Episode 37: The Importance Of Human Interactions In CX - A Tribute To Jack Lorentzen, with Jaxxon's Caela Castillo

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This is a podcast episode titled, Episode 37: The Importance Of Human Interactions In CX - A Tribute To Jack Lorentzen, with Jaxxon's Caela Castillo. The summary for this episode is: <p>Last month, we shared an episode hosted by our friend Jack Lorentzen - the first of what was to be called our “Back To The Customer” podcast series.&nbsp;</p><p>Jack passed away suddenly this past Christmas Eve. With the permission and encouragement of his loved ones, we’re sharing this last episode he recorded, to make sure the powerful words he lived by are heard.&nbsp;</p><p>In this conversation, Jack spoke with Director of CX at<a href="https://jaxxon.com/" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank"> Jaxxon</a> <a href="https://www.linkedin.com/in/caela-castillo-29a73770/" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">Caela Castillo</a>, all about the human interactions you have with your agents and that they—in turn—have with your customers.&nbsp;</p><p><br></p><p>What was covered?&nbsp;</p><ul><li>Peak season prep + taking a step back to slow down&nbsp;</li><li>Caela’s role at JAXXON, and how she became the CX leader she is today&nbsp;</li><li>Finding the perfect balance of BOTH Human Interactions &amp; AI Solutions</li><li>How agents can get more personal - for the better</li><li>Using your best judgment with a customer&nbsp;</li><li>Talking to your CX agents, so they’re ready to talk to customers&nbsp;</li><li>Best practices when it comes to performance check-ins&nbsp;</li><li>The future of JAXXON</li><li>And more&nbsp;</li></ul><p><br></p><p><em>&nbsp;Ready for more Spamming Zero conversations ahead? Listen, rate, and subscribe on</em><a href="https://listen.casted.us/public/126/Spamming-Zero-50f3e248/1540dfdf" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank"><em> Casted</em></a><em>,</em><a href="https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/episode-1-introduction-to-spamming-zero/id1626323789?i=1000564895366" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank"><em> Apple Podcast</em></a><em>, or</em><a href="https://podcasts.google.com/feed/aHR0cHM6Ly9mZWVkcy5jYXN0ZWQudXMvMTI2L1NwYW1taW5nLVplcm8tNTBmM2UyNDgvZmVlZA" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank"><em> Google podcasts</em></a><em>. </em></p>

James: Hello and welcome to the show, Spamming Zero. I'm one of your hosts, James Gilbert. We're excited because this month's sponsor is brought to you by CXperts. If you need help with your digital experiences, especially when it comes to the customer experience overall and the strategies there, reach out to CXperts. io. They're an incredible team and incredible people that work there. They believe in three pillars of customer experience. CX Insights, better understand how your users interact with your brand online. CX Optimization, make improvements for your customers and your business goals. And then CX Launch, empower your team to make CX a part of your toolkit for success. They are the experts when it comes to customer experience and they would love to work with you. Again, CXperts. io. Hey, to all of our listeners, today's episode is extra special for us and I'm going to tell you why this episode is going to be hosted by Jack Lorentzen. Jack was an incredible human being, somebody who would light up a room. Unfortunately, we lost him on Christmas Eve of 2022. He was so excited about doing this podcast, so excited in fact that we had plans for him to do his own, working with the guests that you're going to see him work with. He had recorded two episodes, this one that you're about to listen to, and another one that we're going to release in February. And we want to dedicate those episodes to him and dedicate one episode every month to him from here on out. Jack was a close friend, he was an amazing human being and if you don't know enough about Jack, he was a customer experience advocate, helping people grow in their career and just so amazing at what he did. This one's for you, Jack.

Jack: What's up team? My name is Jack and it's time to get Back to the Customer, a podcast series sponsored by Flip's Spamming Zero, dedicated to real conversations from those doing the work. What's up team? Welcome to the B2C podcast, otherwise known as Back to the Customer, hosted by me, Jack Lorentzen. I am a senior manager of CX at Brooklinen. Super, super hyped for episode two today. A little bit of background on the podcast as this is new for us and new for me. So I'm super excited to be here and to host this, but this podcast is where I'll get the absolute pleasure of chatting with other CX leaders in the space to hear their thoughts on common CX themes, issues, wins, losses, whatever it may be, so that we can collectively never lose sight of what the customer's looking for from our businesses. So let's go back to the customer. Today, I have Caela Castillo with me, who's the director of CX at JAXXON. And Caela, before you jump in, tell me what's one good thing that's happened to you this week?

