Partnership Is Essential

By Business, Jon

Why don’t more contact centers/departments employ or directly partner with marketing talent in their quest for greater customer connections? In over 100 projects in 9 years with Infinite Green, and prior to that in my corporate career, I rarely witnessed this. Yet, I had my most successful “customer movements” when we (operations and marketing) both sat down and just talked. 

Any chance that one way to insights and innovation at speed is embedding a marketing resource into contact centers, and maybe a contact center agent into marketing design sessions?

I had the opportunity to share this perspective with wicked smart people in my Geek Squad days and during our “customer centricity” growth times at Best Buy. The results were magical. Insights were desired, brand focus and a look ahead was valuable currency, and much-needed linkage to a “higher purpose.” 

At Infinite Green, we advise our clients to bring these two groups together, and then just let the value of the collaboration spring to life. Some of the best co-designed experiences happen when CX, Brand, and Operations come together. So why don’t more companies do it? 

-Jon Blum

The Bigger Picture

By Business, Scott

As a consultant, I get the opportunity to provide an outside-in perspective to clients. Some of them request this perspective asking questions such as “What is the rest of my industry doing?” or “How do other contact centers approach this problem?” They are genuinely curious about how to leverage the learnings of others and apply it to their own business problem. Others are not so open to this type of outside-in perspective. Often times, clients take a defensive stance trying to justify that their operation is so unique, benchmarks or best practices just don’t apply to them. Usually, this feedback comes from leaders that have grown up in the operation for many years. These leaders get so attached to their own operational construct, that any process or operational suggestion meets with a closed minded and defensive response. The resulting business outcomes are predictable, little change in customer satisfaction scores, operational metrics, and employee engagement scores. Worse yet, your company gets outpaced by your competition.

The challenge comes in how you get your leaders into a position to see things with a different lens. Many companies send their teams through some kind of packaged leadership training program. Others, send them to conferences where they see presentations / best practices from others who have faced the same business challenges in the hopes that they will come back and try to apply some of these to their companies’ operation. In either case, there isn’t enough emotional investment to make real change happen. Some minor changes may occur, but nothing of real business value.

From my experience, the most material changes in operational results occur when leaders have an emotional and vested connection with overall company outcomes. Instead of holding them accountable for handle time, utilization, productivity, and other standard contact center metrics, try holding them accountable for company level metrics. Sales / revenue growth, customer acquisition, shareholder value, and other top level score carded metrics for the company’s executive team. This will force contact center leaders up and out of the operation and talk to other leaders about how the contact center contributes to the company bottom line. So, instead of looking at handle time as a measure of success, they will start looking at company value per contact. This will result in your contact center connecting the dots to other business processes throughout the company, which will in turn drive real business value.

I often ask “C” level leaders what value their contact center provides to the company. More often than not, they can’t answer the question. I have a standard response for these situations. “Close down your contact center for a week, and your customers will certainly tell you where the real value is.”

Now, go change something!

2 min check in – Do you have an inner circle?

By Business, Jon

Chances are you have had an influential leader or mentor over your career who has provided good advice, thoughts on changing jobs, how to work on being promoted, or ways to approach a difficult situation. These people tend to be relevant in the moment and serve a singular purpose, but do you have an inner circle “team” or a few individuals who can inspire, give critical feedback, can open up their network to you, or challenge you to grow beyond your own comfort zone?

Jordan Spieth is a very famous 22-year old professional golfer and has grown to great heights in a short period of time. He is a perfect example of having a professional “inner circle” or team of supporters that balance inspiration with personal fitness, wellness with management consulting and leadership, and wealth management with philanthropy advice. Needless to say, Jordan’s golf coach Cameron McCormick works on different areas of Jordan’s game than his clothing and outfitting provider, Under Armor. His equipment sponsor Titleist is going to ensure his clubs and balls for tournaments are tuned and available, and yet they also watch him to ensure he is performing up to the Titleist brand and continues to win so they can sell more products.

