Many people that begin a startup sometimes lose sight of the fact that if you come up with a great product and service, you have to test it out in the marketplace and, if you have to, revise or change course depending on the feedback you receive. This type of agile thinking is also now being practiced with larger companies. This is just one growth hack that Zoltan Lorantffy identifies on today’s podcast with Paul Higgins. Zoltan is the Chief Marketing Officer at TalentWorldGroup Plc. who is passionate about growing businesses and supporting progressive brands that uphold strong people cultures and strive to make an impact on society. Tune in for more growth strategies from someone who’s had a very extensive career in the professional services and technology industries.
Growth Hacks For Startups With Zoltan Lorantffy
Build Live Give. Mentoring With Paul Higgins.
Our guest is someone who had many roles including his own startups and also advising other startups. He was consulting or contracting for a contact center and realized he’d stumbled upon a rocket ship and hitched on for a ride. He’s the CMO of the fast-growing, fully work from home contact center which delivers amazing service in any language to brands around the world. You will learn that omnichannel is important in providing excellent customer service and it is a hybrid of people in tech. What is needed to build our work from home culture? How thought leadership is essential in building your brand? As a startup, they are aware of their competitors. I wanted to give you as much as possible, but what we’ve also done is given you an exclusive download which I’ll give you more details on at the end of the show. Over to Zoli Lorantffy from TalentWorldGroup.com.
Welcome, Zoltan Lorantffy, from Talent World Group Plc to my show. It’s great to have you here, Zoli.
It’s lovely to be here with you, Paul. Thank you for having me
It’s my pleasure. We had a lovely conversation when we first met. I can’t wait to share that with everyone reading. Why don’t we kick off with something that your family or friends would know about you that we may not?
I enjoy art and I also play piano. I’ve been playing it for years. I’m a dabbler in the arts as they say, albeit to everyone’s chagrin, but I do my best.
What’s art for you? What do you do?
I’ve done a little bit of painting in the past, although I haven’t had that much time to get back into it. I do play a song here and there. It’s something that I enjoy doing.
Do you compose your own?
I used to. It’s a labor of love, but it also depends on how much time is available. Some days have a bit more time than others. Slowly and surely, I try to get back into some routine.
I remember circa maybe 7 or 8. I lived in a country town and there wasn’t a lot of cultures. I had a friend whose stepfather was a classic pianist. He was a lawyer by trade. He would play in the morning and that’s what you’d wake up to in the house. That sound has never left me. It’s an amazing thing. Unfortunately, my parents tried to destroy the moment because we had a pianola. For readers, that’s where you pedal to play than to actually do it on the keyboard. Every time someone would come to the house, you’d have to play New York, New York or something. They’ll go, “Your son’s an amazing piano player,” but it was just me pedaling away.
I haven’t seen that in quite some time.
You’ve had an extensive career. You had lots of roles which was great because you’ve had that diversity. You’ve also worked for others and you’ve also had your own businesses. Why don’t you give us a quick summary of that elaborate career?
At a high level, I went into the business world. First into banking, then I changed into project management, and then into management consulting. I worked for a few management consulting firms and had clients that were enterprise level. At a certain point, I decided to go out on my own and get into the startup world, which was an incredible learning experience. I’ve always been fascinated by startups and also technology. I gave that a good shot for a couple of years and enjoyed it. I had a startup of my own and advice for other startups on the growth strategies, everything that’s business-related which also includes marketing and sales. I rather fell into TWG from the CEO. I met him in the past. I first advised for the company and are now leading marketing globally as a CMO. That’s the talent I work with.
We’ll certainly learn more about TWG soon, but the startup world. You spent a couple of years in advising having your own and you learned some valuable lessons. What were some of those lessons?
If I had to point out a few, working with clients and all different types of clients. Working with all different kinds of people was an incredible learning experience. Many of my clients were in large corporations and then afterwards, my clients were founders of smaller companies. Understanding how to work with them. I learned how to listen and I still work at that. It’s a lifelong lesson. I’m learning how to handle conflict, but also one of the more interesting things that I’ve learned for the past 8 or 9 years, I’ve been a work from home plus remote worker. For different businesses, I’ve either work from home as an independent contractor, but also I have managed remote teams globally. That has been an interesting experience. What drew me a lot to TWG apart from the business itself was their entire work from home model. I felt that I truly found a home there.
Listening and working with clients, that’s great. Back to the startup, what about the growth hacks? From a marketing and sales perspective, what can everyone reading now take away from your lessons learned?
Be as agile as possible would be my number one suggestion. That is for any sized corporation but especially in the startup world, this is key to success where founders will come up with a product and then they’ll test it out. Depending on what those findings are, decide what to do next. Many people that begin a startup sometimes lose sight of the fact that you have to keep on doing that. It’s a habit. In other words, if you come up with a great product and service, you test it out in the marketplace. It may be the right product, but wrong market, or right market but wrong target audience. Maybe all of that is correct but it’s not the right location. It’s a lot of testing. It’s a lot of getting things out there, and then receiving the intel and revising, and if you have to pivot and change course.
