LFG with JJ Podcast - E6: Justin DeLorenzo

Justin DeLorenzo is the VP of Customer Experience & Operations at Snow Joe. Justin shares his background, starting from his experience in the IT help desk and sales, and how his passion for problem-solving and customer satisfaction led him to a leadership role. The conversation delves into the impact of AI in the CX space, with Justin highlighting the growing acceptance and comfort customers have with AI technologies like web chat.

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[00:00:00] Juan: Welcome to LFG with JJ, the podcast that helps you level up your CX game by navigating CX and AI technologies. I'm Juan Jaysingh, the CEO of Zingtree, the AI powered customer experience platform, providing solutions that turn every human into an expert. 700 plus companies across 54 countries trust our solutions to boost their contact center proficiency, enable their customers to self-help improve their internal processes and more with Zingtree .

[00:00:31] Hey, Justin. Great to see you. Likewise. Likewise. Excited to have you on the podcast. Thanks for giving us your time. We'll get right into it. Justin, you are the VP of Customer Experience and Operations at Snow Joe. Congratulations on your recent promotion. Excited to hear that from you. I would love to get this started in today's podcast, we'll talk a little bit about your background. We'll talk about the CX space. We'll talk about, how you stay relevant in your job and, the things that you do day to day. And we'll wrap up with some final questions. So, yeah, let's get started. Let's hear about, who Justin is.

[00:01:14] We'd love to hear about your background. I know you're a big sports fan. I know you played football. I'd love to learn more about, how, football athletics, played a role in your professional career. I don't know if it did, but I'd like to learn more about that. And just hear about your background.

[00:01:32] Justin: Yeah, thank you! Thank you for having me, by the way. So I'm happy to do this. And, yeah, where to start, right? My background. I did start in a call center experience, but mine was a little different. I was more on the IT help desk side. So I started off a combo role really I was actually doing IT help desk like level one tickets and also sales, was really good at sales I had a good speaking ability.

[00:01:55] And I was like alright so let's do this I fell in love with the problem solving process. I just fell in love with it. I love the feeling of customers loving getting the. I love the kind of reciprocation of, Hey, I need your help. I need you because you're helping me. Let me do my job. And so that kind of tied really well early in my career.

[00:02:14] And I kept doing that I'm still fairly early in my career, but I did that for only about a year or two. I grew and stepping stone. I got more into tech. Got into EMR software support, and then dive right into medical devices, which was a company called Topcon, which was specifically supporting a product that was completely proprietary.

[00:02:36] So I knew nothing about it. And so we had to learn it from the ground up. And that was, challenging say the least. And at that point I basically learned that in that it was a technical support engineer, but in that, at that point I learned. I could technically take this to the next level.

[00:02:51] I can be a leader here and I could, and I saw the need for it. And the promotion came, there was an opportunity available and I jumped on immediately. I was like, yeah, this is what I want to do. And, I love 

[00:03:03] Juan: for it. Or did you talk to your. boss then, or 

[00:03:06] Justin: how did I talk? I just talked to my boss at the time, who was, there was, I knew there was an opening coming up.

[00:03:11] I knew there was a need for it. We haven't had a change. And at that time we didn't have a change in our, call center in a long time. And we had the same management. There was really no changes, no automation done. I had a feeling it was coming and it was actually proposed to me and it was like, Hey, how do you feel about, stepping into this role?

[00:03:27] And at that time it was taking over two call centers. It was a help desk, which was our technical support levels one, two, three. And then also our success and support team, which is more of your general kind of customer service call center. And so I think in total, at that time, 

[00:03:41] Juan: that's what's more internal for internal.

[00:03:43] Yeah, 

[00:03:43] Justin: exactly. Yeah. Yeah. At that time, it was my first real leadership role. managing two contact centers, it was probably like 22 to 25 employees. And it was fairly, it was only like my third year in my career, really. and so I grew really quickly. I loved it. I fell in love with that process. I worked my butt off, that part we tend to forget, but I worked my butt off to do that.

[00:04:05] It wasn't just, handed to me, but. But yeah, it was the leeway to get in there. I did skip over like obviously my sports stuff, but I'll get into that. this is just career right now. And yeah, so I did that. That's pretty 

[00:04:20] Juan: cool, because I remember when we always had, it helped us personnel in any company I've been a part of.

[00:04:29] If they have a great attitude and they help you, they can really get to know everyone in the company because everyone goes to them. Hey, help me fix my computer. I'm actually going through a situation now where I have a security that pops up on my computer every 10, 15 minutes. I reached out to my internal help desk folks to help me there.

[00:04:49] someone like you has got the right attitude. And you're getting your career started. You can pretty much get to know everyone in the company and you get to be, someone they all depend on. And that can, sounds like that's played 

[00:05:03] Justin: well for you. Yeah, no, I say that to people all the time because I, meet people like in my everyday life at the gym or other places, coffee shops, and I tell them what I do and they like, IT, people have this stereotype around IT people that either they're introverted or antisocial or just maybe not that easy to talk to. And so easy, like early on the early going, like you mentioned, that was one of my, I realized that very quickly. I'm like, no one in this IT space, even if there were maybe more tech savvy at that time than me.

