ICMI First Friday Fireside Chat – Featuring Heidi Rote

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We were fortunate to witness this great conversation with Heidi Rote from our valued client, Jenny Craig, and a 2018 ICMI Mover & Shaker on leveraging chat in today customer-centric communications world. Read the transcript below! 

Interviewer (Erika Moore): Hi everyone, this is Erika Moore, I am the concept manager here at ICMI, I am so excited to be back again for another First Friday Fireside Chat. And this time around, we are thrilled to have Heidi Rote today with us from Jenny Craig. Hi Heidi…

Interviewee (Heidi Rote): Hi, thanks for having me…

Erika Moore: Yeah, absolutely. So for those of you tuning in, in case you missed it, it is our first every ICMI customer experience movers and shakers list this year, we are actually going to be celebrating our movers and shakers in just a couple of weeks at ICMI Contact Center, and Heidi made the list this year for Customer Experience leaders, so we are really honored to have her as our guest today for this first Friday fireside chat. Why don’t we just go ahead and dive right in? So, Heidi, if you don’t mind, in 60 seconds, tell us who you are and what you do?

Heidi Rote: First of all, thank you for having me, and I am so excited to be at ICMI this year and be a recipient of the movers and shakers award, that’s really cool. I am Heidi Rote, I am the director of National Sales for Jenny Craig, I oversee the Contact Center at the house of sale for inbound calls as well as all e-communications, so chat, Facebook, texts, any instant messaging, or email coming into Jenny Craig.

Erika Moore: Okay, so you are busy then…

Heidi Rote: Yeah.

Erika Moore: Never a dull day I am sure.

Heidi Rote: No, it’s a lot of fun.

Erika Moore: Alright, so why don’t we dive right into the mid of some of these questions. So, as we were looking through the nominations that were received for movers and shakers this year. One of the things that really stood out to me, is that live chat has been such a big priority for your team, and I know it is an area that a lot of Contact Centers really still struggle with. But I saw — I believe I have this correct — that you increased conversion rates by 37% in just 4 months, which is pretty unbelievable. So, I am wondering if you will be willing to share your secret, so how did you do it and do you have any tips for success?

Heidi Rote: I do. It was a big risk to implement chat and all the e-communications, because we were nervous it would lose the Jenny Craig voice that you get when you walk in and talk with someone face-to-face or make phone call. So, all in the span of this 4 months, we launched a new chat platform, so we switched over to Bot 360, which has been amazing, we re-did our job description, our training, our applicants, how we did hiring, so we got a whole new batch of candidates which helped see this position for e-communication especially junior sales reps. And most importantly, we implemented RapportBoost, which is an A.I, but not Artificial Intelligence, it is Augmented Intelligence, and what they did, they went in scouted our chat data and really found these tiny nuances that customers wanted to hear from the Jenny Craig’s brand, and we made the small changes and that partnered with our training in switching over to Bot 360, those things were the perfect recipe to give us that 37% in conversions.

Erika Moore: That’s awesome, it’s pretty amazing to see what you can do with Augmented Intelligence, and how those little details really do make a big huge difference.

Heidi Rote: In our brand, we would never trust a bot to interact with our clients or even Artificial Intelligence, but Augmented, really, it lends to the brand, the brand’s voice. So, it is how people expect to hear Jenny Craig and see Jenny Craig. So, things I have learnt from RapportBoost is, it is different for many brands and ours is very unique and as a result, it just gets better all the time, it is constantly re-learning and re-helping us.

Erika Moore: It is interesting you bring that up, because I do think a lot of people when they hear A.I, it is a huge buzzer right now, people just think Artificial Intelligence, they think robots, it doesn’t have to be the case.

Heidi Rote: No, we are still alive, it’s us.

Erika Moore: That’s awesome. So, next question relates to agent training, because another thing that stood out about your nomination is that you seem to be so focused and committed on equipping your agents to serve. So, do you have any tips for making time for agent training, even maybe resources or time?

Heidi Rote: We have to, no matter what, you have to. So, it starts with onboarding, and with onboarding, we shortened it, but made it better. So, it is a 5-day classroom training, then we take it to on the floor and it is our supervisors that are hip-to-hip with the agents and we allow them to take live chats and live calls, and then we coach them through that, so we take a chat and then debrief, we take a call and then debrief, and then we watch each other and debrief, we will read chats and debrief. So, that way, we are kind of winning them up, instead of doing such a lengthy training; 2 or 3 weeks in the classroom, nobody wants that. And the other piece of it is constantly taking time for weekly staff meetings, even when it feels like you can’t. If normally every week, you would do 3, if call volume and chat volume is too high, find a way to do 6 and have less agents in each staff meetings, but it is imperative they have that time to download what they are thinking and feeling, you can cross-correct them to make sure that they are doing it their absolute best and reeling the message of our brand the absolute best.

