Successfully growing a team and scaling a business can be hard to accomplish. Through the ups and downs, there are several lessons to be learned from all professional levels.
As technology helps ramp up and streamline most processes, people can sometimes let the basics of what it takes to run a successful business fall by the wayside.
In this week’s Commander in Chief series, PYMNTS chats with global payments and integrated commerce solutions provider i2c’s EVP of Global Client Success, Peg Johnson, to learn more about what’s needed to build out a business in an international setting. In addition to modern-day technology, Johnson also stressed the importance of having a good team and maintaining open lines of communication.
Here’s an excerpt of the conversation:
PYMNTS: What does the day in the life of the leader of a global success organization look like?
PJ: For me, it starts with an attitude and outlook to remain positive and help customers be successful while knowing our success depends on theirs. Every day, I lead a team of i2c professionals with that mission.
So, every day entails figuring out how best to put my team in position to be successful in their job, which means constantly improving operational processes. But just as important — and something I enjoy — is coaching and developing my team members, reinforcing a positive attitude and drive to push forward with the best intentions in mind.
The end goal is to empower them to make smart, independent decisions on behalf of our customers. This means I am talking to our service and support teams around the globe every day, working with our customers and working with management on the operational side to fine-tune our processes and plan for strategic growth. With service teams and customers around the globe, that typically makes for a busy day!
PYMNTS: Where does your drive come from? What makes you wake up in the morning excited to do your job?
PJ: I am passionate about customers and leading teams to solve problems and build winning partnerships. Anyone who worked with me during my years at First Data will attest to that! Spreading that passion within my team — through leading by example and by actively coaching them — is perhaps one of the most important things a leader in my role can do. It is critical for influencing others and sends a powerful message of devotion and service to our customers and clients. Passion is contagious and will lead to higher-quality relationships, both within our organization and with the clients we serve.
I love people in general — from my clients to my team members — and I am excited to make a difference. If, at the end of the day, I can look back and honestly say that I made other peoples’ lives better through my actions, then I’ve done my job.
PYMNTS: Is there a secret formula to making customers successful and leading an organization with that charter?
PJ: The secret formula is trust — and, honestly, it is not all that secret. If trust is established on both sides, everyone will be successful. There are a number of reasons someone decides to do business with your company, but trust is why a customer chooses to make you their partner. Customers rely on you to live up to your promises and help them be successful with your product and services.
The same can be said about leading a global success organization. If my team trusts that my asks are for the betterment of our firm and clients, we all win, and there is buy-in and a real sense of purpose.
Also, communications is an absolutely essential ingredient. In my opinion, good communication is the key to great customer service. It’s just so important to remember the basics. Customers need to be informed and get clear, consistent communications, and to deliver excellent service, your team has to be able to communicate flawlessly.
PYMNTS: What are the keys to scaling service delivery and customer service on a global scale?
PJ: The classic best-practice formula says success starts with a great mix of mix processes, people and technology. That really rings true in my line of business. The key to scaling a global service delivery organization is knowing there are ways to automate, improve processes and drive efficiencies. On a regular basis, you need to take a step back, take a look at your business and examine processes with the goal of improving efficiencies and results for customers. Ask yourself how you can break down internal silos, remove redundancies and make things more efficient for you and your customers.
The second leg of the stool is your people. As I said, good communication is a foundational skill for great customer service. It’s not only important not just for customer service and account managers, but also for management. You also need to make sure your teams are well-trained and armed with the best practices, information and tools they need to do their jobs. Finally, you need to build and foster a culture of service and look for talent that is a great cultural fit.
PYMNTS: Finding someone who fits in with the company culture is what really makes a hire successful. How important is culture to the success of client services and service delivery organization?
PJ: Culture fit is colossally important, because the culture inside an organization impacts your brand — your service level, your customers’ success and employee engagement. There’s an old adage that says hire for fit and train for skill. That couldn’t be more true than in global service and support. Client services, operations and service delivery are not for everyone. It’s hard work fixing everyone else’s problems.
I look for people with a positive attitude who can learn and grow. You have to celebrate wins daily. Encourage people to learn from their successes and their failures and then share these lessons with everyone. Management has a responsibility, too, because culture starts at the top. This means leading by positive example, demonstrating what great service is, setting expectations and showing genuine appreciation for the hard work your team puts in every day.
The end goal is that you drive employee engagement and loyalty, which reduces staff attrition, and that has a direct impact on the customers they serve.
PYMNTS: How do you think the company will change in five years, and how do you see yourself creating that change?
PJ: Growth, growth and more growth. I2c’s Agile Processing payments platform is global, scalable and brilliant. I2c is on a path to $1 billion in revenue, and the company is committed to expanding its operational expertise and footprint. We have a team of amazing professionals across the globe, and my goal is to bring best practices and processes to our firm to support this growth.