[00:05:31] They couldn't speak the way I could, and they just couldn't, they weren't people per people, so they couldn't speak to people the way I could. And I saw that as a really easy opportunity. I'm like, hey, I'm naturally friendly with people. But that, and then 

[00:05:43] Juan: you work your butt off and it gave you the opportunities.

[00:05:45] That's 

[00:05:45] Justin: amazing. And it's really, it's sad to say, but it is very uncommon in the space. It really is. You don't meet that many IT people who are really good with tech and problem solving, but also people that you feel like, you can talk to, you can go to, so. 

[00:05:59] Juan: that played you. That's correct.

[00:06:00] Like people in IT and tech, I can, get issues resolved and played football. we don't see that, that's not common. yeah, 

[00:06:09] Justin: yeah. that part is, yeah. So that, so actually, before we move too far on, I do want to, I'll touch on the football thing because it is important.

[00:06:16] And you mentioned, the effects it plays on professional development and just professional in general. And I'll say I have a kid now I have a five year old daughter and I want it when she's old enough, I want to encourage her to play all the sports she can, because I'm a huge proponent of this I think the discipline that you learn in sports and getting screamed at by coaches having to show up to practice when you don't want to having to go to film rooms and going, it's like having almost like having a job that you're not paid for.

[00:06:41] And you're only doing it for the pure fun and enjoyment of the sport and also the camaraderie you have right. And so I learned that very early on. And so when I got to my, like a job and I was working with people that maybe didn't play sports, their whole, I played up until college. So I played my whole, I played division two football.

[00:06:59] I had a 16 years or so of playing, a lot of sports and mostly football. And so when you get to an office environment and you deal with customers who are maybe yelling at you and maybe screaming profanity or whatever my first few calls were like, I can't remember exactly. I know they weren't nice.

[00:07:16] And you get those first few calls. To me, I've been doing this 16 years. I've heard everything you could hear. About running on the field. And yeah, that's, 

[00:07:25] Juan: that's amazing. I were in a line there and I'm a big fan of sports. It, teaches you a lot of things, like you said, discipline, focus, ability to wake up the next day after taking a beating.

[00:07:42] those are things that, are life lessons and it actually brings people together, from all walks of life, you can have. different, statuses in life and, come from different parts of the world. And, but it brings everyone together as, a team, I played tennis and now I play tennis and pickleball.

[00:08:01] I'm really into it. I've been in some sport, tournaments here and there. but football, I'm super fascinated with, cause I, really, I call football as a sport, is a trusting sport. because, when. you've got, your team, tennis is an individual sports and you can play doubles but football is really a team sport where you have to trust your teammate.

[00:08:24] You have to, if you're the quarterback, you're not going to look over your, on the left side to make sure you're, to see if your alignment is, I know your offensive lineman is going to cover for you. You just know that, he's going to try to do his best and, you're not going to look that you're going to look at the passing route and make, the throw, even if you're going to get hit.

[00:08:45] So really, you got to trust your team, which I think is again, an amazing life lesson, when you have teammates and in the rest of your life, whether it's in your professional career and other careers. Not trusting the teammates, I think is a big advantage. That's something that I enjoy 

[00:09:03] Justin: about football.

[00:09:04] Yeah, no, totally agree. And what position did you play? I played, so in, in high school, I played everything in high school. I was, I, tried to play everything but, defensive end, mostly defensive end linebacker and tight end. In college I thought I was gonna play offense.

[00:09:19] I ended up playing strong safety. And so that was new for me, pretty fast. What was it? What was 

[00:09:24] Juan: it for? 

[00:09:25] Justin: my 40 wasn't that fast. I actually, that's probably what limited me mostly. I wasn't the fastest guy. I was probably, I was really athletic. I was smart. And I was also the hardest, I was really one of the hardest working people.

[00:09:35] I didn't meet people that worked harder than me. So that was my, my go to was hitting ability and just my work ethic. But my, 40 was, I think a four seven in college. It wasn't that fast. Yeah, four seven was probably my fastest that I've been. Now if I run it, don't know, probably a five.

[00:09:51] you know what? 

[00:09:52] Juan: Next time, we get together, we'll do a 40 race and record it, put it out . Yeah. I don't know if my 

[00:09:57] Justin: hamstrings 

[00:09:57] Juan: will make these. I'm sure with both, at least I'll, yeah. I might have some hamstring issues, but it'll be fine. 

[00:10:03] Justin: But yeah, so I, like I said, I, think it's, really important.

[00:10:07] I understand a lot of people don't like sports and I, get that too, but, If they do have passion, just try it. I always say just try it, especially for younger people. One of the things that often doesn't get talked about in sports that is directly impacting the work that I do today is the leadership skills that you, learn.

[00:10:24] Were you a captain on the team as a, captain, yeah. Yeah, exactly. And so for me, I've always played that role, whether it was a peewee level football or. Going up, even I played three sports in high school, but in football, let's just say for, to use one example, I was captain and I was a leader and people looked up to me and as a good player, you have a certain standard to live by, right?

[00:10:44] You have a reputation, people want advice from you. People want to be guided by you. And I didn't even know it at the time, like a leader, you hear the word, but you don't know what it means. And so when you translate it to a work environment where you're like, wow, people treat me the same here, they automatically assume when you're in the room with them that you're, going to give them something to do, or you're going to give them guidance.