Erika Moore: I absolutely agree, so important. So, let us talk about client retention, because I also noticed that you guys have an incredibly high rate of client retention and I know that is something that a lot of other folks would love to replicate. So, how does your sales and service team support such a high rate of client retention?

Heidi Rote: Client retention has everything to do with our field employees who take care of our clients, we totally changed our service delivery model in this past year too, and as a result, we are helping people to lose weight even better and smarter than ever. And as a result, they are staying longer. But in order to make that work, our sales team and our service team, our voice have to be synonymous, so that service delivery training, even though it is more geared for the field, it was imperative that all skill sets received it and understood the importance of being one voice throughout the brand.

Erika Moore: Got you… So, another question I really want to bring up is, we are getting this question all the time, people are well into making plans for 2019, and it is kind of hard to keep up with what is coming up next especially the way technology is moving these days. So, I am just curious to know, because you guys seem to be pretty innovative, which customer experience trends are on your radar for 2019?

Heidi Rote: Good question, I am really interested in Apple chats, I am not sure if you have heard anything about it. But it is in data right now, but Apple chat, from what I understand, will allow consumers to have interest in a brand and text the brand, and we can interact back with them, but it is like a chat for us, in that way, that communication, that text is always open, I am interested in that. I am really curious to see the different ways A.I will go this year, like you were saying, it is hot right now, it is the buzz world, and a lot of companies are trying out to see how they can implement it. And then also, what more can we do with texts? We use texts for appointment confirmation, for follow-up, so I am curious to see how we will use it, but also how other brands use it too.

Erika Moore: Yeah, that is interesting. I haven’t heard about it, so I am going to go do my research on Apple chat, it sounds awesome. Alright Heidi, we have come to the fun part of the discussion today. So, we just did our first fireside chat last month and as part of that, we launched what we call, ‘The lightening round’… So, the rules are pretty simple, let me grab my little egg timer, I have got a 90-second egg timer here and we are going to see how many of these questions you can get through in 90 seconds. And the idea here is to just share the first thought that comes to your mind in one sentence or less. So, are you ready for it?

Heidi Rote: Yeah, okay, I can do it.

Erika Moore: Alright, let’s go… So, what is your favorite channel to use for customer service?

Heidi Rote: Chat; we can chat and still work a little bit.

Erika Moore: Like it. When you think of a great customer experience, what is the first brand that comes to mind?

Heidi Rote: Nordstrom

Erika Moore: That’s a good one. What is your number one customer service pep?

Heidi Rote: People who don’t care about their job, you have to love your job, and if it is going to take you away from the things you love, why not love it?

Erika Moore: Love that. If your customer service were a song, what would it be and why?

Heidi Rote: Good question also. I would choose ‘Raise your Glass’ by Pink…

Erika Moore: I love Pink…

Heidi Rote: Me too… I would choose ‘Raise your Glass’, if you were wrong in all the right ways. So, we will never be anything but loud, it is just that we have a good time when we work.

Erika Moore: Own it… So, when it comes to customer experience, what’s the most common mistakes you see brands make?

Heidi Rote: Too much automation, too much button pushing and IVR, just get me a live agent, we are calling, excuse me, we want to talk to someone, not push buttons.

Erika Moore: Absolutely, don’t forget the humanity…

Heidi Rote: Yeah.

Erika Moore: Alright, let’s see if we can squeeze in one more… What is your favorite book about leadership?

Heidi Rote: “All-time favorite winning’ by Jack Welch, love that book, love the message.

Erika Moore: Cool, I haven’t heard that… You have successfully made it through the lighting room…

Heidi Rote: Thank you…

Erika Moore: Well Heidi, this has been awesome. I want to thank you again for taking some time out of your busy schedule to chat with us. And I am really excited to see you, I guess in less than 2 weeks, just over a week, in Las Vegas. For those of you tuning in, it’s not too late to register, head over to icmi.com/cc, there you can get all the details, you can also check out a list of all of our movers and shakers honoraries for this year. So, we would love to see you there, and hope you can join us there for the fun and celebrations for the movers and shakers in our industry. But once again, thank you so much, Heidi for being here…

Heidi Rote: Thank you, I will see you in a few weeks…

Erika Moore: See you soon. Thank you everyone for tuning in.

Heidi Rote: Alright, bye-bye.

Erika Moore: Bye…

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David Oates

About David Oates

David Oates is a 20-year marketing and public relations veteran who holds extensive experience in developing as well as executing successful and measurable programs for a wide range of agency, high tech, corporate and government organizations. He is an accredited public relations (APR) expert affiliated with the Public Relations Society of America, and serves as the Chairman of the Board of Advisors for Operation Homefront, California as well as on the Board of Directors for Rotary Club of San Diego. David has worked with Tony since 2001 in numerous capacities such as a non profit Board supporting veterans. He received his MBA from San Diego State University’s Executive Program in 2004 and his bachelors of arts from the University of Maryland in 1991. David was named among the 2009 “40 under 40” list of top professionals by the San Diego Metropolitan.