Caela: Well, I'd say a really good thing that happened to me this week, I was able to take a little time on Monday afternoon and evening to go to Disneyland.

Jack: I love it.

Caela: Definitely wanted to have some extra holiday cheer and spirit. It was a really great day and I felt like spending the day at work, trying to handle all the holiday shopping with our customers, but then going to Disneyland and just having that very childlike experience where, it's funny, there's so many adults who are just like, let's really enjoy this season. So I have to say that's a really great thing that happened to me this week.

Jack: I love that. I actually did a little touristy thing this week in New York City. I went with my fiance, we went up to the tree, saw some lights. We just have to do it once a year. So it felt good to do it. It's like a staple.

Caela: Yeah. When you're in New York you have to see the tree. I feel like the lights on Fifth Avenue are always really fun. It's always good to see if they do something different there and I feel like even when you're in the midst of all those crowds, it's still really nice.

Jack: It's so fun. It's so fun. It's almost fun to be in the crowds. I was like, I hate moving around in the crowd because I'm moving slower, but then I'm like, you know what? This time of year I can get down with that.

Caela: Sometimes you need to take things a little slower just to remind you of how things are. And also there's quite an energy there because it's a mix of all the people who do live there and want to have that experience and then all the tourists who probably have never seen New York at Christmas in their life and they're just so just jazzed to be there. That's a fun thing too.

Jack: I love that. Caela, you just said something super important, which was taking a step back and slowing down at this time of year, which pretty much seems impossible for CX leaders like ourselves. So do you, not to put you on the spot, but any words of advice or anything you've done as a CX leader this holiday season to take it slow? I mean obviously going to Disneyland was a good distraction, but anything else come to mind?

Caela: Yeah, I have to say preparing early has helped so much and while sometimes it's crazy to think, oh, I was already preparing in March, in the summer, for holiday. It does make a huge difference because you think through all the issues you might have and overprepare and I have to say overpreparing really made things much easier this year.

Jack: I agree.

Caela: Meanwhile, I was on Slack half the time I was at Disneyland-

Jack: Of course.

Caela: Waiting in line and I'm on Slack answering questions, but I felt like I had the time to leave the office and go have fun. I think that's what we need to do. I mean, you're not going to do well if you're just so stressed and exhausted. It's going to come off... Things are going to slip through the cracks. If you have to talk to a customer, customers are going to listen to that and they're going to notice. But I think if you really do prepare ahead of time and just kind of like, okay, here is best case, probably what's going to happen in the worst case scenario. If you're ready for all those things, then you're going to have a little bit more time to yourself in the holidays.

Jack: Sure, sure. Preparation is absolutely key. It is the middle of December. It is just... In our world, it's like we've already done all the work, so there are things that are going to go wrong, but doing that prep work and when people say it's Black Friday, Cyber Monday time, it's like that started for us in May. That really was so long ago.

Caela: Yeah, exactly.

Jack: I love it.

Caela: Totally.

Jack: Caela, tell me a little bit about your background at JAXXON, what got you to being the CX leader you are today.

Caela: Yeah, so I've worked for JAXXON for, I'm almost at my two year anniversary now. Started off... Our company's only been here since 2018 and we're still a smaller team. Really just we've grown so fast, so while two years ago at the beginning, I came in doing a whole host of things for customer experience, social media engagement, handling our review platform, answering calls, answering tickets, doing everything, but then also working on different initiatives and things like that and changing our processes, move my way to management and then into the director position. It's been such a journey because we've done so much in such a short amount of time. And previous to this, I'm actually have quite a eclectic background. I have a two master's degree in history and fashion history. So I like to be in the fashion space still.

Jack: Congrats. That's awesome.

Caela: Thank you. But I've always worked in customer service, I've worked in the restaurant industry, I've worked in retail and I've had this experience where I connect really well with people. So while I absolutely adore the research and writing side, that's why I went to history for, it works really well in this position because I also do all of our copywriting for JAXXON.

Jack: Oh nice.

Caela: I've got this great role where I know how to communicate with the customers, I know what they're asking for and that really does help our marketing team as well because I'm able to show them the side that they really might not see.

Jack: I love it.

