Customer Experience Optimization

Full Transcript

Scott Kinka:

Hi, and welcome to this episode of the Bridge. I’ve been trying to schedule this episode for a while, so I’m pretty excited. My guest on this episode is Bridge Point’s own VP of CX technology, Scott Prater. Scott, welcome to the show.

Scott Prater:

Great to be here. Glad we finally got to get this done.

Scott Kinka:

Yeah, right. Well, I mean, the reason we don’t get it done is that you spend so much time in the field with clients, which is going to be quite a bit of what we’re talking about today. But before we get into that, what I’m hoping you can do is just give us a little bit about who Scott Prater is, what you do here, and maybe a little bit about your background.

Scott Prater:

Sure, yeah, here I am, the Senior Vice President of CX Technology. So, really, what that means are a couple of things. One is that I own the executive relationship working with all the key CX players that we work with, so I have the ability to reach out to them. I’m on a lot of their advisory councils, really keeping a pulse of what they’re doing in the industry so I can help our customers. And then, from the technology engagement front, we’ve got a whole team that works under Scott Casson’s organization that are basically experts in consulting technology, and they lean into me when it comes to trying to understand the vendor landscape. It’s so big, there are so many vendors out there, there’s no way anybody can know them all. So it’s my job to make sure I’m just deep enough on every single one of ’em to be able to help out the team internally and our customers as well.

Scott Kinka:

Fantastic. How long have you been in this business?

Scott Prater:

So, it was an interesting journey. So I have 23 years in CX technology. In 2001, I kind of dropped into it for a little company at the time called A OL, which is here in Northern Virginia where I’m based back when 38 million members and we’re able to break every single piece of technology came in. So I got dropped in as a general technologist, somebody that knew enough about networking and voice to say, Hey, there’s this new thing called voice over IP. Scott, can you take a look at that and see how we might be able to use it in the contact center space? So, by the end of 2002, I had 10,000 seats of what would now be called private cloud, hosted cloud voiceover, and the right contact center. So that’s really where I got my start and the journey through there. In various roles, I’ve worked for some vendors in the place I’ve worked for via, I’ve worked for parents. 2010, I fully pivoted to the cloud. I saw where things were going with the cloud, and since 2010, I’ve been fully cloud, either working for vendors or, since 2014, essentially doing consulting. Interesting. When I say how I got there, I literally started my career in space and defense. So, in the first 11 years of my career, I put satellites into space, which arguably is a lot easier than doing what I do today because there are no humans involved in that. It’s all ones and zeros, and it’s all physics. So, it is more complex than satellites.

Scott Kinka:

That’s a quotable. So, it’s easier to launch a satellite into space than it is to keep a customer happy.

Scott Prater:

Very true, very true.

Scott Kinka:

Well, that makes customer experience really important. Before we jump into customer experience north of Virginia, what else can you tell us about Sky Prater, the family guy, more so than the business guy?

Scott Prater:

Yeah, I’ve been married for 33, 34 years to a wonderful woman who’s put up with me for a very long time, especially as you mentioned, traveling extensor for the last eight years. I think she sees me less than she does, than she probably should. I got three kids, five grandkids, and two more on the way Avid basketball fan. The University of Kentucky is my team. Dabbled in the NBA a little bit, but I’m a college basketball junkie.

Scott Kinka:

Love it. I’ll have to get you up to one of those big five doubleheaders of the Palestra, which is what Philly’s known for. The five Philly teams have a fake conference, but they’ve been playing together in the same gym that fits 2000 people for a hundred years. So the traditions there are kind of crazy. And ESPN always does a doubleheader day right there in the ra, which is awesome. So I’m a LaSalle explorer, so one of those five teams happens to be my squad, and we have a good time. So remind me on that one. I try to get to that day every year. Will do. Well, let’s jump into the meat. Scott, you have a career that spans 30 years in customer service and what we’re calling today customer experience, and yet somehow, it’s all over the news. It’s a new concept. Let’s just lay that out, so I mean, why is half of what we’re seeing on the internet right now, and not just in technology blogs, but in business growth articles and Harvard Business Journal and 2.0 and Inc. It’s all about customer experience, customer experience, customer experience. Why now? Why are we taking this seriously now, or why does this seem like a new topic in your mind today?

