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The CRM Experience for Financial Advisors With Rick Williamson of Redtail Technology

Rick Williamson

Rick Williamson is the Director of Training at Redtail Technology, the leader in web-based client relationship management solutions for financial advisors. He develops training and education initiatives, working hands on to improve team management and even public speaking. Rick is an expert on all things CRM-related and has a background and experience in film production and public speaking.

Here’s a glimpse of what you’ll learn:

  • Rick Williamson talks about Redtail and how it helps people

  • Redtail’s ideal customer profile

  • Rick’s role at Redtail as the Director of Training

  • Tips for creating and delivering great customer experience

  • How the Redtail and Orion merger improving their clients lives

  • Redtail’s customer success stories;

  • How AI is impacting customer experience

In this episode…

As a financial advisor, do you desire to transform how you scale your business through technology and outsourced solutions? Where can you get a CRM that offers you the necessary tools to assist you in your efforts?

For over a decade, Rick Williamson has been in all things CRM related. He has discovered that financial advisors struggle with managing their client base and scaling their business because they lack the necessary tools for their work. Rick recommends CRM that integrates widely and deeply with other popular tools in the financial services industry.

In this episode of The Customer Wins, host Rich Walker welcomes Rick Williamson, Director Of Training at Redtail Technology, to discuss CRM that best serves financial advisors. Rick talks about Redtail and how it helps people, tips for creating and delivering great customer experience, how Redtail and Orion’s merger improves their clients' lives, and its customer success stories.

Resources mentioned in this episode:

Sponsor for this episode...

This is brought to you by Quik!

At Quik!, we provide forms automation and management solutions for companies seeking to maximize their potential productivity.

Our vision is to become the leading forms automation company by making paperwork the easiest part of every transaction.

Meanwhile, our mission is to help the top firms in the financial industry raise their bottom line by streamlining the customer experience with automated, convenient solutions.

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Episode Transcript:

Intro 0:02

Welcome to The Customer Wins podcast where business leaders discuss their secrets and techniques for helping their customers succeed and in turn grow their business.

Richard Walker 0:12

Hi, I'm Rich Walker, the host of The Customer Wins where I talk to business leaders about how they help their customers win how their focus on customer experience leads to growth. Some of our past guests have included Alan G at Finlocity, and Pem Guery with SIGNiX. Today I'm speaking with Rick Williamson the Director of Training at Redtail. Now today's episode is brought to you by Quik! the leader in enterprise forms automation, when the last step to earn your clients business requires filling out paperwork. Don't ruin your relationship with a bad experience. Instead, get Quik Forms to make filling out forms a great experience and the easiest part of your transaction, visit to get started. So before I introduce today's guest, I want to give a big thank you to Jack Anderson, who sponsored and co-hosted a recent webinar with Redtail and Quik. Go check out Redtail's website at and get a huge discount on using Quik! with red tail. All right, I'm really excited. Let's introduce today's guest, Rick Williamson, better known as Ricky Redtail has been with Redtail for over 11 years where his role of director of training allows him to lead as well as oversee all training and education resources, presentations and content with a background and experience in film production public speaking, and time as a cast member at Walt Disney World, Rick has been able to make a significant impact at both Redtail and in the FinTech industry. His experience in numerous marketing, media training and presentation projects make him an exciting and entertaining voice and fintech client experience and practice management. So I'm really excited to talk to you, Rick, welcome to The Customer Wins.

Rick Williamson 1:53

Rich, thank you so much for having me. Thank you, for anybody listening. I was so excited to be invited on this. I love podcasting in general, I love talking about the client experience getting people thinking a little bit differently than just the services that they offer. So I'm really, really excited to talk to you today.

Richard Walker 2:14

Man, I'm so glad to have you, I've been looking forward to this too, you're gonna have a great story to tell. Now, for those who haven't heard this podcast before I talk with business leaders about what they're doing to help their customers win, how they built and deliver great customer experience and the challenge to growing their own company. Rick, I want to understand your business a little better. How does Redtail help people?