Caela: So being able to connect with the customers and having that ability to really work well with people is what you need in customer experience, both for the customers but for your team members who are dealing with them.

Jack: Absolutely. And it's a perfect segue because what we are going to talk about today is the importance of human interactions in CX. I mean we have so many great nuggets of information that we can build on already five minutes in, which is a great indicator of this chat today.

Caela: Yes.

Jack: So I'm so excited. But we talked about prep work that goes into Black Friday, Cyber Monday, for example. I know we all work in a space right now where consumer behavior is changing and the way that our consumers that we rely on to keep our businesses running, their spending habits are changing. In turn, our spending habits have to change as well. What I mean by that is really how do we find the perfect balance between having and building a CX team that's very much built on human interactions, but also never losing sight over the idea that we can save money, we can save time, we can save resources with AI solutions that are not human beings. So taking it slow, high level, tell me about the importance of human interactions, human to human interactions at JAXXON.

Caela: Absolutely. Well I think this is a twofold thing because we have to consider both the human interaction of our team, our actual agents. We use both in- house and outsourced agents and then we have our customers. In the e- commerce space, we don't ever get to see our customers in real life. The only way we can chat with them is live chat, email, social media and the phone, if you have a phone service. AI is such a big thing for us and we're in a world where everybody is literally just attached to their phone or they're at work, they're on their laptop, they want stuff fast. That's what we expect. We expect that instant answer. I think there's a total balance that we can have. So I think that just starting off, you have to consider how can you get those easy questions, get those answered fast with AI. That's really great. We use a quick answer function on our live chat. Where's my order? How do I report an issue? How can I cancel something? Easy, most people can get what they want with those little quick answers or even just what's your shipping policy?

Jack: Sure, sure.

Caela: We have a promotion going on. But then there's a lot of times where that's not enough for a customer. They do want to speak to someone and especially when they're really stressed out or if they are on the fence about making that purchase, they want to hear who's working for this company and a lot of that is going to be based on trust, as well. Because if you talk to someone and maybe your agent doesn't know about the product or something seems a little off, that customer might not want to buy from you. They might want to go somewhere else where they feel like they do have a connection.

Jack: Absolutely.

Caela: Especially in the world where we always are thinking of do we shop with this brand or do we go to our local store? Do I just take it easy and go to a big box store, like a department store? I feel like we're in a place where you have money, you need to spend it wisely, at this point. Who are you going to trust to give that money to? So I think that's where we need to think of we want to make it easy for our customers, but we also want to make sure that we're able to instill trust and create connections.

Jack: That's awesome. I could not agree more. And so many great pieces of information there that we could build on. But something that really sparked my interest when you were just speaking was the idea of an easier, straightforward interaction and how I'm not going to lose sleep over automating easier interactions. However, I want to be very specific about what we consider straightforward. I'm not going to use the word easy. I'm not going to use the word easy, but I'm going to say straightforward. I think this is a perfect time to talk about product questions. I look at inquiries from customers as pre- purchase and post- purchase super high level. We can obviously really build on that and delve deeper, but pre- purchase questions are more fun. The customer hasn't purchased yet. They're really in their listening mode. They're really looking for that information so we can instill trust. Correct?

Caela: Mm- hmm.

Jack: So when it comes to product questions, what kind of communications do you expect from your team and just thinking about JAXXON's product as a whole?

Caela: Yeah, absolutely. We have a very big selection of products with different materials, different sizes for different occasions. Number one is making sure our team knows everything possible about our products, as well as how to point the customer in the right direction. So I think being able to explain what those products are made out of. Hey, do you like a certain type of thing? Maybe this is not for you, maybe you should choose something else. Or another thing is I think we know customers are asking products, sometimes they want to see a review too. They don't want to just hear what we have to say, so we always point them in the direction of our review platforms so they can hear what customers are saying and then you have to inform them about the return and exchange policy just so in case it doesn't work out, they have other options. But we always want them to know, you can come back to us, we can assist you. And then we have a slew of educational things. We have a blog, so here's how to clean your product, here's how to store it. Maybe if you're new to men's jewelry, you don't know how to wear it, but you want to. Here's how to style it.

Jack: Absolutely.

Caela: But I think also all of our agents have different tastes as well. So maybe every single agent has a different favorite product. When I talk to customers, I want to be like, well I know this is our best seller. I love it.

Jack: Yes.

Caela: But also this is my favorite for this reason. I want customers to know that too because maybe they're like, oh wait, I really do like that too and I'm glad you said that.

