Kieron Kitson-Walters – Senior System Administrator at Under Armour
Kieron talks about the importance of blending both empathy and technology, and how do you empower your agents to provide empathy.
Nick Glimsdahl 0:03
Welcome to the Press 1 For Nick podcast. My name is Nick Glimsdahl. And my guest this week is Kieron Kitson Walters. He is the senior system administrator at Under Armour. Welcome to the Press 1 For Nick podcast, Kiran. Thanks for having me. You bet. So Kieron, I asked every single guest at the very beginning. One question. The question is, what’s one thing that people might not know about you?
Kieron Kitson-Walters 0:28
Well, that’s cool, because I do have kind of a go-to answer for that. I was actually the lead singer of a metal band for over 10 years, you know, back in my younger days, so that usually raises some eyebrows a little bit. That is so awesome. If you could go back if you could sing one song right now. And it’s the last song you would sing? What would it be? Hmm. I’d say. I don’t know if it’s the actual title. But um, kiss from a rose by Seal. That’s a jam. That’s a karaoke one.
Nick Glimsdahl 1:03
It sounds like it’s a tough one to sing. So kudos, you know, making it well. It’s, it’s all about how you think you sing. It doesn’t matter what everybody else thinks? Absolutely.
Why won’t make you sing it to this to the listeners this time? Maybe the next time we’re on the podcast? Maybe? Maybe? So I haven’t I have a few questions that I geek out when people like yourself are on the podcast around customer service. So I’ll dig right into it. Why is it important to blend both the empathy? And the technology within the context center?
Kieron Kitson-Walters 1:39
Oh, I’m sorry, just a positive? Can you hear what’s going on? My son is having a
Nick Glimsdahl 1:45
Three to one help? Well, as you know, Under Armour sets the standard for product quality. So how do you make sure the same is true inside the contact center? Well, when you design and sell premium on Under Armour Zen and buy and wear premium on the consumers and you expect premium everywhere else in that journey.
Kieron Kitson-Walters 2:08
When we want to make sure that our service meets that expectation 100% of the time, you we kind of view ourselves as an extension of our elevated gear. The customers that we refer to as athletes want any question they may have answered, not just quickly, but expertly.
They want to know that we have their back, which is one of the first messages they hear when dialing in, we have a unique mix of product knowledge, culture, empathy, and technology that we provide and continuously developed to accomplish that.
Nick Glimsdahl 2:42
So the one thing you just said there is that your customers we you tell them that we’ve got your back? What does that mean to them?
Kieron Kitson-Walters 2:53
It means that we’re on your team, you know, you have your teammates, you have your coach, you have your trainer, and you have Under Armour, were a part of that ecosystem. You know, gear is very important to athletes, it means that you know, you can hit that PR tomorrow or even today, you are better than you were yesterday. So we want to make sure that at every level, we’re that message rings true.
Nick Glimsdahl 3:22
Man, I love the fact that you just said Under Armour is part of you like anytime that you’re a high-level athlete, or, for that matter, a construction worker, you want this stuff to work for you. You don’t want it to be a nuisance to getting in the way of your personal record or anything that you could be potentially doing. So I love the fact that it’s you got their back because it is part of you. It’s everything that is along that journey. And it’s your along that journey with him. Is that right?
Kieron Kitson-Walters 4:00
That’s right. That’s right. And we want to hear from you. We want your feedback, we want you to know, to send an email to our product line manager saying, you know, hey, this is working great for, you know, X, Y, and Z scenario. You know that that corrections officer that police officer that’s on their feet, all day all night, they can do it because they’re wearing a set of our boots. You know, the weekend golfer, you know, his swing is important to him. So wearing materials that that stretch and turn and curve with their body, if that’s so important to performance. And of course, we know that so we want to hear from them. We want to tell them a great story. We want to tell them, hey, you know we were speaking to one of our designers not too long ago and here’s what they said about the shoe. Those are incredibly important conversations to have, and it doesn’t take forever to have those conversations. So, you know, we definitely encourage our agents to You know, just have a quick chat about you know what it is that that the customer the athlete is buying, you know what next product is, is coming in the line that they can take advantage of, that’ll get them an inch closer to whatever goals they may have. It’s important.
