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Call Center Cactus Chat

Episode 22: Talking About Company Culture with Kiezia Eguia

Eric sits down with the first person he’s ever hired at Pac Biz, director of company culture Kiezia, as they go over how the growth & retention of the staff impacts customer experience and turnover.

Listen to the Podcast:

Eric Mulvin: Welcome to the contact center cactus chat podcast. I’m your host, Eric Mulvin. And I know I always say we’ve got a special guest. We have an extra special guest today because we have the very first person that I ever hired, started this all 10 years ago. Keisha Gaea. And so welcome to the show. And thanks for being a guest today,

Keisha: Thanks for having me.

Eric Mulvin: All right. So today, you know, because we talk about on the show outsourcing customer experience managing a call center. And so what better person to bring on the show and interview than Keisha because the story I like to say is, besides being the very first employee number one, she was, I made her a director of company culture, like crazy early on in the company, like we had, like 20 employees. And so that has been so key to the growth and retention of the staff here at Pac-biz because she’s the person that helps make the culture what it is today. So that’s what we’re going to be talking about today is company culture, and how it impacts customer experience, how impacts the call center, the turnover, and we’re gonna share some stories about what you learned and what you’ve experienced, working with me and being the first person at Pac-biz all these years. And so yeah, you ready.

Keisha: I am excited. And it has been really like a wonderful journey. amazing journey, I would say, for 10 years. So yeah, let’s get started.

Eric Mulvin: Yeah, I think it’s very fitting with the last episode that we’re recording of the eighth anniversary series, I’m getting ready to fly back home to do Dumaguete here in Dumaguete. And I’m getting ready to fly back home to Phoenix. In just a couple of days, I spent the last three weeks out here. And it’s been, as always an incredible trip, you know, and I was talking about it with the my co host, Jake, just a little bit ago, about how these trips when I come out here, it really helps me reflect because when I’m at home, and I’m in Phoenix, I’ll really see you guys. I mean, we are on Zoom, but it’s not the same. And I’m always thinking about growth. And what’s next. And you know, like, we’re both like that we’re always taking like, many steps ahead. But when I come out here, I get a chance to reflect and to really see like what we’ve built. And you know, after eight years, it’s pretty incredible. You know, looking back, I mean, so yeah, like we’re, I mean, tell me about your jerky for the last 10 years.

Keisha: So yeah, averages as much as eight, because I’ve worked even before we started. Pac-biz so before Pac-biz is. And it’s been an interesting story that I had with Eric and how was really started with working with the company. So Eric and I, we both love photography. And yeah, we’ve been chatting about it. I was I was still in college at the time. So I’m fond of taking photos. And then yeah, just one. It was like one night, Eric, chatted to me, Hey, do you know that I’m, I have this taxi business in Phoenix, and I need somebody to take calls, if you know anyone from the university. And I said, Oh, I I didn’t have any friends that told me so. And yeah, it was just from, you know, intuition. And I said, Oh, I’m why, why not? Just me. I’m gonna do it. So that was how it started. I was finishing my college the time and it’s interesting how the universe would conspire because I was like, you know, you need to have a plan. What are you going to do with your degree? And I really didn’t know what I want to do it. So Sociology, but I had to, you know, I had to set something where the rapture is I said, I’m going to teach. I’m going to teach in the university. I’m going to take masters, which I absolutely did while working with a chunk of that time. And, yeah, and I was in that state of, you know, our state of questioning what one I’m going to do. So that’s the time that you message me. I did somebody I said, Okay, I jump in. And then

Eric Mulvin: Timing is everything.

Keisha: Yeah. Right timing. And so it was perfect timing. And I started working with Eric,

Eric Mulvin: Thank you for saying yes. Because, I mean, that could have all fallen apart if you wouldn’t have stepped up and we didn’t find anybody. We didn’t get this thing going I don’t know if we’d be celebrating this eight year anniversary today. So. So that’s the journey like that’s how we got started, you know, the call center thing. The taxi business actually just struggled a bit. We ended up shutting it down a couple, like maybe a year and a half after we started the call center out here. So what was that? Like? Because you were there when things like, shut down? That was your job we were paying you for? Not only you, but we brought other people in, like we had. Rusty was that was she there at that time yet? Or no?

Keisha: Yeah, we were at like,

Eric Mulvin: like five people.

Keisha: Three people. Anything and Jake Ryan? I, yeah.

Eric Mulvin: And Rob some podcast co host here.

Keisha: And Rusby’s the four.

Eric Mulvin: And then Rusby is our QA manage the core of some of our leaders here at pact is that’s how we got our start. And they started on phones. But what was it like when you found out that we’re closing down the taxi business, there was a lot of uncertainty here like, I don’t know, what were you this thinking here?