Jack: Couldn't agree more. And it's funny that you said bestsellers because I'm going to mention this a lot throughout this series of podcasts, but I was definitely manning the phone. That was my first channel that I really felt comfortable on. I really liked connecting with customers and I really liked personal anecdotes and telling them. I get super hot when I sleep at night, so I really like our classic sheets, which are more of a matte finish, crisp and cool. And then we have our luxe sheets that are our best seller. I would tell a customer that, however, I need to tell them personally what I like and I think that resonates. That resonates.

Caela: It does.

Jack: The ability of our agents to tell personal stories, is that something that we teach? Is that something that's part of the training process or is it something that maybe people get more comfortable doing as they spend more time as an agent on your team learning the product?

Caela: I think it's both. When I used to always train, I started off on the phones as well. When we would do trainings, my focus is phone support because that's where I feel like I can connect with customers, I'm very patient so I don't lose my cool. I'm also one of those people who will get sucked in. If you're overemotional, I will absolutely just eat that up. So I have to watch out at the holidays because last holiday for sure, I had customers who, oh my god, total stories where I'm like, okay, we're at the point now where this call is 30 minutes. I got to go, but I like this.

Jack: Do you remember any of the stories that or any-

Caela: 100%. I had this customer who was buying something for her son. He broke it the first week. He was in college, freshman. She was so upset, didn't know what to do. I'm like, okay, we're going to replace it for you. We're going to get this fixed. Then she was talking about her kids in college. I have all brothers, so I'm very... It was all boys growing up. But she was the nicest person ever. It was just such a nice connection. She was like, "You know what? I'm going to tell all my friends to buy this for their son. I'm going to make sure my son tells all his friends to get this." It was just such a nice thing and she even messaged me after the holidays to tell me how much her son loved his present.

Jack: That's awesome.

Caela: And so it wasn't just like, yes, we bought this, we're done. We made that connection and she even made sure to email me again. So I think that it works and maybe not every single customer is having that kind of interaction, but I have to tell you, it's really nice and it does make this job so much better and more rewarding,

Jack: Couldn't agree more. Smiling ear to ear hearing stories like that. I have to say that I have a funny story and it's almost a compilation of stories because I helped a customer out and I think I usually say on the phone, the hard and fast rule is that customers are calling in that are more used to speaking on the phone, so they do skew older.

Caela: Yes.

Jack: And I started creating almost like a friendship, which it's pretty hilarious to think about now, but this guy, I realized at a certain point that he was calling in so that he could tell me what types of movies and books he was interested in.

Caela: Oh my gosh, that's great.

Jack: Was it the best use of my time? Maybe after a certain point there was diminishing returns there. However, the idea that I could be a friend to someone that needed one and was looking for that when speaking to a customer experience team, I thought that was powerful and I'm proud of that.

Caela: No, I think that's amazing. And honestly, you should feel proud.

Jack: Thank you.

Caela: It's amazing to make those connections over someone you can't see, you've never met them. But you know what? That comes back to you. You know what I mean? And whether that person never mentions Brooklinen again, you can feel good knowing that that's going to show to other customers as well.

Jack: Absolutely.

Caela: And I think that's where, you asked, do you teach this to agents during training or do they just learn it over time? I think there's both, because when I did training I would say, okay, put yourself in their shoes. Be really empathetic and be authentic. Be yourself. If you're a little bit more quiet, that's okay. If you're like me where you want to chat and you want to be really bubbly with the customers, cool. That's fine. And make sure that you're listening to all their questions, you're responding. I always like to... If someone says they're buying a gift, ask them who that gift is for.

Jack: Absolutely.

Caela: If they're buying for someone else, " Hey, is this for a birthday? An anniversary? Are you going somewhere?" Ask about it. They need this for their vacation. " Where are you going on vacation?" I think these things, people want to tell stuff to other people, you know what I mean? It is good because they're probably going to have a better experience.

Jack: Absolutely.

Caela: If something goes wrong in the future, they're going to be like, " Hey, I want to talk to Caela. She helped me. And I'd really like to make sure we just take care of this." And that's what we do do. We want to make sure our agents tell them your name.

Jack: Absolutely.