Last Sunday, I attended a dedication service for my niece Harper and the pastor of the church talked a little about this topic. His point was that on our best day, we are outcome oriented people who sometimes need affirmation and sometimes need direction. If we are left up to our own thoughts, we are typically our own worst critics and may not be able to see beyond our own inadequacies. I equate it to my professional life and in short, a few things I have learned over time can be summed up in my list of “I need,” and “I don’t need” items:


So my challenge to you is this. Who do you have in your inner circle? If you don’t have one, find one or two people who are invested in you and willing to work with you. If you have one already, then make sure you have your list of “I needs” and “I don’t needs” figured out so you can ensure you have the right outcomes defined for you.  And if your current situation isn’t working for you, change it out.

Try something new!

Jon is a co-founder of Infinite Green which has served over 70 clients in 7 years, with a return value of over $800M in sales growth and cost reductions during that period.

How I found an extra month of time in Q1, and in addition, greater business clarity in 2017!

By Business, General, Jon

Back in December I went through my typical reflection of the past 12 months, what could I have done differently/better, who’s businesses were better because of Infinite Green, and was my personal life more balanced and more fulfilling? After a few deep thoughts, I pivoted quickly into “looking ahead” because I am typically an optimist. I was just about to fall into making a few resolutions, but this time I wanted to do something different.

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How obvious are you?

By Business, Jon

How would you describe your approach or attitude at what you do? Are you an optimist? An achiever? An enabler? What word best describes your skills, your passion, and your work product, all in one? I wake up on most days feeling empowered to go “slay the dragon,” and am excited about the challenges put in front of me, but is that a successful perspective on the days where I may not be so optimistic?

I want to share something that changed my way of thinking and I hope it gives you perspective as well.

Infinite Green is in the process of hosting networking events over the next few weeks. As part of our brand, we bring people together and focus on what it takes to create great customer experiences. We help companies elevate their environments to obtain recognition in their verticals resulting in improved customer satisfaction, brand awareness and financial success. Well, in 6 years of “selling” our services, I just got schooled around how to be more on purpose about customer experience and what we claim to be “experts” in at Infinite Green, and personally was taught a lesson on how critical this is to being more successful every day. Let me tell you a story about something cool that happened at our office a few days ago. Here is the truth…

Around noon the other day, Dave, who owns a small local printing shop and was hired by one of our technology partners to make a few signs, knocked on our door and walked in. He came right up to where I was sitting and held out the signs he was asked to make for us. Not being one to shy away from a quick connection and possible add to my LinkedIn database, I commented on how it was a great day to be outside and he replied that it was a nice walk over from about 4 blocks away. I was immediately impressed that he took the time to hand deliver our signs when I fully assumed we would pick them up in the next day or so for our event more than a week away. The signs were done very well, he delivered them with care, and took the time to personalize his visit by shaking my hand, asking my name and thanking me for our business. Obvious, right? Simple yet value-added and effective service. Seemed legit.

I asked him for his card (which he had left back at the shop), gave him mine, and asked him to email me when he got back so I could follow up with another printing request just presented to me not more than 10 minutes before and greatly needed for the next day’s event. He made a funny comment about having no problem printing “a million color copies for me” and of course followed through over the next hour by contacting me and pricing out my rush order, giving me an ultra-competitive bid and then agreed on a 24 hour turn. I thanked him for his service, and he responded with an amazing reply. “Not ashamed at being obvious – we want to earn your business.” He had me. He earned my business and everyone else whom I could tell. But it didn’t stop there.

About 2 hours later Dave showed up with my rush order signs in hand. Obviously, this is a guy who exceeds expectations. What’s the catch? The story? You see, Dave is not just a printer. He is a connector. I had to know what his motivation is and where his drive comes from.

