[00:00:00] Hello, everyone, this is your host, Craig Casaletto, and I’m here today with my co-host Judy Lin and we’re honored to take part in the Endicott Call Centers Podcast interview with President CEO Randy Harmat. Randy thank you so much for being here today. Thanks for having me. So, Randy to start off with beginnings, can you just tell us about Endicott Call Centers and how it was created?
[00:00:19] Endicott Call Centers is a collection of companies that was aggregated together, some of the companies go all the way back to 1940. So, it was 15 different organizations that were bought and acquired and melded together. And I bought that organization in 2007.
[00:00:36] What type of organizations created Endicott?
[00:00:40] Endicott Call Centers really caters to the small and medium sized businesses. So, doctor’s offices, hospitals, heating and cooling companies, oil and gas companies. So, we really have an aggregation of smaller businesses that are being serviced.
[00:00:59] Is there a specific aspect to owning that type of business, which may be differentiated from something like on a larger scale? ]\
[00:01:09] Yes. It’s a focus on lots of little customers. And so, we have to have a different approach. And the way we handle those customers in the way that we service them and the way that we support them. So that organization requires a different customer service approach and a different service delivery approach. So we are normally dispatching emergency messages all day long and in the middle of the night, either supporting a patient that needs to speak with their doctor right away or someone that their air conditioning is broke or in the northeast when it’s really cold, their oil delivery for their heating and cooling systems. So, it’s just a different model and a different customer focus.
[00:01:50] What was it about? What was the attraction to owning all these businesses or creating this one center business?
[00:01:59] It gave us some geographic diversity. We are in New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Maryland and South Florida. So, it gave us some diversity within the client base and it also gave us some access to different niches that we didn’t have before. That business is not the easiest to grow. Those customers tend to stay for a really long time. So many times, it’s easier to buy an aggregate than build up from scratch.
[00:02:27] So, Randy, can you share your career path on how you got here?
[00:02:31] So in 2007, we had already done a few acquisitions and we were looking to add on to our portfolio of organizations. And this opportunity came up. And so, we were able to buy it. And at the time, we had nine locations. And over time, we were able to consolidate and create synergies between locations so that we didn’t have as much site diversity as we did what we did initially.
[00:02:56] Did everything center around the call center service for you as far as when it came to growing the company. Was it always called center based ?
[00:03:06] It’s always been call center base. We’ve really tried to keep it as our core. So, you got traditional call center customer care. You’ve got traditional messaging services, which are small to medium sized businesses that do doctors, lawyers, air conditioning companies. And then Endicott has a pretty strong hold with hospitals. So, we support hospitals in all their departments.
[00:03:31] So the way that Endicott is comprised and because you’re working well, it’s a smaller to medium businesses. Is there like one specific unique challenge that you find with Endicott that you may not find somewhere else?
[00:03:43] We have managers and supervisors that have been with us for many years. It’s really important for us, for a someone that works for us in a management position to have the longevity and the history with the customer, because our customers have changed. Many of our customers we’ve had for 20 years, twenty five years in that business. And we have been able to provide a high level of service and we have a loyal customer base.
[00:04:08] Are there any specific services that you provided, Endicott, that make Endicott unique?
[00:04:14] What makes Endicott unique is, again, all about our people. So, we’ve got longevity with our manager base, longevity with our customer service people and we’re really able to create a space for our customers to feel like they’re the most important customer every time they call the office.
[00:04:33] Yeah, I know you had spoken about it in the past and one of things I really enjoyed hearing you say is about it’s not really about the call center business, but about it’s a people business.
[00:04:40] It’s a people business, emphatically a people business.
[00:04:43] And there’s a lot of people that you’re dealing with when you’re dealing with a lot of small businesses and medium sized businesses, different approaches, different ones, I’m sure, and different asks. And I’m sure that’s like a very interesting technique and skill set that you have to deliver.
[00:04:57] The other challenge we have is that when in the Northeast, when Hurricane Sandy went through the northeast, our office was out. Our facilities were out for 20 days. And we’re on generator power. We were able to make sure that we were. We continued to support our customers in a meaningful way, and we were there for them. So, part of this is when snowstorms happen and weather events happen that were up and running and were there to support them when they can’t support themselves.
[00:05:30] In reference to your employees, your clients & the culture here at Endicott
Can you explain a little bit about that and what your core values are ?