Scott Prater:

Things have changed so much, and in the 20-plus years I’ve been doing this, it used to be I’ve always swirled. Everything was very straightforward. Everybody assumed that the way you engage within enterprises with a voice call and then digital engagement increasingly came on, started as chat and email and things like that. But now we have this disruptor called social media. A great case in point: I had a challenge recently with a bank, a very big top 10 bank that I work with. It was a fraud issue, and they weren’t responding properly. So, I did a little social media post, and they managed to get 15,000 views within 48 hours. And within one day of that, I got a call from the office of the president of that bank. Why? Because their brand was tarnished. And actually, they initially came to me not believing my story, but when I told ’em, they said, oh yeah, that’s really a serious problem. And I said, well, I’ve been trying to explain that to the 15 different customer service reps I’ve talked to and transferred. So, that story is exactly why customer experience is so huge today. Something like that can impact your brand. It can either drive your revenue or hurt your revenue.

Scott Kinka:

So your point about it changing is that it’s become. Not only have expectations changed, but you mentioned multiple channels. We’ve engaged in chat, we’ve engaged in text, we’ve engaged in others, but social media has also really become part of it. And that’s really, yes, it’s a one-to-one, but it’s kind of like a one-to-one in the space of a one-to-many connection. It’s almost like a public one-to-one customer experience engagement. Is that a fair way for me to be thinking about? Yeah,

Scott Prater:

Absolutely fairway. I mean, it usually starts one with many, and the brands that are doing it right quickly convert that social media experience into one-to-one and turn it into a servicing channel. Sometimes, there are limitations on it, depending on the industry you’re in, financial services, or things like that. There’s only so much you can do over it, and you made the change in media to something that’s more secure. But ideally, yes, you pivot a one-to-many complaint into a one-to-one contact to ultimately drive the solution that the customer’s complaining about. I mean, if you look at the industry, and I’m sure Scott, you’ve seen the same things. You say that basically, for every ten positive customer experiences, people say nothing. But it only takes one of those ultimately for someone to say something, right? I know. Honestly, I’m the same way. I rarely leave reviews for anything unless it’s like a super duper positive experience. But all that has to be slightly negative, and I am out there talking about it.

 

Meeting Post-Pandemic Customer Expectations

Scott Kinka:

So let me ask you this question. I mean, social media is often seen in the realm of the marketing department. So when you meet with customers, how often is it that they’re still considering social media belonging to someone else other than the support or customer-facing organization?

Scott Prater:

It is interesting. It is a great question because it used to be totally when you would talk to a customer about social media channels, they would say, oh, our marketing department handles that. We have a sprinkler. That was the common answer you always heard. We use Sprinkler for social media monitoring. They’re kind of one of the big kings in that space. But increasingly, and that was just brand protection. The story I told, that’s all that did. It was brand promotion and brand protection. But because of what I said about the fact of turning that one-to-many into one-to-one, you then now have to pivot into the customer care side. So, increasingly, when we talk to customers about business transformation, marketing is a stakeholder in the decision because there’s usually some kind of use case where things are going to pivot from a brand protection social media scheme into a customer care social media scheme. So, you need to make sure the technology is aligned, and you need to make sure the business processes are aligned. Whereas I would say five years ago, it was handled totally separately and all marketing did was brand protection.

Scott Kinka:

Well, and Sprinkler, who’s a partner of ours, right, they’ve pivoted, they started on the social media side, and they, along with their customer demands, it’s almost like their platform went the other direction as opposed to traditional call centers trying to add a channel to be able to support social media. They started in social media management and kind of came back the other way, almost like a next-gen approach, but now they’ve got the other channels as part of that platform. Sort of an interesting way of thinking about it, right?

Scott Prater:

No, it absolutely is. I mean, if you look at more social, right? The traditional CCA players out there all start as voice companies. They’ve all boosted their digital capabilities, and they’re all at various stages of maturity. Then there are the inverts or sprinklers and other companies like that that all started digitally and are pivoting into voice. So it’s this interesting trajectory going back and forth between the two that they’re all fighting for the same wallet share now with different perspectives on how they approach it.

Scott Kinka:

Well, and also think about it from the perspective of the CRM vendors, the ERP vendors, the support system and ticketing vendors, everybody’s a little bit of a customer experience application right now, but it’s like a big old Venn diagram now of who covers what are the CRM players, real players in the contact center as a service market in your mind?

