A look inside a punk-inspired contact center – Interview with David Powers


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Today’s interview is with David Powers, who is an authorpodcast host, Chief Experience Officer at Rooter Hero Plumbing & Air and a true punk. David joins me today to talk about the need for taking a more punk approach to customer experience and the contact center, what that means in practical terms, some of the big changes he’s seen in the contact center space over the last 23 years as well as some of the biggest challenges coming down the pipe and, finally, what it means to create a tribe and/or a scene in your contact center.

This interview follows on from my recent interview – The CX value model and linking experience to business outcomes – Interview with Michael Hinshaw of McorpCX – and is number 496 in the series of interviews with authors and business leaders who are doing great things, providing valuable insights, helping businesses innovate and delivering great service and experience to both their customers and their employees.

Here are the highlights of our conversation with David:

  • David started working in the call center space in New York City, when he was 17 years old.
  • He’s done pretty much every role in a call center, including the help desk, IT management director, agent on the floor, QA etc.
  • He says the call center space literally saved his life.
  • The biggest changes that he’s seen in the last 25 years is the entire digital transformation and moving to the cloud thing.
  • Voice was like 95 % of the job when I started and now it’s shrunk to about 85%.
  • Every year, lots of people proclaim the death of voice but it’s still here. People who say that stuff aren’t obviously in the trenches.
  • One of my favorite hobbies is going to company websites and trying to break their chatbots.
  • Another big change since 2020 is the shift to remote work.
  • I haven’t seen any downsides to that at all. In fact, if anything, I’ve seen nothing but positives from it.
  • Companies’ CX standards are not keeping pace with expectations, and they are not delivering on basic promises.
  • No response is back.
  • When you try to call someone and the message you hear is, ‘We’re experiencing unexpected high call volume at the moment.’ It’s been like this for the last few years. How is this unexpected?
  • Companies are paying lip service to the idea that customer service and experience are important. It needs to stop.
  • If you fix employee experience, you will automatically start fixing customer experience.
  • Taking a more punk approach to running a contact center is basically what punk started off as. It’s more stripped down, back to basics.
  • Everything that you do and how you run the team is as simple and as transparent as possible. Every single person on the call floor should know their stats and the stats of their neighbors.
  • We have it so that if they wanted to during downtime, our agents can listen to the calls of their of their fellow agents. This allows them to see what another person is doing and how, for example. this person has a better conversion rate. This helps them improve.
  • Make everything simple, stripped down and as bare bones as possible and then build it up from there. This is your least viable tech stack.
  • Focus on what experience you want to deliver and if you stay focused on that so that it doesn’t get cluttered by all these tools.
  • We got rid of average handle time and it was a game changer for us.
  • I am a lot more interested in outcomes than I am in outputs. Average handle time is not an outcome. It is an outcome if you’re cost focused but it’s not a customer outcome.
  • We have the overall call center scene at Rooter, where we all have the same values and we are all striving for the same outcomes. And then within that, we have a bunch of teams or tribes.
  • We have our digital tribe, and they’re more cyberpunk than anything else, where a lot of them are really into William Gibson and Neuromancer and their logo is the Neuromancer original book cover. It’s all about empowerment of the people within each tribe to make it their own.
  • We have an overarching company culture and values, and then we have the contact center values, which fit into them but are a little bit more refined and a little bit more targeted. Then, each one of our tribes has its own little value statements that tie into the overarching Contact Center one.
  • They’re empowered and free to handle situations as they see fit (they can always call for help if needs be) as long as their way doesn’t violate two things: Don’t give away the company and don’t curse at the customer.
  • Our call center has a 12 % year-over-year turnover rate.
  • It is so, so easy to stand out from the crowd. When everybody is really bad, if you’re just mediocre, you have the advantage.
  • David’s best advice: Give a crap.
  • David’s Punk XL brand: Wicked Bold

About David

David PowersDavid describes himself as a punk, a geek, and a thought leader who has 25 years worth of experience in CX and Contact Centers.

In addition, he wrote the Blue Collar Call Center, does a bunch of public speaking, is an ICMI Top 25 Thought Leader of 2024, is a wearer of many hats (literally and figuratively), is the leader of the best Trades Contact Center in the United States, the host of the Caffeinated CX podcast and a drinker of copious amounts of coffee.

Find out more about David here, say Hi to him on X (Twitter) @caffeinatedcx and feel free to connect with him on LinkedIn here.

Credit: Image by Pete Linforth from Pixabay

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Adrian Swinscoe
Adrian Swinscoe brings over 25 years experience to focusing on helping companies large and small develop and implement customer focused, sustainable growth strategies.


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