Keisha: Right. So I took a break for, you know, it was like the first time I really took a break from schooling. And it was three months for me. And Eric found an opportunity to work with a taxi. And with these, these local taxi in Arizona, and what was it like for me was by I was in that, you know, crossroad again. Because taking calls was probably like the last thing I would do when I would hang when I think volunteer to be closer to power. But yeah, there’s a reason why. I just did a bit of thinking. And yeah, if you remember Eric, I answer he told you that I’m going back to to my hometown, right

Eric Mulvin: I do. And I was like, how are you gonna keep working with me there? It’s not gonna work.

Keisha: And it was the start of you offering me about, or you got this? Because I know, you always have this thing about company culture. And there was a time when he offered me to do it marketing plus a company culture. So I said, Okay, I’m gonna say I try that.

Eric Mulvin: Yeah, cool. And then so there we go. 2015, we started Pac-biz. And I think one of the keys to success over all these years, is me giving you no direction at all. I mean, I give you a little things like, Hey, can you do this or that. But for the most part, I’m not really telling you how to run company culture, I’m really giving you the complete freedom. Just, I think my I don’t know, whatever exactly said. But if I were to guess now, I think it was probably something like, let’s just make the job fun. Let’s make it a great place to work. And you kind of took it from there, right? I mean, I don’t know, right? I don’t think I gave you a lot of direction.

Keisha: Right? That was there. They said, Oh, something fun for the company. So that was the only thing right? If you said to me to do and you know, in the Philippines, you don’t really focus most of the company, especially BPO, they don’t really hire the big. So really, like rare for them to hire somebody to do company culture. So it’s like, really a special job. I didn’t know what you had in mind or a vision about where the company’s going. But for sure, you’d have something that you had in mind that you want. Maybe you wanted to how to provide this happy workplaces for everybody. And it was a so yeah, just told me that and I figure I figured out my own how I’m gonna do this. But yeah, as always say on the the employee presentation. I would always say that the company culture is your mission. Yeah, altruism

Eric Mulvin: is trying to do we like, I think one of the inspirations for starting Pac-biz was that, you know, I grew up coming out here. I didn’t live here, but I grew up in Phoenix, but, you know, I got an opportunity to come out here and visit maybe every five or so years and some of the biggest employers out here are call centers. And I got to hear story. We had family that worked with them, and as your stories about how they treated the staff, and you know, like people I always hear from our staff here, that you’re not just a number. And you know when people They’re just a number, and they’re just not really even human anymore. They’re just like, they’re easily replaceable, you could swap them out. And so if you don’t value the employees, you know, there’s a lot of weird things that start to happen. Without going into too much detail on those stories I heard about, I thought, There’s got to be a better way to take care of these employees. And, you know, we how can we make this a job that they love? And how can we make this a job that they don’t be like, I don’t want. For me, if I were to work at a place, I don’t want to keep moving around every six months. Like, there’s something wrong with that job, if I’m leaving, or you know, you’re trying to change careers, that’s one thing, but when you go on job, the job, the job, and it’s a revolving door at that office, so you go in, and, you know, everyone else is awesome, out, something’s wrong. And, you know, whose fault is that? Who has control over that, that those are decisions purposely made or not made, they’re either doing things or purposely not doing things to make that not the best job. And, you know, I think we’re doing the workshop yesterday, and I think it was one of the quotes on there. If you’re an employer, you have an obligation, you have a responsibility to make sure that the people working for you are excited to come to work every day. And because like they say, eight hours a day, that’s, uh, people spend more time at work, I feel like than they do leisure time during the week, you know, you wake up, you get ready, you go to work, you come home, and then you got a couple of hours of hanging out, go to bed. And like, that’s what it feels like many times. So what are you doing with your life, if those eight hours, that big chunk of your day Monday through Friday, or in our case at Pac-biz now we’re 24/7. So you could be working all kinds of shifts? Like, if that’s not a positive experience, that’s a big chunk of your life. And, you know, I want to I want to keep I want to be happy, I want our staff to be happy. So that was kind of like my motivation was like, why not make it a great job? What can we do to make it a great job, and I can’t be here, I live in Phoenix. And so I wanted to give someone that responsibility. You that responsibility? Okay, what can you do to make this job? Fun? How can we keep this, you know, a really great place to work. And he killed it up.

Keisha: So yeah. So thanks for sharing it out. Eric, I’ve been wondering, I’m curious. So what was behind that? Job up position. But you know, a lot of companies they wanted to have this No, company culture. And I think a lot company are doing that now. Than before, right. But I just want to share a basic experience that during the covid I’ve attended this workshop with the culture champions. You Yeah, and then one of the struggle that they have with culture, although they have this, they wanted to be like known for that as support. And, and it’s a struggle for them. Because luckily for you, it’s coming from our unit, a founder, said, You get like all the support you need.