[00:11:04] And you're, and a lot of it is, like I said, reputation management, you do that at an early age, by the time you get professional, it's almost like it's, you don't even have to think about it. It's just kind of second nature. 

[00:11:15] Juan: Yeah, that's amazing. Thanks for sharing that. I know your career, I, started in IT help desk and, you continue to stay in that space and then started doing more stuff around the call center contact center space.

[00:11:30] And where are you now? Tell us a little bit about. Yeah, 

[00:11:32] Justin: absolutely. IT thing and I, once I got into a leadership role, that's one of the things you lose a little bit of the hands on, I don't get to do as much like solving of the everyday issues, but I was okay with that because I got to see big picture.

[00:11:45] And so what I'm doing now in my role as VP of customer experience and operations is mostly trying to figure out the best way to put our customers in a journey. That is not only like pleasurable, but it's different than something else they've experienced, right? We're in an industry where. It's very saturated, right?

[00:12:01] You can go to home Depot and find multiple different lineups of different types of Makita. you can go to Makita, you got Black+Decker, you got right. You'll be, you have all these different options. And so as a consumer, you're like, what's going to make it different. It's not always just the price.

[00:12:14] Is it going to work? And then what is the customer service? A lot of these products want good customer service. So especially 

[00:12:21] Juan: now, because if it's poor, guess what? I'm going somewhere else. Yeah. Deal with that. Exactly. The customers are spoiled in this day and age, and so you guys are super focused on that 

[00:12:32] Justin: experience.

[00:12:33] Yes. The experience is huge right now. We're currently, one of the bigger projects and, I've only, I've been here a year. So I started here as the Head of Customer Service and Technology and just as of effective today or in tomorrow, I'll be VP, which is perfect timing, but in my new role really is going to be focused on, 

[00:12:51] Juan: I think you made history at LFG with JJ podcast.

[00:12:54] I believe you will be the youngest VP of Customer Experience and Operations. Congratulations! Thank 

[00:13:01] Justin: you. Yeah. Yeah. It's funny because like you're. People tell me that a lot too. And even when I worked at a startup prior to this role, and I met a lot of people, really awesome people I work with.

[00:13:11] And some of them would ask me and be like, How old are you? They were just in shock because of, at that time I was Senior Manager, but even still, they were like, man, you should be COO. You should be just because I'm always looking for the next, like I want to grow, I want to do more, I want to solve bigger problems.

[00:13:25] That's awesome. 

[00:13:27] Juan: yeah. Yeah. being in your late twenties and being a VP, you've earned it. I can see that, you work your butt off and you had the right mindset attitude. So congratulations 

[00:13:36] Justin: to you. Thank you. Yeah. So, to finish, just finish the thought on what we do, what I'm doing here.

[00:13:41] And really it's experienced a lot of what I'm going to be doing over the next 12 months. It's going to be a lot of behind the scenes, which is for me, the fun stuff, the stuff that you don't get to see on published on websites and stuff, but it's systematic functions and automations that we're working on our RNA process, our warranties, our actual handling of the warranties that are happening behind the scenes.

[00:14:01] And so a lot of it may sound boring to the normal person, but it's going to make a crazy difference in the experience over the next 12 months that our customers will automatically feel. And 

[00:14:11] Juan: and your customers, tell us about Snow Joe. yeah, you guys have been in time. 

[00:14:18] Justin: So we actually, it's funny.

[00:14:20] We started, so Snow Joe started off with the first product was a snow shovel and it's called the shovelution and it was an electric, it was an electric snow shovel that you, can push forward. It has a little rotating spindle on the front, a little blade that rotates and it pushes the snow in front of you.

[00:14:35] And so it started with that. And after that, we started taking on multiple, different lines of products in the snow category. Eventually the business grew, that was doing really well. And the business now has, we have Sun Joe products, Aqua Joe, Power Joe, and all of these lineups of products under the Snow Joe brand all offer different kinds of categories for our consumers.

[00:14:57] But I guess to wrap it all up, it's a. It is a very product focused, e commerce focused business. Mostly, you're going to hear our name when you talk about pressure washers, when you talk about snow blowers, leaf blowers, and pole saws. Who's Joe? Is Joe the founder? Joe is the founder. Yeah, Joe Cohen is the founder of the company.

[00:15:14] A CEO 

[00:15:15] Juan: as well. That's cool. Cool name. No, Joe. I 

[00:15:16] Justin: like it. Yeah. I mean if I owned the company, I want mine name to be in it too. That sounds, that's like such a cool thing to 

[00:15:21] Juan: have. I don't know if Snow Juan would sound good. Probably not. Yeah. But Joe has a 

[00:15:25] Justin: good rink to it. Yeah, we may have to put that in ChatGPT spin up a few options for us or something.

[00:15:30] Absolutely. Yeah. Yeah, that's, what we, that's what we do now. And of course there's, so much under that umbrella, but mostly we're e commerce focused. You'll see us in some stores. You can go to Home Depot, you can go to Lowe's, Walmart. They carry a lot of our products, but most of our stuff is done online, Amazon and our website.

[00:15:46] That's awesome. 

