Solid Rock Consulting

Juanita Coley: Thank you so much for joining us here at Call Center Chronicles. I’m super excited about today’s guest, my mind is just super blown by all of the things that he’s been able to accomplish. Last week we talked to Hosanna Hali. She works at Microsoft, she does a lot of different things in technology so if you missed that episode, I highly encourage you to go back and watch that episode, she talks through some things that were just so mind-blowing and phenomenal.

One of the things that really stuck out to me that she said, was she said technology and I’m paraphrasing, so, okay, don’t quote me, because I’m trying not to quote her exactly, but she said, that technology is not biased in and of itself, its more so a reflection of society and so that is why it’s so important that we have diversity in technology, diversity and leadership roles so that we can have the technology, and we can have things that mirror the customers that we are serving so that we can have better customer experiences. And so that was, that has just stuck with me since last week. And I’m sure it will stick with me going on. So that was just so phenomenal. So, I’m super excited. As you guys know, one of the missions of Call Center Chronicles is to normalize women in technology as well as women in leadership roles within the contact center space in workforce management and leadership.

And so, we are talking to guests talking through technology, talking through the customer experiences, talking to leaders in the industry about how do we advance and move forward, one of the episodes that really sticks out to me was Ebony Langston’s episode. I believe she was in episode two or three. Go back and catch the replays, you can always catch them on, and she was talking through a study that she had recently read. I think I believe it was a Mercer study that talks about how it would take women 95 years at the current rate of diversity and inclusion and equity of how we are prioritizing the initiative as 95 years to make the type of headway, that we are looking to make. So that was just mind-blowing to me as well, because it’s something that we talk about a lot. Right now, Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion is something that I feel all of the companies are talking about, and they all have initiatives.

Even with that, it’ll take 95 years!

Listen I’m just reporting the news. Okay. So, I think that having these conversations again the point of the show is having these conversations really allow us to talk more and be able to start to have action around, hey how do we get women normalized in technology, how do we get women more involved in technology.

I stumbled upon technology by working in the call center as an agent, reading, a blue pumpkin book, which is now Verint, and I took interest, and the rest is now history right. I said hey, I really like this piece of technology, I love what it does for call centers, I love how it takes call centers to that next level.

And so that is how I got involved in technologies in the contact center space, and there’s not like there was a career path drawn out for it and so I think the more we get women to know about technology and about the options that they have, whether it be in call centers or whether it be in, you know, a whole different space. I was talking to Tara Rettley and she’s; you know space engineer for the NASA program. So, the point is just to get involved in technology, and my background is obviously, specifically in a call center so that’s my point of interest, but I really want us to really start to have more of that dialogue in that conversation. And so, in today’s show, we are talking with Donald Spann. He is the founder of Vicky Virtual. He does a few other things but I’m super excited to have him on today, I am going to bring him on the screen, and he can introduce himself. Tell us a little bit more about yourself.

Donald Spann: Happy to be here.

Juanita Coley: I’m sorry I had you muted. Say it again.

Donald Spann: Well, I’d like to meet everyone. Thanks for having me on here Juanita. I really appreciate it, I think you make a point about the importance of technology, as well as the importance of placing emphasis on encouraging and empowering women to be in positions of empowerment through technology and your case the call center industry.

Juanita Coley: Absolutely, absolutely, so we’ll dive right in because I have some questions I am just going. I’ve been waiting on your episode because I got questions that need answers. All right, so first of all, tell us a little bit more about yourself and how did you come up with the concept of Vicky Virtual, we just going to go right on in.

Donald Spann: Okay. Well, how far back do you want me to go?

Juanita Coley: As far as possible, I got time today.

Donald Spann: Okay. Alright. So, my story is I wanted to, you know, like many others I’ve wanted to have my own business for a long time, and I was really looking for different things I could potentially do. I grew up in a situation where you know my family was middle class, but I went through very expensive private schools, a lot of very wealthy families from kindergarten all the way through high school. And you know, our family was on scholarship and all that, but it gave me an inside look into really incredible lifestyles and what can be achieved if you’re able to achieve a tremendous amount of financial success.

And so, when I was going into the sort of college-age and going into college, I realized that traditional job, the typical path would make it very difficult to eventually get some of the goals that I had. And so, in starting different businesses, won’t go through all of that, but I started a lot of things. And one of the companies that I started which I was really excited to do with my dad was a cleaning company. So, we had a cleaning company in Chicago, where I’m from, go Bulls, go Black Hawks, go Cubs.