Caela: If they leave a review, ask if they can give you a shout out. And then also it does show like, hey, it's not just agent 123 working here. We see all the names of all our people on our team because that's what we are. We're a team of people. We're not just faceless, nameless people behind a computer or phone. But absolutely, having those conversations are really important and it's all about just making that connection because it will come back to you in really good ways.

Jack: Loving what I'm hearing. Could not agree more. You touched on something that I really want to build on, which is very important. It is the idea that we can have two really great agents, for example, that have awesome KPIs and engagement on the team, but they could talk to customers completely differently. One of my top phone agents over the summer in Canada was a bubbly type of energy and I loved that. I loved QAing, those phone calls. I was like, oh my god, these phone calls are awesome, really engaging. Hey, I actually have to jump off the phone and go to a meeting. Oh, good luck at your meeting. Let me know if I can help out with anything after your meeting. Really engaging with them on that level. And then in opposition, I have a colleague who is just as strong on the phone but is a very soft tone and very not so bubbly. So I think it's important to realize that agents are human beings just like us, just like any human being. When we're speaking to customers, there's a lot of different ways to give them a great experience.

Caela: Absolutely, absolutely. And we have the same on our team where we have a lot of really soft spoken agents and they do amazing jobs and people will, they'll be like, "You know what? She solved my problem. She stayed with me from start to finish and we took care of this." And so yes, absolutely every person on our team, they have different personalities, they come from different backgrounds, have different interests, but they all want to help the customer. There's no one way to help a customer, whether it's on the phone or in live chatter email. All of them are important. And so I think it's all about, I think it's just embracing the differences in our agents because every customer is going to be different too.

Jack: Absolutely.

Caela: And I think too, it's important to know that it's okay if that one agent can't solve the problem with that customer, especially on the phone. If one agent's like, " You know what? I don't think I'm going to make this customer happy. Let me get someone who will." And I think that's when you know can admit that you need some assistance and someone else can jump in, that's where you're doing the right thing because you know you're going to find the right person to take care of it.

Jack: So a really hot topic that does feed into, the importance of human interactions of course, but using your best judgment with a customer. I've said this before and I'm passionate about saying this and I'll say it again multiple times, but it is hard to teach the idea of using your best judgment because you just gave an example of an agent that's using their best judgment to understand, you know what? I think one of my teammates is going to finish this up with you and give you the best experience. So how do you feel about teaching the idea of using your best judgment in CX?

Caela: It's a tough thing to teach sometimes. Some people really get it and understand and some it's a little bit more challenging for them. I think what I always preach is everything is a teachable moment. So if it doesn't go well, we're going to learn from it.

Jack: That's awesome.

Caela: We're probably going to talk about it a lot, but that's okay. We're going to learn from it because I know there's been times where I'm like, wow, this is not going as planned.

Jack: Exactly.

Caela: And here as the director, technically I should be able to handle anything, but that's not always the case because like we said, we're humans. Human, to err is to human. And I think the thing is being able to say, okay, we know what our processes are, especially on when you're on the phone, here's chain of command. If you really can't handle this, maybe you go to this person. If you think like, okay, I'm going to send this straight to the top, do it. I think the best thing is to not get frustrated. Hey, if you need to take a little ten second hold to-

Jack: Collect yourself.

Caela: Maybe collect your thoughts and also look at maybe like, okay, this is what we're dealing with. Can I handle this myself? And then also knowing that you're going to have situations where you can't help that customer. It's possible there are times when there are customers who maybe they're not following the rules. That happens. Or maybe it's just something that's really challenging or they're the kind of person who maybe they don't even know what they want from you and from your brand. So there might be times where you can't complete what you're trying to do here and that's okay too. So I think just being able to understand what steps you need to take and then asking for help when you need it. But I think every moment is always teachable. You got to remember that.

Jack: And for everyone listening, Caela, I'm so excited to hear you say, even as a director of a team, you're having teachable moments all the time and energy like that and knowledge that feeds so perfectly into our agents. I want my agents to be not afraid to make mistakes because they're hugely teachable moments, very teachable moments. I love that. I'm going to use that. I love that.

Caela: Yes. Oh, I'm glad. Totally use it. I think one thing we lose sight of is that nothing's beneath us. You know what I mean? I take that very, very personally where I don't think anything's beneath me. If I need to hop in on a live chat or a phone call, I'm going to do it. Is that the best use of my time to always be doing that? No, but sometimes it's necessary.

Jack: Absolutely.

