I am CEO

CEO Helps in Scaling Small Businesses with Personalized Communication

Full Episode from I AM CEO Podcast - IAM2005

It's easy for businesses to lose the personal touch that sets them apart. However, Richard Culberson, CEO of Moneypenny's North America operations, understands the importance of maintaining a human-centric approach by providing call answering, live chat, and bespoke intake services.

Moneypenny aims to be the reliable front door for small businesses, ensuring their customers feel connected and valued. In this blog post, we dive into Richard's insights and accomplishments, explore Moneypenny's unique client journey, and uncover the secret to their success.

Richard Culberson's leadership at Moneypenny has transformed the company's approach to communication services for small businesses. By connecting on a personal level, tailoring their services, and embracing positivity and curiosity, Moneypenny has established itself as a trusted partner for businesses across the UK and the U.S.

As Richard continues to shape the organization and expand its offerings, Moneypenny remains dedicated to being the front door for businesses large and small.

Website: monypennny.com/us

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Full Interview:


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Richard Culberson Teaser 00:00

It takes you out of the clouds and start talking about what really their problems are. Versus the more esoteric. And here's a great idea. And let me tell what I could do for you. be able to say I know sometimes you used to answer the front door, like that's a real problem.

So that's where we try to connect and make sure that kind of used the analogy of we are the front door to small businesses, being able to say, we need to represent when a customer, when your customer walks in, it needs to feel like we're part of your business.

Intro 00:23

Are you ready to hear business stories and learn effective ways to build relationships, generate sales, and level up your business from awesome CEOs, entrepreneurs, and founders without listening to a long, long, long interview?

If so, you've come to the right place. Gresh values your time and is ready to share with you the valuable info you're in search of.

This is the I Am CEO Podcast.

Gresham Hakrless 00:52

Hello, hello, hello. This is Gresh from the I Am CEO podcast. I have a very special guest on the show today. I have Richard Culbertson. Richard, excited to have you on the show.

Richard Culberson 01:00

Excited to be here. Thanks for having me, Gresh. It's great to be here.

Gresham Hakrless 01:02

Yes, absolutely. You're doing so many phenomenal things. So of course, before we jumped into the interview, I want to read a little bit more about Richard, so you can hear about some of those awesome things.

And Richard is. CEO of Moneypenny's North America operations, where his role is to strengthen the organization's rapid growth in the U S and boosts its plans to grow the North American business, both organically and through acquisitions.

As the customer communications leader, Moneypenny supports businesses of all shapes and sizes across the UK and U S with call answering live chat and bespoke intake services. Moneypenny with over 1200 people is proud to have been part of the 100 best companies to work for. Be recognized as a great place to work and be recognized by Forbes advisor as best answering services in 2023.

Moneypenny's group includes award-winning companies, VoiceNation, NinjaNumber and AlphaPage. Richard is taking Moneypenny's North America to the next level in terms of expanding its contact centers, teams and continue to grow the business.

And I was listening to a snippet where he was interviewed in the Metro Atlanta CEO. I think, and I love that he talked about how important it is to have a human-centric business and how important that is to the extension of the work that they do, because they of course work with people and they have support people as well too.

And like I mentioned the awesome numbers of the number of people they have on their team, the number of people and how Pushing things forward.

But I read some numbers that they handle over 20 million calls, 21 for and chats for 21, 000 businesses, which is nothing to scoff at. And of course, we had group chief CEO, Joanna Swash on episode number nine one nine of our podcast. So super excited to have you on the show. Richard, are you ready to speak to the I Am CEO community?

Richard Culberson 02:42

No, that's great. It's a, that's a mouthful. Hope I can live up to half of it and give some information for the audience.

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Gresham Hakrless 02:46

Hey, you're already living it. So then now we're just trying to capture it so that we can learn more from you. So I guess to kick everything off, let's rewind the clock here. A little bit more on how you got started with a call your CEO story.

Richard Culberson 02:57

Yeah, sure. A little bit of background myself. So I'm a reform consultant. I was extension for about a decade. Started off technology consulting. Really want to understand how things worked, if you will. And then one things I fell in love with my second tour duty with Accenture was during nursing, how businesses work.

So I went to business school, went back and generated more of a strategy and a management consulting background. It's like a Sam or Ford consultant then move forward into Cox enterprises. Great private family-owned business that's based in Atlanta on telecommunications side. Really want to roll up my sleeves and get a little bit more experience actually getting into business.