And so, we had a company, we built it to a certain size, but after the first year, we were in a situation when we needed to have our calls answered. I was sick of answering them myself and, you know, we just, we needed something, so I started to look into a different option to have the calls answered. And during my sort of general research, I eventually went from, you know, traditional answering service to the more, sort of, I guess, aptly fitting for us, virtual receptionist companies. And so, a virtual receptionist company as a call center concept and niche is essentially a premium answering service. It goes above and beyond in terms of the level of service, the quality of the agent, the amount of tasks that that company is going to perform as opposed to traditional answering service.

And so, in looking at the different options, you know there were some options but none of them were really all that impressive to me. And, you know, as the entrepreneurial mindset, the longer you do it the more you’ll get returns. And so, I figured maybe I could reverse engineer, you know one of these companies, that I’m looking into.

And I also realized that as a cleaning company owner that had this very real, very strong need, there must be other people in my industry in the space that would have the same need. And so, I partnered with a fellow cleaning business owner, I’m in Chicago, he’s in Kansas City, and we put this thing together. And that’s how we, you know, prepared and launched Vicky Virtual.

Juanita Coley: That is absolutely insane. So, you were in the cleaning industry, and you needed your phones answered. So, you want to start to research, you know, different solutions that would be able, the services that would be able to meet the need, didn’t find anything that was quite what you needed. And so, you started a company without any background that I just have to hone in on that. Without any background on, you know, telephony systems or workforce management or quality, any of those components of starting a call center and you started the service.

Donald Spann: Yeah, we didn’t know anything. I didn’t know anything at all. And one of the nice things is that I’m not a software engineer. But I do have sort of a technology emphasis in terms of my approach to different companies that I’ve started over the years. So, the first company I worked out all that their software company I didn’t do any coding, but we built them, they got acquired for 7 figures, so we had like sort of experiences in terms of taking the different elements, technological element and putting them together into a company and solving some type of problem.

And so even in the cleaning business space, I never did a cleaning, but we did over 20,000 cleanings, just through the use of technology, connecting clients with potential cleaners. And so, looking into the call center space, the one thing that I sort of realized was that if I can figure out what the pieces are, I can figure out how to get those pieces to come together. So, as you can imagine, you know, I made every mistake possible.

Juanita Coley: Donald, how did you figure out these pieces, what was your process like for starting the call center.

Of course, I do call center consulting, so I understand when I’m going into a call center, or someone who has an idea about, hey, I want to start a call center, what are some of the things I have, you know methodology and this process. And so, I’m like but that has been through my years of working in call centers, working on the technology side.

So, I’m just so blown away by your ability to put those pieces together and make the mistakes, tweaks, so what was your process like, what was that journey like for opening up, Vicky Virtual what were some of the critical mistakes that you’ve made?

Donald Spann: Yeah, well, that’s going to be sort of a long answer but when I have approached really anything in a business entrepreneurial sense, sort of first thing that I absolutely knew the first truth was that there are businesses out there that need the phone answered. And there are people out there that currently answer the phone. And so, my only real job is to figure out how to make that happen. Right. And so, the first step was, we need some type of call center software.

Now, thankfully you know we’re just starting off with the bare minimum, we pieced together, two people, with my co-founder’s sister. She had literally graduated high school semester-long these early, so she was like, I think she turned 18 a couple of weeks before she started working for us in January. And then my friend like semi pseudo retired mom that was 67 years old.

Juanita Coley: Wait, so you had someone who had just graduated high school, and then you had a retiree. So, we going to put a pin in that Call Center Chronicles, because that’s going to lead to my diversity question next so put a pin in that go ahead and continue with your story.

Donald Spann: Yeah, so that was definitely the big thing. And one of the nice things that we learned from that is, you know, it is possible for people on essentially both ends of the spectrum, to be able to use them. So that informs us, in terms of really how to sort of getting people of different technological backgrounds, introducing the system that is going to be the sort of tool on a daily basis, how to approach teaching them about things like, you know, based off of where they are at, and it put us in a position that we had to just sort of jump off a cliff and figure it out.

So, we’re two people. We didn’t have to think about a lot of problems such as workforce management and getting the metric correct and all those types of things, we just focused on making things work.