Rick Williamson 2:35

Man? Well, Redtail is a CRM company. And for those who don't know what CRM is, it means Contact Relationship Management. So I mean, it's literally built into the product name, we help all of our clients manage their relationships with their contacts, not just their clients, their prospects, their business, contacts, things like that, not just all of the many compliance-related things that need to be done in the financial technology industry, there's just no taking and calendar management and making sure all of that stuff is on the up and up. But giving people a central repository, basically a digital memory for the things that you might remember about your spouse, hopefully, your children, your relatives, your best friends, but you can't remember for your 300 clients or your 500th client things like you know the type of car that they drive, or their favorite sports team, or how they take their coffee, all of those types of things go into, and we're going to talk a ton about it, obviously. But those are the things that go into building a really valuable relationship. And when you build those valuable relationships, there's actually a article that is one of my favorite articles to reference from Harvard Business Review, it goes back in like 2015. So it's been a while. But they found that the value of a client increases, I believe it was 52%, if they go from just highly satisfied, which I think a lot of people if I could guarantee you an entire book of business of highly satisfied customers, I think a lot of people would take that. But 52% increase from highly satisfied to fully connected. And that increase in value means that they are more loyal to you and your business, they are more likely to advocate for you, to their friends to their family, they are more interested in doing repeat business with you. So those type of deep connections that a CRM can provide that we try to teach about. Those types of things are just so like literally proven to be valuable to a business. So I love that we can help provide tools, technology and strategies to help people execute those types of things.

Richard Walker 4:42

Yeah, and it's been amazing watching Redtail over the years, I think I met Brian the founder way back in 2005 or so we were both working with Transamerica to win that deal, which took four years by the way. I think Redtail may have won that earlier. But it seemed it's such an evolution from the idea of I just have to have a place to keep somebody's phone number to, I need this to run my business, and it becomes the hub and the centerpiece of most advisory businesses. And I think Redtail has done a good job of building out features that add way more value than just what CRM represents. So, who is your direct customer of your products, who are the users of your product?

Rick Williamson 5:21

So the direct customer of our product is financial professionals, all over the industry, whether they be advisors, whether they be planners, and a great majority of them are office staff, members of those advisors and planners, they are the ones who are living in there, who are managing the schedules, who are updating the contact information, who are answering the phones, and then are able to use the information in our product to actually engage in a personal conversation. You brought up how we have gone from just collecting phone numbers to collecting all of this type of information, stuff like that. And I think it's necessary, we've become more and more and more efficient with our time, I think there was some, I read some crazy statistic that like, the amount of work that we put into a single day now, is equivalent to like two weeks of work back in, like 100 years ago, or something like that, I can't remember what the name was or what the amount was. But that type of efficiency means our brains are operating at a higher capacity means that we are collecting and processing more information in our brains at a higher rate. And a CRM, just like anything, just like, my glasses helped me see, just like, you know, a hip replacement, helps you walk a little bit better, a CRM helps you remember better, it helps you track those things better. So it really is a valuable, valuable tool when you are in the relationship business, which I think everybody is in. And then the services they provide are just that conduit for that relationship.

Richard Walker 6:53

Yeah, right. So in a way, you are helping advisors be more effective, more efficient, their staff be better, but also that means you're having a better impact on the service they're delivering. And you and I were talking previously, that what you really care about, or the maybe even the company does focus on quality of life. Can you talked about that?

Rick Williamson 6:53

Yeah, it's all about making things easier, right. And that trickle-down effect of if we can make our users lives easier if we can make that support staff members life easier. If we can make that advisors life easier than that is going to give them time to make their clients life's easier and to give an increased whatever that experience is even just by a little bit. We'll talk about this a little bit later. But I always like quoting Walt Disney. And this is a quote that I actually am stealing from Jack. Jack is the one who reminded me of this quote, but Walt Disney famously said, like, there is no magic and magic, magic is in the details. And that is all of what a CRM is, it is the details. And of course, it meets the needs of like compliance, because that is a big thing that needs to be taken care of in the financial technology industry, in the financial professional industry, you have to keep concrete recorded notes, you have to notate every client touch every client task, everything that's going on, you have to notate their records, you have to get their best interests, agreements signed, and all of these types of things. So obviously, it helps track with that type of stuff. But as we are talking about on this podcast, and as I, I love to kind of tout myself, I'm a big relationships guy. So I always focus on the relationship aspect of it.

Richard Walker 8:37

So let's talk a little about your role. Yeah, I mean, you're involved in training and education and helping people I'm guessing and be more effective with the toolset overall, is it externally facing training, internal training?

