Lee Jelenic – EVP, Chief Innovation Officer at United Wholesale Mortgage [Customer Experience]

Lee talks about his time as a professional hockey player, talks about the importance of experiences, and how UWM uses technology to be the fastest, easiest and cheapest. 


Nick Glimsdahl  0:02 

Welcome to the press one for NEC podcast. My name is Nick Glimsdahl. And my guest this week is Lee Jelenic . He’s the Chief Innovation Officer at United wholesale mortgage.

Lee, welcome to the press one for Nick podcast.

Lee Jelenic  0:15 

Hey, Nick, I am honored to be here, my friend, thank you very much for having me.

Nick Glimsdahl  0:18 

I’m excited to get going. And one thing that I asked every single guest is what’s one thing people might not know about? Lee?

Lee Jelenic  0:28 

That’s a great question depends on well, you know me, but you know, low hanging fruit in this category would be you know, me as a guy that works at a mortgage company, you might not know that hockey has been a huge part of my life. So I played college hockey at Yale. I played a couple years professionally in the minor leagues and I love the game and I still coach my kids are so those are my kids that play I coach and you know, my I spent some time in the rink almost every week. So one thing you might not know about me is that I love the game of hockey.

Nick Glimsdahl  0:58 

Yeah, that so I so I got to ask. So I played it played a little hockey not as cool as you are. But I played a little hockey. So have you you got to break away. So you got a sweet pass from the blue line, the blue line, you’re on a break away? What’s your what’s your go to Duke?

Lee Jelenic  1:13 

Awesome. You ask that you know why? Because in, I was one of those guys, I was a better I was a better pro player than college player. And I developed a bit more of a scoring touch playing Pro. Yeah, I had one move, but I got really good at it. And it was I come in kind of from the left side, I’d go hard across a lot of tennis shot and go hard across the crease like I was going on my backhand. Yeah. And I would just power stop and come right back. And basically just try to beat that goalie back to the near post and actually got half decent at it. So you know, you might have just literally made my month that you asked me that question.

Nick Glimsdahl  1:48 

Somebody had to ask it advisable beat me if this is going to go viral? It’s because of that question.

Lee Jelenic  1:54 

I’ll tell you the problem with it is though, that I’ve lost my touch and I can’t even score on the 12 year old goalies I coach now. So you know,

Nick Glimsdahl  2:00 

man, man, I just I just I just put the puck down and rip it as hard as I could at the 12 year olds if I if I had the choice. Maybe not, maybe not this is being recorded. So, you know, some people might not know about united wholesale mortgage. So maybe tell us a little bit about that. And then a little bit about what you do as the Chief Innovation Officer.

Lee Jelenic  2:22 

That’s great. So you know, we sometimes say with the United Wholesale Mortgage, where we might be the largest company, or largest financial services company you’ve never heard of. And that’s in some ways by design, and maybe not so much the truth anymore, because we have gotten so large. And we’ve been in the news a lot lately. But we are we are a wholesale mortgage company. And so the definition of that is, we are a lender, and we work exclusively in the wholesale channel. And what that means is our clients are the independent mortgage advisors or independent mortgage brokers all across America. And so when a when a borrower consumer chooses to get a loan or mortgage or refi, or a mortgage on their house, they can usually either go to, they can go to their retail bank, or they can go to, you know, Nick’s House of mortgages. And so as a mortgage broker, you would have the option to shop for that client at a number of wholesale lenders. And you know, usually it’s going to result in, you’ve got a number of lenders competing for your service. So it should result in better service, faster service, lower rates, lower cost. And so we’re a big believer in the broker channel, and we are a big believer, and then mortgage brokers are the best place for borrowers to get a loan. And so we’ve been the number one wholesale lender. Since two I think 2015 was the first year. So the official numbers aren’t out for 2020 yet, but we have been five years running prior to that. And we had a great year in 2020. And we expect to be the number one wholesale lender six years running when the data comes out. And so that’s our business. We’ve grown dramatically. In the past few years. We hired the north of 4000 people last year, and we are 100% based in Pontiac, Michigan, we’ve got a wonderful campus here, and we’re continuing to grow.

Nick Glimsdahl  4:04 

Wow. Yeah, that’s a whole lot of people that you’re adding in one year. So again, tell the listeners what you do. You know, I know, I know, you’re not just managing the whole shop, but it sounds like pretty close. And we’ll get more into that. But what are you doing as the chief innovation officer?