Caela: I had some free time the other night. I was just checking in on things before going to bed, probably shouldn't have been working that much, but it's the holidays. I got to.

Jack: It's the holidays. We got to.

Caela: We got to make sure things are going right. I was just looking at the emails and was like, maybe I'll just answer a couple, also keeps me fresh to make sure I know exactly what's going on. I think that's important too because there was one time where I was like, okay, well let me figure this one out and that's okay. That's what we're here to learn. Sometimes that's what gets me those aha moments where the light bulb just turns on and I'm like, you know what? We're going to start focusing on this. Let me talk to the team about this, see if they feel the same way. I think that's also incredibly important. Ask your team how they feel about stuff. You don't need to just create things and just be like, do them. I always ask the team, if we did this, would this help you or hurt you? Is this supportive at all?

Jack: I love that you ask the question. I didn't already make that decision. I need to hear from you guys before I make a decision for the team.

Caela: Yeah, absolutely.

Jack: So such a great chat so far. I'm having fun. I hope you're having fun.

Caela: Me too. I love this. This is great to be able to talk about this.

Jack: I love it. Okay, so shifting gears slightly, we're talking about the importance of human interactions and how that applies to our agents, but a big theme of what we've talked about today is really how us as CX leaders talk to our agents so that the agents are ready to talk to customers. So what connections can you make in how you communicate and connect with your team and how these connections are similar or what you want to see from your agents when they speak to customers?

Caela: Yes. I definitely think understanding that whatever level your customers are at and whether they're in- house agents or outsourced agents, they're all at the same level. They're all people. Sometimes there are some that are afraid when they're like, oh, it's the boss, or she's making these decisions. But I still want to get to know people. Of course, when I wasn't the director, I maybe knew agents at a different level than the newest ones, so I don't want them to feel either like, oh, Caela, it seems like she's pretty close to that person, but she doesn't really know me. And of course, when we're all working, if we're all working remote, it is hard to connect on the same level than maybe the person you're having lunch with.

Jack: Absolutely.

Caela: But we try to have catch up calls. We do talk about other things. I have a dog, so I'm like, who else has a dog? If you don't have a dog, do you have a cat or any other kind pet? I want to know how that's going. We talk about the shows we watch and things like that.

Jack: Exactly, exactly.

Caela: And also, I'm just a very open person. I'll joke with them. The other day, I think I didn't fully read someone's sentence and I was like, well, it's time. I got to go get some coffee.

Jack: Exactly.

Caela: Excuse me, guys. Just making sure they know that you're an approachable person. Because I think my biggest motto in life is you get much more when you're nice. I'm like, what is the nice version of this phrase where you get more with sugar than you do with... What is it? I don't know what the nice version of that phrase is, to be honest, so I'm not going to say that on this.

Jack: Sure, sure.

Caela: But I think you absolutely do get more with sugar. Just be a nice approachable person. Obviously, I have to make tough decisions all the time that are going to affect this team. Maybe we can't keep all our seasonal hires or maybe I'm going to have to make a tough decision that's going to be a little more challenging for them when they do their processes. But still, I want them to be able to come ask me questions and if they need something and when our other managers aren't available and I am, like, I'm here. Hi, guys. I'm here to help you. So I think just being real with people. It seems like such an easy thing, but some people have a hard time doing that. Don't be afraid to look silly or dumb in front of your team. You know what I mean?

Jack: It's music to my ears. I know that we lead in the same way in that respect and that is being real. And the byproduct of being real is people are not afraid to approach you. People are not afraid to joke around with you. They're not afraid to tell you what's going on in their personal lives, if they feel comfortable doing so. That's so important to me as a leader. No, I absolutely love that. This is something that has come up more and more as we come into our leadership roles, we move on to other businesses someday or we move into higher positions that we are right now. Of course, that's the goal. But how do you feel about communicating things that aren't so happy? How do you feel like communicating when... How do you think your tone of voice changes, let's say, if you do have to give someone a performance check in? Or if you do have to tell the team? Or you just made a great example, if you do have to let some seasonal hires go. That would obviously be great to keep them on, but it's not the best decision for the business. So what are your thoughts when it comes to communicating messages that aren't so happy?