Scott Prater:

So yes and no. So it’s interesting, five years ago, and I remember talking to all the major CAS players when you talked about digital channels to them, and the CRM players have had had a chat, and they’ve had email forever, lesser extent social media, but the two main care channels, right? The C guys players used to say, oh no, well, let that CRM player have them. We just won’t voice. That’s all we want, right? Yeah. Now, increasingly, the CA providers say, we want to have a chat. We want to have the email. We want to have that digital stuff to provide better reporting and better data analytics of true omnichannel experience. And conversely, you’ve got the CRM players trying to sell their version of AI, saying, well, oh, here’s why you should work with us. Look at all the stuff we could do with our AI inside our platform. And it’s an interesting conversation point when you talk to a customer if you’re going to use a CRM, and no matter what, the CRM is usually going to be the main screen on your desktop, but you really get into a serious discussion around what are your use cases and what are your business processes and where should you have those channels reside because you can present them within the CRM all day long. But when it comes to data integrity, when it comes to the ability to mine the data, it’s easier if all the customer journey data is in a single repository, which it is when you put it in the CA platform versus on the CRM side, if it’s on the CRM side, the CRMs having to import all of this voice information and match it all together, then try and figure out the customer experience. So, there’s some additional complexity to it when it resides in the CRM.

Scott Kinka:

Scott, you mentioned the customer journey. Can you just describe that for our listeners who maybe aren’t as familiar with that term as opposed to customer experience?

Scott Prater:

So, I had a very early experience in the customer journey, and it was funny. I remember getting this question over and over. I used to work for a company called Click Fox back in 2010. It’s now called Brighter cx. So imagine in 2010 going into enterprise and trying to sell customer journey analytics. And honestly, that was the question. What do you mean by customer journey is what the question would say. They’d say we have our own analytics capabilities. We know what happens on our website, and we know what happens when people call us, and we know what happens when we get the emails. I said, but yeah, but do you know when somebody, and I’ll use a use case with, say, a wireless thing? Let’s say somebody goes into a wireless store, gets a new phone, that phone then gets provisioned, they go home, they have a problem, then they go and try to chat, and they can’t solve that problem via chat, and then they call and then ultimately that problems get solved. That’s the customer journey right there. And if you have the right kind of analytics, you can actually go back and look and say, you know what? We see that journey happening 5% of the time from this one specific store. What’s going on in that story that’s at the provisioning point of the phone that’s causing all this to happen? And that’s why it’s so powerful to understand the entire journey.

Scott Kinka:

Makes sense. Let me tie that then to something that’s been on my mind about this. I asked you earlier what’s changed, and certainly, you’ve brought technology and social media, things of that nature. We oftentimes talk on the show about how the trajectory of our use of technology has changed since the pandemic. And I know people don’t want to talk about the pandemic anymore, but I think customer experience is particularly pertinent. I think two things in my mind, two things happen. So, I’ll make the statement, and then I’ll ask you to comment on it. I think both affect the customer experience, customer service, and customer journey operation inside of the business. One is that during the pandemic, we couldn’t leave our homes. And so necessity is the mother of invention, but invention’s the mother of expectation. So now everybody’s thinking Uber eats. I can snap my fingers because the smart businesses that succeeded in the pandemic did so without the expectation of a brick-and-mortar. So now you should know everything about me and be able to do everything. So customer expectations increased post-pandemic, that’s one. The crazy juxtaposition is, at the same time, that the concept of the physical brick-and-mortar office has largely cratered than the domestic United States. So the people that you need to over-the-shoulder train and do all those things to ensure that you’re keeping the brand and customer experience image up are not under your thumb anymore. So I find this to be a super interesting time in customer experience because we’re sort of mashing together the highest level of expectations we’ve ever had, and the least control of are the people who are answering those expectations. I mean, just comment on that in your mind, and certainly, you speak with customers every day. Is this one of the things that they’re struggling with?

