Scaling Customer Experience and Operational Excellence: Lessons from Zoho and GardaWorld

Discover how GardaWorld aligned customer experience, operational excellence, and digital transformation using Zoho. Valuable insights for scaling CX and driving efficiency.


Mar 07, 2024

In this episode of CXOTalk, host Michael Krigsman talks with Taylor Wolsey from GardaWorld about the company's journey to align customer experience and operational excellence. As a leading security services provider that has grown rapidly through acquisitions, GardaWorld faced challenges in delivering a consistent, high-quality customer experience across multiple brands, languages, and regions.

Wolsey explains how GardaWorld makes the customer experience the focal point of all operational improvements and digital transformation efforts. By streamlining processes, unifying data, and empowering employees with a comprehensive view of the customer using tools like Zoho's integrated suite of applications, GardaWorld has been able to provide more efficient, informed service. 

Wolsey emphasizes the importance of extensive training and clear communication of the customer-centric vision to ensure all employees are aligned in delivering an exceptional customer experience, which has been key to GardaWorld's success in achieving operational excellence.

Episode Highlights

Align Customer Experience and Operational Excellence

  • Make the customer experience the focal point of all operational improvements
  • Continuously evaluate if you are truly providing the value and experience customers expect

Establish a Customer-Centric Vision

  • Clearly define the desired customer experience and ensure all processes support that vision
  • Communicate the customer-centric vision so all employees understand the end goal

Ensure Consistency Across Brands and Regions

  • Provide extensive training to deliver a consistent customer experience regardless of division, location, or language
  • Recognize the challenges of maintaining consistency after acquisitions and proactively address them

Choose the Right Digital Transformation Tools

  • Evaluate existing systems against new options based on ability to support future growth and vision
  • Consider agility, ease of configuration, and scalability when selecting digital tools

Leverage Zoho's Integrated Applications

  • Utilize the 25+ integrated Zoho apps to create a single source of truth across the organization
  • Empower employees with a 360-degree customer view to deliver more consistent, informed service

Optimize Operations Through Technology

  • Streamline processes, reduce data entry, and automate workflows to boost efficiency
  • Free up staff time to focus on delivering exceptional customer service instead of administrative tasks

Enhance Self-Service Capabilities

  • Provide customer portals for accessing statements and updating billing information
  • Reduce inbound requests and eliminate the need to transfer calls between departments

Drive Consistency with Real-Time Insights

  • Give frontline staff clear targets and real-time visibility into their performance
  • Use dashboards to ensure everyone knows what they need to accomplish to meet customer expectations

Grow Recurring Revenue with Zoho Subscriptions

  • Scale subscription-based services efficiently using Zoho Subscriptions
  • Increase recurring revenue customer base while streamlining billing and retention processes

Achieve Agility and Scalability with Zoho

  • Leverage Zoho's ease of configuration to quickly adapt as the company grows
  • Empower internal teams to make changes and optimizations without relying on external consultants

Key Takeaways

Make Customer Experience the Guiding Light. Align all operational improvements and digital transformation efforts with the goal of delivering an exceptional customer experience. Continuously gather and act on direct customer feedback to ensure you are truly meeting their expectations and providing value.

Empower Employees with the Right Tools and Training. Provide extensive training to ensure all employees, regardless of division or location, can deliver a consistent, high-quality customer experience. Equip staff with integrated digital tools that give them a 360-degree view of the customer, enabling them to provide informed, efficient service.

Leverage Technology to Drive Operational Excellence. Streamline processes, automate workflows, and eliminate data silos by adopting a unified platform like Zoho. Use real-time dashboards and reporting to give employees visibility into their performance and empower them to proactively address customer needs.

Episode Participants

Taylor Wolsey is the national director of operations at GardaWorld Security Systems and Technology. He is a seasoned professional with an extensive background in the security systems industry, currently serving as the National Director of Operations at GardaWorld Security Systems. His career commenced in 2007 at the grassroots level and has since evolved into a national leadership role.

