Jeremy Hyde – Director of Customer Service at Sun Country Airlines [Customer Service]

Jeremy talks about what QA, how he measures QA, and a technique to teach agents.

Nick Glimsdahl  0:00 

Welcome to the press one for Nick Podcast. I am Nick Glimsdahl. And my guest this week is Jeremy hide. Jeremy is the director of customer service at Sun country airlines. He is also the board member at Midwest contact center Association. Jeremy, welcome to the podcast.

Jeremy Hyde  0:14 

Hey, thanks for having me, Nick. honored to be here.

Nick Glimsdahl  0:17 

So I always try to find something that people might not know about, yeah, maybe share a little nugget that obviously your closest friends or family know about, but everybody else doesn’t. Sure.

Jeremy Hyde  0:27 

I guess one thing I’ve been playing in kind of a competitive Fantasy Football League for about 10 years now. And every year half of the pot gets set aside. And it just grows and grows until somebody wins two years in a row. So we’ve got 10 years worth of this pot growing and nobody’s want it yet.

Nick Glimsdahl  0:46 

That got to be obviously a whole lot of money in eventually it’s going to be hundreds of 1000s of dollars. As long as Jeremy doesn’t win it, but how close Have you gotten to win it?

Jeremy Hyde  0:58 

There was a stretch there where I won every other year. So for six years, I would win and then I wouldn’t win out would win wouldn’t win. And so I kept getting close. And I don’t know, hopefully it’s coming soon. I got I did not win last year. So I’d have to go two years in a row at this point to get it.

Nick Glimsdahl  1:13 

Hopefully nobody wins it and you win the jackpot in 2036. So what do you do as the director of customer service at Sun country airlines,

Jeremy Hyde  1:23 

the way I view my role is all about supporting my team so that they can support our customers, helping to create some vision, trying to guide and mentor the team, removing barriers where they exist, for sure. The team that I helped to lead at some country, we focus on three different parts of the journey. So there’s the pre flight, mid flight, and post flight. And pre flight it’s do I want to fly? Where do I want to go, I need to make a booking, maybe I’ve made a booking, but I need to make a change to it, I want to add some different ancillary products and such. So we have our call center, team reservations and such to help with that mid flight could be something’s going wrong in some cases, right. So maybe we have a flight delay, and maybe you’re going to miss a connection, we really need to make sure that we can help you with that process. So we have a team of people that are dedicated to helping in those kind of mid flight situations. And then post flight again, whether it’s providing feedback, if something didn’t go, right, you want to work through that give the feedback where maybe your bag was delayed, it didn’t show up with you if that’s never a good situation. So those are the sorts of things that we’re really focusing on is making bookings, fixing bookings, educating, investigating, resolving all those sorts of customer service, things that would be normal,

Nick Glimsdahl  2:39 

in a high level, maybe explain to the listeners who might not know about sun country airlines a little bit about who you guys are as an organization.

Jeremy Hyde  2:47 

So we’re based out of the Minneapolis area, we’re regional, but we do serve much of the US and then a lot of warm and sunny destination. So our customer is typically a leisure traveler, many of them from the Minnesota area live within a couple hours of the Minneapolis airport. And they want to travel for vacation, they want to get away during those cold winter months in Minnesota. And maybe they want to head down to Mexico or the Caribbean or visit family in Phoenix or, or Florida. So those are the sorts of customers that were serving, we really don’t try and go after a business traveler. That’s just not our thing. A lot of our flights are seasonal. And because of our size and the type of traveler we serve, we can be pretty nimble and flexible. So if we’re seeing that there’s strong demand in some one area, we might add flights. If we are seeing weak demand, then we can start to ratchet back a little bit. And so that’s what we do. We’ve been operating for about 35 years here in Minnesota. And yeah, it’s been quite an experience. I’ve been here for about a year now. And it was quite a time to join the travel industry. I’ll say

Nick Glimsdahl  3:53 

it’s a it’s something else that to get your feet wet, barely and all of a sudden gets stuck into this situation that we’re in today. But I guess in general over the last year, maybe not necessarily over the last few months. But what are some of the most complaints that you guys have received on a consistent basis and on the airline industry,