Dave’s message, like his work product was obvious. Dave is an architect by trade who has designed places all over the world. He got into printing because of his love of design, active pursuit of seeing his designs come to life, and through an introduction to rapid prototyping and fabrication at one of the first “Fab Lab” locations at Century College – . After seeing this lab, he immediately wanted to design them in schools across the country to connect in a way that the next generation learns, and at a greater level.  Dave is obvious about his passion, he is deliberate about doing something about it, and fortunately doesn’t back down from a few roadblocks. Other schools would surely want this for their students, right? Well his concept and design landed in a few places, but mostly got hung up in political, budgetary, and less than progressive decision-making in many school districts. So how does Dave take these challenges and manage to stay focused through the noise? He remains obvious about his passion, and is relentless about the end game.

Dave sees 3-D printing and 2-D printing as a way for people to realize their ideas faster, test and try a concept, and then see it in practice again, and so on. He is obvious about wanting to lead the charge and institute this vision as far and wide as he can, but he also sees the bigger picture. He saw PostNet  as a way to share his idea for printing solutions in schools, to connect people to their ideas and dreams, and as a means to foster this test and try attitude with businesses. He bought a franchise and is living his dream. When I looked up PostNet’s core focus, here is what I found:

“Helping Others Succeed is Our Passion. Building Relationships that Make Business Easier is What We Do Best.

As Dave finished his story and left our office, I was brought back to my waking moment that morning and the fact that no matter what gets in my way, I am going to be obvious about my service to our clients, obvious with my relationships and passions, and obvious about removing barriers for any and every one I can help. I don’t need optimism every day to do my best, but I have found a different word to describe how I will start my day.  Obvious and intentional about whatever I am doing, or whom I am doing it for, is how I focus or refocus during the day. It’s a better frame than sharing how boring my lunch was, or how someone wronged me, or how bad my favorite sports team performed last night.

What are you going to be obvious about today?


Chief Illuminator

Culture as a Platform

By Business, Scott

For anyone that knows me, I am not a big fan of industry buzz terms.

The “Internet of Things,” “Big Data,” and “Omni-Channel” are the latest examples that drive me bananas. Not because they don’t have foundational meaning and value, because they all do. It’s because they get bastardized into products and services that sell the promise of more revenue, improved customer experience, or reduced expense without the slightest understanding of how a particular company operates its’ business or how skilled and diverse the level of talent is.

The true value of these products or services is derived from how adept the company is to operationalize the insights, tools, processes, data, scorecards, visualizations etc. into meaningful change. This ability to consume, take advantage of, and operationalize change is where the true value of these investments occurs. Unfortunately most times, if you build it, they will NOT come.

So, why don’t more leaders understand the level of change / talent management required when making a significant platform investment? Because it’s expensive to take the time and do the right level of assessment of the companies’ ability to change, adapt, or have the right skills to operate in the new construct.

The true cost of the investment should include the time it takes to train or find new talent to be able to operationalize change across the organization. Most of companies’ existing leaders were hired to perform against existing metrics, tools, and processes. They will resist change until you give them a compelling reason why it will benefit them and even then it won’t get adopted if there is any stumbling block that impacts their performance. Delays in dates, changes in scope, and incomplete metrics will shut down change in a hurry. This often leads to projects that get cut far short of their potential, resulting in companies saying “we tried that, and it didn’t work” even though only 10% of the original vision was put into everyday practice. Even worse, a company deploys a partial solution that adds more complexity, another system, and more steps to a process taking it even longer to service customers. This leads to a degrading of service and an increase in cost.

What is a leader to do? How does one even start on this type of journey without avoiding these pitfalls? In my experience, companies that continue to innovate, change, perform, and adapt all share one quality: they leverage their strong culture as a platform. What do I mean by “platform?” Webster’s dictionary defines it as “a declaration of the principles on which a group of persons stands.” It’s not enough to declare what your culture is. I have seen plenty of companies that state that innovation, change, risk taking, etc. is part of their culture, but when you get under the covers, nobody is holding anyone accountable to these attributes, they are not written in to the hiring guidelines, and it’s obvious it’s just not in their DNA. This culture platform should be informing leadership on their readiness to change or adopt new operating tools, processes, and constructs. When a specific group starts to fall off the platform, it is easily recognizable and others help to course correct. They don’t simply say, “That’s their problem.” Culture at high performing companies is everyone’s responsibility and should not be used to get a leg up, compare one department to another, or as an excuse when things don’t go well.

