Blitzscaling and delivering customer support for Airbnb, Nest, Google & SuperCell — Interview with Brian Hannon of Voxpro

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Today’s interview is with Brian Hannon, the chief commercial officer at Voxpro – powered by TELUS International, a global and award winning customer experience outsourcer. Brian joins me today to talk about their approach, their clients partners (ahem!) and what they have learned from each other as they have grown together.

This interview follows on from my recent interview – Global human capital trends and the rise of the social enterprise – Interview with Anthony Abbatiello of Deloitte – and is number 262 in the series of interviews with authors and business leaders that are doing great things, providing valuable insights, helping businesses innovate and delivering great service and experience to both their customers and their employees.

Here’s the highlights of my interview with Brian:

  • Voxpro delivers scalable and outsourced customer service and technical support services for international tech brands like Airbnb, Nest, Google & SuperCell.
  • Voxpro have grown at 70 percent compound annual growth rate for the past four years, much of which is driven by the underlying growth rate of the companies that they work with and the new companies that they choose to work with.
  • They refer to their customers as partners rather than clients as that embodies the nature of the relationships that they want to have with them, where emotion and trust are of primary importance rather than cost, efficiency, productivity or the terms of an SLA.
  • They look for added value from each partner that they on board, whether that is to them, their community or their employees.
  • Trust is at the heart of what they do and how they operate, rather than an SLA.
  • When selecting partners (clients), they consider how they feel about the people and the relationships they have with them as well as about 15 different variables from a data perspective.
  • If they hear people talking too much about cost and productivity in initial discussions when they’re at an early stage in their startup journey then they begin to worry about where their priorities really lie. And, then they tend to qualify them out at that point.
  • The commonalities that companies like AirBnb, Nest, Google & SuperCell have is that they are “Blitzscaling”.
  • This is a term and approach coined by LinkedIn co-founder Reid Hoffman.
  • There is a book coming out too: https://www.blitzscaling.com/
  • “Blitzscaling is a specific set of practices for igniting and managing dizzying growth; an accelerated path to the stage in a startup’s life-cycle where the most value is created. It prioritizes speed over efficiency in an environment of uncertainty, and allows a company to go from “startup” to “scaleup” at a furious pace that captures the market.”
  • Voxpro have adopted this approach and it has helped them grow from about 800 employees back in 2015 to well over 3000 at the present time. They expect to be at over 5000 by the end of the year.
  • With that speed of growth you need to be able to seize things when when you sense them.
  • That requires good dynamic capabilities, perspective and the ability to be incredibly agile.
  • It also means they need to be visionary in how they set goals for their organization and people so that they don’t see limits where others might see limits.
  • They focus on their and their partner’s mission to deliver something that’s going to make a significant difference to the world. That means that the whole culture of the organization is a critical component of ensuring that their values are linked to the people that are delivering.
  • One of their core values, aligned to this approach, is “brace yourself” – to reflect the idea that something is going to be coming around the corner and everything could change in the next day or two vis a vis what they’re planning to do today.
  • As a result, the constant change and constant scaling means that they need a certain type of person and one that is going to be able to enjoy themselves in that type of environment.
  • Striking the right human and tech balance in the customer experience is largely dependent on how efficient the technical platform for engagement is.
  • Brian Chesky, the CEO of Airbnb, said that they should focus on getting 100 people to love them rather than a million people to like them. And the reason for that was the advocacy that would be driven by those people.
  • Digitally native firms, like Airbnb, stratify their different experiences and, at each point, determine whether it’s good to have a digital and/or a human component now and how that might change in the future.
  • Digital and customer experience transformations, particularly in established firms, can be hindered by the underlying economics.
  • If you’re a fast growth venture backed firm you tend to focus on growth over profitability, whereas a more established firm can be constrained in their approach and decision-making by cash flow and profitability ‘hockey sticks’.
  • As a result, to overcome these constraints we are starting to see established firms acquiring start-ups to acquire their technology and know-how.
  • This will be particularly true of companies in the finance and healthcare worlds in the coming 5 to 10 years.
  • Developing the relationship and facilitating learning and feedback loops between themselves and their partners is done in various ways from hosting dinners between them and similar professionals in other organizations to having product teams come and sit with them and their contact centre teams, where they listen in on live calls.
  • Most start ups when it comes to support and service start lean and, typically, their communication channel that’s most used for customer experience is either a very basic knowledge base on a website or email.
  • However, voice also plays an important part in the start up journey as its a better way to build advocacy.
  • Brian’s best advice for start-up leaders and entrepreneurs: “The number one thing I would suggest without a shadow of a doubt is to reach out to people who’ve been through the same experience before and other peers within the tech community”.
  • Finally, it’s important to keep an eye on what your North Star is and what the vision for the business is. This will help guide your decision making but also the direction for your people within your organization. In addition, over communicate constantly about your North Star vision so that people see that you’re still sticking to it.
  • Check out Voxpro, their sister company Xavient and their parent company, Telus International.

About Brian

Brian HannonBrian Hannon is the chief commercial officer at Voxpro – powered by TELUS International, where he develops the services, solutions and teams to solve our customers’ challenges and develops the growth of Voxpro’s business around the world. Brian has extensive global BPO experience.

Prior to this role, Brian was the business development director for Conduit, launching and developing the business’s healthcare and technology segments. He brings to the role experience in driving global teams to develop and implement solutions for Fortune 500, public sector and scaling organizations in Europe and the U.S., developing partner channel strategies and building successful growth teams. Brian has also gained from experience working in finance and in the international tech start-up market.

In his spare time, Brian is a passionate participant and follower of all sports, in particular mountain biking, football and American football. He holds a BCOMM and MBS from University College Dublin and a dual MBA from London Business School and Columbia Business School, NYC.

Check out Voxpro, their sister company Xavient and their parent company, Telus International. In addition, say Hi to Brian and Voxpro on Twitter @BDMHannon and @VoxproGroup and connect with Brian on LinkedIn here.

Thanks to Pixabay for the image.

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