[00:15:47] Juan: you've been, I know you've got a lot of energy. You've been in this space, you've been monitoring this space, you've been hands-on, involved, and now you're a leader, what do you see, what do you see in the CX space now? Yeah, there's, I, love that there's a lot going on.

[00:16:01] yeah, there's, I obviously you mentioned ChatGPT, generate ai, I'm sure all the vendors out there are, pounding you. With their emails and calls saying, Hey, we've got the right ai solution to make magic for you so what are you seeing? What are you guys doing?

[00:16:19] And what are the kind of tools you're using to provide great customer experience for your consumers, what are you seeing happening in the marketplace, and where do you see the industry going? 

[00:16:31] Justin: Yeah, no, you're absolutely right. Head on AI has been the topic of conversation now.

[00:16:36] heavily the topic of conversation now for probably the last eight months, like you said, nonstop from your side, or is 

[00:16:42] Juan: it your management? This is Snow Joe, you 

[00:16:45] Justin: know, fired up about AI. Everyone is where we have channels here in our Slack internal channels that are dedicated to AI conversations, articles that we read together.

[00:16:53] But in a general scope, our customer, here's the part that really surprised me, 

[00:16:58] Juan, 

[00:16:58] was that, for the first four years of my career, customers hated robots, AI, customers didn't want to deal with, they want to speak to a person. If you put them through an IVR system that was automated, you would still hear complaints and they would say, Oh, this is, I want to talk to a person and it's just, Hey, press one or press zero.

[00:17:16] Yeah. Yeah. So exactly. And so the part that surprised me is that the level of comfort that customers are already receiving, like they've been showing us through AI and, also customers, the knowledge is out there now. So people know about it. People are using ChatGPT for personal purposes and everyone's using it now.

[00:17:40] There's a huge demographic pool of our customers who want to embrace that and even ask questions about it. And so one of the things that we use it for is, of course, our web chat. And so we do use Ada, which is a tool. Ada is an AI tool where we can with no code, create and customize

[00:17:58] our chat experience. And that's on our website. Customers use that every day. What we're looking forward to is somehow using AI to enhance the customer's experience also on, on voice. So that's a future project, but. Again, I'll go back to the hesitation because of a lot of custom. There's a big demographic of them that want it, but there's also the ones that are like, no, get me on with a human.

[00:18:21] This is not right. And so we're really excited. So I want to talk about it from an operation perspective. We're really excited about, of course, it could be cost saving right resource wise. I think in the next five, I'm predicting next five to 10 years, a lot of these call centers, a lot of these, customer service orgs may have to start changing their roles and not saying they're going to eliminate roles, but changing the roles to bot builders, AI specialists, people who are familiar with the process and build flows that are customized for experiences instead of having direct, just people doing, handling tickets.

[00:18:54] And so that experience sounds so much better where, we're actively. We do, obviously we have Zingtree, right? On here. Zingtree is, I, love, I just saw this the other day actually with, with the success team. And we talked about the new feature where it has like the, publishing, edit your publishing at the end.

[00:19:13] And so for our authors on our team here who handle that, I don't work directly on it, honestly. But for the people that are writing these, trees that we're using, it's don't have to go to another tab. It's helping you create a personality to it. And we can customize it that because we know our agents, we know what they want to hear how they want to see it, how they want to read it, and the flow of it.

[00:19:33] And so instead of us having to manually go through all this, I thought it was really neat that you guys just hey, I know, it just seemed like you guys read our mind and I thought that was a cool feature. And so we like that we plan to use that more as we build more trees, we're still relatively new to that, of course, but but yeah, we're, excited about AI.

[00:19:52] We're always talking about it here if it's not just with the experience side, but also everyone's talking about it. On a personal level. I think we're, people are talking about it as a personal assistant. We talk about robots. I personally, I love it. I'm a tech nerd myself on my personal time.

[00:20:07] So I get really excited about this stuff, right? I don't get scared. There's, a side of it that gets scared, right? I'm sure you've probably heard some of that, like 

[00:20:16] Juan: data. Where's the data stored? And your security team was probably come in a hounding you. So, 

[00:20:22] Justin: yeah, there is a side that is that concerning side.

[00:20:25] And I, there are some things and there are certain industries that I would say probably should stay away for a while. Here's the thing. I think. The gender of AI is where, so AI as a whole is really awesome, right? I think it's, cool what it does. I think it's needed. I think it needs to be regulated a little bit more because it's so highly used now, but.

[00:20:43] I think the generative side of it, where it's, literally answering questions for you from the human side, where agents would typically have to think, how do I answer that? I can't, and you can input. So that side of it, I think is really vital. I think once we get to a point where you can input

[00:21:03] a data set that only has limitations that only stays within a boundary of information, just like, it had ChatGPT, for example, goes up to what September 2021. So their data sets are limited to that point, and they can grab everything from within that point to whatever it started at. Let's say we put our own data sets, proprietary data, user manuals, documentation, SOPs, that we could use to generate answers for customers on the fly.

[00:21:28] And I'm speaking directly at self-service here. Customers can ask us, how do I do this? Or how do I, they go to an app or they go to the chat. And so I'm thinking about that. I would love that. We're not there yet. Yep. 

[00:21:40] Juan: that's awesome. You're thinking about it because, and also thanks for the Zingtree shout out.