That is the toughest thing for startups to grapple with. That type of agile thinking is also now being practiced with larger companies, especially when we’re trying to create new products and services for the marketplace. The world goes fast so that would be the one piece of information for startups. It’s to learn to fail quickly. That’s one of the sayings that everybody talks about. It’s another way of saying that you have to try things out, test them, analyze them, and based on that information, that will give you the intel to decide what to do next.
You talk about pivot. That is the word for 2020. It nearly gets to the point where people are saying, “I didn’t pivot” versus pivot because everyone’s had to do that. It’s true and taking that agile or taking sprints and tests, all of those things that are in the startup world. I have spent some time consoling myself and bring that into your own business is valuable. There are some great books out there to support that methodology. Search for it and you’ll get a treasure trove of them. We’ll go into the Build section now. When people say, “Zoli, what do you do at TWG?” How do you best describe that?
I lead their global marketing practice. My background is branding, content and digital. We are a global company and we’re 100% work from home. I work with some amazing people and daily we try to figure out the best ways to message what we do both internally and externally.
What does TWG as a group do?
At a high level, we’re a tech-enabled global contact center services company, which means that we work with large clients to provide them with amazing contact center support anywhere on the planet. Since all of our people work from home, we’re able to deliver these services in any language, dialect and culture imaginable.In the startup world, a very key to success is to be as agile as possible. Click To Tweet
The largest telco here in Australia and let’s say their service is probably not at the top of the park as a general rule, but I got sent to their chat function on SMS or text, wherever you are in the world reading. It was quite a good experience. I solved everything. I could do it whilst I did other work and it was enjoyable. For you, what do you see as that the percentage of voice versus non-voice that’s happening in a contact center these days?
There are many advancements in technology especially in the contact center world. What we’re finding is that it has to be a well-blended approach. Customers, especially now, they crave a lot from their brands and seeing as we’ve learned a lot since the pandemic. When the pandemic hit, people were forced to isolate. People found that they were longing for more transparency, higher and higher levels of trust from their brand. That had to be done through digital, but also through a live agent. In the customer-centered world, many people prefer speaking to live agents, but it’s not the only form of communication. It has to be an omnichannel approach, not just live agents or not just technology, but a good combination of both because that is the way that people are taking in that information. It’s one of the wonderful ways that brands can continue to build those relationships between their product, service, and target customers.
Automatically, it comes to me that younger demographic would be more non-verbal versus all of it. Is that the way you’re seeing it play out?
It depends on the product and the service. What you will see is that it depends on people’s facility with technology, but there are certain products and services where you must speak with people. From the contact center world, it can be anything from a survey questions, but it might be troubleshooting, and getting into the specifics about a product or service. What we see is that it’s more the evolution of the contact center agent. As the technology and automation become more advanced, what we see happening is that the first lines of communication might be a bot or some form of automation, but that’s not replacing the agent. What that does is it takes away rather the mundane tasks that an agent does and then allows the agent to be somewhat more of an expert, an advanced person in that particular field.
This is disrupting the contact center model because traditionally speaking, agents in the contact center world were perhaps early in career. Maybe they didn’t finish their education as of yet. Maybe it’s a student that’s looking for this as a stepping stone into something else. It wasn’t seen as a career path. The services that we offer are more in terms of the premium quality service because our agents are advanced in their careers. Seeing as that everybody works from home, we’re able to source the most talented and experienced agents from anywhere on the planet. Borders don’t mean anything in that world anymore. The services that we offer come from agents that are much more further ahead than the typical contact center agent. We also use technology to enrich the entire customer journey that happens.
I worked at Coca-Cola. We used to have large contact centers and the technology was okay. I can see now that companies like yourself that are doing it well has helped with that hybrid. There was the talk in our boardroom that we wouldn’t have any agents by now. It’s the classic case where the technology was quick as the dream wanted to be. That hybrid model is good. You talked work from home. What are some of the key lessons that you can share with us about getting work from home?
Working from home is one of those things that has been around for quite a long period of time. We see that the difference now is how it’s being led by the company and leadership. Traditionally speaking, the way that companies handle working from home is that it’s a temporary measure. Maybe you can work a few days a week if something goes wrong, then let’s put people to work from home. We find that approach is the main reason why companies are having a difficult time. It’s easy to send your workforce home, and then get things started. It’s a whole different thing to keep that going and also have it successful. That’s a different stage, but for that to happen, there has to be a change in mindset within the company.
