March 18, 2013 Issue
The Most Powerful Name In Corporate News and Information
Specializing in Lead Generation, Customer Care, Technical Support, Inside Sales and Order Fulfillment, Dialogue Marketing is providing award winning Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) and Customer Engagement Services to build Long-Term Enterprise Value and Lifelong Customer Relationships
About Dialogue Marketing:
Established more than 30
years ago, Dialogue Marketing provides award winning BPO and customer
engagement services that help companies acquire, support and retain
customers across multiple channels. By combining proprietary technology with
passionate people and a dynamic, innovative culture, Dialogue works with
clients to enhance each stage of the customer life cycle. With more than
1,300 U.S.-based employees, Dialogue Marketing specializes in lead
generation, customer care,
and order fulfillment to build long-term enterprise value and lifelong
Alejandro Vargas is chief executive officer and president of Dialogue Marketing, a provider of award-winning customer relationship management (CRM) services to help companies of all sizes and across a wide range of industries acquire, support and retain customers.
Vargas has more than fifteen years of executive management experience in business process outsourcing, client service and workforce management. He is responsible for overseeing the support and direction of the company and its strategic business units, client relations, business development and the financial performance of the company.
Prior to joining Dialogue Marketing, Vargas served as chief executive officer for Provo, Utah-based Marketing Ally, a business process outsourcing provider, where he became CEO at the age of 30. Vargas also worked for Draper, Utah-based Advanta Bank as head of workforce management and was in charge of operations management at Convergys, a relationship management solutions provider.
Vargas is part of the Utah County Chamber of Commerce as well as the Utah Cycling Association. He earned a Bachelor of Science in Management and holds an MBA in International Business from the University of Utah
“Dialogue to me is not a job; it is my second home. I am proud to be a member of the Dialogue family. Our culture has evolved to recognize individual contributions, encourage teamwork and create value along the way.”
Interview conducted by: Lynn Fosse, Senior Editor, CEOCFO Magazine, Published – March 18, 2013
Mr. Vargas: That is a two part question for us because there is a standard answer as to what we do in the industry and what is the industry standard definition; and then there is the definition of how we see ourselves. We are a customer relationship management company. We provide software solutions and call center outsourcing solutions, to handle customer interactions. We are a traditional outsourcer in the business process outsourcing (BPO) environment. A better definition of what we do is the way we see ourselves; we are not in the customer service business; we are in the customer experience business. That is what we do. We are a customer experience organization that leverages technology, innovation, great talent, and we use all of that to enhance the value of every customer transaction. As an organization, we are strong believers in creating value. We believe in being honest, and we believe in the people that we have on our teams; from the leadership to the frontline employees. We believe they are all talented, they all have skills, and they all have something to offer. That is the most valuable asset we have.
CEOCFO: How do you go about making your organization a cut above? What do you do that is different so that customers do get the experience you want, and your clients are happy?
Mr. Vargas: A lot of it is culture; our culture is such that it creates a desire to do more, to create that value that I was telling you about. We are a value-centered organization. We believe that if we create value for the customers we serve, the clients that contract with us, that we as an organization create value for our employees and for the community we are in. We create value for each other; all of that is reciprocal. That is part of our culture. We are a transparent organization. We believe in trust in creating value, and being innovative, and I think you combine all of these elements of our culture; you have a different organization, because most outsource BPO providers will tell you, “We have better technology.” Nobody has better technology. Everybody has the same basic technology foundation. They all have a phone switch and reporting, and web access to reports, and business analytics, data warehousing, and cool technology. We have all of that as well. But we have created a culture that creates a rewarding work experience for our employees where they feel valued, they feel respected, they can contribute above and beyond, and that translates into a better experience for our clients and the customers we serve.
CEOCFO: What is the hardest part of creating that culture, and really fostering the environment that you want?
Mr. Vargas: It begins with the leadership. You have to find the right leadership team. There are a lot of people that are talented, skilled, but they do not fit in our environment. We truly believe in the values we say we believe in. Personally I have been with Dialogue for ten years now, and I have spent the last ten years recruiting talented people who will internalize our culture and our values, and then lead based on those values. Finding those people is the challenge. I have always believed that you have to look for the folks that are the right fit for your organization, for your culture, and then worry about where you place them in the organization. We have done that for the last ten years. One of our guiding principles when hiring someone, especially in leadership roles, is that we want to hire people that we can grow into rather than people that can grow with us. Everyone who is in a leadership role in our organization has done what they are doing now, and have held positions with greater responsibility in the past. My goal is to bring people in that can do my job. If you look at our executive team, I am confident that any of them could step into my role and perhaps do a better job. That is the challenge—finding those people that can come into Dialogue with the right mentality that can accept and believe in our culture and truly internalize those values and lead, direct, and manage based on those values. Our culture is real and almost palpable we are told that time and time again how unique our culture is. We have built that over the years.
CEOCFO: What are the industries of focus for Dialogue?
