wouldn't want them to. I think that they feel like they're doing us a service by saying, "Hey. Just train us, and we'll take it off your plate," but it winds up not being a service, because the questions that you get after that, the negative context you get after that, are just not worth it. We'll do it the right way. We'll do it first. We'll continue that ongoing as we bring on new people, and even as we keep the same people in-house. I think continuing education is just as important as onboarding, because there's constantly things that are changing, improving. We're releasing new features on the site. There's a ton that comes into it.
Also, I want to point this out, too. At the very beginning here, and maybe this gets into the admin site that we may want to talk about. At the beginning, it was really complex, right, to understand prescriptions and then load them into some system that then went to a lens lab in Hong Kong somewhere, and get it into their process. All that is out the window now. We have a homegrown admin site. We call it POMS, Pair Order Management System.
It took us a long time to get to where we are today, where we've tried to dumb it down as much as we possibly can, where it's like, "Look at this prescription. See those boxes and the numbers in the boxes? Take those numbers, put them right here, and click go." It shouldn't be too, too difficult. They are actually processing this order in a way that we can track it, and it goes to our own lens lab that we've built US based, now. There's a lot of improvement that's occurred over the last year that does make this CX agent's life a lot easier than it was when I joined just a little bit over a year ago.
Alexander Kvamme 26:29
That was certainly something I wanted to dig into. One of the key challenges for anyone in CX, or sales, for that matter, and just not in general kind of R and D, is getting resources to build some of this internal tooling. Right? Because there's always product to be built for the customer, for kind of other core kind of parts of the technology ... I think maybe what I'm asking is give our audience some guidance on how to frame this internally as a priority and a project to get the resources that you need to get it done.
Ben Segal 27:10
Sure. That's literally the first fight that I had at Pair, and I shouldn't even say it was a fight. The co-founders at Pair are incredible people. They're definitely open to how can we do things better. They've brought in a lot of the right people who know their spaces really well to sort of take us to where we are today, so I shouldn't say that there was resistance or a fight to be had.
It's the first thing that I mentioned, that I brought up, was, "Hey. It looks like we're two to one on tickets to orders ratio here. That's not possible. That's not scalable. This isn't going to work. The amount of heads that I'm going to need to meet the growth that you're talking about, you're not going to like me very much at all. You're going to think I'm not doing my job here. Let me work on what I can work on to reduce that number, but we need to get at the core here of what is driving these interactions, and can we improve that experience? Then, second to that, if we can't bring that number down, if it is what it is and that's just the nature of the business we're in, we need to make this more efficient so that the agents that we have can plow through these a lot faster."
I actually don't have the final calculation now of the amount of time it takes to process an order in today's world, but I would venture to say that ticket a year ago was open probably over 48 hours from when we started the conversation to when we closed it out and actually processed the order. I wouldn't be surprised if it was closer to four or five days, honestly. On an average, maybe 48. In today's world, it's probably more like a half hour, or something like that. Now, even if we can't get that number down, the backlog isn't there. We can plow through these tickets today. You place an order today. We'll reach out to you today. We'll get it processed to the lab today. We'll send it through. It should be getting out to the 3PL tomorrow, day after.
That's way, way, way better for the end customer experience, too, of from the time I click purchase to when it actually arrives at my door. You need that to be as short as humanly possible. Everybody lives in Amazon world. We expect all D to C brands to be able to hit the Amazon SLA. It's just not feasible when you're doing eyewear, and there's the lens lab in place, and then pick and pack. We have to match the base frame with the tops. There's so much complexity that goes into this that having our own order management system that the agents can live in and work out of was the number one priority. I think it was a pretty easy pitch once I explained, "If we don't do this, this doesn't succeed. There's no way we're going to continue from here. This is core to what we need to have."
Alexander Kvamme 29:53
Well, effectively, you made a top-line and a bottom-line argument. Right? On the bottom line, the argument was, "We are going to be saving significantly on headcount costs by doing this." The top-line argument is, "Hey. This is just a fact of life in our customers' experience, so this is going to absolutely, 100% guaranteed, improve their experience. That's going to drive more second and third orders, and more referrals," and whatever the kind of key business metrics are. I think any CX organization can make a top-line and bottom-line argument. It's just a matter of thinking about things in that context, and then framing it to leadership or whoever's making those decisions.