Nick Glimsdahl 5:16
It is absolutely important. So bringing it back to the contact center, why is it important to blend both empathy and technology into that contact center?
Kieron Kitson-Walters 5:26
Yeah, being a part of the contact center community, you know, alongside being a consumer gives you a really wide view of how important it is to understand the customer on the other end of the phone, chat, email, text, whatever. And what to like to be able to hear what their needs are, and meet them where they’re at. They may not see you, as you know, Ashley from Baltimore, Maryland, they’re calling to speak to Under Armour. And they’re worried that their package won’t make it in time for their child’s basketball game where they’re headed to the airport for their ski trip in Colorado, and they need their gear period, we need to be able to jump into our systems to see what order status, they’re at, how we can ensure that the athletes get what they need, when they need it, where they need it. It’s we like to keep that principle, as simple as possible. You know, so if that’s setting up a pickup at a FedEx location nearby, or rerouting an order, from its original location to the ski lodge 300 miles away, you know, again, it’s about saying, look, I hear I hear you, you know, I have your feedback, we’re on your team, we want our athletes to feel that.
Nick Glimsdahl 6:43
And as an Under Armour employee, you guys wear the gear. So you’ve been there, you know what it feels like to, to go on that ski trip and explain that but, or to feel that but you don’t actually that’s going above and beyond is taking that, that product and getting it to them on time. And shipping it 300 miles away that that’s not just being a company or a good organization to doing what’s right. But it’s a going above and beyond is that that’s kind of what I hear. I don’t hear a whole lot of organizations doing that. I mean, above and beyond
Kieron Kitson-Walters 7:24
That, that’s the attitude that we fly at. That’s the standard. You know, we don’t just wear it, if it’s something like say, if I’m fielding questions from a customer, you know, who needs information on women’s clothing? You know, obviously, that’s not my area of expertise, but hey, there’s a product wall that we have in the contact center that I can go over there. And I can, you know, tell whoever you know exactly how it feels, how it stretches, how, you know, the materials, the weight, weight is important with athletes. You know, just being able to have any type of conversation with any type of athlete. That’s, that’s what we’re all about. So, you know, folks may call it above and beyond but you know, that’s, that’s in our SRP.
Nick Glimsdahl 8:19
Man, I love that. So when it comes to inside the contact center, how are you setting clear expectations to your customers.
Kieron Kitson-Walters 8:29
Um, as I said, we like to, we like to keep it simple and straightforward. One of the the biggest opportunities any company has is to educate their, their, their consumers, educate your athletes, we do that with a knowledge base for our policies, our FA Q’s. So, you know, as soon as you go to help that under armour.com, you have access to a lot of answered questions, a lot of policy. Even when you’re calling in on the phone, if there’s a weight, you’ll get messages about return status, you’ll get messages explaining what your order status means. You know, we don’t just want you to hear, you know, the I will music that we play, you know, that’s kind of boring, you know, like, we’ll have, you know, five, six messages there, you know, going in at certain intervals, that that tells you about your journey that Under Armour from purchase two to two, you know if something doesn’t work for you if you need the next size up, you know, we’ll tell you how to do that and where to go to do that. So you might not even need to speak to anyone. You know, the best athlete is is an informed one.
Nick Glimsdahl 9:49
The best athlete is an informed one. Man, that’s it’s so interesting that you said that because the more information that you have on your customers, the more informed That you can make a decision and help them be better athletes. So it’s the same as true as an athlete that I want as much information as possible. So I can make the best decision to hit my PR, and maybe the product in it that I’m having at Under Armour. That’s the least of my worries,
Kieron Kitson-Walters 10:18
right? Absolutely. Not every athlete has a team of folks, you know, doing research and, and doing development based on you know, your specific profile. So we’ll act as the, that that person, or that team of folks, so we can do that, you know, with a live agent, or we can do that with just providing information on the website, we want you to know, Under Armour.