Mr. Vargas: We focus on a few verticals. When you look at our growth strategy for the last seven years or so, we used to be all things to all people. Most BPOs, they can do it all right, and are the jack of all trades, but master of none. We decided seven years ago to just really look at the areas where we have expertise and really develop that. Financial services is one of the industries we focus on. Insurance, customer package goods (CPG), and blood banking—those are really the four verticals we pay attention to. Because of that, we have been hiring folks from these industries. We have been hiring management to come in and help us, whether it is with client services, operations, or technology. People that have been in these industries, understand industry unique challenges, they can talk to our clients and relate to them. We also developed technologies and best practices that can be applied in all the verticals we serve. The newest service we have invested in is in social media. As you can imagine, social media is the hot topic everywhere. We do not just talk about social media; we actually have a number of clients we are doing social media services for. More and more we are having a great deal of success with social media services, using social media as a channel to communicate in a more effective manner with clients. There is a whole new generation of customers out there who prefer to use social media as an avenue for communicating, for shopping, getting references or referrals or recommendations of products and services. Companies who do not understand that will not be able to compete. We are developing our own technology to not only do social media monitoring in an automated fashion, but incorporate a human element that is required to interact with people. That is our social media service. We have been doing that now for about two years—a service called Social Lift, and we are having great success offering that our existing and new clients as another way to communicate with their customers or potential customers.
Mr. Vargas: I know you may find this hard to believe, but not every client, not every prospect belongs at Dialogue; the same way not every executive with an MBA from Purdue is going to be hired at Dialogue. They need to fit the culture, and clients that do not fit our culture of partnership, transparency, and trust, are ultimately not a good fit for Dialogue. We are not a vendor. We are not the guys that you are going to hire and we are going to tell them, “Here is your script, here is your call guide, here is your APIs, go do it and I will pay you a dollar an hour.” There are a gazillion call centers out there in the states and in Pakistan, everywhere in the world that do just that for a living. A lot of clients need that because they are looking for a cost saving solution, and that is terrific. There is a place for that and a reason for that. We are not the lowest cost provider. That is not us. We truly develop solutions that are unique. We partner with our clients to create value and deliver a better customer experience. We hope that they will listen to our ideas, to our innovations, and that they will implement our ideas to improve the customer experience. In that process, if they show that they truly want to partner with us and develop a better customer experience to really redefine expectations, then we want them as a client. We really want to work with clients that value what we have to offer, and that value customer experience. If they do not, than I am sure there is a vendor out there that will be happy to have them.
CEOCFO: How are you able to ensure when you start with a new client and you take over the customer communication that it runs smoothly?
Mr. Vargas: We have a team of people in charge of the implementation of the clients from project management to training to operations. During the implementation process, every account is assigned an account manager who is dedicated to that account and their job is tied to the success of this account. They own it, and they become the liaison and the representative of that client within the company, and their job is to make sure we do things right for the client. They are the voice, the eyes, and the ears of that client in our operation. We then have regular client meetings to ensure we are meeting and exceeding performance expectations.
CEOCFO: With regard to people on the frontline as opposed to the management, how do you go about finding the right mindset?
Mr. Vargas: Depending on the skills required, customer service, technical skills or sales background we will pursue different recruiting strategies. We have offices in Michigan and Utah. There is definitely a different profile of age, skills, education, and other demographics in either geography. We also have an office in Costa Rica. We have learned there are certain programs and certain services that are better suited for the demographics in Michigan versus the demographics in Utah and vice versa. Number one, we know the type of talent we can recruit in say Provo, Utah versus the talent we can recruit in Troy, Michigan. Based on that we determine what the best fit is for a particular client. We do a lot of testing of our new hires. Our recruiting process is very extensive. We do personality assessments. We do computer testing. We do multiple interviews before they are hires; background checks and so on and so forth. In that process we find the right people. And like most organizations we do not have a crystal ball. You may think you have the right person; sometimes you do not. Because when we hire someone, we know they have talent, that they have a certain skill level that we desire to retain. We will work with them to find them the right program and job assignment that is best suited for them. We continue to grow, and there is always an opportunity for someone who has the right talent, the right desire to succeed at Dialogue.
CEOCFO: How do you continue to achieve the successes you have? What is the key?
That is a good question.
This is going to sound corny, but we need continue to be a small company and
behave like a small company. I think that is the secret to our success. It
is part of our culture. We love a small company environment. I am sure that
one day we will be three thousand employees, or five thousand employees.
Regardless of our size want us to behave and act like a small company so
that we can be flexible, so that we can be adaptable so that our clients can
continue to trust us and we can continue to have that innovative spirit;
that desire to do more for our clients and for their customers, and for the
communities we are in, and for our employees. The minute we start creating
red tape, creating executive levels, management layers, and approval levels,
you just become another large corporation; always distant, disconnected. The
culture that we have invested so much to build will disappear. My hope is
that if I visit our offices and the rest of management team spend time
visiting our call centers talking to people, our employees will know who
they are. Then there is a personal connection amongst us because we are all
in this together. I want us to continue to have that. I think that is the
challenge, that despite our growth, we can remember what made us successful
was to have that small company mentality. Not that we need to think small,
we think very big. We have always had big dreams. It has been our mentality
that we are always thinking big and shooting for the stars. I want to
continue our culture where we know each other, we respect each other, our
clients know us, they can talk to anyone of us at any time, and there is
that element of trust that remains.
“We are in the customer experience business. That is what we do. We are a customer experience organization that leverages technology, innovation, great talent, and we use all of that to enhance the value of every customer transaction.”- Alejandro Vargas
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