Lee Jelenic  4:22 

Yeah, that’s right. You did ask that question. And I totally I got so excited about mortgage brokers. I

Nick Glimsdahl  4:26 

just, you’re still thinking about the deke.

Lee Jelenic  4:29 

Well, you’re 100% right. I mean, I’m actually wondering now if I should have maybe had two different moves. And maybe that would have been better for my career. But as a chief innovation officer, I like to think I’ve got the best job in the company or the best job in the world. So I lead a number of different teams and you know, my background. Prior to working here again, I played a little pro hockey I spent almost I spent about four years at JP Morgan’s and JP Morgan in New York and capital markets as a trader and then spent a little over a decade at Ford Motor Company, which I’m sure we’ll talk a bit about, but so I, my experience has kind of led me into this role. And I lead our client experience team, which is a rather large team here, that is everything from our contact center to a lot of our client outreach initiatives and some of our, our overall client contact portals. And again, we can go on and talk a little bit about that. I also lead a smaller but mighty team that is one of our digital platform teams. And then I’ve got government affairs, and then I’m also helping stand up Investor Relations. So the plate is full, it’s very diverse. And I and I love what I do.

Nick Glimsdahl  5:34 

That is that is a full plate, I don’t know if all 4000 of those people that you hired could could take on that role. But so kind of go back to your career, you said, You spent a large portion of your career working when we had that conversation is working on kind of that traditionally undesirable experiences. So walk us through what those 100 undesirable experiences are.

Lee Jelenic  5:56 

Yeah, it’s funny, it wasn’t really until we got to talking that I thought about this way. But yeah, I spent a large part of my career working on trying to make experiences that people normally don’t like to do a little better or a little more tolerable, if you will. And yeah, you can think about the process of buying a car, or the process of obtaining vehicle financing, or now the process of going through a mortgage. I mean, nobody wakes up every day and says, Oh, I want to go spend hours in an auto dealership or hours in of in a, you know, finance and insurance department desk within another dealership or Oh, hey, I, you know, I want to go get a mortgage today. Right? I mean, it’s, it’s just, these are historically processes that consumers have kind of looked at as necessary evils. And that’s, that’s over decades in the making. And there are plenty of examples of great companies out there that have that have done some amazing things in the experience around both in auto automotive finance, and of course, mortgage and other financial services. And there are there are, of course, other industries that come to mind. But But for me, you know, I did have a chance to work on a key part in the in the life of the Lincoln brand, when we as a company, were really deciding to invest back into Lincoln and stand it up, as you know, one of the penultimate luxury brands, not just in the US, but globally, as at the time, we decided to launch the brand in China. And then, you know, again, also I feel very fortunate that I’m at, I’m working at a mortgage company, that is takes such pride in client experience, and evidenced by our net promoter scores and, and evidence by how satisfied our client base and how loyal our client base is to us. And I really believe in all cases, that experience that they go through. And we can talk more about in detail about the different types of experiences you can have. That is one of the most critical elements of a relationship between any sort of company and their customer or client, it’s that experience that transaction between them.

Nick Glimsdahl  7:50 

Yeah, yeah, at the end of the day, I think was it 2020 when it actually made that switch was people will actually pay more for a better experience. And that’s, that’s profound. And people not enough organizations are focusing on that which is, which is a shame, it’s, it’s kind of the adapter or die analogy is, is, you know, if you’re not going to step up and provide that experience for your customers and or your employees, you’re going to suffer. So I have to ask, and it’s probably going to be a little bit inappropriate. But is your goal to complete the loop on those and undesirable experiences, and maybe sell caskets when you end your career?

Lee Jelenic  8:29 

Yeah, you know, it’s funny, I was thinking about getting into root canals, and then caskets and then I think I have like, Yeah, I’d have all four questions. Again, what’s interesting about these things, Now, obviously, a casket is a very important decision. But what’s interesting about automotive and then housing finance is a narrative aside about the sort of the Historical Association experience, they are the two or two of the most important financial transaction a person makes, and is the casket would be a very important transaction for someone, but not the person lying in it, maybe it is. But you know, when I when I think about it, these experiences are so important to people. They’re generally very nervous when they’re going through, and especially if it’s their first time, and again, all the more reason to, to make sure that people feel comfortable informed, like they have an outlet to get their questions answered. And I feel fortunate that I’ve been able to make a small impact on improving those experiences through my career.