Eric Mulvin: So you’re saying the other call centers, the people that have your role in other companies,

Keisha: Right.

Eric Mulvin: they’re not getting support to do all the things that they need to do to make culture amaze, they’re like, you could have this job, but you don’t get any resources, you don’t get a budget, you don’t get people, you don’t have any ability to do much. So like, what are they left to do, like potlucks? The, you know, I don’t know what

Keisha: Well, yeah. So it’s hard for them to implement. Like, what they wanted to have it culture. So the these companies would have guidebooks? Because one way of sustaining culture is, you know, the, I always tell people that I’m a culture builder who building schools, right? It’s just a tiny part of the success. It’s, it has to be as more

Eric Mulvin: than a tiny part is a big part. Yeah, it

Keisha: is a, of course, it’s a big part. But one of the really challenging part is the sustaining. And that that’s where support comes from the from the leadership or from the founder. Otherwise the growth

Eric Mulvin: it so it takes a top down approach. You’re not going to build culture by your agent say we’re going to make this an awesome place. It takes leadership takes everyone bought in from top to bottom. Otherwise, then it’s just the agents, you know, like those staff leave and it’s gone. But you need it from top to bottom. So yeah, that’s the point.

Keisha: Yeah. So yeah, it’s so it’s one thing that may pack is unique is its coming from, from the CEO, himself having this mission like providing good place to work?

Eric Mulvin: Yeah, well, then, thank you. Yeah. So, you know, we talk about core values here, probably not enough on the, on the podcast, but at pact is we have core values of family. Respect, teamwork, compassion and personal growth. And what I almost picture your face every time I think a person, I think of your face and Jake, and Rusby and you know, several other people that had been with me for many years, and now are leading the company. And, but you’ve grown so much like not only in your role, and you know, you’ve stepped it up as we had five employees tend to like it. As we kept growing, you kept keeping up with it. But I just got to see so much growth from you personally, like I do remember you being pretty shy. Like, could you imagine if I were to ask to do something like this, like 10 years ago? It wouldn’t have worked. Right.

Keisha: Yeah. It’s a big no, sorry. So another chance?

Eric Mulvin: Yeah. So how much did this job help you grow personally into like who you are today?

Keisha: Right. So I’ve grown from the role itself, because I started very young and I got 20-21. And I already have this big role in a company, company culture. I think I’m already called company culture director, like media 23. Pick up when I shifted to like hub having this top job full pack. So yeah, that’s one thing, because in the BPO, most of the employees that are the my colleagues, their senior already, they were at in the BPO. Company for Before, we used to just take five, three to five years with experience. Right. And now they help very young. And so my girls started with, how do I you know, make myself credible, at least?

Eric Mulvin: Yeah.

Keisha: And it’s, it’s been a long journey, because those people that has that were read that had stayed with the company, from the time they are, we’re already like, working. We’re already working together. And I don’t want to say too little though, that some of them they doubted my ability with culture, because first of all, it’s not. As I said, it’s not a job that they it’s offered anywhere, given it in the whole Philippines. But I’m glad to start that at to see that they’re starting to do higher their culture roles these days, so very ahead of the that. And so yeah, so adjusting. And always. And also, the interesting thing that this role provided me is meeting interesting people, because on LinkedIn, they see that I’m the director of company culture, and it’s interesting for them, what is the that? So my growth comes from most of my growth classroom, that opportunity to meet these like individuals who are changemakers, as they want to be wanted to also be doing, you know, providing a good place to work. Yeah,

Eric Mulvin: that’s true. You know, I think I’ve met some of the most interesting people, you’ve introduced me to some of the most introducing pet interesting people here in Dumaguete. That I’m like, Oh, how do you meet these people? And, you know, I’m so grateful that you have the opportunity to use this as a platform to be able to bring those people in and bring them into your, your universe here. Because, yeah, like some of them like it. It’s not just interesting people, but you’ve actually helped bring really talented people to pack this. I think, I don’t know, venzee our videographer who’s had such a big impact these last couple of years. And you played a big role in him coming here, right? Or did you find him?

Keisha: Right? Yeah,

Eric Mulvin: but there’s a lot of examples of a

Keisha: lot of examples.

Eric Mulvin: Like because you found or not even just people that are working at packages, but maybe it’s a resource like you’ve brought in people like like, well, Toastmasters. Let’s talk about Toastmasters right

Keisha: ok.

Eric Mulvin: That’s a good example. Because you didn’t go on your own and do that just yourself. What did you go do with that?

