What a Career in Global Payroll has Taught Me about Customer Service

October 2, 2020
6 mins read

Today we are chatting with Kira Rubiano. Kira recently joined Immedis as the Customer Engagement Director. In this role, Kira will manage our relationship with customers, support adoption, and ensure continued satisfaction with our solutions.

Why did you decide to join Immedis?

Simply put, I believe that the people, culture, technology, and vision of Immedis will transform the lives of global payroll professionals and continue to drive the industry forward. I want to be a part of it.

Since the age of 14, I knew that I wanted to work globally and cross-culturally. It has always been and continues to be a passion of mine. I proudly dub myself as a “global geek.” After graduating from university with an International Relations degree and International Law minor, my intentions were to pursue a career in the United Nations. However, by sheer fate, I came upon a global payroll company, and my background fit perfectly. I spent most of my professional career growing in the industry as a global payroll professional. Having had many roles, I learned many aspects of the business and the various global nuances and processes. I then spent some time in management working for a large accounting firm, in its International Division, which gave me great exposure to the global side of accounting and tax compliance. For the past 2 years, I led the International Payroll Division and US Operations for an international BPO firm. In my experience, I have been able to gain various perspectives in the global payroll process as the global payroll aggregator and the global payroll local provider. I wanted to get back to my roots and use my knowledge and experience to collaborate with an organization that shares my passion and aligns with my values.  I know, Immedis is that place.

What are your critical focus areas for customer service?

As a global payroll service provider, we are entrusted with the most important assets of an organization, its employees. Taking care of an organization’s most critical assets is at the forefront of how we approach customer service. There are several key aspects that I focus on when it comes to customer service:

  1. Relationship-building— It is critical for me and my team to get to know our customers personally and professionally.  Trust is essential.  The only way to build trust is to focus on the relationship, growing and nurturing it.  Today, we can leverage technology to foster and promote our customer relationships by giving us a platform to communicate face to face.
  2. Proactivity – I live by the mantra that no one should ever have to follow up with me but that I should follow up with them.  Being in front of the customer and the process is critical to mitigating risk and ensuring satisfaction.  I diffuse this message to my team.
  3. Monitoring—I leverage business intelligence tools to keep a close eye on key performance indicators (KPIs) and ensure visibility to those indicators to all relevant stakeholders. If there are areas of concern, remediation plans are put in place.
  4. Delegation—Empowering my team to take the initiative and ownership over our customers is critical. I am always available for guidance, direction, and advice, but I ask them to pave their way.
  5. Feedback – It is extremely important to keep an open and clear line of communication amongst all stakeholders.  It takes many parties, all over the globe, to get the world paid.  Therefore, having regular and constructive communication and feedback is critical to ensuring long and fruitful customer engagement.

Why does customer service resonate with you?

I love having the ability to interact with the many outstanding and passionate payroll professionals around the world.  Being able to support them on their global payroll journey is what propels me to work in customer service.  Additionally, I love building relationships. Though vast, the payroll community feels small.  It is truly a community in every sense of the word; supportive, encouraging, and understanding. It is wonderful to be a part of it.

How would you rate excellent customer service? What KPIs do you use to evaluate the service provided?

All the procedures and protocols we implement are centered around ensuring organizations can demonstrate that they are meeting and maintaining global payroll compliance. And prioritizing our customer service ensures we can deliver on this goal.

Some key performance metrics are:

  • Accuracy – calculating payroll (Gross to Net processing), generation of statutory filings, and submission of payments
  • Timeliness – meeting deadlines for processing, deliverables, statutory filings, and payments
  • Responsiveness – the speed of response to not only critical items but non-critical
  • Client Satisfaction – client experience based on consistent feedback

Although the above items may provide a quantitative view of the service being provided, customer service is also about a qualitative experience.  You can have 100% compliance across the metrics mentioned above, but if a customer does not sense the relationship is valued and being nurtured, the overall client experience will not be positive. Therefore, relationship building is integral.

What way has COVID-19 impacted customer service?

In a world of uncertainty, customers are yearning to have assurance, control, and comfort that the services they have procured are being delivered on time, accurately, and with care.  Paying people has always been important. However, COVID-19 has illuminated how critical it is to keep the world moving forward.  Lines of communication have opened even more between provider and customer, and the bond between them has strengthened.  Customers and service providers have leaned on each other to get through these challenging times.

What do you see on a future roadmap for customer service?

Although robotics is paving the way for the future and our daily interaction with bots is likely to increase, particularly in payroll, it does not mean the end to customer care.  Leveraging on technology to enhance the customer experience is happening as we speak and will continue to be at the forefront of how we experience service.  At the other end of those bots, there are people dedicated to ensuring that customers have a positive and comprehensive experience.

Do you see customer experience as a better way to frame the philosophy behind customer service? Why or why not?

Yes, absolutely.  I like to think of the following comparison that is relatable:

Not too long ago, I would need to call my local pharmacy (when I remembered to), speak with a pharmacist, and request a refill on my prescription.  I would wait for the pharmacist to pull up my prescription, confirm the information, and submit the request.  They were always nice and friendly. I would then drive to the pharmacy and pick up the prescription directly after waiting in line and paying at the register.  I was happy with the service and satisfied that my prescription was ready.

Then an automated phone system was implemented by which I could press the phone keys on my phone to submit a request for a refill.  I did not speak with anyone until I got to the pharmacy to pick up my prescription.  When I did, I was happy with the customer service.

Today, I receive a text directly to my cell phone, asking me if I want to process my refill.  I simply text “yes,” and the order is delivered to my home in the next 48 hrs.  I am happy with the service.

While the service has not changed, my experience has. Technology has allowed me to have more control and ease with obtaining the same product and service.  My experience has become shorter, less costly, documented, more predictable, and, in the end, still positive.

What role is technology playing in transforming customer service?

Although compliance is of critical importance to global companies, technology focusing on consolidation and data integration has become a leading factor for companies to realign their global payroll operations. Analytics has emerged as highly desirable.  More and more global companies are re-evaluating their global payroll operations as they look to optimize and streamline. Fewer companies are choosing less and less to work with several different payroll vendors globally.

Companies are also looking to global payroll vendors or global payroll technology companies to consolidate their efforts and centralize their payroll data. This allows them to have greater visibility over the global process and leverage the data to make critical business decisions.  Even though technology is driving a lot of the change, the value placed on the client experience and customer service is still of high importance. Customers want to be taken care of and build relationships with those helping them ensure smooth payroll operations.

Additional resource:

Historically, global payroll professionals did not have resources readily available to guide them on their journey. Luckily over the past 5 years, the community has come together to elevate the importance of global payroll within organizations.  A great resource for education and guidance, the Global Payroll Management Institute provides content and thought leadership specifically geared to lifting the global payroll profession.

Subscribe to our blog

Get our latest blog posts when they are published.