Interview with Jonathenne Severe: A Success Story
(Interview with Jonathanne SEVERE, QAT Manager, Digicel)
How did you start working in the BPO sector?
This question brings me back to a decade ago, in 2006, when I finished my university studies having obtained a BA in Economics. In 2006 Digicel announced its launch in Haiti. I sent in my resume which was empty (it only included my personal information and my academic background). Fortunately, my application was successful, and I had an interview.
The rest of the story is history, as people say. In June 2006, I joined Digicel as a customer service agent for the French West Indies which included Guadeloupe, Guyana and Martinique. If my memory serves me correctly, in January 2007 my supervisors executed a performance assessment and I was promoted to a Quality Assurance position where my role was to ensure the quality of service in calls.
Performance assessments occurred annually, and in 2007 for my appraisal I met the Director face to face. He enquired about my learning process in my new position and he asked me about my vision of the call center in Haiti. After our meeting, he offered me to be responsible for the training of the local area. Of course, I accepted.
After 11 years of working in the improvement of the customer service experience, I still love my job and I enjoy the activities I do at work. I do not see myself leaving the sector yet. My mission has not ended yet and there is still a lot to be done. Today I have the opportunity and honor to share my experience with the Haitian youth.
What do you think a young person needs to start a career in the BPO sector?
BPO is a constantly changing sector but the basic prerequisites remain the same:
- Skills in spoken and written language, regardless of the language that the person speaks.
- Thorough knowledge of the products and services of the company you are representing. The customer will rely on agents to understand the product which they are selling.
- ICT literacy: It is necessary to record the clients’ transactions. Additionally, the company constantly innovates technology and looks for better ways to meet the expectations of customers and to retain them.
- Adaptability: An agent responds to 80 clients in a day and he will therefore have to deal with 80 different clients’ profiles. Some of the clients might be an enraged client, some of them do not clearly express their needs and others have an over familiar tone. Therefore, an agent must be able to cope with all these behaviors without letting them affect him. An agent must be able to master his emotions.
- Willingness to learn: There are many companies that are interested to invest and are looking for human resources.
- Agents should also have patience and a positive spirit.
- Determination to help the customer: Be engaged to give a solution to the client and not end the call without having found an answer that suits the client.
- Communication: I mentioned it in the last place because is very important. It is the agent’s key work tool. To have good vocabulary is not enough. It is necessary to be able to explain clearly to the customer what needs to be informed. Communication is the main structure of the argumentation and persuasion (ability to convince a client).
Any last word or tips for candidates interested in working in the sector.
I want to thank people behind this initiative to include young people and encourage them to fight for a future in Haiti. Despite the appearances and the country has had enough brain drain, there is future for young people and job opportunities too.
I thank Haiti Smart Talent for having selected me as a model of success. I really did not expect it. You can work very hard, but nothing can be compared or be more gratifying than receiving recognition for having done a good job. I also thank all those who saw potential in me and helped me make it spring. My deepest thanks to Regine Vital, Laurence Marie, Nathalie Etienne.
I want to invite potential BPO investors in Haiti, to bet on us. You will not be disappointed, I guarantee you. There is a talented labor force here that is waiting to be solicited.
I would like to invite young generations of the country to DARE!
Dare to be on the stage. Invest in yourself, learn from everyone around you, learn from the experiences of those who were there before you. They have a lot to teach you. Certainty, you receive training at school and at university, but there are also things you learn on your own. Be your own source of motivation and go beyond your own limits. The limits that exist are those that we impose ourselves.