Exceeding Client Expectations Can Fuel Career Growth
This week’s guest is Kevin Anthony Paredes, iQor director of operations for a telecommunications customer service account in Dasmarinas, Philippines. His time at iQor has been replete with admirable success for the client he supports as well as for his own career journey. Kevin started in the business process outsourcing (BPO) industry 12 years ago as an agent. Through hard work and dedication, he has advanced his career over the years, holding a variety of roles in different vertical industries such as financial and telecommunications. In this episode, Kevin shares his collaborative problem-solving strategies for identifying areas of improvement. These strategies have guided outstanding performance by leaders and agents, exceeded client expectations for customer service, and fueled growth on his career journey amid personal challenges.
Ramping Up for Success
Kevin joined iQor in 2018 as a senior manager for a new client program and has earned tremendous career progression since that time. The launch program he started with at iQor was an offshoot of an existing telecommunications account. The program handled overflow calls from another iQor site, focusing on customer service related to sales, billing, and technical issues. As part of a new team, Kevin was tasked with ensuring the program ramped up to hire a sufficient customer service agent headcount. He was also responsible for making sure leadership was fully trained to provide optimal customer experiences for the client.
Under Kevin’s management, the program enjoyed a strong start. The main KPIs measuring this success were Net Promoter Scores (NPS) and average handle times (AHT). NPS gauges customer satisfaction with the service provided and whether the customer would recommend the brand to family and friends. AHT measures the average length of time the customer is engaged on a call, with the goal that agents resolve customer inquiries and provide a rewarding customer experience in as little time as possible—key components for customer satisfaction and a company’s bottom line.
Kevin met great success in improving the NPS score. His program started with 200 full-time employees (FTE) at launch. At that time, most BPO vendors performed at about 50% NPS. Through a combination of strong leadership, training, and coaching, Kevin’s team rocked it out of the gate. They increased the NPS to 53% which strengthened client confidence in the team and prompted the client to double the FTE headcount by the end of the year.
After a fantastic performance launching the offshoot account for his first project at iQor, Kevin made a lateral move at the end of 2018 into the senior manager position for the main account. In his initial offshoot account, his team provided customer service to consumers from across the United States. With his new position on the main account, his team focused on specific states, providing personalized customer experiences only to U.S. customers on the West Coast. Kevin enjoyed a long tenure with the project which afforded him the opportunity to build strong working relationships with fellow leaders and experts.
Activating Professional Development for Client Support
Early on in his role with the main client account, Kevin recognized the team was facing challenges to meet key performance indicators (KPIs) for customer service. Their NPS scores were in the bottom half and AHT was also below threshold. Determined to turn things around, Kevin used data analytics to inform a plan to improve KPIs.
He seized the opportunity to leverage his training and certification in Lean Six Sigma and put his enhanced problem-solving skills to work. Instead of running the team through the entire Six Sigma process, Kevin simplified it by using a form known as “Plan, Do, Check, Act” to focus specifically on the areas of need instead of doing a 12-week deep dive into Six Sigma analysis and problem-solving. Through the simplified process, he worked with the team to identify the problem, define its root cause, create an action plan, and track the lead and lag measures to determine the effectiveness of the action plan implementation.
In this exercise, Kevin observed an opportunity to improve program outcomes by running a root cause analysis flow. This technique would empower leaders to better identify areas for growth within the program and related courses of action for outstanding customer service. Kevin helped other senior managers understand the root cause, set clear expectations, and create action plans accordingly.
After performing the initial analysis, Kevin and the team decided to focus on leadership development to ensure the program performed at the highest level to meet customer needs. They worked to implement the corresponding action plans and met extraordinary success. Indeed, the focus on transforming leadership skills had widespread positive ramifications for the entire program. Accordingly, their Net Promoter Score steadily climbed from 50% to 60% and then up to 70%.
By the time the team reached 70% NPS, they ended 2019 as the number one site out of all offshore sites among the client’s global BPO partners and they beat the metrics internally at iQor at nearly all of the client’s partner sites. The team exceeded internal KPIs and the client’s vice president visited the site three times to congratulate them, learn best practices, and revel in the performance improvements. Ultimately, the program expanded from 200 to 900 FTEs because of its success in providing meaningful customer experiences and outstanding client relationships.
Although the team was elated to be recognized as the number one site, they knew the pressure was on to maintain that ranking with all the friendly competition aimed at taking the lead. They remained focused on continuing to increase employee engagement and meet client needs to create amazing customer experiences.
