Several companies are trying to understand the depth of diversity talent they could bring in areas like IT, Software Product Development, and Corporate functions such a Finance, where historically, ethnicity had been low. In one conversation, I suggested that Digital Marketing is a key area where we can bring in African American and Hispanic talent and develop them. This is a hybrid of both marketing and technology, and people with the right learning agility can get into this role and grow in their careers. The CHRO liked this idea, and we may investigate this further. If we think out of the box and think differently, inequality across all levels from a talent standpoint may be over soon. Or at least we will be on the right path. So how do we understand what roles are easier for us to bring in diverse talent?
Call Center Associates into Inside Sales Representatives
Your existing Call Center talent (assuming you have not outsourced it) is a great talent hotbed. Many tech companies are transforming this talent into Inside Sales Representatives. A call center agent is an excellent researcher. When an issue comes in, they often have to use multiple tools to research and organize facts. Very often, their research may run into days of fact-finding and responding to customers. When having the customers on the phone, they will have to narrate the data in a simpler way the customers can understand.
So let us break these skills down
- Use of multiple technology tools
- Functional Research
- Organize data and develop a story to communicate
- Customer Empathy
- Sense of urgency
- Handling irate customers
Now, Inside Sales requires a lot of these skills. Treating super urgent requests to collect data and report to sales executives is the primary job of an inside sales representative. There is a lot of alignment from this perspective. The one gap could be developing PowerPoint slides, but this gap can be bridged in 2 to 3 months of on the job training
I had one discussion with a client technology organization leader with respect to training current non-technical folks into technical functions. In this scenario, HR wanted to bring some non-technical people into Tech org. The technology leaders were opposing this. This scenario should be a very familiar scenario for many HR. In this case, we were armed with data and facts. So we were probing positively. Here is a summary of our conversation. Sometimes, we (as in HR and L&D) have to work harder to influence through patience.
Me: I see that there are some great performers in other parts of the business. Would you be open to bringing some great performing non-technical folks into technology?
Tech Leader: No. There is no such opportunity here
Me: Why not?. We have seen several companies bringing people into Software Testing?
Tech Leader: That does not work in our Enterprise. Automation Testing is as complex as Software Development nowadays (The tech leader has a point here)
Me: All right. What do you think are the entry points for non-technical folks. You have hired several entry-level people. 20% of the people who are working in your org have non-technical starting points. With agile, you need a lot of roles that require project management and leadership. Do you think this is a directional feasibility?
Tech Leader: Yes, we need several agile coaches and scrum masters. If we have proper training, then people with proven leadership skills can scale in this direction.
Me: This is awesome. We can work on this. What other areas do you think we can think about?
Tech Leader: We can certainly look into Manual Testing, IT Application Development (not Software development). We are also hiring Workday Analysts type talent. This is another area
Me: Thank you. You have already defined a blueprint for us
Now, I shared a variation of the exact transcript to give you an idea of what it takes to achieve this kind of buy-in. It takes a lot of research, patience, and trusting each other point of view.
But when you get there, it is magical
We are beginning to get questions around understanding skills around engaging with customers. As we progressed with studying these skills, we realized several organizations are focused on this, especially post Covid19. We observed several new job descriptions and strategy documents discussing this role.
Customer Success Manager is responsible for developing customer relationships that promote retention and loyalty. Customer Success Managers work closely with customers to ensure they are satisfied with the services they receive. Customer Success Manager handles and resolves customer requests and complaints; they analyze the customer data to improve customer experience.
- Responsible for creating policies and procedures that optimize the customer experience
- Provide technical support to customers or to provide training on their products.
- Guides customers through the sales process into the support phase.
- Onboard new customers
- Follow up on renewals.
- Encourage upsells and cross-sells
Another role that we are studying in detail is the Deal Desk Analyst.
The key responsibilities of this role are as follows
- Review and conclude deal requests applying custom pricing within the agreed process to drive margin increase
- Prioritize urgent deals, to deliver frictionless customer interactions
- Assist in the structuring of complex quotes, proposing solutions or liaising with the team to follow escalation path
- Proactively identify and review historical pricing decisions
- Identify and recommend policy and process improvements to enhance the effectiveness of the Deal Desk processes and decrease quote cycle time
Many companies bring in great diverse talent. Somehow this does not translate into long term leadership level diversity talent.
Why are there no more stories of Ursula Burns where she joined Xerox as a Summer intern and went on to become the CEO?
We have started research into this. We will put together a report but here are some primary interview findings (not statistically valid but these findings may help)
- The connect to university, where often diverse talent comes out with great accomplishments, fades away over time. Subsequent managers do not really appreciate the academic achievements. (this may be true for all ethnicities, but there is a story to be heard here)
- Lack of internal champions: Where are the diverse internal leaders who have accomplished within the enterprise?. This came across in two interviews. May be companies can seek other companies help in the ecosystem
- “I moved, without realizing the new place may also have similar challenges”: This is something that requires a bit more investigation as you may be losing talent to a competitor who need not have better conditions for the challenges faced. This requires constant empathy to solve, and this is a sustained effort