Craig and Tony co-founded, ListenTrust, which is basically a customer care service company that offers a bilingual, live-agent, English-Spanish sales. Whenever its clients’ needs help in communication in English or Spanish, ListenTrust offers one of the best services because its agent can speak very fluently in both tongues and fix the problem in a very professional way.
Within just about a decade, ListenTrust have been able to generate over $1 billion in sales for clients and with the way things are moving they are very much on track to really boost their revenue by almost 60% in the next two years and were able to save the company when disaster struck the company twice.
Things are quite looking very happy for the result is happy ListenTrust and its clients because the company is very much on track to make an estimated $17million in revenue for 2017, which actually is an incredible increment from the $13.5million they made in 2016. ListenTrust basically makes their revenue from per minute, per hour or the quality of the performance they do on each call they receive or make.
ListenTrust began in 2001 when Craig and Ricciardi saw the opportunity in the call market center, then Spanish-speaking sales and customer agents were really rare to find and very few companies actually had any reason to do business or communicate with Spanish speakers in their native tongue as it were.Fast forward to today: ListenTrust has employed over 1,000 agents who either speak Spanish or English or speak both
According to Handley, “We have skilled agents who deeply understand the sales process and how to sell our clients’ products in Spanish and English,” also, he explains that customer service calls actually consist of about 25 percent sales and 75 percent customer service inquiries and soonest it would be 50/50 within a few years, he predicted.
Why do employers now train their employees to quit?
Training employees to quit.
ListenTrust’s company has a culture that starts on a simple, and on a shocking, premise.
“When we hire you, we tell you exactly what we’re doing: training you to quit,” enthuses Handley. Handley, Ricciardi, and top management work in direct contact with their employees intimating them on the direction the employees themselves want to chart for their lives and help their staff to get there.
ListenTrust has already designed a six pillar of personal development program that takes you directly from career growth plan to that of intellectual growth plan which fits perfectly with what all employees want, so ListenTrust offers one-on-one mentorship, online training, live events and seminars to their staff which would prepare their minds to become very professional in their jobs.
“People see that the fastest way for their dreams to come true is to master our sales process and become an expert,” says Handley.
This six pillar of the personal development program is called DreamTrust internally, and it is creating market-beating success already.
ListenTrust today boasts of an average “save rate” (preventing a return or cancellation) of 15 out of every 100.
With just a client, ListenTrust did outperform significantly less expensive call centers in India and in the Philippines. They had a higher cost in those locations they were still able to make enough revenue that added several million dollars in profit for their client.
ListenTrust was still able to dominate even when they moved into English-speaking call centers. The company took a strategic campaign from a call center that was doing $8 in revenue per each call and grew it to $24 within a month using the same campaign.
“Even with live U.S.-based agents, competitors couldn’t come within $6 of our revenue per call,” says Handley. Handley and Ricciardi actually believe that DreamTrust is just like a competitive moat that competitors can’t do not want to get near. “People think we’re a call center,” says Ricciardi. “But we’re really providing positive ripples in everyone’s lives that make them better in every area.” Also “Our turnover since starting DreamTrust has dropped from 24 percent to 4 percent,” says Handley.
How to build a bulletproof company and culture.
“Our basic working ethics and culture has been our fundamental principle and we have been on it for over a decade” it has not been too easy staying focused on it, says Ricciardi.
During the early phase of the company, there was a down time when Handley got blindsided when some major clients’ reversals and straight down, ListenTrust started losing deals and went down from making $50,000 weekly to making $70,000 loss a week. So Handley had to stay back in Mexico for months just so he could turn the business around.
“We went to every one of our suppliers with extreme cuts,” says Handley. ListenTrust’s suppliers tried to negotiate, so Handley closed nearly all his supplier accounts.
“We had nothing to lose since we were going out of business if we couldn’t turn revenue around,” explains Handley. He decided to let their suppliers sit for up for about two weeks, then he talked with each supplier that they had one very last opportunity to earn ListenTrust’s business back. Even though it was risky, the strategy worked very well which gave both Handley and Ricciardi an opportunity to shave $4 million off its annual expenses and their company profit turned around.
This never gives up mentality, resilience, hustle, and great humor in the face of opposing adversity forms the trademark that guides both Handley and Ricciardi—their unique personalities are the vital secret ingredients to the ListenTrust success story.
Handley got his start cold calling for customers in his mom’s basement and failed his way through three different companies before striking gold with ListenTrust. His reasoning: if he can live the life of his dreams, anyone willing to work hard enough can too.
Ricciardi’s background makes him so passionate and committed to building a brand where his employees can achieve their personal dreams. After he had previously worked in the toxic corporate work organizations, he then decided to make it his career mission to create a bulletproof company culture.
There were set backs during the company’s down time as they were trying to build the incredible foundations and principles because some employees didn’t want to talk about their personal issues and how they affected the overall efficiency of the company in Mexico. “A lot of companies in Mexico and internationally don’t view or treat their employees like we do” says Ricciardi.
“Forrester Research came in to do a study to see how we could improve happiness. There were 45 total questions around things like the cleanliness of the building, our security, and the parking situation,” says Handley.
The research confirmed that a raise of 50 cents per hour had a positive effect on the overall performance of employees, but happiness stayed the same. More interestingly, giving that extra money to charity improved both performance and happiness. One thing to note is that happier employees were found to have better closing rates.
Machine learning with a human advantage.
Today, ListenTrust is strategically planning and solidifying its forged culture in all its branches across every part of the company.
It is now more important than ever when looking at the company’s growth trajectory. The advancements made using machine learning and artificial intelligence, Handley and Ricciardi has a foresight of what call center business would like, it would be one where humans and machines will have to work together. “We believe AI, predictive models, and algorithms are really going to change the type of calls we’re going to handle and how those calls are processed,” says Ricciardi.This technological input would help read and analyze which client is willing to buy or not.
This also means that Handley and Ricciardi are committed to ensuring that ListenTrust’s keeps its human connection directly to its clients and their customers in an always improving manner as much as possible. So far, Handley and Ricciardi have done that by fanning the spark of culture at ListenTrust into a flame, giving the firm an immense advantage over its rivals.
It’s an advantage that shows no signs of abating. “When you ignite something, the fire gets stronger. We’re on fire,” adds Ricciardi.
Entrepreneurs Craig Handley and Tony Ricciardi built a business that’s done more than $1 billion in sales in the last decade on the back of an unbeatable company culture.