Rick Williamson 8:49

A little bit of both, honestly. So I'm the Director of Training here and I oversee both internal and external training team for the Redtail, I don't even know what the right word is branch or arm of Orion. But my internal team is all focused on helping our staff become better making sure that they are knowledgeable about product releases and updates and release notes. But we also help run our continuing education programs which we call core competencies we call agility training, to help them level up to help them grow in their career paths we help with call recordings and work with our customer service managers to help coach their team members, we do our welcome tailor new hire training, which is an introduction to the culture to the company to the products themselves and things like that. So the internal side of things does that exact same type of building raving fans on the internal side as our external team does. An external team focuses primarily on scheduling one on one trainings with individuals who want more knowledge on how to use the product but we do so much more than that. There are so many training offerings out there that are just like, we're gonna teach you how to use a product point here, click here, this is how you do that. But we give strategies we give best practices, we give samples we give a lot of stuff that we talked about on here, we motivate people and try and encourage people to use those smaller details, so that they can build better relationships with their clients as well. So it's not just product training, although we do a load of product training, but it is also strategic training, it's client experience training. And then of course, we do Redtail university events, which I could go on and on about, we do webinars, which you were a part of, and all of them are about offering knowledge and education on not only what the product can do, but what also is out there in the tech universe that can help them meet these challenges. And more than anything, like we try to have fun, like our goal with Redtail training, it's not a money-making game, we don't charge anything for our training with the exception of Redtail University. And the only reason we charge for Redtail University is so that we can put it on, like my goal, my main directive, from high on down is to break even like financially speaking, right. But building raving fans is all about being a good hang. Like to put it simply, be fun, be funny, have a good time. And that's what we try to do in every interaction that we have, we try to be fun and funny. We try to be supportive. We try to teach people how to fish, so to speak. And that helps with brand loyalty that helps with client retention, that helps with all those types of things by just being somebody wants to hang out with, when the times are tough when the economy is down, and people are looking to, you know, shed extra costs. Yes, they'll look at the numbers, and yes, to look at the value. But they'll also remember, I really liked those people. And that's incredibly valuable. It can't always be measured, but it's so valuable.

Richard Walker 12:13

Yeah, you speak to a lot of things that are related to your company culture. And I mean, even just the theme of dogs at work, because I know the company name, you can tell us how the company name was formed. How would you describe, is there a succinct way to describe the culture at Redtail?

Rick Williamson 12:31

Yeah, man. So Redtail, as you mentioned, Redtail, we just celebrated our 20th birthday or 20th anniversary. So that was really cool. We're one year away from being able to buy alcohol. And I'm really excited about that for the company. Redtail was born out of a financial services office. And that's one of my favorite parts about our origin story, if you will, is that we weren't just built in some tech area, we started in an office who needed a solution to this. And that office was gracious enough to let our founders or creators, our CEO, Brian McLaughlin, our former COOs now retired the lucky guy, Andy Hernandez, to branch out of their office and actually build this for the industry. And the name Redtail came from Brian's first red tail Golden Retriever named Tucker me out, McLaughlin. And the whole dog thing is really just like an ace in the hole, especially when you're at conferences, because somebody can be walking up to me. And they might be angry, they might have some feedback, they might, hey, this isn't working the way I want or whatever. But there's a giant dog on the banner behind me. And that's just like an immediate diffuser. So I've always been a fan of that.

Richard Walker 13:41

You guys had puppy memes and the dog theme before the internet had it.

Rick Williamson 13:46

Yeah, ain't nobody out there doesn't like dogs. I mean, sure, there are some people who do and I get that. But it's just a really fun thing to build a company around. And we've always been very dog friendly, people are allowed to bring their dogs into the office, we would offer training courses and things like that in the before times when everybody was coming into the office, but that's a whole other podcast. And our culture is really based around having fun, being innovative, and work hard, play hard, doing our absolute best for our customers. And again, being a good hang being able to have these types of really fun, interesting conversations with people and get them thinking differently, get them working differently. And I love that I've always loved that. I've always loved the fact that ever since I was handed the reins to the training team, I've been allowed to build like themes around our Redtail universities that have been adopted by the company you can kind of see behind me. I got 10 years’ worth of Redtail University workbook covers behind me, and we've done themes around back to the future and superheroes and this year's theme, it's all about the kids. kitchen and cooking and cooking up relationships. And not only are they fun, but they serve as really great analogies for what our advisors provide and put into the work that they do with their clients, cooking and putting together a great meal, takes a recipe takes ingredients, takes kitchen tools. And if you are able to serve somebody up a delicious meal, like that can change their entire worldview. And when you combine that with what the CRM can help you do with people, it's really, really fun. And more than anything, the fact that I have been able to be myself and be fun and bring that theatricality to this, I think is a big part of why Redtail's been successful. It's a big part of why I've been successful. And I'm, like, I tell everybody, like, you're gonna have to be like, kill me and bury me to get rid of me around here. Because I'm in I drink the Kool-Aid.

Richard Walker 15:56

I can speak to that, because the webinar we did with Jack was so much fun. It was probably the best webinar I've ever done in terms of vibe, energy, and just interaction. And then the other thing is, I admitted to her that I had taken improv comedy classes. And she's like, oh, my gosh, I've done improv. And so we're like, okay, let's do it. What happens on this call, and I think next time we do it, we're going to try even harder to go off script.