Love my experience, great business for anybody who works with them, both on the media side, on the automotive side or on the cable side of the business. But that's where I really loved and fell in love with smaller businesses. So, in Cox, it was privileged to get the opportunity to stand up a couple of new businesses, including HomeLife, which is a home security and smart home services business.

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And that's where I really got in love with this idea of growing and scaling businesses which really brought me up to Moneypenny. Just a tremendous business. Got a great history in the U.K. We're expanding in the U. S. Both organically and organically, as you mentioned. So product acquisition.

We are still in the marketplace with the brand of VoiceNation as well as AlphaPage. All of those have gone through, brought a lot of tremendous people in place with us and great clients we work with.

Gresham Hakrless 04:14

Nice. I absolutely love that and appreciate, hearing, your love for small business.

How's that fuels you? And I'm sure it definitely helps out as far as you being able to maybe understand and be able to connect with the clients that you all ultimately, serve and make that impact with to.

Richard Culberson 04:25

It takes you out of the clouds and start talking about what really their problems are. Versus the more esoteric. And here's a great idea. And let me tell what I could do for you. be able to say I know sometimes you used to answer the front door, like that's a real problem. So that's where we try to connect and make sure that kind of used the analogy of we are the front door to small businesses, being able to say, we need to represent when a customer, when your customer walks in, it needs to feel like we're part of your business.

And that's respect. And you trust, and you put in part of our business to be able to say, when we opened up, will we treat your customers for respect? We know your business and how do we have that empathy with everyone interact with, because we need to be an extension of their businesses. And you start to really understand that once you've been in their shoes, I'd love to claim to be an entrepreneur, but I'm much more on the scaling side.

I just have that respect for somebody who's that passion idea. This is my baby. That's a real privilege. And we have to take that seriously.

Gresham Hakrless 05:13

Yeah, that makes so much sense. But I imagine, Being on a scaling side, still having that the ability to have rolled up your sleeves to have that impact and have those experiences.

I'm sure that probably helps out as far as like being able to make sure that you're submitting and probably even articulating the solution that you're providing so that you can all scale and be able to make that impact on a bigger and grander level.

Richard Culberson 05:33

Now, and I think that's one of the things you'll see in this rich history of this.

And I'm sure Joanna probably spoke about this with you earlier of we have to constantly evolve to that. So whether we're talking about by sector. So what are the needs of a small law firm or a large law firm? Because we do both small and large business. I like to say that we help small businesses look large by being that front door when they're trying to focus on their core competency, whether that's a dry cleaner, a lawyer, a plumber, but we also help larger businesses look small by keeping it personal, keeping that home touch.

So we don't do the large outsourcing deals. We like to keep it smaller, more personal, and that's our sweet spot. And we think that's how we differentiate.

Gresham Hakrless 06:12

Yeah, that makes so much sense. I love how powerful that is. So I know you touched on. Upon a little bit of the brands and everything. Could you take us through? If you didn't cover anything about like how you're actually serving the clients, how that looks and what that process looks like when they give you a phone caller or you can chat with you?

Richard Culberson 06:27

Sure. Very proud of something we focus a lot on is that client journey. So I talk a lot about it. So as. The client is coming on. How do they learn about us? How do we get them started off on the right foot? And I think we do take a little bit of a different approach in the marketplace. So we are in the market with Voice Nation as a brand, as well as Moneypenny in the U.S.

And so we're evolving into that one operating model, one way to work. But we think right now, what we've seen is in the past, a lot of small businesses have come to into the VoiceNation brand. Versus the MoneyPenny has been more of a dedicated receptionist. So, that Sally is your person.

Here's that works. So we have a couple of different value propositions in the marketplace, but what we do is when you get in touch with us, we do have an inside sales team that basically takes your call and says, what are your needs? How can we best fit that and mold that into that experience? Which then I think 1 of the things that we had a little bit different is we have a dedicated what we call an onboarding team.

They will sit and that's that linchpin in the middle that starts to say, what are your business needs? So, as a plumber, you need us 24, 7 bilingual be able to answer and we can either make that a very specific script. We'll do exactly what you tell us to do, or we'll have it nice and fluid. That's very personal for these businesses and how we do that.