[00:21:44] Yeah. And I, we've got a lot of, new features that we're rolling out. we made a lot of investment in AI. so you'll see that. So I'm glad you liked the publishing feature. there's a bunch of AI assist feature for the authors to make it easier for them to build faster workflows. and there's a lot more coming, down the line.

[00:22:03] but definitely, to your point, being able to connect with a lot of data systems in within your organization is something that we're working on. and we're actually in beta testing with a few customers, so happy to share more with you offline, but that's great. You're, thinking about it the right way.

[00:22:19] you're fully plugged in. we both, are aligned on that front as well. Like AI is the future and you guys are embracing it, so it's great. Great to see that. you made this comment. Five to 10 years from now, you think, humans are not going to be replaced by AI, but their jobs, their roles are going to change, let's, noodle on that a little bit more.

[00:22:40] So you were saying, Hey, their roles may not be like picking up the phone and just giving, a resolution to a customer. It could be around, figuring out how with your AI expertise build more automation and self-service to the customers. Is that where you're? Yeah, 

[00:22:58] Justin: you just exactly.

[00:22:58] So I'm going. So in our and I'm only going to speak to this prediction is specifically for an industry like mine, where it's a consumer product that they can touch their with. Not maybe not as much on the software side where I need to maybe connect to your computer or your system, but on our side where a customer has a actual product in their hand, a physical 

[00:23:14] Juan: product, they've got the Snow Joe, right?

[00:23:17] They 

[00:23:17] Justin: have it. Let's say they have a Snow Joe. This is my vision, right? Over the next five years, if we can get there, absolutely. I'd love it. First of all, the phone needs to be automated in it with AI, right now you have your IVRs. When they first came out, everyone's oh, this is great. Now we have our own, we have our own, person that's triaging the calls.

[00:23:36] And it's yeah. So I know you would probably remember that. That was like a huge thing. And so now people are annoyed. They'll tap zero. 

[00:23:43] Juan: Doesn't, yeah, I do that and I call, I'm like, Hey, one, I'm in the space. You're in the space, right? I'm like, zero, zero. And I'm like, human.

[00:23:52] representative, crap, like representative, I'm like just screaming and not . 

[00:23:58] Justin: Exactly. So we know the pain doing it. We know the pain, we deal with it as consumers ourselves. And that's, another part of it's really cool is, anyways, I think the automation of that conversation, right?

[00:24:11] And I'm just going to use an example for our product here. Customer calls into one of our main support lines. They get an answer system that we generate answers for. So maybe not generative, unless we can get to a point where we control the data sets and the boundaries of what answers they can actually provide because with generative responses, the problem is

[00:24:29] that we don't want to give false information, especially live to a customer. Hey, ChatGPT is known for this, right? It tells you it'll make something up. And so it might combine a product that is totally irrelevant to the product they're asking about and give a really bad solution.

[00:24:45] So that's the scary part. So what I'm thinking is controlled data sets that are limited to within boundaries that we can control the answers. And, so it's not as generative, but it's going to generate. Based off of what they're hearing, right? And so it gives the complete self service option completely.

[00:25:02] I can register my product here, right? That's, the easy one. I think next step to that and obviously we'll just talk about the agents here. I think with that need, it'll eliminate pro I'm just making prediction here, but I think it'll eliminate the amount of calls going to call centers like my, like ours.

[00:25:20] By probably 60 to 75% in the next five years, because the calls will be contained. They're going to be contained by the bot. And so just like a chat system that everyone's familiar with containment rate with chats, it's going to be the same thing. I'm just predicting it's going to be the same exact thing.

[00:25:37] As long as here's the caveat, as long as customers and every single, everyone's own customer demographic is different. As long as our customer demographic is okay with that and they like it and they embrace it. 100% will work if they say, I hate robots, give me two representative, we want the old school way, then we're going to go with that as well because we want to make our customers happy.

[00:25:57] But that's going to be the final caveat is how is it people actually like it? Do they like 

[00:26:02] Juan: demographic changes? I think, your demographic of your customers now are, a little bit more mature. what, does the age 

[00:26:12] Justin: demographic? Yeah. so it, differs, right?

[00:26:14] So because we have so many different products from gardening to snow blowing, of course, the majority of them are going to be in the older demographic because these are homeowners that are doing DIY projects, gardening, patio, they're doing a lot of stuff for their homes. And so the demographic age group is probably somewhere in the 35 to 60 range and probably a little, even, up in the sixties, you'll see some customers.

[00:26:36] so with that in mind, you're right. There is a maturity level of demographic, and then we have a new role in of, in five years, people like myself will now fall into that demographic category, right? I'm going to buy a house. I don't have a house yet, but I will in the next five years. I'm 

[00:26:51] Juan: going to buy a house now.

[00:26:52] Yeah. Yeah. I 

[00:26:54] Justin: should be able to. Yeah. With that in mind, I'll, roll into that. My generation will roll into that demographic. Our demographic will change. And if I'm in that demographic, I know that I know my answer. I can't speak for everyone in my generation, but I know I'm going to want the robot.

[00:27:10] I just, I don't want to, I don't want to wait for someone. Just get me to the bot. If they could solve it, let's do it now. Give me the answer. 