And so, the first phone system that we went with was a system called XYZ, and it was built for marketers and stuff so not what we’re looking for at all. So, like three months into running the company we switched over to a different system. And there was an entire, there’s like a whole bunch of logistics and stuff that comes with doing that and learning how to do that as its own skill.

And, making sure that the client that we had, you know, making them happy, keeping them happy during the switch was something we had to learn. But I think the real benefit that we had all of these things that we’re learning and we’re on such a small scale, that if we screwed up, then it wasn’t some monumental disaster. It was just a small-scale sort of incubator-type problem that once we figured out the answer to the problems and knew the best thing to do, by the time we got a little larger, we had some knowledge.

Juanita Coley: Wow. So how did you then go from- my mind is still blocked. Production team, can I please get a mind-blowing emoji okay mind blown emoji. Okay. My mind is like, it doesn’t, it doesn’t take much but anyway.

So how did you go from high school graduate to a retiree, I think you said she was retired at 67 to the now recruiting more and more and more agents to handle, volume, and at what point did you understand okay I need a different software because you say you started off with XYZ, at what point do you say okay this is for marketers, not really what I’m needing, and what was those like transition pieces for you. How did you transition smoothly while still keeping your customers satisfied?

Donald Spann: Yeah, I think. The difference between someone that’s a beginner, and an expert, is the expert knows what questions to asks. Because once you get the answer to those questions, you know how to proceed.

And so, when you’re a beginner you don’t know what you don’t know. So, we didn’t know that XYZ was not a good fit until we started using them, then we had different clients that have different things come up, then we tried to sort of find many workarounds that we could within the system we were using and the tool that we had, but it got to the point, where they were too many things that we couldn’t do, they were too many limitations. And so, after using that, though, after getting that experience we figured out and knew what those limitations were. And so, once we were able to, you know, acknowledge what those limitations were, we could then possibly look for a system that could, you know, that didn’t have those limitations.

And that in and of itself is a sort of organic way to find a system that works better for your business model on what you’re doing. And so, we switched over to Tawk To. And you know we just kept things simple we were very transparent with our clients. They knew from the beginning that we were a completely new Call Center. It helped us that we stayed in our niche at first. We were cleaning business owners that create a call center for other cleaning business owners, sort of as a top priority. And so, when we were, sort of engaging them and saying hey, we’re going to make this change, they understood that we had a vision, they understood that we were working extremely hard and doing whatever we could to fulfill that vision, and they understood that, once we solve the problem, we’re working on with their feedback will create something that would be a better fit for their company than anything else out in the market.

Juanita Coley: That is. That’s just phenomenal. At what point did you was it when you decided hey, we understand the lifecycle of, you know, selling, marketing, all of those different things that, okay, let’s now start to go outside of the niche and offer this service to other businesses.

Donald Spann: So, the nice thing about it, was from making our business work correctly and figuring out those issues, then we had a nice foundation of clients. We had probably 25 clients in the first few months and that was just about all cleaning business owners, but in tandem or simultaneously we’re constantly doing content marketing.

And you know, we’re just getting the word out about our company, we’re writing blog posts, we went from zero to being, you know, in the blog I’m profitable in two months because we wrote a very long post on that on Reddit.

Yeah, there was a very popular poll, top 10 on the entrepreneur, subreddit, which is 800,000 subscribers at the time. And so, that brought in a good amount of inbound traffic. And so, through that inbound traffic, we started inevitably have in businesses and other industries that weren’t, you know, reaching out to us and signing up.

And so, we didn’t even know what industry was the best fit for our service until they started coming to us and we started serving them and realizing okay, we’re a better fit for this type of company than this other type of company.

And so, the answer is, people started finding us, you know, we’re proactive and getting ourselves out there. And we’re fortunate to be able to have people to find us and sign up with us.

Juanita Coley: Wow. Wow. So, tell me how do you feel that you’re, when we kind of start to talk about diversity, how do you feel that you’re because you have a keep me honest you have partial hearing loss? Is that what I would call it?

Donald Spann: My situation is I was born 10 weeks early. About 2 and a half months early. And, I was like, three pounds at birth, I was in an incubator for three months, had tubes everywhere. And I really barely made it, and so the one long-term thing that sort of came out of that though, was that not all my ear nerve cells survive. And the majority of ear nerve cells died off were in the high-frequency range. And so, what that does, and how that affects someone is the dictation of pitch. So, when we’re talking to each other I will hear you at the same volume that you hear me, but from your mouth to my ears, it sort of sounds like you’re mumbling. And so, the clarity is not the same.