From leadership itself, it can’t be a simple temporary fix as it were. It has to be a company-wide led movement and driven from the top-down, and also bottom-up. Everyone has to be 100% into it. That’s for an entire organization like ours. For other organizations that are thinking of moving their people or moving their departments. It still has to be something where processes and technology, but also the culture has to shift a bit. When everyone’s at home, you need to recreate that sense of community, connectedness, and people staying in touch. They can’t see each other face-to-face. How then does a company simulate that in a virtual world? These are rather the complexities of working from home. If you’re doing it in a temporary way versus working from home as a proven model for higher productivity for the future.
You talk about that community. What are some specific things that TWG does to make that special for the person or the agent working from home?
We are people-focused and this why we’re a tech-enabled firm. Technology is our friend. We’re buddy-buddy all throughout this. We make sure that all of our teams are connected online through virtual groups. We do that in various platforms where everyone stays connected. We take strong stances on things like corporate social responsibility. I facilitate a biweekly call to talk about all of the initiatives that we do. We energize our people to be active. We have wellness programs to get people moving whether it be exercise, hiking or walking. Just because people are in the cloud, it doesn’t mean that the sense of community and connectedness diminishes. It probably increases more because you have to remain in contact. There are different ways of doing that and every company will have their own way of doing it. What you’re doing is you’re building a virtual culture. It’s an ecosystem and a culture that you have to build. When you look at it that way, it’s different than what we see with companies that are doing it on a 1, 2, or maybe team basis, and then thinking that everyone will come back to the office. It’s a different experience.
In an office environment, you would have a cluster of people doing a similar role in a similar position. That’s like the team dynamic. How do you create those virtual groups online? What’s the size of the cluster? What have you learned from that?
It’s fascinating because we are a company that is over two years old, but we’re profitable. We were profitable after the first 1.5 years. We are not a typical startup at all. We’re scaling to such an exponential growth over 300% a year. What we found is that working from home also helps us scale. The way to do that is to have those teams collaborate closely together. We’re in contact daily, weekly, and monthly. These are different moments of having virtual meetings, collaborations, and then chats. We have basic chats where we are trying to keep people together. We find that takes a life of its own if done properly. Because we’ve had the advantage of being a work from home culture from the beginning, we’ve instilled all of these processes, and then married them nicely with the technologies that we use.
Do you still have teams of six people, teams of eight people? Do you have a manager? Give us a bit of view on the practicalities of how a team works day in and day out?
There are different teams or different departments. Each department will have its own cluster of people. When we’re working on projects, each project will have certain managers and certain line managers. It depends on the projects. Each project will have certain management that will overlook it. As any other corporation or company, we have agents, managers and supervisors. We have more senior roles and C-level suite people, but we run a flat matrix. This is the nice thing about our company. When somebody comes in because we’re also virtual, people speak with each other irrespective of the title that they hold. We make that incredibly clear and this is something that I value. I’ve had in a previous organization too where I have run a flat org in the past. At TWG, we do it quite massively in the sense that when people walk in, the first thing that we tell them is you can talk to anybody here. You can talk to the CEO. You can talk to your fellow colleagues.
How do you specifically run a group? Is it small clusters of teams? Do you have line managers? How does that all fit together?
Like any other contact center or company, we have different teams. We have teams of agents, managers, supervisors, seniors, and then we have C-level suite. What I’ve come to love about TWG is that we’re a flat organization. We have teams that get together, but then we have entire company-wide meetings. When an agent first arrives whether it’s an agent or someone more senior, the first thing we say is that they can and they should reach out to anyone that they please. I have conversations with agents, managers, and people in creative. That’s done on purpose because everyone is responsible for everyone else’s journey in this company. It’s a people first type or organization.
How would they approach you? Is that through Slack? How would they go about doing that?
There are some applications that we do use to stay connected. Some of them are known in the marketplace. Some are not so known but similar to how some companies do it. We also do it quite differently. These apps do serve a similar purpose of staying connected. Whenever we need to get something done through one of these apps, we’re able to all come together, respond quickly, and get those things solved.
You talked before about you’re responsible for the brand and the digital content. What are some of the things that you’re seeing at the moment in that space to acquire new clients?
The contact center world is a rather interesting one in that there are many players. It’s a full and cluttered industry in a way. Oftentimes, it gets a little bit of a bad rap only because of perhaps some notion that contact centers might be a bit of a stuffy environment, and a bit of a boiler room type of situation where people don’t want to be there. That well may be true, but we are certainly disrupting that entire model because we do see that particular model as problematic on a few different fronts. This is why we do have this work from home culture. This is not something that is a temporary measure. This is something that truly has benefits.
What people want to see from contact centers is a high level of service, optimal customer service, the best possible, and customers demand it. That is primary number one. They look for brands like us to be dependable, to be flexible, to understand them, and to understand their customers. At the end of the day, we become the leaders for our brands to their customers. We become the face of them sometimes. We must be on point at every step of that journey. We need to understand our customers. We need to understand their customers. We need to understand what that journey looks like for success. Also, customers demand security. Data and security are paramount for our industry. For us, it’s not something that’s left to the side.