Scott Prater:

No, it absolutely is. And it’s interesting because it kind of reached an inflection point. The pandemic was in 2020. Typically technology purchase cycles are roughly around three years. So, there were a lot of purchases made in 2020, and now all of this stuff is being recirculated. Did we do the right thing? Is it serving the right thing? I mean, it’s such a great point, everybody. We had customers. I remember one customer. We had to help ’em figure out how to send 5,000 agent homes in 30 days, right? BPO is global around the world. That was very traumatic for the enterprise to manage through. And when you initially do that, to your point, you send them home with the same core technologies they have when they’re sitting in the office when somebody can walk up and tack ’em on the shoulder when they can walk into a huddle room with their coach and go through this stuff. So there was a breakage there. There was absolutely a breakage there on how to coach and train these people, much less from a security aspect, how to monitor and manage. All these technologies came into Play point. There are technologies now that you can put in or see as the agent really staring at the screen when they’re at home. So the smart companies found different levels of, I’ll call it, big brother technologies that allow them to coach, mentor, and monitor their agents. Other ones just sent them home and assumed the same business processes and the same monitor would work, and they didn’t. And those are the companies that did not succeed well. They just literally took their same voice-centric approach, sent people home, and said, let’s do the same thing. So the financial institutions, I mean, I remember going on big bank’s websites, and the first thing you would see, you will have a very long call time if you call, but the ones that successfully pivoted to digitization in the last two, three years since then, and a lot of them have now won. They now have one. And if you look at how contexts are coming in, they’re increasingly less voice and more and more digital. Everybody’s been saying voice is going away forever. It’s never going to go away, but it can continue to shrink. Absolutely, it will. And I think the pandemic was a key enabler of that.

Scott Kinka:

I think the generations that are entering the workforce, the borrowing force and, the banking force, and the housing owners are also changing that too. Arguably, the younger the person needing support, the less interested they are in talking to someone. I recognize that I’m generalizing, but that’s also happening at the same time too, right?

Scott Prater:

Oh no, so true. I remember when I sent my daughter off to college, and she could not get what she needed to do with Xfinity via chat or email, and she refused to call. I had to get her account number and actually pick up the phone and call and do it for her. And then again, that’s generational. She’s 32 years old now. That was when she was 22. She’s like, I’m call. You shouldn’t have to talk to anybody to solve your problem.

 

The Changing Faces of Customer Experience Decision-Making

Scott Kinka:

Scott, I’m going to hit you with a couple of quick questions, and then we’re going to have some fun, but let me wrap this up. I had a list of things I wanted to get to, and we got so wrapped up in the early part of the conversation, which was awesome. I didn’t get to all of them, so let me hit you with a few. One, you mentioned marketing being part of this, and I sort of made a mental note, so let me ask a more macro-level question. Your customer experience and CA and technology have generally often been the head of customer service or the head of the contact center, those kinds of things. You mentioned marketing being a new customer. How else is your audience changing? Who’s getting involved besides technology and customer service in the selection and evaluation of technology and also the strategy around how it’s used?

Scott Prater:

So it’s an interesting dynamic, I would say, and going back to my days in 2005 when I sold for Avaya and back then, and even I’d say all up to about 2010, typically the buyer was the IT organization. The business came to the IT organization and said I needed a contact center solution, and they went out and got it. They gave ’em the requirements, but it was the decision maker. Increasingly, you started to see things changing, and right around 20 14, 20 15 when I saw it becoming the business buyer coming over, and at that point, it truly was the business buyer aligning with the consulting firm to get what they want because it wouldn’t give it to them. So that is what you saw. Then, I would say in the last three years, it’s been more of a collaborative approach between the two. I think IT organizations see the value of cloud technologies; they see the value that they bring for all the various reasons people move to them, and ideally, they partner with the business. Increasingly, you’re seeing security as a bigger stakeholder. A lot of technologies have moved to either Amazon or any Google, Azure, these various cloud platforms. So a lot of ’em have established security standards there, but now the whole CISO has become a key stakeholder and everything, especially as you’re moving into digitization, you increasingly see it used to be just a checkbox. Now the time you’ll see the CISO at the table in the discussion, so you’ll have clearly the SVP of care, whoever the head of care is, whoever the head of it is, a lot of times a chief marketing officer, someone senior in marketing, and oftentimes now a senior security representative all at the table, whereas before you never had more than two.

Scott Kinka:

I mean, the more you engage in a customer journey, the more data you need on the customer, but privacy laws are increasing. So I imagine that the CSO you, the CISO, is heavy, is heavily involved in that process. You know what I mean? You’re going to give a good customer journey experience. You’ve also got to worry about the right to be forgotten and all the other privacy stuff that’s going on right now. So that’s an interesting take. Scott, do you personally often get involved in rationalizing those multiple needs from those multiple constituents together to get the company to a technology decision? Right? I mean, this is you personally in your consulting work.