Nick Glimsdahl 10:46
So during a call with a customer, how do you go about connecting with them? And maybe what, what makes you take that approach?
Kieron Kitson-Walters 10:55
The connection, I mean, that’s everything, right? So what we do is promote the art of conversation. You know, thankfully, we’re in the sports world. And that’s really a universal language. I’m one of the most universal languages on the planet, you know, you have music, and then you have sports, or, you know, interchangeably. You know, we live in Breathe in. So that helps, you know, that makes us things really easy. You know you got to throw the scripting out of the window. You know, I know, a lot of contact centers, use scripting, to, you know, just get the customer through the pipeline, they call they have a problem, help them done. That’s not, that’s not our thing, that’s not what we do, we promote having real conversations, you know, not just your order status is followed by an upsell. That’s not the best experience. And that doesn’t come off as genuine. The customer is something we focus on, and the customer conversation is something we focus on, you know, be yourself be helpful, you can always find something to relate to. You know, if not, that individual tends to be satisfied with things like self-service, and bought-enabled experiences. It’s about having a solution for all consumer types. So there might be the person that is just scared to death, about calling customer service. You know, off too often, we hear horror stories about you know, just spending three hours on the phone and not getting your issue fixed. So having solutions that stood up for them, that they might not have to talk to anyone or be you know, we have your answer. Here it is, with you know, a peppered in conversation about the weather, or your local sports teams, you know, we’re equipped to have all types of conversations.
Nick Glimsdahl 13:00
Yeah, the more that you can connect with them, the more trust that they have in you because they feel known and valued. And when you feel known and valued and not feel like they’re going to every time you call in and they’re like, Oh man, I got Nick again, and he’s just going to try to cross-sell and upsell me because that’s what they do. That’s the worst feeling possible as a consumer. And that should be the worst feeling possible as a company. So it’s refreshing to hear somebody like yourself, or Under Armour, per se, where they’re trying to connect, they’re trying to understand maybe past the surface level of the product, and knowing the person, and then maybe giving them additional advice based off of what they’re trying to accomplish.
Kieron Kitson-Walters 13:43
Right. So if they have those types of answers, you know, buying or purchasing, you know, the running sleeves for your legs, because, you know, hey, I’ve been wearing these shoes for X amount of time, I get shin splints, like crazy, you know, I’ve been trying working with my doctor, you know, do you have this product or, or, you know, we can give them suggestions on what they may need additional to, to kind of enhance their performance. You know, of course, that could be considered an upsell, but it’s a natural conversation. You know, choose alone may not do it. But that’s what you called for, you know, so it’s, it’s, it’s, it’s the conversation beyond that initial product, you know, that they may be able to get to, you know, on that call, or next week or, you know, that might be something that they add on next month, you know, just knowing that they’re coming away from that call, or that chat, knowing more information than they did at the beginning. You know, that opens the door for eventual sale.
Nick Glimsdahl 14:53
Yeah, but when you take that approach and you acknowledge what they’re saying You understand what they’re saying? Then you can make recommendations, instead of just saying, Hey, did you know that the promo of the week is new sleeves for your compression sock, so you don’t get shin splints? By now? And XYZ, right, right. Right. That doesn’t feel that just feels icky. Yeah. But if you explain it in a different way, and you find a way to add value, it’s completely different. So inside the context center, how are you removing roadblocks for your customers?
