Kim Houlne Shares Her Insights on “Something Extra” Podcast
Kim Houlne, chief executive of Working Solutions, offered her insights on becoming a successful entrepreneur during an interview on “Something Extra” with Lisa Nichols.
On the podcast series, Nichols has leaders from around the world share their stories and show what it takes to inspire others and be a true leader. She is the chief executive officer of Technology Partners, an award-winning St. Louis-based company providing business solutions through talent, technology and leadership development.
In this podcast, entitled “Leadership, Entrepreneurship and Technology,” Houlne talked about her background and development as an entrepreneur. She also gave her thoughts about achieving success as the leader of a woman-owned company, 27 years in the making.
Here are some excerpts from her interview.
Blessed with a Wonderful Upbringing and Business Foundation
Houlne grew up in Atlanta in a solid, middle-class family. She had lots of friends and played outdoors. Her interests were swimming, tennis and watching college football. Starting work in her early teens, she found fulfillment in buying her own things and learning business by serving customers at Baskin-Robbins.
Her life changed when the family moved to Nashville in her senior year of high school. There, those outgoing and business-minded traits continued. After high school, Houlne returned to familiar ground, attending the University of Georgia, where she earned a degree in communications.
Her first jobs were in the insurance industry, including Mutual of Omaha. Diverse positions provided great training, but according to Houlne, she wanted to lead a company of her own. She always thought: “I can do this myself.”
At the time, she was handling long commutes while pregnant with her first child. The thought of working remotely, uncommon then, grew from this experience.
Becoming an Entrepreneur
In 1996, Kim decided to move ahead with building her own business. One of her first clients was the City of St. Louis. She did a significant amount of virtual market research, which was well-received.
The foray led to the development of Working Solutions (WSOL), one of the first-to-market, remote outsourcing companies for customer service and sales. Said Kim: “Growing the business from scratch was very rewarding. I’m proud of our team and proud of myself.”
A milestone marked the 5th anniversary of the company when she and her husband, Tim, were walking the dog one evening. The Houlnes realized that WSOL workers—employees and contractors—were driving a 24-hour, business-processing engine as the couple went about their lives.
Continuing Growth While Maintaining a Unique Culture
Working Solutions is known as a caring workplace. “As we grew in scale, we worked to maintain the family-like culture of the organization,” Kim said. This culture highlights empathy for fellow workers and client customers alike. Add to it grit and dependability, both WSOL hallmarks in service excellence.
Success depends in hiring the best persons who fit this culture. Customer-service call centers are usually brick and mortar. Working Solutions workforce is all virtual, spread over 1,000s of miles and across different time zones.
As remote, customer-experience (CX) professionals, many agents work split shifts that accommodate their varied lifestyles. For instance, some care for elderly or disabled family members. Others are mothers and fathers with busy families and school-age children.
The beauty of virtual work is that such things can be leveraged to benefit workers, clients and their customers. It just requires a more flexible way of working. And a mobile, modern CX mindset.
Artificial Intelligence and Intelligent Agents
At Working Solutions, artificial intelligence (AI) and intelligent agents (IA) are blended to benefit business. “We like to say that we are experts in AI and IA,” according to Houlne.
AI-enabled technology has advanced self-service in solving straightforward problems. Automation is now a part of every tool for customer service. There are times, however, when a customer needs the human touch for more complicated interactions, which occur in the travel-and-hospitality industry.
Such sophisticated requirements are solved by agents who not only know the technology, but also the CX workarounds. Like getting a stranded traveler home or finding the proper quarters for someone with special needs. Well-blended AI/IA offers compelling, caring service.
Something Extra – Attentive Leadership
According to Houlne, the something extra she tries to bring to her leadership style and corporate management are compassion and the ability to listen.
The interview with Kim Houlne is posted at Something Extra: Leadership, Entrepreneurship, and Technology w/ Kim Houlne on Apple Podcasts.
About Working Solutions
For nearly three decades, Working Solutions has elevated customer experiences (CX) to fulfill ever-evolving needs. With the advance of artificial intelligence (AI), the company anticipates the complex demands of consumers with intelligent agents (IA), who pick up where technology leaves off. This blending of AI automation with tech-savvy service professionals provides the efficient, empathetic solutions customers expect today. Creating a virtual, flexible workforce in a client’s own image, Working Solutions ensures productive and profitable experiences for any industry across North America.
Learn more at workingsolutions.com.
About “Something Extra”
Join Technology Partners CEO Lisa Nichols as she interviews leaders from around the world to share their stories and show us what it takes to influence, encourage and to be a true leader.
Visit https://technologypartners.net/blog/category/something-extra/ for more information.
About Technology Partners
Technology Partners is an award-winning St. Louis-based company that provides business solutions through talent, technology and leadership development. In business for nearly 30 years, the company has partnered with hundreds of corporate clients across a range of industries nationwide.
Visit www.technologypartners.net for more information.