Caela: Yeah, and sometimes I think maybe when I was younger, that was a little bit more challenging for me because I tend to be a happier, more cheerful person. Sometimes those tough things, they can be a challenge. And over time, you grow and you learn how to do that better. Sometimes you may have to deal with someone where your tone's going to change a little bit. But I think when you're in those tough situations, just explaining maybe where things went wrong. For example, when we hire seasonal agents, we say, " Hey, we hope we can keep everybody on, but based on volume of sales and tickets, that could change. Your performance does play into this as well." And I always want to let people know, " Maybe JAXXON wasn't the right fit for you now. It could be a fit for you later. Here's what you could work on. I'm happy to answer your questions anytime. If you want to go over something that maybe you thought like, 'Hey, was this the problem.'" I always want to let people know, here's my email. If you need a reference in the future, please reach out to me. You always wish you can keep all your agents on of course and you can have this huge team, but it's just not the case. And so I think just being honest, as honest as you can be, not hurt... I mean, I was like don't hurt their feelings. No, you don't want to be intentionally hurtful to anybody. I think just maybe saying things in a way that's going to be productive. You don't want to say things that aren't going to help the situation.

Jack: Sure, sure.

Caela: So I think just being able to be honest, be straight with them, offer support if you can.

Jack: Yes.

Caela: And that's the same way too. When issues arise, say maybe a customer interaction didn't go well. Hey, like I said, all moments are teachable, but maybe you shouldn't have done this. Also, I always give an example, this happened to me. Maybe here's a situation where this happened to me.

Jack: Same, same. I do that all the time.

Caela: Here's how I dealt with it or here's how maybe it went wrong and I learned from that. Just because I'm sure that we've experienced something similar too. So being able to show that you're not this perfect person who does no wrong. No, things happen.

Jack: I like showing some vulnerability as as a leader so that we can instill that trust. And to add on to the point that we were just speaking on though, I think something I've learned as I have been in performance based conversations, they're always going to happen. There's always going to be agents that are performing at their best and then they have a couple off weeks. We're human beings, once again. So it's all about how we communicate those messages, intentionally offering support. But I also think for any CX leader listening right now, I think it's very important to let the agent really talk to you as well.

Caela: Yes, absolutely.

Jack: Keep that conversation absolutely as open as possible so that you don't feel like you just had a 20 minute check- in and you're the only one that spoke. You need to hear from them.

Caela: Exactly. No, 100% agree with you. I feel like I always like to say, especially like you said, maybe they're having a few off weeks, whatever, say, " Is there anything you'd like to tell me that maybe is going on?"

Jack: Yes.

Caela: I don't want to force people either, especially if there's something personal they don't want to share. I'm always saying, " This is very discreet. I'm not going to tell anybody else. This is between us. Please tell me. If there's anything going on, I'm someone to listen. I can listen to all your things." And I do that to other agents too. Even when things are going well, I'm like, " Slack me anytime." Hey, maybe someone just wants to be like, " This is going on in my life. Can you give me some advice?" I'm happy with that too.

Jack: Same.

Caela: And so let them talk, absolutely, because they have things to say and maybe that'll make so much more sense to you. If you're saying, " Hey, I have to take care of my whole family. My kids have been sick nonstop, and you know what, this just happened." Well, I'd be like, "You know what? I've been sick the whole month of November. I get it. What can we do to support you?" And most of the time, that's what it is, as simple as what can I do to support you and things will totally change.

Jack: I love that. And I think being a leader and leading with empathy in the CX space is so important because, I mean for so many reasons. Obviously what we've talked about so much today, but it's also what we need to be because this job is not easy. When customers are getting upset around the holidays and they're speaking to you in not the best fashion, I understand where customers are coming from, I understand this time of year and I understand where the market is-

Caela: Absolutely.

Jack: And consumer behavior, all the things we talked about today. But that's why being a CX leader that leads with empathy is so important because we know how hard our agents are getting hit at certain times.

Caela: Absolutely. And I always tell my agents, " Hey, you do not have to take any harassment. I'm going to tell you right now. If you're ever uncomfortable, if you ever have an uncomfortable situation, let's talk about it because I want to make sure you're taken care of." We try to keep things light. I mean, all year round, we'll post little jokes and stuff like that. But I think just making sure... I had an agent once who her son was super sick in the hospital and I never wanted her to feel like she was going to lose her position. I was like, " Why don't you just take care of you? Take care of your family. You come back and tell me what's going on."

Jack: That's so important.

Caela: Yeah. Because when something happens to you, you're going to want to be taken care of and listened to and that's how it's for your team. That really does come back to you in your team loyalty and team morale. In turn, they're going to show that same empathy to the customers.