We are stringent when it comes to being top of the line on all levels of security and all certifications. That is something that we have a dedicated team that continuously makes sure that we’re ahead of the curve when it comes to that. Those are some of the attributes we see the customers demand and more and more they demand higher levels of service, but they also demand not just results but transparency. We feel that we’ve had this concept and we’ve tested it up, and it has already worked. This is attributed to our success.Learn to fail quickly. Click To Tweet
You spoke of before that your role predominantly is brand content digital. What are some specific things that you’re doing in that space to drive more clients to TWG?
We feel especially during this time that people want to understand brands more deeply. Social is big. Social allows that content that we have to connect with all different types of audiences whether they be agents, clients, prospects or people that are curious to find out what we do. Content is certainly key. Connecting with our audiences is paramount. We find that during COVID, this is the time to utilize digital especially social.
In social, with content, is it more video-based? What are some of the things that you’re seeing?
We see a lot of different trends happening. Video is making a big splash. We also see thought leadership especially in various areas that we play in as strong. We’re on the side of thought leadership and leading with that, but also showing who we are as a people-led company. There are a few different themes there.
Before we go into the Live section, I’d like to talk about our quiz to help you work out if you are running a profit machine or a sweatbox. Go to PaulHigginsMentoring.com/quiz and answer the questions in less than five minutes. You will be placed in one of four percentage ranges with custom actions including a free 45-minute strategy call and walk away with that clear plan based on your results, and a chance to share your story like Zoli here on this show. We’ll move into a different gear. It’s the Live section. This is about you. What daily habits make you successful?
I’m an early riser like yourself. I get up at 4:30 and I find that a good cup of coffee to start your day never hurts. I’m big on exercise. Preparing for the day before is important for me. I’m seeing it as I’m getting up quite early. There is a bit of a routine with exercise, but it’s also trying to eat right. Try to live a healthy lifestyle with activity. Getting outside as much as possible and moving in between meetings which is good.
The next is the Give section. What is a charity or community you’re passionate about and why?
I have worked before with the Special Olympics here in Toronto. We had the Special Olympics last 2019. We were receiving all of the wonderful athletes that came in from different places in Ontario to compete here. It’s a wonderful movement and seeing how kids are coming in all excited. When they return, how they’ve won all those medals, it does something special to you. That would be my organization of choice.
I give to a charity called the Purple House. It’s PurpleHouse.org.au. I give all the proceeds of my book and also a proportion of my revenue. You can reach out to them to find out more. The last section is the Action section where I ask you some questions and get some rapid-fire responses. The first one is what are your top three personal effectiveness tips?
I would say creativity, focus and drive.
What’s a piece of technology that you couldn’t live without in running or more importantly, Talent World Group Plc. couldn’t do without?
What I couldn’t do without is probably my mobile. That is important. What we couldn’t do without are our laptops and PCs. That falls in line with mobiles too.
What’s the best source of new ideas for you?
Speaking to as many people as possible. People have wonderful ideas. I love getting ideas from anyone that I encounter which is why I ask a lot of questions, and which is why you ask lots of questions yourself.
The last question is the big one. I leave it to the end for that. What impact do you want to leave on the world?
I want to leave something that helps others, whether it helps their daily life or it puts a smile on their face. I am for contributing. If what I’m doing helps your day or makes your life a little bit easier or impacts it in some profound way, that is the legacy that I would like to leave.
It’s been fantastic having you on the show, Zoli. You can find more about Zoli and also the company Talent World Group Plc. at TalentWorldGroup.com. Thanks for being on the show.
Thank you, Paul. I appreciate it.
Zoli had to walk a tight rope here by giving you as much value as he could, but also respecting the fact that they are a young startup and it’s confidential. I’d love to know what is your biggest takeaway from Zoli? Please take a photo of the show cover and share it on your socials mentioning Zoli and TWG, Talent World Group Plc. If you believe someone you know would benefit from this show, please share it. I would love that you forward it. Feel out if you are running a profit machine or a sweatbox quiz at PaulHigginsMentoring.com/quiz. Please take action to build a profitable and sustainable business. As always, stay well.
About Zoltan Lorantffy
Zoltan has a passion to grow businesses and support progressive brands that uphold strong people cultures and strive to make a good regional and global impact on society. With 15+ years of marketing & sales, management consulting experience, holding leadership positions within professional services and technology industries, he is always driven to work with brands on sharing their value proposition story to key audiences.
Growing revenues, managing marketing operations and implementing businesses strategies for start-ups, SMB and enterprise-level companies, Zoltan in addition brings 8+ years of experience managing virtual operations and WFH / remote teams across the world.
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