Keisha: Oh, yeah, I was sick during when we had, we were just starting in the old building. And it’s mentioned that to our general manager, Ms. Pipin, that all this would be a good like, I know this program, and this would be a good like, training for those who wanted to improve their communication skills. And so she searched it up. And then yeah, that she shared it with training, and then and then the training manager will also know about it. And yeah, we started our our own, which was PB speaks that the tile? Yeah,

Eric Mulvin: yeah. And I think it helped a lot of staff gain more confidence. You know, we, we’ve got people that have to talk to clients, and it can be pretty intimidating for them. I know, for me, even for myself, like in the early days of the call center, like big companies would intimidate me, I think, these days, I could probably talk to I could put anyone in this chair, and I’ll be fine. But that wasn’t always the case. You know, it took it took many years, over eight years of, of talking to so many business owners and getting comfortable. No, we’re all just humans, like, there’s no reason to be nervous or shy, or, you know, like, We’re all just trying to do what we can in this world. And they’re not carrying about the stuff that I’m thinking about in my head too. But you’ve really, you know, helped help. Like I know, there was a lot of employees that have went through PB speaks and have, and I know, many, like even some account managers to that. They’ve gotten their confidence, and they’re better speakers to clients. Because of that. So I mean, that’s not even, you could sit that under the culture umbrella. But I mean, that could be a responsibility for training, it could be a responsibility for someone else. But you took that and you brought it and you’ve made it a thing here at Pac-biz. Because it it wasn’t even I don’t think they had like the closest place where they actually have a chapter is Cebu, I believe, right. They don’t have a chapter here in Dumaguete, but we made it happen here.

Keisha: Yeah, and interestingly, one of the speakers we had was from it was because of Toastmasters that I that I was able to bring him here to speak about, you know, self. I think she spoke about fear of day, those kind of topic. I was because it was fasters. But he mentioned about the bringing great talents to Pac-biz because Dumaguete has been a hub for the basic talented. You know, artist. And yeah, that was that was true. I actually I think we because we were both a visionary. And, and is to share that story about how I partner videographer. And so we fired this like videographer before and I was thinking that oh, there’s a lot of more they could I have seen those talented videographers before and I’ve thought of this person. Where’s this person now? Or these people? And yeah, and that’s how we we brought out a Benzie. And then Benzie brought his friends to do work at Pac-biz

Eric Mulvin: the ripple effects.

Keisha:  Yeah, and that’s it.

Eric Mulvin: If you weren’t here. I don’t I mean, he would be nowhere close to where we are today. So and just bringing just from that alone, we I mean, we get to keep talking. And we’ll continue to keep talking about the impact that you’ve made at Pac-biz. But yeah, it’s just really incredible. How many different ways that you’ve impacted Pac-biz. Probably don’t really think about very often.

Keisha: Yeah. Because they usually extinct yeah, I think there’s so much like because you’ll the fines are always changing and I think there’s like pressure and we like how do I keep up with the with this changing times and be able to for us to stay relevant right to the business or having our company culture still relevant to the the younger generation and and I’m glad that we had a growth as one of our core so thanks for I’m glad he made it to the top five.

Eric Mulvin: I had to do with that it we all voted on it together here at Pac-biz and it really was the staff and all the employees that came up with that I’m Only one vote, we had hundreds of other people trying to decide what are the top core values? Yeah, personal growth. And I love that that’s one of the values too, because again, like I said, I think of you I think of Jake, I think of a lot of the leaders here that have stepped it up like they they said yes to me. Really early on, we were a much smaller company. And I if, if I think if they knew what they were getting themselves into, might not have said Yes, right away, or they might have reconsidered eventually. I don’t know. But you guys did say yes. And you guys have grown as the company has grown. And now we’re alive. We’re working like today. I mean, the last two days, we did strategic planning, we are actually purposeful now. And in that growth. You know, we talked about how we’re gonna get there the next year, three years, 10 years, we have three month goals that were lined up to get to the year goal to get to a three year goal, that we weren’t doing that before. But now there’s no surprises like we all know, okay, well, this is what we’re trying back then. And we have no idea like it was no, like, we’re just like we want to grow where it was no, no plan necessarily behind it just. And that’s what happens when you’re in a growing company. You don’t really, you just keep going, keep moving ahead. Like what happens? How do we do that so well, that I think will be it for episode, part one. And I still have some more questions to talk about with Keisha here. So don’t leave yet. Don’t run away. We’re going to come back. And so in the next episode, I’m going to talk to Keisha here we’re going to talk about how did she manage company culture at a company where no more employees were in the building and you couldn’t actually see each other? I wanted to learn. I wanted to talk to you more about that. And I got a couple other questions. So So come check us out. On the next episode. We’ll be back in two weeks with part two with Keisha, our director of company culture. So thanks again for being here. Keisha.

Keisha: Thank you also for having

Eric Mulvin: all right, we’ll see you in two weeks.