Nick Glimsdahl  9:23 

So you touched on your Lincoln time a little bit when you were there, you made a big bet on delivering a unique and differentiated experience. Tell us more about that bet. And did it work?

Lee Jelenic  9:35 

So yeah, I’ll take you back in history a little bit. I mean, you have to think back to Ford Motor Company, pre pre financial crisis was a house of many brands. Ford had Jaguar Land Rover, Aston Martin, Volvo owned a stake in Mazda had the Lincoln brand and then also had mercury and then of course, the Ford brand. And so going through the financial crisis for famous He was able to get through on their own and not have to ask for government bailout. And the genius of Alan Mulally and the amazing finance team there and, and so forth comes through the other side of it. And I had made some district Dziedzic decisions to say we need to be more focused like many companies that time we need to be more focused company. And this house of brand strategy that had kind of come together in the late 90s and early 2000s, it was clear that that was no longer going to work in the in the reality of 2009 and 10. So, you know, of course, decisions are made to sell off or closed brands mercury was closed, Land Rover and Jaguar were sold to Tata. And when you really came down and looked at the data and studied, sort of the migration of consumers, it made a lot of sense to have a luxury brand, where those baseboard customers could migrate to right if they so choose, or there was a lot, we studied a lot of art, what our customers had in the garage is a lot of them would have an F 150, or they would have a Mustang, but they would also have a luxury vehicle. And so we had Lincoln, it had been around for a long time, it had been a very strong brand for a long time, and then had kind of like, like many brands and a house of brands, it had gotten a for lack of a better word neglected, and it’d become very much like a metro car, airport type brand. And so we looked at it and said, No, this is a really important brand for the company. It’s a really important brand strategically to keep. And then the next question is once you make the decision to keep it and of course, there’s a lot that goes into what does it take to invest in a brand to make it comparable, I put it put it on a level where it can compete with the Audi’s and the diamonds and the Lexus brands of the world. And so we studied all that made that decision. And we said, okay, well, there’s a couple things we’ve learned with that luxury customer. And one thing was the product need to differentiate. So the link and product needed to differentiate from the for product that was important. And then the other though, was the experience itself. So walking into a Ford dealership, and the experience of everything from what does the dealership look like? The smells, the sights, the sounds, the language, the dealership and sales personnel used to greet you all that needed to be different and elevated with the Lincoln brand. And then and then not only that, but it’s not like there was a shortage of luxury automotive brands. So it wasn’t. So not only did Lincoln have to differentiate from Ford, but Lincoln also had to be unique and different from the other more established brands at the time. I mean, Lexus time log, BMW, Audi, all very strong at the time. And so it became this almost obsession that we had on saying, in order to be relevant, we have to be very different and present a unique and elevated experience that is truly Lincoln. And the more research we did, we found that customers aren’t like they’re yearning for this experience. So it you know, I know, that was long winded, but it gave us a walk down memory lane. And, you know, let us to, you know, and we can talk a lot more about it, but it was a, it was a really important decision that the brand made.

Nick Glimsdahl  13:04 

Yeah, and I think that’s a pretty awesome shift that you guys made and decision what what year was that?

Lee Jelenic  13:12 

So it kind of it all happened, some of the history and the strategy happened kind of Oh, you know, oh, nine through 11. If you go back in history, you can see that’s when the decision of maybe 2012, but that’s when mercury was closed down. And that’s when the stake in Mazda was wound down. But when it really became cemented that this house of brands from eight years, you know, eight, nine years prior to that was now going to essentially be Ford and Lincoln, that really became finalized in around 2012 2013.

Nick Glimsdahl  13:41 

Yeah, that’s still early, though, when it comes to experiences in differentiating. So going back to UW M. And you’re talking about the painful experiences typical when it comes to buying a car or a mortgage, or or a casket for that matter. But how have you guys flipped the script and shifted the paradigm at UW m when it comes to being focused more on the customer? Or the client for that matter?

