After serving 24 years in the U.S. Army, experiencing conflict in five different counties, and receiving not one but six Purple Hearts, Bobby Harbin has a new mission. “I want to help people getting health care focus on getting well and listening to what doctors and nurses are telling them to do, instead of worrying about insurance.” Today, Bobby is achieving that mission at SYKES, leading a team of customer service agents answering patients’ questions about their health care benefits.
Bobby understands the challenges patients face first hand, having seen it at hospitals and emergency rooms, where he worked as a registered nurse after leaving the military. After working a number of years as an RN in direct patient care, he decided he needed to help people in another way. “I wanted to move to the customer service side. What I noticed over the years in the hospitals and in the insurance companies is that the patients and the members are completely baffled by the insurance world. I felt like I could bring something to the table and help everybody, help members understand their insurance and exactly how it works.”
“At SYKES, you have the opportunity to come in as an agent, at any level of education, and move right on up.”
Bobby first became interested in health care while recovering from being shot while serving in Somalia. “I spent a considerable amount of time in the hospital, and they weren’t so sure I was going to recover and be able to go back and do my job. Being in the hospital, I saw what the nurses did and I figured I could do that, so I chose nursing for my retraining.” But Bobby recovered well enough to go back to his regular job – as a paratrooper and sniper for the 82nd Airborne Division, so nursing was put on hold. Before he left the service, Bobby saw action in South America, Central America, Somalia, and, as he puts it, “the Middle East, and the Middle East again, and the Middle East again.”
Finally retiring from his military career, Bobby finally put his nursing skills to use before coming to SYKES. A team leader today, he started his career at SYKES as an agent on the phones.
“I wanted to come into the call center world as an agent, learn it from the ground up, and then move up through the organization.” Two years later he leads a team of 17. Bobby uses his real-world experience to help his team deliver better care. “I train my team to understand what is really happening to the callers in the real world, and how you can relate to what they’re going through so they can better help them.”
Bobby is grateful for the opportunity SYKES has given him, and says his experience of advancing in his career there is not unique. “At SYKES, you have the opportunity to come in as an agent, at any level of education, and move right on up.” SYKES, he says, provides the support, encouragement and mentoring to help people learn and grow. It’s a role he is happy to take himself. “I love teaching and mentoring and coaching the agents on my team. It’s great when you see someone, maybe they’ve been here two or three months, and at some point it all finally clicks. That’s what I enjoy the most.”
Bobby feels like he is making a difference. “SYKES has just meant everything to me – giving me the opportunity to really do something good.”