Rick Williamson 16:22

Oh, man we used to, and again, we've grown up where we're 20. Now, so we got to act like adults, but we used to do all sorts of pranks, like at RTU, we would look up on Urban Dictionary, if nobody's familiar with Urban Dictionary, it's not safe for work. There are some very, very naughty things on there. But it's terminology, so what does this mean? What does that mean, and we would hit random on urban dictionary, and as long as it wasn't overtly inappropriate, we would challenge ourselves to try and find a way to fit that into the day. And it was hilarious. But again, we got to grow up a little bit. So we try and find really fun ways to do that, like, I myself come from a public speaking background, from a performance background. A lot of the people I look for in my team, I look for those big personalities, because personality is a hard thing to teach, right? That type of on the fly thinking and, and wits, you can learn it, as you said, you can go to improv classes, you can go stuff like that, you can learn that. But it's way easier to teach somebody how to learn the technology, and then use their personality to convey that. So I always look for big personality, when it comes to my team, and when it comes to really encouraging them to use those personalities in their work.

Richard Walker 17:46

So that's interesting. I don't think I've had anybody kind of say it this way, I'm gonna repeat back to you something that I think you're saying, which is one of the ways to create and deliver a great customer experience is to actually bring your personality out in the delivery of that experience, is that fair?

Rick Williamson 18:01

Very much. So bring out the things find those connection points, between the stuff, and we're going to talk about this a little bit more. But I love to encourage people to focus on the things that quote unquote, they choose to waste their time on, as my father might tell me back in the day, or whatever, but like, this type of industry is so focused on connecting with people in ways that they can't control anything about it, we usually couldn't connect with people based on their age, obviously, retirement being a big deal in this industry, college planning, just financial planning, in general, is tied to age, we focus on gender, we focus on income, we focus on education. And that's all. Exactly, tie that into age, right? But who we are as people, is what we choose to waste our time on. We all have to go to work. We all have to go to school to get better opportunities, stuff like that. But when we have our free time, what do we choose to do with it? Do we choose to play fantasy football? Do we choose to go fishing? Do we choose to build small wooden boats in glass bottles, and once you can connect with people on the things that you love and the things that they love, it's just natural, it becomes a really deeper client experience, because you are now engaging with not only who the people are that you're talking to, but you're engaging with yourself as well. And you're showing them yourself as well. And that just, that's just the psychology of building relationships.

Richard Walker 19:35

Yeah. Awesome, man. So let me just switch gears and ask you because you mentioned Orion. Yep. And we know that Orion purchased or merged with, I don't know how you say it with Redtail. And those types of things have an impact. Right. We saw Brian go off to go work more on the Orion side. And I'm curious, how has this merger impacted on how you're improving people's lives with your products?

Rick Williamson 19:58

That's a really good question and I always make the joke that from the side of the purchaser, we purchased Redtail from the side of the purchase, it's a merger. Like, that's always like the joke, how it goes and things like that. But honestly, like, the biggest struggle has just been like the internal technology like, oh, I got to use Outlook. Now bummer. That kind of stuff is obviously weirdly disruptive. But from the Redtail training side of things, like we really have been allowed to do, our particular brand of nonsense, as I like to say it like, we've been able to do Redtail university this year, they were incredibly gracious with us, we just got done with the wonderful ascent conference in Orlando, and they were super open to strategizing with me on what would be the best version of RTU. To present there, and I was very, I wasn't rude or anything, but I was like, anything less than a full RTU is not going to be an art to you. That's just the fact. And I thought I was going to have to show my work and have a huge battle over it. And they were just like, okay, like, we'll do a full RTU. And that's was incredible, that made me feel great. It was so validating. And I love more than anything that Orion has been incredibly open to learning more about us. I literally have been doing a bunch of calls with a bunch of different business entities and a bunch of different departments, to spread the word of red tail, and what we do and how we do it, and what has made us so successful. And I think the most interesting thing is that, for the longest time, Orion and all of their tech offerings and stuff like that, they have been really geared towards the advisors themselves, the financial planners, and Redtail really, as I mentioned before, it is geared a ton towards the office staff. And so I think really the biggest thing that we are working on is just informing each other and teaching each other how to build those relationships. And this is how we build our relationships with our client service team. And this is how we build our relationships to our training to our sales. This is how we build our relationships at our conferences. And then Orion teaching us like this is how we build our relationships, from the organizational side of things from the enterprise side of things and stuff like that. So it's been really, really interesting. But, again, the big changes into how, like we serve our customers, I think one of the most exciting aspects is that our customers now have access to not that they didn't have access before, but the fact that it's all underneath one umbrella, which we're not the first people to do the whole one umbrella thing, we're not the first people to put everything in one stack, or offer a best in one solution or an all in one solution. But I do like that Orion for the most part, saw these needs and then didn't try and build their own half-baked thing. They have purchased a financial planning tool, a risk assessment tool, a CRM tool, and then they've kept on the people who are part of those tools. As you said before, Brian, rather than being, thank you for your work, thank you for product, have a nice day. He's committed, he's in on this. He's committed to this working and he's now the president of all of Orion Technologies. So he gets to have an aspect and build in kind of interject and inject this attitude that we have had for the longest time into the Orion entire advisor technology suite, which is amazing. And the same is true of us collaborating with their trainers, we realize that our trainers, here at Redtail, we're like a ton of hats. And over at Orion, they have people who just do like specified things and like, oh, that's super interesting, that opens up the floodgates for what we can do here. But going back to the technology, obviously, we've talked about CRM, that's our core product. That's our flagship product. But there are things like Redtail speak, for example, that allow compliant texting and internal office messaging, which is massive, because for texting has been around since the late 90s, early 2000s. And only just in the last few years have has it finally found a compliance solution for financial professionals to communicate in the literal most common way to communicate in the world. That's a huge advantage now that's been presented to our users and the industry. And then things that Orion offers not just the risk assessment in the planning that I mentioned before, but things like a client portal that clients can now access a mobile app that clients can now access that is very similar to mobile apps offered by like banks like I don't call Chase Bank ever. I don't even order my pizza over the phone anymore, like I can do anything online, and the fact that through that client portal, their clients now have access to real time information like that. So that's going to cut down on the amount of calls that maybe are incoming, just because sometimes they're looking for that close bit of information. And if it's going to cut down on calls for that close bit of information, then it's going to increase in offices time to dedicate to building that relationship, if I don't have to worry about looking up somebody's account balance or whatever, if I don't have to spend my time doing that I can spend my time talking with them about the about UConn winning the Final Four, if that's what they're into, or the new John Wick movie, if that's what they're into. And even though it seems a little impersonal, or unpersonal to text, or to give somebody a client portal, even though that feels like it's taking the personal aspect out of it, what it is doing is just making the trading of normal regular information faster and more efficient. So that the personal stuff, you can dedicate more time to. So that's really exciting to me.