Lee Jelenic  14:06 

Yeah. And again, I think actually, what’s really fascinating about this, this dialogue we’re having here is if I if I just go back to Lincoln for a second, just to answer your question, one of the things we did as a team at Lincoln was we made the conscious decision to say these are not customers, these are clients. And so it’s every little, every little nuance you can do and your questions may take us back to some of the other things we did to differentiate the actual experience in auto and I can talk about that are in automotive finance. But what’s amazing is here at UW m, we have that same mindset, they are clients and that is this may not be the right solution for every organization out there to say well, let’s just you know, it’s not like something magic happens when you stop calling your customers and you start calling them clients but, but in the organizations I’ve been in, I think it’s a symbol of all these little things matter. And there is, you know, it needs, the little things add up to big things and the inches out of two feet and yards. And that’s something that Matt HBS says all the time. And, you know, it’s kind of something similar that I preach even to the kids, I coach, you start to have these great small habits, and they add up to bigger outputs and you know, bigger wins. And something like just distinguishing, hey, it just puts your mind in a different place, this is a client, not a customer. So I’m going to, I’m going to work a little harder, I’m going to treat them a little better. And you make 100 decisions like that, and you stick to them, and all that the entire team buys in. And so, you know, we can talk a little bit about it. But I don’t know if you have any thoughts specifically on that. But the word client is a really important word to me.

Nick Glimsdahl  15:40 

Yeah. I mean, if you go back to Disney, everybody is not a customer. They’re guests. And so the reason why, and I, an interview will be coming out where I interviewed the guy who ran Magic Kingdom. And he says, it’s just it’s that paradigm shift it is the fact that how you treat a customer versus treating a guest are the exact same person. But you will act different in those little moments. And those little moments matter.

Lee Jelenic  16:10 

You’re so right, and we’ve got a few of our senior leaders, you know, Laura Lawson, our chief people officer who’s, you know, had a huge imprint on our culture here along with obviously with Matt HBr CEO and president. Laura has studied Disney and she’s, she’s that she’s a very, very big supporter and fan of how they how they have shifted that mindset over time strategically. And I couldn’t tell you that I couldn’t agree with you more that it is it is such an important and very small thing. But again, when you when you’re willing to make that change, you make so many other changes over time that just put you on a different level with how you serve as clients.

Nick Glimsdahl  16:49 

Yeah, absolutely. So one of the things you guys pride yourself on is being the fastest, easiest and cheapest. But everybody in their mom’s going to say that they’re the fastest, easiest, cheapest, but tell me more about the metrics behind it, instead of just saying that the high level buzzwords the market hearing of the world. Yeah, so

Lee Jelenic  17:08 

so here’s what I’ll tell you. I mean, we a UW m, there’s a couple things that we talk about when we ask these kinds of questions. And one is by being laser focused on one thing, we are not trying to be all things to all people, we are 100% dedicated to the wholesale channel, we wake up every day now almost 1000 team members, aiming to serve independent mortgage brokers, our clients and provide them with the best technology and service so that they can in turn provide their borrower with a great experience. I mean, so many of these small independent mortgage brokers get their main leads, and traffic is from referrals, whether it’s referrals and past clients, or referrals from realtors or other people in their community. So our relentless focus has really been on technology and giving them technology that makes their job easier, and puts them on equal level footing, with maybe the large retail bank down the street. And so they’re small businesses, we’ve built technology that puts them on equal footing. And then we provide everything about our process and how we serve them is built around speed. And so from when they call in, every phone call that comes in is answered by human being. You know, we’ve created other ways for them to have raised questions to us during the life of the loan that have very specific, measurable short SLS and service level agreements for those listening, which is essentially our commitment to our clients that were going to answer their question. And depending on what type in two hours or in four hours, we’re going to resolve their issue, again, in two hours or four hours, and, and for us. Some of it’s rooted in our pillars, right? We’re all about relationships, not transactions, and service. Another one of our pillars is services, everyone’s responsibility in our company. And so every single person walks through these doors and has pride in the fact that we’re laser focused on being faster, easier, and then ultimately cheaper. And it’s a combination of the technology we build with a singular focus, and the processes and people we have in place again, with that singular focus.