[00:27:15] Juan: I have an issue. I have a question. I just want the answer. 

[00:27:18] Justin: Yeah. So it's, there's a lot to that. there's so much to go off of just, brainstorming that whole thing.

[00:27:26] There's a whole side of it that I want to talk about. I can talk about the whole application side. People are now. People want apps more than anything. They're like, Oh, just get an app on your phone. Why? They don't have an app for this. Like I hear that all the time. It's like, how do you not have an app? 

[00:27:38] Juan: So how do you see, so the calls are going to, these are great predictions.

[00:27:42] I'm glad we're recording this. We can play this five years from now and we can revisit this. But my, so you're saying 60, 70% of your calls could be deflected through the bot. Makes sense. As you're explaining that what will happen to those people who are taking those calls? What type of roles will they be doing now?

[00:28:00] Justin: I see it in the beginning stages. These people will probably be in hybrid roles. They're going to be managed because there's still a level of follow up on tickets. let's say the bot handled the ticket. The maybe the bot handled the ticket, but there is a certain level of making sure something gets done So it's going to be a hybrid in the beginning We can't trust 100 that hey the bot solved it shipped the replacement made sure we got the return label out rma everything So there's going to be some I think there's going to be some level of hybrid in the role But for 

[00:28:28] Juan: the piloting with the bot and the human copilot, 

[00:28:31] Justin: right? So so that's where it changes right because now in today's world a customer service representative doesn't need much experience with anything in tech or AI. And so that's changing now.

[00:28:40] Now we want to know, what do you know about AI? Do you know chat? That's one of the questions we ask in interviews. Do you know about ChatGPT? And we'll see what, if the spin off and it's, so the skill set of having even just general knowledge and interest in it is, a really big seller for someone interviewing.

[00:28:55] We're like, yeah, this is, you're going to fit in well. Now we're thinking about the future. We want people like you who are for it. Not the agents that are scared. Oh, I'm going to lose my job. No, let's be for it. Because now. If you get the skill set, you're going to be in high demand in a few years, and you're probably in high demand 

[00:29:10] Juan: now, and it's a great career opportunity for them to come into a progressive company like Snow Joe, who's thinking about the future is going to help them progress their careers much faster and be more attractive in the marketplace, whether it's at Snow Joe or outside of Snow Joe so it's an opportunity for anyone.

[00:29:27] to come work at Snow Joe and get that experience. That's pretty cool. It's, a 

[00:29:31] Justin: tech skill. That's ultimately what I tell people too. It's hey, customer service up until, I, got lucky and started on the IT side and went on the customer service route. But for people that are strictly just customer service focused, they don't have that many hard skills that they can sell themselves on 10 years down the road, maybe five, even five years when they go, they're like, I don't want to do CX anymore.

[00:29:51] I want to do something bigger. And they're like, what tech do you know? I solve tickets, And it is nothing wrong with that. But to this point, if you have now, we put that person against the person who knows ChatGPT, who loves AI, who talks about it, who knows how to automate knows how to really be efficient.

[00:30:09] That person not only is going to have that skill and be preferred for the job, but now we have a reason to pay that person more because you have an hard skill that is in high demand. 

[00:30:19] Juan: 100% right. You've got efficiencies, you're bringing in, technology that's being adopted for, more automation.

[00:30:29] It's making a high impact, is it, providing ROI to the business. So those folks who are into those kinds of, expertise are going to be, happy. Yeah, 

[00:30:42] Justin: yeah, I agree. 

[00:30:43] Juan: I agree. That's great. it's been super helpful hearing about your prediction. I make sense. I excited to see where this all goes.

[00:30:52] Let's shift to, I a little bit about your day to day job, right? I want to hear about, you've been at snow Joe for a year over the last year. I'd love to hear because you've got this unique experience of, Profile that you have of, being an internal help desk person.

[00:31:10] You've been a contact center person. You then move quickly into leadership role and managing folks and inspiring them. You've got this sports background. I in your job at snow Joe. Oh, the last year. Have you had to deal with a challenging situation? It could also be a success situation where you had, a, big win, would love, to hear about that experience.

[00:31:34] Yeah, 

[00:31:35] Justin: absolutely. Sharing. Yeah. Mean my, role coming in, and I, knew this, I was happy to take it this way, was. That, hey, we haven't had a tech savvy person running our CS org. That was the, leading sentence, and I heard in the interview, and I'm like, great! Most people run away, right? I'm like, no, I want to solve, I want to solve.

[00:31:52] That's why I worked at a startup before this, and I said, I want to solve problems, right? I want to solve big problems. And when I heard that, I was like, yes. And so the first six to eight months was really cleanup, right? Data cleanup. We had triggers and automations and macros and all these things going and funneling through the Omni channel and Zendesk that no one knew where they were going.

[00:32:11] No one was managing the views. And so it took, yeah, in the first three months was getting our scripting in, right? So I didn't mention this, in this interview, but I did with, with Grant some, some months back. we had. Come in with our team was using and just I'll keep going. But I want to add this point.

[00:32:29] Our team was using sticky notes. Our call center team offshore was using sticky notes and no kidding and word documents for troubleshooting steps for introductions on phone calls. And so sometimes they would stumble, they pick up the phone and they're trying to find the sticky note. thank you for calling.