Michael Krigsman is an industry analyst and publisher of CXOTalk. For three decades, he has advised enterprise technology companies on market messaging and positioning strategy. He has written over 1,000 blogs on leadership and digital transformation and created almost 1,000 video interviews with the world’s top business leaders on these topics. His work has been referenced in the media over 1,000 times and in over 50 books. He has presented and moderated panels at numerous industry events around the world.


Michael Krigsman: We're in McAllen, Texas at Zoho Days 2024. We're discussing customer experience, operational excellence, and digital transformation with Taylor Wolsey from GardaWorld.

Taylor Wolsey: My role is to create an easy experience for the customer and how we get the data, get the information to deliver on that experience, is key to that. 

Michael Krigsman: Customer experience and improving operations, operations excellence, are really tied closely together.

Taylor Wolsey: They're essential. They're partners. Without the vision on our customers' experience side of things, what is the point of continuing to improve on the operations side of things? 

Usually, it's to save a few dollars. But you're going to eventually feel the effect of that if your customer experience is not the focal point. 

You need to understand where we're going, why we're going there, and how it benefits our customers. If it doesn't benefit our customers, then what is the point of putting all these processes, all this operational excellence in place if we're still not going to provide that experience to their customers that they either want or expect us to have?

Michael Krigsman: It strikes me that customer experience, operational excellence, and then we overlay digital transformation, and you have this powerful set of concepts that really drive your business forward.

Taylor Wolsey: 100%. It's people, processes (systems), or products that you can evolve and can control. You need all three of them for a positive experience with a customer. 

If you focus on one, that's fine. That's good. You'll get a little bit. But you'll lose out on some of the opportunity that you'll have to provide that experience to that customer, which will then, of course, provide the operational excellence as you focus on that customer's experience and getting them the information that they want to be able to have the experience that they expect.

Of course, it's important to have training and hire the best people. There's a lot of focus on that.

How we go to market, how we communicate with our customers, for me, that's a big part of it.

Michael Krigsman: As you were thinking through this strategy of enhancing or elevating the operational excellence of the company, what were the underlying, foundational elements or how do you go about rethinking an organization to achieve this goal?

Taylor Wolsey: What are we trying to provide to our customers? What value are we bringing, and are we actually, truly bringing that? 

Really evaluating that customer experience, how can we take that to the next level? Are we providing what the customer wants or what they think they want is a big part of it?

We get the feedback directly from the customer. It's usually a lot different than we thought it was.

Michael Krigsman: I find it interesting that you're talking about operational excellence in terms of customer expectations and meeting their needs as opposed to, "Well, we're refining our processes to make them more efficient." Your reference point is back with the customer.

Taylor Wolsey: Absolutely. You have to have the vision of where you're going. Your processes have to lead you into that. Your training has to lead into that.

If your people don't understand or your processes don't understand the vision or have the end in mind, what direction are you going in? You can't complain when you don't get the results that you're looking for because you didn't have it to start with.

Michael Krigsman: What is the relationship between having that customer end in mind and the processes, the efficiency, all of the threads and pieces that comprise operational excellence (at the end of the day)?

Taylor Wolsey: We have different touchpoints along the customer experience right from the beginning: marketing, sales, operations. It could be loyalty in the future. It could be even collections. 

What are our touchpoints associated to that? It could be people that are part of that touchpoint, our salespeople or someone they're talking to on the phone. It could be a product or systems. 

Their experience with that product. If we were selling a poor product, of course, that's going to be a poor experience.

It's the same thing with our systems that we use. If we are not communicating well with our clients or there is an expectation of how that communication happened and we're not meeting expectation, of course, we're not providing that value. 

Our processes, I'll put those all together, whether people and systems and product, making sure that is simple, clear, and concise for the customer. 

Michael Krigsman: When trying to implement this kind of program of customer experience and to make it consistent across such a large geography of Canada, what kind of obstacles arise?

Taylor Wolsey: In Canada, there are two languages, and different provinces have different rules around those languages that you have to follow. We also have multiple brands associated to that.

GardaWorld, of course, is a division of many companies that they've acquired over the years, so multiple brands, always acquiring, always growing that way. And so, it's a constant integration to make sure that we deliver on a quality customer experience.

It is a challenge. For example, we simply went through an integration myself. I come from a company that Garda acquired as an owner of that company. Garda acquired us, and they also have about five other companies they acquired that were similar to us. We put us together to be a national player.