Jeremy Hyde  4:12 

changes to schedule, maybe you book a flight and something changes that’s going to go two hours later, or something that can be something that people can get frustrated with delayed baggage is always a really tough one. I’ve flown many times I’ve been flying since I was a young kid, and I’ve never had any issues with my bags not arriving with me. But it does happen regardless of the airline. Sometimes bags don’t arrive on time. And that’s always tough. Nobody’s ever happy in those situations. And so got to try and do your best to make sure you don’t lose it to begin with. But if you do, find it quick and return it quick. And then right now, most tickets that are purchased within the US not all but most are considered non refundable. And of course as soon as COVID hit, a lot of people were not comfortable and traveling and they decided that they wanted to cancel their plans. And so in some of those cases As the tickets aren’t refund refundable, they’ll get some form of credit from their airline instead. And so that’s been difficult just with the number of people that are canceling and are not booking, the industry is really struggled, you may have seen the second quarter results for delta, they reported losing over $5 billion. That’s not millions. And so I think what’s difficult right now is I think everyone in the airline industry understands, can empathize with customers. And we’re saying if they don’t want to travel, they’re not comfortable traveling. But I think we’re also trying to make sure that we have an airline industry six months and 12 months from now. So trying to balance those things, I think can be really tricky in the current environment,

Nick Glimsdahl  5:42 

regardless of the industry right now is having empathy for the customer, but also keeping the business alive and doing what’s best for their employees too. And, and then being transparent on both sides. There’s a lot of conversation going on. And sometimes some companies have plenty of transparency. Others are saying, Hey, we’re fine. We’re, you know, behind the curtain, it’s a hot mess. But that’s that’s for another episode. We’re both on cx accelerator, a great resource. And Nate brown founded that. And somebody was asking a question about QA. And Nate’s highly recommended that this person reached out to you to talk about it. My goal today is to talk about QA and then dig a little bit into to more about what that looks like at a high level for the people that don’t know what QA is, can you explain to them what that means?

Jeremy Hyde  6:32 

Yeah, so a QA program or quality assurance program, essentially, it’s an internal program, you’re trying to assess the quality of service that you’re delivering both at the individual level and the team level, trying to validate that you’re doing things the way that you’ve designed them, kind of a qualitative measure, based on your expectations, not the customers. And I do think that’s important, we set things up with the customer in mind. But this is through our eyes, this is not through the eyes of the customer. So this is how we’re grading ourselves on the level of service that we’re delivering.

Nick Glimsdahl  7:05 

And then once you understand the level of service you’re delivering from your perspective. And I think that’s so key to because customer experience in general is trying to figure out what are the expectations of the customers? And then reverse engineering that to figuring out the technology? Or what’s the right process reducing friction. But going back to QA, how is that assessed throughout quality assurance,

Jeremy Hyde  7:30 

definitely this can differ from company and from industry, some programs have a lot more formality to them. Some are less formal, I worked for a small company a few years back that didn’t have any type of a program. And so I wanted to create something. But I created something really simple. And what I created, there was really for the purpose of dialogue and feedback. It wasn’t anything beyond that there was no measurement, there was no goal, none of my leaders were asking me about it. This was just for me and my leaders to connect with the agents and have dialogue. So I just created a really simple three question form. My first question was, what was the customer calling about? I wanted to make sure that we agreed what the need of the customer was the second question, and I was actually asking them the agents to rate their call. This wasn’t me reading it. The second question was, what went well? And then third question, what could have been improved? The purpose of this, when I designed it was purely dialogue, that’s all I wanted to do was dialogue and coaching. Others can have a much more complex form, with dozens and dozens of areas to be assessed very clear guidelines. There’s a particular way of opening the call, there’s a particular way of closing the call, there’s certain expectations, if they say this, you need to educate them on that it can get very formal and very robust. And then everywhere in between,

Nick Glimsdahl  8:47 

in so the those three questions that you were asking, how often were you asking those questions to your employee,

