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The Story of Intelassist | Stories With Traction Podcast


SUMMARY: In this episode, Chris Stokes and Matt Zaun discuss Intelassist and the future of work in the United States.

CHRIS STOKES BIO: Chris Stokes is the VP of Client Success and Partner at Intelassist, a remote staffing company based in Manila, Philippines.

For more info, check out Intelassist HERE.

MATT ZAUN BIO: Matt is an award-winning speaker and storyteller who empowers organizations to attract more clients through the art of strategic storytelling. Matt’s past engagements have catalyzed radical sales increases for over 300 organizations that range from financial institutions to the health and wellness industry.

Matt shares his expertise in persuasion with executives, sales professionals, and entrepreneurs, who he coaches on the art of influence and how to leverage this for profits and impact.

For more info, check out Matt Zaun HERE.


*Below is an AI-generated transcript, which may contain errors

Matt Zaun 

November of last year, I was speaking in Columbia, South Carolina, and I met a gentleman named Chris.

We had a fast It's an aiding conversation regarding the future of work in the United States. I wanted to have him on the stories with traction podcast to dive even deeper into the points that he made and talk about what the workforce might look like this decade.

So today I'm joined by Chris Stokes, who is the VP of client success and a partner at Intel Assist, which is a remote staffing company based in the Philippines.

Thanks for joining us today, Chris.


Chris Stokes (Intelassist Inc.)

Thanks for having me, Yeah, I appreciate your time and I really do appreciate what you do.


Matt Zaun

It not only fascinates me, but I see it becoming more and more of a need with companies in the United States.

So just to be clear, can you give people a little bit of a cliff notes version of your company, where you're based in the US and the Philippines, and then we'll go from there?


Chris Stokes (Intelassist Inc.)

Absolutely. So our business is actually pretty interesting. So we have been around since 2007. This is actually a family owned and

operated business out of the Philippines. So they started off before I entered doing mortgage refinance packages in 07. So you can imagine an 08 that didn't last very long.

So they transitioned into more of an architectural and engineering drafting support type business. And so they actually started with a client out of California that they still have now doing takeoffs estimation things like that.

In about 2015, there was a joint venture created where there's a split ownership. One of the partners from the US had purchased a portion of the business with the intent to, I'll say, expand operations in the US just due to the need that has existed here.

And so the business since then has been rapidly expanding. This is one of the businesses that I'll say COVID has really helped.

People got very comfortable with remote staffing. There were remote work, I should say, COVID. And so it's sort of opened people's minds to what's available.

And, you know, if you're going to do remote staffing in the US, why not look abroad as well? So a little bit more about Intel Assist.

We are about a thousand employees right now. We consider ourselves a relatively boutique operation. This is not a new concept.

know, there are, I believe, century started the BPO space, which is a business process outsourcing. And, you know, we are sort of a niche player and we take a slightly different approach than I would say some of our larger competitors.

We Like I stated originally, we are family owned. So we heavily value our company culture. We want to have a very open, I'll say enjoyable operation and workforce where people wanna come to work.

That's not new in the US, but actually relatively new in the Philippines. So it's that company culture partnered with traditionally higher wages that we offer our employees, yields, just a really positive environment, really high, I'll say high caliber employees that produce really well for us and our clients.


Matt Zaun 

So there's one key element that I want people to zone into, which is you mentioning that COVID transition the workforce in your favor, essentially.

And I think businesses should be thinking, different organizations should be thinking that how do we utilize this cultural shift for us?

So as an example, people are so used to hybrid work that it's no surprise that we can continue to do that a lot, depending on the company, but a lot of companies can do that.

Is there a way that they could drive down costs but still keep the same amount of care that they would want from an employee?

You know, I was telling you recently that I'm aware of companies that literally give their employees budgets to utilize Upwork and Fiverr because what they're saying is, hey, this is the skill set that I'm wanting from a team member.

If they could utilize Upwork and Fiverr to fill in the gaps, that is well worth them earmarking money to do so.