Just simply going through that integration itself and that customer experience (just within that one division), let alone many divisions, and to bring that together to make sure you're consistent with the customer experience from that first sales call to the installation to a service to a phone call to the billing. 

On top of that, we have technology continuously evolving. It's just the expectation of the clients on what you are giving them, the information you're giving them, and how quick you give it to them.

Michael Krigsman: Is there a cultural dimension to this to driving consistency across these various divisions and companies as you're acquiring them?

Taylor Wolsey: For our company, there are lots of divisions. There are lots of acquisitions all the time. There are new people coming in. 

A big part of it is training. GardaWorld, for example in Canada, have a campus just for training to make sure that we provide that same customer experience or do our best to strive for the same customer experience no matter what division you're part of, what location you're a part of, or even what language you speak in Canada.

For example, there are language laws that everything in Quebec needs to be first and foremost in French. That could be challenging, of course, because some individuals may be more comfortable working in English. 

But we're happy to support that, and we may be able to help foster those relationships, those environments, those trainings with our staff to ensure that we provide a quality and consistent customer experience.

Michael Krigsman: There's also a digital transformation aspect to this as well.

Taylor Wolsey: Mm-hmm.

Michael Krigsman: When we talk about digital transformation, generally, that means we're going from a previous state to something new. 

Taylor Wolsey: Mm-hmm.

Michael Krigsman: Can you describe that at GardaWorld?

Taylor Wolsey: There was an acquisition. We were already using Zoho, so Liberty Security was already using Zoho. GardaWorld's existing acquisitions were using a specific software for the security industry, and it has been around for many years.

Obviously, we've had to evaluate what software we're going to use and what tools we're going to use. More importantly, I would say, is who are we going to be in years to come and what tools or what software is going to allow us to evolve into the next stages as our vision continues to grow.

Michael Krigsman: Tell us about those tools.

Taylor Wolsey: We have been a Zoho One user; a Zoho user for about eight years, a Zoho One user for about five years. Liberty Security, which GardaWorld acquired, started out with two applications: Zoho CRM and Zoho Books, eight years ago.

Michael Krigsman: At Liberty Security, you were using Zoho CRM and Zoho Books. How has that evolved today?

Taylor Wolsey: When we first started using Zoho, it was only about 2,500 customers. it wasn't very big. As time went on, Liberty scaled quite quickly to about 30,000 customers across Canada.

As we scaled our business, Zoho CRM, Zoho Books, and then a lot of different applications (whether it was Zoho Forms, even Zoho Expense – something as simple as that) really helped us continue to scale as we grew as a company right up until the acquisition. 

Michael Krigsman: You said that you're using 30 applications from Zoho today? 

Taylor Wolsey: We use about 25 applications. The is some dabbling with some other ones, but I wouldn't say we use them as a whole. But we are very comfortable in the Zoho suite today.

During the integration, we had the VP of IT come and look at our software, of course, and what we're using. He was quite happy and impressed with how we use our software and the versatility of it and what we've gone into, even as a smaller company.

We recently just went through an evaluation of both software: the traditional security system software and then of Zoho. The decision was made to go with Zoho nationally across Canada. Some of that complexity, multiple languages, even multiple brands we're using right now; we chose Zoho.

Michael Krigsman: Zoho calls itself the operating system of business, and it sounds like, in your case, since you're using so many applications, that's really true. 

Taylor Wolsey: I'm an advocate because it can control training, processes, and really the product. I put systems in there, Zoho would be a part of that. 

That really has allowed us to grow as a company. As we want to create more complexity, that's enabled us to do so. 

We spent zero dollars on consultants and third parties. We went directly to Zoho, and we used that. 

Our people became the experts. As a result, the impact that that individual could have on their department was huge. That's what I really love is that we don't have to wait on anyone to improve our systems, to help our people. 

Someone gives feedback. "Hey, it'd be really nice to have this one field in a different location or to look like this." We can actually do it. It's not waiting on someone else to do it. It's not waiting on a programming team to do it.

I've really enjoyed the versatility it's given us as a business, and it allowed us to scale as well.

