As part of my series about the “How Business Leaders Plan To Rebuild In The Post COVID Economy”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Matt McConnell, Chairman, President and CEO of Intradiem. Matt co-founded Intradiem with a vision of helping companies increase the level of customer service they deliver using automation technology. Today, Intradiem is the leader in workforce automation with over 230,000 contact center employees who use Intradiem’s solution daily.
Our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your ‘backstory’ and how you got started?
Having a background in engineering, I have long been fascinated with software and its many applications. After college, I began working for a large company, but soon caught the entrepreneurial bug. One night while out with a friend, I had an epiphany and the concept of Intradiem was actually written out on a bar napkin.
I wanted to create software that allowed companies to provide employee training during downtimes, instead of interrupting the flow of the workday. I experienced this in my first role, constantly being plucked away from my desk to complete training, to only then be stuck working late to make up for lost time.
After working countless nights and weekends developing a prototype for Intradiem, I quit my job and launched the company full-time. What started as an idea of blending training into the workday has now become a leading workforce automation software.
Can you share a story about a mistake you made when you were first starting your business? Can you tell us what lessons or ‘takeaways’ you learned from that?
A mistake I made starting out was assuming every person was similar to myself. That they were motivated by the same things, had the same interests and same set of problems. Therefore, I thought I could design a product aligned to these similar behaviors, which I quickly realized was not the case.
The biggest lesson I learned was to fall in love with a problem, not a product. By focusing on our customers and their unique issues, I was able to develop a stronger offering for the marketplace. Intradiem’s early days of success was tied to asking our customers the right questions, and using their insights to create a better product.
Is there a particular book that you read, or podcast you listened to, that really helped you in your career? Can you explain?
The most important book in my career is the Holy Bible, which I read every day. For me, it’s not only about faith; this book is also the story of human history. It helps me understand human motivation in a way that no other book can. From running my company, to my daily interactions with employees, customers and shareholders, the Bible has many great lessons I put into practice daily.
Extensive research suggests that “purpose-driven businesses” are more successful in many areas. When you started your company what was your vision, your purpose?
I started Intradiem 25 years ago as a solution to dynamicaly deliver training to contact center agents. Since then, we have evolved to become a leader in workforce automation, transforming both the agent and customer experience. While we thrive on being a company that delivers true value to our customers, I am most proud of our commitment to creating a culture that genuinely demonstrates one of the core values we’ve established — Having a Servant’s Heart.
Our culture is designed to attract the right people who share our same values and are passionate about giving back to the community. The other piece to having a servant’s heart means fostering that same energy within our own internal community, and having the dedication to support each other in the work that we do as a team to create value for our customers.
In building a culture with this mindset, Intradiem gives every team member paid time off specifically dedicated to serve the community how they desire. After serving, each employee signs a “brick” that’s displayed on our Service Wall in the foyer area of our office headquartered in Atlanta, showing the number of days we devote to community service and the variety of projects we take part in — from our unwavering participation with organizations like Easterseals (providing services to people and families challenged with disability) to Homestretch, whose mission is to provide permanent housing placement for homeless families.
Building a culture with a servant’s heart not only helps us work more cohesively as a team, but, in the end, we’re all working together to better serve our communities and our customers.
Do you have a “number one principle” that guides you through the ups and downs of running a business?
For me, the concept of service is a core value that drives the way I lead Intradiem. This means serving our customers by putting their needs ahead of our own. We must focus on what problems our customers are facing and embrace them. If we do our job well by serving our customers and solving their problems, our needs will be taken care of as well.
The COVID-19 pandemic has affected nearly every aspect of our lives today. For the benefit of empowering our readers, can you share with our readers a few of the challenges you faced during this crisis? Can you share what you’ve done to address those challenges?
The pandemic has undoubtedly presented a challenging economic climate, but since the onset of COVID-19, Intradiem has made our intentions very clear. First, prioritizing our employees and avoiding any staff cutbacks. Next is taking care of our customers and making sure they have the support they need from us. And lastly, using this time to extend our lead in the market. All of these goals are connected and begins with a commitment first to our Intradiem team.