But I've also heard from the same companies that it's not as easy as they would want because They need to go out and get new people every time they're utilizing Upwork and Fiverr.

There's a lot of barriers. There's a lot of organizational issues. yes, at times they're saving money, but they could be increasing their headaches as well.

So with that said, how would working with your organization be different than an Upwork or Fiverr?


Chris Stokes (Intelassist Inc.)

Yeah, great question. So we we position ourselves as a remote staffing firm. So much like a staffing firm of work in the US, where you would you would give the staffing firm a job description or a set of job descriptions and expect them to go out and find quality employees for your business.

do the same thing in the Philippines. The big difference being we are, I'll say, fishing in a really big pond.

And like I mentioned with with our culture and pay where we're fishing with dynamite as well. And so what that allows us to do is.

To your point, Matt, on the quality and cost standpoint is really go out and hire incredibly qualified and experienced employees.

We don't ever sell our business on cost because I would say all of our clients and employees, there's no low cost that you're, also there's no price that you're willing to sacrifice quality.

If you have accountants or customer care engineers and they're having errors that are creating bad customer experiences, there's no price worth paying for that.

So we target a quality first and foremost. And yes, it happens to be cheaper. It's usually 50% or more the cost of what it would be in the US.

But we're really, really targeting quality over cost. And I think that's another piece that separates us. I'll go one step farther and one of the biggest problems that we are solving for our clients is just availability.

We're at effectively full employment. Burnover is high. And I think our clients are looking for a stable solution that they can't get from the fibers of the world where you don't know how long you're going to have a resource.

You don't know what the consistency of the quality is going to be. We take all of that risk off the table for our clients and build that stability and provide all the services that you filter out.

I'll say bad employees and get excellent ones.


Matt Zaun 

Sure, sure. So one of things that you mentioned regarding the transition with COVID, there's another huge transition on the horizon, which is AI technology.

And a lot of companies right now are buying in. They're trying to figure out. about how they could utilize this.

But there's very little talk about companies outside the US utilizing this technology. Because I see your industry becoming more and more of a need as other countries are educating their people on AI.

So do you foresee a day where a lot of US-based companies would be utilizing a lot of services like you have because AI is in other employees' hands, meaning if a lot of your employees already know how to utilize that and companies could pay 50 plus percent less, why wouldn't they do that?


Chris Stokes (Intelassist Inc.)

Yeah, absolutely. It's really, I don't think they're mutually exclusive. your point, it's AI plus a person that generates higher quality than just a person alone.

And we've seen that with multiple clients now where they are using AI, our agency. are using AI, course, being trained on that to your point and producing better and better results at a lower and lower price point.


Matt Zaun

So, do you foresee this becoming even more of a phenomenon where it's almost like, I hate to say a menu, but companies could literally look and say, hey, here's the kind of work we're going to get out of an employee over here.

Here's the kind of skill set that we could utilize over here and start putting the puzzle pieces together.


Chris Stokes (Intelassist Inc.)

Yeah, that's really a, I'll say you're competing for skill sets. So, the example I'll say if we get a wish list of on a job description that is, you know, certain AI platforms, certain software platforms, you know, experience in certain industries, we're able to take those requirements and again, fish in that really big pond and find someone, you know, that's really a direct fit, you know, low.

Low training time, obviously we're really reducing the learning curve and then putting in also the perfect fit for that line of that company.


Matt Zaun 

How do you foresee the quote unquote gig economy changing the mindset when it comes to companies meaning do you foresee a day where a company will say hey here's a project and we just need someone to work on this project and then once it's over.

They're done with that and then they're looking for another skill set for another project and it's kind of like it's kind of like a revolving door but it's it's it's popped up by the notion of the gig economy.

Do you foresee that happening more and more this decade.


Chris Stokes (Intelassist Inc.)

I think you'll see that with price pressures possibly I'll say instability that could become more and more prevalent. To your point around fiber earlier.