Richard Walker 26:09

So Rick, let's put that in a more concrete perspective. Tell me about one of your favorite customer success stories. How did you help them win? What was their outcome? How did you transform them?

Rick Williamson 26:18

Man! So there have just been so many throughout the years, and a couple of my favorite customer relationships, I'm gonna give a shout-out to a couple of them. But couple of my favorite customer relationships are advisor named Jessica Dinerstein, and advisor named Red Sinclair, they are just a couple of my favorite people to connect with. Because more than like, oh, they were successful in taking my training and implementing it and being successful in their technology, like they are satisfied Redtail users who are not afraid to come to me for, hey, how do I do this? Or, hey, this isn't working? Do you know anything about it? And I can have that open relationship where I can be like, hey, man, I'll find out what you need, or do you have time for a call, I'll dedicate some time there. And it's just awesome. It's awesome to really build friendships and build relationships on the road with clients that you know are true friendships that you know are built on being good hangs being friendly with one another vibing with one another. And then using that conduit of technology and education to enhance that relationship. One of my favorite parts about my job is going to conferences. And literally this is not hyperbolic, this is a real thing that happens at nearly every conference I have ever had a booth that is I'm doing my thing, I'm talking when people whatever, there's a couple of people coming up, and then somebody will come up a member of the conference and attendee of the conference. And they will either start selling for me, or they'll know the person I'm talking to. And they'll be like, oh, you don't have Redtail yet. And that type of like I do keynotes based on that is how to build raving fans how to build that brand loyalty, how to build that type of thing. And it is literally just the biggest aspect of it is FaceTime, being there, having conversations supporting one another and giving people a good experience, because that will grow and pass on. So I mean, it's not an individual client, per se. But it's one thing that I've noticed with a lot of Redtail events that I have been a part of, it's just really, really fun.

Richard Walker 28:28

Now, I'm still guilty of that every time Vitamix has a booth at Costco, I go up and steal their show. I'm like, ah, tenure user. We use it eight times a day. Let me tell you what we can make with it.

Rick Williamson 28:39

Yes, man. That's what it is. And everybody does that. There are people out there who are like, militant about the fact that they will not drink Pepsi. I am a Coca Cola man, right? Which is funny because I like Pepsi more. Soda is not a hill on which I'm willing to die on. But like my brother-in-law, for example, like if they don't have Coke, he's drinking water. There are people out there who are absolutely emotionally invested in the brands and in the business relationships that they work with. And they have, and it's not that hard to do. You don't need a Superbowl commercial, to build a vibe like that, you know?

Richard Walker 29:16

No, and what you've been saying is it's about building the relationship and having fun so I want to go back to your past your history, because you actually come from Disney Hollywood entertainment. How did you go from that to tech and why but what has helped you from those experiences be so successful in what you're doing now?