And if you know the sort of ironic too, you know, my career before having a business was sales and being on the phone, cold calling people left and right, is sort of ironic, but it also caused me as sort of the baseline to focus a lot more to the person I’m talking to, with other people can get by, sort of you know, half butt in it.

And so, I think that a large amount of focus may be, made it so that people in general, felt more heard when they were talking to me. I’m not quite sure how much my wife would agree with that. But when I am talking to a different set of people, to potential clients, me having to focus so much on what they’re saying, made me a better fit overall for the career.

Juanita Coley: That is amazing. I was going to say, emazing because I make up words. That is amazing, right, that is amazing because as we think about diversity, so diversity, I’m always interested in diversity because diversity is more than just, you know, color or religion or diversity is everything. Everything diverse and different about us coming together so that we can appreciate those different things and those experiences, translate to people in all different from all different types of walks of life right and so when I think about, you know, you’re hearing in how you were able to take that and how you even articulate it back to me right, so how your perception is that it has made you a better listener, it has made people feel like they’re heard when they’re speaking to you because you actually have to listen.

When you know, you’re not listening to respond, you’re listening so you can actually listen. I’m not listening so I can have an answer back, I’m listening so I can actually understand what you’re saying because to me it sounds like you’re mumbling so I actually have to listen with intent, which now sees over and has even prepared you even though you are in you know, home cleaning business has prepared you for a call center background without even having any intention of saying, hey I want to start a call center, you know, you have that background and experience.

That is just mind-blowing. You blow my mind I know I’m speaking in broken sentences but it’s because my mind is so blown. Tell me when you’re looking at software and you’re looking at, you know, hiring and all of those different things that you were expanding the company did that have any weight in bearing on, “hey, I think I’ll go with this piece of technology over this piece of technology because it has something for people with maybe, that are visually impaired or hearing impaired or all of those different things that”, did that play any role, did you think about those things?

Donald Spann: No honestly, I didn’t think that much about it from that perspective. I did think about it in terms of a few things. One you already know, like we were dealing with our entire company, even when we got up to 100 agents, was everyone worked from home. We’ve never had a central on-premises setup. And so, when you’re dealing with cloud-based telephony vendors, software choices, one of the main things that we’re looking for is reliability.

Right. So, if the system itself was reliable and had less glitches that were already, you know, that put them in the top 25% of vendors.

Another consideration we had was, you know, as we learn more about one, you know, how do we serve our clients the way we want to serve them. Two, what is a limitation on what we want to do as a company, in general, that is scalable, and then figuring out how technology can help us do that, then three, you know, having less resources at first financially and then having more resources later on.

Those are the three main considerations when we’re looking for software. I think to go for the main thing, we actually over the course of five years, we’re on five different systems and now I will say, Vicky, have probably found the one that it should have been on from the beginning.

Juanita Coley: Wow, that is amazing. Tell me a little bit more about it.

Okay, as you begin to expand and you are able to now get more customers and all of those things, you’re able to think more about the main difference.

Can you tell me about the main difference between what you did with Vicky Virtual and the virtual answering service versus the BPO like what would be the main differences between those two services?

Donald Spann: You know there is not a tremendous amount of difference I think between a typical business process outsourcing. I think when it comes to a lot of different call centers in the way their business model works, the typical thing is, you know, you’re starting your company and you try to land the contract. And hopefully, it’s a sizable contract, and then doing that, you know, let’s say a call center had, a million-dollar call center had 10 different clients that pay them $100,000, a year. And so, what happened to every single client is very important and critical to the entirety of the call center. Whereas in our case all of our clients were tiny. So, our typical client pays at $300 a month. And once we got to about 150 to 200 clients, that was one client, in particular, that was that even accounted for 1% of our revenue.

And so, with that being the case, we can operate in a lot more of a flexible way, we could do things based on what made sense, as a company, what would most do and liable what would best in terms of scale. And then, frankly, it’s a lot easier for an agent, because we didn’t have to focus so much on, you know, being perfectly on the metric we didn’t have to micromanage and our agent turnover, as a result of being in a very pressure free environment, out of the hundreds of people that we ended up hiring, we’ve only had three people to ever quit.

