When you first speak with Komal Akhtar, you’re struck by two immediate impressions. First, she’s a professional on a mission. Second, there’s absolutely no doubt she’s going to get there. Komal also happens to be a very special kind of customer service specialist, which is why we spoke with her recently to get her take on the current state of customer care.
From Pakistan to Jersey
Komal was born in Pakistan and moved to New Jersey with her family when she was eight. As Komal tells it, “I love New Jersey. I really feel like I’ve lived here all my life!” When we caught up with her this spring, Komal had just finished a successful tour with one of Aerotek’s pharmaceutical clients and was just about to start work with one of our financial services accounts.
“I felt like I had a chance to learn and excel at my last job as a customer service rep. In my time there, I learned a lot about working with people and I also learned a lot about finance. My new role is as an account manager at a financing company, and all that experience negotiating and managing financial terms is all set to come in very handy.”
Getting it done
Josh Mordkoff is the Aerotek recruiter who originally discovered Komal, and he knew right away she was someone he could count on.
“She had something we love to see in our recruits – a great attitude combined with almost unbridled energy. But you could also tell she was rigorous. She had a method. In a very short time, on her first contract, she started outperforming all the other customer specialists on the team, and she did so consistently. She just gets it done, day in and day out.”
Confidence is mutual
Komal told us how she first found Aerotek, and she wanted to talk about Josh.
“I was introduced to Aerotek by my boyfriend, and that’s when I met Josh. My only work experience up to then was working in a fast food franchise and a retail furniture store. He must have seen something in me to have the confidence to put me forward for a role as customer service representative. I’ll never forget that confidence he had in me, especially when it was time to move on to new job opportunities; his confidence never wavered. Something tells me we’ll never let each other down.”
From fast food to pharma
We asked Komal how it was, making the leap from main-street retail to learning on the job in a totally new, high-pressure customer service position.
“It was incredibly fast-paced. The first weeks and months I had to spend not just learning, but somehow catching up with an extraordinary backlog of issues to resolve. Our job was to manage the product returns for the company and, if you can believe it, when I joined there were over 1,500 backlogged issues to resolve.”
“I quickly established new efficiencies and we saw the backlog start to drop. Once I proved to be good at getting my work done on time, they’d start to give me extra cases to handle. That increasing load and pace, believe it or not, is what made me excel. I guess I rose to the challenge.”
With a truly sincere sense of modesty, Komal added: “Hey, it’s really all about having a really intense approach to time management – that and the motivation to never give up!”
Competing with myself
We wondered if Komal discovered a particular trick or technique to credit her rapid success. “Yes, I was pretty obsessed with keeping the daily load of issues low, keeping those numbers down at the end of each day. My trick was this – I started competing with myself! If I resolved 70 cases one day, the next day I aimed for 80. The most I ever processed in one day was 90.
“But it all paid off. When I left that role for a better opportunity, I couldn’t have been more proud of the results of my work there. We reduced a historical backlog of customer issues from 1,500 to under 200. And I think they’re going to keep it there!”
A heart for people, a head for numbers
In her new role as an account manager at an industrial financing company, Komal gets to learn on the job again, but this time she’s starting off a little more prepared.
“In my previous role in customer support, I had a chance to refine and expand my people skills. But I was also constantly dealing with negotiating terms and credits, and I ended up learning a lot about finance. In my new role here as an account manager for our financing customers, this is going to be an essential skill.”>
Komal shared her philosophy about another crucial ingredient for job success – work environment.
“Oh, I really believe environment matters, a lot. Your day-to-day work environment is so important. A little pressure can be motivating, but when a person has too much pressure on their shoulders, if they feel like their output is always under a microscope, that’s not a good recipe for job satisfaction or business success.”
Last word about a rising star
If there’s one thing Aerotek prides itself on, it’s our talent for spotting people with such huge potential, like Komal – sometimes, even before they might realize their full potential in today’s ever-turbulent world of work. Josh Mordkoff told us that Komal is a picture-perfect example of this phenomenon.
“We saw a very motivated young woman who spoke four languages, excelled in her earliest jobs, even while studying for her associate’s degree in business administration. When we meet someone like Komal, with such a high level of energy and a strong work ethic, we know she’s got what it takes to be a rising star, especially in the tough but rewarding line of work of customer service and account management.
“The honest truth is this: Finding the Komal Akhtars of the world of work is how we thrive in our business. And sticking with them as their careers rise – and success follows success – is the most rewarding part of my job.”
If Komal’s story reminds you of yours, we’d love to work together. Check out our most current positions for customer service representatives. And you can set up your Aerotek career management account if you haven’t already.