Creating a Culture of Performance Enablement – An Interview with Iterum’s COO

Julie Hsu
Julie Hsu
Creating a Culture of Performance Enablement – An Interview with Iterum’s COO

Recently our AmplifAI team sat down for an interview with Juan Lopez, Chief Operating Office of Iterum Connections. 

We were excited to learn how Iterum is creating a culture around performance enablement, and how AmplifAI is helping them deliver an exceptional experience and boost their teams’ performance.

You can watch the on-demand recording of the interview here. 

What is Iterum?

Iterum is a cloud-native BPO based in Panama that started operations four years ago. We support all the stages of the customer lifecycle from lead generation, retention and collections, and across all communication channels. 

We currently have nearshore locations in Panama, Bogota, Colombia. In Kingston, Jamaica we have an On-site and WAH environment. We will be expanding through two new markets in Latin America, including another city in Colombia, and other geos in 2023/2024.

In Iterum we have two main areas of focus that we take pride in: the people and how we always look for best-in-class partners to offer our clients the best customer experience.

How did it all start for Iterum? 

Iterum means “once again” in Latin. The company was born after its two founders, Miro Batista and Joe Fidanque (two industry giants), decide to venture one more time in the BPO industry. This time they applied all the lessons learned from a 20+ year career and with a team of executives who bring under their belts track records of catering to many Fortune 500 clients globally. 

With client and employee-centricity as part of our core values, we act as true partners and consultants, and we deliver a value-added proposition that will position us as the partner and employer of choice. 

We also make business easy by being nimble, agile, and personable, and by delivering always that extra mile. We want to own our clients’ opportunities, and we want to join them in the journey of piloting new profiles, optimizing processes, and exploring new technologies.

The combination of all the above, and the partnership with local entities, like ProColombia in BOG, and key players and leaders in the industry, like AmplifAI, has been crucial to our success. 

This has resulted in over 60% YoY growth and with recognitions such as “Entrepreneurial Company of the Year” in 2021, and “Competitive Strategy Leadership” in 2023, granted by Frost & Sullivan.

How do you apply performance enablement to your BPO? 

It’s important to understand the main difference: Performance Management is about the result. Performance Enablement is about the person. 

Performance enablement involves identifying and developing our employees’ potential, constantly providing feedback, and helping them move forward. This dynamic process of consistent support and development makes employees feel valued for more than just the work they do. It also equips them and makes them see their leaders as an important resource for their development rather than a source of judgment. 

Performance enablement also gives our employees a voice. They can choose their career paths and incorporate 360-degree feedback in their everyday sessions.

At Iterum, we provide in-the-moment feedback intraday, and we help our agents identify their strengths to leverage them and share them as best practices with others that might struggle in areas they succeed. 

We are always teaching and developing new skills and leveraging on tools like AmplifAI, to make lessons and best practices from top performers accessible to everyone.

What was the critical criteria Iterum used to enable and evaluate performance enablement programs?

We measure employee experience throughout their agent journey, not only limiting to measure retention rates. We measure ESATs throughout their onboarding cycle and naturally see a degradation in the survey scores early in operations that picks up as agents go beyond the 90-day threshold. 

Stabilizing that experience, reducing times to proficiency, and improving overall employee retention (50% happens during their first 90 days) will all be key indicators to evaluate the results of our performance enablement programs.

What are the process changes that have positively impacted performance enablement?

Understand what performance enablement represents and change the mindset. 

  • Invest in our people: 70% of our leaders’ time is designed for coaching. 
  • Invest in our tools: AmplifAI. Set up operational cadence and mechanisms to foster leadership accountability towards performance enablement. 
  • Invest in L&D: Richardson Sales Performance

What was critical to Iterum’s success?

Positioning ourselves as a Boutique BPO has enabled us to de-commoditize our BPO activities and evolve into a consultant partner to our clients. We do more than just handle interactions, we become crucial to our partners’ operations by constantly sharing process improvement opportunities. 

We have revamped L&D materials, restructured service profiles to pursue new organizational strategies for our clients, and integrated technology to build omnichannel and self-service solutions thru RPA. 

All of this, surrounded by a servant leadership culture, centers on our employees and clients. We also used Culture Committees for onboarding. Partnering up with strategic players in the countries we operate (like ProColombia) and players in the industry (like AmplifAI, Five9).

What are your top 3 focus areas as a global organization?

  1. Constantly develop your bench. We are only as good as our leadership.
  2. Operationalize a client-centricity culture. In other words, tie associate success with our client's success.
  3. Keep remote workers engaged. Measure the number of logins and employee engagement through AmplifAI.

What lead you to AmplifAI?

We were looking for a coaching-tracking solution – a tool (other than Excel and Share Point) to document our coaching sessions and measure coaching completion. 

At that moment, there was no standard process or mechanism to document and track coaching delivery. It was challenging for our frontline leaders to follow up on actions and onboard new agents after distro changes. And prepping for one-on-one meetings was not an efficient process. 

This all left less time to coach their agents and resulted in a degradation of our agent experience.

Why did you choose AmplifAI?

It was eye-opening and enlightening to discover all the features AmplifAI offers like action recommendations (for agents, supervisors, and managers), scoreboards including coaching completion and effectiveness, and how easy it integrates with our LMS and other data ingestion platforms. 

We immediately understood and found a use case for the AmplifAI solution.

AmplifAI has been key to our growth and success because it has shortened the learning curve of new leaders when it comes to coaching. Our supervisors now take less time to prepare for their sessions, must do a minimum analysis of KPI trends and behaviors, and can refer to best practices from their A-level players.

What metrics do you use to define a successful program? 

Outside of client KPIs – which we met – we improved our sales performance by over 20%. Plus, we went from having 25% of our population exceed goals to having 54% of our population exceed them. All in just three months. 

We look at this from an employee engagement perspective. Tracking the percent of logins per day, coachings completed per month/week/day, and coaching effectiveness percent over time.

What are some of your best practices we can share with our followers?

Transition from traditional performance management to a performance enablement model. This will result in a more engaged and driven workforce at all levels, and it will translate into higher retention and better performance.

Foster organizational accountability towards being servant leaders. Taking care of our employees and customers begins with servant leaders who can listen, understand, and actively and genuinely care for their people.

Define success for your organization, for your workforce, and for your clients. Then define how will you measure it, operationalize it, and tie incentives to results.

Share with your network!

Benefit
Result
💯
Improved Performance & Customer Experience
Month over month gains in Issue Resolution,
FCR and NPS;
Month over month reductions in Handle times,
ACW and Hold
👥
Winning additional client headcount
30% improvement in sales conversion
💪
Retaining talented people
8-point reduction in turnover
💰
Improving financial performance
10% increase in utilization

Summary

The future of success in your contact center is contingent on how you impact performance in ways that are both immediate and sustainable. And it doesn’t matter whether your agents are on-site, at-home, full-time, part-time, or temporary – you must deliver on performance.

Coaching is one of the most significant tools we can use to deliver on the engagement and performance of our people – but we must develop our processes, our people and leadership skills, and our technology tools, in order to overthrow the pervasive challenges to achieving greater coaching effectiveness and supercharging contact center performance!

Unlock the potential of your employees and skyrocket your ROI with cutting-edge coaching.

call center coaching cta@0.5x

Connect with the authors:

Melissa Pollock Customer Success at AmplifAI

Jim Rembach President at CX Media

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