Jeremy Hyde  8:54 

I would meet weekly with them, we would have a call or two. The other thing I would do there often I would hop on the phones myself, I was trying to learn that particular industry at the time. And so I had them train me and I started taking some phone calls myself, but at times, I would actually send them my phone calls and I WOULD HAVE THEM RATE me. How did it go? What could have been improved? What was the person calling about? And again, though, I think it just it helped us with dialogue. The other thing that I learned I didn’t do this intentionally. But it was like this light bulb moment when I had someone listening to one of my phone calls. I had an agent that struggled a little bit with empathy. It just didn’t come natural to her. And she recognized that and she wanted to improve, but it was still a challenge. And so one day we actually were listening to a call or two of mine, and she made the comment. I had apparently done a pretty nice job of empathizing with the customer. And she made this comment of all that’s what that sounds like. Listening to herself, not empathize. did not teach her how to empathize. She needed to hear somebody that was doing it. Well. What did it sound like? What were the words and phrases The rhythm of all of those sorts of things. And so that’s one thing that’s always stood out from that moment is talking to somebody about something that maybe they’re not doing well, it may not get you over the hump so that they start to improve it, they need to see it and hear it and understand how to do it and listen to themselves not do it, well, isn’t necessarily going to teach them how to do it.

Nick Glimsdahl  10:19 

I guess I’ve never really thought of that. But I love that approach. Because, for one, you’re saying, hey, grade me, I’m not perfect, I’m going to get it, okay. And I’m going to continue to improve to and I’m going to take this as a learning session. So keep me accountable. But also, hey, I really liked that empathy part, hey, I liked how you had different tone, based off of what that person said, but maybe even trying, the one thing that I took away there is not just listening to you, Jeremy, but maybe other people who are other associates, because maybe they’re really good at empathy, why somebody else is really good at something else, finding a way to solve the person’s problem, a little bit quicker clip and reducing the average handle time or whatever that is, but I love the that not just pulling somebody else’s, because immediately, from their perspective, they’re like, oh, man, I’m just gonna get trained on again, this is great, I got to listen to my voice for another 45 minutes can’t wait for this. But I love your approach on that.

Jeremy Hyde  11:18 

I think that’s something for people to be thinking about. And considering right now, more than ever, most of us have moved to a remote environment, whether we want it to or not. And one of the things that often happens when you’re in a center, and you’re surrounded by peers that are doing the same thing, is there’s this informal learning that’s happening, Hey, I just heard my coworker say something that sounded great, I’m gonna use that if we’re sitting at home, we’re not hearing our co workers. And so it’s just another thing to be thinking about is how can we recreate the informal learning that’s not happening naturally, we have to be intentional about it, we have to design it. And we have to look for those opportunities where they don’t naturally exist and work from home environment,

Nick Glimsdahl  11:58 

which takes a lot more effort from your side. So in any project, I believe it’s important to align every project with business objectives. So how do you take quality assurance or QA and align it with business objectives? I

Jeremy Hyde  12:13 

think, obviously, we need to make sure that our business objectives are clear upfront, and then design or adjust our program to align to that I gave an example I was with the small company, and nobody was asking much of me. So I could design whatever I wanted. Part of the reason I designed what I did is there was some cultural things that I was trying to shift in the way that we interacted with customers, and I needed to have dialogue for that to happen. So that was my objective. In another previous life, working in health insurance very regulated, we were having some challenges with a specific regulated thing. There’s something that the government said, Hey, you have to do it this particular way. And any way other than that is incorrect. And we, you know, we’re on you, we’re gonna audit you about it. It was very important. And so one of our objectives became, we need to get this right. And so we were able to adjust our program to really key in and focus on that type of interaction. We could find those interactions, we could listen to those phone calls, we could see, did we process it correctly? Did we do what the government wanted? And so we built our program for a period of time around that thing that we knew was very important that we had to get thinking about what your objectives are, again, why do you have a program? or Why do you want to create a program? Is it for dialogue? Is it for making sure that you’re following process or that you’re meeting regulatory requirements? Is it for some other purpose, but be clear about what your purpose is upfront, and then you’re able to design around that, I will say, oftentimes, when I’m interacting with contact center, customer service people, we just we know what a QA program is, and we think we know why it exists. But in very generic general terms, oh, it’s there for assessing customer service. But you got to take it further than that. So you can create the same QA programs and every other company out there has, and you’ll get something out of it. But if you want it to be good for you, good for your team and good for your customers, you need to design something that’s right for you.