So, I think a lot of that had to do with the business model itself. A lot of it had to do with, you know, just being in the virtual reception niche as opposed to the traditional business process outsourcing with larger clients.

Juanita Coley: Wow. Tell me what do you think the main difference on, what have you seen has been the biggest challenge between, especially with, you know when you’re building Vicky Virtual and you’re having the agents talk to the customers and all of those different things, what was the biggest disconnect because obviously, you know, you didn’t have a call center background, or any of those different things like that so it’s not like you were doing quality or maybe you were, were you doing quality management and all of those different things?

Donald Spann: We were, you know we started off pretty simple with a like some generic criteria form. And, you know, we did a lot of role-playing, and we just sort of like tried to have things make sense, right I think over the course of your life, you end up on the phone with a call center agent for whatever reason, lots of times.

And so, there’s a certain etiquette that you start to pick up on, in having a conversation with different agents over the years. Thank you for calling this company, this is me, how can I help you today?

As you’re talking to someone, that agent sort of keeping you engaged, acting like at least appeared to listen to what you’re saying so, you know if you are a caller that tells them, an unfortunate story, hopefully, the agent, you know, first off, will reply with some level of empathy. Those types of things will sort of intuitive and we just sort of pretty quickly understood those things without having to really learn them.

And so rather than, you know, going through what we didn’t want to, like, sort of fake engineer, what would be a good sort of conversation and what would be a good interaction with a caller. We just wanted to go with what felt natural, in terms of, okay, this is quite intuitive and organically reasonable as to what a caller will want to hear when they are talking to us.

So, we just start with that, we just kept it really simple. And then, you know, when we, you know another thing too and I’m just now realizing that, like I’d never really thought about it before, some of the earlier agents that we brought on had prior call centers experience, and so sometimes they would come in and say, well this is what we did at my old job.

And one of the things that helped us along, as for the company, all of my former partner and I was listening to our agents because they were the one talking to callers every single day, and they had the pulse on what was going on and thought to try not to theorize everything and sort of listening to them taking that feedback. And you know, check the things that made the most sense and sort of build that into the way we ran our company, that was very beneficial for us.

Juanita Coley: That’s so insightful, that’s so insightful, so one of the things is you know you naturally just, I think Genefa said this as well, on one of the prior episodes she was saying, you know, we have all this technology, especially people who, this is what they do, right, we build call centers, we build IVR as we build these calls, and so, we created all these elaborate things right, and then we never actually put ourselves in the actual customer seat right so one of the things that you just said, that was just kind of, she alluded to this as well as make sure, with all of this innovation and all these things that you’re doing, make sure that you go and then put yourself in the customer seat right because you have this elaborate IVR this interactive voice response system or this ACD and this routing agents’ callers here and there and this is like, just please get me to a person, quickly, right, and you never put yourself in the customer seat.

And so, you’re saying some of those things just naturally came as intuitive because you did that, you know, you put yourself in the customer seat, you know, this is what good quality is, if I was a caller, calling in, this is kind of how I want to be served and so forth and so on.

And the second thing is a lot of the people that you had, you hired already had call center experience so they understood, already answering phones and what it would be like sitting on a phone call, all day long, or you know, taking calls you know, it wasn’t like you were putting people in roles that they were, you know, used to being in already.

Right, so that’s kind of how you were able to do that.

What do you see with the traditional call center, so you call into call centers right you call your bank you call you have all these different experiences, I’m sure. Being a former, you know, the founder of Vicky Virtual, do you ever find yourself sitting and this is just me being a nosy now, you know, do you ever find yourself sitting on any of those calls and you’re like, you know, oh my God.

Donald Spann: Well, you know I wanted to add on to what he was saying really quickly.

One thing that I’ve learned about technology is that, the best technology is the technology that gets out of the way. When you put someone through the experience of feeling like they have to push through barriers in order to get to where they want to get, if there’s too much friction, then that’s the sign of a bad technological solution.

Even if there’s an elaborate setup, right, which is going to be the case all the time, Apple, for instance, will elaborate processes and setups and configuration, but the end result is a product with technology that mostly gets out of the way.