Culture as a platform isn’t easy to obtain, it takes time, focus, and the right talent management approach. High performing companies like Intuit, USAA, and Amazon all take advantage of this approach and they have consistent, high performance year over year. Intuit’s culture platform is focused on creating “awesome” customer experiences. It’s the culture platform that drives product development, customer support, and web site design. When some process, employee, or tool isn’t in alignment, the platform identifies it and makes quick course corrections keeping that culture platform very stable and focused. Having a strong culture platform allows these companies to quickly adjust to changing market conditions and take advantage of the latest tools on the market. They don’t have to invest time in the change management assessment mentioned above giving them a significant cost and time advantage.

So next time you are involved in a large company initiative, ask yourself “Is our companies’ culture ready of this?” Not asking this question is why most of these investments don’t live up to the promise that leaders want to invest in. Most likely, the scope of the project will need to be adjusted to fill in the culture void that exists across the company. It will cost more over time, but it will also avoid some of the typical project pitfalls. I would recommend leaders focus on developing a culture platform as an accelerator to get to their business outcomes faster rather than focusing on large investments. Having the right talent all engaged and focused with the right set of guiding principles can outperform products and services buzz terms hands down.

Now, go change something!

Scott McIntyre
Chief Instigator – Infinite Green

Infinite Green Partners with Artificial Solutions

By Business, Latest News, Press Releases, Technology

Infinite Green Partners with Artificial Solutions to Enhance Customer Experience Strategies with Differentiated Artificial Intelligence Powered Self-Service Solutions

Infinite Green a global consulting firm specializing in customer experience design, development, and operations announced today that it has signed a partnership agreement with Artificial Solutions, the natural language interaction (NLI) specialist that enables users to have meaningful, humanlike interactions with technology across channels of service.

This partnership will allow Infinite Green to add conversational solutions to their portfolio of services and amplifies Artificial Solutions’ presence in the U.S. market.

“Every customer should expect and receive excellent service, regardless of the technology they are using or the channel they choose to interact with companies. We help companies understand that an interaction with a customer is an opportunity to reinforce brand messages, drive revenue and loyalty, and prove the importance of creating great, consistent customer experiences for their clients,” says Jon Blum, Chief Illuminator and co-founder of Infinite Green.

This vision fits perfectly with Artificial Solutions proposition for the market, Teneo®, a platform that allows companies to develop conversational solutions that can be used to provide omnichannel and highly personalize customer experiences.

“Solutions built with Teneo® deliver the intelligent, personalized user experiences their clients want today, and the natural language capabilities to grow the Artificial Intelligence enabled experiences that will be demanded in the future,” Andy Peart, Chief Strategy Officer of Artificial Solutions. “Together with Infinite Green we look forward to helping companies wow their customers with humanlike intelligent conversations while getting instant actionable data that can help shape future products and services”.

AI is quickly becoming part of our everyday lives, hence it makes sense that companies use it to deliver great customer experience too. But the practical applications and where they fit within great experience design can be challenging for companies to deliver. Implementing AI powered self-service solutions can be the first step of the journey towards digital transformation for companies that want to remain competitive yet are not ready to completely change their structure. Teneo®, allows enterprises to rapidly build a range of artificially intelligent natural language applications in 35 languages, running over any OS, on any device, in record time and without the need for specialist linguistic skills.

The Teneo® platform clearly focuses on the conversational language as the key starting point, rather than how well each use-case process can answer singular questions. The interface and ease of building from there is where this truly gets exciting. This is the difference that Infinite Green sees as a game changer.

“We all know what the robotic voices of a phone menu sound like, but functionally where they typically fail is at the basic levels. Artificial Solutions has given us new energy around existing client projects and also those who needed to wait until their foundations were more established before introducing these types of applications,” says Blum “In a sense, we can help companies do business faster, and at a steeper trajectory towards customer experience excellence too.”

