Michael Ringman from Telus International takes us through the strategic aspect of CX and utilizing technology that is tailored to our post-pandemic “new normal.”
“Many business leaders have a preconceived notion of what is “right” and what is “wrong”, when we should be asking what is right now”
1. Tell us about your role at TELUS International?
I’ve built my career on implementing technology services, especially developing public and private cloud solutions for retail, government, technology and finance verticals. At TELUS International, I’m able to hone in to my passion to lead large-scale technology implementations to support clients all over the globe. Since joining the team over a decade ago, I’ve had the opportunity to introduce a number of solutions including our managed IT services and expanded TELUS hosted contact center solutions.
I am responsible for all of our TELUS International’s technology solutions such as application development, global infrastructure physical and IT security. I have also been acting CIO for our parent company, TELUS, for the past eight months. In my previous role at TELUS International as VP of IT, I also had the opportunity to restructure the IT organization from separate, regional IT organizations into a shared services organization.
2. Can you tell us about your journey into this market?
Prior to joining TELUS International in 2012, I was VP of Global Infrastructure at TeleTech, and before that, a Network Consultant for IBM Global Services. Throughout my career, I’ve been able to develop and implement next-gen technology like cloud-based contact center solutions. I’m proud to have been part of teams where we were investing in and delivering new and exciting technologies and solutions.
3. How do you think technology is upgrading the Marketing sector?
A major challenge to providing exceptional customer service and one-of-a-kind experiences is keeping up with the evolving and heightened expectations of consumers in the digital era.
Brands must always be thinking one step ahead because competitors might be setting the expectations for your customers – and competitors are not who they used to be. These days, customers are comparing their experiences from brands across all industries.
That said, not all new customer experience trends or “experiments” will have a tangible impact, but having the courage to innovate will keep people talking about your brand. And by collecting that feedback and input from consumers, you’ll be better positioned for future experiments. Never stop innovating as it differentiates you from your competitors.
4. How has a customer centric approach benefitted marketing campaigns?
With the rise of digital media, big data and AI-powered analytics, organizations must be smarter than simply bombarding consumers with generic, one-size-fits-all promotional messaging – those days are behind us! Instead, brands must offer personalized recommendations to consumers, based on the data they’re able to analyze such as past purchases or even special dates like their birthday. In fact, today’s consumers have become so accustomed to personalized, anticipatory offers and content that they’re likely to be surprised by a lack of it.
According to data from a survey we conducted in 2019 in partnership with The Harris Poll, more than two in five Americans (42 percent) say that if a company doesn’t provide them with a personalized experience, they’re likely to switch brands. What’s more, even if a product or service disappoints, 72 percent of American consumers say they’ll give the company a second chance if it’s provided a hyper-personal customer experience. Brands that extend individualized content to consumers will succeed at cultivating deeper, stronger relationships with their customer base.
5. Can you explain how AI has played a key role in enhancing digital experience?
The idea that a single, unassisted customer experience agent can meet the effortless experience expectations of today’s customer is simply unfounded. The average mobile phone has over 80 applications installed and the number of connected devices now exceeds 30 billion. However, we believe that AI should augment and enhance – not replace – the work our frontline team members do on a daily basis. For example, automation and bots alleviate workloads to allow our people to invest their time in more complex tasks, and AI-driven platforms analytics can assist agents by analyzing and providing personalized recommendations in real time.
6. What features of your content moderation solution differentiates it in the market?
At TELUS International, we believe that a happy and productive workplace cannot exist without having a people-first and caring wellness framework in place. Our team members are our strength and the key to our success. Their wellbeing is something we take with the utmost seriousness – we seek to provide our team members with proper care, thoughtful management and aspirational career development.
Content moderation requires a resilient body and mind, so we challenge ourselves to offer a number of different wellbeing programs for our team members that are tailored to supporting and safeguarding those engaged in this work. We take it a step further by building algorithms to automate the review of fake accounts, fake reviews, violence, etc. and also offer our content moderators opportunities to meet with psychologists or counselors in either one-on-one or group sessions on a weekly, monthly, or quarterly basis, so team members can comprehensively discuss their experiences. We also provide resilience workshops and receive regular visits from wellness experts who share their stories and expertise.
7. What advice would you like to give to the technology Start Ups?
When you’re consumed with getting your product out the door (or raising capital, or building your team, or working to grow your market share), there simply is not enough time to dedicate to customer experience. Similarly, when you start as a one-man show and have to do all things by yourself, you quickly discover that it’s difficult to have expertise in all areas of a business.