We try to guard. against that just because we feel the value in the people we hire is transferring that knowledge to them and keeping that knowledge internal to the company.

And that project-based work doesn't guarantee you're going to keep that knowledge. So we personally try to avoid that, but to answer your question, do think, assuming we actually see a recession here that that could become more and more problem.

But my recommendation would be if you can avoid that as a company and hire full-time dedicated people that will be invested in your company and culture, that's always a higher return on investment.


Matt Zaun 

For sure, for sure. Really good point. So I was very intrigued when you started listing off just some of the roles that you could fill, because I think a lot of the perception out there is when they hear about

a worker from a different country, it might be like a lower scale type role. What are some of roles that you can fill right now for companies?


Chris Stokes (Intelassist Inc.)

Just give us examples. Yeah, I mean, the reality, also the easy answer is anything that can be done remotely.

You know, we are not reinventing the wheel. I was like, I'm not sure we've ever reinvented the wheel on anyone we've hired.

It's all existed with previous companies. And just to give you an example of why that is, you know, a censure, you know, Price Warner House Cooper, United Healthcare, Ernst & Young, Florida, you know, massive global companies have been in the Philippines for decades.

And so that in parallel with an really unbelievable education system that the Philippines has invested in has just created this unbelievably skilled and talented workforce across a variety of

of industries. So with that broad answer, I will dial in. know, we currently serve, I'll say, let's call it five main industries.

So I will call it healthcare, where we're doing, anything from patient services to prior authorizations, you know, to medical assistance, to, you know, radiology and texts, to nurses, you know, anything in the healthcare space is, that could be done remotely is, is a huge industry in the Philippines.

As you may know, a lot of nurses come over on visa programs to the US. And so that's, that's something that's, that's been heavily invested in.

that's something we've seen a lot of growth in here recently. The other one of the other industries is, uh, engineering.

So we hire a lot of licensed architects and engineers that could be doing anything from, I'll say mechanical to civil, we do a lot of structural work, especially in the concrete space, know, very highly skilled, very specific roles that, that I'll say require a high level of accuracy in order to be successful with low error rates.

The other spaces accounting, so we hired a lot of CPAs, accounts payable, accounts receivable, specialists, where it's a lot of our companies will have multiple systems and trying to find someone that's knowledgeable and four different platforms can be difficult, but it's relatively easy for us, especially due to the extent of the accounting services already existing in the Philippines.

I see customer care is a large space. You know, that's sort of the, I'll say the token role, we, you know, on top of

of providing really excellent customer service. We do a lot of sales as well to the customers. And our agents have actually surpassed our US counterparts in many cases.

And so you think about it from a return on investment standpoint, when it costs less to their generating more revenue, it's a real win-win.

We build a lot of teams around customer care. So quality assurance, trainers, project managers, operations managers, the support functions that would come into play there.

And then some other roles that we help are, I'll say, back off this type of role. So it can be simple data entry.

But then that can be a lot more detailed, especially based on the complexity of programs. Obviously, error rates is actually something that we really hang our hat on, especially in companies where I'll say write-offs can be a big detractor in their business.

We've been able to reduce write-offs for some of our clients by up to 90 percent saving them upwards of a million dollars a year just on that fact alone.


Matt Zaun 

Wow. Thanks for sharing that. appreciate that. That's quite the list. That is quite the list.


Chris Stokes (Intelassist Inc.)

It's continuing to grow. We're a little agnostic as to industry, but we've gotten, I'll say, good at recruiting, finding, and retaining for those specifically.


Matt Zaun

One of the things I want to go back to, you mentioned company culture and how your organization does have a really good company culture that you're excited about.

That's really good. That's incredible. But what about companies that are listening to this episode and they think, well, what about?

But if we bring someone on, how do we plug them into our current culture? So is there is there a training from maybe a cultural perspective, from the Philippines to the US?

Is there what is a good way to bring someone on board and tie them into another existing company culture?


Chris Stokes (Intelassist Inc.)