About Artificial Solutions:

Artificial Solutions® is the leading specialist in Natural Language Interaction (NLI), a form of Artificial Intelligence that allows people to converse with applications, websites and devices in free-format, natural language, using speech, text, touch or gesture.

Its enterprise-strength, conversational AI platform, Teneo®, allows business users and developers to collaborate on creating humanlike NLI applications that run across 35 languages, multiple platforms and channels, all in record time without the need for specialist linguistic skills.

Artificial Solutions’ NLI technology makes it easy for enterprises to benefit from a wide range of natural language applications such as virtual assistants, conversational UIs and data insights. Its technology is deployed by hundreds of public and private sector organizations and used by millions of people. For more information visit

About Infinite Green:

Infinite Green Consulting Inc. is an experience design and development firm headquartered in Minneapolis Minnesota, with additional offices in Atlanta, Los Angeles, Denver, and London England. Infinite Green specializes in customer-facing experience optimization, technologies that support better employee and customer experiences, Omni-channel acceleration, and the skilled resources to drive operational sustainability.

Infinite Green has driven successful engagements to over 125 clients since 2009 and has returned over $5B US in value via increased revenue, measurable loyalty improvement and cost containment solutions during that time period. For more information go to

When Domain Expertise Gets In The Way Of Change

By Business, General, Scott

So, your contact center has been in place for many years. It probably started many years ago from a few people taking phone calls during regular business hours and has developed into a multi-site, multi-channel, multi-shift operation. What started as an agile team adjusting to shifting and changing customer needs and quickly expanding products and solutions, is now changing at a snails’ pace and not keeping up with company or customer’s needs.

What really has changed? Just because the operation is larger doesn’t automatically mean it takes longer or is harder to change. There are great examples of large organizations with the ability to quickly change at scale. Intuit software has over 5000 agents on the phone supporting customers across the world and their product changes every year to support new tax code. Their product has moved from desktop software to software as a service. Their customer segments and products continue to grow year over year and they continue to be a high growth company with no signs of slowing down.

So, if sheer size isn’t the barrier, the next culprit must be tools or systems. You didn’t have complex tools or systems when you were a smaller operation and were able to change quickly. Why do you need something different as a larger organization?  Companies like Zappos, USAA, and Amazon don’t have complex tool sets to service customers and have some of the highest customer satisfaction ratings of any company across any vertical and also have large, complex contact center organizations.  Granted, there are tools that would help facilitate more efficient and effective changes across an organization, but lack of tools isn’t a barrier for these companies and they don’t use it as an excuse not to keep up with change.

There is one common thread I have observed in the 50+ companies I have worked in and tends to be the root cause that prevents change. That common thread is people with too much domain expertise.  They have glued together processes, duct taped systems, and used their ingenuity to keep the operation afloat in the most efficient and effective way possible. Don’t get me wrong,  I admire these people. They have to span the organization, keep up with change, provide insights to multiple audiences, reduce operating expenses, and try to explain to the CEO why they missed service levels at 11:30 PM for a couple of calls while they answered 10,000 calls within service levels throughout the rest of the day.

Over time, they get too close to the fragile operating model they have built. A once agile operating model where change was the norm must now flow through a few people because of the self-induced complexity created over time. They lose the true essence of what got them in business in the first place, providing a differentiated experience to the customer. They now fall back on process, regulations, costs, metrics, quality, industry vertical knowledge, and a myriad of other excuses to not change. They find comfort in this. Every customer issue that surfaces in the operation is a fire they alone must battle and at the end of the day they feel a sense of comfort knowing that they solved a few customer issues. They lose outside-in perspective, and now are the most resistant to change. Once motivated by company growth and culture, has switched them to fear, defensiveness, and knowledge hoarding.