So we put that on boarding stuff to make sure we get that exactly how you want us to sound and how to be a part of your business. And then we take great pride in them running that and operating that we have account management to make sure we're constantly tech-based and saying, do we need to change this?

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Do we evolve this? Both reactively to the client's needs and proactively of saying, Hey, we see something doesn't look quite right. Wouldn't you like if we do this? So I think that's a little bit different on leaning in proactively to onboarding and setting it up, right? So we always come across appropriately, but then checking in and making sure we're evolving with your business as well, because everything's dynamic and changing over time.

And that's a combination of technology and people trying to make sure we've got a platform in place can have that customization. It could flex as we need to. We don't take a single approach. But then that's just really, most importantly, our people are our product. They're on the phones, they're representing your business.

So how we hire, how we train, how we treat those people, even coming down to the office environment that we've created, we take great pride and we've invested in our office in this great, we call it the middle where we've got food and people can engage and talk. And what are you saying? What are you doing?

How's your weekend? I just firmly think that creates a different culture and a different environment then. That legacy content of a call center, we take great pride in being receptionists and be able to part of that part of the business versus just transaction.

Gresham Hakrless 09:04

Yeah, I think that makes so much sense. And that's why I love that. Obviously, you have that culture for the people that are on the team, but I love that piece that you mentioned as well to be part of that secret sauce is having that onboarding piece.

Because I think in order to figure out how your, secret sauce works best with their secret sauce, you have to have those conversations and know how you can blend that together.

So I love how impactful. That, first, or maybe even ongoing conversations you have are to that area.

Richard Culberson 09:28

That's a, I guess it's like all good relationships, right? You've got some gives and takes and how do we work and how do we evolve? And it's never really fixed. So, and I think that's one of the ways we do feel different.

Like I mentioned, being a little bit more proactive and keep touching base and building and improving as we go.

Gresham Hakrless 09:42

Yeah, that's huge. So I wanted to switch gears a little bit. And I wanted to ask you for what I call a CEO hack. So this could be like an Apple book or even a habit that you have, but what's something that makes you more effective and efficient?

Richard Culberson 09:54

Sure. I'll say a little bit about this earlier. What is it? And I think everyone's a little differently, so I don't be too prescriptive, but I think. The one thing I found as I've grown up and moved on in my career is that you've got to stay grounded. You've got to be careful about not being in your own echo chamber.

And what I found is, as you get more senior in organization, increasingly, if you're not careful, you can start listening to yourself. You can start listening to people closest to you. So, I think, I guess I'll call it a hack is I literally put a calendar reminder in every month. What is the one way that I can challenge myself?

Have intellectual curiosity on, did I talk to a client? Did I go in? Actually, one of the best checks I've had is talk to your spouse, talk to your significant other, or talk to your family. Can you explain what you do?

How do you come across when you're talking about it? I think when you challenge yourself, you start talking in simpler terms And as a former consultant, I know just how bad it sounds when you start talking the consulting language, I think it's important to do.

So my hack is kind of that, that first day of the month, I put something in, it's just a reminder that says, be grounded, get out of your own echo chamber, go out, get out of the office, talk to a client, talk to a client's customers in our case, but it is talk to your family and friends. It's a great sanity check for, do you understand what you're doing?

Do you understand? Are you changing and evolving the way you need to? And do you have that intellectual curiosity to find out when am I not doing or how could I be better? So that's something that, like I said, there's good days and bad days. I don't always do it tremendously in some cases, but it's something I build on time.

Gresham Hakrless 11:27

Yeah, I love the practicality of actually having that, as a check marker on your calendar and make sure that you're consistently doing that. And so what would you consider to be a little bit more of what I call a CEO nugget?

It's a little bit more word of wisdom or a piece of advice. It might be something you would tell your favorite client, or if you were to hop into a time machine, you might tell your younger business self.

Richard Culberson 11:45

One kind of saying that I talk a lot about team and I guess it's kind of leadership across the board.

It's a little thing that be positive, but ask why. So, and it's sometimes I'm good at some points and some is a little more challenged, but the be positive is assume positive intent. Walk in someone else's shoes. If you come across in that approach and always no one wants to be around a negative person be positive.

So if you become that downer, like that will become that. So if you start always coming in, assuming positive intent, how others come in and you bring that positivity into a conversation, it changes almost every conversation. So I think that's the positive side of it. But I always say, but ask why I alluded a little bit earlier to the intellectual curiosity.