Nick Glimsdahl  19:12 

That’s a big, hairy, audacious goal of being the fastest, easiest and cheapest. So it’s kudos to you guys, you know, by being the fastest easiest, cheapest Do you guys struggle when it comes to customer satisfaction? That

Lee Jelenic  19:24 

was great question. So, again, one of the one of the things I’ll say is that we do set a lot of goals and and this is one of the Matt is an incredible business leader and a brilliant mind. And one of the things he always says is, there is no reason there is no excuse not to set a goal. We don’t have to hit every goal, but we have to have them because they’re gonna inspire you to push. And then if you have a goal, it’s got to be measurable. And so we measure everything. And we take a ton of pride and our net promoter score. Yeah, I think our average from 2017 to 2020 was 87 plus 87, which is You know, anyone who follows NPS in any fashion would know that that is almost unheard of to be at those levels, the companies that are the best at serving their clients are in the mid 50s. You know, this is a scale that’s negative 100, to 100. So to be at 87, and to sort of maintain at those levels, over a long period of time with a company as large as us, it really is remarkable. It’s a testament to our people in our process. And again, we we’ve built everything around speed, you know that the data tells us that we’re closing loans, from when we get the loan to when it’s ready for a bar to sign and close, we’re about 17 days on average, and the industry is at about 47 days. So again, it goes back to that nobody wakes up and says you know, today I’m going to go get a root canal, and you know, finance my vehicle and get a mortgage, right? These are all generally hard, long processes, we make it faster. And in the process of making it faster, we’re making it easier. And our clients really appreciate how hard we work to do that. And again, it gets measured in our in our NPS,

Nick Glimsdahl  21:01 

man, the NPS at 87. It’s ridiculous, not just industry average, inside the mortgage. And I don’t know what the average is a mortgage, but I can guarantee it’s not close to 87. So you guys are doing something right. And I’m not going to throw anybody under the bus. There’s organizations that don’t necessarily measure or send out surveys to everybody, maybe just the ones that they like, are the ones who like them. But from what we’ve talked about, you’re sending out that survey to absolutely everybody because you want to you want to know the truth

Lee Jelenic  21:32 

survey goes to everyone, we want to know the truth. Yeah. And of course, like, like any, like any thoughtful organization, we don’t bombard you with. So we have clients that send us 10 2050, over 100 loans a month. And so we send out surveys, but then if a specific client, once they fill out a survey, we give them like a short break, we give them a period of time, and we don’t hit them again, about 30 days. Oh, yeah. But we have 15,000 overall brokerage shops that we’re doing business with and, you know, 45 50,000 total loan officers. So yes, we are blanketing and we’re surveying them all, and we want to know the truth. And we study the results. And we trend it out relatively quickly. And if there are things that are that are going wrong, that we can fix, we jump on it right away.

Nick Glimsdahl  22:15 

Yeah, what’s the old quote, what gets measured gets managed? So you don’t know what it is? You can prove it? Yep. So when it comes to the client experience, how are you going about measuring the success?

Lee Jelenic  22:29 

So yeah, I’ll go back to the fact that we take it we take a ton of pride and a human touch. So again, it starts with just simply measuring whether or not and how quickly, we’re answering phone calls. So we’re getting between 25 and 30,000 calls a day inbound, we answer. human being that is a team member, United wholesale mortgage answers every one of those calls. And in most cases, the clients waiting less than five seconds for that phone to be picked up. So we take extreme pride in our team, that we call them welcome associates, right? It’s even again, it’s a mindset shift. They’re not the call center, they’re welcomed, because they’re there to welcome to the front door to our clients. So even that team we’re measuring to make sure hold time is within a tolerance to make sure that there’s a very, very, very small number of calls that are dropped, like all of those things are measured. And then when we get into it, every client facing team is recorded. And and you know, Nick, what I love about this is I’m not spilling nuclear secrets here. I mean, this is what any good any top tier client service customer service organization in any industry will do. We record the calls, we have teams and processes built around scoring and coaching. Yeah, we spend more time with those that are newer, to make sure that they really understand the expectation. And then all those teams have scorecards and their call performance is a part of it. And so again, if you’re only half paying attention, you can say, well, that’s not even the business you’re in. They’re in the business of the business of underwriting mortgages. And they’re focused on the calls and the performance. But again, you’re only as good as your is your last caller last experience. And we want to leave every single loan officer, every client of ours, that we’re working with that experience. And so we have this relentless focus on making sure that even the call to human piece of that is always top notch.

Nick Glimsdahl  24:23 

Yeah, when it comes to that you have these measurements of success when it comes to the client experience. Do you align that then with business objectives and business outcomes?