Nick Glimsdahl  14:12 

I would 100% agree uh, you can’t take somebody else’s cookie cutter approach to customer experience your customer service, and they’re in the healthcare industry in urine, airlines or even airline. It’s in the same industry and having a different experience because that’s not right for your organization that’s not aligning with your business objectives. It’s so important to customize that when it comes to aligning business objectives. You’re obviously trying to get leadership involved, trying to show the value and how that aligns. So how often do you get leadership evolve? Or how often do you have to present to leadership team talking about QA?

Jeremy Hyde  14:50 

I would say in most cases, just in the organizations I’ve been in, my leaders aren’t necessarily coming to me and asking me for this information. Sometimes they We are, again in the health insurance example like we had a very clear need. And so I did have leaders that were very intrigued and want to be kept abreast on our on our kind of actions and updates and such. But oftentimes leaders aren’t coming. And I just I don’t know that they even know to ask the question in a lot of cases. But if that’s the case, if you don’t have your leaders coming to you and asking, I don’t think that means that you don’t want to introduce them to it and be able to bring them some of this information. I think you want to find a way to articulate the overall performance of your team, to your leaders, including quality, if you only show them one thing, or if they’re only aware of one thing. And this is really common, you go to leaders that aren’t necessarily contact centers, experts right there, their VP of Ops, or their whatever the case may be. And what they know about call centers is like, oh, handle time and speed of answer. If that’s all they know, then that’s all they know to ask about. And they’re really going to focus in on those things. But you want to be able to articulate the other things that go into running the operation, and running a good operation. And so I think that QA programs can help you to articulate the service that you’re delivering, it can help you to articulate the voice of the customer and cx issues. And if you can show the value of the quality program, you’re probably also going to be better positioned to get further investment into it, if that’s wanted, or needed. Those are all sorts of cool things out there different technologies, whether it’s just a program listened to do your call recordings, and your audits, or maybe it’s AI and behavioral analytics, and all these sorts of things. But if you want to take your program from being a spreadsheet, and live call listening to having call recording, and being able to do an audit in the system, and calibrate with peers and introduce AI, and all of these things, like you have to show the value of the program so that you can get that investment into it.

Nick Glimsdahl  16:57 

You’re just geeking out now and talking about all the all the whiz bang stuff now I think it’s so important to you with the leaders are you building reports to to show them QA and they get a dashboard that makes sense to them, instead of just saying, hey, average handle time is good or improve. See, sad is good, but showing them something that makes sense to them.

Jeremy Hyde  17:17 

Yeah. So this is where I definitely think there’s conversation and debate that times about what reporting should exist, how you should rate or should you not rate should you show scores to the team members and that sort of thing. And reporting, I do think is important for leaders, whether it’s at my level or above, I just simply I can’t listen to all of the calls and validate all the quality audits and sit there and read through them all, it’s just not realistic to think that I’d be able to do that. And so I do need a measure that I can see how we are performing how we’re improving over time, particular areas, perhaps that are suddenly becoming a problem where they hadn’t been in the past or a struggle, so that we know how to focus our coaching our training, or understand just other kind of business variables that are impacting our ability. So I think that becomes important. Again, if you want to be able to articulate to leaders, then you have to have measures that can tell them the story. But being able to take data and that story side of it and bring it together. Because if you just go and say, Hey, our quality is 97%. I don’t know what that means. You’re gonna have to help me with context. What’s our goal? What goes into that? Break it down for me? And so finding ways to again, tell the story, what does this number represent? Is it good? Or is it bad? How do I know if it’s good? Or if it’s bad, what is our goal? What’s our stretch, goal, all those sorts of things. And then for the agents, personally, I remember being an agent myself. And I’ll be frank like that helps to inform my opinion oftentimes on some of these topics. And I remember me and the people around me and my peers. And even as I became started to become a leader, some of the reactions that people would get to a score, without even knowing why they got the score that they did, they were upset with the score that they got. So this is especially true. If you have bonus or incentive tied to quality. Maybe you get a higher bonus at 97%. And you get an audit at 96%. Not your peeved, you don’t even want to hear why you got a 96% you just want a 97. And I always felt like that got in the way of having good conversations. Ideally, you want to be able to have dialogue with that agent, help them understand your perspective. And maybe it goes the other direction. Sometimes they say you know what i disagree, and here’s why. And you have a really good conversation about it. But we can get hung up on the numbers at times. And so I think that’s where we need to think about how we design the program. We’ve designed programs in the past where what we would show to the agents, rather than being a number or a score would be an indicator of whether or not they met expectations. Does not Meet meets exceeds, I think contextually you can just do a little bit more with that. But then you probably want to know, because it’s not just a score. Okay, so what was the feedback that came along with this score, we still had all of the numbers and the percentages and points and all those things on the back end. But what we presented to our agents was, does not meet meets or exceeds. And so I really like designing that way. It’s like you’re getting the best of both worlds. To some extent,