Great, great question. And one of the things that we encourage our clients to do is just that. So we have our own culture.

Obviously the employees are on our payroll. They're employees of Intel Assist, but we always encourage our clients to adopt the people that we hire and that they encourage us to hire into their own culture.

And the way we see that happening is either the team that we hire, maybe it's a lead, maybe it's a project manager, depending on the size of the team.

If it's just one or two people, they may report to someone on the client side. If it's a team, maybe just a team lead or a project manager will report.

But the idea is that that is a new office for that client. And so any training the client has will be conveyed to those team members.

We have clients that send sweatshirts and koozies and hats to their team members to make them feel like they're part of the team.

And it's the classic, you get out what you put in. And so if you invest in the team that you hire, you spend time with them.

You treat them like team members in the US, you're going to get an unbelievable return. And we find that your employees are unbelievably loyal to our clients as well.


Matt Zaun 

So speaking of clients, you had mentioned to me that you. Before joining Intel Assist, you were actually a client yourself.

So I want to talk about that.


Chris Stokes (Intelassist Inc.)

What did you see in this organization? Why did you make the jump? What take us through that journey? Yeah.

good question. So we were, we had started a healthcare lending business where we were setting up zero percent interest payment plans to patients, you know, at the point of sale in hospitals to help pay for high deductible, I'll say, out of pocket expenses.

And so what we had used Intel Assist for was to hire two ladies that were doing everything from customer service to loan originations, which is how we set up payment plans to payment collections and even a lot of back office work.

And they were just incredible. You know, we had we had a net promoter score of 71, which is also a collection type space.

is somewhat unbelievable. But it's because I'll say their attention to detail, their empathy, their care. And so COVID, I said COVID been great for this business, Intel says, but it had been terrible for the health care business.

once elective surgeries stopped during COVID, it was sort of the final straw for that payment plan business. But I would say the level of service, the quality, I'll say just the company in general were so good that moving the switch once offered was an easy decision.

And funny enough, the two ladies we had with that business, even though we closed it down, are still employees of Intel assist work.

with different clients now, were able to, you know, we want to always want to make sure we're we're keeping good people and after all we're in the people collection business.

we, we make sure we, we held onto them and rolled them into, you know, new projects where they're, they're thriving and delivering a lot of value for their, their projects as well.


Matt Zaun 

Wow. So this really speaks to your belief in this. Like you truly believe based on what you've experienced that this could work for other organizations.

So based on that belief, where would they go from here? Let's say they understand the concept, they believe in the concept based on, on what you're saying, what, what are next steps for an organization to reach out and get involved in this process?


Chris Stokes (Intelassist Inc.)

Yeah, what we, what we typically recommend is an introductory call with myself or, or some of our counterparts here in the US to understand the client's business, the need, and make recommendations.

And you know, there's one thing that we pride ourselves on is. is being very honest and if we don't think we can help, we will tell you that.

So I would recommend anyone that's interested to reach out via phone or email to myself. And you just start a conversation.

if we can't help you, we'd something interested in pushing you in the right direction as well.


Matt Zaun 

So I really appreciate this conversation. I do believe in what you do. I think it's only going to become more and more of a need.

I really appreciate you mentioning that COVID transition the workforce. I would challenge leaders instead of continuing to complain about what COVID has done.

How can they creatively utilize the cultural shift in their favor? You can do that. And then I also appreciate it.

You talking about competing for skill sets. I know companies are starting to do this and make it part of their strategic planning, but not as much as they could.

So I think that you can really help them with that as well. So if someone wants to get more information on your organization.


Chris Stokes (Intelassist Inc.)

What was the best place they can go to get that Chris? Yeah, our website has a plethora of information.

Some videos about our office. You can see our location, our people. Everything on there is our company and our website is Intel Assist.com.


Matt Zaun

Perfect. I'll include on the show notes and people could just click and go from there. Thank you so much for your time today.


Chris Stokes (Intelassist Inc.)

I appreciate it. Thank you.


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