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Like, why do we do things this way? Why am I asking this way? Why don't I change the way that I can do my behavior? Or just peel that on, a little bit further and you understand a problem, a situation or opportunity better. But I think when you bring it all together, that be positive, but ask why can I was like, it's it's a balance.

And I think some people do one side of that equation better than others, like personally, as a reformed engineer and consultant, I like that, but ask why comes very naturally to me. But sometimes I need that reminder on be positive. What is that assuming positive intent? What's someone's incentives and why they're acting the way they are?

And you have such a better conversation? So I think that balance and a constant reminder of there. That's the be positive. But ask why is something I always come back to.

Gresham Hakrless 13:14

Yeah, that sounds so powerful. So now I wanted to ask you my absolute favorite question, which is the definition of what it means to be a CEO.

We're hoping to have different quote-unquote CEOs on this show. So Richard, what does being a CEO mean to you?

Richard Culberson 13:25

It's finding a way, connecting with people, inspiring them, get good people, find people smarter than yourself. Put them in the right spot and then check in with them to make sure they're happy and they're growing.

If they're growing and they're engaged and they're enjoying what they're doing, I just, life's too short. People have a lot of options. They can go a lot of different places, but when you start to get a team together who starts to appreciate who they are and they're genuinely enjoying what they're doing, everything's just so, everything just falls in place.

And I think that's the most important part, finding those people, making sure you're making those connections across them. And like I said, get smarter people than you and just get out of the way. And then check with them. What blockers do they have? How are we in the way? How are we in our own?

Because I think people won't naturally challenge themselves. I think the sort of thing you do, are they stretching themselves? Do they see the strengths in themselves? That's something I've learned, continue to learn is through the mistakes I've made is more than you think you do. So how do you tease that out of people and appreciate the skills they bring to the table and make sure they're using them and see it in themselves.

Gresham Hakrless 14:28

Yeah, I think that's so huge. Especially, from a leadership standpoint, where it's my mind is like a kind of experience. And I think whenever you look at, a position or even being within that leadership role or being a CEO, entrepreneur, business owner, whatever title we might give, you're creating experience from people that are around you.

Richard Culberson 14:44

Sure. And I think that's generally in life, but also if you're looking at from the people, especially in the business that we're in, the people are so important. And like I said, it's, I think it's always the case, but especially for us, that is our product that is our service. This is what keeps us alive and what people value.

So I think if we sit in there, appreciate for both. Our people and also from our clients and the journey they're going through. I think everyone ends up in a much better spot.

Gresham Hakrless 15:08

Yeah, absolutely. So I love the culture that you all have. Richard, truly appreciate that definition. Of course. I appreciate your time even more. So what I wanted to do now is pass you the mic, so to speak, just to see if there's anything additional that you can let our readers and listeners know, and of course, how best people can get ahold of you, find out all the awesome things you're working on.

Richard Culberson 15:25

Sure. No, like I said, we are in the market. So if you look at voicenation.com or moneypenny.com, I'm very proudly here to serve. We're looking to meet the needs of all the small businesses that are looking to need services and so they can focus on what they do best. So I think tried to speak the best when we say we have dynamic services and what the needs are.

So, yeah. Whether it's a fixed, you need 50-minute plans and we into answering services, or you need 1,000 or 10,000. You just need someone to really take this off of your plate. Give us a call. We'll be flexible. We've got a lot of different ways to approach the market. Just want to understand your needs. And we've got the people in place to help serve those.

Like I said, looking to grow and understand more of what all the different industries need. So I think we've got a great team that's ready to serve in that way.

Gresham Hakrless 16:09

Absolutely. I appreciate that. And to make that even easier, we're going to have the links and information that show notes as well, too, so that everybody can follow up with you and find out about all the awesome things you're doing.

So I love that you all do that and remind us how important for us to do that as well too, as leaders. So thank you so much, Richard. I hope you have a phenomenal day.

Richard Culberson 16:24

No, thank you so much.

Outro 16:25

Thank you for listening to the I Am CEO podcast, powered by CB Nation and Blue 16 Media. Tune in next time and visit us at iamceo.co. I Am CEO is not just a phrase, it's a community.

Want to level up your business even more, read blogs, listen to podcasts, and watch videos at the cbnation.co.

Also, check out our I Am CEO Facebook group. This has been the I Am CEO podcast with Gresham Harkless, Jr. Thank you for listening.


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