[00:05:33] Absolutely. Again, people are our number one priority. Right. So, our core values are is that we want to be customer focused. We want to we want to exude acts of kindness internally and externally with our people. We want to make sure that we are creating a space of teamwork and everyone feeling that they’re part of a team. One of our main goals is for continuous improvement to making sure that we’re giving people that worked for us a career path that can’t that they can see, that they can work for me for the next 10 years and have a path to do something new. We want to have fun. Want to like the point if we’re not having fun in the offices, it’s fun for them. We want it. We do contests. We are constantly looking for ways of recognizing people. Every manager and everyone that works for us. Our goal is to walk on a floor or walk inside of a call center and find a reason to compliment someone or find a reason to acknowledge them. Everyone wants to be acknowledged.
[00:06:36] Do you find that that’s the secret to really maintaining and developing good employees?
[00:06:40] Correct. It’s all about making sure that we are continually interfacing and talking with our employees and making them feel part of the process.
[00:06:52] As far as your management team with Endicott, what part do they play? And also carrying out these core values and maintaining a certain culture here with Endicott?
[00:06:59] They’re an integral part of it. I can’t do this on my own. They. We need the managers and the people that run the shops to embody these core values and express them on a daily basis.
[00:07:10] Do they ever come to you with suggestions or they ever come to you with different things that they see that they would like to implement or make suggestions on?
[00:07:18] Absolutely. We have a weekly leadership meeting and these things are discussed on a weekly basis. And if someone has an idea on how they can make something better, we’re all open years and we embrace it and we embody it. Again, my philosophy on this is people that work with us in the organization, if they have a better way of doing something suggested and let’s implement it and be more nimble in that aspect.
[00:07:42] So it leads me to my next question in reference to Endicott in the future. How would you like to see Endicott improve or where do you see Endicott moving towards?
[00:07:52] I think the need for customer service for small organizations is only growing more and more businesses are forming and they need to have the external customer service experience. Customer service now is defining and differentiating businesses all over the place. And, you know, years ago, a customer service was taken off to India, to the Philippines, and a lot of that business is coming back. And customer service is the key to all of our businesses. And that is going to be our success as we know how to do it. We know how to support it. How do we interface with our customers? Do we want to interface to our customers down the road via voice phone call or do we want to do it via text messaging? Do we want to SMS ? Webchat. It’s our job to make sure that we have the pathway to integrate to the callers that way they want to be spoken to. And artificial intelligence is part of that. And we’re right there ready for it to happen. We’re figuring out how to integrate and how to make that work inside our small customer because it’s a commitment on other on their side and our side to integrate our technologies. But we’re here to help them.
[00:09:06] Which was interesting, It’s about you having that longevity and that experience in the business, plus adding that technology side really kind of gives you the best of both worlds. It does. So, you have that customer service aspect that on top of that, you’re integrating the technology was really providing you a very unique service.
[00:09:21] Absolutely. And that’s our job from a technology perspective to make sure there were innovative, ongoing and making sure that we’re staying up with innovation.
[00:09:30] So Randy, If you were to sum it up, what would you say would be your top three accomplishments so far for Endicott?
[00:09:37] Our number one accomplishment with Endicott is that many of the people that joined the organization when I purchased it in 2007 are still with us. So, the goal is to make sure that we have longevity with our employee and management base to execute and run that business. That business continues to grow. I’m proud of the service offering that we are offering our customers and the delight that our customers are having with it. So, our third accomplishment has been integrating the organizations with our others. So, we have company wide team meetings. People are people feel that they’re part of a large organization. They’re heard. We share a company newsletters between the three organizations so that they’re able to see what people are doing. We ensure that all of our sites are partaking in the same activities and the fun that we try to promote within the organization. So, everyone feels that they’re part of one large organization.
[00:10:41] I think that’s a benefit we brought to Endicott.
How much has training played a part in this whole thing?
[00:10:48] Training is a big part of what we do. We train onsite. We also have subject matter experts that help support other organizations and other sites to make sure that if we don’t have someone at that site that’s an expert at one particular thing, we can bring in resources from others. So, to the benefit of this is having a large or having a large organization with hundreds of people. We have resources available to support the training because at the end of the day, if the customer service representative doesn’t feel that they’re trained and doesn’t feel competent to take the call, every phone call they take is only going to diminish your confidence level if they’re not trained on the subject matter experts.