[00:32:46] And they're trying to like, and It was just, for me, it was a little mind blowing and I was excited to fix it. And one of the first things I heard of was Zintree. And so I looked it up in the marketplace in Zendesk. I easily found it. I started with the trial. I, we loved it. we got it up and I got it up and running.

[00:33:03] I don't know if you heard this, but I spoke with, with our sales rep and we got it up in 24 hours and it was no code experience needed. I didn't really have to do any training. I didn't read any documentation and it's so much better now. you know this, but when I got this a year ago, this was before the, kind of the refunneling of the tree that you guys have now, which is so much easier and it still was that easy.

[00:33:25] Anyways, it speaks to the level of kind of like how quick it was to get it up and running immediately. We saw a 50% increase in our inbound sales conversion rates because now they had live scripting available to them. They knew objection responses. Yeah. Yeah. And so immediate, value for us.

[00:33:43] We were super stoked about it. It was almost, and it was a cheat code for me. And my, I said this in my, if you look back at my interview, spoke with you guys, almost, probably almost a year ago, the, One of the things I said was this is going to help me in my promotion because this was in the first three months and they were like, Whoa, this is saving us, we're, closing tickets faster.

[00:34:04] We're closing inbound sales faster agents sound more professional. it was like too good to be true at that time. And we're like, how? And it was so easy to get up. I didn't even need to bring a dev resource in. So that was like the part at that time we didn't have really that much to offer.

[00:34:17] That was one of the first things that, that I came in, but projects like those are the ones that I was primarily focused on just drilling in on. Can we operate in a more efficient way? Do we need 170 people right now? Like thinking about those kinds of questions. Cause when I came here, we did have 170 agents.

[00:34:35] And our volume was relatively the same to what we have today, which is around like 2, 500 to 3, 000 tickets a day. And we have probably half of that team that we did at the time. And so, we're running efficiently. We're very lean, both in house here and offshore teams are lean. And so 

[00:34:53] Juan: it made a huge impact in your first year.

[00:34:55] Yeah. And were, how, did you end up getting this promotion? I'm curious, 

[00:34:59] Justin: Yeah. I proposed it. I proposed, provided, results. 

[00:35:02] Juan: And, you 

[00:35:03] Justin: know, here I'll, I won't tell you the exact thing, I won't give my cheat code out to the, no, it wasn't that complicated.

[00:35:09] So I, I present show 

[00:35:11] Juan: results and you get 

[00:35:12] Justin: promoted and, yeah. It's, simple as that. But I, what I did was, actually, so I spent, a few weeks putting together a one year review plan. And my one year review was coming up. I had about 30 slides on there going over accomplishments for 15 slides for everything we've done and highlighting some of the big stuff.

[00:35:29] We've changed the savings operationally. We've done how the teams feel, everything you could think of in terms of accomplishments. And then the second half was. A growth plan for myself. And I presented it, laid it out with my two year plan with projects. I need to focus on what's going to be important.

[00:35:45] What is why these are important. What's going to save here. What's going to save here. And so it was very detailed. I even wrote my own job description and I, like I gave it, I made it easy. It was just like, wow. So all this is done right for my COO. He was like, great, this is awesome. And so he was promote me.

[00:36:01] And I was happy with the results. Of course. That's amazing. 

[00:36:04] Juan: you're a go getter. You're hungry. I like that. Yeah, 

[00:36:07] Justin: I am. 

[00:36:10] Juan: that's awesome. So you had some success, any challenging days in the last year where you, oh man, I took a beating today, but I'll be back again tomorrow. Did you have run into any of those, situations?

[00:36:23] Justin: we, have, yeah, there's always challenges. That's the thing about service, right? It's, always, there's never a, once in a while you'll get a good call, but if any calls get to my desk, it's like. It's always, so yes, And no, We, put out a lot of fires. We've had some scares, some data scares at one point.

[00:36:41] And so we don't have to get too super into that, but we've had data scares where, things were down for a long period of time. Customers couldn't put orders in. And our agents had to, we had to on the fly think of a response to tell these customers a way to funnel them so that we could follow up.

[00:36:55] And so we've had, issues like that, which is relatively normal to some call centers. This only happened once, but once and now it'll never happen again. What did you do? Where were 

[00:37:05] Juan: you at that time when this happened? I 

[00:37:06] Justin: was on the weekend. I was on lunch break. Thankfully, I was on lunch breaks. I was local.

[00:37:11] And I stepped out, of the office to grab lunch and I got the text on Slack and I was like, okay, so I ran back here, we all huddled up and we, figured out a plan. We had a plan up and within two hours or so, so it wasn't too detrimental to our customers, but the, experience is what the most important part was for us.

[00:37:29] We didn't want call sitting in the queues. We didn't want to have no answers for them. And so immediately, the first thing we need to do is come up with a plan for the agents. What are they going to say to the customers? How are you going to handle this? While still sounding calm and Hey, we have a solution for you.

[00:37:42] And yeah, of course, those that's just one off the top of my head, but we always deal with challenges again. I love challenges. That's what makes my job fun. 

[00:37:49] Juan: That's amazing. I know we're getting close to wrapping here. Really appreciate your time. So let me ask you this. you obviously play competitive sports.