Lee Jelenic  24:32 

Of course, you know, they got to speak in generalities right. If you’re always sensitive about competitors listening or whatever that is, right. Yeah, there’s certain phrases we’re looking for. Maybe there’s a certain play or certain new product that has been launched or play that we’re running. And we absolutely have the ability and wherewithal to measure and say okay, hey on experts out of the calls that the team members are supposed to ask for business or the team members are supposed to ask if there’s anything else they can do things Like that. And then specifically if we’ve launched a new product, like, we had great success this past year, we launched in May a program called our conquest program. And it was really meant to bring a new ball was in the door borrowers that were new to, you know, ultimately to having their loan underwritten and funded at UW n. And so you can imagine that whether it’s the it’s generally the sales team, you’re looking at it from this perspective that we’re measuring, how are they speaking about conference? What are they saying? What kind of questions are they getting, and you can make even we’ve got a large sales team, we’ve got more than 700. A’s account executives on our sales team. And we are very focused on ensuring that they’re at the top of their game at all times. And that’s another thing that I think I can’t stress enough in, in any organization that strives to pride itself on a great client experience, or customer service, or whatever word your company uses. It, leadership has to be bought in, people have to crave the feedback. And we’ve got and again, Matt has done a great job at setting that precedent here. All feedback is good feedback. And all feedback is a chance to get better. So a culture of being receptive to coaching and constructive feedback is critically important to ultimately delivering great experience for your clients.

Nick Glimsdahl  26:11 

I think everybody should go back and listen to that last one minute section about feedback and continuous feedback. And I like that the phrase productively uncomfortable. Because if you’re not stepping out into that uncomfort zone, you’re never going to improve, it kind of goes back to sports, if you never did that extra workout or you never worked at winning the weight, the weight room, or you never worked on that sweet DEEK, you would never improve, you would never get better. And the same is true professionally.

Lee Jelenic  26:40 

Yeah, I couldn’t agree more. I mean, I know we’re a little segue here. But right it’s it is a mindset when you wake up every day and get out of bed. And you can decide that you’re just going to do the bare minimum and get the day you can decide that you’re going to do some things that day to make you better, maybe it make you a better father might make you a better partner might make you better at your job, or it might just make you put you in better shape or make you a better at one of your hobbies. But that mindset of craving and searching for the inches and for the ways to improve. That certainly translates over to the workplace. And then that mindset very important in leaders of teams. And again, another other nuance here at our company, our team leaders are called captains. And it is a little bit of that that sports mindset that we call our, we don’t use the word employee here. So again, going back to some cultural things, that isn’t maybe necessarily primarily right on to client experience. When they’re not employees, they’re team members at UW. And they’re not managers. They’re captains as captain is a leader. And so there’s all these little things that add up. And my dad always used to tell me, no matter how good you think you are leader, no matter how good you are, there’s always someone out there, that’s better. And you can apply that to this topic today, which is how we’re servicing our clients. I mean, you have to constantly be looking over your shoulder and saying, hey, you’re the best day, but there’s someone out there that might be doing something better than us. And we got to keep going. And we got to work hard. And we got to find the next innovation and find that next process that keeps us ahead.

Nick Glimsdahl  28:11 

For sure. So Lee, I wrap up every podcast with two questions. And the first one is, is what book or person is influencing the most in the past year, and you can keep it a customer service or experience you could you could push it out and talk about some hockey book if you really want to. And then the other one is if you can leave a note to all the customer service or customer experience professionals. What would it say?

Lee Jelenic  28:35 

on that? Great question. Normally, this is where I would talk about my love for like for to pocket his lyrics and having fire man, that is no joke. I love to box I love to pack, usually after a long day at work. But not the time to work that in no. So I think from my perspective, professionally, a there’s a book that I read in I think probably 2016 or 17. And it’s called competing against luck by claim Christians. And then he’s written a number of books, and he’s a pretty famous professor of strategy. But if you just think about the title, competing against a lot, it does imply that there’s more that we can control day to day, week to week, month to month in, in our life in our work than we might think. And one of the main principles that comes out of that book is when you’re thinking about your a I’m just going to use the generic word when you’re thinking about customers and what they want. Oftentimes with your product or service, they’re hiring you or your product or your service for a job. And understanding the true nature of that job is really the key to developing that ultimate experience around that product or service. And he goes into some there’s some wonderful case studies in there. Even talks about how one fast food chain figured out that consumers were hiring milkshakes to do the job of a smoothie. And once they had that mindset and figured out That they actually had a whole new category they could invent because their product was being hired to do a job that it wasn’t even made for. They were being bought in the morning, that serving the purpose of what a smoothie, and that you know, that’s a product oriented example more so than service. But thinking through what are you really being hired for? What do you what is your service or product really better do and you put yourself in the mind of consumer and he goes into great detail on how to shift that mindset. So I would say Clayton Christensen competing as luck, probably a book that has made a huge impact on me in recent years, there is a book called hooked on my desk, by near er, which is called How To Build habit forming products. And that is next up of my reading list. And I think it’s always great to get new perspective. So that was that question.