Whenever you use it, it’s intuitive and it just feels natural, and it flows. And so that was really my, that was really all gone on to action when we’re putting things together. We wanted technology, only for the purpose of making all of our lives easier from the owner side operator to the agent to the callers.

Now, to your question about, calling into different places, I think that unfortunate thing is that they’re just too many call centers, where the agents are living a pretty miserable experience in their job. And some of it is because of the management and some of it is because, I think, there’s just a lot of inaction when it comes to systems that don’t make sense. And that’s why it’s great that people like you exist.

I think that people use technology not just to come up with a more convoluted situation, to keep callers away from their agents, so that the agent can handle more calls, that only more calls to handle because people are pissed off because it took so long to get to them. You know, if you create a technology solution to get out of the way, then that’s going to be the best approach.

Juanita Coley: I love that, create technology that gets out of the way and you know I say, I say this a lot, I love technology, that does the heavy lifting.

Right, so we already have done, we’ve already created process we already, you know, have developed our people, but then the systems should be coming in the technology should come to do the heavy lifting.

Right, so I shouldn’t have to be figuring out how to route, you know callers and all of those different things. I should have technologies that can be able to just do the heavy lifting, but I have done the initial work to create a process on, you know routing and where the call goes and making sure that agents are skilled and trained to be able to handle that particular skill set, so I love that what you said about, you know, having technology that just kind of gets out of the way and allow you to really be able to, the customer to be able to get to where they need to get to, even if that is, you know, a self-serve, a lot of customers nowadays they do want self-serve.

And so, I think that’s where technology really allows us to be able to, in these call centers, be able to really handle a lot more customers, and then allow the agent natural person to be able to handle some of those more complex situations that a virtual system may not be able to actually handle.

So, I think that’s amazing.

So, tell me about, man and we’re already at 45 minutes, man, this is crazy.

So, it’s such a good conversation.

So, tell me now, I know that you have, what are you doing now, tell me now because I know you are, you’ve moved on from Vicky Virtual tell me what you’re doing now, how your experiences now are helping call centers or people that are interested in call centers, tell me about what you’re doing now.

Donald Spann: Yeah, so, you know, Vicky Virtual was a, I’ve been saying important a lot, it was a game-changer in terms of my life. You know, I was able to create a company that pretty much every single client we ever serve we provide real value, and it was like a utility service for them.

And so, we were able to create something awesome and we got acquired in October 2019.

And so, you know, at first, I was thinking to myself, like, whenever you’re trying to you know, change your life and an entrepreneurial success, it’s like oh man what am I going to retire to?

But about a month or two before I sold the company, and I didn’t know that I was going to sell it, came from an unsolicited offer. I went from thinking, I was going to be running the company for another 15-20 years or so. And down to kids that weren’t born yet to sell the company in the span of a month. So, it was a real sort of quick turnaround.

But I get the point is that I was reflecting around that time, around how Vicky Virtual had been a really simple concept, something that not a lot of people talk about or think about or work on, but it has such a drastic impact and I realize the industry with very sizable and had room for a lot of other companies.

And so, I thought to myself, you know, I have been seeing all these people like pushing different businesses. Is there anything out there that talks about how to start a virtual receptionist company and I did a quick look, and I literally couldn’t find anything at all, so I figured why not just create something?

So, you know a little bit of a passing project honestly. You know it’s been over a year and I haven’t been running ads or anything.

I created a course on how to start a company very similar to Vicky Virtual, so it’s called Call Center Cash. And so, I launch that sort of course, in January of the last year 2020. And, you know, we’ve gotten great feedback. I think it helped that there aren’t any other courses on this.

So rather than saying, oh well, let me look at this person course and see how good it is, and see how I can make mine better. I didn’t have anything to go off of just like when I started, I had nothing to go off of.

So, that meant I just went for it I didn’t leave anything out. And so, we got some really good feedback and now we’ve had a bit over 100 students, and around, I think, 27 that have logged in our call center so far, the results.

And it’s been a great experience. Been a situation where you know you’re seeing people, then, in some cases that have full-time jobs that are now, you know, full-time entrepreneurs and changing their lives, through the course.

Juanita Coley: And that is, so I belong to this group. That’s insane. I belong to this group that shall remain nameless. I’m talking about this last week, but so I belong to this Facebook group that shall remain nameless, and what I think is interesting about the group is, it is a group for call center agents, and it’s really more a group to vent in, so if you’re a call center agent you can vent in the group and whatever whatever whatever.