Michael Krigsman: It sounds like the agility, the ease of configuration, of changing things, combined with, as you said, the ability to scale, are really crucial points for you. 

Taylor Wolsey: For sure, and also giving feedback. Lots of times, certain software will give you feedback at the accounting level, the finance level. "Hey, the finance team wants this feedback. We want all that feedback."

As an operations leader, I want feedback for the whole entire group right from the front entry-level staff to management and, of course, finance. I can have a dashboard when someone logs in, and they can know exactly what is going on, what they need to do, where they're at as association to others. Then our team leader can know. Their manager can know. Their director can know. Then being able to impact doing something with the information. 

First, you have to know it. Then you have to go and implement it to make a difference.

Michael Krigsman: Are you talking right now about reporting capabilities or something else? 

Taylor Wolsey: Reporting is definitely a part of it. Yes, we can have the reporting ability. Someone can see that.

The views that people can see their information of what they need to work on, something as simple as a ticket: it's overdue, where it's at. Of course, many, many systems have that functionality. But to be able to give a consistent experience to our front-line staff so that they can give a consistent experience to our customers is essential.

If they don't know how they're doing and it's not right in front of them so they can view that on a regular basis or know what they need to accomplish during that day, well, you're just hoping that they'll accomplish a few things, see what they end up with, and you have to be happy with that. 

If you have some clear targets for individuals, and they know where they're at currently and can find out now, they can really make that difference for that customer that maybe waiting or maybe expecting something that we haven't delivered on.

Michael Krigsman: You're able to use the technology then to drive consistency across your organization in terms of the processes and in terms of how your folks are interacting with your customers.

Taylor Wolsey: If you have poor data, you're going to have a poor customer experience as a whole. And so, it's really essential to have that data organized right off the bat to make sure they can provide that experience to that customer. Leveraging technology, leveraging systems to get the information to where you want it, so you can leverage that information is just so, so key.

Michael Krigsman: Have you seen a change in GardaWorld's operations and processes, greater productivity, or efficiency or what have you?

Taylor Wolsey: On the residential side of the business, traditionally you would have about two or three points of data entry, two or three different systems, and their partners that would have their own systems that we have to put that information into. So, we would have a team of people making phone calls, receiving phone calls, updating information and data, and so on. 

We built our own form that integrates right into Zoho and our partners to make sure there's one point of data entry, one point of the pulling of information as well into it. What that enabled us to do is free up time for staff. Once again, instead of just doing administrative things as just part of doing business, they can focus on customers. 

We were able to really streamline that, so we give our frontline staff the tools – like a technician, for example – to close off his own installation, to close off his own service call. All of that while still feeding all the information we need to take care of the customer, to build the customer, and so on and so forth. The optimization through leveraging our systems has been massive, game-changing.

Michael Krigsman: I can see the efficiency gains are very, very clear. Have you seen an impact on your customers, on their experience?

Taylor Wolsey: We're using technology whether it's a phone application that you can remote into your video cameras, you can lock your door for some residential applications or even commercial applications for that matter. 

There are a lot of touchpoints that we do have with our customers. I'll give you one example of efficiencies that we've seen just something on the billing side of things.

We do leverage Zoho Books, so a customer can have their own portal, can see their own statements, can update their banking information, their payment information, can view all of that. Something as simple as how many phone calls businesses receive from other businesses saying, "Hey, I need a statement. It's my year-end. I need a statement," and we can provide that to the customer at their own fingertips.

They're not waiting on someone, "Oh, accounting will get back to you," or "We'll have to escalate that over to X, Y, Z." They can actually do that. 

Even if someone does make that phone call, I don't have to transfer that phone call to accounting. My operations staff can just go in themselves, create that, send that over right away.

It's simple and easy. It's really having access.

I remember when we had a CRM and financial system that was separated. It was so frustrating.

Let's say an invoice is overdue. They could call and ask for a service call. We could be issuing a service call, going and spending more money on that client, and not collecting what we have simply because A doesn't talk to B very well.

Those kind of challenges, we simply don't experience. Of course, we're using both applications. We just don't experience that anymore.