Rick Williamson 29:37

It's really funny because we got on this call and I've been trying to place who you remind me of and I don't mean to gas you up or anything. This is no smoke, but your voice and the goatee and your facial structures remind me of James Cameron in a way. I don't know if you've ever heard that before. I was waiting for Ed Norton, Edward Norton. I could absolutely see Edward Norton. But yeah, man I mean In, I went to school for screenwriting. I have loved movies since Jurassic Park. I even have a tattoo of Jurassic Park like it's all film. And the Jurassic Park T-rex is right there. That's the movie that made me love movies and I wanted to learn how to speak in that language. And so I've been obsessed with storytelling ever since in middle school, I had spiral notebooks full of like, fan fiction, Jurassic Park sequels and Men in Black sequels and things like that. Before there was ever a Men in Black like four. I think there's four now, like I wrote Men in Black two. Before there was ever a Jurassic Park, a fifth Jurassic World movie I wrote Jurassic Park three, and going to that I really just wanted to learn how to tell stories. But and once I learned it, I was satisfied. I've always said that there are a million funny, curly-headed overweight glasses wearing guys in Hollywood trying to make it. There's only one of me here. And it's just been a really interesting journey. I worked for a movie store in the mall, where I felt like the smartest person alive because I was just like, I can tell anything about anything. And then I went and worked at Walt Disney World that their college internship for a year, their college program is incredible. If anybody has a college students who is looking for an internship or something like that back when I worked at I didn't get paid anything, I paid like seven bucks an hour, I came home with less money than I showed up with. But there is no better customer experience training or in my opinion, like approach than what Disney Parks has. And you can do anything there. You can do hospitality, you could do hotel work, you can do sanitation, you can do right operation. And so that's what I did is I in animal kingdom, in Florida, there is a ride called Kilimanjaro safaris, which is a real truck that is not on a track. So I am driving this truck on a path. But it is not an automated ride. It is an actual truck with a gas pedal and a wheel that I am driving. And we are driving amongst real animals, real African animals, hippos and giraffes and zebras and elephants and lions. And of course, the brilliance of that ride is that some of the more dangerous animals are separated through theming. In this beautiful Imagineering of like there's like, a 10-foot gap between where the lions are and where you are, but you can't see it. Like you can't see that moat. And it was just so much fun. Because I got to put on a performance every time I got to act, I got to interact with people. And it's really paying dividends now, because the details of what Disney does, it's again, it's all in the details, to build those deep, deep relationships. And for example, like the you take, for example, celebrating things like people want to be celebrated for the things that they are celebrating. So Disney let you get a birthday pin or a pin for whatever you're celebrating, you can go get a pin for free, it doesn't cost you anything. And then they'll write your name on it. And they have people at that station, who like have really good penmanship and do really good word art, they don't just print out a label and slap it on there. And then with just those two data points, which is I hate using the phrase data points, but for this case, I think it's valuable, just those two points of information. They can give a memorable experience to somebody because everybody is trained to tell that person happy birthday, even the guests. Hey, happy birthday, and it makes everybody feel better about it. So going there was great. And then when I came back, the housing market crashed. And I didn't have a job for like a year. And it was rough. I wound up working before and after school childcare for two years, 30-hour-a-week split shifts, wondering like what is going on with my life, what am I going to do. And then fortunately, I ran into my good friend David, Mel horn, who worked at Redtail, and we hadn't met, we hadn't seen each other in a while. And I kind of grilled him on like what he does. I see on Facebook, he's traveling all the time. He's going to all these places. And he says I work for Redtail tells me everything about it tells me about all the presentation work and stuff like that. And I say to him, hey, I think I would be good at that. Don't you think I would be good at that. And he says I think he would be good at that. And I told him to give me a call if there was an opening and to his credit he did. And our director of sales at the time Tim Meinert hired me and that was 11 years ago. And the rest is history, they've kind of just let me off the chain and let me continue to charm and fail my way upwards.

Richard Walker 30:00

I love these examples of other companies, especially ones that have done really well over a long period of time. Building excellent customer experience. And I'm reminded of something at Disney if you go ask somebody a cast member, what time does the park close? They don't use the negative of closing they say we stay open until and they turn it to the positive so that you always feel you're looking forward, not looking downward. And it is those details, it is the subtle little things that create an excellent customer experience. So it's really awesome that you have that.

Rick Williamson 35:15

Exactly. And you see one more point is you see what happens, like Disney has been going through it, the last year or so before Bob Iger came in, because what they did is they started decreasing customer experience and increasing customer costs. And obviously, that's how capitalism works. You know, you want to get the most out of people and invest the least amount, like I get it. But there is always a point of no return. There is always a breaking point with that where people will be like, this is not worth it anymore. And Disney is a perfect example of that, like they nickeled and dimed people so much that they replace their CEO. Like that's crazy. And that's just proof positive of it.