What I love about what you do is you are teaching people how to, hey, you can do exactly what I did, this is these are kind of the steps to doing it. And so, I think that that is so interesting because, on the opposite end of that spectrum, you have groups that are dedicated to just venting about the situation so I love how you have created a space for people who want to understand how they can start their own Virtual Receptionist company and, in many cases, they are transitioning from what they were doing, whether they were a call center rep or not, whether they were in a completely different, you know, industry into running a call center.

That is amazing.

Donald Spann: I mean, frankly if you have Call Center experience, you’re in a beneficial situation because you understand why businesses need this and want this, and you understand the importance of customer interaction, but you just understand that thing was.

A lot of people don’t until they start personally dealing with it, and I’m at the end, a different, I’m not sure that the same one but I’m in a group where there’s a bunch of call center agents that and it’s really, it’s really sad. What a lot of people are dealing with, it’s really sad.

Juanita Coley: Because they feel stuck, and I think the reason I even joined the group was because I wanted to understand from an agent, you know, again, what Call Center Chronicles it’s for everybody’s, it’s for technology leaders, it’s for leadership and in the call center it’s for agents it’s for customers.

I want to be able to understand the whole spectrum of a customer experiencing in call center life. Right. And so, I wanted to understand from the agent’s perspective, the things that frustrated them, you know, and what are some of the things that you know they’re voicing their concerns about so that’s why I joined the group.

But I see in the group. Some people you know, they’re sometimes, they can feel stuck, and so I think it’s just amazing what you’ve done with even call center cash of how you are showing people, hey you can start a call center, you can create opportunities and, you know, you could do all these amazing things, so I think that is just phenomenal.

Donald Spann: And the big thing, the last thing is, as I was doing this, I realized that the obvious things out there that, how to start a business, but they’re like a franchise or like you’re working for some other thing it’s like 1099.

This isn’t that, this is you’re starting your own company and that’s what real power.

Right, that’s what we’re looking for and not to get too much in it but from a minority perspective whatever I can do to get more minorities involved and for the entrepreneurship community of people that have successful businesses and, you know, a full-time lifestyle that needs to be more of us. You know that’s a big way as well.

Juanita Coley: Absolutely yeah what you’re doing is amazing, and it is actually helping to push that initiative forward as far as diversity, right, we have to have people from all walks of life, and that’s represented in not only our technology but in the interactions and the experiences that we’re interacting with, and the people we’re interacting with daily like the example I always think about that discover commercial.

Not sure if you saw. I got to play it one day. On Call Center Chronicles, it’s a discover commercial where the caller is calling in, and they get someone in the call center that kind of matches their energy, so it’s like an older lady that’s calling on her card, and then she gets somebody who’s older is just like, yeah girl I know her energy and it’s like, that’s true diversity, right, is when I can call in and the person who’s on the other end of that line, understands why I even care about my health care or why I care about whatever the concerns are.

Again, even with you, you know being hearing impaired or having a hearing impairment, why you’re listening so intently and why you’re able to pick up on flexion and what someone might be the truly meaning, you know, all of those different things that’s what diversity, and why it’s so important that we have people that are super diverse, you know, in, you know, dealing with the technology dealing with the customers in the whole lifecycle of that goes into call centers.

Donald Spann: I completely agree.

Juanita Coley: So, we’re down to the bottom we got we got to have you back on Donald, we got to have you back on for sure because I got questions, I didn’t even get to, but leave us with a word or phrase of wisdom if you had to leave us with nugget, what would that nugget be?

Donald Spann: The main nugget is that whatever it is you’re trying to do, getting started is going to be easier than you can imagine. Some things on the journey are going to be harder, but once you get started, the most important hurdle has been jumped. And so, you know, pretty much anybody that’s successful will tell you this, just get started, what seems hopeless, you will realize it not.

Juanita Coley: Wow. Get started, the journey might be hard but getting started is the easiest part that is, I’ve never heard that. That is awesome, and it’s when you think about it, I’m going to let you leave with that, I’m going to let you leave with that because that’s, I don’t even want to, I don’t even want to expound on it but that is that’s a really awesome nugget.

Thank you so much for hanging out with me in the green room I’m going to wrap the show up, and then I’ll be over there with you. Okay.

Donald Spann: Okay. No problem. Thanks for having me.