Nick Glimsdahl  30:44 

I’ll have to go back. I haven’t looked at either one of those. One that is talking about habits that somebody had recommended to me is atomic habits. I think it’s by James clear. But the other question is, if you could leave a note to all the customer service representatives, it’s going to hit everybody’s desk Monday, damn. What would it say?

Lee Jelenic  31:06 

It’s a great, it’s a great, and it’s a very, very important question. Because I think a lot of a lot of what we do is, you know, it boils down to a few simple rules of thumb. And I think one of those rules of thumb that I would leave people with is to hat and this is, you know, I’m actually going to plagiarize our president, CEO, mad FBI right now. And I mean, you know, he’s got an amazing career business. And I think one of the things that has made him so successful, and his team is culture is to have a yes mentality. And that is so critical. So I would just leave a note saying, have a yes mentality. And you know, what’s interesting is you got to really break down that phrase, because it’s not saying be a yes person is that saying, say yes to everything, it’s saying have a yes mentality, which means that client, that customer, they’re going to want or need something, and you as a client service, or customer service professional are most likely going to be tested when your customer or client is not happy. And if they’re not happy, it might be your fault. It might be their fault, it might be circumstance. But if you have a yes mentality that I’m going to figure out a way to help you, we’re going to work together on this, we’re going to get to a better place versus the mentality of saying the opposite would be what, well, we can’t do this, or we can’t do that, or I’d like to help you. But if you just kind of watch those types of thoughts and phrases away and watch the knee jerk reaction of why we can’t do something and think about why we can or what we can do, it puts you as a customer service professional in a better place to help that client. And then I think I think the last thing I would say, Nick, my parting words would be. And this is something that I’ve personally adopted, I try to live up to every day of my life. And this is illegal, and I can I’m not plagiarizing anyone here. But this is something that I’ve lived by is every interaction you have with it with a person, it can be an interaction in the hallway can be an interaction with a customer, you’re going to leave them and it can be a three second interaction or an hour long, you’re going to leave them feeling different than they did before. I mean, we’re not static human beings, we don’t have static emotion. And so make the choice to leave every single person you interact with feeling slightly better than they did before the interaction. Have them leave that interaction either feeling happy, feeling inspired, feeling energized, just feeling good about themselves, smile, ask them about their family. And if you adopt that interpersonal mindset, if you not only adopt that with your kids, or your spouse or your team you work with but you also adopt that with your customers. You’re gonna leave them feeling great, even if you can’t always help them. And I think to me, that’s always been the golden rule.

Nick Glimsdahl  33:42 

That’s some great advice. Lee, what’s the best way for people to find you or find you Wm?

Lee Jelenic  33:50 

Yeah, so UWS we’ve obviously got UWS Comm. And that’s our website. And we’ve got a Facebook page as well. And so if you really want to understand what’s going on with our company, I think our Facebook page and our website would be the two most popular places. By the time this airs, it will now be a public company by the time this podcast is playing. So as a public company, you’re just generally going to be easier to find anyway, you’ll be able to find our stock trading on the New York Stock Exchange, and then you can find me I mean, I think the best way is on LinkedIn and I like anyone we have goals and one of my goals this year is to be a little more active, a little more currently more responsive on LinkedIn. So hit me up there and test one of my personal goals for the year.

Nick Glimsdahl  34:31 

For all two people are listening to this podcast hit Lee. Lee, thank you so much, man. I appreciate your time.

Lee Jelenic  34:38 

And Nick, it’s been a pleasure. I really appreciate you having me. I look forward to doing again someday.


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:

  • Customer service & customer experience leaders
  • A hostage negotiator
  • Award-winning authors
  • Home Depotโ€™s Senior Director of Customer Care
  • Former VP of Disneyโ€™s Magic Kingdom
  • Lyftโ€™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:

  1. What book or person has influenced you the most in the past year?
  2. 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.

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