Kieron Kitson-Walters 15:31
We listen, period. You know, to expand on that. Feedback is kind of crucial. You know, I didn’t want to just leave you with us we listened. But thank you, you know, not moving with ego, hey, we’re Under Armour. You know, this is what we’ve provided for you as a website. Here is what we choose to answer in our FAQs. And that’s it No, you know, just because we have the best and the brightest working for us and building these amazing experiences, doesn’t mean that we turn away from what our athletes have to say, you can learn from anyone. You know, that’s, that’s one thing I learned a long time ago. And what I wanted to make sure that I brought to Under Armour, it can just take one survey to launch an investigation and create change for all users. You don’t necessarily know what the roadblocks are, unless somebody you know, pipes. If it says it, you see it in, you know, even if it’s in an executive dashboard, that’s typically very, you know, just surface. Here’s how the contact centers performing today, you know, we’ll, we’ll have this like a cloud of different words and sentiment, to give you a really good idea as an executive and say, Hey, you know, we might want to look into this. You know, I never really saw feedback like that, let’s, let’s launch an investigation. Let’s get, you know, the user experience team on board and see if we can solve it. You know, these things happened very quickly. So we were always, you know, developing, fixing, it’s, it’s a continuous process. And we lean very heavily on consumer feedback for that.
Nick Glimsdahl 17:19
Yeah, consumer feedback is invaluable. I believe it’s just as invaluable to have the inter-department feedback from each other to maybe have a holistic view of the customer. So how do you cross collaborate across departments at Under Armour to solve customer problems,
Kieron Kitson-Walters 17:37
I mean, it’s unbelievable how much information comes into and therefore out of a contact center. Every single bit of customer friction, or customer delight, is stored in a CRM, you know, this is vital to develop a version to an amazing product, or being able to ping that product line manager, as I said before, for technical feedback, you know, hey, how much does this garment weigh? Or, or that designer, what was your inspiration or intention when creating the next big, big thing, being able to kind of Whisper that to a customer, makes them feel important because they are. So having those connections, and, and that flow of conversation. And collaboration is important to our ability to love our athletes and love our gear, and happily tell that story.
Nick Glimsdahl 18:41
So important, again, to continue to lean into other departments, because as a consumer, they only see you as one company rarely see you as Under Armour or any other company. And so it’s so important to act like it when it comes to innovation, is that also important that Under Armour,
Kieron Kitson-Walters 19:02
that’s, that’s our reason of being, you know, it’s that first moisture-wicking shirt, that all of a sudden, the whole sports world can’t live without, you know, innovation is our way to create gear that makes you better, that that makes you think you can’t live without it. Now that you have it. You know that that’s the product. That’s what we elevate. And that’s what we promote in the contact center. You know, that that customer service experience, we want you to call other people and it just not be the same. You know, hey, the guy from Under Armour told me X, Y, and Z but you’re telling me it’s proprietary information. You know, we want to make sure that that that within reason we are giving the consumer and the athlete everything they need is at the from the product standpoint or from the service point sale? Or pre-sale?
Nick Glimsdahl 20:02
Yeah. So you talked about innovation and just right out the question right before that was about listening to your customers. So is listening to customers important in regards to innovation? And Under Armour?
Kieron Kitson-Walters 20:16
Oh, yeah, absolutely. Um,
you know, there’s a lot, a lot of companies like ours have research and development they have been testing, but who’s the biggest wear tester other than, you know, the people out there wearing the gear, you know, the agents wearing the gear, employees and just the whole sphere of, of experience. That’s vital feedback is vital. I mean, I don’t know if I keep harping on this. But that’s probably one of the largest, I guess you’d say. The decision point that we have, is our feedback. I can’t stress enough how important the customer is to, to, to the longevity of a product. It can’t just be cool. You know, their plenty of cool things out there that don’t get purchased. It’s just cool. You know, I’ll post it on Instagram, like, hey, look at this, but it’s not in my closet. So now having had the consumer and the athlete having a role in the next best thing is, is something you can’t do without?