Scott Prater:

Yep, absolutely. I mean, especially on large, complex ones, right? I mean anything that’s significant in size thousand seats or more multiple different stakeholders, there’s a lot of, I call it soft skills there that need to work with these customers. I mean, because they all have their own agendas, and the one thing they all have to understand is no one’s ever going to get a hundred percent of what they want. If that happens, what it leads to is no decision, and ultimately, things don’t improve for anybody. You have to collaborate and work with them to make them realize the individual value points relative to their role, be it the head of care, be it the head of it, or the head of marketing or be and make them all understand the value components to them and make them understand this is the changes that are going to happen because when you do this change, it’s not just a technology. There are people and process changes to go with it, and those are the things that they all really need to understand and ultimately rationalize internally as well when they make that decision.

Scott Kinka:

Prater, I think we’re going to print you an alternative business card. We’re going to call it a customer experience therapist. I think it is maybe a good

Scott Prater:

Way. There is a lot of that, as you know, to end the sales process. I can’t tell you the number of customers that will call me after a call and say, thank you so much for helping me with that. Sure,

Scott Kinka:

Sure. You mentioned a couple already, and if there’s not a burning one, that’s okay; we can move on to the next question, but you walk in, nobody I know sees more unique customer experience mouse traps that have been built than you do, right? What’s one of the big mistakes that you still see companies making today?

Scott Prater:

The single biggest one, and I see this in talking with them upfront in the consulting phase, more often than not, when we get reachouts from customers that have already made a change to a CS platform, and it’s six months, 12 months after, and a lot of it honestly, quite frankly has happened more post-pandemic is because you had to make the change so fast for such various reasons, you’d literally picked up your existing customer experience, your existing processes, and you drop that into the new platform. Even though the new platform has all kinds of bells and whistles stuff and can go like a Ferrari on the track, you’re driving it like a VW bug, and the business leaders look at this and say, I don’t see how anything’s changed. My metrics have not improved. One of the key things you have to do, and we work through this in our consulting practice, is it’s not only align the key capabilities and RI tied those capabilities, let’s look at what the new KPIs are, let’s understand what they were before and what the needle should move to post word. So there’s a true feedback loop that says this is the experience we changed, this is the impact we saw into the reduction of cost per contact or increase of revenue per call or whatever that metric is, and make sure it’s measured because oftentimes it just gets into, hey, we took 10,000 calls last month. Hey, we could take 10,000 calls on a new platform. Great, well, you really didn’t do anything. You ripped the walls off the house and you changed out the copper pipe for PVC pipes and put the walls back on. You didn’t do it.

Scott Kinka:

I get it. It’s the optimize versus rip and replace. And I think one thing people don’t even think about in rip and replace kind of scenarios is that every tool does the same basic features, but they do them differently. So sometimes your process just won’t even work, even if you want to keep it the same well in the new platform. Alright, I’m going to hit you with a couple of other quick ones. Trends like what’s the number one trend you’re seeing that’s popping into all these conversations?

Scott Prater:

So AI, and most specifically generative AI, which is fascinating from the standpoint of really, when chat GPT came out in November of last year, all anyone was talking about was a generative AI. What can you do and know me wrong? It’s a great tool. I use it all the time to help me rewrite things and brainstorm ideas, but it’s almost like customers have leapfrogged the value of cognitive AI, which is honestly more robust. It’s more mature. There’s tons of value in it relative to analyzing a hundred percent of the contacts you’ve got and figuring out exactly what’s going on and being able to make tangible changes in your business versus, let’s figure out how we can creatively say things in our knowledge base and hope they don’t go off the rails and see that we can automate a bunch of stuff. I firmly believe that you need to get the foundation right first with your AI strategy around cognitive, for you really go off into the generative AI space, and generative AI is best unleashed on internal employees first. Internal IT help desk use cases like that before you set it to lease on customers. And by all means, it is mature enough that it can do great things, but it’s not flip and switch and people think.

Scott Kinka:

That way, if well-informed, I guess, is really the thing that most people miss. Right? Exactly. AI doesn’t make up for a lack of actual process documentation, you know what I mean? Lack of good data on your customers, it can’t make that up. So those types of things that are interesting. So, I get you to start with this: begin with the end in mind. Go figure. Right before we get to the other things, Scott,

Scott Prater:

One other thing and you and I, and here’s the other thing. It is such a cluttered space now. I think I read something recently. There’s like 17 billion between VC and PE money invested in companies that are AI. So there are tons of companies out there, and you and I have been on a call before. I’m pretty sure what the customer said to us. I get between 20 and 50 prospecting emails a week from AI companies saying that they can solve all my problems. It is very challenging for customers because they got so much flying at ’em.