Because we're using both applications, our customer service side of things can take care of traditional accounting functions with a one-call resolution. If someone calls in and says, "I have an accounting question," or "I have a service-related question," the same individual can answer that question.

One, it's easier for the customer. There's not, "Oh, who do I need to talk to, to get my answer." It just streamlines that customer experience and makes it easier for the customer. 

Michael Krigsman: You're gaining that single source of truth from Zoho that everyone in the organization can key off of.

Taylor Wolsey: 100%. We were at a recent sales meeting with one of our best sales members in Quebec. We were talking about the integration because, of course, there are some nerves around that. 

We're changing software and so on and so forth. He asked me a simple question like, "Is there an easy way to see if there's been any service work done from our service team on that client?" 

I was like, "Well, what do you mean?" And so, he explained it a little bit more, and this is basic functionality that I forget, I kind of take for granted, to simply have a one-stop, one place for every touchpoint with a customer, whether it's an email, text message, phone call, whatever that may be, to make sure we have that same consistency for that customer experience.

Michael Krigsman: Taylor, let's shift gears a little bit and talk about your recurring revenue model. 

Taylor Wolsey: We grew that with Zoho Subscriptions eight years ago from about 2,500 customers right up to 30,000 customers. Now, with the integration, we'll be using Zoho Subscriptions for about 80,000 customers.

We are a big user of Zoho Subscriptions or Zoho Billing, I should say. It's been really nice to scale with us. From the liberty security side of the business, we've been using that for a long time. 

It's very simple. Create it one time. It makes our lives a lot easier. Now we'll be adopting it for, of course, all of GardaWorld Canada.

The tool itself is easy to use and now there's a little bit more complexity. With our integration, the requirement is that we use subscriptions. 

I was pleasantly surprised, as we went through the evaluation, that there were solutions to many of the questions as there is very complex service plans, add-ons, and so on. The requirements that we needed to make sure that we continue to use Zoho Subscriptions, and I'm grateful that we can continue to use it.

Michael Krigsman: Again, coming back to that same theme of flexibility and the agility it gives the business, along with the ability to scale. 

Taylor Wolsey: 100%. For example, part of the business that we don't use in Western Canada but our Quebec team does have is dealers for our monitoring station. There is a subscription portion to that, and there is a lot of complexity to it with different add-ons and different types of reporting that dealer will want based on their subscriptions.

As we went through that evaluation of our software, this was an essential piece to the puzzle. There were a lot of questions and a lot of unknowns. Working with the Zoho team, we were able to find the solutions for a lot of the challenges we were going to face.

Michael Krigsman: You've really been describing the digital transformation of security services. As we finish up, what advice do you have on managing change? There's been so much change in your world. 

Taylor Wolsey: It's involving as many people as possible in the process. You need buy-in from the team.

Do you want to be QB and march down the entire field without the team? Well, you're not going to go very far.

You need everyone to understand and see the vision. Understanding where we're wanting to go with that and allowing others to have input. 

That's one thing that I really liked with Zoho is someone would come with an idea, and I could implement it within the hour. They could see that change right away, and they could see that they're making an impact on that company, our company as a whole, and even he customer. 

We're about to go through this integration with our Eastern team. Of course, there are nerves around it. But that's one thing that give me confidence going into this integration is they're going to see the fruits of their own input. As they see that, the buy-in will just increase, and we'll create a better experience simply for our customers and for our staff because of their input. 

That's part of being a team. You want that value. Anyone wants to be able to create value for that company and to be able to help it improve and grow. To be able to have the tools that you can do that is very rewarding.

Michael Krigsman: It sounds like the ability to rapidly make those changes and rapidly adapt to evolving business needs is really foundational to this.

Taylor Wolsey: We have to adapt. We have to evolve. We have to give the customer that information they're looking for in the experience they have. So much is demanding of our time as consumers that if it's simple and easy and makes it a lot better experience, that's what most people are looking for. That's what I'm looking for in that.

Michael Krigsman: Taylor Wolsey from GardaWorld, thank you so much for taking time to talk with us.

Taylor Wolsey: Happy to be here.

Published Date: Mar 07, 2024

Author: Michael Krigsman

Episode ID: 828