Nick Glimsdahl  20:26 

I like that because you only get a portion of the story when you have meet does not meet or exceeds or CSAT, NPS, customer effort. If they only click that one button, and they don’t actually read the comment below, on does not exceed or does not meet expectations. Why is the biggest question and then all of a sudden, I can learn something about instead of just being like Jeremy was just a jerk on the phone. And But hey, it took longer than I thought, but he still solved my issue. From my perspective, I thought it could have went better. So I’m going to give him a three out of a five. Okay, we can do something about that instead of let me take that and listen to the call. Is there from your side? Is there a threshold? So let’s say that and I maybe you can touch on what you’re measuring today? Let’s say it’s a cset? Or somebody is saying, Would you refer us to somebody else? And somebody says, No, do you automatically have a threshold where you’re like, Okay, maybe it’s time to follow back up with that person. Or maybe if somebody gives us a one out of five or two out of five, it’s time to balance say, Alright, guys, it’s time to time to win this customer over.

Jeremy Hyde  21:35 

Yeah. So that’s one thing that we actually just introduced post call surveys earlier this year. And when we did that, now we had new data and new information had to figure out what to do with it. So one of the things that we’re doing is, each week, we’ll get a report from the previous week. And we will look for on a one through five, we’ll look for those ones and twos, those little scores, and go back, listen to that call and try and understand was there something that we could have done differently? Again, from our perspective, looking through our own kind of eyes, and perception? Did we handle things appropriately, because sometimes we might handle it appropriately, and they’re still not happy, they’re going to give us a low score, and that’s okay. But so yeah, at minimum, we do that. Again, the technology is there these days, that if your phone system and your call recording system is also your post call survey system, your quality system if these things are aligned, now you can also delight design your program. With that in mind, I talked about the quality program is really just our own personal opinion, our internal view of how that went, it’s not the customers, but you can go out and you can do quality audits on calls, where the the person did a post call survey, and then you can marry the two together. Here’s what the customer thought, here’s what we thought, and try to understand is our rating, aligning to some extent with the way that a customer rates us as well, really try to make sure you understand what it is your customers are telling you, and focusing the audits that you’re performing. In those cases where they’ve given you your opinion, already.

Nick Glimsdahl  23:09 

Good advice, what advice would you give someone who’s just starting out in QA? And they’re like, hey, I’ve heard of it. I went to a conference or I went to, I went to the Midwest contact center Association, and there was a presentation on QA. But what the heck do I do next? What advice would you give to that next person?