Ben Segal 30:51
Totally. Yeah. One other thing I want to call out on the order management system, if you are in a position where you're faced with something like this, and you have to build it in-house, it's going to be so unique to who you are. You may be young, and you don't have a big engineering team. We had one engineer at the time I was making that pitch. They were like, "Yeah, he can't just do that today," so we outsourced the tool that we wanted to build to an outsourced engineering team. Spent a whole bunch of money. Had to wait, I don't know what it was. Maybe eight weeks, 10 weeks. Something like that to get a product back in hand.
During that time we hired two more engineers, and by the time they were ready to hand over the product that they built for us, the three engineers we had said, "This is not useful. There's nothing we could actually do with this. This is basically throwaway code." So there's that, too. My grandfather used to say, "If you want to buy cheap and good, you're going to have to buy two. One cheap, one good." I think that was true here too. I think that's a good lesson to learn, that it is right to do this the right way from day one, because that becomes the foundation for the business. If you find yourself in that position, spend the time. Do it yourself. Do it right, and it'll pay for itself later on.
Alexander Kvamme 32:15
Yeah. That's great. Getting back into kind of the nitty gritty of managing this CX part, one of the things that's near and dear to our heart at Pathlight is focus and discipline on metrics. Right? Very often the temptation is I'm going to create this dashboard of 40 metrics, and then I'm going to review it monthly or something. 10% of my org is going to have access to it, or something like that. Right?
From your perspective, given the nature of your business, obviously that's going to determine the metrics that are priorities to you. Right now, when you wake up in the morning, what are those priority metrics that you're looking at?
Ben Segal 33:01
Yeah. My top three are basically agent efficiency, satisfaction of the customer, and overall QA score. I think those have been my core three that I pay attention to my whole career in CX, and they continue to be the most important to me today. There's a few that fall into agent efficiency. It could be how long did a customer wait for their first response? How long was the average response time back and forth once we are in this interaction? You want to make sure that those are as low as possible, the agents are being as efficient as they possibly can be. Want to also see the customers are happy, so that's pretty straightforward on CSAT, and then QA scores.
I think if you don't look at all three, you're not seeing the full picture. I've said this a bunch of times before, but I think it's worth stating again. A lot of people discount a QA program, and they don't think it's necessary from early on. They just look at efficiency and CSAT, and basically call it good. My example there is someone writes in and says, "Hey. You guys are the worst. Give me all my money back." An agent can respond to that very quickly and go, "Yeah. That's no problem. I've got you. You're all set. Your money's returned." That's going to look like really, really good efficiency. The customer, of course, is going to rate that positive CSAT, like, "Oh my God, that was amazing." CSAT looks good. Efficiency looks good. We're going out of business. No one's following the rules, and CX is just throwing money out the door.
Without a good QA program in place where we're actually following the rules, and have processes and procedures in place that we can manage and track, we're not seeing anything. Right? There's no benefit in tracking the other two without the third, and you can make that case for any of the three. I look at those three as the most important. If all those are doing well, no matter what metrics you're going to find after that, you're probably going to find a good story. If you're seeing any one of those failing, then you dig into the ones below and see, well, where can we find what the issue is? What is this not doing well? What do we need to retrain on? What policy do we need to change?
Alexander Kvamme 35:03
Let's talk a little bit about the QA program.
Just kind of standing one up. Right now, how many score cards are being filled out? How do you think about the percent of tickets that are going to get QA'd? Who's doing the QA? That kind of structure. Let's imagine we're talking to someone who is just now experiencing some scale and needs to put in a QA program.
Ben Segal 35:32
Sure. You can start early on with Google Sheets, and SurveyMonkey, or something like that. I definitely did that in my early days. Pretty soon, you realize you need a full fledged tool for it because you see the graders stepping over each other. How do you mark who graded what ticket? How many tickets are you grading per what agent? There's a lot of questions that get into the weeds pretty quickly when you're trying to do it yourself-
Alexander Kvamme 35:54
Sorry to interrupt.
Let's just think about the spreadsheet for a second.
Before we get sophisticated, zero to one. It's not going to scale. What are the core foundational things. Someone wanted to start QAing tomorrow, what would you tell them? This is the funnel and these are the benchmarks they should look at.
