Leading a Company with a Business Model That’s Changing Lives

I wrote about Televerde in 2017 as a customer. My company then had been looking for a partner that would help us deliver a best-in-class experience to our customers and prospects across all channels. Televerde came recommended to us. While they impressed me with their remarkable business results and customer list, I was also deeply inspired by their business model.

Televerde’s U.S. contact centers are staffed almost entirely by women incarcerated at the correctional facilities in Perryville, Arizona and Rockville, Indiana. It’s a business model that pulls you in because there’s a societal benefit and altruistic element. We feel good about ourselves by giving these women opportunities to grow and transform. But speaking as a businesswoman, the model on its own is not enough to win clients. The model is successful because it gets results. In one year, my former company experienced a 92% increase in win rates, which is directly attributed to the uniqueness and strength of the business model and the robust and intensive training it delivers to its contact center employees.

Jim Hooker had been CEO of Televerde since 1995. When he and I first met, we clicked immediately. As a marketer, I understood the value of a purpose-driven marketing strategy so I was keen to pick Jim’s brain on how he built such a strong socially responsible company that also delivered extraordinary results for customers; and he was eager to share his learnings. When he called in 2018 and asked me to help him strategize Televerde’s business plan for the next decade, I couldn’t resist. Having the opportunity to succeed him now is absolutely exhilarating but I also recognize I have big shoes to fill!

A New Journey of Growth

I’m excited to lead a company that has the experience, know-how and reputation to enter the next big phase of growth on its journey to become the global leader in the demand generation industry. And we’ve set three goals to get us there.

Build capabilities and optimize productivity to drive smart growth. Strengthening the capabilities of our people optimizes the results we deliver to our customers. So the idea of “smart growth” is actually two-fold. It’s a strategic priority for us to rapidly accelerate the investment we’re making in our teams. We want our people focused on work that’s engaging, stimulating and meaningful, which translates into valuable conversations with customers and richer career opportunities for all in the future. We will upskill our teams continuously with the most cutting-edge technology across all channels; and we’ve started doing this already. Working with the Department of Corrections in Arizona, we recently introduced social selling in our Perryville call centers. More and more customers communicate their needs and issues on social media, so there was a real business need to make this happen. Case in point: 1 in 3 social media users prefer social media customer care services to telephone or email. By adding this capability, we enable our people to master a new skill that’s essential for success in today’s digital world. They’re becoming more marketable, which is critical as they reenter society; and we’re expanding communication touchpoints with our customers, which provides them with meaningful experiences.

Combine data intelligence, marketing technology and the human touch to drive revenue for our customers. Our lifeline is being able to serve our customers well. And to serve them well, we need to listen to them. Our call centers are built on balance. We use advanced call center technology to accelerate the sales pipeline, improve the CX and deliver heightened personalization every time. But we’d never be able to do that effectively without the human touch working with it. Human interaction is our secret sauce to nourishing and strengthening the personal connections we work so hard to establish. We will continue to build out our martech capabilities to ensure our teams are reaching and interacting with the right decision-makers, while simultaneously freeing them up to collaborate and strategize with our customers’ marketing, sales and tech leadership teams and provide creative solutions to their biggest challenges.

Expand our business model to create opportunities that transform 10,000 lives over the next decade. Our business model is what gets us up in the morning. We’ll take aggressive steps to expand it to other geos and disempowered communities across the globe. Since 1995, our methodology has successfully transformed the lives of 3,000 incarcerated women in Arizona and Indiana with a reduced recidivism rate of less than 5.5 percent (to put that number in perspective, the national recidivism average is well above 50 percent). While we’re incredibly proud of these numbers, we believe we can do even more. We want to enable 10,000 people over the next decade to find and fulfill their potential. We’ll do this by working with government agencies, legislators, correctional systems, social enterprises and big business. We’ve learned that by partnering with the right entities, we can help address some of the world’s most pressing issues, like mass incarceration, criminal justice and prison reform, drug addiction and recidivism. What’s more, consumers want to do business with companies that are strong corporate citizens and advocates for change. We’ve always been that brand; we’ve just been hesitant to put it front and center. Going forward, we’ll highlight how we deliver exceptional service to our customers and share the accomplishments and transformational journeys of our women to continue creating shared value for our customers and society.

I’ve had my share of rewarding roles and experiences throughout my career but joining Televerde as the CEO is the highlight. What this company has been able to accomplish is remarkable. They’ve created a business model that’s helping companies all over the world succeed, while also changing the lives of incarcerated women—a group that’s been severely stigmatized and largely ignored by those with the power to affect meaningful change. I’m excited for the opportunity to grow this company and I look forward to start writing this next chapter in our Televerde history.

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