Our dedication to employees and customers is something we take to heart. To mitigate the fallout of unexpected situations like COVID-19, we created a detailed contingency plan. By building our business focused on sustainable growth, we are well prepared for the post-pandemic future without having to layoff any team members in the process. We invest in our employees and ultimately, they will power Intradiem to achieve both our short and long-term business goals.
Obviously, we can’t know for certain what the Post-COVID economy will look like. But we can of course try our best to be prepared. We can reasonably assume that the Post-COVID economy will be a trying time for many people across the globe. Yet at the same time the Post-COVID growth can be a time of opportunity. Can you share a few of the opportunities that you anticipate in the Post-COVID economy?
When we come out on the other side of COVID-19, businesses will be looking for ways to recoup lost revenues and be profitable in the new market landscape. A great way to achieve this is by relying on technology that empowers people to work smarter, and helps companies grow faster. Automation transformed the manufacturing industry, and we see this same concept being applied to information workers to revolutionize the future of other sectors.
McKinsey Global Institute’s “The Future of Work in America” report solidifies this notion, revealing that “less than 5 percent of occupations can be automated in their entirety, but within 60 percent of jobs, at least 30 percent of activities could be automated by adapting currently demonstrated technologies.”
Soon, we’ll start to see more companies look to automation as a way to drive cost savings and guarantee peak efficiency across all facets of their business. Contrary to popular opinion, this will not be a robot takeover, rather, a means of empowering employees to succeed with additional support from emerging technologies.
How do you think the COVID pandemic might permanently change the way we behave, act or live?
We’re already seeing the rise of remote work manifested across many sectors, but I believe this trend will be here to stay long after the COVID-19 dust settles. Especially within contact centers, we will see a sustained shift away from physical call centers to remote agent models. This is evidenced by a recent Gartner report that shows 74% of companies plan to keep employees working from home, even after COVID.
These sentiments are echoed in my recent conversations with customers. Security and productivity concerns have limited remote workforce models in the past, but now we see work-from-home is possible and sustainable. We help our customers directly manage a remote workforce that used to be in-house: that’s the real power of Workforce Automation. Companies see improved agent morale, engagement and performance, as well as cost savings due to productivity gains, smarter staffing decisions, and now they can cut back on large, physical call center spaces.
But the shift from in-house agents to a remote model is no simple task. This is likely the first time that many agents will be working from home, and the change of scenery can be a challenge for many. Stress is at an all-time high for many contact center agents and a combination of increased volume, potentially upset customers and adapting to new remote processes can lead to increased burnout and poor performance. Thus, Workforce Automation has become vital to not only cut costs, but also ensure agents are supported to succeed remotely.
Considering the potential challenges and opportunities in the Post-COVID economy, what do you personally plan to do to rebuild and grow your business or organization in the Post-COVID Economy?
Intradiem is uniquely positioned to succeed in the Post-COVID era of remote work. Growing our business is two-fold and comes down to our talented team, and providing a proprietary product built for companies to leverage and take immediate action on real-time data to make better (and more informed) business decisions. Our solution drives even more value for customers now because of its ability to manage and optimize their WFH agent population.
In the recurring revenue business model, a company’s value is tied to the success of its customers. If you do right by them, growth will follow. We have entered a new era where industries are far more saturated than we’ve previously seen. Topline growth is stagnant, so the only way to increase profit is to cut costs. Workforce automation is a proven way to achieve this, while simultaneously improving agent engagement and customer experience.
My vision is that automation will shape the future of work in contact centers, and we’re confident our customers will continue seeing improvements in their operations and recognize cost savings.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
From former President Theodore Roosevelt, ”Far better is it to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs, even though checkered by failure, than to rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy nor suffer much, because they live in a grey twilight that knows not victory nor defeat.”
There is such a powerful contrast between those who dare mighty things and those who live in the grey twilight. I never wanted to look back on my career and think of what could have been, so early on I took a risk and started my own company. What scared and motivated me was never taking that leap of faith. Starting Intradiem was my way of daring mighty things and leaving a lasting legacy.
How can our readers further follow your work?
You can learn more about Intradiem at our website here: https://intradiem.com/ and stay connected with us on the following social media channels.
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