Ben Segal 36:16
Sure. I mean, if you're looking at what percent of the tickets should I be grading, everybody wants the gold standard of five percent of all tickets being QA'd. Realistically, that's probably not going to happen, so I wouldn't say to strive for that on day one. You're just doing any QA at the beginning. Doing one chat, one email, one phone call for every agent. If your agents are doing all three channels, just getting one per agent for the week and calling that good would be a nice start. Just that there's some visibility into what they're doing. You're probably going to catch mistakes, even on just one call, one email, one chat. You can learn from that. The number of graders, I've seen it done with one at the beginning. You can just get one person doing one call, one chat, per agent, per that week. Even starting with what does my rubric look like? What are my questions? I like looking at key pillars that you care about, and then having yes/no questions under those pillars.
In a previous life, we had a program called CEPRO, C-E-P-R-O. It was a double meaning. It was a Customer Experience Professional, but C-E-P-R-O also stood for Clear, Empathetic, Professional, Rational, Outgoing. Then underneath clear, it would be like, "Did the agent identify what the customer was complaining about? Did they understand it?" You find sometimes, especially with a BPO, they may not have. Right? There are comprehension issues sometimes where they say something one way, and it's interpreted to mean something completely different, or they missed that that was actually an issue. They thought that that was throwaway text. They just focused on one of the issues, not two or three that they brought up.
You name it. Come up with the pillars. Come up with four or five questions. Maybe three questions under each pillar. There you have your rubric, and you can just start going through yes/no, yes/no. Maybe a point for every yes. Something like that. Come up with some numerical score at the end that you can start to track. You may want to have autofail questions. Things that, if you did this thing, I don't care about the rest of the rubric. It says that it's end of story. At some point, you may find that someone's doing really, really well, and it's a waste of your time to keep QAing them, so maybe you create a pro status that this person gets QA'd every other week just to free up my time, so that I can now focus on the people who really need the help.
Alexander Kvamme 38:42
Yeah. I love that. In two minutes, you just described a great early QA program. Right? One scorecard per one agent, per one week. Kind of a core framework for a scorecard, and just take it from there.
Yeah. That's great. In the time remaining, let's wrap up with just one question. We've talked a lot about the kind of past and present. Let's cover the future. As you think about the next 12 to 24 months, not only in the context of Pair and the growth of that organization, but also just the general CX landscape, what are you thinking about? What initiatives, or projects, or even challenges do you anticipate over the next 12 to 24 months that other folks maybe should be thinking about?
Ben Segal 39:33
Sure. I think we're constantly looking to improve the end-user experience. I don't always see a ton of tools that are out on the market today that are to serve that purpose. Right? There's a lot of tools out there that supposedly get there, but by doing this other thing. We make your agents more efficient, so that should make the end-user experience better. We'll give you a really good QA program. That should make the end-user experience better. I'm interested in seeing what's new out there that's going to make the end user feel like, "Oh my goodness. This was the best experience I've ever had in my life." A lot of times that's with an AI bot that connects to some back-end API, and can actually allow for self-service, not just deflection. I like that. I've been playing around with that. I'd like to see where that goes next.
I think there's a lot to be said around video and audio, where maybe customers have the ability to send in an issue, and then handle it asynchronously thereafter and not have to sit through a live chat experience for something that maybe isn't time sensitive. I'm just going to you on this channel because I think it's the only way I'm going to get a human and be listened to. I think over the next year or two there's probably going to be a lot of movement in that space. I'm excited to see where that goes, because I'm always looking to see how I can make the end user have the best experience possible. Of course, we're going to have to better the experience for the agents to be able to provide that.
Alexander Kvamme 41:05
That's great. It's a great way to end this episode as well, just kind of getting back to the end user and their experience.
Well, Ben, thank you so much for your time and your insight. This has been great. A lot of tactical tidbits I think our audience can take away. For CXperts, I'm Alex Kvamme. If you want to learn more about Pathlight, go to Pathlight.com. If you want to learn more about Ben, I'm sure LinkedIn is a good place to connect with him. Pair Eyewear, going to their website as well. Ben, again, thanks again. Congratulations again.
Ben Segal 41:36
Thank you. Thank you.
Alexander Kvamme 41:39
For all of our audience, and viewers, and listeners who have made it this far, thank you, and we'll see you next time.
Ben Segal 41:44
Thanks so much for having me.
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