Jeremy Hyde  23:29 

It’s a really good question. And you might be feeling a little overwhelmed. And that’s okay. You do think that defining why you want a programmer what the purpose of that program will be up front is probably one of the most important steps to take, again, you can go out and start googling quality assessment forums, quality assurance forums. And you’ll get a whole list of questions that you can have on your forum. And I would not start there. I would start with why do we want to program? What is the purpose? What are we hoping to accomplish? I would definitely also try to get input and buy in from the team from the frontline team as you’re designing it, and try and make sure again, to me, QA program should not be one directional. And if they are, then we failed. And so if we want to design something, that’s too, two way communication has happened both directions, then we want to probably have their buy in and their feedback as well. But it’s okay to start simple. If you don’t have anything today. Don’t try and build the perfect thing over the next 14 months. Because guess what, for the next 14 months, you have nothing. So start with what you can do today. Listen to phone calls, review the chats, look at the emails, and sometimes even just taking away just like what’s my gut reaction? How did this go and why? And then over time, you can start to evolve and understand, okay, what are the things that I want to define? What are the guidelines that I want to set, I also just think it’s really important to just align the Different things that you’re doing. So your quality program should not feel like there’s tension or competition between other performance metrics, that’ll be a common thing, right? If you’re coaching to handle time, if that’s something that your center does, and then your quality team is really giving all this praise to somebody that has a handle time, that’s excessive compared to the rest of the team, it’s gonna feel like you’re not aligned. So make sure the different performance metrics are aligned. If you have mission statements or guiding principles, make sure you’re aligned with that, try and have these things be working together, rather than a separate add on. It’s another thing that we need to know and learn and understand

Nick Glimsdahl  25:38 

sound advice, I wrap up every podcast with two questions. And the first one is what book or person has influenced you the most in the past year. And then the other one is, if you could leave a note to all the customer service professionals, and it would reach everybody and I would handle live room on your behalf.

Jeremy Hyde  25:55 

So the book or person that’s influenced me most this past year, I think I’m gonna have a hard time thinking of a single person. And part of that is because I’m very grateful for the team that I’ve been working with. I started, like I said about a year ago, and I’ve been in healthcare for over a dozen years. And I knew that industry really well. And I could move within organizations probably in health care fairly easily. airline was all no acronyms, only problems. Often, I just didn’t have the context and the experience to know how to approach decisions within a new industry. And so I’m very grateful for my team, my colleagues, all of the people that have been teaching me the context and teaching me about the airline industry and teaching me all those acronyms and airport codes and things that I had no idea about. And then just my network in general, I’d say a number of years ago, one of my former bosses and mentor, she actually was on the board of directors for the Midwest contact center Association. And she made sure that her team understood the value of networking. And in the beginning, I don’t know that I really did. But over the years, I’ve realized that the leader that I’ve become the person that I’ve become in my career is all because of my network. It’s these amazing people that I’ve met, and I’ve worked with, that have taught me that I’ve in turn, tried to teach what I know, too. And so there’s just there’s so many people, it’d be hard for me to come up with a single one. But thanks to all those people out there. If I could leave a note to all customer service professionals, I would say, remain humble. Be curious, focus on caring for your colleagues and your customers. And just make sure that this is a journey, you need to focus on lot lifelong learning as well.

Nick Glimsdahl  27:42 

What is the best way if somebody wants to connect with you? Is LinkedIn the best option? And is it Jeremy Hyde on LinkedIn?

Jeremy Hyde  27:49 

Yep, he can go out and find me on LinkedIn, Jeremy Hyde, you’ll see me pop up there. I’m fairly active on Twitter as well. And so same thing if you go out and search Jeremy Hyde, you’ll find me. I think it’s Jeremy Hyde, underscore something like that. So I don’t even know my stuff. But you can find me. I’m the guy that’s out there tweeting about call centers and customer service and such.

Nick Glimsdahl  28:11 

If he’s not playing fantasy football, he’s tweeting about call center.

Jeremy Hyde  28:15 

That’s right. I might be tweeting about fantasy football too.

Nick Glimsdahl  28:20 

If you are a in the call center space, and like fantasy football, Jeremy is your guy. Jeremy, thank you so much. I really appreciate your time.

Jeremy Hyde  28:28 

Absolutely. It was great. Connecting


The Press 1 For Nick podcast is both educational and engaging, and each episode offers listeners a dynamic blend of insightful stories, best practices, and invaluable lessons.

Nickโ€™s guests – each with a unique wealth of knowledge – include leaders from a variety of backgrounds and industries. Some of his guests include:

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