If you don’t have the skills and resources internally, partnering with a CX provider is a great way to deliver stronger CX outcomes. Even some formidable business minds can still look at customer support partnerships through too narrow of a lens. But, you must be strategic. The right kind of client-vendor partnerships actually feel closer to two departments within the same company versus two separate entities.
8. What is the digital innovation in sales technology that you think will mark 2020?
The importance and criticality of digital enablement in 2020 and post-COVID-19 has grown and the timeline for deployment has been greatly accelerated, especially as companies are moving to remote work models. For us, we launched our TELUS International Work Anywhere platform at the height of the pandemic in March to stunning success, empowering our team members to work remotely and enabling business continuity for our clients.
AI and chatbot solutions will also be increasingly prioritized for organizations that need to broaden their ability to move at the speed of the customer, which means rapid response and fast resolution with low customer effort. Bots are an excellent first step on your path to digital automation and self-service. From informational to personalized to transactional, bots can be designed to help meet many business needs.
9. How do you prepare for an AI-centric world?
First and foremost, you must understand that change is inevitable. Many business leaders have a preconceived notion of what is “right” and what is “wrong”, when we should be asking what is right now.
AI will continue to disrupt all aspects of how we live, work, play, interact and consume.
At TELUS International, we utilize AI tools to assist our team members with their day-to-day jobs and customer interactions. However, AI still requires a lot of human intervention. We see this with content moderation. For instance, while AI will flag unsuitable or disturbing images to be removed from a site, the majority of time a human being is still required to make the final decision. I implore all businesses to be forward thinking when it comes to incorporating AI in order to remain competitive.
10. What are some major developments you are planning for?
We recently launched a new pure-cloud, omnichannel platform called Work Anywhere which enables our clients to connect, enable and engage with their customers easily and securely through a remote workforce. In just 22 days, TELUS International mobilized over 22,000 frontline team members across the globe to support our customers. Currently we have enabled over 90% of our front-line team members to safely work from home.
As we continue to navigate the pandemic, it is important to utilize technology and solutions that are tailored to our “new normal.” Our adaptable solution can include a remote virtual desktop interface, along with numerous other ‘add-ons’ to support remote recruiting, training, coaching, analytics, workforce management and much more.
11. Can you tell us about your team and how it supports you?
At TELUS International, I am continually amazed by the dedication of our team to find solutions and make things work. No matter our roles, from frontline agents to IT specialists, we’re in the business of delivering exceptional customer experience (CX) solutions powered by next-gen technology.
I’m also honored to work for a company that cares so deeply about its team. For example, in light of the pandemic, we have donated meals all over the world to families, as well as the military and police forces working tirelessly in checkpoints near our locations.
12. What movie inspires you the most?
Ever since seeing Star Wars in a drive-in movie theater (glad to see them making a comeback while we physically distance ourselves!), I’ve also been inspired by the idea of making the impossible, possible and seeing science fiction become ‘science fact’ through technologies like self-driving cars and voice-activated devices. Similarly, the HBO show, Earth to Moon, helped me see how quickly we can get infrastructure up and running to accomplish a goal.
Similarly, the recent COVID-19 challenges urged the team to get Work Anywhere functional and running to help lead our team to working remotely very quickly and successfully.
13. We have heard that you have a very joyful work culture, so can you share with us some of the fun pictures of your workplace?
Here are a few photos of the TELUS International team – pre-social distancing, we enjoyed soccer matches on the building’s rooftops and participated in TELUS Days of Giving events in the communities in which we operate.
14. Can you give us a glance of the applications you use on your phone?
During these times, it’s imperative to have applications that keep us connected to our colleagues. One of my most used apps is definitely the Workvivo app which powers Cosmos – our company’s internal social media channel that helps me engage in “water cooler chats” and share fun pictures and videos with my team around the world. At TELUS International, our biggest asset is our people. This app has been vital in keeping us all connected, engaged and inspired to continue providing the best customer service on the planet!
Otherwise, my home is outfitted with the Ring camera / doorbell because we live so close to the wilderness. I like to check in on any furry visitors stopping by through the hardware’s app. Recently we had a bear walk through our yard! Finally, I have the Pokémon Go app installed, the perfect companion for my walks with the dog in the morning – gotta catch ‘em all!