Unknown Speaker 21:40
Nick Glimsdahl 21:40
if everybody tells you how cool you are, if you go to your selling a book online, and everybody gives you five-star reviews, you’re like, Hey, man, I’m the coolest, I’m the best bookseller author in the world, but you have no if that’s only a version of it, and some other sites giving you one star or two stars, and you’re not actually paying attention to that, then you can improve, right? If you’re looking through that product, when it comes to, a shirt or, or a pair of shoes, and you’re not actually looking at the whole story, then you’re not making adaption to version two, to improve it for that customer experience. So continuous improvement personally is important, but as it is professionally, and focusing on your customers as well.
Kieron Kitson-Walters 22:30
And then can you know, hey, how this is how it got better. You know, just changing the design of something isn’t enough, you know, like improve your cushioning, improve your stretch, improve your toolbox, because, you know, hundreds of people said, Hey, you know, this little narrow. So that’s, that’s crucial.
Nick Glimsdahl 22:52
Yeah. 100%. So as we wrap up today, we talked about the importance of continuous improvement. Personally, though, why is professional development, so important to you,
Kieron Kitson-Walters 23:04
There’s a statement that we always heard early on in my time at Under Armour. And that’s we’re just getting started. The commitment to evolution is true at the individual, at the individual level, as well as the company level, you know, walking with the understanding that you have yet to create your greatest product, it really gives you an extra pep in your step, it really brings out the curiosity and the drive to continuously improve. We have so many people that come in through the contact center, that have intentions of doing other things in the company, you know, we have externships that they can go out and, and sit with you know, product line managers or the finance folks. or user experience design, asset protection, you just all these other departments that you have access to, you can build those relationships, you can understand their technology, work with the vendors that provide that technology. So there are so many avenues to be and develop your best self within the company and just overall in life. You know, setting yourself in the right place, so you can be there at the right time. That’s crucial. What you do now will dictate what you’re able to do in five years.
Nick Glimsdahl 24:35
Well said so I want to ask you one more question. It’s if you could leave a note to all customer service professionals. It’s going to hit everybody’s desk Monday at 8 am. What would it say?
Kieron Kitson-Walters 24:49
I guess this would sound awfully Jeff Bezos of me but it would be a tiny sticky note that just says listen. That’s it. Just listen. It’ll we don’t realize how listening takes you further than you can imagine. We need to do more of it. We need to research it and learn how, even when it’s, it’s something that you may consider noise. Listen,
Nick Glimsdahl 25:18
In the fact that you said that earlier too, is you can learn from everybody. Yes. So going through that process and taking the time and listening. You can actually learn something when you listen, you can’t learn something when you talk. Exactly. So I love that. Karen, what’s the best way for people to get to connect with you?
Kieron Kitson-Walters 25:39
Um, you can find me pretty easily on LinkedIn. That’s probably the preferred method. Yeah, I’m always open for a quick chat, discussion on anything customer service, contact center technology related. There’s plenty of things that you know, I have yet to learn. So, you know, let’s chat it up.
Nick Glimsdahl 26:01
I love it. Kieron. Thank you so much, man. I had a blast. I learned a bunch and I look forward to hearing more about yours and on Under Armour’s success.
Kieron Kitson-Walters 26:09
Kieron Kitson-Walters 26:10
Thanks a lot.
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.
Nick’s guests – each with a unique wealth of knowledge – include leaders from a variety of backgrounds and industries. Some of his guests include:
- Customer service & customer experience leaders
- A hostage negotiator
- Award-winning authors
- Home Depot’s Senior Director of Customer Care
- Former VP of Disney’s Magic Kingdom
- Lyft’s Head of Partner and Customer Engagement
- Deputy Chief Veteran Experience Officer from the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs
On every episode Nick asks his guest two questions:
- What book or person has influenced you the most in the past year?
- If you could leave a note to all the Customer Service and CX professionals, what would it say?
You can find all the podcast guests’ answers under their episodes below.
If all you want is the guests’ book recommendations, you can go here.