In Their Own Words: Bill Schubart, CEO, Resolution, Inc.
THE BUSINESS CHALLENGE
Our company had evolved into three distinct operations: a contact center, manufacturing, and fulfillment. Internally, we couldn’t seem to agree on what the company was. The CFO’s natural approach was to do what was most profitable. The marketing director’s approach was to do whatever the client wanted. And the operations person kept saying, ‘We should focus on the art of the possible!’ Each leader’s opinion was driven by his own discipline.
When one of our biggest clients complained, I realized there was a cognitive dissonance between how good we thought we were and how good our clients were telling us we were.
WHY CHOOSE LIZ KISLIK?
Most consultants come in with heavy gravitas. Liz has a lightness of being that puts people at ease. The only gravitas she has is what she earns over time by gaining people’s trust. I had a sense she could lighten people up and to bring us to a new understanding.
Of course, the CFO didn’t want to bring in an outsider. ‘We can figure it out ourselves,’ he said.
‘But we haven’t been able to,’ I kept saying. ‘We don’t have internal agreement, and we need to know why.’
WE ENGAGED LIZ TO WORK WITH US ON TWO ISSUES:
1. Strategic planning. This was the most critical piece. In a two-day meeting with our senior leaders, Liz helped us figure out what parts of the business we wanted to grow, and what parts we needed to get rid of, so we could make plans.
2. Setting up a call center training program to improve interactions between our clients, their customers, and our call center staff.
EFFICIENCY VS. EFFECTIVENESS: FINDING THE SWEET SPOT
So many call center consultants emphasize the need for efficiency. It’s a message that appeals to many CEOs and CFOs. But Liz wants to know how effective it can be.
After the economic downturn, one of our biggest clients asked us to lower prices by 15 percent. ‘You’re too expensive,’ they said. ‘We can get the call center piece much more cheaply,’ they told us. ‘Take your prices down, or we’re going to move.’
In the past, we would have lowered our prices. But after working with Liz, we knew our value was in our ability to sustain our client’s sales and margins.
Our client responded by moving their call center offshore. It was a complete meltdown—and the perfect example of efficiency versus effectiveness. You can lower prices endlessly, but can you maintain the customer relationship?
In the end, our client moved their call center back to us, and at a higher price than before.
HOW LIZ WORKS - DIFFERENTLY
NOT YOUR CEO'S CONSULTANT
So often, the CEO interviews a bunch of consultants, then hires the one who can best make his case. People are rightfully skeptical.
Within the first 60 minutes of meeting with our leadership team, Liz had gained the trust of a fairly hostile group. She immediately made it clear that she wasn’t there to do my bidding. Her client wasn’t the CEO, the CFO, the marketing director, or the operations person. Her real client was our mission. People saw that I was willing to acknowledge my own contribution in creating the problem. We all began to open up.
We got a tremendous amount of work done. All the baggage about where we had come from, who we were, and where we were going disappeared. We even found ourselves laughing together.
BETTER LISTENING, STRONGER RELATIONSHIPS
Liz took us out of our own agendas, reminding us that our company’s rapid growth had been driven by one thing. Our ability to listen to clients about what they wanted, and then build an architecture around that. The energy shifted away from hypothesizing what we should be doing, to carefully listening to what our clients actually wanted us to do. Liz helped us find the critical mass of what was already working.