Jack: That's it right there. That's it right there. I love it. I love it. Caela, what are the next few months into 2023 looking like for the CX team at JAXXON? JAXXON as a whole? Anything you want to share about short- term future?

Caela: Yeah. I feel like every year we have different focuses and things are always changing. For the CX team, I think just 2021, I'm sorry, 2022 was all about... What year is it?

Jack: What year is it?

Caela: I'm losing track of time. 2022 was all about really honing in on our processes, beating our goals month over month for response times, resolution times, things like that and we crushed it every single month. And now next year, I think we want to focus on maybe more of those pre- purchase questions, like the product stuff. How do we talk to customers who are on the fence still maybe focusing more on sales because absolutely we're online only. We don't have sales associates, but all of our agents can be that for us.

Jack: Oh, absolutely. Absolutely.

Caela: And that's not something that we should minimize or forget about. So focusing on that, maybe having some styling tips and things and just having more educational moments. I think also we're trying out how we can, I guess, just make the whole experience for our customers maybe, I don't know, maybe more interactive, especially with how they're choosing stuff online. So really just continuing to build and we hope to continue to build our team and have the need for a larger team. Of course, just the nature of this business with the economy, we always have to scale up and down. So being ready to scale with products and solutions that can help us do that. But I think for JAXXON as a whole, we had our first TV commercial this season.

Jack: Nice. Nice. I've definitely seen it. I've definitely seen it.

Caela: Oh, yeah. It's so exciting. I've had family members, " I was watching this movie and this popped up." So it's really exciting and I think just moving into next year, we're just looking to expand. And the big thing for JAXXON is we want to be not just a brand that sells men's jewelry. We're a lifestyle. We're all very motivated people. We all have an interest in just all different kinds of lifestyles and we want to make sure that people feel connected in that way. So it's not just the customers loving the product, it's loving the brand too. I think the people behind the brand like me, like you, that's who they want to connect with too.

Jack: That's awesome. Well, you heard it here first. What's going on with JAXXON in 2023, it sounds super, super exciting. Caela, I've had such a complete and utter blast talking with you today. One last question for you. What's something you're excited for the next two weeks as we go into the final weeks of 2022?

Caela: Yes, I think you know what? Just feeling successful in work, knowing that, okay, we did a good job. No matter what happens, feeling like I prepared and I did a good job. But I think having some time off with my family is nice too. Being able to maybe-

Jack: It's necessary.

Caela: Sleep in. I'm very big on Christmas movies and stuff like that, so definitely just take a little time for myself and yeah, just enjoy. And then just gear up for the next year. It's crazy to think another year is done and here we are. And so it's that time to rest, recharge, just get really stoked for the next year.

Jack: And get ready for Q1. I can't believe we can say Q1 soon.

Caela: I know.

Jack: It's crazy.

Caela: It's a crazy thing.

Jack: Well, Caela, thank you so much for joining the Back to the Customer podcast. Super, super hyped to meet you and chat with you today and I look forward to talking to you really, really soon.

Caela: Thank you so much. This has been an absolute pleasure. It's been so enjoyable and I just love talking about this stuff. I hope everyone who's listening really learns something or makes that connection to where they feel like, you know what? I'm doing this and I feel good about it.

Jack: That makes me feel so good, Caela. I love it.


Last month, we shared an episode hosted by our friend Jack Lorentzen - the first of what was to be called our “Back To The Customer” podcast series. 

Jack passed away suddenly this past Christmas Eve. With the permission and encouragement of his loved ones, we’re sharing this last episode he recorded, to make sure the powerful words he lived by are heard. 

In this conversation, Jack spoke with Director of CX at Jaxxon Caela Castillo, all about the human interactions you have with your agents and that they—in turn—have with your customers. 

What was covered? 

  • Peak season prep + taking a step back to slow down 
  • Caela’s role at JAXXON, and how she became the CX leader she is today 
  • Finding the perfect balance of BOTH Human Interactions & AI Solutions
  • How agents can get more personal - for the better
  • Using your best judgment with a customer 
  • Talking to your CX agents, so they’re ready to talk to customers 
  • Best practices when it comes to performance check-ins 
  • The future of JAXXON
  • And more 

 Ready for more Spamming Zero conversations ahead? Listen, rate, and subscribe on Casted, Apple Podcast, or Google podcasts.

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