Richard Walker 35:55

And we've seen other brands do this Walmart did it. Walmart, if you go in and says low price, great value. Now, it used to say great value, low price, just the flip of those two phrases, changes your perception of what's important. I totally agree with you, when you invest in the customer relationship and their experience, therefore their success. I mean, it's just gonna keep growing, you're gonna keep growing your business, even if the short term has a higher investment cost, the long term is going to keep going. And you're talking about a CRM product which people switch, right. But you're building these raving fans, these lifelong consumers who will stick with you guys because of that experience, unless you stop offering that experience.

Rick Williamson 36:42

Exactly, exactly.

Richard Walker 36:44

Let's talk about something. I don't want to go too far on the rabbit hole on this because I think you and I both could spend an hour on this next topic. But this is relevant in the sense that I've been asking a lot of people what their perspective is on artificial intelligence. I've personally been playing with different tools for a year now. And this is in some manners a threat to the customer experience, right? In other cases, an improvement on it. So I'm curious, how do you see AI changing or impacting customer experience for you, or Redtail?

Rick Williamson 37:14

So I am of two minds of AI. Number one, like it, I do not get terrified about a lot of things like this existentially. Well, that's not true, I get terrified about a bunch of things. existentially. I had a friend of mine, told me that she was writing a report for a school project. And that report was for her to mimic an interview between a librarian and an interviewer. And then, from a third-person perspective, react to that interview. And she did it all through AI. And I just like, was terrified. I was like, you took the lived-in-life experience of a librarian and all their perspective and all of their experience and knowledge. And you took the interviewer coming in with their own experience and perspective and knowledge. And then you took the third person observing that with their own experience and knowledge. And you told they iterated out, and it did. And I'm like, that freaks me out how it just is able to replicate three lived experiences fairly closely. I have not dabbled in it yet. And I have a feeling that if and when I do dabble in it, I will probably become a convert. Because much like every single other technology that has ever existed. It is a tool. And that's the most important thing I remember seeing. I was on Reddit and I saw an old anti-electricity ad. And I was like, wow, you know, or an empty car ad, or, or things like that. And I think it is just a tool. And much like every other tool out there. It is not the fact that it exists. But it is what the tool is applied for. Right. And there are a number of things particularly like in the teaching and education field, which obviously I dabble in, that I think AI could be very helpful for such as test generation. A lot of teachers have to create their own tests. And being able to ask an AI robot to make a test based on these subjects and parameters, I think is actually a pretty legitimate way of using AI. Like that's really, really cool, especially when you can go over and you can double check it and stuff like that. I usually when it comes to the logical things when it comes to the logistical things, I think AI can be really, really helpful. But when it comes to how do I articulate this matters of the soul, which is really existential, but when it comes to things like art, when it comes to things like interpersonal relationships, I think we need to be wary of that. I think we need to be very, very wary because art without any type of experience or perspective, is soulless. That's the only way I can describe it like, there is no perspective and that is the beauty of every piece of art out there whether or not it's an individual, like independent film that is made, like there's one that just came out that name escapes me, but it's about a young black mother growing up in the projects, and trying to rise above her situation, whether it's something like that, that is showing a very specific perspective, or whether it be Avengers end game, there are messages to these things, there are perspectives to these things there are human emotions tied into them. And that is true of all art. That is true of music, that is true of images. That is true photography. And so I am wary of it when it comes to that type of thing. But rather than be a doomsayer, I am committed to approaching it as a tool and finding valuable ways to utilize that tool. So that I think as far as efficiency goes, there's real possibilities there.

Richard Walker 40:59

So as a trainer, do you think, let me ask you first, have you heard of Synesthesia? The AI avatar?

Rick Williamson 41:06

No, I haven't heard of that one.

Richard Walker 41:08

Go look it up. Because you can make your own avatar of yourself. It's lifelike. It is perfect lifelike. You can give it a script, and it will be you for you. So would you ever want that as your teacher? Would you want a synthetic person who looks like a real person to be your teacher? You don't have to answer it.

Rick Williamson 41:30

It's such a hard question, right? Like, because we could go for an hour because on one hand, there's a value to that if you want to teach facts and figures, if you want to teach one plus one equals two, two plus two equals four, if you want to teach the chemical makeup of iron, or a rock or something like that, when there is like hard science involved, I'm not necessarily opposed to it, because I'm also not opposed to a calculator. I don't have a slide rule over here doing my math, I have a calculator that can do my math and my equations. But when it comes to teaching things like history, or English, or art, I don't like those things require perspective. Those things require perspective, such as why World War Two was fought, why the Civil War was fought, because without perspective, in those types of things, there is no actual learning, you're just learning facts without context. And that's kind of useless. So it's a very wishy-washy way of me saying, there are probably applications for that. But it should not be everywhere. I don't think.