In recognition of his leadership and the resulting success for his team and client, Kevin enjoyed continued career advancement and was promoted to operations director in March of 2021.
The iQor Community Rallies Together
Just a few months into his new role, Kevin contracted a severe case of COVID but rallied through it with overwhelming support from the community around him. He attributes his current health and wellbeing in part to the tremendous help iQor provided him throughout his illness.
Initially, Kevin experienced mild symptoms that soon developed into terrible ones. Bedridden and feeling extremely unwell, he received help from his colleagues. In the true iQor fashion of caring for employees, Kevin’s supervisor reached out to human resources which in turn contacted Kevin’s HMO to ensure he received the care he needed.
The HMO began calling and checking in on Kevin. At that point, his oxygen saturation had dropped, he couldn’t eat, and he slept 90% of the day. He needed hospital care, but many of the hospitals couldn’t admit new patients due to the high numbers of COVID cases in the Philippines. Recognizing the need for help, iQor intervened and found a hospital room for Kevin.
But how could he get there? With low oxygen levels, Kevin relied on a large oxygen tank to support his breathing. He couldn’t safely travel to the hospital with it. A doctor from the HMO called and immediately recognized the urgent need to get Kevin to the hospital. With Kevin sleeping, his wife spoke to the doctor and communicated how they didn’t have transportation to get to the hospital and there weren’t any ambulances available. The doctor stepped in and 10 minutes later an ambulance was on its way.
Once in the hospital’s care, it was clear his condition was serious. Kevin immediately underwent numerous tests, treatments, and a plasma therapy blood transfusion. Although determined to get better and maintain a positive attitude, it was hard.
iQor was determined to help Kevin triumph just as he had done for his project teams. Throughout Kevin’s two-week hospital stay, iQor’s HR and benefits team called Kevin’s wife every day to check on him and ensure the HMO provided the coverage he needed to get better. They also assisted with paperwork and accessing government benefits.
With HR and benefits covering that angle, Kevin’s supervisor took the lead in making sure Kevin’s family was taken care of. Knowing Kevin and his wife were in the hospital and his sister-in-law was taking care of their three children, Kevin’s supervisor arranged to send them food every day to make sure the children were fed and his sister-in-law wasn’t overwhelmed.
After Kevin returned home from the hospital, iQor made sure he didn’t return to work for another two weeks to support his wellness and ensure he made a full recovery. And recover he did!
iQor Qares for Employees
iQor’s help didn’t end there. Through the iQor Qares charitable giving program, Kevin received monetary support to help pay his hospital bills. iQor Qares enables employees as well as those outside of iQor to make financial donations at any time in any amount. One hundred percent of the funds raised go to iQorians in need—helping them with unplanned emergencies or other challenging life situations when they are facing financial hardship due to an event beyond their control.
Kevin has immense gratitude for being here today. He is grateful not only for the care he received from his family, friends, and healthcare providers but also for the generosity and daily support from iQor. The help and acts of kindness made a challenging situation more bearable. Through it all, he was happy to return to the company and get back to work.
Kevin never expected support like this from his employer. He views iQor as unique in its commitment to help its employees whenever and however it can, seeing employees as family, not numbers. He has never before experienced that much care from a company. He says this has contributed greatly towards his loyalty to iQor.
“Not only is iQor a business, it’s also a family,” Kevin says.
He has experienced first-hand how iQor truly makes employees feel valued, from recognizing his work and promoting him to caring for him when he was severely stricken by COVID-19. The kindness and support he received, even from iQorians he had no previous interactions with, was amazing to him.
Kevin’s career journey with iQor and all that he has contributed and accomplished, despite the challenges he’s faced, is an inspiration.
How to Donate to iQor Qares
iQor employees can easily set up a donation commitment. It’s simple and safe. If all employees donate just $1 a month, we’d raise $35,000 every month to help our colleagues in need.
iQor employees can donate at iQorQares.com.
Anyone outside of iQor is welcome to make a one-time donation (or as often as they want)!
Contributors outside of iQor can donate on this website.
What Kevin Does for Fun
Kevin and his wife have three very young children that keep things fun, exciting, and a little bit crazy! In his downtime, when the kiddos are occupied, Kevin loves playing video games. In this COVID world, he embraces it since he can’t go out anyway.
Learn more about iQor’s capabilities for amazing customer care.