[00:11:28] Did you know did you know that there was a place for those type of individuals right at the beginning of the business, or did that evolve?
[00:11:38] The benefit with buying organizations is we get to have amazing people join our team, and so over time we’ve defined who those are. And we’ve been able to really move chess pieces on a game board to ensure that we’re able to support. Our staff in a meaningful way.
[00:11:57] Yeah, that’s pretty amazing just because I think there are probably some people that really enjoy one aspect of what they’re doing with the business. And to know that they can actually take that and grow that aspect of what they enjoy doing is really cool.
[00:12:08] Absolutely. And that’s the fun part of my job is developing people and seeing them grow and seeing them flourish.
[00:12:15] Randy, what do you feel is your greatest strength at Endicott then?
[00:12:19] I think Endicott’s greatest strength is our technology service offering. So, we’re a larger company and we’re able to offer solutions to our customers. That makes sense for how they want to interact with us. Does someone want an app to be able to interact that way? Do they want a phone call to be able to call in to us? They want a web site to be able to get to us . Are we able to give customers back their information and some kind of file that they can import into their patient management system or their own CRM? So, we just have a wide variety of ways that we can integrate with someone.
[00:12:55] Randy, about your position as president CEO of Endicott. What do you feel has been the biggest challenge or maybe what are the most exciting things about being the head of the organization?
[00:13:13] I love growing teams and I love developing people. Right. So that is probably my number one self-fulfilled accomplishment. Of just been in a position of being able to develop our teams. And my philosophy is if you come in and you work for us, you have a different way of doing something or you like to do something in a different manner. You think it could be done better, we are open ears and if it makes sense, we implement, and we implement fairly quickly. I think that the hardest part of the business is unemployment’s extremely low right now. And so, it’s getting qualified people and being competitive in the marketplace and creating and making sure our culture is top notch, because at the end of the day, people’s stay at work for more than money. They say work because they will, or they work for it like the people they work for. They get a sense of validation from that and we really try to make sure that we embody that.
[00:14:09] What do you see being the future of Endicott?
[00:14:11] I think Endicott will continue to grow. I think that marketplace is still there is a need out there for customer care and customer service and helping the small to medium large customers support their customers. And so, we’ll continue to grow.
[00:14:28] Randy, I just had one question I was really curious about when it comes to customer service. With technology taking such a big part now in everyone’s life, How do you still maintain that personal touch when it comes to dealing with your customers without having it become more automated and more technology based?
[00:14:51] So it’s a challenge. I think some of the Tier 1 level customer care work. I think technology is going to replace that over time. Artificial intelligence is here. It’s not going away. People aren’t quite sure how to integrate with it. Get larger organizations like banks and telecom companies. They’ve figured out how to integrate that on a large scale. But for the small and medium sized business, it’s not as easy to get into. So, I think we just have to focus on making sure that we use technology in a responsible manner and not to alienate the caller. So, I think all of us have been in a situation where we’re calling into a system and we can’t get out of it. And we’re pushing numbers and I won’t let you get out. And all it does is alienate us and make probably all of us, more angry. So, it’s about really balancing technology in a responsible manner that’s effective, user friendly for the caller and then the ability to opt out.
[00:15:59] You know, it’s interesting to see that, right, because I think that’s something that almost everyone can relate to, is actually getting on the phone, making a phone call, getting stuck in some type of call tree or something like that, and getting frustrated that you’re not actually able to get to that person to get your resolution that you want. And sometimes it’s just success to hear that voice behind that phone and knowing that that person is there to help you. Absolutely. And that could be just a win. And I know for myself just to have that here, that voice, it just a sense of calmness and a sense of security that it brings you. And that’s to lose a lot of value, I think, from a customer’s perspective to that. And from what I understand about what you’re doing at Endicott, it seems like doing a fantastic and unbelievable job with that.
[00:16:38] Thank you. We are.
[00:16:39] Thank you so much for coming out and interviewing with us, Randi. It’s really interesting here some of these insights of the industry and how can we find you.
We are at endicottcomm.com
[00:16:52] So it’s www.endicottcomm.com or you can Google Endicott Call Centers and it should come up also.
[00:17:03] All right. Well, thank you so much, Randy, for your time and for joining us today. Thank you.