 

The Art of the Possible in Customer Experience Transformation

Scott Kinka:

Yeah, well, again, you need to understand the problem you’re trying to solve and the data and the information that you have internally to try and solve it. It’s almost like, which is almost sort of a predecessor to the AI conversation, but we were having the bot conversation three years ago. I’m going to turn on bots, and I’m going to not have agents. And I’m always like, well, what’s informing the bot? Well, we don’t have those things written down. Well, then, I don’t know what you’re hoping to get done. If there’s no place you can train an agent, then there’s no place you can train a bot. Same kind of thing. And that’s really one of the big misses that I see when we get involved in these conversations. It’s like a cloud years ago. I equate it to that all the time. Let’s go do cloud to move our crappy workload. Well, your crappy workload’s still a crappy workload somewhere else. It’s the same kind of thing in hosting. Right. Let me ask you a different question. Last one. Can you tell us a fun customer story that wraps up some of these concepts that are here? If you can share who, great. If you need to change the names to protect the innocent, just tell us what kind of industry they’re in, but give us a customer story that encapsulates some of what we chatted about.

Scott Prater:

Yeah, no, it was actually one of the first ones that I did going back to 20 15 and 2016. I think it really showed the power of business transformation and the power of moving to a cloud-based platform. It was the customer and financial services vertical. They’re in the money movement business, so very, very super transactional business. I mean, it is literally somebody walking into one place saying, I want to send money, and this way it was back then, and the money goes to the other end, and then there’s all this regulatory stuff in between to make sure that it’s not fraught. So you got to imagine all the different kinds of calls that they would have. They had come into their enterprise, a hundred percent handled by BPOs. It was very, very broken. They had three different quality systems out there. When there was some kind of escalation, it would take ’em two to three days to find the call.  A lot of times, this was driven by federal regulators asking for information, and it was just classic: we’ve got multiple different systems, none of them attached and integrated, and we ultimately did two things for them. One is we realized that the IVR for them was a point that could really drive a ton of value. So we just did some IVR analytics for them and literally came up with some concepts for them that allowed them to increase their call containment by 5%. That actually drove 3 million in cost savings for them. And we did that within 90 days. So that then gave them, and that was all BPO reduced costs that then gave them the funding to actually go in and say, okay, we want to transform this business, right? We’ve got $3 million in cost savings, we’ve got the budget for it, we’re not going to spend it. So that gives ’em the opportunity to go through and be thoughtful. They move to a centralized contact center platform, a cloud-based platform, and put everything on a single platform, the qa, everything on it. And ultimately, what it really did for them was that it continued to drive down their operating costs. So even post words, they drove down their operating costs another 5%, but most importantly, at any given time, given this highly regulated environment, if there was some kind of an issue, they could have the call in minutes and provide it to the regulators. And they were in the industry that if you didn’t do things right regulatory, you would get 50, a hundred, $150 million fines. And they felt just by, and these are the basics, not nearly as advanced as we do today. This was just getting the foundational stuff in place, getting everything instrumented. Getting the ability to understand your own data fundamentally allows you to manage your business so much better. And that’s phase one for everybody today when you’re moving from a premise platform to a cloud platform. Now they’ve now gotten to the point where they deployed bots, and they’ve moved into digitization and so much with a mobile app now, and they’ve integrated digital care into the mobile app into their contact center. So it’s fascinating to see the evolution. Once you get the foundation in place, you can see what the use cases are and then do that advanced stuff with the bots and AI technology.

