Kristine Bondoc, one of the top business process outsourcing executives, believes that the sector she leaped into from banking a decade and a half ago, will continue to expand, despite the challenges brought on by the pandemic, and one of the reasons is the culture of service that Filipinos are known for.
“We have to think positive in these times,” says Bondoc, vice president of operations at Everise Philippines—a global, next-generation customer experience solutions and technology company. “People are looking for service that Filipinos can provide, with one of the main things is interacting with people with concern and empathy.”
“We strive to make the human element vital, and it is still the biggest element of the customer experience still to this day. The CX [customer experience] industry is an exciting one that is growing exponentially, so if you want to make a change like I did, I encourage one to take the leap,” she says in an e-mail interview.
Bondoc had a five-year stint as a country manager of a BPO company in Jamaica, before she returned home to lead Everise Philippines. With over 15 years of experience in the BPO industry, she is passionate about the evolving industry which helps provide jobs, grows future leaders, promotes diversity, invests in development and helps partners in reaching their business goals.
Everise employs more than 3,000 customer service “champions” in the Philippines. The company announced its move to bolster its workforce in the country to service the growing demand from clients for additional services, including managing digital customer support channels.
The young global company dominates in the technology, healthcare and e-commerce verticals. It was established in 2016 by Sudhir Agarwal with a vision to disrupt the BPO industry and pave the way for a tech-enabled, people-first customer experience.
Bondoc recalls she had the honor of working with a few of the current Everise executives including president Dave Palmer in previous roles at eTelecare. In June 2020, she was offered a role in Malaysia and applied for a position in the US.
“But as fate may have it, I was brought back home after my project stints in Malaysia/Japan, US and Singapore; all from my living room in Jamaica because I could not travel yet during the pandemic,” she says.
She was asked to return home to help Everise accelerate growth in the Philippines, which she gladly accepted. “It is a vision that I am excited about because we are creating great jobs for Filipinos of all walks of life who will be supporting innovative brands that millions of people use around the world,” she says.
“These last 19 months have been such a learning experience and we are forging ahead with a blended model of work-at-home and brick-and-mortar for our people to support the global demand we are receiving from clients requesting our successful ‘flexshoring’ model. The world is seeing many benefits from this model,” she says, referring to the blend of work-at-home and centralized teams on a global scale.
“It offers flexibility to delivery on-, near- and off-shore CX to combat the threats posed by viral, cultural and climactic disruption and mitigate uncertainties. This model has been proven successful and many companies like that they can choose what percentage of people and where they can support customers,” she says.
Bondoc says while adapting to the pandemic in the beginning was tough, Everise adjusted quickly, because “10 percent of our champions were in a work-at-home model since 2018.”
“We just had to scale quickly. Our leaders and teams went the extra mile and made the transition of moving 95 percent of employees to a safe environment in a matter of a few weeks. There were many moving parts, and of course we had a learning curve, but our agility gave us an opportunity to prove ourselves and we launched more accounts, one after another, and expanded new logos and along with many existing ones. With Everise’s tech stack, our champions and partners felt confident with operations in a home environment,” says Bondoc.
“Another finding I’m seeing is that people thought the pandemic was temporary, so they started with setting up a work space on their dining table, for example. But now, I’m seeing they have invested in a dedicated workspace which shows that they are accepting this is the new normal for a while,” she says.
Bondoc says Everise Philippines continues to hire Filipinos to support expansion. “Believe it or not, there is still demand in the market, in particular from healthcare and technology companies. They are looking for partners who can help them economically grow their businesses in a volatile market. As a result, there is tremendous interest in nearshore and offshore customer support services, and our expansion is driven by that,” she says.
“Our client testimonials and high net promoter scores have proven Everise can deliver great customer experiences with a personal touch. We are not ‘just another BPO’, we are truly a digital experience company. We are driven by designing and implementing world-class customer experiences; and, we invest deeply in client relationships to improve and enhance our processes, our technology, and our people-first philosophy. Our ability to be agile with our clients and teams in this fast-changing pace of the automation and information age is what sets us apart,” she says.
Bondoc says Everise conducts psychographic hiring, which means it actively hires people who are the right fit and bases its decisions on their skill set, values, attitudes and aspirations, which align with the realities of working remotely.
“We have such a diverse range of champions and psychographic hiring does not discriminate. If a candidate matches the skills, values, attitudes and behaviors to what Everise is looking for; then they will be hired,” she says.
Bondoc was originally trained to be a banker, having studied Economics, and was working for an investment company when she was introduced to the BPO industry.
“This was in the early 2000s. I was really intrigued, and young; I knew I was good with people but had no experience in this sector, but I decided to go for it and I dedicated the first three years to understanding the processes and operations side which came with a lot of humility,” she says.
From then, she kept moving up through the ranks and saw how the BPO sector evolved. “Changes have been driven by the changes in the economy and innovation-new products or services that are being developed. For example, when the app-based environment and social media platforms started to take off, we had to adapt and support the customer experience through those channels via chat and video,” she says.
“Our demand is driven by the demand of our client’s customers, and how customers are interacting with them. Our digital outsourcing system helps to develop innovative solutions which not only speed up our partners’ growth, but also help to develop critical abilities that increase the potential of our human capital,” she says.