When you identify this behavior, what do you do? Most leaders often try to rationalize with these operators. Trying to fix things one at a time. It’s like a game of whack-a-mole. One issue gets pounded down, another one or two pop up and as the game progresses, you never seem to make headway. You must look at your operation from the top down, not from the bottom up. I have seen companies invest millions of dollars on expensive consulting engagements only to get a bottoms up list of things to fix. Most of them sit on the shelf collecting dust because they fixed one thing, and two new issues popped up that needed to be solved. Time to remodel and move the furniture around to get a new perspective and don’t be afraid to break it.

Ask yourself, what value do you want from your contact center operation? If you can’t answer that question, think about what would happen if you shut the contact center down completely. That value statement should inform everything from hiring guides, to SOP, to performance goals.

Now, go change something!

Scott McIntyre

Chief Instigator

The 2015 Service Supported Contact Center

By Business, General, Scott

Contact centers have gone through significant change over the past several years, the most significant being the use of cloud based services. These cloud services allow companies extreme flexibility and platform reliability without the hassle of upgrades, maintenance contracts, and slow IT response time to requested changes. These services are now mature enough to handle every aspect of a contact center’s technology needs with out the need of a large IT support team and millions of dollars spent to maintain it.

Tools like inContact, Corvisa, and 8 x 8 can do everything the old legacy ACD systems like Avaya, Cisco, and Aspect can do. I would argue that they can do it easier, cheaper, and you only need to pay for the capacity that you use versus investing for peak volumes. Infinite Green has implemented a few of these new cloud based tools and based on our experience, these tools can be designed and deployed in a fraction of the time that it would take with premise based hardware and software solutions. The same could be said for CRM or service based platforms including Zendesk, Spice, and Salesforce. These platforms contain all the functionality needed to provide a great customer experience including knowledge management, community, reporting, and scripting tools. For other specialty services you may already have running in your operation, these tools also come with pre-built adapters that allow for easy integration with other service based applications.

I remember a time when I was the business owner of a large contact center operation for a fortune 100 company where I was quoted $1 Million dollars and 9-12 months to turn on an outbound dialer on ourcomplex Cisco contact center environment. Not only did it cost me all of my project dollars that year, it still didn’t work by the end of the project. I had spent all that time and resources on something that we couldn’t even get working. Fast forward to today and Infinite Green has had many projects where with a few simple design elements and requirements, we turned up a full suite of integrated channels including outbound dailers in less that 4 weeks and most of that time was spent with change management issues in the operation.

Technology is not the barrier anymore, it is quite the opposite. I would argue that it would take longer to run through a change management cycle within your operation than it would to make significant changes to your contact management or CRM service platform. They are that easy to change. If you haven’t had experience with these service platforms, I highly recommend you check them out. Carve out a small piece of your contact center operation and give them a test drive.  Find someone on your team that has some technical skills and is curious about how these tools work. Give them a sandbox environment to play in and give them a month to develop a good understanding of how they operate. My guess is you will have an actual proof of concept up and running with live customer calls in no time and would never even consider going back to your legacy platforms ever again.

Scott McIntyre

Chief Instigator – Infinite Green

Have you ever?

By Business, Jon

Have you ever had someone take credit for your ideas? Have you ever found out later and then wanted to get even, or did you take the high road and let the past go?

In 1794, Eli Whitney patented the cotton gin and unfortunately at the time, due to infringement issues, he made very little money on the invention while others got rich. On this day (January 14) in 1799, he was awarded a government contract to produce 10,000 muskets and was the pioneer in mass producing standardized interchangeable parts, and is listed as one of the fathers of American manufacturing.

The point here is that in the 5 years between introducing his first major patent and having others steal his ideas, he was able to channel his energy into new and better ideas instead of getting caught up in a long fight and focusing on a losing battle. I’m not saying don’t fight for what is yours, but in all reality, taking the high road and focusing on the next idea should teach you a few things, puts your efforts towards a positive outcome, and keeps the control in your hands. 3 things that we can all rally around, right?

You may be known for the “cotton gin,” but will benefit from the “musket.”