Richard Walker 42:36

I think they're going after the corporate training market, my friends,

Rick Williamson 42:39

Maybe I'm I hope people like if the robots take over, I'm joining their side, we had a good run, I'm going to be the envoy. I'll be like, you guys are more efficient anyway.

Richard Walker 42:50

Now, you already said something that you guys do differently. It's not just training on product features, its strategy and effectiveness. And its productivity. Rick, hey, as we wrap this up, I do have another question for you. But before I do that, I want to help people connect with you. What's the best way for people to find you and connect with you?

Rick Williamson 43:09

For sure, man, I mean, I would say the two best ways are probably my LinkedIn, which is Rick Williamson or Ricky Redtail, just look me up there. Or my twitter at Ricky Redtail. I try to get better at monitoring those and things like that, trying to get better at figuring out like, what I can tweet. And like, the last thing I want is tweet controversy. So I would say those two are probably the best way to hit me up. I try to be on there all the time, try to share information on what we're doing, both in Orion and Redtail.

Richard Walker 43:44

That's awesome. I saw that on your LinkedIn, Ricky Redtail, like, wow, he's got a digital tattoo. A sense of permanence with Redtail.

Rick Williamson 43:52

I know, if they ever like I said, if they ever bury me, who knows what will happen. I'll have change by name, but I love it here. Like I said, like, ever since I started, when they first gave me the training team. I was like, okay, you're gonna fire me in six months, because this whole thing's gonna burn to the ground. It hasn't yet. And I'm just incredibly grateful to people like Brian for giving me those opportunities.

Richard Walker 44:18

So speaking of that, this is my last question. Who has had the biggest impact on your leadership style or how you approach your role?

Rick Williamson 44:25

Man? That's a great question. One of the things that I have realized, and actually one of the things that my internal team is working on right now, is it's very hard to elevate people to a leadership position and dedicate time to teaching them how to lead. I have most of my tenure, as a leader has been learning has been learning on how to really be there for the people who are in my charge, how to motivate them how to talk with them. One of my hardest things is giving negative and critical feedback is telling people no. And people like David Mehlhorn, who, as I mentioned before, is our VP of sales over here. Like I've been friends with him since middle school. And I've always looked up to him as a steady hand, he has been a source of great, great guidance, because I will fly off the emotional handle sometimes. Melanie Figler, who is like our man, I don't even know what her title is now, I think she's like VP of operations or something like that. But she is almost diametrically opposite to me in terms of the way that we work. And she has been incredibly helpful in guiding me through difficult situations. And then Brian McLaughlin, I told Brian the other day that he's the closest thing that I really have to a mentor, and a lot of my presentation skill, a lot of my, the way that like, I develop my keynotes and the way that I encourage my training team comes from a lot of his strategies. One of the things that I always liked about him is the way that he compared outside businesses that have nothing to do with financial technology, and compare the way they do things to the way that we can do things. And that is something that I have been allowed to do not just with other corporations like Disney, for example. But with movies, I did a whole keynote, on zombie land and the following the rules of zombie land and how those rules are analogies for things that advisors and office staff need to be doing in their office, like keeping up your cardio or doing a double tap. And I will forever be grateful for that type of stuff. So those three, I value, value so much in my life, not just professionally, either. Personally, every single one of them. We're like family, we've had our fights we've had me and Melanie have had our fights, and our disagreements and we've had great experiences. And I'm just so grateful, so grateful for them.

Richard Walker 46:54

It is always so nice to talk to somebody who loves what they do loves the company they're in and loves the people in their company. So congrats on having the best fit possible.

Rick Williamson 47:04

Thank you, man. I'm very, very fortunate.

Richard Walker 47:07

So I want to thank Rick Williamson, director of training at Redtail for being on this episode of The Customer Wins, go check out Redtail's website at And don't forget to check out Quik! at where you can take the work out of paperwork. I hope you've enjoyed this discussion, and we'll click the like button, share this with someone and subscribe to our channels for future episodes of The Customer Wins. Thanks for joining me today, Rick.

Rick Williamson 47:31

Rich, thank you so much, man and to everybody out there who spent time with us. Thank you. Don't forget, consider what you waste your time on and what others waste their time on and build relationships that way. It's the best, the most fulfilling everybody wins. If customer wins, you win.

Outro 47:50

Thanks for listening to The Customer Wins podcast. We'll see you again next time and be sure to click Subscribe to get future episodes.


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