Scott Kinka:

Yeah, it’s totally amazing. And I think for those people who are in customer experience or maybe executives who are thinking about their customer’s journeys, one thing that you and your teammates are exceptional at is this concept of the art of the possible workshop, right? It’s one thing we very often are involved in, can you solve this problem? Can you implement this technology? Can you go after this KPI? Can you save us this money? But a lot of times, even customers go, I know I need to do something. I just don’t know what they need. The doctor’s visit is sort of the best way that I can describe what you guys do. And then sort of a little bit of the dreamer session. What would you want it to be? So if you found listeners, if you found Mr. ER’s insights here to be particularly interesting, that’s something that we can chat about sort of doing in our possible workshop with your customer experience team with Prater and our CX consultants. Scott, I’m going to have a little bit of fun with you, and then we’re going to let you go. I know you have a busy day. I think you’re in a customer meeting for six minutes, so we’ll EQU these super quick. Number one, I need a prediction of any kind: be a soothsayer for the next 12 to 18 months. It doesn’t need to be in tech. It can be anywhere, it can be sports, it can be geopolitical. I don’t care. Let’s just stay away from election stuff.

Scott Prater:

I want to stay in tech. I get asked this all the time. Customers, not only are they looking at the different vendors out there, but they’re also saying, tell me about these vendors. Tell me about their financials. Tell me about their trends. Tell me about what’s going on with me and the activities. So you’re still seeing me and activities all the time. Nice. Recently bought Live Vox. I think in the next 18 months, we’re going to see the first chew fall of a CRM company acquiring a significant CCAS player. Everybody’s been saying it’s going to happen for years and years and years. You now have Zendesk owned by PE. They also are the majority owner of Genesis and they’re also a minority owner of Sprinklr. That’s an interesting combination.

Scott Kinka:

Yeah, it’s okay. Alright, so we’re going to come back to you when that happens. By the way, we’ll do a hot take episode because it’s very specific. Normally, people give. There’s going to be lots of AI next year. I think we all know that at this point. So that was very specific. I like that. We’ll put that in the book. Speaking of books, what are you reading? What’s on the trade’s end table right now? What’s your business tome?

Scott Prater:

I usually like reading sports analogy books. I mean, going back, there’s so much leadership in sports. I think, and this is an old one I pulled off the shelf recently. I think it was a book, not that I’m a big fan. I remember going back that I’m a Kentucky guy. Rick Pitino was our coach for a long time, and there was some falling out there, but he wrote a book called Success is a Choice, and it’s all about leadership and there’s so much analogy between sports, especially team sports, and business. I think they’re all great.

Scott Kinka:

What was the name of the book again? Success is a Choice? Love that. I think it’s

Scott Prater:

It’s called Success is a Choice. It’s on the bookshelf right back there.

Scott Kinka:

We’ll link to it. It’s all good.

Scott Prater:

It’s the blue one. If you see it behind me, it’s the blue one on back there.

Scott Kinka:

All good. All right, last one, fun one. The next pandemic happens, or the end of the world is a dystopian event, and one app is still functioning on your phone. You get to choose which one it is.

Scott Prater:

Oh my gosh. All right. Don’t make fun of me. Okay. I mean, there’s functional, and then there’s fun and functional. It needs to be TikTok, it needs to be TikTok, and here’s why. I Learned so much stuff from TikTok. My wife loves me right now because I’ll cook dinner, and she’ll be like, where did you get this meal from? TikTok recipe. Right? It is super educational, and honestly, even there are                                                          

 business channels that you describe, and there are all these business nuggets you get every day. It’s almost like your Google panel. If you tune it right, you get a lot of useful information. It’s not just a waste of time.

Scott Kinka:

Okay. It’s funny, and I have been talking about whether we need to be pushing the contents of this podcast out through TikTok, and we’ve gone back and forth on it, but it is so interesting to hear you say that because one of the most learned men that I know, grandfather of Five, look at you, TikTok. I’m really impressed with your work. That’s fabulous.

Scott Prater:

My kids are impressed, too. They’re like that. I think in TikTok,

Scott Kinka:

I’m not even on the. I play with my kids all the time. I’m like, are you on the Gram tonight? Or the book? What are these? Facebook used to be more of that than Twitter. Now X is all over the place, so TikTok is your place, which I get. Scott, this is a great conversation. I promise I’d have you off by the top of the hour, and here we are at the top of our hour, certainly 35 or 37 minutes or so into the podcast, so we appreciate your time, and we appreciate the listeners for hanging with us. If you’d like to learn a little bit more about what Scott and the team do here at Bridgepoint, check us out at bridgepointtechnologies.com, and for more content like this, make sure that you’re following us on your favorite podcast platform. This is The Bridge with Scott Kinka. Thank you all for your time. We’ll see you soon on another episode of The Bridge.

Scott Prater:

Thanks for having me.

Scott Kinka:

Certainly Scott.

 

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