[00:37:59] What do you do now? I know you have a five year old daughter. You want to get her exposed to sports. That's great. what are your hobbies now outside of work? do you do any competitive sports now? I know. Yeah, I 

[00:38:10] Justin: do. not super competitive, right? I have bad hamstrings. I just mentioned that.

[00:38:14] I just learned that they're bad this year, actually. So I play softball in the men's league. We have, I play in a few leagues, actually. And we do tournaments. We do every Sunday. and this is the representing Snow Joe. Is it just, so this, so we, actually, we're going to do, we ended up doing a soccer team, I think.

[00:38:30] But we didn't, I didn't do the soccer. But no, so softball team, this is like with a small group of college friends and ex athletes and just, so we're pretty studded out team. It's fun. we, have a lot of dominating the league. Yeah. we're in a social league, so we're not like, it's not saying much.

[00:38:47] We're not in the championships or anything like that. But, but yeah, I do softball. I go to the gym six days a week. So gym is a big part of my life. I go every morning, 4. 30 a. m. So I'm like super early. 4. 

[00:38:57] Juan: 30? I like it. You put in an hour? What are you doing? 

[00:39:00] Justin: No, I do an hour of lifting and then 30 minutes of cardio every morning.

[00:39:03] Nice. Yeah. And it's been working. I've been doing this for... I've always worked out after college. It became part of my life. I've been lifting and working out. It's just, I couldn't stop, right? So it's part of your, nature. It's a habit. Yeah. But I do have to admit, it's like brushing your teeth, 

[00:39:18] Juan: You gotta brush your 

[00:39:19] Justin: teeth and you're Yeah, exactly. It's exactly like that. And so my, I do have to admit my, I did put on some daddy weight when I had my first, had my daughter, I gained, no kidding. I gained 75 pounds. I kept the same eating habits that I had from football. I used to eat, I'm not like nasty meals, but a lot of my, I guess the size of my meals were just, you would look at it and be like, there's no way you're finishing that.

[00:39:41] And I'd be like, yeah, I'll finish. Are you going to finish yours? And so I ate like that my whole life. And so when I had a kid and I wasn't going out much, we spent a lot, especially when 

[00:39:48] Juan: she was an training when you're in college, but now you're eating the same amount, but you're maybe spending an hour training.

[00:39:56] Justin: No, and at that time it was nothing. I wasn't doing anything. Sorry. I was doing, I wasn't doing anything at that time. I was doing, I was literally just being a dad. And so I was working, at that time it was obviously a big growth period of my life. And I was trying to become a leader and, also being a dad, a first time dad at 20, I was 21.

[00:40:13] And so it was early in my life. And so anyways, I did put on a lot of weight. It took me a little while to get that off. I did, one meal a day dieting, and then I really got serious about the gym. And now it's become, again, it's back into my daily life. If I don't do it, you're into it when you, if you don't do it for a day, you feel bad where it's like before it was like, if I have to go every day, it feels bad.

[00:40:35] But now if I don't do it, my body knows. And it's man, you're tired today. You're just, you're not yourself today, man. Like my body speaking to me. So, yeah, it's a big part of my life. My daughter's a big part of my life. she's, doing great. She's going to kindergarten this year. And, she's in summertime off the summer.

[00:40:53] Oh, yeah. Oh, for sure. Her summer camp when her summer camp finishes in August. We're going to do something. Not sure what. Yeah, but we'll do something. She 

[00:41:00] Juan: wants to get her. I don't know if pickleball is taken off in New Jersey, but it's huge area. Not yet. 

[00:41:06] Justin: Is that the one with the, it has a paddle or it's like a paddle?

[00:41:09] Juan: You got a paddle. It's got a wiffle ball. there's a lot of football players that play. And in fact, right here, I live right next to Stanford. There's a bunch of Stanford football guys that come and play pickleball and they're big guys, but they can move really fast, fun. you should check 

[00:41:23] Justin: it out.

[00:41:24] I will definitely check it out. I've been hearing LeBron James name associated with pickleball. Is that right? 

[00:41:28] Juan: He bought a pickleball team and, I don't know if he's played, but I've seen that Kevin Durant play, 

[00:41:35] Justin: pickleball. Kevin Durant plays pickleball. That's got to be a fun sight to see his 

[00:41:39] Juan: arms are like videos of it online.

[00:41:42] Justin: That's funny. Yeah, I'll definitely check it out. she's, not really into that many sports. She's a dancer. I think now we'll see how she grows. She loves dancing. She loves singing, but she doesn't like anything, throwing a ball or anything like that yet. So I'm letting her just let nature take its course.

[00:41:58] If she wants to be a dancer instead of a softball player, daddy's still going to love her. So I'm okay with that. 

[00:42:03] Juan: 100%. That's the way to do it. Justin, inspirational speaking to you. you've, accomplished a lot, very quickly, he became a father at 21, became a VP of Customer Experience and Operations at 27.

[00:42:17] Congratulations. you've got it now. You've done amazing things. You've got a bright future ahead. You've got a long future ahead. So excited to connect with you. Thanks for giving us time today. I appreciate you being on the podcast. and, look forward to catching, up with you soon. Yeah.

[00:42:33] Justin: We'll talk soon. Thank you for your time. Great. Thank you, Justin.